Sunday, December 30, 2007

Reading Up

This story should help some see that many immigrants do want to learn English and with help, they will succeed. DP

Tucson employers are looking to a local nonprofit to help promote literacy

By MARI HERRERAS A $2-an-hour raise has Cesar Castellanos beaming.

A few weeks ago, the installer of commercial-heating and air-conditioning systems went to the office at Sun Mechanical Contracting to show off a certificate of completion for an English class. Castellanos says he didn't expect a raise; he just wanted to show off to human-resources assistant director Corey Comeau.

A large percentage of the company's employees primarily speak Spanish. Castellanos says about 70 percent of his 300 or so co-workers are Spanish-speaking.

"You know, I'm always trying to practice my English at work. When I see my boss, I say, 'Good morning,' but he always answers, 'Buenos dias,'" he says, smiling broadly. "I needed more help, especially with my pronunciation. That's been the hardest part."

Comeau says it wasn't just Castellanos' improved English skills that warranted the raise, but his initiative, leadership, good attitude and job skills. Comeau says he recently offered to reimburse employees for English classes, and Castellanos was the first employee to sign up.
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Whitestone teacher rocks to Bon Jovi in classroom

Here is an interesting way to teach language to fourth graders, through popular music lyrics. DP

By Stephen Stirling Jon Bon Jovi is no Shakespeare, but for students of Roxanne Basandella, it hardly matters.

On. Dec. 18, Basandella was awarded the 2007 New York State English Council's Elementary School Teacher of the Year Award. And for what? Using the New Jersey-born rocker's lyrical prowess to teach her students about literary devices and grammar

"Really it all came to fruition through Bon Jovi," Basandella said. "I'm not into the classic poets. When we read through Bon Jovi and I'm playing the songs and dancing around, they get so excited. I use as much Bon Jovi as they will allow me to."

Basandella has taught fourth grade at the Drexel Avenue School in Westbury, L.I., for the last 12 years. She said her students have a diverse background and many of them are immigrants who are learning English as a second language, which presents unique challenges when teaching literature and grammar.

She said while more traditionally taught literature can often be too complex, Bon Jovi is just right.
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In Chinatown, a Church Speaks in Several Languages, but With One Strong Voice

This 200 year old Catholic church has changed from being mostly Irish and Italian and now is the home of the largest congregation of Chinese in the country. It celebrates mass in three languages. DP

By JENNIFER 8. LEE At the church, pots of red and white poinsettias were carefully arranged for midnight Mass. With the funeral service for an 82-year-old Irish-American parishioner completed in the morning, the Italian-American priest spent part of his afternoon on Monday reviewing his homily, to be delivered in Cantonese and English. A sign announcing a Christmas Eve vigil for Fujianese immigrants was taped to the window.

The preparations to celebrate Christmas at the two-century-old Church of the Transfiguration in Chinatown, like the history of the church itself, were multilayered, reflecting the nimble adaptation of a church once dominated by Irish and Italian immigrants that now claims the largest Chinese Roman Catholic congregation in the United States.

The English-language Mass, scheduled in part for the Italian-Americans, was said early, at 6 p.m., because those parishioners are now old enough that their children have long since grown up and moved away to Long Island or Staten Island. They do not like to stay out too late.

The Mass in Cantonese, which still prevails on the stretch of Mott Street where the church stands, was said at 8 p.m. And at 9:30 p.m., immigrants from the southern Chinese province of Fujian, holding Catholic prayer books printed secretly in China away from the watchful eyes of the government, gathered for their vigil to await the midnight Mass, to be said in Mandarin and English.
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Friday, December 28, 2007

A TV show that teaches immigrants English will help them assimilate faster

This editorial tells about a TV show teaching basic English. A good idea! DP

EDITORIAL, OrlandoSentinel "How much is the rent?" It's a simple phrase to most people, but a confusing maze of letters for an immigrant trying to learn English.

So here's a little help:

Azteca America, a Spanish-language network with 61 affiliate stations in the United States, plans to launch a TV show called Survival English. The program will attempt to teach basic language skills to viewers, obviously serving a basic need in emerging Hispanic communities.

It's refreshing to see strong public-service programming, quite the contrast to the banal drone of reality TV. Assimilation is a core goal for any immigrant group, and this program should help them get there quicker.

Everyone knows that assimilating starts with the ABC's of learning the language.

Global positioning: Students, immigrants paired

These college students were paired with recent immigrants, so both sides could learn about their language, their story, their country, their lives. Everyone benefited, especially the young people. The immigrants were between 20 and 88, all with stories that surprised the students. DP

By Carmen Nobel, Globe Correspondent Last September, 13 Simmons College undergraduates signed up for a sociology class called Globalization. They expected to study cultural convergence. Their professor expected them to experience it.

"We live in Boston," said Anna Sandoval Girón, a sociology professor at Simmons. "It's a city full of interesting people. So I came up with the idea of teaching in a different way. Instead of reading about immigration in a book, why not leave the confines of the school and talk to people who have migrated here? I wanted students to see macro-level theory coupled with people who are living the theory."

Sandoval paired the students with recent immigrants who were studying English as a second language in Boston - either at the local YMCA International Learning Center or at the Symphony Plaza housing complex. She explained that the students and their partners would spend an hour together every week throughout the semester, just talking to each other. Both locations are an easy walk from Simmons, but the idea felt virtually worlds away for students raised on electronic communication.

"We were all really nervous," said Melina Muñoz, a junior.
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Immigrants Bring Homeland Spirit to Christmas Season

This story is about Russian and West African immigrants and the Christmas traditions they celebrate in this country. DP

By Adam Phillips, New York

Gift giving, music and prayer. These are ways that Christians almost everywhere commemorate Jesus' birth. Still, every Christian immigrant group in America practices those traditions in ways that evoke their cultures of origin. VOA's Adam Phillips visited West African and Russian congregations in New York City to see how they've brought their own spirits to the season. To most American ears, Russian Orthodox Christmas music may have a certain doleful quality, at least compared to the merrier lilts of the Christmas carols they are used to. But Ana Kouznezoff, who was born in Kiev, Ukraine, in 1922, says the tone of the music is appropriate. The 40 days leading up to the Christmas Feast are fast days in the Orthodox calendar. Unlike in American culture, neither meat nor revelry is allowed at this time.

"In some ways, the Russian is more the Christmas that belong(s) to God," Ana says. "In America, it's most of all the gifts. Buying, buying, buying. It doesn't feel the way we understand it. For me, the best way to celebrate is to come here to the "church."

The Christmas feast and the ten days of religious celebration which follow are joys that Ana and her fellow believers were denied while Ukraine was part of the Soviet Union, where religion was suppressed.
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Friday, December 21, 2007

U.S. kids learn parents' language

This school is teaching 2nd and 3rd generations the language of their ancestors. They have lost the language as all immigrants do, and are trying to get it back. DP

By PATRICK McGEE, Star-Telegram Staff Writer ARLINGTON -- The school has a superintendent, a dean, a principal and 40 language teachers. Everyone who works there is a volunteer, and the budget is from donations and dues.

This is Vietnamese Martyrs Catholic Church's Vietnamese language program. It's a highly organized, energetic effort by the church to keep the native language alive in immigrant families' second and third generations.

"We want them to know their roots," said Anna Nguyen, an Arlington resident who had her daughter, Dianna, go through so many classes she became a teacher's aide. "I don't want them to forget Vietnamese because they are Vietnamese."

The south Arlington church's school, called Ducme La Vang, also teaches religious classes. The school efficiently runs with color-coded attendance sheets, a bell between classes and signs in Vietnamese next to each doorway.

But experts say immigrants' efforts to keep their language alive is an uphill battle.

Rubén Rumbaut, a sociology professor at the University of California at Irvine, said America has proven for centuries to be a "language graveyard" where immigrant families' native language is almost always lost by the third generation.

He said Spanish follows this pattern, too, but it might hold on a little longer than Asian languages because there are many more Spanish speakers to talk to. America's current wave of immigrants from Latin America has not stopped yet so the crop of Spanish speakers keeps being refreshed.
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Immigrants would thrive with more English classes

Another story about the necessity of English for immigrants to move into the middle class. DP

BY TARA COLTON | Tara Colton is associate research director at the Center for an Urban Future, a Manhattan-based think tank. The immigration debate is focused on flash point topics like driver's licenses for illegal immigrants, hiring halls and border fences.

But all the rhetoric and punditry obscures a crisis among immigrants themselves: the growing unmet demand for English-language instruction.

This is a crucial problem, because the more fluent immigrants are in English, the more they can contribute positively to society. This is a point that all sides of the immigration debate agree on. Making this improvement in the lives of millions of people living and working here has got to be as vital as deciding whether to punish them for how they arrived.

For business and government, it's also a matter of economic development. Boosting workers' English skills improves productivity, reduces turnover and helps growth.

In an economy increasingly dominated by service and information jobs, only in a shrinking number of industries can a worker advance to the middle class without at least some command of English. Workers need English to communicate with supervisors, interact with customers and understand everything from computer databases to safety regulations.
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Immigrants From Guyana Find Each Other In U.S.

A nice love story about two people coming to this country in the 1950s from the same small country and meeting and marrying in CT. DP

By M.A.C. LYNCH | Special to The Courant Euna Jervis' became the first female in British Guiana to earn a perfect score in math and a scholarship to Hunter College in New York City. Her father, however, would not hear of his 18-year-old daughter's leaving.

"I was determined," Euna said, and in 1956, at age 21, she boarded a plane to the United States to study medicine. "It was my first trip from my home. I never even slept one night away from home."

Clarence Coleridge, 19, came to the U.S. with similar ambitions in 1950.

"It was very hard to come over," said Clarence, the oldest of 16 children in his family in British Guiana (now independent Guyana). "We made a decision. It was agreed by all of us."

He worked to put himself through Howard University, but "my ability in the sciences was so minuscule." A chaplain suggested Clarence apply his speaking skills to the ministry, and he enrolled at Drew Seminary, switched from the Congregationalist to Episcopalian church, and at age 30 was working as a curate in St. George's Parish in Brooklyn.

"I've got to go home and get a wife," he told a minister from Guiana. But the minister's wife said, "You don't need to go back to find a wife. I know a woman for you."
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Saying ‘Adios’ To Spanglish

An interesting piece by a woman who did not want to be bilingual and then changed her mind, realizing being bilingual is a definite advantage. DP

Teach Them Well: I now live a life that is fully bilingual. Growing up, I wanted nothing to do with my heritage. My kids made me see how wrong that was.
By Leticia Salais | NEWSWEEK Niños, vengan a comer. my 18-month-old son pops out from behind the couch and runs to his high chair. My 7-year-old has no idea what I just said. He yells out from the same hiding spot: "What did you say?" My older son does not suffer from hearing loss. He is simply not bilingual like his brother, and did not understand that I was telling him to come eat.

Growing up in the poorest neighborhoods of El Paso, Texas, I did everything I could to escape the poverty and the color of my skin. I ran around with kids from the west side of town who came from more-affluent families and usually didn't speak a word of Spanish. I spoke Spanish well enough, but I pretended not to understand it and would not speak a word of it. In school, I refused to speak Spanish even with my Hispanic friends. I wanted nothing to do with it. While they joined Chicano clubs, all I wanted to do was be in the English literacy club. Even at home, the only person to whom I spoke Spanish was my mom, and that's only because she wouldn't have understood me otherwise.

After I got married and moved to Tucson, Ariz., I thought I was in heaven. Though I was actually in the minority, I felt right at home with my Anglo neighbors. When I got pregnant with my first son, I decided that English would be his first language and, if I could help it, his only language. I never spoke a word of Spanish around him, and when his grandparents asked why he did not understand what they were saying, I made excuses. He understands but he's very shy. He understands the language but he refuses to speak it. In reality, I didn't want him to speak it at all.
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Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Madison literacy program Scrabbles to survive

This sounds like a smart and fun way to learn a language. DP

By SANDY CULLEN How does a local family literacy program continue without the federal dollars that helped create and sustain it for more than a decade?

In a word: S-c-r-a-b-b-l-e.

Madison Family Literacy — which helps poor families develop literacy skills and prepare their children for kindergarten — is hoping to raise $50,000 with an all-city/all-campus Scrabble tournament.

The two-day tournament, centered around the popular board game in which dueling wordsmiths arrange random letters into words crossword fashion, will take place Feb. 23-24 at Hilldale Shopping Center. Live bands and other activities also will be featured during what organizers hope will spell "a big, fun event" that will become an annual fundraiser.

"It's promoting literacy, wordplay," said Patricia La Cross, who coordinates the East Madison program based at the Northport/Packer Community Learning Center.
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Wages increasing for Latino workers

Immigrants are making better wages lately, without taking jobs away from American workers. DP

BY TONY CASTRO, MediaNewsGroup American Dream for Latinos and other immigrants is alive and well, even in the face of a troubled economy and historic levels of immigration that experts say mirrors the trend of a century ago, according to a study.

Foreign-born immigrants in recent years have made significant strides in wages over their counterparts of a decade earlier, while not taking away jobs from American workers, according to the study by the Pew Hispanic Center.

"Assimilation is real," said Rakesh Kochar, a researcher with the nonpartisan center based in Washington, D.C. "It works."

The proof, he said, is that the percentage of Latino immigrant workers at the lowest end of the wage scale fell by 6 percent from 1995 to 2005. And the proportion of Latino immigrants earning $8.50 to $16.20 an hour in that same period grew by about 5 percent.

The face of those findings was in workers like Juan Lopez Morales, 29, who lives in the San Fernando Valley community of Sun Valley, who has been working in construction for most of the five years since he emigrated from Mexico.

"I made just under $40,000 last year - the most I've ever made," he said.

While he sometimes goes weeks without work and labors 12 hours a day when he has a job, he's not complaining."

"I have a young family," he said. "My sacrifices are for them."

The Pew report was based primarily on a comparison of U.S. Census data across the country, with no specific geographic breakdowns.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Immigrants are a boon, not a curse

Here is a thoughtful opinion of the good all immigrants (even undocumented) do for the country. DP

Republicans should stop treating millions of people who want to better their lives as a threat.

By Max Boot Watching the GOP presidential debate last week, it was easy to conclude that the greatest threat facing the U.S. is an influx of undocumented immigrants. Most of the candidates were, as arch-nativist Tom Tancredo put it, trying to out-Tancredo Tancredo. And every time they did, they seemed to get raucous applause from the audience. Why is it, I wondered, that so many people think that having millions of people come to the United States seeking a better life for themselves presents such a massive threat to this country?

Obviously it is wrong for anyone to break the law, but the desire of foreigners to come here to work seems like the most benign sort of lawbreaking imaginable. Lots of other laws are broken routinely -- prostitution laws, speeding laws, tax laws -- and yet they are not the subject of heated exchanges at presidential debates.

We constantly hear that immigrants are taking jobs from Americans. Yet over the past quarter-century, even as illegal immigration has remained high, the U.S. economy has outperformed the rest of the industrialized world. Although a recession may be on the horizon, our economy has been booming since the early 1980s, with consistently low unemployment (currently 4.7%). Per-capita income in the U.S., when adjusted for purchasing power, is $41,399, or the third-highest in the world. Per-capita income after taxes has risen by 12.7% since 2001. We have seen 8.3 million jobs created since August 2003 -- 50 straight months of job growth.

It is hard to see how immigration, legal or otherwise, has put a damper on the economy. Quite the reverse: Immigrants contribute significantly to economic growth.

This isn't meant to suggest that we shouldn't do more to police our southern border. But the best way to do that would be to assure millions of Latin Americans and others who want to come here to work that they will be allowed in legally. We also need a mechanism for legalizing the millions of undocumented immigrants who are already here, because there is no prospect of rounding them up and sending them home.
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Niños on the slopes

This is a fun story about the children of the immigrants working in the service industry in this posh ski town. The priest who started the program that teaches skiing to the kids in grades 2-5, says skiing is the great equalizer here. DP

Program introduces Latino kids to the mountain lifestyle, bringing good times while helping to bridge a cultural divide

By Jessica Ravitz, The Salt Lake Tribune PARK CITY -The language spoken or jobs held by his parents were of no significance as Micah Muñoz peered up at the falling snow. Splayed out and giggling after his first-ever wipeout on the slopes, he was like any other kid at the Park City Mountain Resort last Saturday.

Granted, he was on flat ground and wearing only one ski, but the 7-year-old boy was merely minutes into the mountain lifestyle. His season had just begun.

Moments before, Micah and 50 other kids had lined up for this year's Niños on Skis group photo. Beneath goggles, helmets and puffy parkas, they flashed giddy smiles. The Niños program, sponsored by St. Mary's Catholic Church, exists to bridge the cultural divide between, generally speaking, the affluent whites of Park City and the Latino immigrants who work in the posh community's service industry.

"Here, in this town, skiing is the great equalizer," explained the Rev. Bob Bussen, known as "Father Bob," who tears down the mountain wearing his clerical collar. "If you can ski, you're as good as anyone."
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Immigration diatribe fails test of history

Latinos learn English at the same rate that all groups of immigrants in our history have learned it. DP

By CYNTHIA TUCKER, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution Late last month came shocking — shocking! — news about the ability of immigrants to assimilate: Latinos in this country do learn English.

Who knew?

OK, I'm being slightly facetious, responding to just one of the strains of hysterical overreaction to illegal immigration. That complaint cites the alleged dangers of allowing large numbers of Spanish-speakers into the country, people who would tear apart the American cultural fabric and, as GOP presidential candidate Tom Tancredo warns, threaten the very bulwark of Western civilization.

(Tancredo, a Colorado congressman, could use a history lesson. Spanish is very much a Western language; immigrants from south of the border are predominantly Christians and many are Catholics, members of the earliest organized Christian church.)

Those who worry about the fate of the English language can rest easy. A recent study conducted by the Pew Hispanic Center found that 88 percent of second-generation Latino immigrants described themselves as strong English speakers. That figure increased to 94 percent for the grandchildren's generation.

The survey also found that Latino immigrants are more likely to speak English very well if they are "highly educated, arrived in the United States as children or have spent many years here." Only 23 percent of first-generation Latino immigrants in the survey described themselves as highly conversant in English. (The study's authors made no distinctions between legal and illegal immigrants.)
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Sunday, December 02, 2007

Cultures collide in Irvine elementary school

There are 36 languages spoken in this school and these children are all learning English. They get a year of intensive English learning before being put into the regular classes. DP

At University Park Elementary in Irvine, diversity is a lesson taught and nurtured.

By ERIKA CHAVEZ, THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER The 19 pupils in Kathleen Lui's second- and third-grade class at Irvine's University Park Elementary come from nine different countries but share at least two things in common: they all are learning English for the first time, and they don't know what cottage cheese is.

Other lessons gleaned from a recent classroom session on food groups: all cultures like rice, and all kids like candy.

"Yum!" they cried in unison, some even patting their bellies as Lui held up a photo of a chocolate bar.

The ethnically diverse group of pupils in Lui's class offers a glimpse into Irvine's future, said the veteran teacher.

"This is Irvine," she said, gesturing toward the kids of all hues and nationalities. "All of our classrooms are so international. Our monthly awards ceremony looks like a little U.N."

One in 3 pupils is an English learner, and 36 languages are spoken at the school, from South Africa's Afrikaans to Mandarin Chinese to Pakistan's Urdu.

The pupils have one year of intensive English language instruction in Lui's class before being placed in mainstream classes. The immersion is immediate and effective. While University Park has lower state test scores than other less diverse Irvine campuses, the school has an 860 score on the Academic Performance Index, a statewide scale that ranges from 200 to 1,000 points. The state's goal is for every school to rank above 800.
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Study: Children of Latino immigrants speaking more English, less Spanish

Here is another study proving the same thing: children of Latino immigrants use English and quickly lose Spanish fluency. This happens with every immigrant group that comes here. DP

By Mike Swift, Mercury News The nation's Latinos are showing a "dramatic increase" in their English language ability across generations, moving from a Spanish-dominant population for immigrants, to a predominantly English-fluent population for their children, a new report shows.

The study by the Pew Hispanic Center suggests Latinos are following a similar trajectory as the last great wave of immigrants did in the early 20th Century, with the nation's largest immigrant group at the start of the 21st Century steadily assimilating into an English dominant population.

The Pew study found that while only about one in four Latino immigrants is fluent in English, nine in 10 of their children are. By the third generation in the U.S., three-quarters of Latino adults speak mainly or only English at home.

The Pew study provides a new window into the linguistic evolution of the nation's 44 million Hispanics, both native and foreign-born, and includes some data not collected by the U.S. Census Bureau.

It shows how Latino families change across the generations. About 52 percent of Hispanic immigrants speak only Spanish at home, but just 11 percent of their adult children speak only Spanish at home.

Latinos also say language is the biggest source of discrimination against them, rather than skin color, immigration status or their level of income and education.
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Bantu immigrants navigating new Cleveland home

This is a wonderful story about a group of African refugee immigrants who are helping each other so they can all be successful in America. They have a great sense of community. DP

By ROBERT L. SMITH. The Plain Dealer A caravan of minivans approached Joseph Gallagher School in the darkness of a rainy fall morning, headlight beams piercing the mist to spotlight a yellow school bus as it rumbled away.

Five late-model vans turned into the school yard and parked side by side. Doors slid open. Forty boys and girls from Africa spilled out.

As the children swarmed toward the glowing windows of the school, the van drivers, mostly fathers just off third shift, stepped out to admonish them to zip up coats and to listen to the teachers.

Speaking in Maay Maay, the language of the Bantu of Somalia, they reminded the children to watch out for one another until they returned to get them. Only then did the men depart, one task finished in a daily, exhausting progression of making it in America.

The vanpool emerged last year, after Bantu parents realized their children were being bullied on the bus to school. Mothers, who in Africa wrapped children on their backs to carry them through risky camps, devised a plan to move them safely through Cleveland.

It's one of several quick, innovative actions taken by a surprising refugee group. Nothing in Somalia, it seemed, prepared the Bantu for northeast Ohio. But a poor and often bewildered immigrant group is finding its way, in part, by tapping cultural traditions that were not supposed to work here.
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Saturday, December 01, 2007

Immigration battle: Time to speak up

A coalition of lobbying groups has challenged the crackdown on small business owners who unknowingly hire illegal immigrants. DP

By Renuka Rayasam

Small businesses are finally getting a say in the "no match" rules. (Washington, D.C.) -- Small business owners will have an opportunity to sound off about "no match" immigration rules that force employers to face heavy fines for not verifying workers' immigration status within 90 days if social security numbers didn't match.

On Friday, Federal Judge Charles Breyer agreed with a complaint that the Department of Homeland Security had not considered how onerous the rules are for businesses, and gave the DHS until March 24, 2008, to survey small business owners and get their take on how the illegal immigration rules affects them.

An odd coalition of lobbying groups from the American Civil Liberties Union to the Chamber of Commerce brought the issue to court by challenging the crackdown, saying that DHS rules placed too high a burden on businesses, and on Oct. 10 Breyer suspended those rules. (Full story.) In his four-page ruling, he found the Social Security Administration database had so many errors that thousands of American citizens and legal immigrants would have been fired. Small businesses are more likely to fire workers because they often lack the resources to go through the complicated verification process.

Since August the SSA has sent companies 141,000 "no match" letters covering 8 million workers. The letters were giving businesses instructions on how to handle the issue. In his October ruling, Breyer also halted those letters saying that the government did not follow proper procedures in implementing the rules.

The groups that filed the suit won't be happy until the department drops the rules all together.
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Report: NY immigrants doctors as well as low-wage workers

Immigrants in NY contributed 22% of the total GDP. This proves they are not all in the lowest paying jobs and are essential to the economy. DP

By MICHAEL HILL | Associated Press Writer ALBANY, N.Y. - One in five college professors and more than a third of the doctors in upstate New York are immigrants, according to a study that tallied the economic contributions of foreign-born workers and challenges the stereotype of low-paid immigrants.

The report released Monday by the Fiscal Policy Institute said that immigrants contributed $229 billion last year to New York state's gross domestic product _ or 22 percent of total output. While almost three-quarters of the state's 4 million immigrants live in New York City, researchers said their contributions are crucial to the economic success of the entire state.

Researchers with the labor-backed think tank said they wanted to add perspective to the immigration issue, which boiled over in New York recently when Gov. Eliot Spitzer proposed issuing driver's licenses to illegal immigrants as a way to coax them "out of the shadows." He dropped the idea this month amid overwhelming public disapproval and constant political attacks.
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Hysteria over illegal immigrants must stop

This is a very interesting piece talking about the shortage of leaders who will work on the immigration problem calmly and with common sense. DP

By Barry Goldwater Jr. Several weeks ago I attended a rally for an Arizona ballot proposal that would permanently and irrevocably rescind a company's business license the very first time it hired an illegal immigrant.

What I encountered at the Support Legal Arizona Workers' rally was shocking and egregious. Speeches soaked with hateful, angry racist tones and dialogue. Eyes closed, listening to the roar of inflammatory rhetoric and sermonizing, I could have easily mistaken myself to be at one of David Duke's Ku Klux Klan rallies in Baton Rouge, La.

"Deportation, deportation, deportation" was the chant of the incensed crowd.

Illegal immigration has, like so much of our political system, become so polarized - left and right. Politicians on both sides of the aisle have painted themselves into a narrow corridor in the political spectrum, unwilling to breach the middle ground and seek the reasonable and compromising actions the people of this great nation and state so desperately crave and deserve.

The people of Arizona have always been drawn to leaders who speak out about their freedoms from excessive government, excessive taxes and regulation, and for safe neighborhoods, honesty and preserving Arizona's pristine environment. These are the principles of conservatives, including my father, Ronald Reagan, Bill Buckley, Jon Kyl and many, many others.
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Illegal Immigrant Rescues Boy in Desert

This illegal entrant was almost at his destination south of Tucson and saved the life of a little boy. He was immediately taken back across the border. He said he thought of his own children and would want someone to do the same for his child. A true Good Samaritan. DP

By TERRY TANG (AP) PHOENIX (AP) — A 9-year-old boy looking for help after his mother crashed their van in the southern Arizona desert was rescued by a man entering the U.S. illegally, who stayed with him until help arrived the next day, an official said.

The 45-year-old woman, who eventually died while awaiting help, had been driving on a U.S. Forest Service road in a remote area just north of the Mexican border when she lost control of her van on a curve on Thanksgiving, Santa Cruz County Sheriff Tony Estrada said.

The van vaulted into a canyon and landed 300 feet from the road, he said. The woman, from Rimrock, north of Phoenix, survived the impact but was pinned inside, Estrada said.

Her son, unhurt but disoriented, crawled out to get help and was found about two hours later by Jesus Manuel Cordova, 26, of Magdalena de Kino in the northern Mexican state of Sonora. Unable to pull the mother out, he comforted the boy while they waited for help.

The woman died a short time later.

"He stayed with him, told him that everything was going to be all right," Estrada said.

As temperatures dropped, he gave him a jacket, built a bonfire and stayed with him until about 8 a.m. Friday, when hunters passed by and called authorities, Estrada said. The boy was flown to University Medical Center in Tucson as a precaution but appeared unhurt.
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Burundi refugees find friends, love in Chattanooga

40 African refugees have started their new lives in Chattanooga. They have never seen a stove or refrigerator or TV and now have to learn to use them, everything is new to them. DP

By Perla Trevizo, Staff Writer, The Chattanooga Times Free Press Chattanooga, TN - Life in an unfamiliar place has brought the blessings of safety and friendship along with the trials of isolation and adjustment for 40 people who began arriving in Chattanooga three months ago from their homes a world away.

"The beginning is always hard," said Isaac Toyi, an African refugee, through interpreter Monira Gicakara. "But I'm grateful to be in America, and I want to study really hard to speak good English."

As many as 10,000 Burundian refugees from a Hutu camp in Tanzania are being resettled in the United States this year. About 40 of them, 14 families with 17 children, have moved to Chattanooga, according to resettlement officials.

"Considering that they didn't know any English when they came to the U.S., or modern technology, I think they are doing great in resettling," said Angel Berry, case manager with Bridge Refugee Services.

The refugees have had to learn how to use things most of them never had seen before such as a television, a stove and a refrigerator. Ms. Berry said finding employment for the refugees has been the biggest challenge so far, "but it seems to be getting better."
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Speak English, Get Ahead

This is true of everyone in the country, he quotes Bill Cosby talking about all teens now, not just immigrants. DP

By By Michael Reagan It’s no secret that in America knowing how to speak the English language is the basic requirement for success – if you can’t speak the language everybody else speaks, you are back at the Tower of Babel wondering what everybody around you is trying to say.

For any youngster starting out in life, knowing and speaking the common language is the first step in moving up the ladder. And in the United States, English is the common language, and has been from the beginning. The Constitutional debates were conducted solely in English. Only English is spoken in Congress and in the world of business, not only here in America, in most of the world.

Bill Cosby recently spoke about the vital necessity of youths learning and speaking English.

"They're standing on the corner and they can't speak English,” he complained. “I can't even talk the way these people talk: ‘why you ain't, where you is, what he drive, where he stay, where he work, who you be’ ...And I blamed the kid until I heard the mother talk. And then I heard the father talk.

“Everybody knows it's important to speak English - except these knuckleheads. You can't be a doctor with that kind of crap coming out of your mouth. In fact you will never get any kind of job making a decent living. People marched and were hit in the face with rocks to get an education, and now we've got these knuckleheads walking around. The lower economic people are not holding up their end in this deal.”

Refugees find home in Lehigh Valley Pilgrim's progress

This is about a refugee family that beat 270-1 odds to get to this country. Now they are celebrating Thanksgiving with true thanks. I imagine most people here have forgotten to be thankful for that fact. DP

By Michael Duck | Of The Morning Call After surviving decades in African refugee camps, after escaping ethnic cleansing that killed tens of thousands of their neighbors, Byamungu Jafari and his family are living a new Thanksgiving story in Allentown.

They've crossed an ocean to build a better life in America, where they're learning survival tips from helpful natives. And today, like the Pilgrims at their first harvest feast 386 years ago, Jafari and his family are coming together to celebrate their survival and give thanks.

''I can say thanks to my God,'' said 25-year-old Jafari, who was born in a refugee camp and beat 270-to-1 odds to reach the United States.

Jafari and his wife, his parents and his eight brothers and sisters communicate in a mishmash of French, Kirundi, Swahili and broken English, but the message is clear. Asked why he's most thankful, Jafari answered in French: ''Nous sommes encore vivants'' -- we are still alive.

Out of roughly 13 million refugees worldwide, Jafari's family got onto a list of 48,000 who won U.S. State Department approval to come to America in the past year.
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Richardson appeals for civil debate on immigration

Bill Richardson is the only presidential candidate who tells everyone to stop blaming the immigrants and start blaming the government for the immigration mess. DP

By Ruben Navarrette Jr., The San Diego Union-Tribune What can I say? Bill Richardson rocks.

While John Edwards and Barack Obama were taking shots at Hillary Clinton during the recent CNN Democratic debate in Las Vegas, the New Mexico governor was focusing on his own candidacy and delivering one of the best performances of the night.

Even those who believe that Richardson is really auditioning for a vice presidential nomination would have to concede that the audition is going well.

Just think about the novel way in which Richardson, in answering a question from the audience about the tone of the immigration debate, did something that is practically unheard of in the dizzying pander-monium of the 2008 campaign: He scolded the audience and told them that not only do we have a dysfunctional border that is being breached by illegal immigrants, a dysfunctional system that makes it too hard for people to enter legally, and a dysfunctional Congress that won't tackle the issue in an honest and productive way, but even the way we discuss these issues is dysfunctional.
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Backlog Delays Naturalizations

More than 2.5 million people who applied for citizenship during the summer will not be sworn in in time to vote in next November's election. All thought they had allowed enough time and usually it is. DP

By SUZANNE GAMBOA (AP) WASHINGTON (AP) — Immigrants who applied for citizenship after June 1 will have to wait more than a year to become Americans, immigration officials said Wednesday, a delay that will prevent many from voting in next November's elections.

The delay is due to a deluge of applications that Citizenship and Immigration Services, a Homeland Security Department agency, received this summer as immigrants rushed to beat drastic fee increases for naturalization, legal residency, work permits, international adoptions and a host of other immigration benefits.

That means naturalization applications filed after June 1 will take 15 months to 18 months to process and become final, said Bill Wright, spokesman for the immigration agency.

"We certainly are hoping to beat that, but there certainly is that possibility," Wright said. Generally, becoming a citizen takes on average about seven months after an application has been filed, Wright said.

A total of 2.5 million applications were filed with the agency during July and August, Wright said. He could not provide numbers for June.

For the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30, a total of 7.7 million applications were filed, compared with 6.3 million the previous fiscal year, Wright said.

The spike in applications came in the months before Citizenship and Immigration Services raised all application fees, effective July 30. Costs for applying for citizenship rose from $330 to $595 and from $325 to $930 for legal residency. In both cases, applicants also must pay fingerprinting fees, which increased from $70 to $80.

The year and a half to nearly two year waits for naturalizations could hurt efforts of a coalition of groups trying to increase citizenship and voter registration among immigrants.

The delays have raised some concerns about possible political motivations, which Wright denied.
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Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Mexican TV network adding English classes to its lineup

This is a good idea, people all over the world are trying to learn English. DP

By S. Lynne Walker, COPLEY NEWS SERVICE MEXICO CITY – As the debate over immigration reform festers in Congress, one message is clear: Americans think people from other countries who live in the United States ought to speak English.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said it to a gathering of Latino journalists. Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, said it when he proposed a bill calling for the designation of English as the national language. Even President Bush said it as he lobbied for his immigration overhaul package.

“I think people who want to be a citizen of this country should learn English,” Bush said.

Now a Mexican television network is saying it, too. And the network, TV Azteca, is putting its money where its microphone is.

In January, Mexico's second-largest network plans to launch a 60-hour series of English classes on 60 affiliates in the United States, from Chattanooga, Tenn., to San Diego.

The televised classes, the first of their kind to be broadcast by a Mexican network in the United States, will offer cultural as well as language lessons. They will not be broadcast in Mexico or other countries in Latin America. The aim is to prepare immigrants in the United States for a host of situations ranging from taking their children to school to grocery shopping and going to the doctor.
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Immigrant families learn tradition of Thanksgiving

Another good story about immigrants learning about their new country by taking part in one of the best holidays. DP

By MICHELLE WILLARD, Post Staff Writer Is any other holiday more American than Thanksgiving?

Turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes and giblet gravy, not to mention the cranberries, are all essentially American. And the holiday itself celebrates the beginnings of our nation through this food.

Murfreesboro City Schools Community Outreach Coordinator Candy Clifford knows the importance of these foods and traditions. So she decided to use Thanksgiving as a primer for immigrant families as a way to introduce them to American culture.

“Our population is growing in the school system,” Clifford said. “And we think it is important for them to have knowledge of our culture. We want them to feel comfortable in our schools and we want them to feel welcomed, so their kids will do better in school.”

More than 14 percent of students, which amounts to 1,075, in Murfreesboro City Schools, are Hispanic or Asian. And MCS students speak 24 different languages; including the common Spanish, Lao and French and less common languages like the African Yoruba and Igbo.

Clifford has reservations for 400 English as a Second Language families to attend her ESL Thanksgiving Dinner Monday, Nov. 19 at Black Fox Elementary.

“You don’t realize what a melting pot Murfreesboro has become and you have to keep pace with that especially in our schools,” Clifford said, adding the system has Hispanic, Laotian, Japanese and Muslim families.

“In our schools, these are families that are important to serve,” she said.

This is the first year for the ESL Thanksgiving Dinner, but Clifford has held cooking classes in the past to teach parents the basics of a turkey dinner.
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S.F. focuses on racial, cultural groups in pioneering health plan

This is a very interesting story about San Francisco's new health plan. They are covering all the people who are uninsured in all ethnic groups. Maybe it will be a blue print for the country. DP

By Heather Knight, Chronicle Staff Writer San Francisco is the first city in the country to find the money and political will to attempt to provide universal health care for its residents, but leaders of the new plan say its success hinges on a notion rarely discussed in the health care debates raging at the state and national levels: cultural competency.

Rather than treating patients using just raw data such as blood pressure levels and cholesterol counts, medical professionals also are taking into account patients' race, gender, age, sexual orientation, native language and other demographics in marketing the plan and providing the best medical care once they enroll.

In a city of distinct neighborhoods often populated by particular racial or ethnic groups, thousands of immigrants speaking more than 100 languages and a significant population of gays and lesbians, those behind the new plan, dubbed Healthy San Francisco, believe it will succeed or fail largely on how well cultural competency is practiced.

"There's a reason we have a clinic in Chinatown and a separate clinic in the Mission and a separate clinic in the Bayview," said Dr. Mitch Katz, director of the city's public health department. "That's because we realize there are cultural differences in the ways people seek care. ... We try to get as specific as we can."

In San Francisco, that means anything from a special clinic for gay and lesbian youths who might find it off-putting to be surrounded by middle-aged gay and lesbian patients to hiring Asian actors to star in public service announcements about health care to run on Chinese-language television stations.
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Monday, November 26, 2007

Ex-Hub educator who taught immigrants English honored

This wonderful teacher who came here from Italy in 1958 received a national honor for helping 40,000 immigrants learn English. DP

By Audrey M. Marks, Globe Correspondent An East Boston man received a national honor yesterday for helping more than 40,000 immigrants, refugees, and high school dropouts in Boston learn English and further their education.

Dominic Avellani, 60, was one of five adult winners of the 2007 National Caring Award, sponsored by The Caring Institute, a nonprofit organization that promotes the values of public service.

"I've gotten a lot of recognition but this award cannot compare to anything else," he said after the ceremony.

Avellani, who retired in 2005 after 33 years teaching in Boston public schools, founded the East Boston Adult Education Center, which helps those who want to continue their education.

The school's curriculum includes English classes for immigrants, instruction for citizenship tests and high school equivalency exams, and other continuing-education courses.
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Sunday, November 25, 2007

Students celebrate tradition

One of the best ways for people to learn about each other is by eating their food and celebrating their holiday. It is fun too. DP

Program connects foreigners to American culture

By Amanda Bedgood Emmanuel Irankunda had his first taste of Thanksgiving Friday - ESL style. Vietnamese egg rolls were his favorite dish.

More than 120 students from across the globe in the English as a Second Language program at Edgar Martin Middle School participated in an international Thanksgiving on campus Friday. Each brought a dish from their homeland. Tables decorated with traditional autumn colors, turkeys and cornucopias were filled with nontraditional fare from places as far flung as Venezuela and Russia.

Teacher Mona Credeur said the feast gives the opportunity for lessons including recipes, vocabulary and essays about giving thanks.
"It's like we all take a little trip," she said.

But, more than any academic lessons, international Thanksgiving is part of teaching children about a uniquely American tradition.

For Americans, Thanksgiving is a time of food, family and celebration. But for children who barely speak English and understand little about the culture, Thanksgiving can be a time they feel alienated from their peers, who are looking forward to turkey and dressing with relatives.
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Helping with the first steps toward English

Immigrants are finally realizing they NEED English to become full participants in the country. Many want to be active politically and can't. DP

Spanish-language network plans programs on useful phrases to aid immigrants in navigating the basics of life in America.

By Anna Gorman, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer Juan Garcia makes the same resolution every New Year's: Learn English.

Despite being in the U.S. for 15 years, the Mexican immigrant knows only a few words and phrases. Too busy with work and family, he has put off enrolling in a class.

"The days pass and the years pass, and I don't do it," said Garcia, 63, who lives in Los Angeles.

Garcia will get a little help keeping his resolution in January when the Spanish-language television network Azteca America launches a series aimed at teaching English to its nationwide viewers. Called "Survival English," the show will focus on basic language skills for real-life situations such as renting an apartment, shopping at a market and visiting a doctor's office.

The television program represents a major departure for Spanish-language media and one that Azteca officials hope will foster assimilation of Latino immigrants and boost their political and economic clout. It also addresses concerns of some elected officials and other critics who assert that speaking English should be a priority for all immigrants.

"Our community will be more powerful politically if they can be more culturally assimilated," said Hector Romero, director of operations for Fundación Azteca America, the nonprofit arm of the company.
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Students teaching about peace

These teens and the discussions they are having and the things they plan to do can change the world for the better. DP

By MARY C. CURTIS In Charlotte, it's possible to work, shop, go to school and church and never meet anyone that different from yourself. It's called staying inside your comfort zone.

In Charlotte, a group of young people has chosen another path. They don't mind feeling "uncomfortable," if that's what it takes to learn.

When I participate in the Peace Journeys program, sponsored by the Charlotte Coalition for Social Justice since 2001, I am inspired by what high-school students teach me.

Peace Journeys grew from an initiative by Archbishop Desmond Tutu and historian John Hope Franklin, who brought together young people from South Africa, the U.S. and Senegal to discuss race and reconciliation.

Their initiative has continued through activities like the one in Charlotte, three and a half days of togetherness, with time spent at Camp Thunderbird at Lake Wylie.

The emphasis is on understanding history and, as the program's mission states, "the need to apply the lessons of the past to create a more inclusive and just future."

The teens, about 44 this year, are nominated by diversity facilitators at their schools and write essays in order to take part. What they are doing requires hard work. But to see them sharing life stories and laughter, and starting friendships based on common goals, is to realize that they wear their task lightly.

Hey, they're teenagers.

Where do I come in? As part of the "intergenerational dialogue." This year's Elders' Luncheon, at Friendship Baptist Church, featured chicken, peach cobbler and the usual provocative conversation. It is hoped the elders bring wisdom and experience. The younger generation brings energy, optimism and ideas that don't rely on the old way of doing things.

At my table, we had a future doctor, lawyer and -- I feel confident predicting -- president of the United States.
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Immigrants Haven't Worn Out The Welcome Mat in Arlington

This city has a successful relationship with its immigrant population. Other cities should take lessons. DP

By Pamela Constable, Washington Post Staff Writer When nearby counties began trying to drive out illegal immigrants this summer, Arlington said it would treat everyone with "dignity and respect, regardless of immigration status."

Other counties felt overwhelmed by immigrants, but Arlington officials said they would happily provide them with every service allowed by law.

After three decades of working to make foreigners feel welcome, Arlington has good reason to pointedly reaffirm this philosophical embrace. More than one in four residents is a first- or second-generation immigrant, yet the county boasts low crime and unemployment rates. School test scores are high, and newcomers interact peaceably with fifth-generation residents. That success results in part from the county's history of attracting a gradual, diverse stream of foreigners and in part from its strong efforts to help integrate them in the community.

Still, commercial development and rising real estate prices are making Arlington less affordable to many new immigrants, and school officials and business owners report that a sense of fear is beginning to filter in.

"The attitude has always been: They're here. They're part of the community. Let's help them succeed," said Chris Zimmerman, a longtime County Board member. He said his children attended schools with classmates from dozens of countries. "They got something from those relationships that you can't teach in a curriculum or show in test scores," he said, "something that will benefit them their entire lives."
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Let's help others to learn English

Every town needs many people like this woman. Too bad there are so few. DP

By Mary Huebner ASHWAUBENON — Twenty-five years ago, I read an editorial in People's Forum. The Hmong were coming to the United States and needed to learn English. The Literacy Council of Brown County sought volunteers to tutor non-English-speaking people and offered training workshops. It sounded interesting and I was soon teaching my first student.

Here I am, 25 years later, still teaching English. It's been the most rewarding volunteer work I've ever done. It changed my perceptions of immigrants —the difficulty with communication, the prejudice and the hard work it takes to make a life in a new country. I've learned people the world over are the same – they love their children and families, want a good life for them and are willing to make sacrifices to accomplish their goals. They want to learn English. However, there are not enough classes or teachers to help them.

I find one-on-one tutoring rewarding. I can only help one or two students at a time but they learn quickly and are so grateful. How rewarding to hear a student say, "Teacher, yesterday, I was shopping and I ask for bathroom for my little girl. Before, I don't know how to ask, she has to wet her pants. Thank you for helping me."

I've made many new friends and have had unique experiences with my students. I've taught students of all ages, all abilities and many nationalities. Using skills learned in the literacy workshop, I can teach English to anyone without knowing a single word of their language.

If you have ever asked, "Why don't they learn English?" call the Brown County Literacy Council for information on workshops. Every tutor makes someone's life better and gains much in return.

Passaic tries to teach immigrants safety through their children

The best way to get safety messages to parents is to teach their children. The kids love to teach their parents a new thing. DP

By ED BEESON, HERALD NEWS PASSAIC -- The boy's question was an innocent one.

"Do they have firefighters in Mexico?" asked the Hispanic youth wearing a plastic firefighter helmet.

Yes they do, fire Chief Patrick Trentacost responded with a smile.The question highlighted a challenge faced by fire departments that serve immigrant communities. Many Passaic residents hail from countries where fire safety education is rarely taught, and the fire departments themselves are less organized, Trentacost said later in an interview.

Now living in densely packed and often fire-prone housing, these families are potentially at risk of being swept up in a disaster. That risk only increases if families are afraid to call fire departments because they fear having to explain their immigration status, he said.

But by reaching out to the children of these immigrants, fire officials believe that the safety lessons can and do filter upward.

"It's unbelievable the amount of information that goes back to their parents," Trentacost said.
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Facts show immigrants don't deserve crime blame

This report shows that illegal immigrants commit crimes at the same rate as the rest of us. DP

Suntimes Opinion Piece Illegal immigrants get blamed for everything: rape, murder, robbery, you name it.

They are actually quite law-biding, as much as the rest of us, a Sun-Times report reveals.

They account for about 3 percent of the state's population and an equal percentage of inmates in Cook County jails. Less than 4 percent of adults in Illinois prisons have been identified as illegal immigrants.

The perception holds that more illegal immigrants equals more crime. That view is bolstered by lies told by anti-illegal immigrant groups like the Minutemen. They claim 64,000 U.S. citizens have been killed by illegal immigrants since Sept. 11, 2001. That would mean more than half the murders in the United States have been committed by illegal immigrants.

Besides, the numbers don't add up. The FBI doesn't even track the data of offenders or victims based on their citizenship status. The data does show that nearly half of those arrested for murder or non-negligent manslaughter in 2006 were white. Only 1 percent of "criminal aliens" were in jail for murder in 2005, according to the Government Accountability Office.

Sadly, people tend to believe this anti-immigrant hype. They always have. One recent survey found most Americans believe immigrants boost crime. These same claims have been hurled at the Irish, Italians and Chinese at some point in America's history. Today we scapegoat Mexicans.

We don't blame all middle-age white guys for the crimes of John Wayne Gacy. We don't blame all black men for John Allen Muhammad's Beltway sniper-fest. We shouldn't blame all illegal immigrants, either.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Immigrants' language skills crucial in era of global economy

A first hand account of why we all should be bilingual and multilingual. And why immigrants definitely should keep their parents' language alive. DP

By Rep. Mike Honda
REP. MIKE HONDA represents California's 15th Congressional District. As a teen, I once told my mother to speak only English to me.

On the surface, things Japanese just were not "cool" enough for this California high school kid. Even more haunting was the stigma of World War II and the struggles my family suffered through during those years in an internment camp on account of our ancestry.

Years later, as a Peace Corps volunteer, I realized what I lost by shunning my Japanese. Learning Spanish in El Salvador opened my mind to a new world view. I also realized that in losing Japanese, I lost a window to a culture that has made a major impact on the world.

That is why I find the fear of multilingualism irrational. Some view it as though it were a disease infecting our country instead of a cure; in fact, many folks pay thousands of dollars to acquire a second language. Many foreign policy blunders the United States has committed in the past, and the not-so-recent past, could have been avoided had we not looked at the world through a mono-cultural lens. Rather than English dying, the real tragedy facing our country is the children of immigrants who lose their ancestral language. I believe that immigrants should learn English when they come to the United States - but not lose the language skills they bring with them.
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International High School is haven for students learning English

These high school students from at least 15 countries, are learning to be American high school students. After 2 years in this school, they go into the high schools in their neighborhoods. DP

Students there outperform those with limited English proficiency at other Austin high schools.

By Raven L. Hill, AMERICAN-STATESMAN STAFF Like many of his classmates at the International High School, Hamed Berenji had struggled for weeks with saying goodbye to the familiar as he adjusted to his new homeland.

Now, it was time for the 16-year-old to teach them how to say hello. In Farsi.

"Salaam," he wrote on the bright blue poster.

One by one, the other students joined him in sharing their native greetings: Chao. Kushe. Mingala ba. Bonjour.

Different paths brought each of the International High's 194 students to Austin. Some arrived seeking greater opportunity under fairly typical circumstances — a mother's new job or a father's desire to study at the University of Texas — but others came under more harrowing conditions. Those students barely escaped war-torn countries with their lives.

For many immigrant students, International High School is a haven. Housed at Johnston High School in East Austin, the three-year-old, open-enrollment school is one tool the Austin school district is using to help students overcome the hurdles of learning a new language, a new culture and coursework.

On state standardized tests, the students generally outperform those with limited English proficiency at other Austin schools. District officials are preparing a report on the progress of International High students, who can remain in the program for two years, after they return to neighborhood schools.
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New efforts opening arms to immigrants

Many different cities, and all with different ways to help their immigrant residents assimilate and learn to be Americans. DP

By Antonio Olivo and Vanessa Bauza | Tribune staff reporters In Melrose Park, they lure in Latin American immigrant parents with a new youth soccer league, then try to get them into neighborhood English classes as part of a state New Americans initiative.

In Skokie, planned courses will teach new residents from warmer parts of the world how to dress for the area's infamous winters. And in Schaumburg, village officials are puzzling over how to persuade South Asians to join local civic groups.

All are part of a quiet but mounting government push to encourage assimilation, the likes of which has not occurred since Theodore Roosevelt's Americanization programs of the early 20th Century, scholars say.

With Illinois viewed as a national model, government officials around the country are devising new strategies to deal with a historic immigration wave that has caught many areas off guard.
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Sanchez: Being bilingual will open doors

Even though the U.S. should remain an English speaking country, it helps everyone if more of its residents speak more than one language. DP

By Ashley Sanchez, REGULAR CONTRIBUTOR The Leander school district board is considering including a second language, most likely Spanish, as part of the curriculum for elementary students. Happily, the proposal enjoys widespread support in our community. But it is also a reminder, as California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger recently found, that language is an emotionally charged issue.

The immigrant governor stepped on a hornet's nest when he told a convention of Hispanic journalists that immigrants should "turn off the Spanish television set" to learn English more quickly. By so saying, he ran afoul of "advocates" who apparently want to protect monolingualism among the newcomers.

Of course, if immigrants remain monolingual, then more Americans must become bilingual to meet their needs in various settings, including medical situations and law enforcement. In fact, one right reserved exclusively for American citizens caters to monolingual immigrants by allowing them to vote with ballots printed in their native languages. Perhaps it is because of this double standard that some people are angered by attempts to encourage Americans to be bilingual.

The anger is misplaced. People at both ends of the spectrum need to recognize that being monolingual fences people in by limiting opportunities and creating barriers. Thus, newcomers to this country should learn English. Mercifully, many do, and, by the third generation, virtually all do.
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Wednesday, November 14, 2007

In this county, education doesn’t end with school

This program helps parents learn valuable skills which help their children be more successful in school too. DP

Adults and parents find variety of life-skills programs for self-improvement through college, rec department

by Kristina Gawrgy | Staff Writer Adults are discovering that furthering their education can also have positive effects on children, families and the overall community, say county officials and parents who have become involved in a host of activities sponsored by schools, colleges and nonprofits.

‘Whatever gets parents involved in the community is a good thing,” said Jackie Dean, president of the PTSA at Wheaton High School, who attended Monday night’s Hispanic Heritage Celebration and parent resource night at Wheaton High School.

The parent resource night is one of several methods of outreach. Individual schools offer programs for parents such as literacy nights to teach parents the importance of reading to their children. The school system offers the Parent Academy, a series of workshops on topics that range from school psychology to establishing good credit, and even county centers like the Charles W. Gilchrist Center for Cultural Diversity work in partnerships with nonprofits and corporations to offer afternoon and evening classes for immigrants and their families.

During Wheaton’s parent resource night, parents could get information and ask questions of representatives from organizations including the county’s Department of Health and Human Services, nonprofit groups, Latino Economic Development Corp., and even Bank of America and The Catholic University of America School of Nursing.
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Monday, October 29, 2007

Kids of illegal immigrants live in fear but pursue American dream

This story shows why these high school students who excel in school should be allowed to attend college for a reasonable tuition and then become citizens. Our taxes paid for them to be educated, why would we want them to stop their education and take menial jobs now? Educated residents start businesses, pay taxes, buy houses, etc. This is the American way. DP

By KEVIN GRAMAN, THE SPOKESMAN-REVIEW SPOKANE, Wash. -- A teenage girl studying entrepreneurship at Washington State University would be on her way to realizing the American Dream, except she is not American.

Mercedes grew up poor in a small central Washington farm town, studied hard and despite having to work part-time, the Running Start student graduated from high school with a 3.8 grade-point average and an associate's degree from Big Bend Community College in Moses Lake.

Like other 18-year-olds starting college this fall, Mercedes is motivated by personal ambition. She wants to own a business so that she can provide jobs to other Latinos.

But because she was brought to the United States from Mexico by her parents when she was 2 and is here illegally, she has lived in fear since she was very young of being detected and deported to a native country she has never known.

"I always worried that immigration (officers) would come if I didn't excel," she said.

Last week, the U.S. Senate voted whether to end debate on a bill that would grant her and as many as 65,000 students a year like her, the U.S.-raised offspring of illegal immigrants, legal residency while she pursues her degree. Its bipartisan sponsors fell eight votes short of the 60 needed to bring the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act to a vote.

It is the DREAM Act to those supporters in Congress who say children should not be punished for the actions of their parents. It is the Bad Dream Act to opponents who say it rewards illegal behavior with amnesty.
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Study: Most Immigrants See Future in US

A recent study by the Pew Hispanic Center:

Most Hispanic immigrants believe their future is in the United States, despite maintaining ties to their native countries, according to a new study by the Pew Hispanic Center.

The nationwide survey of Latinos found that a majority took part in one or two "transitional activities" — sending money, calling or traveling to their homelands. But only 9 percent do all three, which researchers say indicates being "highly attached" to their birth countries.

The report, released Thursday, shows that the lives of Latinos in the United States straddle two countries, a phenomenon known as transnationalism, said its author, UCLA sociology professor Roger Waldinger.

"What's striking is that although the long-term trend is toward disengagement ... most immigrants are involved in some form of contact with the place which they're from," Waldinger said. "What we have is a population that, as we tried to describe, is between here and there."

Researchers disagree on whether transnationalism is a new trend. Some say recent Latino immigrants are the first to establish such dual connections by using modern communications and transportation.

However, Waldinger and others say today's immigrants behave much like their predecessors from Europe in the 19th and 20th centuries. They often sent letters and money home and later returned to live in their homelands. But Waldinger said direct comparisons are impossible because no data was collected then.

The study also found that transnational activities do not hinder Latino immigrants' bonds to the United States. More than 60 percent plan to stay and are more concerned about politics and government in the U.S. than in their native countries.

The report found that recent arrivals are more likely to send money home, but less likely to travel home than established Hispanic immigrants.

The survey was conducted by telephone among a random sample of 2,000 Hispanic adults from June 5 to July 3, 2006. Respondents include 1,429 foreign-born Latinos. The survey has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.8 percentage points for the full sample and plus or minus 4.4 percentage points for the foreign-born sample.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Columbia Heights Poles strengthen ties to the old country

These students are reconnecting to their culture. Their grandparents came from Poland and, as with most immigrants then, did not teach the language or history to their children. DP

Polish pronunciation difficulties don't stop Columbia Heights residents from connecting with their old-world heritage.
By Lora Pabst, Star Tribune Over the crackle of an old cassette tape, 10 students read along to a Polish skit in the basement of the Columbia Heights library last week.

They gather twice a month, not to perfect their Polish grammar but to share stories about their Polish grandparents or their own visits to their relatives' homeland.

In an area of the metro where many Polish and Eastern European immigrants congregated in the early 1900s, residents are still trying to maintain the basics of their culture and language.

Karen Karkula of Columbia Heights has been coming to the Polish classes for three years, ever since she went to Poland in 2003. Her grandpa immigrated from Poland, moved to Columbia Heights and built houses in northeast Minneapolis. But he never taught her Polish, beyond singing Polish Christmas carols and funeral songs.
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High Schoolers Prepare For Future, In Chinese

These high school students are studying Chinese, knowing this will aid them in their future careers. DP

By Eileen McNamara Old Lyme — Scott Lunde is a goal-oriented high school student, one who already knows he wants a career in business engineering.

To prepare, the senior at Lyme-Old Lyme High School has signed up for a new class that at first might seem a bit off track for his career choice.

Four days a week, he and 16 other students gather in John Wang's second-floor classroom to study Chinese.

Scott, along with his classmates, is proving an unusually apt and confident pupil in the language, and repeats short Chinese phrases that Wang calls out, careful to add the correct intonations.

“In Chinese,” Lunde explained, “the meanings of words can change depending on how you pronounce them.”

At a time when many school districts in southeastern Connecticut are struggling with how to teach English to an influx of Chinese immigrant students, the Lyme-Old Lyme school district wants to teach its kids how to better communicate with those new immigrants.

The new language class is also part of a broader district initiative to respond to China's growing role in world markets and the need for emerging businessmen and women to understand how to communicate with their Chinese counterparts, said Jeanne Manfredi, who chairs the district's language department.

“Chinese is one of the fastest-growing languages in the world,” Manfredi said. Some states, such as Connecticut, have responded by offering grants to local districts to promote Chinese language and culture, she added.
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Immigrants find key to job market door

This is a wonderful program, run by recent immigrants, for immigrants, helping them do everything needed to get into the workforce. DP

Asian-American agency training programs serve diverse group
By Paul Restuccia These are exciting times for the Asian-American Civic Association as it moves this week into a brand-new facility in Chinatown that will nearly double the cramped 9,400-square-foot space it now occupies in the Theater District.

The AACA offers English language training, adult education and social services for recent immigrants. It also runs some of Boston’s most successful workforce training programs, having placed thousand of graduates since 1984 in jobs ranging from accounting clerks to medical technicians to auto mechanics.

And the group’s job training programs don’t just serve the Asian-American population. Its current 23-week ASCENT program, which combines accounting and computer skills with English and job-readiness training, has 16 students who hail from 10 different countries - including Nepal, Morocco, El Salvador, Puerto Rico, Afghanistan, Haiti and even Russia - as well as from Asian countries such as China, Cambodia and Vietnam.

“We used to primarily train an Asian population, but that has changed and it’s been a good thing,” says AACA Executive Director Chau-Ming Lee, who has been at the organization since 1982. “We’re all immigrants and the door should be open to everyone who wants to use it.”
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Indian Immigrants' Son New La. Governor

This is the ultimate story of the American Dream. DP

Son of Indian Immigrants, Bobby Jindal Becomes Louisiana's First Non-White Governor
By MELINDA DESLATTE, Associated Press Writer U.S. Rep. Bobby Jindal easily defeated 11 opponents and became the state's first nonwhite governor since Reconstruction, decades after his parents moved to the state from India to pursue the American dream.

Jindal, a 36-year-old Republican, will be the nation's youngest governor. He had 53 percent with 625,036 votes with about 92 percent of the vote tallied. It was more than enough to win Saturday's election outright and avoid a Nov. 17 runoff.

"My mom and dad came to this country in pursuit of the American dream. And guess what happened. They found the American dream to be alive and well right here in Louisiana," he said to cheers and applause at his victory party.
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Monday, October 22, 2007

Demonizing immigrants is wrong approach

This piece says that the U.S. is a nation of laws and also a nation of common sense. So very true, and people who say the illegal immigrants must be deported are not using any common sense. DP

By BARBARA SHELLY Jaywalkers of America: Be afraid, be very afraid.

This is a nation of laws. Never mind that your destination is directly across the street and there isn’t a vehicle in sight and you’ve been crossing without benefit of a traffic signal for years. Jaywalking is illegal, and what about that do you not understand?

The same goes for those of you who roll through intersections without fully stopping and who occasionally exceed the speed limit. Your day of reckoning is at hand.

Funny, I don’t see anybody quaking yet. And I’m still noticing rampant jaywalking in downtown Kansas City.

The United States is a nation of laws. It’s also a nation of common sense. People understand that violating a leash law isn’t the same as sticking somebody up with a handgun. That’s why one will get you a fine, at worst, and the other will land you in prison.

But this well of pragmatism runs dry when conversation turns to the question of what to do about the 12 million or so immigrants who arrived in this country illegally but have made a life here for themselves and their families.

Mention a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, and the outcry will rise up faster than Brush Creek after a downpour.
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Poll: Americans want fewer illegal immigrants in U.S.

Most Americans would like there to be fewer illegal immigrants in the country, but only 30% say all of them should be deported, says a CNN Opinion Research poll. DP

By CNN WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Most Americans would like there to be fewer illegal immigrants in the country, but only three in 10 say all of them should be deported, a CNN Opinion Research poll said Wednesday.

Seven percent of those polled said they would like to see the number of illegal immigrants increase, 22 percent said they would like the number to remain the same, 16 percent want it decreased "a little" and 22 percent want it decreased "a lot," according to the poll of 1,212 adult Americans.

Blacks and whites differed over whether the number of illegal immigrants should be increased, with 14 percent of African-Americans saying it should, versus 3 percent of whites.

Nineteen percent of blacks said they thought all illegal immigrants should be removed from the country; 35 percent of whites said that.

Blacks and whites overwhelmingly oppose state governments issuing driver's licenses to illegal immigrants, with 76 percent of blacks and 83 percent of whites taking that stance, the poll said.

The races differed more on whether state and local police should turn over illegal immigrants they encounter, even if the immigrants have broken no state or local laws. In such cases, 45 percent of blacks and 61 percent of whites said they believe police should turn over illegal immigrants.

Asked whether people who cannot read or write English should be allowed to vote, 54 percent of blacks said they should, versus 43 percent of whites.

The Voting Rights Act of 1965 eliminated voting barriers such as a literacy test.

On a related topic, the public appeared split on foreign trade -- 46 percent said they see trade more as an opportunity for economic growth, whereas 45 percent said they see it as a threat to the U.S. economy. Five percent said they see it as both an opportunity and a threat.

The telephone poll was carried out Friday through Sunday and had a sampling error of plus-or-minus 3.5 percentage points.
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In Shift, 40% of Immigrants Move Directly to Suburbs

This shows that 40% of immigrants are moving to the suburbs, unlike in past years when they all moved to the cities. DP

By SAM ROBERTS About 4 in 10 immigrants are moving directly from abroad to the nation’s suburbs, which are growing increasingly diverse, according to census figures released yesterday.

The Census Bureau’s annual survey of residential mobility also found that after steadily declining for more than a half-century, the proportion of Americans who move in any given year appears to have leveled off at about one in seven.

“For blacks, especially, it mimics the 50s-style suburban movement, most pronounced for married couples with children, owners and the upwardly mobile,” said William H. Frey, a Brookings Institution demographer.

Dr. Frey’s analysis of mobility patterns found that while Hispanic and Asian immigrants were more likely to settle first in the nation’s cities, “after they get settled, they follow the train to the suburbs.”

The migration of blacks to the South continued, with net gains of blacks also seen in the West. The South was the dominant region in recording gains among Hispanics living in the United States who moved.

“The fast growth of construction and low-skilled jobs, plus the general affordability of parts of the South for upwardly mobile Hispanics, has made the South a key destination,” Dr. Frey said.
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Summit forum eyes impacts of immigratio

This forum discussed all the issues and problems of an area with a large population of immigrants. It sounds like they are all working to make everything run smoothly. DP

Influx of immigrants affects education, business and health care

By Nicole Formosa, Summit County correspondent, Aspen, CO Colorado FRISCO, Colo. — About 50 people turned out to hear a panel of local employers, students and health care workers discuss the hot-button issue of immigration Thursday evening in Frisco.

Even with so many different views and opinions surrounding the topic, particularly concerning illegal immigration, the forum managed to steer clear of any contention.

“I thought it would’ve been more controversial,” said local Eric Hanzel, who sat in on the two-hour discussion. “It seemed like everyone was on the same page.”

The forum, sponsored by Our Future Summit, aimed to look at the impact of immigration to Summit County in the areas of education, business, health care and overall community well-being.
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Monument dedicated to Chinese immigrants who built Delta levees

This honors the Chinese workers who helped build the area and made it possible for the area to prosper. DP

The Associated Press LOCKE, Calif.—A new monument in this Northern California town honors the Chinese workers who helped build the vast levee system in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.

Residents gathered Saturday for the unveiling of the 9-foot-tall granite and bronze tribute, which commemorates the contribution of the workers to the system that now protects acres of rich farmland and supplies two-thirds of the state's water.

The monument, designed by Stanford University sophomore Elyse Marr, is part of a larger effort to restore this small dilapidated town, founded about a century ago.

"Locke is a wooden town," said Marr, 19, who's father was born in Locke. "If it ever goes, we'll still have this monument."

After nearly being condemned two decades ago, Locke has been declared a national historic place, and the Locke Foundation was formed to offer tours and collect oral histories. Sacramento County and the Housing Authority invested money for sewers and sprinklers, and the state parks department renovated the boardinghouse on the north side of town.

Ping Lee, 90, attended Saturday's event to remember his father and town founder, "Charlie" Lee Bing, and honor the immigrants who panned the sludgy soil and built the muddy barriers when no white workers would do the job.

Lee said he's not sad that many Chinese left the area.

"They're doctors, senators and councilmen now," he said. "They've earned their place."

When Immigration Goes Up, Prices Go Down

An interesting story about prices being lower in areas that have high immigrant populations. DP

By Shankar Vedantam Last week, a gallon of gas at an Exxon station in the tony suburb of Bethesda cost $2.99.

At an Exxon station in the less affluent suburb of Wheaton, a gallon cost $2.63 -- 36 cents less.

Both Exxon stations are located near a subway line that goes to downtown Washington. Both are in the same county: Montgomery.

Why would the same company charge you 14 percent more for an identical product in one location?

Because it can.

That's the simple answer. The free market relies on the willingness of consumers to punish businesses that overcharge. If you are willing to pay extra for the convenience of filling up your car at an expensive gas station on your way to work, rather than the cheaper one that is a little out of your way, why blame Exxon for taking your money?

But there is also a more interesting answer, which brings us to the subject on tap: The difference in gas prices may have to do with the fact that Wheaton has many more immigrants who are not yet fully assimilated into the economy than does Bethesda. Immigration, economist Saul Lach recently found, plays a powerful role in holding down prices. For every 1 percent increase in the ratio of immigrants to natives, prices go down by about 0.5 percent, according to Lach's new study about the effects of 200,000 Jews immigrating to Israel from the former Soviet Union in 1990.
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Sunday, October 14, 2007

Hudson library reaches out to city's Bengali population

Here's an immigrant group most of us don't even realize is here. This library is helping them learn English and details about their community. DP

By Ariel Zangla, Freeman staff HUDSON - America prides itself as a melting pot of different cultures and beliefs, but an understanding of the English language can help bring people together in a community.

Many immigrants who come to the United States take advantage of programs that teach English as a second language. While many of these programs are aimed at the growing Hispanic population, one catering to Bengali speakers will soon be offered at the Hudson Area Association Library.

Working with Literacy Connections of Dutchess County, the library will offer a program to help a growing population of Bangladeshi learn to speak, read and write English.

Margaret Pfaff, the executive director of Literacy Connections, said the new program, funded by the Dyson Foundation, will help both children and adults learn the English language. While adults are learning English in one area, children will be in a separate area working on literacy-based activities, she said.

"It's a purposeful curriculum to help enrich children," Pfaff said.

Bengali is an eastern Indo-Aryan language spoken in Bangladesh and the Indian state of West Bengal. Two Bengali dialects are significant - Sadhu-Bhasa, the literary language, and Calit-Bhasa, which is colloquial speech.

Pfaff said the Hudson program will be directed toward Bengali-speaking individuals, but will welcome other ethnic groups and nationalities. She said the primary goal of the program is to teach people to reach, write and speak English, but secondary goals include teaching them more about their community.
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