Sunday, July 29, 2007

Won't Your Spanish Hurt Their English?

Another story telling how difficult it is for parents to keep their native language alive in their children. If they succeed, their children will be bilingual and have a huge advantage over unilingual people. DP

Spanish, of all languages, is nearly missing from the landscape of heritage language schools around the city, writes a Los Angeles parent struggling to bring up bilingual children.

By Rey M. Rodríguez I was standing in line at a grocery store in Pasadena with my two boys, who were restless and causing a little havoc. I told them to settle down. Diego and Pablo ignored me, but I did get the attention of a woman standing in line. She was concerned not about my boys' behavior, but about my speaking to them in Spanish.

Wouldn't it affect their English? she asked.

I never worry about my children's English because it is too prevalent in their lives for them to lose it. Diego, our first, communicated with my wife, Vivian, and me only in Spanish until he was two, and his first word was agua instead of water. He still understands the language easily. But since starting preschool, he's battled with us to speak or write it.

Spanish is a part of our home life. We have books and watch TV shows in Spanish and only speak Spanish at home. We've also gone on trips to Mexico and Spain so that Diego would realize that in some places people only speak Spanish. But he still was unwilling to use it, and by the age of five he clearly preferred to speak English.
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Child of Muslim Immigrants: What Being Muslim in America Really Means

This story by a Muslim American tells about another group of our immigrants. It is very important, please read the whole article, go to the Diversity Inc. website. DP

By Aysha Hussain When I look back on my life as a Muslim American, I often wonder why most, if not all, of my experiences were positive.

As a child I was taught that "Islam" means peace and that in order to be a Muslim, you are expected to embrace people from all walks of life, regardless of their color or creed. This foundation was not something I learned on my own, or something that was instilled by a well-integrated American Muslim. Everything I know about Islam today was given to me from two immigrants from Southeast Asia—my parents, who after more than 25 years of living in the United States are still strong in their faith and culture and are proud of being part of American society.

Yet 46 percent of Americans feel the United States allows too many immigrants to enter from Muslim countries, and the majority of Americans who feel this way are 40 or older, according to a new survey by Newsweek, the magazine's first poll on attitudes toward Muslim Americans.

The poll, conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates International, interviewed 1,003 adults ages 18 and older. It found that 52 percent of Americans feel that U.S. Muslims—native-born (35 percent) and foreign-born (65 percent)—are more peaceful than Muslims living in other countries.
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Wednesday, July 25, 2007

New Haven to begin offering IDs to illegal immigrants

New Haven is issuing ID cards to illegal immigrants to make it easier for them to open bank accounts and use libraries, etc. This should keep them safer. But some might be afraid to sign up. DP

By News Channel 8's Darren Duarte New Haven's controversial ID program begins tomorrow, but some residents aren't sure how well it will be received.

Elizabeth and Miguel Rodriguez think that their neighbors, whose apartment was raided by immigration officials last month, may think twice about applying.

"They probably will be scared because of everything that has happened and they're probably scared if they go something will happen to them," says Elizabeth.

"I know a couple of people that are undocumented around here, and a couple at my job, and they really feel skeptical and scared about getting this card, " says Miguel.

However, there are those who think that applying for an ID card is good idea, like Geabrel Centeno who says, "that's good for the people because, I am a person like everybody. And everybody has to work."

The Elm City Municipal ID Card is designed to help residents and illegal immigrants open bank accounts and use city services. This program is the first of its kind in the United States, and some are wondering if the city can keep its promise to keep information confidential.
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Immigrant parents struggle to keep their children bilingual

As with all immigrant families the parents don't speak much English and in a short time the children forget the parents' language. It is very important to keep both languages. These parents are trying to keep the children bilingual. DP

By Maria Sacchetti, Globe Staff LAWRENCE -- After a lunch of hot dogs and rice, Jordy Berges blasted a ball off the wall of the lunchroom at his mother's office, his stomping grounds for the summer.

"No juegues aquí," Yovanna Berges scolded her 7-year-old son, telling him in Spanish to stop.

"Sorry," he answered her, in English.

Berges, an immigrant from Peru, is growing accustomed to such conversations with her son. She is struggling to raise him to speak English and Spanish fluently, which might not seem like a big challenge in the city with the highest proportion of Latinos in Massachusetts. But researchers say Berges and immigrant parents nationwide are confronting a difficult truth: Their children are losing their languages.

According to research presented to Congress in May, even the children of immigrants prefer to speak English by the time they are adults.
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Free class teaches English

This adult class to learn English is funded by a grant. Every city and community needs many classes like these. DP

By David Steffen, Toledo Free Press Staff Writer The students come from as far as Brazil, Bosnia, Greece, China, India and Lebanon, but they share the goal of improving their English language skills.

Peggy Clancy, teacher of English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL), showed them a portion of “October Sky,” featuring a West Virginia boy fascinated by space travel. Explaining the film's vocabulary on a list, she drives an imaginary shovel toward the floor.

“Coal miner,” she said.

Clancy has taught ESOL for one year at Owens Community College in Perrysburg Township. The twice-weekly class teaches English to speakers of all levels.

“I really enjoy it,” Clancy said. “It's a wonderful opportunity to meet people and to assist with learning the language and the culture to be successful here.”

Jeremy Lin attends the class. He is originally from China and is a native Mandarin speaker.

“I think it's great,” Lin said. “In China, I can't find these opportunities but in the United States I do. I was so glad to start in the class.”
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Group asks congregations to aid immigrants

Another story about the sanctuary the churches are giving to immigrants. DP

Effort to house illegal workers at churches is growing

By TOM HEINEN A Milwaukee immigrant-rights group is asking area churches, synagogues and mosques to offer financial and moral support - including sheltering illegal immigrants facing deportation - to a small but growing effort known as the New Sanctuary Movement.

Voces de la Frontera is contacting 30 congregations, some denominations and groups such as Milwaukee Innercity Congregations Allied for Hope.

Churches in several cities nationally have begun sheltering immigrants. And at least one church here - Cristo Rey Lutheran Church, an Evangelical Lutheran Church in America congregation on the south side - has indicated a willingness to do so, said Joanne Lange, a local coordinator for Voces.

The Rev. Carlos Aranda, its pastor, voiced support for the effort Saturday in front of more than 100 people at a gathering at Prince of Peace Parish, a Catholic congregation on the near south side. It was part of a multicity Wisconsin Reality Tour by Voces to call attention to immigration issues.

"I think it is a critical development in the immigrant rights movement," Christine Neumann-Ortiz, executive director and founder of Voces, said of the sanctuary movement.

"It's picking up on the tradition and experience of the 1980s Central American refugee movement," Ortiz said. "But it really is sending a strong message to our federally elected leaders that, in the absence of their leadership and their solution, people of conscience are not going to stand by and let other people suffer and be persecuted because Congress is not willing to step forward and change these unjust laws. It is showing that U.S. citizens and the religious community - again, people of conscience - will stand up."
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Thursday, July 12, 2007

Martinez column: DREAM Act can educate immigrants

A very sensible opinion on the DREAM Act. DP

By Lionel Martinez Should a child be punished because the parents broke the law?

Just asking the question sounds ridiculous, and most of us would be justifiably livid if such a policy were enacted. Yet that's exactly what's happening to about 65,000 teenagers nationwide because they are illegal immigrants and, therefore, don't qualify for the college aid that may be their only hope for earning a degree.

That's why I was one of about 60 people who attended a rally at east Bakersfield's Heritage Park on Independence Day in support of the DREAM Act, or "Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act." The legislation would allow high-school graduates who are illegal immigrants to become temporary legal residents -- qualifying for in-state tuition and financial aid -- if they go to college or join the armed forces.

The event was part of a statewide effort that had student activists and their supporters engaging in a water-only fast in support of the legislation, according to news reports. It's a bill worth passing.

Let me anticipate your argument. These students are here illegally, so the only government help they deserve is a free ride back across the border, right?

I'll ignore that cruel remark and ask you to consider this: These kids didn't choose to cross the border. Their only sin was staying with their parents. Most are from poor families -- that's why they came here -- assimilated, learned English and toughed it out through high school.

In other words, they are model immigrants.

Yet despite all their hard work, they may not have access to one thing that's almost certain to transform their lives and help them make a greater contribution to society: a college education.

Kern County Republican Party Executive Director Jack Duncan told The Californian the GOP won't support any immigration reform until the borders are secure, but what exactly is a secure border? Without specific criteria, it sounds like the phrase is just a tactic to postpone sensible legislation like the DREAM Act indefinitely.

The act was actually part of the major immigration reform package that died in the Senate weeks ago, but supporters have mounted a new effort to pass the bill on its own.

Some will also argue that passage of the legislation could result in thousands of undeserving immigrants bilking taxpayers, but the requirements would be strict. According to The Californian, students could qualify for the DREAM Act only if:

* They were brought to the United States more than five years ago.

* They were 15 years old or younger when they arrived.

* They have demonstrated good moral character.

* They graduated from high school or earned a GED.

Should a child be punished because the parents broke the law? I hope that's not the kind of society we live in. Unfortunately, tens of thousands of college-age students are being unjustifiably punished right now. Passing the DREAM Act will help put an end to that.

Ultimately, this issue is about whether everyone who works hard and stays out of trouble deserves a shot at a better life in this country.

And if giving youngsters that opportunity is not a major part of the American story, what is?
Leonel Martinez's column appears every other Thursday.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Illegal immigrants find refuge in holy places

This story gives many examples of people living in churches around the country, avoiding deportation. All have young American born children, their families would be split up. DP

By Emily Bazar, USA TODAY Five immigration agents rapped on Liliana's front door one morning in May. "We've come for you," she recalls them saying.
Liliana, a 29-year-old factory worker from Mexico who crossed the border illegally in 1998, begged and pleaded. "What about my children?" she asked. "I have a baby. I'm nursing."

The agents softened when they heard Pablito crying, she says, and gave her a reprieve. They ordered her to report to a detention center five days later to be sent back to Mexico.

Instead, Liliana hid at the home of a Catholic deacon and his wife. Last month she emerged from hiding and took up residence at St. Luke's Episcopal Church, which has pledged to protect her from deportation.

St. Luke's and Liliana are central characters in the New Sanctuary Movement, a small but growing coalition of churches, synagogues and other houses of worship that is challenging the immigration system, despite legal risk, as the nation debates how to deal with the estimated 12 million illegal immigrants in the USA.

The congregations say the immigration system mistreats immigrants and breaks families apart. They want to end raids of job sites that have led to the arrest of thousands of undocumented workers, and they're lobbying for policies that would help keep the families of illegal immigrants together and in the USA.
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Sunday, July 08, 2007

Hundreds of immigrants become U.S. citizens at Seattle ceremony

552 people became citizens in this ceremony, many of them saying they did it so they can vote. DP

By Jennifer Sullivan, Seattle Times staff reporter The uniformed Fort Lewis soldier gravely recited his oath of citizenship, quietly sang "God Bless America" and expressed his surprise that more than 500 other immigrants were becoming U.S. citizens with him.

For Enrique Ureta, 35, the oath on the Fourth of July brought him full-circle from his personal vow after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks — to do whatever he could to serve the United States.

In October, while stationed in Mosul, Iraq, Ureta signed up to become a citizen. On Wednesday, underneath the noonday sun at Seattle Center, the Renton resident who serves in the 70th Regional Readiness Command, 164th Maintenance Company, formally renounced his Philippines citizenship while taking on his new one.

"I want to become part of the political process, especially in these sensitive times," Ureta said, adding that he hopes to vote for politicians who will bring home the troops in a "peaceful" way.

Eight military members made up the 552 immigrants from 82 countries who took their oath of citizenship at Seattle's 23rd annual Fourth of July naturalization ceremony. Former Gov. Gary Locke, Democratic Sen. Maria Cantwell, Democratic Rep. Jim McDermott, Secretary of State Sam Reed and Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels offered inspirational speeches and congratulations.

During his congratulatory address, Locke, the son of immigrants himself, talked not only of the importance of voting, but how U.S. citizens should question politicians. He recalled his mother attending the same naturalization ceremony more than 50 years ago and the pride she had when she took her oath.

"Anyone who is willing to work hard can succeed," said Cantwell. "We come together as Americans because there's more that unites us than divides us."

Coming to America: Local immigrants record sagas for Ellis Island museum

Some very interesting recollections of 18 people who went through Ellis Island and settled in Pittsburgh. DP

By Sally Kalson, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Roughly 14 million immigrants passed through Ellis Island between 1892 and 1954 on their way to becoming Americans -- and, in some cases, Pittsburghers. Now, just in time for the Fourth of July, the Ellis Island Immigration Museum has added 18 of their stories to its archives.

This new batch of recordings is the fruit of a 10-day visit to the city by Janet Levine, the museum's oral historian. She came to town June 18 and set up shop in the Jewish Community Center in Squirrel Hill. There she interviewed immigrants for whom Ellis Island was the portal to the New World. Most were in their 80s or 90s, and one was 100.

"I consider these people national treasures," said Ms. Levine before heading back to New York last week. "I think I've really added to the collection by coming here."

The digitally recorded hourlong interviews will be available to the public in the Ellis Island Library listening room, which has 20 computer stations outfitted with headphones.
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Faces of the free

A story about several immigrants, from all parts of the world, who have made new lives in Lafayette Louisiana and are proud to be Americans. DP

Immigrants celebrate life in Acadiana

by Claire Taylor Freedom and opportunity.

Two hundred thirty-one years after America declared its independence, the freedom and opportunity it offered back then still attracts people from across the globe who long for an education, a good job, peace and asylum.

They flock, not just to New York City and Miami and Los Angeles. They also slip quietly into smaller communities like Lafayette, where they embrace and celebrate the local culture while maintaining the best of their native lands.

Today, as we mark the birth of the United States of America, we celebrate the U.S. and us, especially those from other nations who chose to make America and Lafayette their home. We share here some of their stories of hope, love and success, as well as some of their opinions on America's policies toward illegal immigrants.
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Tuesday, July 03, 2007

New wave of immigrants embraces new home

This tells how the story is the same, the people have just changed from German 150 years ago to Latino now. DP

By James J. Divita For nearly 150 years, St. Mary's has been a church for Catholic immigrants: Germans in the 19th century and Hispanic (60 percent of the congregation) in the 21st.

The United States admitted Germans no matter what their peculiar political or religious beliefs. Everyone welcome. Nativists considered them inassimilable and organized the Know Nothings in the 1850s.

German Catholics preferred a German-speaking priest and did not want to worship with Irish. St. Mary's opened on East Maryland Street exclusively for Germans in 1858. All priests who headed St. Mary's were German-born or German-American until 1949. Germans who lived south of McCarty Street were assigned to the new Sacred Heart Parish in 1875. A quarter century later, one in five residents of the city was German-born or had two German-born parents.

German gradually gave way to English. In church records Fisch on Fridays became "fish," and parishioners drank beer at a "piknick." Immigrants' children became bilingual because their neighborhood schools taught both languages.

For the convenience of parishioners, the present neo-Gothic, limestone structure of St. Mary's was built at Vermont and New Jersey streets. Inspired by the Cologne cathedral and designed by architect Hermann Gaul, this Germanic national monument opened in 1912. It is one of Indianapolis' few churches on the National Register of Historic Places.

Parish men served loyally in the military against Germany in World War I. When the legislature prohibited teaching German in Indiana, churches were also expected to drop German entirely. After the war, monolinguals drifted away from St. Mary's.
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Immigrants Become American Citizens at the NCC

Ninety one people sworn in as citizens, from all over the world and now they are Americans. DP

By Matt O'Donnell July 2, 2007 - With Independence Day just around the corner, this was a day of celebration for scores of immigrants who officially became American citizens. They took the oath of citizenship this morning, in the shadow of Independence Hall.

A man in uniform always stands out - particularly when he is about to become a U.S. citizen.

Fabian Estrada has served three tours of duty in Iraq as a marine. Today, he can say he is an American, too. Estrada was one of 91 people who dropped their status as foreigners, during a naturalization ceremony at the National Constitution Center.

The Center also debuted a new documentary called "A Promise of Freedom." The short film will be shown to immigrants across the country, who yearn for citizenship. It highlights an American's responsibilities and rights - like liberty.

From Colombia to Ecuador, Egypt and Morocco, Italy and China and they are all here now. And they all carry a piece of an ideal, molded a few blocks away.

Building a new home for ancient heritage

This story is a perfect illustration of how this country was built by immigrants who became Americans. DP

Cultural tradition thrived even as immigrants assimilated

By ANDREW MARTON, Star-Telegram staff writer A diverse mix of immigrant groups settled in this area around a century ago. As we prepare to celebrate Independence Day, the Star-Telegram takes a look at several families representing this rich cultural heritage. Today: The Phiripes and Pappajohn families.

Georgia Alice Cole was as bred-in-the-bone Fort Worth as chicken-fried steak slathered in cream gravy. Steve Pappajohn was more honey-soaked baklava, having been born in Turkey to Greek parents. Around 1915, Pappajohn arrived, along with his mother, in the dusty flats of Fort Worth.

The 1945 wedding of Georgia and Steve was not only eloquent testimony to their love. It also set in bold relief the depths of both assimilation and cultural independence achieved by Fort Worth's earliest Greek immigrants.

After all, Steve Pappajohn may have married a traditional Fort Worth gal, but the ceremony was conducted mostly in Greek, at the local Greek Orthodox church. Soon enough, Georgia Pappajohn would adopt her husband's faith.

At 84 years old, Georgia still remembers every stitch of her simple white wedding dress and the traditional Greek crown she wore.
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Attendance in ESL classes is on the rise

ESL classes are the fastest growing adult education programs in the country. And they are so necessary. DP

BY CONNIE LLANOS, Staff Writer SANTA CLARITA — Learning English has liberated 58-year-old Delfina Guevara. She's finishing her third English-as-a-second-language course this summer after spending a couple of years learning the language of her adopted country.

"I used to feel stupid when people would talk to me on the street and I wouldn't understand," Guevara said. "Even though many times I would go to class hungry or tired, learning the language here is a foundation we all need."

Guevara is one of hundreds of adult students in Santa Clarita who are filling up ESL classes every semester — in line with nationwide trends.

According to the National Institute for Literacy, ESL courses are the fastest growing state-administered adult education programs in the nation.

As the nation continues to debate immigration, these foreign-born students and their teachers say politics and government are not a part of their curriculum.

"They are aware that this immigration bill had a clause that required them to learn English," Doris Hiller, a 51-year-old semi-retired schoolteacher, said of federal immigration reform legislation that failed this week.

"But we try not to discuss politics in class."
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This article tells the real numbers that back up the headline. DP

By Cynthia Tucker, Atlanta Journal-Constitution Talk about strange bedfellows. The anti-illegal immigration campaign has brought together a curious mix of activists, joining white conservatives with a handful of black civil rights crusaders.

In the last year or two, looking to add a certain diversity to their ranks, the Minutemen and similar groups started posting another complaint alongside the usual litany of ills they associate with illegal workers. On top of refusing to assimilate, waving the Mexican flag, destroying neighborhoods and draining social services, illegal workers, they say, steal jobs from black Americans, especially uneducated laborers.

Minuteman Project co-founder Jim Gilchrist, whose group placed vigilante guards along the southern border, was among the first to seek black support by expressing a deep concern for the economic prospects of black men. More recently, state Sen. Chip Rogers, one of the Georgia Legislature's fiercest critics of undocumented workers, has experienced an epiphany over the poor job prospects of uneducated black men. He, too, blames their plight on illegal immigration.
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