Friday, June 29, 2007

Survey: 80 percent of immigrants try to learn English

Another survey proving immigrants want and try to learn our language. DP

Obstacles include difficulty of task, fear or a lack of time, child care

By Jennifer W. Sanchez, The Salt Lake Tribune Nowadays, it's common to hear some people rant about how immigrants don't want to learn English.

But, according to a recent United Way of Salt Lake survey, more than 80 percent of immigrants and refugees say they have formally tried to learn English.

There is no question that immigrants want to learn English and there are many programs to teach them, but the language barrier is not the sole challenge in helping them succeed in Utah, community leaders say.

The United Way released a 40-page report this month called Building on Common Ground: A Framework for Immigrant Integration. It includes a survey conducted by De la Cruz and Associates, a Midvale-based company.

According to the report, the top barriers that make it hard for immigrants to learn English are:
* A lack of time
* Difficulty
* A lack of child care
* Fear

Many immigrants are working multiple jobs, adjusting to life in a new country and trying to provide for their families, making it hard to find time to take English classes, said Bill Crim, United Way's strategic initiatives and public policy director.
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The struggle to habla Ingles: Learning to speak English is daunting task for many

Another story that shows how wrong people are who insist the immigrants don't want to learn English. DP

By Deborah Bulkeley, Deseret Morning News After up to 10 hours at work, Jose Runco struggles to stay alert during his English class.

"After work, I am tired," he says. "The teacher says, 'Please, don't sleep."'

But despite his exhaustion, the Uruguay native attends classes at Horizonte Instruction and Training Center three evenings each week, eager to "understand more and more."

Like Runco, most immigrants and refugees want — and try — to learn English, according to a report by the United Way of Salt Lake, but they often fail because of barriers such as time constraints.

The new report, "Building on Common Ground: A Framework for Immigrant Integration," finds that immigrants and refugees recognize the importance of speaking English to achieve financial stability. It also calls English a key component for immigrants to be able to integrate into their new communities.

However, the survey conducted by de la Cruz and Associates found that the immigrants often face barriers such as a lack of time because of family or work schedules. Some said it's too difficult to learn or that they can't find child care.
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Monday, June 25, 2007

At Phoenix school, reading, if not test scores, is its own reward

A nice story about kids who are learning to read, not quite to school standards yet, but definitely improving. DP

By Karina Bland, The Arizona Republic Three years ago, The Arizona Republic launched a partnership with Creighton school in hopes of raising its students' reading scores. With the help of their teachers and tutors from the newspaper, the students made huge strides improving their reading scores.

But for all their work, the majority of the children still aren't reading at grade level.

Still, everyone involved says that the project was worth it, that you have to look beyond the data and into the classrooms. They shared their stories in the final days of school in May.

"When I came to kindergarten, I didn't speak English, so I couldn't understand what the teacher was saying," says Juan Sotelo, now 10.

But he says he dreamed of learning to read, hugging books borrowed from the library to his chest.

He discovered that letters make sounds, and together those sounds make words, in first grade.

"It seems like a long time ago now," Juan says. "It was a lot of work. Sometimes I got tired."

Now at the end of third grade at Creighton Elementary School, Juan reads 94 words per minute. It's shy of the 120-word expectation for third-graders, but Juan is a confident reader and getting better all the time. He began the school year reading 57 words per minute.

Now he's in a top reading group working on comprehension, understanding what he reads.
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This is the good life? Area's illegal immigrants tell why coming to America is worth the perils

These 2 women tell the stories about their journeys to this country. And why it was worth the agony. Even though they are both still undocumented, they consider themselves part of the U.S. DP

By Thacher Schmid For one of Cowlitz County's illegal immigrants, fear first appeared in the form of extreme hunger, during a life-threatening journey across the treacherous Sonoran desert. Nowadays, it's a trip to the local Safeway.

Antonia Abendano said she was twice abandoned by "coyote" guides in the Sonoran desert while illegally crossing into the U.S. On her first journey, which ended in deportation, Abendano said she took refuge in an Indian's hut, living for 25 days on nothing but coffee and water.

A Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) raid on a Fresh Del Monte warehouse in Portland last week brought the realities of America's illegal immigrants back to the forefront and sent shock waves through local Latino communities. Like the 160 workers hauled off to Tacoma from the chilly confines of the Portland warehouse, local undocumented immigrants often work tough jobs for low pay, and maintain a low profile.

Meanwhile, President Bush, in a marriage of convenience with Democratic Congressional leaders such as Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Mass., has been pushing the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2007, which would provide a complicated, multifaceted amnesty for illegal immigrants -- if passed. Many details remain to be worked out.
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Sunday, June 24, 2007

Diverse group of grads share drive to achieve success

These high school graduates have overcome language obstacles and received awards for their accomplishments. DP

City School District students break through language barrier to reach graduation goal

Gary McLendon, Staff writer As if graduating from high school in the City School District isn't challenging enough, try attempting it when you can't speak English.

The district honored graduating seniors Tuesday who have overcome language obstacles with the first Hispanic Students and English Language Learners awards at Thomas Jefferson High School.

While the ceremony leaned in favor of honoring Hispanic students, it also honored students from Africa, Russia, and Afghanistan who learned to speak or improve upon their English in order to graduate.

"They not only face the language (barrier), they also face the cultural, social and emotional adaptation to the school district and America. Some students, when they first come here, it's their first experience in school," said Sandra Chevalier-Blackman, director of Academic Career Counseling and Parent and Community Partnership for the City School District. "To be able to reach this far is something that needs to be celebrated."

The department helps students navigate through the district and helps connect parents with community agencies to aid their transitions.
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Saturday, June 23, 2007

More classes would help

I agree, we have to fund more classes for English language learners. We can't complain that they don't speak English and at the same time, not want more classes for them. DP

Opinion One of the complaints about the new wave of immigrants is that they do not want to learn English. One of the counterarguments is that there is such a demand for English classes that those who want to learn wait for months, even years.

A recent story in The Wall Street Journal focused on a community organization in Queens that turns away three out of four applicants. A story from the Boston Globe reported that 16,000-18,000 people are on waiting lists.

Now there is a boom in private, fee-based instruction, which can be unaffordable for people who work one or more entry-level jobs. Employers often have to pay the bill to teach their new employees the English they need to do the job.

While there is little common ground on the immigration issue, both sides should be able to agree that the federal government needs to drastically increase the budget for these language classes and not just complain about the lack of English skills.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Influx of African immigrants diverse, growing in size

This articles tells about African immigrants all across the country, not quite fitting into either white or black communities. DP

By DAVID CRARY, Associated Press WASHINGTON - They range from surgeons and scholars to illiterate refugees from some of the world's worst hellholes - a dizzyingly varied stream of African immigrants to the United States. More than 1 million strong and growing, they are enlivening America's cities and altering how the nation confronts its racial identity.

"To white people, we are all black," said Wanjiru Kamau, a Kenyan-born community activist in Washington, D.C. "But as soon as you open your mouth to some African-Americans, they look at you and wonder why you are even here."

Since 1990, the African population has more than tripled in places as far-flung as Atlanta, Seattle and Minneapolis, where Africans now constitute more than 15 percent of the black population. The biggest magnets are New York City and greater Washington, including its Maryland and Virginia suburbs; Jim Wilson, Brookings Institution researcher, estimates that the African-born population in each area has soared past 130,000.

Census data from 2000 show 43 percent of Africans in the U.S. have college degrees, higher than the adult population as a whole. Compared to African-Americans, the immigrants' average household income is higher and their jobless rate lower.

They include hard-working couples such as Tigist Mengesha and her husband, Girum - Ethiopians trying to build their own version of the American dream in the mostly black suburb of Suitland, Md.
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Thursday, June 14, 2007

Large majority supports path to citizenship

I wish this majority were as loud as the minority who don't want this to happen. DP

A poll finds 63% of all respondents, and 65% of Republicans, back the controversial measure.
By Janet Hook, Times Staff Writer WASHINGTON — A strong majority of Americans — including nearly two-thirds of Republicans — favor allowing illegal immigrants to become citizens if they pay fines, learn English and meet other requirements, a new Los Angeles Times/Bloomberg poll has found.

That is a striking show of support for a primary element of an immigration overhaul bill that has stalled in the Senate amid conservative opposition.

Only 23% of adults surveyed opposed allowing undocumented immigrants to gain legal status. That finding bolsters the view, shared by President Bush, that the bill's opponents represent a vocal minority whereas most people are more welcoming toward illegal immigrants.

"They are willing to take jobs that our people aren't interested in, and I think this helps the economy," Joseph Simpkins, a retired dry cleaner in New Jersey who participated in the survey, said in a follow-up interview. "As long as they pay taxes, I see nothing wrong with having them become citizens."
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Immigrants play big role in tech startups

Another study showing why immigrants are such an important part of this country. DP

McClatchy Newspapers KANSAS CITY - Foreign-born people were the founders of 25 percent of the technology and engineering firms started in the United States from 1995 to 2005.

These immigrant-founded companies employed 450,000 workers in 2005 and tallied sales of about $52 billion, according to research sponsored by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. A report released yesterday said this group of immigrant entrepreneurs showed a "strong correlation" between advanced education and business creation.

"More than half of the foreign-born founders of U.S. technology and engineering businesses initially came to the United States to study. Very few came with the sole purpose of starting a company," the researchers found.

The report also found that:

● Ninety-six percent of the immigrant founders held bachelor’s degrees, and 74 percent held graduate or post-graduate degrees.

● Three-fourths of their degrees were in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

● About half of the immigrant founders completed their highest educational degree at U.S. universities.

Researchers at Duke University and the University of California-Berkeley conducted research for the report, which described the typical immigrant entrepreneur as someone who founded a company after living and working in the United States an average of 13 years.

Their business startups are especially concentrated in America’s technology centers, such as California’s Silicon Valley.

"The U.S. economy depends upon these high rates of entrepreneurship and innovation to maintain its global edge," said Vivek Wadhwa, a contributing researcher at Duke.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

African massacre survivors make Denver their home

A very interesting story about African refugees making their home in Denver. DP DENVER - In the kitchen of his sparsely furnished Denver apartment, Jonathan Nduwayo Sarukundo displays a large yellow can of Nido, a nutrient-rich powdered milk. He keeps it as a reminder of his past.

Sarukundo, his wife and their four sons fled civil war in their native Democratic Republic of Congo, survived a refugee camp massacre in neighboring Burundi, and were resettled this spring in Denver by the United Nations. Cans of Nido were status symbols in the refugee camp.

"I'm happy here with what I've got," Sarukundo, a slightly built and soft-spoken 42-year-old, said through a Swahili-speaking interpreter. "Now all I'm focusing on is raising this family."

Making Denver home is an emotionally and physically exhausting process for Sarukundo, one of 500 refugees of the Banyamulenge tribe being resettled here and in San Francisco, Louisville, Ky., Abilene, Texas, and other cities.

He had never felt temperatures like the low 30s of mile-high Denver in the spring - or seen snow. He's never used public transportation. He has to remember how to shake hands for job interviews.

There are the sprawling grocery stores with their packaged foods, membership cards and discounts. The challenge of using an electric range. The intricacies of the telephone, the television.
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Monday, June 11, 2007

Portuguese-Americans celebrate heritage

This immigrant community started in the 1800s and still keeps their culture alive while also being completely American. This is what should always happen in this country. DP

By Scott MacKay, Journal Staff Writer PROVIDENCE — That Portuguese-Americans, of all Rhode Island’s many immigrant groups, have one of the strongest bonds with their traditions, heritage and language was underscored again yesterday, as several thousand thronged the streets of Providence for a colorful parade commemorating the 30th anniversary celebration of a Day of Portugal in Rhode Island.

Rhode Island has been a destination for Portuguese immigrants since the 17th century. While Portuguese Rhode Islanders are proud of their contributions to the state and of assimilation as Americans, the links to the old country are still strong for many of the roughly 100,000 state citizens who listed Portuguese as their ethnicity in the 2000 U.S. Census.

“This is a community that has always been very clear about the value of assimilation,” said Marie Fraley, of West Warwick, whose grandparents came from Portugal in the 1920s. “But it also a community that has many people who immigrated as recently as the 1970s, and so the immigrant experience is still very fresh for them.”

Yesterday, the Portuguese respect for tradition and love of celebration merged in a parade that for the first time in many years began with a ceremony on the State House steps, wound through downtown streets and ended at the Bank of America plaza, where the sweet smell of grilled chourico and peppers merged with the aroma of hot dogs and hamburgers. Be sure to read the rest of this story! This is only a small part of it.

Most state voters back legalizing immigrants

This survey has about the same results as all the other recent polls. People want fair treatment for the people here illegally. DP

BY ALFONSO CHARDY Three in five likely Florida voters say they back legalizing millions of undocumented immigrants largely along the lines of a controversial measure now stalled in the U.S. Senate.

The findings of the Zogby International statewide poll, conducted for The Miami Herald and WFOR-CBS4 in association with The Palm Beach Post and WPEC-CBS 12, mirror other polls' national results. The Senate compromise measure crashed into a wall of opposition raised by liberals and conservatives who dislike parts of the bipartisan bill for different reasons.

The poll's findings come as President Bush scrambles to try to get the support of Republican senators who view the measure as undeserved amnesty for the nation's estimated 12 million illegal immigrants. On Tuesday, Bush will meet with conservative Republican senators in an attempt to persuade them that the bill is tough on border enforcement and far from amnesty. It would extract heavy fines and long waits for immigrants to legalize their status.

Some of those requirements -- among them fines of $5,000 and a proposed point system that puts the nation's employment needs above family unification for immigrants -- are opposed by Democrats, who say the fines are too hefty and the waits too long.

In Florida, however, there's strong support for the Senate bill from voters of every political persuasion, race and ethnic group.

John Zogby, president of Zogby International, joked that Florida is not a ''Lou Dobbsian state'' -- a reference to CNN host Lou Dobbs, who has emerged as a leading opponent of illegal immigration.
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Immigrants in the U.S. Health Care System

Everyone should read this report that dispells 5 major myths. Go to the article and click to download the pdf. DP

Five Myths That Misinform the American Public

By Meredith L. King Restrictionist politicians and talking heads concur that immigrants in the United States are a burden on our health care system. A decade ago this belief contributed to legislation that limited immigrants’ access to the health care system. Today, similar sentiments misinform the current debate over immigration reform.

These myths about documented and undocumented immigrants’ use of U.S. health care services need to be examined in detail if our nation is going to have a true understanding about the immigrants in the U.S. health care system.

The five most prevalent of these myths are:

+ U.S. public health insurance programs are overburdened with documented and undocumented immigrants.

+ Immigrants consume large quantities of limited health care resources.

+ Immigrants come to the United States to gain access to health care services.

+ Restricting immigrants’ access to the health care system will not affect American citizens.

+ Undocumented immigrants are “free-riders” in the American health care system.

These misconceptions feed a perception that one of the biggest reasons for our nation’s failing health care system is the growth of immigration—and not the lack of insurance and skyrocketing health care costs. As a consequence, these myths have influenced policymaking and sparked federal efforts to preclude immigrants’ access to the health care system.
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Teachers use immigrant past to relate to students

These teachers were once immigrants and know what the students are going through. DP

By DIANE SMITH, Star-Telegram Staff Writer FORT WORTH -- Parallel journeys brought Truong Le and Diane Phan-Nguyen from Vietnam to Success High School.

Le and Phan-Nguyen were toddlers in 1975, when North Vietnamese forces captured the South Vietnamese capital of Saigon and helicopters swooped in to evacuate refugees.

Their families escaped, and church sponsors helped them resettle in the United States. The families were drawn to North Texas' emerging Vietnamese community, and the two found their place amid two cultures.

Through tutoring and substitute teaching, they discovered a passion for educating.

Now, Le and Phan-Nguyen rely on their immigrant experiences and empathy to help them be better teachers for younger generations of immigrants and refugees attending Success High School. The school, on the campus of Trimble Tech High School in the Medical District, caters to immigrants ages 17 to 21, providing accelerated instruction during the day. It also offers night classes for students who work.

During the summer, Le will teach students who need to pass the exit-level Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills.

Students come to North Texas from countries such as Vietnam, Mexico, Bosnia and Somalia with hopes of earning a high school diploma. At Success, they familiarize themselves with English, the fast-paced American culture, work and Texas' high-stakes testing.

"I know where they come from," Phan-Nguyen said. "I know what they are going through, the cultural barriers. I put myself in their situation."
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Spanish-English course aims to improve communication in construction industry

This is an industry where this is definitely needed. On the job accidents are more common for workers who don't understand the instructions. DP

By CONNING CHU Waukesha - Responding to a surge of monolingual Latino immigrants in the work force, a new Spanish-English learning program is building a bridge over the language barriers of construction work.

The 12-hour, three-week basic language learning course is the result of a partnership among La Casa de Esperanza, the Metropolitan Builders Association and Waukesha County Technical College to teach those in the construction industry to communicate with Spanish- or English-only speaking co-workers.

"Latinos are sweeping the nation in construction jobs," said Hortensia Washington, director of operations at La Casa de Esperanza and instructor for the new language course. "This is about us respecting everyone no matter how limited their English is and cutting out the middle person."

She said the program, named after Waukesha County builder Bryce Styza, aims to teach supervisors, workers and contractors basic Spanish and English terms and phrases used in construction work to improve safety and work efficiency in the field.

A group of 18 English-speaking builders completed the first session last month.

"Many times you go to a job site, and you don't know if everything you are trying to communicate is going through," said Dave Montguire, a builder for James Craig Builders in Waukesha and participant in the first session.
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With some English help, immigrants back in business

These adult students range from only 8th grade education to others with law degrees in their own countries. But all are in class to improve their English to help them in their jobs. DP

Classes strengthen language, job skills, boost confidence

by Kristina Gawrgy | Staff Writer As the students trickled into their customer service class, the instructor set up a relay race to teach English verbs. Each immigrant student had to conjugate a verb into the past tense or past participle and then hand a marker to a teammate.

The students were serious, but also had fun as they learned words like ‘‘cost,” ‘‘choose,” ‘‘buy” and ‘‘burst.”

When one student pronounced ‘‘shoes,” instead of ‘‘choose,” professor Anna deSimon pointed to her feet, hinting that the pronunciation was a little off.

A handful of students from countries around the world are improving their English and learning customer service skills through the MontgomeryWorks Sales and Service Learning Center in Wheaton and Montgomery College’s Workforce Development & Continuing Education department.

DeSimon, a professor at Montgomery College, helps the students not only learn the appropriate English that goes along with customer service but gives them scenarios to act out and problems to solve.
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Sunday, June 10, 2007

Aldermen approve ID cards for illegal immigrants, others

This seems like a good idea, these ID cards are only good in the city limits but lets people open bank accounts, get libray card, etc. DP

By Associated Press NEW HAVEN, Conn. -- The Board of Aldermen overwhelmingly approved a plan Monday night that would allow the city to issue identification cards for illegal immigrants and others. A packed chambers broke out into applause when the vote was tallied

The card would be recognized as official identification within city limits, allowing illegal immigrants to open bank accounts. By a vote of 25-1, the board agreed to accept more than $250,000 in private funds from the First City Fund Corporation to implement the so-called "Elm City Resident Cards," proposed by Mayor John DeStefano Jr.

"This card will allow all carriers to receive access to the services that they deserve as residents of New Haven," DeStefano said in a statement Monday night.

He said the new cards, which will be issued beginning in July, are also aimed at improving public safety. DeStefano many undocumented immigrants become victims of crime of robbery because thieves know they carry large amounts of cash with them or store it in their home. Without proper identification, they are unable to open bank accounts.

"By eliminating this barrier to banking services, we expect to make New Haven safe for all its residents," DeStefano said.
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School's caring helps students beat odds

None of these kids even spoke English four years ago and yet every one is graduating and has been accepted to college. DP

International High acts as surrogate parent to push immigrant teenagers to college careers
By Tracy Jan, Globe Staff The teenagers spoke not a word of English when they came to Boston four years ago. Some left parents behind in Guatemala, Cape Verde, and Haiti. Others arrived with only a primary school education.

They were the first class to enter Boston International High, created in 2003 to educate recent immigrants. The school, with flags from 42 countries lining its entryway, had a unique mission: Take some of the most vulnerable students in Boston's public school system, get them to graduate from high school, and go to college.

Next week , every senior at the Jamaica Plain school will graduate. All 35 have been accepted to college, most to four-year universities. They have beaten bleak odds stacked against them: Nearly a quarter of the city's students whose first language is not English never graduate from high school.

Boston International High succeeded because it addressed students' every need, students said. Their teachers, counselor and headmaster often acted as surrogate parents. They found students after-school jobs and temporary housing. They helped prepare them for college entrance exams and took them on college visits. Many teachers, immigrants themselves, empathized with the students' struggles.
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