Sunday, January 27, 2008

Longer waits to become citizens

The backlog in the immigration department is making citizenship applications take more than a year to be approved. Many will miss the opportunity to vote in Nov. DP

By Maria Sacchetti, Globe Staff Immigrants in Massachusetts and nationwide could wait 16 to 18 months - more than double the usual period - to become US citizens because of a massive backlog, leaving thousands possibly unable to vote in November.

The backlog is the result of millions of applications for citizenship, green cards, and work permits that swamped immigration offices last summer before hefty fee increases went into effect July 30.

Federal immigration officials across the nation are hiring hundreds of staff members, paying overtime, and streamlining bureaucracy to process the applications more quickly. In Boston, officials will add more officers and in March will add an extra day, Saturday, to help break up the backlog in citizenship interviews.

Officials in Massachusetts had hoped the delays would be shorter. But after opening hundreds of applications that came in before the fee increases, a process they finished just recently, they realized the wait could be as long as 18 months, which is also the national average. Before the fee change, the wait here was four to five months, and about six months nationally.

"We're hoping that people won't have to wait that long," said Shawn Saucier, spokesman for US Citizenship and Immigration Services. But, he added, "What we're facing is immense."

In Lowell, Phana Sin's heart sank after learning it could be more than a year before he becomes a citizen, because citizenship will help him bring his three children to the United States from Cambodia.

"It's too long," he said, shaking his head.
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LDS Church urges lawmaker compassion in addressing illegal immigration

Here is another religious group, asking for compassion in the immigration debate. DP

By Peggy Fletcher Stack, The Salt Lake Tribune Amid an increasingly rancorous debate about immigration, LDS leaders have urged Utah representatives to be compassionate in their push for legal reforms.

"The basic message was that we need to step back, not be so reactive and let cooler heads prevail," said Rep. David Litvack, D-Salt Lake City, who met on Jan. 11 with LDS Apostle M. Russell Ballard and other church officials. "The anti-immigrant community has become hateful and vilifies all undocumented workers." The LDS leaders said, in essence, "We must remember that we are talking about human beings."

Litvack, House minority whip, considered that valuable advice for lawmakers who are considering a number of anti-immigration bills, including a push to eliminate in-state tuition for children of undocumented immigrants.

Though many members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, including presidential candidate Mitt Romney, take a hard-line view of any people in the country illegally, others believe kindness fits better with the church's beliefs about treating strangers as if they were Jesus himself. They say a compassionate stance also is less hypocritical for the church, whose early members were almost all immigrants. Today, many of Utah's estimated 100,000 undocumented immigrants likely are LDS.

The church remains neutral on immigration legislation, said spokesman Scott Trotter, but it does send missionaries among undocumented immigrants, baptizing many of them without ever asking about their status. It also allows them to go to the temple and on missions.

Mormons were "pioneers on immigration in the 19th century," he said. "Why not be pioneers now?"
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Ruben Navarrette: Do illegal immigrants really cut in line?

This writer always has interesting opinions. Here he talked with Gov. Schwarzenegger and got his views on immigration. DP

By Ruben Navarrette, San Diego Tribune Now for real insight, let's turn to a Republican who is also an immigrant. With the California primary approaching on Feb. 5, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has advice for Republican presidential hopefuls who intend to come to the Golden State and exploit the immigration issue: Don't.

During a recent meeting with the editorial board of The San Diego Union-Tribune, I asked the governor, who hasn't endorsed any of the candidates for the upcoming primary, what advice he'd give them.

Specifically, I wanted to know what he thought about how some have been using the immigration issue to scare up votes.

"In a way, I understand why they're doing it," he said, "because when it comes to close elections, it's all about winning. It's not about sending a good message."

Schwarzenegger understands immigration better than just about any elected official in the country, from a policy perspective and a personal one. And he has a lot to say.

About the possibility that California might grant driver's licenses to illegal immigrants: "It'll never happen. It'll never get past me because I made itvery clear that we have to have immigration reform" first and not address the problem piecemeal.

About the fact that foreign workers have become a permanent part of the American economy: "We have our domestic workers ... but we fall short of the workers (we need) on the farms, and in construction and other places."

About what that should mean for immigration reform: "We should have the right for companies to go outside of the state, outside of the country ... and find those workers and bring them in on temporary worker permits."
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Immigrants are becoming citizens faster than past decades

Newer immigrants, many more than in the past, are becoming citizens when they become eligible. And for many different reasons. DP

Study from Homeland Security division is very accurate

By Mike Swift, Mercury News Orlino and Jonah Ordona of San Jose were concerned about rising immigration fees. Pre-med student Shilpa Muddagowni of Cupertino has her eye on a medical residency. Kenneth Leung of Berkeley wants to vote for John McCain in the Feb. 5 primary.

From hard-headed pragmatism to the civic idealism of voting, the immigrants who stood in line outside federal immigration offices in San Jose Friday morning had a range of reasons why they were there to become U.S. citizens.

"My kids are going to be growing up in this land. I don't want to be an observer," said Jia-Huey Yuan, 38, of Santa Clara, moments after she took the oath of citizenship. "I want to participate and really make an impact, to the society and to the nation."

According to a new and unprecedented analysis from the Department of Homeland Security, newer immigrants are moving more quickly into citizenship than those who became permanent residents in the 1970s and 1980s.

Among Asian immigrants who got their green cards in the early 1990s, between 53 and 59 percent went on to become citizens within 10 years, up from about 44 percent among Asians who got green cards in the early 1980s.

And while only about 20 percent of Mexican immigrants receiving green cards in the 1990s became citizens within a decade, Mexican immigrants "exhibited the greatest relative increase in [naturalization] rates between the earliest and latest cohorts," said the report, released this week by Homeland Security's Office of Immigration Statistics.

Based on federal data between 1973 and 2005, this new, authoritative analysis is based on actual administrative records instead of polls or other statistical samples.
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Monday, January 21, 2008

First Latina to give MLK address

NCLR's Janet Murguia was the first Latino/a ever to address Birmingham's Annual Unity Breakfast in honor of Doctor King's birthday this morning - she used the occasion to highlight the hate in the current political debate, particularly about immigration. Despite some initial rumblings that it was pretty unorthodox to ask a Latina to give the speech (, it was really well-received - lots of Amens throughout and a standing ovation at the end.
The part on hate speech can be found here:; the entire speech is here

Truth about Illegal Immigration and Crime

A very interesting study, disproving the beliefs of many immigrant opponents. DP

Anti-immigration forces have been hammering into our heads the dangerous link between illegal immigration and increases in violent crime. Their only problem: the facts don't support their alarmist contentions.
By Tom Barry There have been dozens of national studies examining immigration and crime, and they all come to the same conclusion: immigrants are more law-abiding than citizens. A 2007 study by the Immigration Policy Center (IPC) found that immigrants, whether legal or illegal, are substantially less likely to commit crimes or to be incarcerated than U.S. citizens.

Ruben G. Rumbaut, coauthor of "The Myth of Immigrant Criminality" study, said: "The misperception that immigrants, especially illegal immigrants, are responsible for higher crime rates is deeply rooted in American public opinion and is sustained by media anecdotes and popular myth." According to Rumbaut, a sociology professor at the University of California at Irvine, "This perception is not supported empirically. In fact, it is refuted by the preponderance of scientific evidence."

The Immigration Policy Center study found that:
• At the same time that immigration—especially undocumented immigration—has reached or surpassed historic highs, crime rates have declined, notably in cities with large numbers of undocumented immigrants, including border cities like El Paso and San Diego.
• Incarceration rate for native-born men in the 18-39 age group was five times higher than for foreign-born men in the same age group.
• Data from the census and other sources show that for every ethnic group, incarceration rates among young men are lowest for immigrants, even those who are least educated and least acculturated.
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Friday, January 18, 2008

Learning report cards' language

This story shows that kids are the same everywhere, some are telling their parents an F on a report card means Fine. So this class teaches immigrant parents to understands report cards. DP

By James Lomuscio, Staff Writer NORWALK - As 7 p.m. approached, Judith Aucar wondered whether there would be enough seats.

"We put up 250 chairs, and they are still coming," Aucar said last night about the event for immigrant parents held in the community room at Brien McMahon High School's Center for Global Studies.

The session was designed to help Spanish- and Creole-speaking parents navigate through the foreign world of report cards, midterm schedules and CAP tests.

"The Spanish-speaking population in particular is growing, and not only the students, but the parents need to get involved in the school community, so we're offering a series of workshops," said Aucar, chairwoman of the school's World Language Department.

The workshop, which had a several Spanish, Creole and French translators on hand, was the brainchild of Principal Suzanne Koroshetz and launched in cooperation with the school's Center for Youth Leadership's Peace Project.

"We want to teach parents how to read report cards, because in some cases we have had students go home and tell their parents that an F means fine," Aucar said.

According to Koroshetz, the information sessions were aimed at addressing the school's increase in immigrant students, a rise that reflects regional trends. For example, she said Brien McMahon has about 47 percent minority students, about half of whom speak Spanish.

"There's definitely been an increase, and we're just a microcosm of the larger community," Koroshetz said. "Not only do these parents care deeply about their children, but they care about their education, too.

"I want them to come and to be part of our school community."
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Sue Polinsky: The value of studying a foreign language

This woman points out some excellent reasons for learning another language. DP

By Sue Polinsky Why do kids have to learn a second language? Isn't English enough? Is the United States in danger of becoming so bilingual that it will become linguistically watered down?

Learning Spanish in school has become a Greensboro area hot button. Perhaps some of the argument against students learning a second language has an anti-immigrant bias. Maybe the recent deluge of signs that Spanish is spoken here is rubbing longer-term immigrants the wrong way.

Back in the days when we walked to school in the snow (both uphill and down), I was forced into Hebrew school, ostensibly to learn the Hebrew language and the concomitant culture. We met every Tuesday and Thursday, from 4 to 6 p.m., in the downstairs of the neighborhood temple. My teacher, Mrs. Cutler, has deservedly climbed all 10 rungs of the ladder to heaven as a reward for putting up with us for five straight years.

Hebrew school was a horrid experience. It consumed all my free time after school. It required studying and test-taking and other forms of torture. I hated every minute.

It was, in a phrase, one of the most valuable things I've ever done.

What I gained wasn't so much knowledge of Hebrew or cultural identity, although I achieved both. It wasn't even that Jerry Seinfeld sat a couple of rows behind me at synagogue and horse-laughed through much of the holy experience. Instead, what I accomplished in the third grade of public school (the first year of Hebrew school) was mastery of the way the English language works. Through Hebrew school, I learned grammar and sentence structure. I learned to write a complete sentence, and through that skill I could diagram anything they put in front of me. Through the arduous foreign language learning experience, my English skills became superior to those of my classmates in public school.

I learned in Hebrew that verbs can be conjugated and that they have tenses, something they barely touched in public ninth grade. I learned that apostrophes matter.

The skill I have is being able to communicate in writing quickly and effectively. It saves time, which translates into money, every day in my online tech business.
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Comics helpful as teaching tools

Comic books can be used to teach slow readers, the pictures help them associate with the words. DP

By Kevin Lynch Comics and graphic books have made big inroads into mainstream education.

"They've found that comics are massively helpful in getting kids to learn to read," says Bruce Ayers, owner of Capital City Comics at 1910 Monroe St.

"You can give kids something above their reading level, and if you do it with pictures they can absorb it much more readily, because they can associate the picture with the word.

"It's a very important tool," emphasizes the owner of the state's oldest comic shop, "particularly when dealing with immigrants in getting them to absorb the language faster."

Graphic novels can help slow or dyslexic readers, agrees Dave Hoon, an English teacher in the School Age Parent Program, a middle and high school alternative program housed in Marquette Elementary School.

"But they have to be done well," he adds. The quality is important because the position of the graphic novel is complicated in education, says Hoon, who uses them in his English classes.

But graphic novels can help teach formal concepts like archetypes: "the kinds of characters they've seen since they were young, or basic story types, which most books are variations on, or the idea that movies, TV shows and even telephone books are texts," Hoon explains.

Crossing Cultural Lines: Mexican American Pressman Helps Produce Sing Tao Daily

This is one of those nice stories when we say "Only in America". DP

New America Media, News Feature, Jun Wang SAN FRANCISCO – Although Jesus Garcia doesn’t speak a single word of Chinese he calls the Sing Tao Daily – a Chinese language newspaper – “our paper” whenever he talks about it.

Called “Jessy” by his Chinese colleagues, Garcia works as a senior pressman in Sing Tao’s printing facility in South San Francisco. In a yellow building filled with the stinging smell of ink and the blaring of 20 print units, Garcia produces the Sing Tao Daily with more than a dozen Chinese-speaking colleagues under tight deadlines seven days a week.

However, Garcia thinks the lack of common language is no problem. “Presses are very international machines,” he said. “[The machines] print newspapers in more than 200 languages.”

Before joining the Sing Tao staff, Garcia had more than 20 years experience working as a pressman. But still, he felt “nervous” one month ago when he started at the Sing Tao Daily because of its Chinese-speaking working environment. He pays extreme attention to “even small things,” as a pioneer exploring cross-cultural areas in ethnic media.

“To work at the press,” Garcia said, “you have to have patience. It’s very critical. You can’t freak out.”

He and his colleagues have to work as a team on problem solving. The ability to deal with the high pressure environment and having the same professional path helps Garcia and his colleagues understand each other and work together.

Garcia, 46, is the second Latino pressman joining the Sing Tao Daily. He was born and raised in San Francisco as the fifth generation in an immigrant family from Mexico. He doesn’t speak Spanish. “My parents are the last generation who speak some Spanish at home,” Garcia said.
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Native languages in valley fade as immigrants' children embrace U.S. culture

These American kids are learning to speak Vietnamese, the language of their parents, which they do not know, at least well enough. More proof that English is the dominant language and all others are lost unless taught like in these classes. DP


By Mike Swift, Mercury News It's Sunday morning at Gunderson High in San Jose, and hundreds of Asian children and teenagers throng into language classes that even spill into the hallways.

They're learning English, right?

In fact, they're American kids who speak English with a Northern California accent who have come to the Van Lang Vietnamese Language & Culture School because their immigrant parents want them to learn Vietnamese. They are among a growing number of immigrant parents enrolling their children in Vietnamese, Hindi and Spanish classes, in an effort to preserve their culture against the all-powerful pull of English.

While some Americans fear the country is becoming a collection of ethnic tribes lacking a common language because immigrants aren't learning English, immigrants have a different perspective, looking at their own children. Many believe their kids are adopting English at such a rapid rate that American culture is erasing all foreign languages imported to its shores.

Statistics drive home that point, demonstrating the truth behind America's reputation among linguists as a "graveyard of languages."

Even given the 5 million resident immigrants who have arrived in California since 1990, a significantly higher share of children and teenagers in immigrant families speak English fluently now than two decades ago, a Mercury News analysis of Census Bureau data shows.
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Skilled immigrants push for visa reform

The feelings about illegal immigrants have impacted all immigrants, and have put them all into one big group. Skilled workers trying to get specific visas are trying to hurry immigration reform along. This country needs skilled workers - and businesses suffer when they can't work here. DP

Skilled workers say visa reform a separate issue from illegal immigration

By DAVE MICHAELS / The Dallas Morning News Roopa Aragolam has little in common with the millions of illegal immigrants who toil in restaurants and hotels and on construction sites. But her fate, it seems, is tied up with theirs.

Ms. Aragolam, a master's student at the University of Texas at Dallas who is from India, will need a special visa to work in the U.S. Her chances to get one are "pretty bad," she reasons, given the shortage that has developed in recent years.

Raising the number of high-skilled worker permits, known as H1B visas, has bipartisan support in Washington. But many members of Congress, alternately skittish and brash about the hot-potato subject of immigration, disavow any bill that doesn't tackle illegal immigration and border security.

"H1B is only for people with specialized knowledge, who bring intellectual knowledge to the country," said Ms. Aragolam, 26. "Putting them in the same frame as illegal immigrants is totally wrong."

A growing chorus of immigration advocates and businesses agrees with her. Yet their voice has been drowned out as presidential candidates, particularly Republicans, hustle for votes with proclamations to expel illegal immigrants and seal porous borders.
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Jill Wagner: Help our immigrants learn English

This opinion piece tells people to help immigrants learn English. The people who complain that they won't learn are the first ones who should volunteer. DP

By Jill Wagner Are you proud to be an American? Do you consider yourself a talker or a good listener? Do you enjoy telling stories, reading them or even listening to them?

If so, why not reach out to those who are new to our community and to the English language by becoming an ESL (English as a Second Language) tutor?

An ESL learner is a person whose first language is not English. An ESL tutor is one who helps the ESL learner study English to improve his or her communication skills and be better able to function in our society.

If you've ever traveled to a country that does not speak English, you realize how difficult it can be to communicate beyond basic conversation. Can you imagine trying to speak to a mechanic in France about getting your car fixed? Or what if you were in Japan with your child gravely ill, but you couldn't understand the doctor's instructions? Or what if you simply wanted to understand all the memos that came home from school?

Consider your last name — what is your heritage? Are you a Native American, or did your ancestors arrive in the United States from some other land? How did they assimilate into American culture? Who taught them English? What struggles did your ancestors overcome or what sacrifices did they make in their quest to make a better life for themselves and their families in America?

There are many organizations in the Greensboro area — including the Glenwood Public Library, Reading Connections, FaithAction and many churches — that maintain long waiting lists of learners who are seeking English tutors. There are more individuals seeking tutors than there are available tutors. Many ESL learners work long days, hold down several jobs and take care of families, yet they still attempt to learn English either through community college classes or by signing up for a tutor.

These lists, quietly lying on the desks at these organizations, clearly demonstrate that our nonEnglish-speaking neighbors are decidedly making attempts to better communicate in English.

And no, I'm not affiliated with any of these organizations, but most of these organizations offer ESL tutor training with the only real requirements being a sincere desire to make a difference and to be fluent in English. Just an hour or two of your time once a week can make a tremendous difference in an English learner's life.

As you're making your New Year's resolutions, think about becoming an ESL tutor. Whatever your opinion on immigration, the compassionate thing to do is to welcome our neighbors and share the very essence of what we call our own — English.

Starting over in America

This immigrant helped another immigrant group of women adjust in their new country by first teaching them to crochet. It gave them confidence, helped them learn the language, made new friends, earned some money, got them out of their houses and even taught them some health care. DP

Somali Bantu women enjoy a craft group while learning other skills needed in their new home

By Katya Cengel, The Courier-Journal Louise Nyiramulinda knows what it is like to flee her country and to start over.

She came to the United States in 1998, leaving behind her native Rwanda, her degree in sociology and her job at a non-profit organization.

Seven years later, she was still laboring toward a bachelor's degree in social work at Spalding University while also working at Americana Community Center, a non-profit serving refugees and immigrants.

It was at Americana that she learned about the difficulties another refugee group from Africa, the Somali Bantu, was facing.

"We were hearing things about how they were struggling to adjust," said Nyiramulinda.

While their inexperience with technology, lack of English and often a lack of literacy in their own language were all hurdles, there was another obstacle as well, said Nyiramulinda.

"As a refugee, you go through a trauma, and then you come here and you think, 'Oh, OK. Phew, I can breathe now.' "

But the Somali Bantu, she explained, experienced a double trauma, because when they arrived they encountered expatriate countrymen of the same ethnic group who had repressed them there.

And the most isolated in their patriarchal society were the women, who rarely left the house, she said. Be sure to read the rest of this story! This is only a small part of it.

One million immigrants seek US citizenship to vote: campaigners

Immigrants are learning the importance of having a vote. Too bad more people who are born here haven't learned it yet. DP

AFP WASHINGTON (AFP) — A record one million immigrants sought US citizenship last year so they could vote in the 2008 presidential election, overwhelming the processing offices, Hispanic groups said on Monday.

"Surpassing the goal of one million applications is a tremendous achievement," said Arturo Vargas, head of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO).

Immigrants from Latin America represent the biggest ethnic minority in the United States -- some 45 million people. They could wield decisive weight in November's election, especially in largely Hispanic states such as Florida, Nevada, New Mexico and Colorado.

NALEO is one of several groups running a campaign to mobilize the Hispanic vote with the early presidential nominating contests underway and immigration a hot topic.

The US Citizenship and Immigration Services received 1.029 million applications for citizenship from immigrants between January and October 2007, the organizations say, citing official figures.

The figure -- a 10-year record, and twice the number for the previous year -- overwhelmed the offices processing the claims, causing a backlog.

The USCIS said in November it could not process all the applications at the normal speed.

"Our campaign is committed to building the support we need to clear this backlog," said Cecilia Munoz, vice-president of the biggest Hispanic group, the National Council of La Raza.

"They deserve the opportunity to have their voices heard on election day."

Welcome immigrants into democratic process

This column talks about the need to help immigrants learn about our democracy. Many do not understand it and don't know how it works or how it could help them. DP

By ETHAN LO, GUEST COLUMNIST Immigrants are America. Everyone living here today has roots tracing back to someone who took the plunge. But while there has been much commotion over the enormous number of people immigrating in, the way we ignore those immigrants already here is a critical issue.

Many immigrants are unaware of the processes of American democracy, and we're not taking enough steps to address that. With the percentage of foreign-born residents in Seattle near 20 percent, city government needs to take a more active role in encouraging immigrants to participate in politics.

The most fundamental part of political participation is the simple act of voting. It's understandable that many recent immigrants don't vote because they don't have a full handle on the process. U.S. natives educated in public schools have the advantage of being slowly taught the structure of government. Immigrants have no such luxury. Because many are unaware of our system of democracy, responsibility falls upon the city government to educate and encourage participation in immigrants.
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The Sound of Silence

This study of Arizona shows that the illegal immigrants actually help the economy. Wages are higher; crime, poverty and unemployment numbers are lower. DP

By Linda Chavez Arizona has been ground zero in the fight against illegal immigration — but a funny thing happened this week when a new anti-illegal alien state law went into effect. Nothing.

A new study out by the conservative think tank Americas Majority Foundation ( suggests a possible explanation why more Arizonans aren't rushing to run off illegal workers. It turns out Arizonans may be better off — not worse — because of the presence of so many immigrants in the population.

This sounds counterintuitive, at least if you believe current political rhetoric and tendentious research by anti-immigrant groups like the Center for Immigration Studies, NumbersUSA, and the Federation for American Immigration Reform. But the Americas Majority Foundation data are pretty persuasive. States with the highest percentage of immigrants or the largest recent influx of immigrants —19 High Immigrant Jurisdictions (HIJs) in all — are wealthier, have better employment numbers and most have better crime figures than those with fewer immigrants.

In Arizona, for example, personal income is higher, as is the gross state product, the measure of all economic activity in the state. Unemployment is lower, as is household poverty. And crime is lower than both the national average and the average among states with fewer immigrants.

And, the trends for HIJs are every bit as good as the absolute numbers. Not only are GSP, personal income, per capita personal income, disposable income, per capita disposable income, median household income and per capita median personal income higher than in other states, but they have been growing at faster rates between 1999 and 2006 than in other states.

In the area of crime, the trends are especially encouraging for HIJs. The 10 high influx states, those that experienced the most dramatic percentage increases in immigrant population from 2000-2007, had the lowest rates of violent crime and total crime, according to FBI figures. In 1999, the 19 HIJs did have higher crime rates, but the rates declined much faster than they did in lower immigration states over the next seven years: 13.6 percent faster compared with 7.1 percent in total crime and 15 percent compared with 1.2 percent in violent crime, leading to lower crime rates overall in HIJs in 2006.
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Sunday, January 13, 2008

Family ties span time, borders

This woman, born in California, has a sad story about her youngest child, but it has turned out surprising and happy. They have been reunited after 16 years. DP

A teenage boy makes an international journey to meet his mother.
By AMY TAXIN, THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER ANAHEIM - Desireé Thomas was surprised to get a call in December from her ex-husband, who had phoned only a handful of times since the couple split up 16 years ago.

He asked her if she had seen their son.

Desireé, 43, was puzzled. She hadn't seen Andrew since he was a baby. He had been growing up in Mexico with his father and grandparents, at least as far as she knew.
He's gone. He told his grandmother he went to get some donuts, and he never came back home, she said her ex-husband told her over the line.

Putting old wounds aside, the former couple devised a plan to alert authorities on both sides of the border that Andrew was missing. He was only 16. Her ex-husband called the police in Mexico. Desireé called the Anaheim police department and told her story.
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Skokie's immigrants learn to get involved in civic life

Skokie Illinois is putting on seminars helping immigrants fit into life here. Immigrants who have succeeded are using their experiences to teach newcomers. DP

Immigrants share tips on becoming a part of community
By Deborah Horan | Tribune staff reporter Jody Wadhwa is executor of his family's non-profit educational foundation and an Oakton Community College trustee. But the immigrant from India didn't start his American journey as a wealthy philanthropist. When Wadhwa came to Chicago at 22, he drove a taxi, worked in factories and toiled as a day laborer.

With hard work and smarts, Wadhwa eventually became CEO of an aluminum foil company, which he sold for a tidy sum that allowed him to retire at 54.

Last month, he told his rags-to-philanthropy story during one of two seminars organized by the Village of Skokie designed to encourage immigrants to get involved in civic life.

The story involved a receptionist who wrote "yoused" instead of "used" on an inventory list, a misspelling that started Wadhwa on a campaign to strengthen American education. The tale captivated the 20 or so immigrant leaders who attended the seminars and, most importantly, it highlighted how simple it can be to overcome an obstacle that community leaders say prevents many immigrants from getting involved in mainstream America: the tendency to view themselves as outsiders.
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The 'Demonization' of Immigrants Rubs Groups the Wrong Way

The negative talk about illegal immigrants has affected all immigrants, even the ones who are already citizens. Some people think that everyone with a foreign accent is an illegal immigrant. DP

Polarizing Rhetoric
Ben Harris, Jewish Telegraphic Agency NEW YORK Though it lies nearly 500 miles from the nearest international border, the little town of Postville, Iowa whose kosher meatpacking plant has drawn a melting pot of Chasidic Jews and Hispanic immigrants to the Iowa heartland, presents a case study of the tensions that have made immigration a top concern for voters there heading into primary season.

Last summer, the backlash against Postville's new arrivals spilled over onto the Town Council, one member of which made derogatory remarks about Hispanic residents; he accused them of not respecting the town's law and culture, and importing drugs and crime. Seven local clergy, including a rabbi, shot back, denouncing the council member, who also had unkind words for Postville's insular ultra-Orthodox community.

Earlier this month, the Anti-Defamation League issued a statement urging presidential candidates to refrain from polarizing rhetoric that demonizes minority groups, but particularly Hispanics. The statement follows a lengthy ADL report showing how inflammatory rhetoric has seeped into the national discourse on immigration.

"In our view, demonizing illegal immigrants has the effect of demonizing many minorities, particularly Hispanics, regardless of their citizenship status. It is contrary to the high ideals upon which our nation -- a nation of immigrants -- was founded," the ADL said recently.

In its report, the ADL objected to rhetoric that portrays immigrants as invaders seeking to colonize the United States, while importing disease and crime, and eroding the American way of life. The report also showed how portrayals of immigrants as disease-carriers has spread to mainstream discourse -- employed by media personalities such as CNN's Lou Dobbs and MSNBC's Patrick Buchanan.
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State's schools get more diverse

This shows the changing minority percentages in Maryland schools, now the white students are the minority (48%) and there are as many as 48 languages in some schools. This diversity is becoming more common in many urban areas. DP

African-Americans, Hispanics, Asians outnumber whites in overall enrollment
By Liz Bowie | Sun reporter The faces of Maryland's public school children have quietly been changing over the past several years, and minorities - primarily Hispanics, Asians and African-Americans - now outnumber white students in the state.

Maryland public school enrollment data show that 48 percent of the students in the state's 24 school systems are white. African-Americans represent 38 percent of the school population, Hispanics 8 percent and Asian-Americans most of the remaining 6 percent.

The shift officially took place in 2004, after both a decline in the number of white students and growth in the number of minorities. But schools have been adapting to the change over several years - expanding classes for non-English speakers, bringing in translators for parent nights and creating smaller classes in schools with large numbers of minority students.

At Dumbarton Middle School in the Rodgers Forge neighborhood of Baltimore County, 48 languages are spoken, and the school population is 38 percent minority.
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Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Paper declares 'the illegal immigrant' its Texan of the Year

The paper got lots of complaints from this, they still think this person/group made the biggest impact on Texas. DP

By Dallas Morning News The Dallas Morning News has declared "the illegal immigrant" its Texan of the Year.

As you'd expect, this editorial has evoked some interesting responses in the blogosphere. We'll have more on that in a minute. Here's the paper's rationale:

He breaks the law by his very presence. He hustles to do hard work many Americans won't, at least not at the low wages he accepts. The American consumer economy depends on him. America as we have known it for generations may not survive him. We can't seem to live with him and his family, and if we can live without him, nobody's figured out how. ... To their champions, illegal immigrants are decent, hardworking people who, like generations of European immigrants before them, just want to do better for their families and who contribute to America's prosperity. They must endure hatred and abuse by those of us who want the benefits of cheap labor but not the presence of illegal immigrants. ... Yet to those who want them sent home, illegal immigrants are essentially lawbreakers who violate the nation's borders. They use public resources – schools, hospitals – to which they aren't entitled and expect to be served in a foreign language. They're rapidly changing Texas neighborhoods, cities and culture, and not always for the better. Those who object get tagged as racists.

The paper's list of finalists includes former attorney general Alberto Gonzales, Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Cowboys owner Jerry Jones.

Short Trips: Follow the immigrants' dreams and hardships at the Nordic Heritage Museum

This museum tells the story of northern Europeans who settled part of this country. DP

By GORDY HOLT, P-I REPORTER Should a Norwegian farmhand leave his little barnyard cell for the chance to test America's Homestead Act or to become a bricklayer, maybe, or a cabinetmaker?

Could a single Swedish woman improve her lot as a New World seamstress, or give parlor maid a try?

Between 1840 and 1914, some 52 million Europeans fled homelands to take their chances elsewhere. Among the 35 million who picked America were 1.2 million Swedes; 800,000 Norwegians; 301,000 Danes; 285,000 Finns; and 12,500 Icelanders, all harboring hopes that America would be that land of promised opportunity. Weren't artisans of all kinds needed? Wasn't there land to claim?

They would discover it was all of that, yes, but sometimes something less.

To see how it went, both in the thick and the thin of it, pay a visit to Seattle's Nordic Heritage Museum, a place arranged to put you in the muddy shoes of those who took the gamble and sailed west to this new country. Indeed, so candid and artistic is the telling of this story that you can't help but be reminded of today's immigration politics. The only thing missing from this story is a neck-snapping encounter with a pot of boiling lutefisk.

For the olfactorily timid, therefore, uff da! Your visit will be as safe for the nose as it will be economical for the family pocketbook.
Be sure to read the rest of this story! This is only a small part of it.

English classes teach more than language

An interesting story about the different reasons immigrants want to learn English and benefit from it. DP

By ERIC WEDDLE FRANKFORT -- Juan Salazar reverted to Spanish only once while explaining why he was learning English -- when he asked if he had used the word "know" correctly.

"I want the people to look at me and see me as an American, not a Mexican," he said. "I know English will help me."

Salazar and his wife, Aracely, have attended English-as-second-language classes at the Frankfort Adult Learning Center twice a week for two months. With about 30 other students, they are learning the basics, such as the alphabet, common phrases and grammar. Their aim is not only to speak and understand the language, but to be accepted as part of American culture.

"They just want to be self-sufficient and not rely on anyone else," said Guadalupe Cruz, an instructor who teaches basic English. "They come here to learn a little of everything."

For 13 years, the center has offered English courses, though the past few have seen enrollment grow. That corresponds to an increase in Clinton County's Hispanic population of nearly 70 percent over six years, to an estimated 4,207 residents in 2006, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
Be sure to read the rest of this story! This is only a small part of it.