Thursday, October 30, 2008

Brilliance twice recalled

A wonderful tribute to Dr. Julius B. Richmond, a former surgeon general, doctor and professor who died this past summer. Millions of Americans are better off because of him. Please read this whole article. DP

By Kevin Cullen, Globe Columnist

They came to the Harvard Club the other day, to sit beneath the three great chandeliers in the great room off Commonwealth Avenue to remember a great man: Julie Richmond.

Dr. Julius B. Richmond, who died last July, lived 91 years because he had so much to do. And if he had lived another 91, he still wouldn't have had enough time.

All those neighborhood health clinics, in places like Southie, Roxbury, and Dorchester, in places like Mound Bayou, Miss., the ones that help people who don't have any money, they exist because of Julie Richmond.

The 25 million poor kids who got their bodies and minds fed over the last 40 years through something called Head Start did so because of Julie Richmond.

He was more than this nation's surgeon general, more than a gentle doctor, more than a fierce intellect, more than a distinguished professor. He was a mensch, and countless Americans are better off because of him.

Julie Richmond's greatest legacy sat beneath the chandeliers in Harvard Hall: his protégés, dozens of them, some of the world's great physicians, many of them serving the poor, here and abroad. Judy Palfrey is one of them, and she sat there, a few rows behind Rosalynn Carter, the former first lady.

In a montage of photos at the end of Julie Richmond's memorial service, there was one image showing him in repose on one of the benches outside Harvard Medical School off Longwood Avenue. From that bench, you could hit a golf ball across Huntington Avenue, into the projects where the sort of children who Julie Richmond tried to help, the ones Palfrey still helps, live in conditions that make a lie of the assertion that this is a nation committed to equality. If you turned around, you could hit another golf ball into Judy Palfrey's office at Children's Hospital.
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Reaching Out To Lend a Hand

Several groups in this community are helping immigrants who live there. The recent job losses are especially hard on them. DP

Groups discuss services for, needs of local immigrants.

By Bonnie Hobbs, Centre View

In a continuing effort to help immigrants in the local community, several groups offering services and programs for them gathered recently to exchange information.

"This meeting will be about sharing what our groups are doing, what are the needs we see and are these needs being met?" said Alice Foltz of Wellspring United Church of Christ in Centreville. "Then we’ll discuss how we can help each other and where we go from here."

Her church’s Outreach Committee sponsored the meeting, held Oct. 14 at Centreville Regional Library. And although services for other ethnic groups were mentioned, the focus was mainly on Centreville’s growing Hispanic community.

Cheryl Repetti of the Centreville Community Foundation showed the Web site she’s created so immigrants may find information on, for example, ESL courses, construction-industry vocabulary and foreign-language class sites.

"We have an ESL program with open enrollment throughout the year," said John Markham of Centreville Baptist Church. We allow people to join, even if they can’t pay."

"We’ve done it for five years now, and we have students representing nearly every country on the planet," he said. "It gives people an outlet to practice the English language. People come in groups and learn together, and it’s been very successful."

REPRESENTING Western Fairfax Christian Ministries (WFCM) was Hilda Rexach. "We help people with food, finances, furniture and clothing," she said. "We have people of all faiths and countries, but the number of Spanish people we help has doubled from last year. They used to be the third-largest group we served — now they’re first; it’s Latinos, whites and African-Americans."

Rexach said the main reason they need assistance is because of the lack of jobs. "Before they ask for food, they ask, ‘Do you know where I can find work?’" she said. "I do a lot of referrals to the Lincoln Lewis Multicultural Center for job counseling. If they’re legal, it’s OK. But if not, there’s no way they can find a job. Most of the time, they come back discouraged because of this."
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Immigrant hoping to "give back" seeks office

A lovely story about a woman who immigrated here from Ukraine 30 years ago and now is running for Congress. Please read the whole story. DP

By DOM COSENTINO, The Intelligencer

The moment was so surreal, so incredibly unfathomable, that Marina Kats was left to describe it as “an out-of-body experience.”

It happened just last month, at a Center City breakfast for Mikhail Gorbachev. The former premier of the former Soviet Union, Gorbachev was in town for a few days to receive the Liberty Medal at the National Constitution Center.

The morning after the ceremony, as he made his way around the private breakfast gathering, Gorbachev was introduced to Kats. A Ukrainian immigrant who had fled the U.S.S.R. with her family nearly 30 years ago, Kats eventually became a successful lawyer and was now running for Congress.

She handed Gorbachev a piece of her campaign literature. He offered to sign it and even pledged his support.

And she couldn't believe it.

“When you left,” she said of her family's decision to move to the United States, “you were (branded as) a person who was a traitor, and now a former president of the Soviet Union is signing your palm card as you are running for Congress in the United States of America? It's really mind-boggling to me.”

Kats was 18 in 1979, when she came to this country with her parents, Roman and Nelya. She had no money and didn't know any English. But she worked her way through Temple University, then Temple Law, and has since become a successful lawyer and businesswoman with a net worth estimated at more than $10 million, according to financial disclosure reports.

Now 47 and an Abington resident, Kats is running for Congress in the 13th District, which includes parts of Northeast Philadelphia and most of Montgomery County. She is a Republican challenging two-term incumbent Democrat Allyson Schwartz in a race that also includes Constitution Party candidate John McDermott.

Kats is only doing it, she said, because she wants to “give back.”

“The country gave me everything,” she said. “I am who I am because of this country.”
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The First Basket

This movie is about how the immigrant Jewish community in New York helped make basketball so popular here. And it is still popular in Israel. Very interesting piece of our country's history. DP

Immigrant Hoop Dreams


For those who grew up thinking basketball was the sport of Michael Jordan, Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant, it may come as a surprise to learn that it all began with people like Nat Holman, Sammy Kaplan and Red Auerbach. There hasn’t been a Jewish basketball star in the National Basketball Association for half a century, but when the sport was young, it was the children of European Jewish immigrants who took it up and dominated it.

“The First Basket,” a functional (if narrowly interesting) history lesson by the filmmaker David Vyorst, recollects the rich history of Jewish participation in basketball, starting with its embrace in the thriving immigrant community on the Lower East Side of New York and ending with a look at the continuing popularity of the game in Israel.

Using a wealth of archival material, as well as testaments from former players and coaches, Mr. Vyorst shows how basketball functioned among Jews as both a vehicle for cultural assimilation and a means of reformulating Jewish identity, which prized the scholar, not the athlete, as the masculine ideal.

THE FIRST BASKET Opens on Wednesday in Manhattan.

Produced and directed by David Vyorst; narrated by Peter Riegert; director of photography, Gary Griffin; edited by Carol Slatkin; music by Roberto Juan Rodriguez; released by Laemmle/Zeller Films.

Monday, October 27, 2008

In Our Hands: Building Solidarity and Community

This announcement was sent to me and looks like a terrific conference. The conference agenda is on the website. DP

Refugee Women’s Network will be hosting In Our Hands: Building Solidarity and Community, our 9th Annual Refugee & Immigrant Women’s Leadership Conference in Atlanta, Georgia on November 14-16th 2008.

The early registration fee has been extended to November 1, 2008.

RWN welcomes you, your friends, staff, and the refugee and immigrant women you know to attend this gathering of diverse individuals with as diverse experiences and workshop on the topics of leadership, advocacy, microenterprise, and health. We expect 150 women from across the US who will come from 40 different countries to attend.

For more information please log on to

There’s an airfare discount through AirTran, with the promo code of ATL 111508, which provides:
· A 10% discount on the lowest available AirTran Airways one way fare.
· Attendees may travel three days prior to the event start date and three days after the event close date if they wish to spend any additional time at the event location.

Teachers challenged in multilingual classrooms

More than 80 languages are spoken by students in this school district, which means many students do not speak Spanish either. These kids are taught in the classrooms and in a variety of ways. They do not have teachers fluent in all these languages and have to get very creative. And they are successful. DP

Aurora schools, where dozens of languages are spoken, take a different approach to teaching English.

By Carlos Illescas, The Denver Post Tagalog, Bangla and Fulfulde.
They might sound like characters from a video game or a cartoon, but they are among the 84 languages from 105 countries spoken in Aurora Public Schools.

The 32,000-student school district, like others throughout Colorado, enrolls an increasing number of students who speak languages other than English or Spanish.
Those students must learn English quickly because they are held to the same standards and requirements as English-speaking students.

In Aurora, there is no translation, no memorization or any of the more traditional ways students are taught English.
So education often becomes theater.

"You pinpoint vocabulary, use visuals, hand gestures showing them how to do something," said Jenny Passchier, principal of Aurora's Park Lane Elementary School, where 64 percent of the students do not speak English as their primary language. "There's a lot of sharing and a lot of talking before they get to writing."
Bweradrik Aisen busily worked on an essay recently about why moving to the United States was a good thing.

The 9-year-old from the Marshall Islands speaks Marshallese as her first language, but less than a year removed from the Micronesian country, Bweradrik was completing the assignment in English.

With the help of an English- language-acquisition instructor, who asked her questions in English, Bweradrik wrote that she likes living in Colorado because "it snows here and not in the Marshall Islands."
Then the two read the essay together.

"You have to put it in context for them," said instructor Carol yn Hernandez. "If you just tell them to memorize something, it's not going to happen."
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Community Colleges Pursue Many Paths to Create International Campuses

Community colleges are finding they must meet the needs of businesses who are in the world marketplace, not just the local companies. Even a two year school must offer courses in import-export and international business, and also be able to handle international students on their own campuses. DP

By KARIN FISCHER For community colleges, global is the new local. Long attuned to turning out graduates whose skills are calibrated to the needs of nearby companies, two-year colleges are now striving to meet the demands of multinational businesses seeking workers who can succeed in a worldwide marketplace.

Community-college leaders want to ensure that their institutions produce students who can collaborate with co-workers from other countries and cultures, who have an understanding of global economics, and who, perhaps, even speak a foreign language.

Despite the obstacles, two-year institutions across the United States are pursuing a variety of strategies to give their students an international edge. Some go for greater numbers of international students, while others are after stronger ties with immigrant groups or multinational firms in their region to provide students with globally relevant volunteer experiences or internships. Still others have developed certificate programs for students who complete several courses with an international perspective.

"There's definitely a recognition of the importance that community-college studies have a global component, that our students need to be more globally educated," says Judith Irwin, director of international programs and services at the American Association of Community Colleges. "You have to think like that in the 21st century."

Objections have been raised, she concedes, including by trustees who don't see the value of such skills to students who plan to work in a neighboring county, not another country, and by professors who question the relevance to the disciplines they teach. Community colleges also face resource challenges: Tight budgets leave them with little money for new courses or for personnel dedicated to those efforts. And their students, who frequently juggle jobs and families, have limited time to devote to traditional international programming, such as study abroad.
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Coming to America: Blessings and challenges

There are good and bad things that have come from immigration. Read this whole story by clicking on the link at the beginning of it. It especially describes the economic changes in the past 8 years. DP

Influx of Hispanics into Northeast Georgia forces region to adapt

By Joe Johnson, Yesenia "Jessie" Martinez is light-years from Tamazula de Gordiano, the Mexican farming community where she grew up.

An older man forced her into marriage at age 14 and made her cross the border into California, where she worked 12 hours a day in tomato fields and orange groves.

Today, she's 32, has a valid green card and speaks nearly fluent English. Her children with her ex-husband are on track to graduate from Clarke County schools and stand a good chance of attending college.

Martinez is one of tens of thousands of Hispanics over the past decade who moved to Northeast Georgia, forcing employers, teachers, doctors - people from all walks of life - to adjust to their new Spanish-speaking neighbors.

But like the Irish, Italian and German immigrants who came before, she helped lay the foundation for her children and grandchildren to become a part of the national fabric.

"I am very proud of myself," Martinez said. "I was a mother of three kids working in the field, but when I learned English, I had more opportunities, and I started working in restaurants. And now there are more opportunities for my kids. I want them to learn and do things I never did when I was younger, like graduating, choosing a career and become somebody."

Martinez arrived in Athens in 2000, when communities throughout Northeast Georgia were scrambling to cope with an unexpected wave of immigrants from Latin American countries, mainly Mexico.

The state's prosperity - helped in part by the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta - drew them like a magnet and allowed all types of Georgians to climb the economic ladder, according to Jorge Atiles, an associate dean at the University of Georgia College of Family and Consumer Science.

Hispanics filled lower-paying jobs, like those in the poultry, landscaping and construction industries, said Atiles, who co-authored a 2002 UGA study, "'The Needs of Georgia's New Latinos."

At the time, the minimum wage in Mexico was $3.50 a day, compared to $41.20 in the United States.
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People of Postville see a complicated picture

This small town in Iowa has a large meat processing plant and workers who immigrated from many countries. A raid in May that rounded up many illegal workers has caused social upheaval in the area. Some residents support what the plant owners did, others would like to see the plant leave town. DP

By MIKE KILEN, Postville, Ia. — Imagine this is your hometown, population 2,320, in the middle of hilly Iowa farm country.

Walk down the street and it might appear exciting at first.

African natives wear colorful robes, and Hasidic Jews white ones. African-Americans from southern U.S. cities hang out open second-story windows on Main Street. Pacific Islanders chew and spit a concoction - beetle nut and tobacco wrapped in leaves - popular in their tiny island country of Palau. Among them are Guatemalan women who wear ankle bracelets because they were arrested in The Raid.

All mingle near a massage parlor where a real estate agent's office once stood.

Perhaps no small town in Iowa, or even in America, has faced a social upheaval as drastic as that of Postville.

For the last 20 years, one business has created an ever-shifting population and changed the dynamics of a largely white, northeast Iowa farm town.

After federal agents rounded up 389 illegal immigrants at Agriprocessors in May, a controversial summer led to a fall of new, louder dissatisfaction. One researcher says the town has become "a slaughterhouse slum."

Yet when you talk to longtime residents, you find some who voice opposing views based on the hard reality of economics.

"This town would be in a world of hurt if that plant closed," said Jeff Mott, owner of the local hardware store.

Others have simply had enough.

"I was for Agriprocessors when they came here," said Fred Comeau, owner of the Brick Pizza & Eatery. "Today, I would help them pack. They have destroyed Postville."
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Saturday, October 25, 2008

Immigrants appreciate English classes

Many churches and agencies across the country are offering English classes to their people or helping them find and enroll in classes at local schools. They are also helping them assimilate and become citizens. DP

by Joseph Kenny, Review Staff Writer Marta Torres speaks English clearly. She is proud to be a U.S. citizen.

But her native language is Spanish. She was born in Mexico and moved to California in adulthood. It took hard work to learn her new language, and she continues to take classes. She studied for her citizenship test and passed.

Torres, a member of St. Cecilia Parish in South St. Louis, is an example of the many new Americans who are encouraged and helped by their parishes and by Catholic agencies to learn English and become citizens.

St. Cecilia helps people enroll in English classes offered at St. Louis Community College at Forest Park and at the International Institute and connects people with volunteers from the parish who are tutors.

Other parishes with Hispanic populations also refer people to English classes or organize their own English as a Second Language classes. Catholic Charities Community Services Southside Center has English classes and Catholic Charities Refugee Services has volunteer tutors. The Immigrant and Refugee Women’s Program is dedicated to teaching English. And the English Tutoring Project sponsored by women religious communities locally is in its 11th year of helping children.

Torres had plenty of motivation, she said.

"It is very important to be able to communicate for your necessities, for your job and for being a part of society," Torres said.

Citizenship ensures that "you have a voice and are able to vote," she said. "I want to help my community. I know I can help through being a citizen."
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Stinson: Minnesota will rely more on immigrant workers

This report proves what most people realize already, more immigrants will be needed in our country, especially as our population ages. DP

By Jennifer Niemela Staff Writer An aging population in Minnesota will mean more reliance on immigrant workers in the coming years, State Economist Tom Stinson said at a economic conference in St. Paul Friday.

The conference, titled “Election Year Economics,” which was held at Metropolitan State University, gave a prominent role to immigration, a subject that’s largely been overshadowed this election cycle by the nation’s larger economic woes. But Stinson said the issue would return to the spotlight, both nationwide and in Minnesota.

“We are entering a long era where the dependency ratio of the number of people being supported by people in the work force is going to increase, so this is a situation that’s of concern, especially for Minnesota because worker productivity is what we have going for us,” said Stinson, who didn’t advocate for one political party over the other. “We must make the fullest use of everyone’s talent in the economy.”

Beliefs about immigrants’ cost to society, such as the idea that they don’t pay taxes, are not supported by fact, Stinson said. Immigrants, both documented and undocumented, tend to pay their fair share of taxes, Stinson said, citing sales, property, and withheld payroll taxes as unavoidable to anyone living, working and owning property in the state.

“Everybody pays sales taxes,” Stinson said. “You’re not exempted if you’re an immigrant or if you’re undocumented.”

Historically, Minnesota has been a state of immigrants, said state demographer Tom Gillaspy. In 1910, the state had more foreign-born people, 550,000, in it than it does today, 475,000, although the current numbers are rising. And out of all the options for replacing the aging work force, Gillaspy said immigration is the most viable.

“We do believe that immigration will be an increasingly important component. That depends not only on what’s happening here, but what’s happening everywhere else. [The Minnesota of the future] is more diverse, international, global and high-tech than our world. We need to understand that difference.”

America's New Immigrant Capitals

Immigrants settle in places with jobs and this report shows the places with the most immigrants now. Several of the cities are surprising. Most people think they all move to Miami, New York and Los Angeles, but there are many other cities listed here. DP

By Brian Wingfield and Jewel Edwards Forget Miami, Los Angeles and New York--America's newest immigrant capitals are the country's recent boom towns.

Top of the list: Cape Coral-Fort Myers, Fla., with a 122% increase in its foreign-born population from 2000 to 2007, according to a Brookings Institution analysis of U.S. Census Bureau information. Also ranking high are the metro areas of Nashville, Tenn., (74% increase), Indianapolis (71%), Orlando, Fla., (64%) and Raleigh, N.C. (62%).

It makes sense. Like everyone else, immigrants are drawn to places with jobs. These towns offer a relatively low cost of living, compared with their big-city brethren and, in recent years, ample opportunities for work in various fields. Raleigh is a hub of North Carolina's "Research Triangle," and in 2007, about 15% of its working immigrant population worked in professional, scientific and administrative occupations, according to the Census Bureau. Orlando, a major tourist destination, is a hub for service-sector jobs.

Who are these immigrants? Nationwide, they're overwhelmingly Latino. About 54% of the nation's 38 million foreign-born residents hail from Latin America and the Caribbean, according to government estimates. The next largest group, from Asia, accounts for about 27% of the nation's immigrant population. These figures do not account for the estimated 11.9 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S.

However, depending on the city, immigrant populations can vary widely. In Phoenix, more than 70% of the foreign-born population is from Latin America. In Columbus, Ohio, the largest immigrant group--about 40%--is from Asia. Nashville happens to be home to one of the largest Kurdish populations in the country.
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Heath Dollar: Two languages: one future

This ESL teacher writes about dual-immersion language classrooms. Equal numbers of English and Spanish speaking students are in the same classroom and are taught all their courses in both languages. They eventually are completly bilingual. The main problem is that there are not enough bilingual teachers. DP

By Heath Dollar, he teaches ESL at Schrade Middle School in Rowlett, inside the Garland ISD. In America's classrooms, the issue of immigration is post-political. The simple fact is that immigrant children attend this country's public schools, and our teachers are contractually obliged to educate them.

To help both immigrant and native students realize their potential, a dual-immersion system should be incorporated in America's schools. In a typical dual-immersion system, equal numbers of Spanish- and English-speaking elementary school students are placed in the same classroom and taught in both languages, usually for a period of six to seven years. The long-term result is fully bilingual children who often outperform their peers in science, math and reading.

This system, of course, could be implemented for any significantly large language population, be it Vietnamese, Russian, Chinese or any other sizable community.

With our world becoming more globalized and interdependent, jobs are at stake. In foreign trade, bilingual and multilingual personnel can open new markets and enable American companies to better compete in a global market.

And there's another benefit. Perhaps cultures will come to accept one another. Perhaps language will no longer be a wall, a boundary that blocks discourse and understanding. Perhaps America can avoid the racial and ethnic strife that often accompanies linguistic difference. By embracing our immigrant cultures' linguistic assets, America can become a stronger, better nation.
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Untapped Talents of Educated Immigrants

This study has found that 20% of our immigrants who were practicing lawyers, teachers, nurses, doctors, pharmacists, and many more highly skilled professions are working here as construction workers, waiters, cooks, landscapers. A great waste for our country. We need these people to be working in their own professions. In many cases, the biggest thing they need is help with English. DP

20% With Degrees In Unskilled Jobs or Jobless, Study Finds

By N.C. Aizenman, Washington Post Staff Writer One in five college-educated immigrants in the United States is unemployed or working in an unskilled job such as a dishwasher, fast-food restaurant cashier or security guard, depriving the U.S. economy of the full potential of more than 1.3 million foreign-born workers, according to a study released yesterday.

Immigrants in the Washington area are among the most educated in the country, and the plight of those who are underemployed is familiar to anyone who has gotten a ride from D.C. cabdriver with an engineering degree from Ethiopia or had a car parked by a garage attendant who used to practice law in El Salvador. However, the report by the Washington-based Migration Policy Institute is the first to quantify the extent of the problem.

Highly educated Latin American and African immigrants fare far worse in the job market than Europeans or Asians, the authors said. Almost half of recently arrived college-educated Latin Americans hold unskilled jobs, as do more than one-third of those who have been in the country for more than 10 years. The problem persists even when only immigrants who are in the country legally are considered.

Construction worker Grego Pineda, who fled politically motivated death threats in his native El Salvador seven years ago, said his difficulty learning to speak polished English is the only obstacle to resuming his former career in law and banking. Pineda, 45, who has won international literary prizes for his essays in Spanish, was once on the board of a public bank and was the owner of a flourishing law practice, a house in one of the San Salvador's most exclusive neighborhoods and a vacation place by the beach.
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Arkansans Favor Legalizing Immigrants

Here is another state (and a southern one) where the residents say illegal immigrants should be able to stay and become citizens, if they qualify. This is a good sign. DP

By Dan Craft, THE MORNING NEWS FAYETTEVILLE — More than half of Arkansans say illegal immigrants should be allowed to become U.S. citizens, according to the Arkansas Poll.

Undocumented immigrants should be allowed citizenship if the meet certain criteria such as learning English and paying back taxes, said 59 percent of those surveyed.

Another 26 percent said all illegal immigrants should be deported, while 10 percent said they should be allowed to work in the U.S. on a temporary basis. Only 2 percent supported allowing them citizenship without some requirements.

Immigration was cited as the most important issue facing the state by only 7 percent of participants statewide, but in the 3rd Congressional District, that increased to 13 percent.

The poll interviewed 1,628 adult Arkansans via telephone between Oct. 1 and Oct. 21. The margin of error is plus or minus 2.5 percent on most questions. The 2008 Arkansas Poll is sponsored by the Diane D. Blair Center of Southern Politics and Society in the J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences. The poll was designed and analyzed by political scientists Janine Parry and Bill Schreckhise.

FOREIGN-BORN INTELLIGENCE: Maryland fights 'brain waste' with immigrant integration programs

More than 1.3 million immigrants with college degrees are unemployed or underemployed. Maryland is working hard to help these people get jobs in the professions they were trained for. DP

By LINDSEY McPHERSON • Capital News Service Maryland is one of the few states taking measures to fight the "brain waste" resulting from the more than 1.3 million college-educated immigrants unemployed or working unskilled jobs, according to a Migration Policy Institute report released Wednesday.

"What we have here may be in some ways the worst of all policy worlds," said Michael Fix, institute senior vice president and report co-author. "What we have is brain waste in the receiving country, the United States, and brain drain in the sending country."

But that educated work force is not wasted in Maryland, said Tom Perez, secretary of the state Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation.

"At a national level, immigrants tend to be less educated than their native-born colleagues," he said. "In Maryland, the opposite is true -- 43 percent of immigrants working in Maryland have a college degree or above, compared with 36 percent of their native-born colleagues."

Maryland is better off than most states because it has a worker shortage in several sectors, including health care, construction and hospitality, Perez said.

The state will even receive 60,000 more jobs by 2015 as the No. 1 beneficiary of the Base Realignment and Closure process, which consolidates the nation's military installations.
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New Civitan Club plans to teach immigrants English

This new civic group is helping immigrants assimilate into life here, learn English and become citizens. DP

New chapter devotes program to immigrants

JEFF HANSEN, News staff writer A fresh civic effort began in Birmingham this week - a new Civitan chapter devoted to helping immigrants learn English and become citizens.

Hernan Prado is president of the International Civitan Club of Metro Birmingham, which met for the first time Tuesday night at The Club. Prado, a native of Ecuador, said that "for all of us, becoming a citizen is a tough process."

"Immigrants are pretty much lost between two worlds," he said. "They come from different social and cultural backgrounds. Making the adjustment is really difficult."

The new Civitan group hopes to serve the area's large Spanish-speaking group as well as other immigrants, Prado said.

As membership grows from the present 29 to an anticipated 50, the club will try to mirror the broad diversity of people who live in the metro area - both foreign-born and U.S.-born.

The club has launched conversations with various groups that serve other immigrant communities, especially Asian immigrants.

Alfonso Aguilar, chief of the federal Office of Citizenship, came to Birmingham for the inauguration of the new civic club. His office, which is part of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services within the Department of Homeland Security, hopes it will serve as a model for other metro areas throughout the United States.

In fiscal 2008, 1.1 million immigrants living in the U.S. became naturalized citizens, he said. The portion of foreign-born U.S. residents is expected to grow to 14 percent of the population by 2025 and 19 percent by 2050.
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Thursday, October 23, 2008

AFL-CIO Launches Campaign to Help Protect U.S. Hispanics Against Voting Rights

Nonpartisan coalition efforts to feature voter education radio commercials with Edward James Olmos

by Cassandra Andrade of Balsera Communications for AFL-CIO

WASHINGTON, Oct. 23 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The AFL-CIO today announced the launch of a special voting rights protection program in six states --
Colorado, Florida, New Mexico, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia -- aimed at
educating U.S. Hispanics about their voting rights and helping to prevent
voting rights violations on Election Day. The effort comes as a part of the
AFL-CIO's "My Vote, My Right" program, wherein members of local union and
labor groups across the country are working in coalition with civil rights
organizations, faith groups, local lawyers, and other community allies to
protect voting rights.

"It's time to turn around America, and we will start by protecting our
right to vote and making sure that every single vote is counted," said AFL-CIO
Executive Vice President Arlene Holt Baker. "Many Hispanics will be first time
voters in this election, making them especially vulnerable to voter
intimidation and misinformation, which is why we are making a special effort
to reach out and educate them."

The AFL-CIO's public education effort aimed at Hispanics is comprised of
five main components:
-- A Spanish-language radio advertising campaign featuring actor Edward
James Olmos that details voter protection issues and how to avoid being
-- Spanish-language "Voter Bill of Rights" fliers describing state and
federal voting rights laws, which by Election Day will be distributed
to more than 10,000 voters in Nevada
-- Spanish-language voting rights cards, which by Election Day will be
distributed to more than 10,000 voters in New Mexico
-- An op-ed written by former AFL-CIO Executive Vice President Linda
Chavez Thompson outlining voters' rights
-- Grassroots educational outreach to voters

The Labor Council for Latin American Advancement (LCLAA), an affiliate of
the AFL-CIO and Change to Win, is also actively reaching out to Hispanics
voters through their "Tu voz es mi voz" campaign (Your voice is my voice).
Elements of the campaign include:
-- Canvassing door to door in Grand Rapids; Lansing/East Lansing; Pontiac
and Southeast Detroit, Michigan and Northern Virginia with sample
ballots for Latino voters and voter education information
-- Disseminating Spanish-language voter protection information in
Philadelphia, Reading and Allentown, Pennsylvania
-- A radio program in Philadelphia, PA with voter education information
-- Stationing bi-lingual election voter protection monitors at the polls
in Prince William County, Virginia where an anti-immigrant statute was
passed earlier this year
-- Town hall meetings along with a voter registration, voter education and
voter protection drive in Central Florida.
-- The sending of letters to the supervisors of elections in seven Central
Florida counties requesting a plan of action to increase, maintain,
support and protect the participation of Latinos.

In several states, the AFL-CIO voter protection program is also recruiting
and training volunteers to serve as nonpartisan poll workers and poll monitors
on Election Day, helping to address voting problems including long lines,
misuse of provisional ballots, and demands for voter IDs which are not
mandated by law. The volunteers will be thoroughly trained on federal, state
and local election laws. On Election Day, poll monitors will be deployed
outside of polling places where they will be available to answer voters'
questions about their rights and help resolve any problems voters may

The AFL-CIO is the umbrella organization for America's unions and
represents 10.5 million working people nationwide.

SOURCE AFL-CIO, 10/23/2008
CONTACT: Cassandra Andrade of Balsera Communications for AFL-CIO,

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Program Training Immigrant Nurses Expands

Another story about programs to help immigrants continue in the medical professions they were in before they came to this country. All they need is help with language and medical standards and updating of their knowledge and skills. DP

By JENN BOGDAN ANNAPOLIS -- Yelitze Medina spent eight years as a nurse for the Venezuelan air force. In 2001, when she moved to the United States with her husband, she never expected it would take seven years to obtain the license she needed to continue in nursing.

Medina credits the Latino Health Initiative, which helps foreign-trained nurses learn critical English language skills and American medical standards, with getting her the license she needed. She is now an emergency room nurse at Washington Adventist Hospital.

"Before the program I was scared I couldn't do the nursing here. But, oh, my goodness, they showed me to be motivated and not give up on what I wanted," Medina said. "I love to help the people, and now I can finally do what I love here."

Medina is one of 11 to earn a nursing license in conjunction with the Latino Health Initiative of Montgomery County.

The program, which took its first class of 25 in 2005, aims to combat the nursing shortage in Maryland by utilizing the already-trained immigrant workforce. Maryland is projected to have a shortfall of 17,000 nurses by 2012.

The nursing program has been renamed the Licensure of Foreign-Trained Nursing Professionals Program. Starting in December it will begin teaching foreign-trained nurses of all nationalities.

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Immigrants rally to get out the vote

Immigrants are rallying their fellow immigrants to vote this year. As everyone should do. DP

By PHIL HELSEL, ADVANCE STAFF WRITER They held signs written in Spanish, Arabic and English on the steps of Borough Hall, asking a question that both the presidential and local candidates haven't much touched: What about us immigrants?

Around 100 people, immigrants or their children, and from Port Richmond to Brooklyn, demonstrated in St. George yesterday in a rally to get out the immigrant vote.

"Right here on Staten Island we saw hate crimes against immigrants, when a truck drove into Mexican stores," said Chung-Wha Hong, executive director of the New York Immigration Coalition, referring to an allegedly racially-motivated smash-up Aug. 18 in Port Richmond.

The groups, which include Make the Road New York, El Centro de Inmigrante, and the Arab-American Association of New York, plan to knock on about 30,000 doors around the borough reminding registered voters to show up at the polls Nov. 4.

Volunteers aren't trying to register new voters; the deadline to register passed Oct. 10. But they do want to reach out to immigrant voters who are registered to vote but have cast a ballot no more than once since 2002.

Despite its perception as the least-diverse borough, Staten Island has seen the biggest jump in the number of registered voters of Arabic descent from 2002 to 2007, and since 2000 has seen the number of Latinos increase from 53,500 to 70,600 in 2006. During that time the number of Asians calling the Island home rose from 27,900 to 37,900.

The groups said it was a non-partisan effort aimed at their issues: immigration reform to make it easier for people to become legal citizens; a "humane solution" to the estimated 12.5 million undocumented immigrants already here; and an end to federal raids.

But many in the crowd are backing Barack Obama.

"Bush said he was going to change life for the middle class, and he hasn't done any of that," said Sarzina Halim, 20, of New Brighton.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Strangers in a Familiar Profession

A local community college and a county government program are helping immigrants get into the same medical professions they were trained for in their own land. They need some English help and training in the system here. There is a shortage in many professions, and these immigrants are a wonderful asset. DP

By David Moltz, inside higher ed Wendy Mejia became a labor and delivery nurse in her home country of Honduras in 1993. Five years later, after Hurricane Mitch devastated her homeland, she packed up her life and moved to the United States to be with her husband, leaving her professional career behind in Honduras. Though her husband encouraged her to seek her nurse’s license so that she could work in the area, Mejia said the process was too expensive to afford and too difficult to manage on her own.

Now, with the help of a local community college and a county government outreach program, Mejia is a newly minted nurse in surgical intensive care at Holy Cross Hospital in Silver Spring, Md., a suburb of Washington. Ten other foreign-trained nurses in Montgomery County, Md. are now also fully certified and finally back to work in their chosen profession. Organizers of this pilot program argue that participants, particularly Latino immigrants, are an untapped resource and can help diversify the health care workforce to meet the needs of the increasingly diverse communities it serves.

A local government report notes that 40 percent of Hispanics in the Washington metropolitan area do not speak English proficiently and nearly 30 percent live in linguistically isolated households, making hospital visits difficult and even dangerous if there are not Spanish speakers involved in patient care. Mejia, for one, said her nursing and bilingual skills are both valued at Holy Cross.

“The Spanish-speaking community is growing every day,” she said. “A lot of people understand a bit of English, but it’s not the same when it’s about their own health. The patients feel such relief that someone else is there that speaks their own language.”

Mejia is just one of the success stories from a pilot program for the licensure of foreign-trained nursing professionals started in 2006 by the Latino Health Initiative, an outreach program of the Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services. The main goal of the program — which had 25 participants in its first class — was to address the severe nursing shortage in Maryland by utilizing foreign-trained professionals and helping them through the certification process, said Sonia Mora, manager of the Latino Health Initiative. Immigrants are often confused and frustrated by the multi-step process, she said, adding that without help many abandon their ambitions of returning to the nursing field.
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Instructor Teaches Where His Students Were Born

These teachers have always taught English to foreign born college students in the U.S., and this year, they are teaching in Mexico. They are working with students who will one day teach English, helping them with lesson planning and developing material for them. DP

By BETH MCMURTRIE John Whitney has spent 25 years teaching English to foreign-born students. Most of that time he worked at universities, teaching relatively well-off, well-educated students who had come to the United States to earn a degree.

For the past 10 years, though, Mr. Whitney has been an instructor at Chemeketa Community College, in Salem, Ore., teaching a very different type of student.

Most are immigrants struggling to master a language they need to know to get a decent job. Many of them came to the United States as children, young enough that they never developed a strong grasp of their own language, but old enough that they have had trouble adapting to their new one.

"Everybody is trying to figure out what the best way is to serve this population and help them be successful college students," says Mr. Whitney.

He finds his job at Chemeketa particularly rewarding. But he wants to do more. So last year, Mr. Whitney and his wife, Maria Dantas-Whitney, an assistant professor of teacher education at Western Oregon University, applied for Fulbright fellowships.

Their plan was to travel to Latin America, to better understand the educational systems from which many of their students came. About 45 percent of Chemeketa's 900 or so English-as-a-second-language students are from Latin America, most of them from Mexico, Mr. Whitney says.

Now the couple is at Benito Juárez Autonomous University at Oaxaca, in Mexico. There he teaches students who will one day themselves teach English. With them he explores methodology, lesson planning, and materials development. Ms. Dantas-Whitney teaches courses on curriculum development and methodology, and conducts research and a teaching practicum.
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Study: Immigrants add $10.6 billion a year to LI economy

Another study showing that immigrants add more to an economy than they use in services - this one on Long Island. DP

BY DAVE MARCUS, Newsday Immigrants contribute $10.6 billion a year to Long Island's economy by increasing productivity, generating new business and paying taxes, according to a study to be released Monday by Adelphi University's Center for Social Innovation.

While many Long Islanders have said that immigrants drain government resources, the study says they contribute $2,305 more per person in taxes and government fees than they use in schools, health care and law enforcement. It found that spending by immigrants -- those who are legal residents as well as those who are undocumented -- leads to creation of about 82,000 jobs a year.

Funded by the Hagedorn Foundation in Port Washington, the study is believed to be the first in-depth look at the economic impact of immigrants from all nationalities on Long Island. The author, Mariano Torras, is a professor of economics at Adelphi University and a fellow at the University of Notre Dame's Institute for Latino Studies. He analyzed census figures beginning in 1980, government budgets and other data.

While the report doesn't mention those who have been critical of illegal immigrants, it does seek to contradict their arguments. One goal of the Hagedorn Foundation is reduction of tensions between established residents and immigrants.

"The results should blunt these criticisms," Torras said yesterday, "but I'm also aware of the realities that in these kinds of political economic controversies both sides have their minds made up and find reasons to discredit findings they don't agree with."

Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford), who had not seen the report yesterday, said he has read some nationwide reports emphasizing the economic benefits of undocumented immigrants and other reports emphasizing the costs. "But economics aside, from the security and the social points of view, we have to control who is in the country. This country has to get control of its border."
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Muslim population is growing

This group of immigrants is living like most immigrant do when they first come here. Working in small businesses, then starting their own businesses and living the American Dream. We are happy they are adding to our country. DP

By MICHAEL P. MAYKO and MARIAN GAIL BROWN, Staff writers Look down the street. They are here.

And they are among us, making contributions to the community the way immigrants always have -- by paying their dues -- often starting at the bottom and working their way up. They are bakers, barbers, waiters, soft-drink distributors, merchants, mechanics, teachers, engineers, lawyers and doctors. Many of them own small businesses, from mom-and-pop grocery stores to gas stations to restaurants.

They are Muslims.

Muslims like Ruzhdi Vogli, a mason who spent five days avoiding soldiers ordered to shoot to kill, climbing mountains and living off the sweat he could wring from his shirt as he escaped from communistic Albania only to land in a Yugoslavian prison for 31 days.

"It was like a movie," recalls Vogli, who still bears the physique of the Greco-Roman wrestler he used to be. "You had to hide during the day and run during the night. If the shepherds saw you, they would tell the soldiers, who would kill you."

When he crossed into Yugoslavia and surrendered to authorities, they threw him in jail.

"It was very bad," Vogli said. "I would pray every night: 'God -- Please save my mind.' "

After 41 days in jail and then a refugee camp, Vogli came to Bridgeport with the help of the International Institute of Connecticut.

They are people like Tarcisico Campos, a Brazilian who last June graduated from Central High School and hopes to save enough money from his job at a fitness club to enter Housatonic Community College next fall. In the meantime, Campos collects used clothing to send back to the poor in Brazil. In the future, he would like to work with orphans.
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City's immigrants are learning the language

An interesting opinion piece about an immigrant who was a true American, and his struggle to learn English, a language he knew he had to know. This was written in response to the "English only" debate. DP

By Gregg Ramos, past president of the Nashville Bar Association Though my father did not speak English as a young man, he served our country in the U.S. Army during World War II. My brother served our country in Vietnam. They taught me what it is to be a proud American.

The point is my family members and millions more just like them have earned the right to be respected as true American patriots.

My father did not wake up one day however, with a sudden and immediate mastery of the English language. Rather, it was a long and arduous process, especially while he was working two jobs just to keep food on the table. I remember him telling me of the humiliation he endured, including while serving overseas in the Army, when people ridiculed him as he was trying to learn the language.

My father never had any doubt however, and he certainly never needed an English-only law to tell him that English — unquestionably the common and unifying language of our great country — is the key to economic success and prosperity in America.

And contrary to what the English-only proponents may try to argue, the newly arrived immigrants in Nashville clearly know this, as well. This is why their children are learning the language faster than any previous generations of immigrants, a fact that directly challenges the underlying premise of English-only.
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Early immigrants slow to learn English

This research shows that German immigrants in the 1800s were slow to learn English, their children and grandchildren were slow to learn it too. They lived in their own communities, spoke only German and, at the same time, were patriotic Americans. Our current immigrants usually speak some English and by the second generation, are proficient. DP

United Press International, Inc. MADISON, Wis., Oct. 18 (UPI) -- A study of 19th century immigration finds little evidence earlier generations of immigrants to the United States learned English to survive, research indicates.

Joseph Salmons, a professor of German at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, said research into the lives of German immigrants in Wisconsin from 1839 to the 1930s shows many early immigrants appeared to live and thrive for decades while speaking exclusively German.

In many of the state's original German settlements, German remained the primary language of commerce, education and religion well into the early 20th century. He said some second- and even third-generation German immigrants who were born in Wisconsin were still monolingual in German as adults.

"These folks were committed Americans," Salmons said Thursday in a release. "They participated in politics, in the economy, and were leaders in their churches and their schools. They just happened not to conduct much of their life in English."

The study was published in the journal American Speech.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Oak Forest Elementary students, parents share traditions of Hispanic heritage

Memphis City Schools are showing their students that Hispanics are not just from Mexico. There are 20 countries and many different cultures included in "Hispanic". DP

By Jane Roberts, Memphis Commercial Appeal As the first strains of a salsa beat settled over the rather restless crowd, Edna Munoz, 7, adjusted her cowboy hat and pushed on.

Singing and dancing in front of your peers is not easy unless you're on a mission.

On Wednesday, it was helping her 800 mostly black contemporaries at Oak Forest Elementary understand the subtlety of being Hispanic in the United States.

It starts with knowing that Hispanic people come from 20 countries and at least four cultures, separated -- in some cases -- by oceans, plus wide differences in custom, dialect and tradition.

To drive the point home, schools across the city have been celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month since Sept. 15 -- independence day for five Latin American countries -- in events that included traditional dance at Oak Forest, plus a parade of flags, one for each nation.

"Most of these children have never been exposed to the different Hispanic cultures," said Martha Lopez, native of Colombia and ESL mentor at Oak Forest, where about 15 percent of the student body is Hispanic. "To all of them, it's just Mexico."

If you see the world that way, you miss the panoply of experience that makes Cuba a world exporter of cigars and rural Guatemalans loyal to Mayan tradition.

The students, long accustomed to observing African-American history in February, learned that Guatemala is the same size as Tennessee and got to see their friend Nicole Scruggs, 8, and her mother, Jackie Scruggs dip and dance on stage like Cecilia Cruz and Gloria Estefan.
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Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Melting Pot or Fruit Salad?

A lovely opinion piece by a high school junior about her experience and thoughts as an ESOL volunteer. DP

"I think my America is more like a fruit salad, with that nice juice that mixes at the bottom."

By Kimberly Hagan, a junior at Grady High School. Youth Radio Atlanta Last year, I volunteered to teach English to recent immigrants. A Mexican man came into the class and introduced himself as “Miguel.” “Michael?” the teacher beside me suggested. “In America, ‘Michael,’ the teacher stated firmly as if it were a correction. But Miguel was the name he was born with and the name his mother would yell into the streets to call him home.

Shakespeare said a rose by any other name would smell as sweet, but I say renaming this man “Michael” is like sniffing a dozen long stemmed dandelions.

The teacher began explaining to the class the concept of a melting pot. “In a melting pot,” she said, “everyone goes in different, and comes out the same.”

I think my America is more like a fruit salad, with cantaloupe and red watermelon all thrown together, with that nice juice that mixes at the bottom.

Her melting pot sounded more like something homogenized, like one of those soups you get tired of after the first couple of bites. Cream of mushroom. Cream of broccoli. Cream of culture?

I’d rather have the fruit salad. And I’d rather call him Miguel.

Call for Compassion Towards Immigrants

This coalition of churches is circulating a petition asking for compassion and dignity for immigrants. They are asking that laws be enacted to help these people. DP Organizers of the Kentucky Faith Communities Immigration Coalition have put together a petition, calling on lawmakers to create legislation that takes a more compassionate approach to illegal immigration.

The coalition includes various faiths, including Jewish, Catholic, Presbyterian and independent Christians.

Organizers want laws that affirm an illegal immigrant's dignity and preserves their families.

They say they also want to see the conversation about immigrants and illegal immigration change.

"As a council of churches, however, we have to say that we are often appalled that the language used in discussions about immigrants and immigration reform," said Reverend Nancy Jo Kemper of the Kentucky Council of Churches. "Behind the comments about those people, we often perceive a racism and xenophobia."

So far the group has collected more than 2,000 signatures and says it expects to get more from members of at least 3,000 other congregations around the state.

Children of immigrants reshaping America

Research is showing that the children of immigrants are rapidly assimilating and even transforming America. They are crossing cultural and language barriers that their parents are unable to do. DP

Booming ‘second generation’ becoming the mainstream, research suggests

By Alex Johnson and Maria Menounos, Reporters - and NBC News The future of America is being forged at Dumbarton Middle School.

With students from 37 countries, Dumbarton, a magnet school in Towson, Md., near Baltimore, reflects how the United States is rapidly being transformed into a polyglot, multicultural society — not by immigrants, but by their children.

Figures from the U.S. Census Bureau paint a clear picture: By as early as 2023, more than half of all children will be members of what are now minority groups, an evolution fueled significantly by a baby boom among recent immigrants. By 2050, they will make up more than 60 percent of all American children.

By 2050, the number of Americans of Hispanic origin will double to comprise a third of the American population. The Asian population is projected to nearly triple, to 9.2 percent of the population. And as those populations mingle, the number of people who identify themselves as being of two or more races will more than triple.

The result will be a United States in which the so-called white majority will, for the first time, be in the minority.

In the process, the children of new immigrants “will not only reshape American racial and ethnic relations but define the character of American social, cultural, and political life,” researchers at Harvard University and City University of New York write in “Inheriting the City,” a landmark study of the children of first-generation immigrants to the United States.
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Report: Immigrants inject $1.6B into Neb. economy

This report shows that immigrants add to Nebraska's economy and create jobs. And the loss of foreign born workers will cost $13.5 billion and thousands of jobs. DP

By JEAN ORTIZ OMAHA, Neb. - Immigrants add $1.6 billion annually in spending to the state's economy and fill a critical role in the work force, according to a new study that was to be released Wednesday by the University of Nebraska at Omaha.

Officials with the university's Office of Latino/Latin American Studies, or OLLAS, who issued the report called the study the first statewide quantitative assessment of the contributions Nebraska immigrants - both legal and illegal - make to the state's economy.

Available data didn't allow the report's authors to differentiate between the economic impact of illegal versus legal immigrants.

But the policy brief does make a few inferences - the first being that undocumented migrants are largely employed and are contributing to production, employment and taxes similar to legal immigrants.

"Moreover, it would be reasonable to also assume that the economic contributions of unauthorized immigrants are more than likely underestimated by all accounts, and that their public costs are likely lower than for authorized immigrants or the native born as a whole," a draft of the policy brief says.

The report's author, Christopher Decker, an assistant professor of economics, was traveling and unavailable for comment on the study's methodology or other details Tuesday. Jerry Deichert with the university's Center for Public Affairs Research also contributed to the report.

According to a draft of an policy brief that summarizes the report's key findings and lays out policy recommendations, immigrants created about 12,000 jobs across all sectors of the state's economy in 2006.

And the loss of the foreign-born work force could cost the state $13.5 billion and thousands of jobs.
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Monday, October 13, 2008

Language Barrier Begone

This company is teaching English to their employees, during the workday. This will help them work safer, understand instructions, get along with the other workers and also function better outside of work. DP

Sturbridge manufacturer brings in teachers to bridge the gap

By Matthew L. Brown, Worcester Business Journal Staff Writer A Sturbridge company dealing with a problem manufacturers have faced since the first wave of Industrial Revolution immigrants hit New England’s shores has come up with a way to topple language barriers: Teach employees English on company time.

G&F Industries, a plastics company just off Route 20 in Sturbridge, was finding it difficult to make all of its employees understand their jobs, their safety and their coworkers due to language barriers. According to Mark Berry, the company’s operations manager, about one third of G&F’s 120 employees primarily speak languages other than English, mostly Spanish and Mandarin.

A basic language barrier can be problem enough, but “the nature of the manufacturing business we’re in, it has a lot of its own vocabulary,” Berry said. So getting every employee to learn English was also a workforce development initiative for G&F.
G&F manufactures injection molded plastic components for the auto, medical and consumer electronics industries.

“What we really want them to do is understand the job, understand safety and understand the workplace documentation,” Berry said. He said when the company decided to make learning English part of the G&F job description, it first approached area community colleges but the schools did not have off-campus services available.

Literacy Volunteers of South Central Massachusetts does and was excited about helping G&F, Berry said. He said Literacy Volunteers had been contacted by other manufacturers facing the same problem, but those companies hadn’t started a program because they didn’t want to use company time for a literacy program.

Those companies may be missing out. According to Berry, the program hasn’t cost G&F a cent. Literacy Volunteers trained G&F managers to conduct the class and now the entire program is conducted in-house.

“You can send people out and they’ll be fine,” Berry said, but G&F wanted a program not just to teach English to employees, but to teach English as it relates to working at G&F. “We want our employees to understand what they’re trying to accomplish,” he said.
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Many people think immigrants only settle in a few states. This article about a town in Vermont with a school population of 759, shows that children from 19 countries with 14 languages are learning English. DP

By Matt Sutkoski, Burlington FreePress WINOOSKI -- The city's school district saw a large increase this fall in the number of students who are learning the English language.

The surge in non-English speaking students is a challenge for the school district, Associate Superintendent Mary Martineau said, but it is also rewarding the city and its students by giving people a view of the broader world.

About one-quarter of Winooski's 759 students are English language learners, Martineau said. That's up from slightly fewer than 10 percent of the student population in 2003 and a little more than 15 percent from last year. Refugees are drawn to Winooski's relatively low housing prices and high numbers of rental properties, she said.

Students in Winooski hail from 19 countries and speak about two dozen languages, including Arabic, Bengali, Dinka, Nepali, Swahili and Urdu.

Winooski school officials said the city has likely the highest percentage of non-English speakers of any district in Vermont. Martineau offered the statistics Wednesday as she gave the Winooski School Board an update on the school's English Language Learner program. Board members said they were pleased by the work the teachers were doing. Panel members asked for more details on whether the city is bearing a disproportionate cost in educating the immigrants.

Winooski this year received a $34,638 federal grant to educate immigrant children and another $28,000 federal Refugee Children School Impact Grant, Martineau said. Also, under the state's education finance laws, the English learners in the school prompt the state to adjust local funding, somewhat reducing the effects the students have on local taxpayers, she said.
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Africans get a church of their own

Iowa City has a new church to minister to recent African immigrants, many who can't speak much English yet. These services will be in African languages and will help with much more than just worship. DP

By Rob Daniel, Iowa City Press-Citizen The Iowa City African Church of the Nazarene has a specific purpose, said its pastor, the Rev. Chapain B. Tosingilo.

"It has a really specific need to reach Africans in Iowa City and Cedar Rapids," he said. "We want to teach them with the Gospel in English and other African languages."

At noon Sunday, the Iowa City African Church of the Nazarene will host its official organization as a church at 1035 Wade St. Although anyone is welcome, the church will focus on immigrants from the Democratic Republic of the Congo and other African countries, with a service in English, Swahili and French.

"Some who are coming as immigrants may not know English, so we want to help them worship God," Tosingilo said.

The official organization on Sunday will feature a sermon by Garey Miller, the denomination's Iowa district superintendent, who will speak on the duty of the church, Tosingilo said. There also will be Spanish music led by Jose Segura, a pastor who leads the Spanish-language service at the Iowa City Nazarene church. In addition, there will be music from the Mama Teague Band, Mama Falanga Z. Sula band, an African choir and African youth and children. There also will be a demonstration of the wearing of African clothing, with a dinner following the festivities.

Tosingilo said he expected 100 to 150 people to attend the opening service. The church then will meet every week at noon at the Iowa City Church of the Nazarene. The African church also will have a Bible study from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. every Saturday as well as regular prayer and counseling available, he said.

Though the service will focus on the African immigrants, Tosingilo said the church is available for anyone who wants to come.

"We want to be open to as many people as we can," he said.

Archbishop calls Catholics to welcome immigrants

The Archbishop of San Antonio says this immigration issue is not a battle for votes, but a battle for the soul of the America. DP

By Kevin Kelly, Catholic Key Associate Editor JEFFERSON CITY, Missouri - An immigrant from Mexico himself, San Antonio Archbishop Jose H. Gomez admitted that he feels pain when he listens to the immigration debate.

While hearing those calls for demonizing "illegal" immigrants and demanding their immediate arrest and deportation, Archbishop Gomez still retains his optimism that fundamental Christian hospitality for the stranger will ultimately prevail, he told more than 600 Catholics gathered Oct. 4 at the state capitol for the annual Missouri Catholic Conference Assembly.

From the earliest days, Christianity has modeled hospitality, the archbishop said.

"From the beginning, there was something very different about Christians, something even their enemies couldn't help but notice and admire, no matter how reluctantly," he said.

Quoting Jesus in Matthew 25:35, Archbishop Gomez said it is "an original and central element" of Christianity to welcome the stranger.

"To be a Christian was to practice hospitality to the stranger," he said. "To be a Catholic is to be a man or woman who serves God in the poor, in the least of these. To be a Catholic is to be a person who welcomes a stranger in need," he said. "This is who we are. It is part of our original identity as Catholics, as Christians. We must defend the immigrant if we are to be worthy of the name Catholic."
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Today's refugees face harsher adjustment as program funding, flexibility lag

Refugees today are having a harder time than earlier refugees did. The programs to help them get settled are underfunded and not able to deal with all the different backgrounds they are from. DP

By Kristen Moulton, The Salt Lake Tribune Tan Ly was just 19 in May 1979, when, late one night, he squeezed onto a 28-foot boat with 453 other people fleeing Vietnam.

For five days, he sat shoulder to shoulder with other refugees as the boat rolled over the South China Sea toward Malaysia. There was no food, no bathroom. Thai pirates stopped the boat twice, stripping Ly and other passengers of everything but their underwear.

Ly and his father, Hoang Tuoi Ly, lived for months in a jungle island refugee camp in Malaysia before heading for the U.S. When they finally arrived on a winter morning at Salt Lake City International Airport, Ly wore camp-issued flip-flops, a woman's blouse and slacks.

"We would do anything for freedom," says Ly, now a chief engineer at Hill Air Force Base who, by all measures, has achieved the American dream.

His experience, though, is not shared by many of today's refugees. More and more, they fail to attain even a shadow of the American dream. Ill-equipped for the United States' tough-love approach that expects quick assimilation, many live in poverty. Hope for a better life soon turns to despair.

"Most of the refugees from Burma are saying, ... 'We want to go back,' " says Zaw Htike of the Utah Department of Workforce Services, who works with fellow Burmese.

Refugees who fail today do so for assorted reasons, but much of the problem boils down to this: The 28-year-old program is simply inadequate, structurally and financially, to the task of assimilating today's diverse refugees who range from
illiterate Africans to educated Iraqis to Burmese who have spent generations in refugee camps.
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Thursday, October 09, 2008

Immigrant has rare view on diversity

This woman knows all about the problems immigrants face and is doing her best to help people in her community. DP

A longtime Blaine resident who was born in Ecuador knows the challenges that newcomers face and she's trying to make the transition easier for today's immigrants.

By MARIA ELENA BACA, Star Tribune As a 34-year U.S. citizen, Jenny Matute Riley says she knows what it takes to succeed in this country. As a woman born in Ecuador, who learned English at age 16 during a student exchange in Anoka, she says negative reactions to the Spanish accent that still flavors her speech remind her of what it means to be an immigrant.

Riley, now of Blaine, is translating her life experience into a life's mission, to try to pave an easier way for today's immigrants, at a time when many communities, including Blaine, are struggling to adapt to their new demographics.

With her daughter, Tania, she runs Riley & Associates, a translation service that works primarily to bridge the gap between speakers of English and Spanish, but which also offers written translation in Hmong, Lao and French. Riley also sells insurance for Blue Cross-Blue Shield, mostly to individuals and small businesses. (Her business' website is www.

As the years bring each immigrant wave, she's noted the different groups, and what they bring with them. The Star Tribune spoke with Riley about her views on immigration and diversity, as a citizen and an immigrant.
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Hmong tutor program provides students with an alternative

University students who are Hmong Americans, are helping these Hmong refugee students with their English and their homework. Because of the language problem, they are having trouble with their school studies. DP

BY Holly Miller Being able to read and comprehend her social studies homework is only a small part of the reason 10th-grader Kao Vang wants to learn English faster.

A Hmong refugee from Thailand, Vang and 15,000 others like her arrived in the United States beginning in 2004, 5,000 of them making a home in Minnesota, and 1,000 in Hennepin County.

Learning English not only means doing better on homework, but helping her parents, who do not speak English, Vang said.

Vang received help with English and homework Sunday evening by taking part in the Hmong tutoring program provided by the Hmong Minnesota Student Association student group and the University’s Center for Urban & Regional Affairs.

The 20 junior high and high school students involved in the program live in north Minneapolis but attend the Hopkins School District.

They faced violence and bullying while attending schools in north Minneapolis as well as segregation from mainstream English speaking classes, said Jay Clark, the tutoring programs organizer with CURA.

When administration told them they would have to continue going to classes taught mostly in Hmong, some students banded together and transferred to the Hopkins district through the “Choice Is Yours” program, which allows low-income Minneapolis students to enroll in neighboring suburban school districts, Clark said.

Clark said 55 Hmong students ranging from kindergarten through 12th grade now attend Hopkins schools, but many found school to be more difficult when they got there.

“The classes are in English, which in the long-term is really great,” he said, “but, in the short-term is very hard.”
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Analysis Shows Immigrant-Friendly Legislation Fares Better at State Level

This study shows that state legislatures enact more laws aimed at expanding immigrant rights than laws trying to crackdown on them. Very interesting. DP

By Caitlin Webber, CQ Staff State legislation aimed at expanding immigrant rights have a higher passage rate than those intended to crack down on illegal immigration, according to a new Migration Policy Institute analysis of state legislative data.

MPI, a nonpartisan immigration think tank, teamed up with New York University Law School researchers to catalog state immigration bills introduced in 2007, a record year on the issue, in a searchable online database published Monday.

But despite a flurry of legislative activity, only 167 of the 1,059 immigration measures — 16 percent— were enacted.

Researchers found that the bills covered a wide range of topics, challenging the conventional wisdom that most legislation at the state level seeks to challenge immigration enforcement or employment.

The findings also indicate that a state’s prior experience with immigration significantly affects the type of bills legislators are likely to introduce.

“It’s interesting that politicians in traditional immigrant-receiving states — those that account for two-thirds of the foreign-born population in the United States — were more interested in introducing bills that dealt with immigrant assimilation issues than other types of measures,” said Laureen Laglagaron, MPI policy analyst and an author of the report, which touches on highlights from the database.

The report compares legislative activity in traditional immigrant-receiving states — California, New York, Texas, Florida, Illinois and New Jersey — with those that recently experienced a big jump in their foreign-born populations. These new immigrant-destination states, including Delaware, South Carolina, Nevada and Georgia, were more likely to pass bills relating to employment, public benefit eligibility and law enforcement.
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Face of private schools changing

Atlanta's private schools are trying to attract minority students. The hope is that the diverse campuses will enable all students to learn about different cultures, races and lives. DP

Many in metro Atlanta trying to fill demographic void
By D. AILEEN DODD They are the country club campuses where privileged students in crisp khakis dart down stone paths to class and stately brick buildings cast an intimidating shadow on those of limited means.

The prestigious profile of metro Atlanta’s private schools has long shut out parents who figured they could never afford the cost of tuition. Or compete with the Joneses.

To many outsiders, the face of private school appears elitist — white and wealthy. Its students, spoiled spendaholics who get to drive Daddy’s BMW to campus instead of piling three-deep on a public school bus seat.

But the homogenous bubble hovering over metro Atlanta’s private institutions is bursting — from the inside. These days, the children of celebrities and CEOs may attend classes with the sons and daughters of hair stylists and baseball ticket-takers.

Independent schools across Georgia are increasing their minority and low- income populations to fill what they see as a cultural void in their campuses.

Private school parents and administrators, like those at public schools, find value in having diversity in the classroom and curriculum. It is a business and social imperative for them. As the nation becomes more multicultural, so does the pool of potential students.

Nearly 42,000 Georgia students attended private schools affiliated with the Georgia Independent School Association last year. Approximately 15 percent of them were minority students.
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Ceremony at Rice University naturalizes 1,200 immigrants

Hurricane Ike disrupted the planned ceremony, but these 1200 people were able to be sworn in, just in time to register to vote. DP staff report HOUSTON -- The United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas held an immigration ceremony at Rice University's stadium on Saturday for more than 1,200 immigrants whose September 24 naturalization service was disrupted by Hurricane Ike.

"This is normal Houston friendliness and cooperation," said U.S. District Judge Lynn N. Hughes. "With the help of Rice University and the Immigration Service, the court will welcome these new citizens in time for their first vote to be in November."

The league of women voters organized an on-the-spot voter registration service at the event to give the new citizens’ opportunity to vote in the November election. The deadline to register is Monday.

Hurricane Ike forced the cancellation of the September ceremony when it caused extensive damage, both to immigration service offices and to many of the Houston venues previously used for naturalization ceremonies.

Ohio immigrants become citizens in time to vote

Just in time to register to vote, these 81 people became U.S. citizens. DP

By THOMAS J. SHEERAN Associated Press Writer Eighty-one people took the oath as U.S. citizens on Friday at a courthouse ceremony moved up two weeks so they could register to vote in time for the Nov. 4 presidential election in battleground Ohio.

"I've been waiting for that for five years, to vote," said Danny Oubeid, 23, of suburban North Olmsted, who immigrated from Syria with his parents. "The minute I walk out, I'm going to register."

Following custom, the local elections board sent workers to the naturalization ceremony to register voters. Fifty-nine took advantage of the opportunity, meeting the Monday deadline to register and qualify to vote next month.

About 900,000 immigrants were naturalized in the U.S. in an 11-month period through August, according to U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services.

The agency doesn't keep track of immediate voter registrations among new U.S. citizens, but most of those taking the oath in Cleveland were determined to participate.

Oubeid, who just finished an English course and plans to study auto mechanics, said voting was important if you want to feel like a participant in democracy. He didn't specify his choice for president.

To Americans who complain about their government, Oubeid said his response is, "If you didn't vote, I don't want to hear it."
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Immigrants face revamped test

The new citizenship test is being used now. New immigrants will probably know more about the country than many native born people do. We all should see if we could pass the test. DP

New citizenship exam includes more history, civics questions.

By Vanessa Colón / The Fresno Bee Immigrants who have applied to become citizens will face a new question today: Which citizenship test do I take?

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services is rolling out a new exam today that focuses on American history and basic concepts, such as who makes federal laws. The old test, which asked such things as how many stars the American flag has, is being phased out.

Immigrants who applied for citizenship before Oct. 1 can take either test. Those who apply beginning today must take the new test.

Gurinder Kaur, 22, of Fresno is among those who have a choice. Kaur, a civics student at Fresno's Cesar E. Chavez Adult Education Center, said the new test has too many answers to remember. She is planning to take the old test Oct. 30.

"Some people like the new test," said Kaur, who is from India. "But people who don't speak very good English might have to take it again."

For civics teachers, the new test presents challenges. Several Valley teachers said they find themselves lecturing to an old test while exposing students to a new test that requires more preparation.
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State's economy draws immigrants

Good news from Wyoming. A thriving economy and lots of jobs attracting workers, including immigrant workers. DP

By JARED MILLER, Star-Tribune staff writer CHEYENNE -- While much of the nation is enduring a downturn, Wyoming’s economy is thriving, and the availability of jobs is attracting more immigrant workers, a state economist said.

"Wyoming has experienced an increase in its foreign-born population, and that is mainly driven by the state’s strong economy," said Amy Bittner, an economist with the Department of Administration and Information's Economic Analysis Division.

Wyoming’s immigrant population jumped 17.5 percent between 2006 and 2007, the largest percentage gain in the nation, according to new figures from the U.S. Census Bureau.

An estimated 16,360 immigrants lived in the state in 2007, up from fewer than 14,000 in 2006, the figures show.

The majority, almost 52 percent, came from Latin America. Nearly 44 percent were from Mexico.

Despite the increase, Wyoming’s foreign-born population comprised just over 3 percent of the total population in 2007, compared with a nationwide level of 12.6 percent, and ranked 44th highest in the nation, according to the Census numbers.

The Census Bureau’s estimates for immigrants include those in the state legally and illegally, because the agency does not ask about legal status.

Nationally, the wave of immigrants entering the United States slowed dramatically last year as the economy faltered and the government stepped up enforcement of immigration laws.

The nation added about a half million immigrants in 2007, down from more than 1.8 million the year before, according to the Census figures.
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Connecticut population dropping + fewer immigrants = we're dead

While many people keep insisting this country is full and no immigrants should be allowed, others are showing proof the opposite is true. And other states are having the same problem as Connecticut. DP

By Rick Green The one thing that saved us from losing population during the first half of this decade was the continuing stream of immigrants coming to Connecticut looking for a better life.

That's why the latest news out of the U.S. Census Bureau is worrisome. Without them, economists and business leaders say, we are dead.

The latest figures show that Connecticut is now losing population, which may not surprise folks out there who can't afford the taxes and can't find a job that pays enough. This time, newly arriving foreign-born immigrants - legal and illegal - aren't going to save us.

The state's population dropped to 3,502,309 in 2007, down 2,500 people. At the same time, the number of foreign-born immigrants also dropped by roughly the same amount - 2,697.
It's a very small change that may signal a dangerous trend.

"We are dead without immigrants in this state,'' said Peter Goia, vice president and economist at the Connecticut Business and Industry Association. "The only growth we are going to get is from immigration. If the immigrants go negative, we are going to have a declining population."
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Immigrants follow U.S.-borns' path — often to Sun Belt

USA TODAY has analyzed the Census data and shows where immigrants are moving to and the reasons. It discovered the places and reasons are the same as for other Americans. A very interesting report. DP

By Haya El Nasser and Paul Overberg, USA TODAY Foreign-born Americans are moving from place to place in patterns similar to those of the U.S.-born, according to a USA TODAY analysis of Census data out today offering the first detailed look at migration since the beginning of the decade.

The foreign-born, who in the 1990s concentrated in enclaves in large metropolitan areas, are increasingly following the same trajectory as natives. They're often leaving congested, expensive coastal cities for smaller, middle-class metro areas where schools are better and housing is cheaper.

It's the first time since the 2000 Census that such detail on the movement of Americans in and out of thousands of places has been collected.

The 2007 numbers open a window on the effects of a tumultuous decade marked by terrorist attacks, natural disasters, globalization and a housing boom and collapse.

"The new immigrants, especially Hispanic immigrants, are assimilating geographically much more quickly than at the turn of the previous century," says William Frey, demographer at the Brookings Institution.

"They're more quick to leave the inner city and go to the suburbs," he says.
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Tuesday, October 07, 2008

'Amigos and Friends' help teach English as a second language

Twice a week this group of university students and immigrants needing help to learn English, meet and study together. They also help these immigrants learn about life here and assimilate into the community. DP

By Karolina Strack/Staff Reporter Every Tuesday and Thursday night, the Newman Catholic Center fills with students and teachers. The students, or amigos, pair up with their teachers, who are called friends, and start their individual sessions as the clock strikes 10:15 p.m.

The one-on-one sessions are part of the Amigos and Friends program, which aims to teach English to immigrants. The club's "friends" are made up of the Eastern Illinois University student body, from English to Biology majors who volunteer their time twice a week and give back to the community.

The program started in 2003 when Doris Nordin, EIU Student Volunteer Center Coordinator, decided to return a favor.

"I came to the U.S. in 2002 when I got married, and that year someone helped me with my English at the Charleston Library and then I met more Latinos that asked me about learning English so we started the program," Nordin said.

The group's goals go beyond linguistics; they also help immigrants assimilate into society, give them more confidence and the ability to help themselves according, to Nordin.

Amigos and Friends have students from Mexico, Guatemala, Nicaragua, China and Vietnam, although the number of Asian students declined due to recent transportation issues.

Although the group meets twice a week with one-on-one tutors, those who are interested are "welcome to come anytime and we will help them," Nadir said. The group is funded by the Newman Catholic Center with the idea that, "It's free and it's for the people…giving back to the community, and it's a call from God to help people and that is all we are about," Nadir said.

The friends who teach English come from all educational backgrounds and walks of life. Erica Sotelo, junior Spanish major with teacher certification, was just like some of her students. She learned English as her second language when she was nine and joined the group as a "friend" last semester.

"I was looking to get involved - I taught English as a second language before in my home town but I still think it's difficult. Teaching grammar is tough, but I get to know these people and the struggles they face. You hear about it, but here it hits home because of the relationships you form," Sotelo said.

Many of the "friends" say that one of the reasons they joined is to help others, like junior biology major Gerald Contiangco. "The idea of directly helping someone is amazing, especially when it's something beneficial like learning a language," said Contiangco.

Contiangco's "amigo," Mayra Limon, moved to Charleston from Mexico a year ago and his been attending the classes for about the same time.

"I speak more English and I learned more vocabulary. Everything is difficult for me - especially pronunciation - and the program helped me talk with people, I understand more," Limon said.

Teaching English without sharing a common language can be difficult, something that Sotelo and Contiangco agree on but try to work around. A lot of times it involves a little creativy.

"I had a Chinese student the first semester and she knew very little English. It was difficult to explain anything, so I used a lot of visual aids. I also used a Web site called that is interactive with visuals and sounds. The biggest challenge was teaching English to a student who spoke Spanish, but couldn't read in either language. But, you have to start small and build on things," Contiangco said.

In her seventh year of learning Spanish, Kenisha Davis, freshman Spanish major, joined the group after going to the volunteer fair and so she decided to try it.

Maria Guierrero, Charleston resident, is one of the program's success stories, according to Nordin. "I saw a sign at mass, read it and came. I went here for three years and then I went to Mattoon Adult Learning Center, and there I took English and computer classes and now I'm back to learn more," Guierrero said.