Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Iskash*taa Refugee Harvesting Network

This is a terrific network of people helping refugees in Tucson Arizona.

It is helping the refugees help themselves too.

This is something that many other cities and communities could do. I hope there are many more just like it that are already doing it.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Finding roots

This 17 year old, born in a refugee camp in Nepal, is now living with his family in Tucson. He tells their story, their struggles and their dreams. - - Donna Poisl

By Laxmi Narayan Dahal, VOICES, Tucson, Arizona

On March 1, 2008, a devastating fire struck the refugee camp where my family was living in Nepal.

The fire erupted in another sector of the camp, and my friends and I were scared; we ran fast toward our own homes. The flames spread like lava and destroyed huts one after another.

When I reached home, I found my mother sitting in the ashes of our home. We gathered clothes and ran frantically toward the pari (forest). While I ran, I heard many children crying from their hearts and begging for their clothes and books. Their sorrowful noise echoed throughout the camp. Nearly 1,300 houses turned into ashes.

That night, my family — my mother, father, brother, sister and I — went to live in the forest with much of the rest of my camp, about 5,000 other Bhutanese.
Click on the headline to read the rest of this story! This is only a small part of it.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Liberian refugees' new life grows

This is an inspiring story about this refugee family and their struggles to come here and how hard they have worked to build a new life. - - Donna Poisl

Litchfield Park farm is a far cry from civil war hardships

By Eddi Trevizo, The Arizona Republic

Jawn Golo watched flames destroy her home and possessions in the Liberian Civil War and thought that her world was over.

"I just thought that was the end of my life," said Golo, 50.

She and her husband, James Golo, fled with their children from Monrovia, Liberia's capital, in October 1990. They spent 15 years in a refugee camp in Ghana, enduring hunger, bouts of cholera, a son who was partially blinded and Jawn's monthlong paralysis from snakebite.

Nearly two decades after rebels burned their home on Africa's western coast, the family leads a quieter life in Litchfield Park, running an organic farm it started with the help of a refugee program. The Golos are among 1,190 resettled Liberian refugees in the state, according to the Arizona Refugee Resettlement Program.
Click on the headline to read the rest of this story! This is only a small part of it.

First Study of Its Kind Shows Global Problem of Human Trafficking Exists Locally


Freedom Center report urges stronger efforts to fight modern forms of slavery

CINCINNATI, July 24 /PRNewswire-HISPANIC PR WIRE/ -- A new study finds that human trafficking exists in greater Cincinnati, and to combat the issue, tougher laws, along with training and education, are needed.
The Greater Cincinnati Human Trafficking Report (, the first of its kind, is the result of a year-long study of human trafficking in Cincinnati and the Tri-state area, led by the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center. Its findings are based on nearly 140 in-depth interviews with law enforcement personnel, judges, social workers, healthcare providers, government leaders and other affected parties.

The report notes three areas of concern with greater Cincinnati's readiness to deal with the issue:
-- Lack of awareness about the problem both in the general public and among people who deal with it, such as police officers, judges and first responders
-- Inadequate legislation
-- Lack of training to help law enforcement identify victims.

"Unfortunately, slavery continues to persist around the world and here at home," said Donald Murphy, the Freedom Center's Chief Executive Officer. "Human trafficking is a modern form of slavery in which individuals -- even children -- are forced to work or provide services under the threat of violence or psychological manipulation, and victims come from all economic classes and ethnic groups."

More than 90% of the report's interviewees say they are aware of trafficking happening locally, and just under half said they or their organizations have encountered victims directly. The report does not state the exact number of confirmed cases in the area, but it does note that many cases go undocumented.

"Trafficking cases are underreported both locally and nationally," said Deborah Lydon, an attorney from Dinsmore & Shohl who helped spearhead the study. "Our first responders and social service providers acknowledged that they need better training to identify cases."

In addition to inadequate training, the report says that existing laws and regulations covering trafficking are not streamlined and often come with weak penalties. States in our region also treat the crime differently: In Kentucky and Indiana, trafficking is a distinct crime, but in Ohio, it's not.

The report offers two main conclusions for how the region should prepare for dealing with human trafficking: Focus on public awareness and training, and use benchmark statutes from other cities that would define trafficking as a crime.

The Freedom Center was assisted on the project by more than 30 volunteers in the community including attorneys, law students, paralegals, and individuals from non-profit organizations interested in justice issues.

Human trafficking is defined as a modern form of slavery in which adults and children are forced into physical labor or commercial sex, using threats of violence or psychological manipulation.

The U.S. State Department estimates that up to 800,000 people are trafficked across international borders each year, including 17,500 people who are trafficked into the United States.

The International Labor Organization claims that trafficking is the world's second-most popular criminal activity, generating more than $32 billion annually.

SOURCE National Underground Railroad Freedom Center
-0- 07/24/2009
/CONTACT: Paul Bernish of the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, +1-513-333-7589/

News from Reform Immigration for America in Arizona (RIFA-AZ)


The Campaign Reform Immigration for America in Arizona is about joining forces with organizations from faith, labor, business – individuals and families working together to achieve workable comprehensive immigration reform.

As the work of advancing CIR legislation in Congress moves forward, it will be more important for CIR supporters to stay connected and work together on how to do our part in reaching the 279 votes needed for victory.

We will as much as possible use our email network to pass on information and statewide
calls for updates about what is going on the ground in Arizona and nationally. Statewide meeting to be schedule soon.

Arizona in Action:

Arizona Interfaith Network convened religious leaders to raise develop strategy for immigration reform. Over 100 leaders from across the state gathered in Casa Grande June 30 and agreed to move forward to develop resources and promote education on comprehensive immigration reform in their institutions.

Arizona Advocacy Network and Somos America hosted National RIFA Campaign Field Director Mehrdad Azumen and Shu Ohno, RIFA Communications Assistant Director in a campaign strategy training to over 200 leaders from faith, labor and community groups from across Maricopa County July 16. Organizations made commitments to work inside their organizations to build new alliances and grow the Arizona cell phone network.

Border Action Network and Democracia USA in Tucson also hosted National Campaign Staff, Saturday, July 18 with over 50 members of local groups to discuss the campaign strategy.

Go here to see a list of all Endorsers

Have you sent a fax to Congress? Do you want to tell your friends about RIFA?

Mac-n-cheese or ugali? This teen eats both

This girl is a second generation Tanzanian immigrant, living in Minnesota. She is an American girl but still has strong ties to her parents' homeland. - - Donna Poisl

By Zawadi Mbele

Having parents who don’t really understand your culture can be hard. I’ll have a conversation with my dad that goes like this: "Hey, Dad! Can I go to the mall today?"

"You go to the mall all the time and it’s such a waste of money. Back in my day, we didn’t have a mall to go wander around in. We chased grasshoppers instead and we were so happy!"

"Um, Dad. Pretty sure if there were a mall in the middle of the village, the kids would rather go there instead of chasing grasshoppers."
Click on the headline to read the rest of this story! This is only a small part of it.

Grant to give history teachers a boost

This grant will help history teachers get their kids excited about American history. They will also teach how immigration helped shape our country and is still shaping it. - - Donna Poisl

By Sylvie Belmond

A federally funded program designed to educate fifth- through eighth-grade teachers on how to get kids excited about studying American history will soon be available to educators in Moorpark, Pleasant Valley, Rio and Ocean View school districts.

Marilyn Green, director of grants for Moorpark Unified School District, received word this month that her application for a Teaching American History grant had been approved.

Teachers who volunteer to take part will have the opportunity to visit historic sites and museums across the nation to acquire firsthand knowledge of peoples, cultures and ideas from preColonial times to the present. They'll receive additional training and personal coaching from history professors.

Aside from general history, the grant's teaching curriculum will focus on the diversity of America and the impact of internal migration and immigration.
Click on the headline to read the rest of this story! This is only a small part of it.

Girl bears brunt of immigration sweep that took parents

For every two people who are arrested for being here illegally, there is one child left behind. This little girl, has both parents in jail now. - - Donna Poisl

by Richard Ruelas - The Arizona Republic

Katherine Figueroa was at an aunt's house on that Saturday morning, playing a game with her cousin, when she heard the man on TV say there had been a raid at the car wash where her parents worked.

"Something came to me in my mind that they got my parents, they got them both," the 9-year-old said.

Katherine ran to the living room in time to see her father on the screen, his hands clasped with zip ties. The anchorman said deputies were arresting people suspected of being illegal immigrants. Katherine screamed, then started to cry. Click on the headline to read the rest of this story! This is only a small part of it.

Ask Your Representative to Support the Immigration Oversight and Fairness Act

Click on the headline to go to the HIAS page to send a letter to your representative supporting this act. - - Donna Poisl

Ask Your Representative to Support the Immigration Oversight and Fairness Act

Please send a letter to your Members of Congress to ask for their support of the Immigration Oversight and Fairness Act (H.R. 1215), which was introduced by Representative Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA). If passed, the bill would establish screening protocols to verify that vulnerable individuals, including asylum seekers, children, the elderly, and pregnant women, are treated humanely and identified for alternatives to detention. The bill also would require training for Department of Homeland Security personnel to ensure that unaccompanied immigrant children are cared for appropriately. Another provision of the bill would create enforceable standards to guarantee access to medical care and legal assistance.

Honda proposes increase in English instruction spending

This proposal is for grants for more English classes and also for employers to help their employees improve their English skills. - - Donna Poisl


A South Bay congressman has introduced a plan to offer schools and nonprofits more funding for English-learning and civics programs, while also providing financial incentives for businesses to supply language training to immigrant workers.

Rep. Mike Honda, D-San Jose, said he authored The Strengthen and Unite Communities with Civics Education and English Skills Act of 2009 as a precursor to immigration reform anticipated from the White House.

A former science teacher and public school principal, Honda said nearly one in five people in America speak a language other than English at home. Yet, he said, there too few literacy resources to help immigrants integrate fully into society and the workplace.
Click on the headline to read the rest of this story! This is only a small part of it.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

NHCSL Announces 2009 John S. Martinez Scholarship Recipients


36 Students Awarded College Financial Support and Leadership Development Opportunities

WASHINGTON, July 22 /PRNewswire/ -- The National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators (NHCSL) today announced its 2009 John S. Martinez Scholarship Fund scholarship recipients. Each recipient will receive a $1,500 academic scholarship upon graduating high school with a 3.0 average, and fully paid participation in a legislative hearing in Washington, DC. "We are pleased to be able to assist these top notch students as they prepare to achieve academic excellence," said NHCSL President, Rep. Joseph E. Miro (DE). "Through our partnership with Comcast we have been able to award 36 students with scholarships. These students are hard-working and are sure to make us proud as they become the future leaders of this country."

The focus of the scholarship fund is to develop Hispanic public servants through work experiences and learning opportunities. The scholarships are funded from a $150,000, three-year grant to NHCSL from the Comcast Foundation.

Comcast Foundation is supporting the implementation of NHCSL's Martinez scholarship program in 4 state districts with elected Hispanic state legislators; the states include Colorado, Florida, Illinois and Maryland. Recipients receive ongoing guidance, mentorship and leadership development support from NHCSL. The scholarship selection committee is comprised of local leaders in Washington, DC.

The 2009 scholarship recipients include: Adriana Hernandez, Corey Jacinto, and Karina Desroses from Colorado; Deborah Capiro, Jennifer Bustamante, Giancarlo Troncoso from Florida; Gilberto Chaidez, Karina Diaz, and Steven Carreno from Illinois; Angel Galvez, Ellisa Jacome, and Lucas M. Alvarado-Farrar from Maryland.

"The Comcast Foundation is pleased to continue supporting the NHCSL John S. Martinez Scholarship Fund. This support gives Latino students an opportunity to build invaluable leadership skills necessary for their development as our future leaders," said Susan Gonzales, Vice President for the Comcast Foundation.

The NHCSL is the premier national association of Hispanic state legislators working to design and implement policies and procedures that will improve the quality of life for Hispanics throughout the country. NHCSL was founded in 1989 as a nonpartisan, nonprofit 501(c)3 with the mission to be the most effective voice for the more than 300 Hispanic legislators. For more information visit

SOURCE National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators
-0- 07/22/2009
/CONTACT: Rhina Villatoro, +1-202-434-8070, for National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators /
/Web site: /

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Bilingual ed vs. immersion: Numbers don't lie

This article says bilingual language instruction works better than immersion classes. The writer is using his own experiences. Other people believe the opposite. - - Donna Poisl

by Carlos Guerra

Don't let ideologues more interested in wedge politics than in educating Texas kids hijack our language instruction programs for political ends.

The fact is that not even immigrants dispute that English is necessary. And if learning other languages were so easy, wouldn't many more Americans be, at least, bilingual?

The real issue is that many children — most, U.S. citizens — start school without the English proficiency needed to succeed at their grade level.

I recently recalled that my parents didn't speak English to me until a few months before I started school to give me a solid foundation in Spanish, upon which I could build my English. So, by the fall, I could answer most questions that a first-grader would be asked in English.
Click on the headline to read the rest of this story! This is only a small part of it.

Open America's doors to more immigration

A good editorial piece showing how we need more skilled immigrants, not fewer. Our own workforce is aging and our birthrate is too low to replace workers. We need more immigrants. Read the referenced report, released On July 8th, here: - - Donna Poisl

By The Kansas City Star Editorial Board

The United States needs a new, comprehensive immigration policy. This is obvious.

Recent attention on this issue has largely focused on illegal immigration. But a new, bipartisan report from the Council on Foreign Relations correctly notes that the primary immigration threat to America is welcoming too few talented immigrants.

The report, co-authored by former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and former Bill Clinton Chief of Staff Mack McLarty, points out that immigration has always been an American strength.
Click on the headline to read the rest of this story! This is only a small part of it.

Rekindling relations

Immigrant associations all across the country are losing members as they age -- and younger people are not joining. This is an excellent way for these young people to learn about their culture and appreciate the sacrifices the older generation made for them to have a life here. - - Donna Poisl

Aging immigrant associations seek an infusion of youth

By Maria Sacchetti, Globe Staff

The old men climb a narrow staircase in Chinatown to a room filled with smoky incense, stacks of Chinese-language newspapers, and a shrine holding offerings of wine and cups of tea. For nearly a century the group has offered a gathering place for lonely immigrants, who banded together to help one another make it in America.

The Gee How Oak Tin Association of New England was their family when the US government barred them from bringing relatives from China. It helped them find jobs, rent apartments, and raise children who speak flawless English and go to college.

Now, the organization is looking to those very children for its survival.
Click on the headline to read the rest of this story! This is only a small part of it.

Foreign language is key to success

This is an interesting opinion piece showing how important it is for everyone, including Americans, to know another language. - - Donna Poisl

by Meina Kaleyah

I would like to blame geographic isolation for the fact that most U.S. citizens that are not of immigrant households do not speak any languages other than English. Fine, you can't hone your German or your French, we get it - it's all an ocean away. Regardless, just to the south of us Spanish, and not English is what is spoken.

According to a report conducted by the Center for Applied Linguistics, Foreign Language Teaching: "What the United States Can Learn from Other Countries," the U.S. lags in foreign language proficiency because linguistic education is introduced too late, and our teaching force is not properly equipped. These conclusions should not come as a surprise. We can all recollect the nightmare and confusion of foreign language classes, so it's no wonder why few bother to pursue the languages in which they once held interest. So, what do we lose from avoiding learning a foreign language?

In most careers, fluency in another language is highly valued, not only for what such knowledge indicates about the employee but also for business ventures, creating a scenario where expanding into a global market becomes viable. A study published April 2006 in the "Journal of International Business Studies" concludes that introducing employees that speak another language into the workplace actually cuts transaction costs that involve international clients. Previously, if an employee was multilingual, they were utilized merely for the translation of bureaucratic documents (e.g. questionnaires). Language and the associated ethnic conventions were segregated from the skill itself. Language is now an integrated strategy within corporations.
Click on the headline to read the rest of this story! This is only a small part of it.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Opening Doors for the Latino Community: EOC and United Methodist Church Partner to Provide Hope

This church is offering English classes and other help to foreign workers in their area. - - Donna Poisl

By: Francine Grinnell & Melissa Downer

As the Saratoga tourist and racing season approaches in Saratoga, the backstretch of the Saratoga Race Track is filling up with seasonal workers, many of Latino origin who know little or no English.

In recent weeks on Mondays and Wednesdays at the United Methodist Church on the corner of Henning Road and Fifth Avenue, one can't help but observe the quantity of bicycles lined up out in front at the church entrance. For many foreign workers seeking employment at the track or in Saratoga, bikes are often the sole mode of transportation.

Twice a week, with the help of the Saratoga Economic Opportunity Council, the United Methodist Church hosts a free dinner, for their Latin guests and their families as well as English lessons to help them navigate more readily in everyday life in America as well as to help enable them in their job search and at their place of employment.
Click on the headline to read the rest of this story! This is only a small part of it.

3 more schools add bilingual immersion programs

Immersion classes are being added to this school district. They are very popular, right now only English and Spanish, maybe other languages will follow. - - Donna Poisl

By Cheri Carlson

The popularity of dual-language classes in Ventura County schools continues to grow, with three schools starting programs this fall.

Ventura Unified School District started a two-way immersion kindergarten class at Montalvo School about a decade ago. Five more dual-language programs have since come online at elementary and middle schools in Camarillo, Rio, Hueneme and Ventura.

In the fall, three more campuses are expected to be added to the list. Classes are set to start at Tierra Vista in the Ocean View School District; Juan Soria, a new campus in the Oxnard School District, and at Will Rogers in Ventura, which will start the district’s first schoolwide program.
Click on the headline to read the rest of this story! This is only a small part of it.

Judy Chu becomes first Chinese American woman elected to Congress

People from all immigrant communities should be involved in politics from small local offices to the federal level. - - Donna Poisl

The San Gabriel Valley Democrat, who will represent the 32nd District, adds the victory to a 24-year political career. She won with nearly 62% of the vote and the support of local political leaders.

By Jean Merl

Judy Chu can trace the beginnings of her career as a San Gabriel Valley activist and political leader back to the early 1970s and her freshman year in college.

As the young math major, intent on a career in computer science, was crossing the UC Santa Barbara quad one day, someone thrust into her hand a flier about a new Asian American studies course. She decided to give it a try.

"It was like a light went off in my head," Chu recalled. She learned about the history of Asian immigrants and their children, the discrimination and stereotypes they endured and their contributions to American life and culture.
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New class fills void for immigrants

These classes are helping immigrants fill the gaps in their knowledge of English, reading and math. - - Donna Poisl


Noe Avalos came to this country with a second grade education.

He didn’t speak English and hadn’t learned to read or write in his native Spanish. It didn’t pose too big a problem at his first packing house and production jobs, but now Avalos has his own business and feels inadequate when he can’t fully communicate with a customer.

So at age 47, he’s going back to school.

He and his wife, Angela Meza, will be among the first participants in a program the local Mexican Consulate and United Methodist Church are launching in Omaha.

The first of its kind in the consulate’s Nebraska-Iowa region, the Plaza Comunitaria (Community Plaza) offers a different twist than some better-known English as a second language programs.
Click on the headline to read the rest of this story! This is only a small part of it.

Community Meeting Discusses Women Immigrants' Challenges

Panelists across the country are discussing this report on women immigrants. See related story on this blog, posted Saturday, May 16, 2009. NAM Poll: Women Immigrants Keeping Families Together - - Donna Poisl

By Stephanie Lam, Epoch Times Staff

NEW YORK—New America Media (NAM), an ethnic media coalition, is hosting community meetings each day this week in five cities across the U.S. In the third community meeting on Wednesday, pollster Sergio Bendixen presented NAM’s newly released report on women immigrants, and six panelists discussed the report.

The report, titled Women Immigrants: Stewards of the 21st Century Family, is based on a poll conducted in 2008, in which approximately 1,000 female immigrants from 44 countries were interviewed in ten languages. Interviewees range from those who have been in the U.S. for less than two years to those to those who have been in the U.S. for over 20 years.
Click on the headline to read the rest of this story! This is only a small part of it.

Immigration Task Force Recommends Immigration Reform

Immigration Task Force Recommends Immigration Reform

The Independent Task Force on U.S. Immigration Policy, sponsored by the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), released a report calling for comprehensive immigration reform to be a top priority for the Obama Administration. The task force is chaired by former Florida governor Jeb Bush and former White House chief of staff Thomas "Mack" McLarty and reflects the consensus of leaders in the field of immigration policy, homeland security, education, business, labor, academia, and human rights.

Read the report, released On July 8th, here:

Tukwila: The Most Diverse School District in the Country

This school district in WA has 3,000 students and 75% are from other countries. These kids are learning more about the world from their classmates than they ever could from books. - - Donna Poisl

by Manny Frishberg

Tukwila is, in some ways, a microcosm of what is happening across America. A mostly blue-collar suburb sandwiched between Seattle and Federal Way - Washington’s largest and fifth largest cities - Tukwila has undergone a sea of change in its ethnic makeup.

Just 15 years ago, the small city’s economy was stimulated by the aerospace giant, Boeing, and a large shopping mall, which together provided the predominantly White town’s property and sales tax revenues. But, a push by King County to build more low-income apartment complexes on one end of town attracted waves of new immigrants from the Horn of Africa, Asia and the Pacific Islands.
Click on the headline to read the rest of this story! This is only a small part of it.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Reform Immigration for America


Tell Congress: "It's time to fix the broken immigration system. Pass comprehensive immigration reform this year!"

Our broken immigration system is hurting our economy, American families, and all American workers. Comprehensive immigration reform is the solution. President Obama supports reform. But only Congress has the power to pass legislation.

Join the Reform Immigration FOR America Campaign!

Economy sends Utah adults back to high school

The first people who are laid off in a bad economy are the ones without a high school diploma or English fluency. Many people are going back to school to get their GED, learn English and upgrade their skills. - - Donna Poisl

Programs get more students, less funding.

By Lisa Schencker, The Salt Lake Tribune

Larry Smith didn't know what his life would hold 18 years ago when he left Tooele High School without a diploma.

Now, at age 36, he's worked enough construction, automotive and menial jobs to know he wants more, to know he never again wants to wake up in a homeless shelter.

"Starting at the bottom is really hard, and with the economy right now, if you ain't got the schooling, it's really tough," Smith said between classes at Horizonte Instruction and Training Center on Thursday. In late June, he enrolled at the Salt Lake City School District center to earn what he hopes will make all the difference -- his high school diploma. "I have the experience; I just don't have the degrees."
Click on the headline to read the rest of this story! This is only a small part of it.

The Changing Face of Immigration to America

More than 50% of immigrants are women and their lives in this country are much different than they were in their homeland. - - Donna Poisl

The Story of the Woman Migrant as Today’s Newcomer

New America Media, Commentary, Angela Kelley

WASHINGTON – Recent statements by President Barack Obama, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi indicate a strong likelihood that congressional debate on immigration will begin later this year. Concern about immigrants’ integration into U.S. culture is a longstanding tension from past debates that will undoubtedly resurface. Fears that immigrants in modern day America are different and lack commitment to assimilate are pervasive and permeate much of the discussion both inside and outside the Beltway.

Yet, often missing from the debate is an understanding of who today’s immigrants are and how they adapt to American culture and see their future in this new homeland.
Click on the headline to read the rest of this story! This is only a small part of it.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Dallas immigration court's backlog hits 10-year high

Larger caseloads and fewer judges are making the backlog worse than ever. - - Donna Poisl

By AVI SELK / The Dallas Morning News

The backlog of cases in Dallas' immigration court has reached its highest point in a decade, resulting in the second-longest waiting times in Texas, a new national study shows.

At the end of April, Dallas had 2,633 pending cases, according to the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, a nonpartisan group at Syracuse University that analyzes federal efficiency. The only courts with more were in San Antonio and in Houston, which has the longest waiting time.

Overall, the number of immigration cases handled by the administrative judges in Dallas, including bonds, motions and removal proceedings, has climbed more 50 percent since fiscal year 1999.

The backlog generally stems from larger caseloads, the complexity of immigration disputes and the lack of enough administrative judges and resources to help them.
Click on the headline to read the rest of this story! This is only a small part of it.

Denver metro districts enroll diversity

Classrooms represent the whole world, in this class of 22 students, 11 languages are spoken. This is difficult for the teacher, but what a terrific way for the kids to learn about other cultures! - - Donna Poisl

By Jeremy P. Meyer and Burt Hubbard, The Denver Post

When Debbie Smith left her teaching position in southwest Denver for a job in a Cherry Creek district school, she anticipated a classroom filled with rich, white kids.

What she found at Eastridge Elementary in southwest Aurora were children of refugees and immigrants and a third-grade classroom even more diverse than the one she left in Denver.

"I had no idea Cherry Creek was like this," said Smith, who has taught at Eastridge for seven years. "I've had students from every continent but Antarctica. I love this. I love all of the cultures."
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Saturday, July 11, 2009

West Ga. Tech's English language classes bursting at seams

English Literacy Programs all over the country are full, with waiting lists. Even though it is hard for immigrants to fit classes into their busy lives, they know they need it. - - Donna Poisl

by Laura Camper/Times-Georgian

Elia Gonzalez has been in the United States for 10 years and knows enough English to get by, but she decided to enroll in classes at West Georgia Technical College because she wanted to be able to speak in English with her two sons, ages 6 and 9.

“My sons speak English,” Gonzalez said. “I can’t understand everything they say.”

So, in February, she enrolled in the English Literacy Program at WGTC, and now they all do their homework together.

“They help me,” Gonzalez said. “They tell me in English, and when I don’t know something, they show me.”
Click on the headline to read the rest of this story! This is only a small part of it.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

State Department Brochure Explains Temporary Immigrant Workers' Legal Rights

State Department Brochure Explains Temporary Immigrant Workers' Legal Rights

The State Department recently announced the availability of a new brochure for individuals applying for temporary work or study visas. The brochure explains the legal rights of non-citizen workers, including worker protections and resources for victims of trafficking and other abuse. The pamphlet will be translated into ten languages and distributed to U.S. Embassies and Consulates worldwide. This version is only in English.

To download the pamphlet, go to this site or click on the title bar above. .

Monday, July 06, 2009

Immigrants become new citizens on July 4 in Portsmouth

This group of immigrants became citizens on July 4, a perfect day to become Americans. - - Donna Poisl


PORTSMOUTH — Joel Alonzo, 15 minutes after becoming a United States citizen, said he knows the opportunities his new country holds for him and what he has to offer America.

"This is my best day," the paralegal and aspiring lawyer said. "I have the chance to make a contribution to this country."

Alonzo, 43, a native of the Dominican Republic, was among about 195 immigrants who became United States citizens Saturday during a naturalization ceremony at Strawbery Banke.

The waving of American flags and tears of joy marked an event that saw families from all over the world coming together to celebrate their first Fourth of July holiday.
Click on the headline to read the rest of this story! This is only a small part of it.

Saturday, July 04, 2009

For those working toward citizenship, Independence Day is extra special

These immigrants who are now citizens and many still working toward it, are all appreciating this day. - - Donna Poisl

by Paul Takahashi/The Jersey Journal

Independence Day is not just any holiday for Oneyda Lopez, who became a U.S. citizen in 2007.

"I feel this is my country now," said Lopez, who emigrated from Honduras 18 years ago and now calls Union City home. "I'm so happy. ... I love this country."

Nearly 60,000 immigrants living in New Jersey were naturalized last year, and like Lopez, they are experiencing the 4th of July this year in a whole new light. For many, this milestone not only took them miles away from their origins -- it took a lot of motivation, too.
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Guiding others on familiar path

These immigrants are studying for the citizenship test, a test that most American high school students fail. They are being taught by a woman who took and passed the same test a few years ago. - - Donna Poisl

Prospective citizens' teacher is an immigrant herself


The students taking notes in a City Heights citizenship class this week were as diverse as San Diego itself, born in countries ranging from Colombia to Vietnam.

An older woman from Lebanon, a first-time student, sat near the front. At a table in the rear, a group of African Muslim women sat facing one another, their heads covered by silky hijab.

Above the table, pinned to the wall, was a timeline of U.S. history: the start of the American Revolution, the Declaration of Independence, the passage of the Constitution.
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English, civics vital to America

This woman, who is half German, points out how important it is to have a common language and understand the history of this country, to be an American. - - Donna Poisl

by Lisa Farringer Parker

Recently, I returned from visiting my family in Germany and realized that the cultural gap between my German family and me is as wide as the ocean that separates us.

I am half-German. It's a concept difficult for me to grasp as I am so quintessentially American.

And yet, I am fascinated by my German heritage. My German family does not understand this. They say, "But why do you care, you are American?" And yet, that is the key to America's ability to meld people into one loose alliance of Americans: pride in our heritage. We do not become one monolithic identity when we sign on for citizenship.
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Immigrants sworn in as American citizens today at Disney

Immigrants from more than 100 countries and ages 18 to 82 are sworn in as citizens today at Disney World. - - Donna Poisl Staff Report

More than 1,000 immigrants were sworn in as U..S. citizens on Main Street, U.S.A. at Disney World today.

The group then attended a preview of the new show at Disney's renovated Hall of Presidents, which has been closed for eight months. The attraction officially re-opens Saturday.
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Sweet Land of . . .

Click on the title to read all these immigrants' answers to the question: What do you like about America? - - Donna Poisl

On America's Birthday, Immigrants Count Nation's Blessings -- and Theirs

By Kate Kilpatrick and Ruth McCann, Washington Post Staff Writers

What with the suffocating humidity, near-Biblical rain and dampened economic climate, there may be muted hip-hip-hurrays for the nation's birthday. But as the weekend's fireworks are cued up and patriots swarm the Mall, it's not hard to find denizens of the District who are just plain happy to be in this country.

For so many immigrants, the Fourth of July is as jubilant as the sky is spacious and the grains are amber. So to a random sampling, we posed a single question: What do you like about America?
Click on the headline to read the rest of this story! These immigrants from many countries all give terrific answers.

Rhetoric and reality on immigration

An interesting opinion, with many facts to dispell the arguments and myths.
- - Donna Poisl

by Geoffrey Scowcroft, guest opinion

As the old saying goes, "reasonable people can disagree." Let's be clear: As an immigration attorney, I have my own take on the immigration issue. But that doesn't mean that I regard those people whose views are not in sync with mine as racists or even necessarily wrong. I just ask that people on both sides of the issue get the facts straight before opining on immigration. Many of the people interviewed by Gosia Wozniacka for her article "A Tide of Anger on Immigration" (June 21) are relying on flawed data.

Those who are opposed to legalization, or for that matter immigration in general, tend to raise several issues that resonate with the general public: crime, jobs, societal costs and assimilation. Their perception is that today's immigrants increase crime, reduce the number of jobs available to American workers, drain American society of scarce resources and resist assimilation, holding onto their native tongues and cultural norms rather than succumbing to the American "melting pot." The facts reveal a very different picture.
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Kashmir Native Named Special Envoy to Muslim Community

A new position has been created by President Obama and the woman named to head the department will be working to help Muslims assimilate into American life. - - Donna Poisl


Secretary of State Hillary Clinton June 26 announced the appointment of Kashmir native Farah Pandith to head the new Office of the United States Representative to Muslim Communities.

Pandith had previously served at the State Department as a senior adviser for outreach to the Muslim community in Europe. Her appointment was announced in an internal memo, but not publicized by the State Department until a reporter asked about it at a June 25 press briefing.

State Department spokesman Ian Kelly said at the press briefing that Pandith had been appointed by Clinton to take on “more of a global role.” Kelly could not immediately verify whether Pandith was Muslim, but the department confirmed it the following day in a press statement.
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Our Opinion -- Independence Day

These immigrant brothers are serving in Iraq and will become U.S. citizens there today. Another brother became a citizen while serving in Iraq two years ago. They have to serve and also pass the test to become citizens. - - Donna Poisl

Citizen soldiers.

From the editorial board, columnists and readers

When Victor and Miguel Mendoza take the oath of allegiance to become U.S. citizens on July Fourth, the words "support and defend" will have special meaning to them.

The brothers, Mexican immigrants who came to America in 1994, will speak that oath in Baghdad, where both are on duty fighting for their adopted nation. A third brother, Jose, served in the Iraq war, too. In what's becoming a family tradition, he became a citizen on July Fourth in Baghdad two years ago.

The Mendozas represent the best of what the nation is celebrating this Independence Day weekend — liberty, freedom and the sacrifice it takes to keep them strong. They symbolize what's right with America, a nation of immigrants that was built by opening its doors.
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Hundreds rally in Salinas for immigration reform

People in these demonstrations are hoping it is getting the message to the President and Congress to make immigration reform happen soon. - - Donna Poisl


Julieta Reyes has a brother who fought in Vietnam. Ricarda Rodriguez became a U.S. citizen after almost a decade working in the fields. Hector Rojas was brought to this country when he was 8 years old. Leticia Garcia Romo is a third-generation American, the first one in her family to go to college.

Their stories, similar to those of millions of illegal immigrants in this country, were heard by hundreds of people gathered Wednesday at St. Mary of the Nativity Church in Salinas to garner support for reforming U.S. immigration laws.

"This reform that you are asking for reminds me of how much I suffered," said Rodriguez, who works as an educator at Escuela Libertad in Salinas.

The town hall meeting, conducted in Spanish with English translation, is similar to actions that have been taking place across the country. Some believe they are having an effect because President Barack Obama recently renewed his promise to push for comprehensive immigration reform this year.
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Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Immigrant High School Student Endures Detainment

This high school student was taken from his bed by ICE in a nighttime raid in April 2008. He was detained for seven months, was freed, went back to school and finally graduated. Read the whole story, an amazing young man. - - Donna Poisl

HELEN O'NEILL, AP Special Correspondent

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) ― He was born on the Fourth of July, an irony he would only appreciate later, during the dark period of his life, when liberty and freedom became far more than mere words in his high school history book.

Daniel Guadron has been fighting the odds all his young life, mostly as a happy warrior, winning admirers and supporters at every turn.

It's not just that he excelled in school: The straight-A student mastered English within months of emigrating from Guatemala at 13, then mastered French. He's aced every math test he has ever taken.
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