Saturday, February 28, 2009

In Providence, immigrants begin national rally for family unity

This "listening tour" is trying to draw attention to immigration reform and trying to make it happen this year. DP

By Karen Lee Ziner, Journal Staff Writer

PROVIDENCE — Close to a thousand people packed a Providence church last night to launch a national “family unity” campaign designed to draw attention to the disruptive effects of the country’s immigration policies. Organizers said their goal is President Obama’s signature on comprehensive immigration reform.

The 17-city “listening tour” is being led by Rep. Luis Gutierrez, D-Ill., of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus. Conducted through faith-based organizations, the tour will gather “the human stories of the impact of immigration policies” on “mixed-status” families, including U.S. citizens, and bring them to Washington, D.C., in April.

“We have five million citizen children wondering whether their parents will be there when they get home from school” each day, Gutierrez told an overflow crowd at Trinity Methodist Church on Broad Street.
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Ronault "Polo" Catalani provides a 'bigger voice' for immigrants

This is about a civil rights lawyer who helps the city and the immigrant community understand each other better. This way everyone benefits. DP

by Gosia Wozniacka, The Oregonian

Ronault L.S. Catalani -- aka "Polo" -- is a Portland civil rights lawyer and coordinator at Portland's Office of Human Rights. Catalani specializes in advocacy for the area's immigrants and refugees, with his distinct approach of solving problems "around the kitchen table."

After an alarm went off at Roosevelt High School, Portland police arrested two Hmong teens, members of an ethnic group from Southeast Asia. The youths later were released and found innocent. The police apologized, but many of Portland's Hmong refugees from war-torn Laos remained frightened and confused.

Ronault L.S. Catalani, a Portland-area lawyer and community activist who also hails from Asia, advised an odd repayment.

"I explained to the policemen that, for us, saying sorry is not enough. We have a proverb: 'Respect is not in words, respect is in deeds.' You have to give something to heal the break."

So, one morning Catalani ushered the officers into a Hmong leader's home. The policemen wielded two live chickens. Hmong elders and their families crowded in.
The chickens were sacrificed in a special ceremony, their lives given in an effort to repair the relationships that had been breached.
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Thursday, February 26, 2009

Supreme Court Hears Challenge to Identity-Theft Law in Immigration Cases

The Supreme Court is deciding if people who make up Social Security numbers should be punished more severely when those numbers actually belong to someone. Some prosecutors say this is I.D. theft, others argue that point. DP


WASHINGTON — A federal identity-theft law that has become a favorite tool of the government in immigration prosecutions appeared imperiled on Wednesday after the Supreme Court heard arguments about it.

Prosecutors have relied on the law to seek or threaten two-year sentence extensions in immigration cases against people who used fake Social Security numbers that turned out to belong to real people.

“There’s a basic problem here,” said Justice John Paul Stevens. “You get an extra two years if it just so happens that the number you picked out of the air belonged to somebody else.”

Other justices also expressed skepticism about the government’s interpretation of the law.
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Secretary Seeks Review of Immigration Raid

Obama supporters were dismayed when 28 illegal immigrants were arrested after a work place raid. But Sec. Napolitano says she did not know about it and is investigating. DP


WASHINGTON — Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano on Wednesday ordered a review of a raid at an engine plant in Washington State that resulted in the arrests of 28 people suspected of being illegal immigrants.

A high-level official in the Department of Homeland Security said that Ms. Napolitano had not been informed about the raid on Tuesday before it happened, and that she was seeking details about its planning and scope.

“She was not happy about it because it’s inconsistent with her position, and the president’s position on these matters,” said the official, who agreed to discuss the matter on condition of anonymity because the secretary had not authorized the conversation.
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Struggling illegal immigrants yearn for reform

The economy is hard on immigrants too. This couple was being sponsored for citizenship by his employer, but he lost his job when the plant closed. They have been here 20 years and have to start over now. DP


Sal didn't just get laid off from his factory job in 2001; the Cicero resident also lost out on a chance to become an American citizen.

At that time, Sal and his wife—who both came from Mexico 20 years ago—were being sponsored for citizenship by his employer. But when the plant closed, his wish of living in America without the constant fear of being deported evaporated.

"The entire [citizenship application] process was stopped," said Sal, 39, who entered the U.S. with a work visa that was good for only six months. "It was very frustrating for us," he said. "We really thought we would finally become citizens."

Sal, who has two American-born children, a 9-year-old daughter and a 7-year-old son, said he plans to apply for citizenship again but added that doing so is very expensive.
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Diversity Plan for Public Schools, Using Hebrew

This group of Jewish Americans is trying to keep their own culture alive in the NJ school system. School officials have proposed alternative plans that might work for everyone. DP


ENGLEWOOD, N.J.: The surprise wasn’t that a meeting envisioned as an informal conversation among about 10 people drew more than 300 from across Bergen County. It was that something like Raphael Bachrach’s modest proposal — and the fevered debate it has set off — didn’t happen sooner here or someplace else like it.

Mr. Bachrach is a Jewish parent in a suburban school district where a majority of Jews are Orthodox and send their children to Jewish day schools. A year ago, he proposed a Hebrew-language charter school as an alternative.

That was turned down, but local school officials proposed an alternative. The district has a highly regarded program where elementary school students learn in both English and Spanish. Englewood’s interim superintendent, Richard Segall, raised the possibility of a similar dual-language program — strictly nonreligious — in Hebrew and English, that would attract both Jews and non-Jews. It would be the first public school Hebrew-English program of its kind in the country.
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Immigrant-Owned Businesses Contribution To The Economy Detailed In New Report

This new report looks at business ownership rates for immigrants and the findings are very important. Many people will be surprised at the good news. Please go to the full report, it is very interesting! DP

First Research To Study Ownership Rates, Business Income

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Immigrant-owned businesses generate approximately
11.6 percent of all business income in the United States. Moreover,
immigrants own 11.2 percent of businesses with $100,000 or more in sales and
10.8 percent of all businesses with employees. These figures are contained in
a report released today by the Office of Advocacy of the U.S. Small Business

“This report is the first time that immigrant business ownership rates and
immigrant-owned businesses contributions to the economy have been studied
in detail,” said Dr. Chad Moutray, Chief Economist for the Office of
Advocacy. “These findings can make a significant contribution to public policy
debates,” he added.

The report, Estimating the Contribution of Immigrant Business Owners to the
U.S. Economy, written by Dr. Robert Fairlie with funding from the Office of Advocacy, analyzes data from the 2000 Census five percent Public Use Microdata Sample, the 1996-2007 Current Population Survey, and the 1992 Characteristics of Business Owners.
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Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Locals recall the Golden Venture saga

Many of us remember the Golden Venture, the freighter packed with 285 Chinese emigrants trying to come to the U.S. Some paid as much as $25,000 to be smuggled in. This tells what happened to some of those people after the freighter ran aground. DP

By MELISSA NANN BURKE, Daily Record/Sunday News

The first thing Zheng Shi Ji wanted to do after his release from York County Prison was to call his family in China.

Five years had passed since he'd talked to them -- five years since he left his home, later to board an aging, ill-fated freighter packed with 285 other Chinese emigrants.

After four months at sea, that ship -- the rusty Golden Venture -- ran aground off Queens, New York, late on June 6, 1993.

Ten of the passengers drowned that night. Six escaped to shore. Most of the rest were detained.

The government deported some soon after. Others spent years or months in jail, many in York County Prison. The Clinton administration said the detentions were to deter illegal immigration and human smuggling.
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Civil rights by any other name?

This in-state tuition question is being looked at differently than most places. They suggest taxpayers should get the tuition break and since illegal immigrants pay taxes (state and federal), they should qualify. DP

by Andy Arnold, DC Immigration Examiner

Should taxpayers be allowed a break on college tuition? That is one spin expected at a hearing on a bill offering undocumented aliens in-state tuition at Maryland community colleges on Tuesday.

Teaching English as a Second Language for a number of years taught me many illegal immigrants want to learn English and they pay both federal and state taxes. The deductions are taken out of their pay checks just like they are taken out of yours. The difference is citizens and legal immigrant taxpayers have rights many of your other neighbors do not.

Yes, in a perfect world, there would be no illegal immigrants. But here in Washington we have plenty of them, they are our neighbors.

As it stands, international taxpayers are asked to pay one fee at Montgomery College and another more expensive fee at Prince George’s Community College and other community colleges around the state based on an attorney general’s ruling several years ago.

Montgomery deserves kudos for standing up for what is right.
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William McKenzie: How Obama can help in Mexico

This opinion piece shows how our present administration would be helping our country if they help Mexico and its schools. Our two countries are very interconnected. DP

By William McKenzie

Yes, Barack Obama and Arne Duncan have more to worry about than schools in some other country, like Mexico. The president has an economy to revive and foreign wars; his education secretary must decide how to spend $100 billion in stimulus money. (Why so much went to education beats me, but it did.)

Nevertheless, presidents and their teams get paid to worry about more than one thing at a time. And Obama and Duncan have strategic reasons to work with Mexico on its schools.

What happens in our neighbor's classrooms impacts schools in Dallas, Chicago and the many other places that attract Mexican immigrants. And what happens in Mexico's schools is one way we'll (finally) resolve this interminable immigration debate and maybe even give Mexican teens an alternative to the drug trade.
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American dreamer: Boost from Avance leads immigrant to inspire kids

This teacher tells her class, "I can't" is not accepted in her classroom. She was helped by the nonprofit organization, Avance, when she moved here 13 years ago. She is doing her part to pass it on. DP

By Ramón Rentería / El Paso Times

EL PASO -- Lourdes Rivera tells preschool children to hang all their self-doubts on a tree outside her classroom.

"Here, everything is possible," Rivera said. "Children know that the phrase, 'I can't,' is unacceptable, not allowed in this classroom."
Rivera, 44, is well-qualified to teach and preach that the American dream is attainable with education.

Just 13 years ago, Rivera was a Mexican immigrant newly settled in El Paso, without English skills, but with a huge desire to learn.

In 1997, she enrolled with her 2-year-old son in parenting education classes offered through Avance, a nonprofit organization that helps immigrant children and families break the cycle of poverty with early childhood development, parenting skills, adult literacy and healthy marriages.
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Where Can Iraqis Go?

Iraqi refugees are running out of places to flee to. The people who helped the U.S. military should definitely be given refuge here. The U.S. led war has made life dangerous for Christians and anyone who helped the U.S. DP

As millions of refugees try to escape war and violence...

By Rebecca Webber

IN THE PAST FEW YEARS, insurgent militias in Iraq have targeted specific citizens because of their religion or ethnicity—or because of their association with Americans. One such threatened Iraqi was Rafi, 27, a Baghdad engineer who had assisted the U.S. military with setting up phone networks.

"As a Christian who helped the U.S., I was dead," he says. "They told my father, 'Give us your son, or we're going to burn all of you.'" In early 2007, after one of his neighbors was kidnapped and killed and he was threatened with the same fate, Rafi and his family left for Syria in the middle of the night.

They joined more than 4 million other Iraqis—about one in six of the country's pre-war population—who have fled, creating the biggest refugee crisis of the past decade. More than half of the refugees moved to safer areas within Iraq; a small number of those people live in makeshift camps. Two million Iraqis have left the country entirely. About 1.2 million are in Syria, half a million are in Jordan, and tens of thousands have ended up in Iran, Lebanon, Egypt, and Turkey, according to the most recent numbers from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
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'Now I Can Stand Up For Myself'

This new program teaches immigrant mothers English for two hours and then the mothers join their children in their classroom and they learn together. DP

An innovative program teaches immigrant mothers and their children side by side

By Sheila Weller

For most of their young lives in Arkansas, Maria and Abril Guerra, now 11 and 9, tensed up whenever their mother, Nora Sandoval, approached a store clerk. "I no speak English," Sandoval would begin when puzzled by a price or attempting to find a product. She'd finished sixth grade back in Mexico and to her daughters was smart and capable, but clerks usually greeted her with condescension and annoyance.

"I was furious! I wanted to stand up for my mother!" Maria says, breaking into sobs as she remembers her mother's embarrassment.

For Sandoval, not being able to speak English was painful. But even worse, the language barrier made her feel helpless as a mother. She couldn't fill out her daughters' school forms. One night Abril ran into a doorjamb, and blood gushed. Sandoval knew that if she dialed 911, she wouldn't be able to ask for help in English. Luckily, her husband, Ricardo, was home from his gardener's job and drove Abril to the emergency room for stitches.

The shame and frustration are behind Sandoval now. Thanks to a revolutionary family-literacy program that focuses on immigrants who can't speak English, Sandoval not only speaks English but also reads and writes it. Every weekday morning, she goes to school with her two older girls. (Two younger daughters, ages 3 and 1, are either in day care or at home with their father.) With other Spanish-speaking moms, she participates in a two-hour English class given at her daughters' school. After that, Sandoval goes to Abril's third-grade classroom where, for the next hour, mother and daughter are classmates, learning together.
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Searching for way to reach groups teaching immigrants

Does anyone have ideas as to how I can reach groups that are helping immigrants learn English and U.S. life skills? This could be with churches, libraries, schools, employers, etc. etc. They are not in organizations and I only find them one by one. This helps a little bit but is very time consuming and I know I am missing 95% of them.

I am trying to introduce my book to them to use in their classes: a bilingual (English and Spanish) reference guide "How to Live & Thrive in the U.S."
Thanks, Donna

Monday, February 23, 2009

Prayer vigil focuses on immigration reform

Prayer groups are doing their part to help immigration reform. Maybe all these efforts will get our government to hurry up. DP


Humanity and compassion must be the twin components of any immigration reform if it is to succeed, according to leaders at an interfaith prayer vigil held Sunday at Community United Methodist Church in Massapequa.

Clergy members from the Massapequa Interfaith Clergy Council and the faithful from other churches and temples attended the vigil, which was part of a nationwide event designed to highlight the work done by religious groups in the ongoing immigration debate.

"Today and over the past 10 days, prayers like this are going on across the country," said the Rev. Jeffry Wells, who hosted the event at the Massapequa church. "We come together from a variety of faiths to create a more just and humane immigration reform."

"Immigrants today are facing challenges that our foremothers and forefathers faced on their journeys to this country," Giordano said.
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Sunday, February 22, 2009

Enforcement Gone Bad

This editorial shows that all the money spent on arresting and charging illegal immigrants, has not been a wise use of the money. Let's hope the immigration reform package comes soon. DP


The failures of the immigration system are many and severe, but the main problem is not that the country is catching too few undocumented immigrants. It is catching too many. Since the early 1990s, you could write the federal government’s immigration strategy on a cardboard sign: Deport Them All.

A report last week from the Pew Hispanic Center laid bare some striking results of that campaign. It found that Latinos now make up 40 percent of those sentenced in federal courts, even though they are only about 13 percent of the adult population. They accounted for one-third of federal prison inmates in 2007.

The numbers might suggest we are besieged by immigrant criminals. But of all the noncitizen Latinos sentenced last year, the vast majority — 81 percent — were convicted for unlawfully entering or remaining in the country, neither of which is a criminal offense.
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Walls closing in on immigrants

The present economic crisis has sent many immigrants back to their home countries and stopped others from coming to the U.S. We have to hope that in the future, when the economy is better, immigrants will come back. We will need them. DP

Economy, border crackdown hits community hard

By Laura Crimaldi

A worldwide economic crisis coupled with a surge in border enforcement at the end of the Bush administration is snuffing out the American dream for thousands of immigrants, legal and illegal, advocates and researchers say.

The winds buffeting immigrants, who are struggling for work and cutting the money they send home as the recession deepens, are described by advocates as a troubling bellwether for America, the premier global destination for migrants.

For foes of illegal immigration, the trend offers hope that undocumented workers will leave the country while fewer seek entry.

“The reality is that we should be very concerned when America is no longer a place where immigrants want to go,” said Charles H. Kuck, president of the American Immigration Lawyers Association. “You don’t want to be Russia.”
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In Loneliness, Immigrants Tend the Flock

This is an amazing story about immigrant sheepherders who work under horrible conditions. No local people will take the job, so immigrants are hired. DP


ROCK SPRINGS, Wyo. — Somewhere in Wyoming’s vast, barren sagebrush country, Lorenzo Cortez Vargas pokes his head out of the rickety camper where he lives and stares into the dirt.

Mr. Vargas, a sheepherder from Chile, spends his days and nights on lonesome stretches of the Rockies, driving 2,000 sheep across Colorado and Wyoming as part of a federal temporary worker program he signed up for more than a year ago.

But like the other sheepherders, or “borregueros,” in the West, Mr. Vargas has barely any contact with his new country, where he earns $750 a month for working round the clock without a day off.

He lives alone in the crude 5-foot-by-10-foot “campito” with no running water, toilet or electricity, save for a car battery he has rigged to a small radio. A sputtering wood-burning stove is his only source of heat in winter, a collection of faded telephone cards his only connection to home.
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Immigrants find home and help in Middle Tennessee

The new report from the Census Bureau is showing details about the immigrant population of Middle Tennessee. This very diverse group, coming from many countries, is getting help from community groups. DP

Groups serve growing population

By Chris Echegaray • THE TENNESSEAN

Census figures out this week on America's foreign-born population show Tennessee — and particularly Middle Tennessee — becoming an increasingly popular destination for immigrants.

Since 1990, the state gained nearly 200,000 foreign-born residents, an increase that moved Tennessee's ranking from 31st to 24th for the number of immigrants and refugees. Of the nearly 250,000 in the state, the largest cluster — 101,932 of them — lives in the Nashville-Franklin-Murfreesboro statistical area the Census Bureau measures.

Those who work with this new population say there are misconceptions, particularly that it's a Spanish-speaking monolith from Mexico. The truth is, it's a diverse group that brings with it a wide array of needs at varying levels. As a result, a network of public and private groups gradually emerged to meet those needs.
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Learning English no ‘nun’sense

Sister Petrick, a third grade teacher, also volunteers with the Literacy Council to teach immigrants English. DP

By STACY TAFF, The Delphos Herald

DELPHOS — One big issue in our country today is the rising number of immigrants entering our borders, many of whom can’t speak English.

Due to this, more schools and colleges are asking their students to learn foreign languages to accommodate these new citizens, leaving Americans wondering why the newcomers don’t learn English instead.

Sister Tina Petrick, a third-grade teacher at St. John’s in Delphos, works toward this goal by volunteering with the Literacy Council to teach English as a second language.

“When I taught English in Toledo, half of my class was Hispanic and I realized this was something that would happen more and more in the future,” she said. “Since there aren’t many opportunities to teach immigrants in this area, I decided to get involved with the Literacy Council. I’ve been able to practice teaching English to people who know one or maybe two languages but have never spoken English. The council has given me more of an opportunity to get involved.”
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ESL programs are very critical for assimilation

This is an opinion by a former teacher about teaching immigrant children in English-only classes or in bilingual classes. DP

By Kate Menken, Professor, City University of New York

This letter to the editor is in response to the letter, "It should be English only in the schools"

Beyond making bogus claims, the Rev. Hoins-Hand's letter is harmfully misguided. While she portrays the English-only education of past waves of European immigrants as a model, the facts are against her.

Historically, immigrants who arrived in the U.S. during the period she mentions were typically unable to succeed in school and achieve economic success; just as today, it took immigrants many years to learn English and the second generation was more likely to succeed than the first. In fact, immigrants to the U.S. today assimilate far more rapidly. By banning the use of immigrant students' native languages in school, we would do away with the greatest resource in our efforts to educate them.

The research is clear that immigrant children will learn English better if their native language is used in this process. If Hoins-Hand believes as she purports that it is necessary in today's world to be bilingual, then her gross statement that English alone should be spoken in all classes makes no sense, as doing so would prevent native-English speakers from the chance to learn other languages and would bar immigrant students from the best pathway to learning to read and write. Instead, we should offer all students the opportunity to learn English and other languages in school.

Moreover, as a former teacher at Mennies Elementary School in Vineland and scholar of language learning for more than 15 years, and a second-generation Ukrainian immigrant, I find Hoins-Hand's implication that European immigrants placed greater emphasis on academics than Hispanics do to be steeped in racism.

Like those before them, many immigrants today come to the U.S. in the hope of improving the lives of their children, which includes their education. Hoins-Hand's argument is baseless, and should be ignored.
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Saturday, February 21, 2009

Commentary: Time for immigration reform is now

This well-known columnist thinks President Obama should tackle immigration reform now while he has such high approval ratings. I wonder if he can fit it in with all the other huge problems we have. DP

By Ruben Navarrette Jr., Special to CNN

Editor's note: Ruben Navarrette Jr. is a nationally syndicated columnist and a member of the editorial board of the San Diego Union-Tribune. Read his column at

SAN DIEGO, California (CNN) -- Obviously, President Obama has a lot on his plate: two wars, an ailing economy, the mortgage crisis and more. But that doesn't relieve him of the obligation to serve up his plan for immigration reform.

Sooner would be better than later. On that point, interestingly enough, you'll find agreement from both sides of the ideological divide. The problem is they don't agree on what "reform" means.

To enforcement-only restrictionists, the phrase "immigration reform" means securing the borders, continuing workplace raids, speeding up deportations of illegal immigrants and limiting the number of legal immigrants.

To immigrant advocates, it means a comprehensive approach that links enforcement, guest workers and earned legalization for some of the 12 million illegal immigrants in the United States.

While squeamish political strategists will tell you that it is never a good time to grab hold of such a thorny issue, Obama has some capital now. He should spend some of it on fixing the broken immigration system.
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Government Offers Look at Nation’s Immigrants

The new report from the Census Bureau tells us which immigrants are poorest, youngest, most or least educated and many more interesting facts. It also compares some things to people born here. DP


Indians are the best educated newcomers from overseas. Somalis are the youngest and poorest. Immigrants from Jordan and Bangladesh are most likely to be working in sales and office jobs.

Those are among the findings of a profile of the nation’s foreign-born residents, legal or illegal, released this week by the Census Bureau.

Over all, the profile indicates that Latin Americans and Africans account for a greater share of the nation’s immigrant population than they did five years ago. In 1990, 22 percent of the foreign-born residents were from Mexico. By 2007, 31 percent were.

In 2007, the Census Bureau found, 54 percent of the nation’s 38.1 million foreign-born came from Latin America, 27 percent from Asia, 13 percent from Europe and 4 percent from Africa.

More came from Mexico — 11.7 million — than from any other country, followed by China, the Philippines, India, El Salvador, Vietnam and South Korea.

Dominican immigrants accounted for 2 percent of the foreign-born — the same as the share of Canadians and the same percentage as Germans as recently as 2000. Indians made up 4 percent of the foreign-born.
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Legislative committee advances compromise immigration bill

Nebraska is working on an immigration bill. Let's hope our federal government gets an immigration reform package soon, so there would be a plan in place for everyone. DP

By JoAnne Young /Lincoln Journal Star

The Legislature’s Judiciary Committee advanced a compromise bill Thursday on immigration that would make verification of legal status mandatory for people who are not U.S. citizens when they apply for public benefits.

It would also allow the Department of Labor to take two years to educate the private sector on how to use E-Verify, and then report to the Legislature on its use.

It would not mandate the use of E-Verify for private businesses.

Public benefits would include any grant, contract, loan, professional or commercial license, public assistance and unemployment.

The committee voted 7-1 to advance the amended bill (LB403), which will be carried by Sen. Russ Karpisek of Wilber. The committee intends to make the measure its priority bill.
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Forum: How To Help Immigrants

This forum in Virginia has been discussing how to help immigrants in their community. If these immigrants are succeeding in their life here, it will help the whole community. DP

Participants hope for more community involvement.

By Bonnie Hobbs

Efforts to help the local immigrant community, and discussions about what’s still needed, were the topics of the latest meeting of the Centreville Immigration Forum. It was held last Tuesday, Feb. 3, at Centreville Baptist Church.

Barb Shaiko, director of missions at Centreville United Methodist Church (CUMC), spoke about the Grace Ministries program her church offers, the second Saturday of each month. It provides Hispanic immigrants with emergency food, clothing and diapers, plus healthcare and spiritual guidance, and Shaiko said the response has been overwhelming.

"In January, 195 families — about 700 people — came," she said. "Most are coming from Centreville, Chantilly, Herndon, Reston, Manassas and Manassas Park, plus some from Fairfax and Alexandria. In our area, 95 percent [of those we help] are Latino immigrants."

Shaiko said CUMC is buying food from the Capital Area Food Bank, and CUMC’s Joe Gillen said Panera, Starbucks and Manhattan Bagel have also contributed food items to Grace Ministries.

Alice Foltz of Wellspring United Church of Christ, which sponsored the forum, said that, when she visited the ministry recently, she saw there was "a need for clothing." Said Gillen: "We especially need medium to small clothing for the men."
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Refugees find a place at Perdue

This plant has a shortage of workers and has found many new employees in the refugees that live in the area. DP

by Olivia Webb

Since 1962, thousands of Burmese people have escaped government-sponsored social, political and religious persecution - including torture and forced labor - by coming to America.

To date, 53 of them have been hired to work at Perdue in Rockingham.

Community leaders got to learn about the culture of the new employees at an informal luncheon at the plant Thursday afternoon.

According to Jim Brown, complex human resources manager at Perdue, the new Burmese hires fill a void because they are very eager to work, and they meet all of the necessary human resource requirements.

“Any applicant that comes in here and passes our criteria, we’re going to hire them. We don’t discriminate. But our existing pool of applicants didn’t fulfill our needs.”

“We have a 40 percent turnover rate per year, and it is very costly. If you have 1,300 employees, and 40 percent of them leave every year, that’s over 500 new people that you have to train.”

Which is why Perdue called to see what they had to offer at the Raleigh office of the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants (USCRI), a non-profit that provides services and addresses the needs and rights of persons in forced or voluntary migration worldwide.
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Friday, February 20, 2009

Gideon Aronoff Elected Chair of National Immigration Forum

This organization will be helping with new immigration reform policies. DP

Organization is leading immigrant advocacy group in country

From HIAS News

(New York, NY – February 20, 2009) – Gideon Aronoff, President & CEO of HIAS, the international migration agency of the American Jewish community, today was elected chair of the National Immigration Forum, the leading immigrant advocacy organization in the United States. Established in 1982, the Forum advocates for immigrants and immigration, and seeks to maintain the traditions of safe, legal, and orderly immigration that strengthens the nation.

As chair, Aronoff will take the lead position on the board of directors – comprised of advocacy leaders and institution builders who collectively reflect the broad pro-immigrant advocacy movement across the country. The Forum is a central hub in crafting alliances between faith, business, labor, and immigrant communities to build support for policies welcoming of immigrants and refugees and that promote their integration into American communities.
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Thursday, February 19, 2009

Education Information for High School, College, and Beyond

This is a terrific website and organization that helps students figure out how to pay for college. Read the surveys to see how much parents and kids should expect to pay.

Join them in their literacy campaign, this is their invitation:
Join Us -- We are launching a national 2009 Raise Literacy Media Campaign and its partners are launching a 2009 Raise Literacy campaign to promote literacy in the Latino community nationwide. This national Latino Literacy Initiative is being sponsored to build a network, throughout the nation, with parents, educational leaders and policy makers to address the growing literacy crisis in Latino community.

The 2009 Raise Literacy campaign is being sponsored to address the severe crisis in literacy within the Latino community. More than 50% of Latino students drop out of high school and more than 65% of Latino males fail to complete the 10th grade. This is a crisis of national proportions and will only be addressed when our Latino community coalesces its resources to address this issue head on.

Our second Raise Literacy conference planning committee meeting will be Feb. 19, 09 in the city of Burbank, CA. If you wish to become a member and join us in upcoming meetings,let us know.

Interested in being a sponsor, advertiser, member and supporter in the campaign email Dr. Zulmara Cline, Ph.D. & Armando Sanchez at

Spanish spoken here

Even though this county does not have many Latinos, they still need an interpreter at all hours of the day and night. This is another reason for our own citizens to learn Spanish, interpreter jobs are plentiful. DP

The need to understand the language of Latinos is growing in Allegany County

By Michael A. Sawyers, Cumberland Times-News

CUMBERLAND — Cumberland Police Sgt. Anthony Rumgay said his ability to speak and interpret Spanish has resulted in him being called into duty at all hours of the day and night in locations from Frederick to Westernport.

“I’ve been called on by just about every law enforcement agency in Western Maryland. I’ve translated in circuit court. I go to (Department of) Juvenile Services,” Rumgay said.

Although the most common need for Rumgay’s linguistic skills involves a stop for driving under the influence of alcohol, sometimes the call to duty is because of a violent crime.

“In the Virginia Avenue assault (Feb. 13), the victim was a Mexican male (39). I was able to talk with him in Spanish and we developed an ID that led to an arrest,” Rumgay said.

The need for Rumgay’s ability to interpret Spanish is a reflection of a similar and growing want throughout the community. It’s a need that reaches into all facets of life, such as recreation, medical care, spirituality and education.

Nationally, 14 percent of Americans are people of Hispanic origin who are from Mexico, Puerto Rico, Cuba, Central America or South America, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Throughout Maryland, that percentage is 6. Fewer than 1 percent of Allegany County’s residents are of Hispanic or Latino origin.
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ICE halts Glenwood Springs man's deportation, for now

This is a good ending or at least, a continuation, to the story I first posted on 12 February. DP

By Nancy Lofholm, The Denver Post

GRAND JUNCTION — Jose Mendoza Turbin walked into an immigration center Wednesday morning clutching a bag with two changes of clothes and a toothbrush. That was about all he brought when he came from El Salvador four years ago and all he planned to take with him if authorities sent him back.

But less than an hour later, the soft-spoken 21-year-old, who has become a cause celèbre in Glenwood Springs, walked back out. He was still shaking, but he was also grinning. Authorities had granted him a reprieve on his deportation while his appeal for legal status in this country is considered.

"What we got is a breather here," said his immigration attorney, Shelley Wittevrongel of Boulder, who accompanied Mendoza Turbin to his appearance at an Immigration and Customs Enforcement office.

Mendoza Turbin had been ordered to appear for deportation Wednesday. He remains under a deportation order but is free temporarily to return to Glenwood Springs until another deportation order comes through or until an appeals court or immigration authority decides he can stay.
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Korean teachers turn an eye to Kennett's ESL program

Korean children are taught English, starting in third-grade. These teachers are looking at ESL programs in the U.S. to find better ways to teach them. They know how important it is for Korean children to know English. DP

By Wm. Shawn Weigel

A group of English teachers from South Korea has spent the last few weeks in some of Kennett's schools, exploring the ins and outs of the English as a Second Language program. The five teachers - three at the high school and two at Kennett Middle School - were here as part of a program sponsored by the English Language Institute from the University of Delaware and the board of education in Seoul, Korea.

During their visit, the teachers took classes at the ELI by day and took graduate courses in English as a Second Language at night. The university also provided workshops for teaching methodology.

According to Shinja You, the South Koran government recently initiated a reform in the English language program, with an emphasis on "teaching English in English," forcing the teachers to adapt to a language immersion program to teach English to all students in the education system.

You explained that the new government created the English reform initiative to strengthen English education in public schools and to improve communication skills.

"Traditionally, we don't emphasize communication skills, so the government is promoting this, and communication skills among students," she said.
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Immigration study casts doubt on law

This new report says that law agencies and ICE are using racial profiling, which is unfair and a violation of civil rights. DP

Partnership unfair to immigrants, critics say

By Dan Galindo | Journal Reporter

A new report says that the partnership between the state's local law-enforcement agencies and federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement has created a climate of racial profiling, threatens civil rights and doesn't meet the program's own goals.

The report released yesterday by the UNC School of Law and the ACLU of North Carolina examines the 287(g) program, which takes its name from the section of federal immigration law that established it in 1996.

Eight agencies in the state have the program, which trains local law enforcement to act as immigration authorities. The most common arrangement is for jailers to check immigration status after being trained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

Forsyth County has a pending application to start the program, after years of debate over its merits.

At a press conference at the law school, Rebecca Headen, an attorney for the ACLU, said that the study documents allegations of racial profiling and mistakes, including lawful residents stopped and questioned and a handful of cases of citizens who have had proceedings started to deport them.

"That is racial profiling," Headen said. "It is still a violation of civil rights, and it is still morally wrong."
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Foreign athletes face difficult road to assimilation at SMU

Foreign students, who are also athletes, have to learn English and assimilate while doing the normal classes and studying plus practicing and traveling. It takes a lot of will power and determination to succeed. DP

By Chris Dell, Sports Editor

The language isn't the same. The culture is completely different. The food is disgusting. The weather is strange. "Home" is thousands of miles away.

These are just a few of the stresses that foreign students encounter when they come to SMU from abroad. Add to the mix the pressure of competing in Division I sports, and you get an idea of how trying life can be for SMU's international athletes as they adjust to living in a new country.

SMU coaches, teachers and administrators hope to make the transition as smooth as possible by providing study halls, tutors and flexible homework deadlines when the athletes travel for competition. But, for many of SMU's international athletes, assimilating into American culture is simply a matter of willpower.

"[Being an athlete] does make it tougher," said Mouhammad Faye, a junior on the men's basketball team. "There's the language barrier, and you get less time than regular students because of practice, weight room and travel."

John Wheeler, director of the English as a Second Language Program, has worked with international students at SMU since 1998. While he realizes that athletes face different circumstances than normal students, he believes that both groups are likely to succeed in the classroom.

"These athletes are so motivated, and they appreciate the opportunity to do two things at once," said Wheeler. "They probably would get a scholarship at home, but not an undergraduate degree from a prestigious American university."
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Nebraska bishops use input from laity to tackle immigration reform

A statement, titled “Immigration: A Call to Be Patient, Hospitable and Active for Reform,” discusses the difficulties of immigrants and the immigration policies. DP

From Catholic News Agency

With the input gathered from listening sessions which included both lay citizens and immigrants, the Catholic Bishops of Nebraska have released a statement on the difficulties and the potential generated by immigration to the state.

The statement, titled “Immigration: A Call to Be Patient, Hospitable and Active for Reform,” discusses the “profound challenges” of the issue and notes the opportunities immigration provides for spiritual enrichment, charity, hospitality, and a “strengthening of faith in God’s divine plan for all humanity.”

The bishops noted that a major workplace enforcement raid in Grand Island, Nebraska, and policy debates on the state and local levels had made immigration a topic of frequent discussion. The state’s percentage rate of immigrant population growth is also ranked among the top ten out of all U.S. states.
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Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Victory on Health Information Technology and Comparative Effectiveness Research

Press Release
For Immediate Release: February 17, 2009
Contact: Adam J. Segal • 202.422.4673

American Recovery and Reinvestment Act Signed by President Obama Includes Key Elements Advocated for by National Alliance for Hispanic Health

WASHINGTON, DC – "Today's action by President Obama will help ensure a future of health information that finally reflects the diversity of America and usher in a new era of individualized health care," said Dr. Jane L. Delgado, President and CEO of the National Alliance for Hispanic Health, the nation's leading Hispanic health advocacy group. Dr. Delgado's comments came after today's signing of the American Recovery and Act by the President in Denver, CO.

Dr. Delgado reports that the new law includes crucial elements, advocated for by the Alliance and its member network, for inclusion of Hispanic communities in health information technology and comparative effectiveness research titles of the final legislation. Among the components –

Health Information Technology (HIT) legislative language includes Alliance supported elements to ensure that all communities benefit from HIT. Language includes requirements to:
• ensure the comprehensive collection of patient demographic data, including, at a minimum, race, ethnicity, primary language, and gender information;
• assess and publish the impact in communities...and areas with a high proportion of individuals who are uninsured, underinsured, and medically underserved...; and
• provide financial assistance to consumer advocacy groups and not-for-profit entities that work in the public interest.

Comparative Effectiveness Research (CER) legislative language strongly supports the Alliance position that diverse populations must be included in research and that such research must support and not hinder individualized care. Final legislative language states that:
• the conferees recognize that a one-size-fits-all approach to patient treatment is not the most medically appropriate solution to treating various conditions;
• include language to ensure that subpopulations are considered when research is conducted or supported with the funds provided in the conference agreement; and,
• none of the reports submitted or recommendations made shall be construed as mandates or clinical guidelines for payment, coverage, or treatment.

The National Alliance for Hispanic Health stands ready to continue its work with the President and the 111th Congress to deliver on the promise of a health care system that meets the needs of all communities. Today's action is an important step on the road to reform that reflects the American values of inclusion, compassion, innovation, and the best in health care for all."

Statement of the National Alliance for Hispanic Health on Signing of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act

Press Release
For Immediate Release: February 17, 2009
Contact: Adam J. Segal • 202.422.4673

Focus on Health Delivers Critical Support to Hispanic Family Budgets

WASHINGTON, DC - Jane L. Delgado, President and CEO of the National Alliance for Hispanic Health, the nation's leading Hispanic health advocacy group, delivered the following statement on the signing of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act by President Obama in Denver, CO.

"In the current economic environment, millions of Hispanic families are an illness or hospital stay away from financial disaster. The President's action today in Denver, signing into law the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, has brought a measure of peace of mind to millions struggling with their family budgets.

With one in ten Hispanics now unemployed, the ranks of the uninsured are growing daily. The President has taken decisive action to address the needs of Hispanic families. By reauthorizing the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) less than two weeks ago, an estimated 1.5 million currently uninsured Hispanic children are now poised to gain health insurance coverage. Today, by signing the stimulus package, the President is bringing relief to families by extending private health insurance support for the unemployed, increasing federal spending on Medicaid, and expanding the capacity of community health centers to deliver needed health care services.

The stimulus package signed by the President also makes critical investments in the future of improved health care for all Americans. Support for health information technology, including collection of information on gender and ethnicity, dramatically improves our national understanding of health. Comparative effectiveness research called for in the legislation is significantly improved by language recognizing that 'a one-size-fits-all approach'is not the most medically appropriate' and calling for inclusion of diverse populations in research. New investments in prevention and training of primary care providers will refocus health care services on supporting health rather than only treating illness. Furthermore, support for science research, environmental innovation, and education of the next generation of scientists will ensure that scientific, medical, and environmental innovation continues to be an important component of the American economy.

The National Alliance for Hispanic Health stands ready to continue its work with the President and the 111th Congress to deliver on the promise of a health care system that meets the needs of all communities. Today's action is an important step on the road to reform that reflects the American values of inclusion, compassion, innovation, and the best in health care for all."

Immigrants march to protest Va. county's policies

The immigrant advocacy group Mexicans Without Borders is protesting the way immigrants are treated. They are learning that peaceful protest is part of America's freedoms, even for immigrants. DP

By GILLIAN GAYNAIR | Associated Press Writer

MANASSAS PARK, Va. - More than 100 immigrants and their supporters marched through Prince William County on Monday to protest policies they say have torn apart families, caused racial tension and made them fearful of reporting crimes.

With chants in Spanish of "Justice!" and "Stop police brutality," the immigrant advocacy group Mexicans Without Borders demanded that county officials rescind a 2007 resolution that allows county police to enforce federal immigration law and denies some public services to illegal immigrants. They say the policy, which drew national attention, has created strife between Hispanic immigrants and police.

"We're fighting against all the injustices being committed against us," said 34-year-old Adrian Games of Woodbridge as he walked along a sidewalk holding his 6-year-old son's hand.

Games said the march is a way to pressure lawmakers to reconsider policies that he said have caused families to flee and have hurt the local economy.
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Finding little money left to send home

When immigrants move here, they are expected to earn enough money to also support families back in their homeland. The present economy makes it hard to support two families and the ones back home can't understand it. DP

Immigrants' families in native countries expect help, but it’s getting harder

By JEMIMAH NOONOO, Houston Chronicle

Elizabeth Anane-Sekyere works 13-hour shifts, six days a week. Her husband pastors a small church for modest pay. Together, they’re paying for a mortgage, three college tuitions and a growing 16-year-old.

But like immigrant couples across the Houston area, the Anane-Sekyeres have to stretch their paychecks even further. Recession or no, nieces and nephews back home are depending on them.

“Your children are going to school here,” explained Anane-Sekyere, a nurse’s aide originally from Ghana, “and they (relatives) are schooling back there.”

As money gets tighter, immigrant families in the U.S. are finding they can’t always cover everything that is expected of them. The Bank of Mexico recently said that remittances to that country fell last year — a phenomenon unprecedented in the three decades the bank has tracked such payments.

But the local area is home to an estimated 200,000 African immigrants as well, and they arrive with the same cultural tradition. They feel the same pressure from relatives who can’t believe the land of milk and honey would ever run short of cash.

“If you do not take care of your family, people (back home) will talk all kinds of rubbish about you,” Anane-Sekyere said. Sitting on her sofa in southwest Houston, she mimicked the busybodies: “So-and-so is driving a fancy car, and his mother is sick, walking through the village.”

So Anane-Sekyere clips coupons and puts homemade signs over the sink reminding her kids to use less hot water.
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Monday, February 16, 2009

Dozens gather at Dallas church to pray for immigration reform

More people are rallying for immigration reform. Especially for it to be compassionate and humane. DP

By JEFF MOSIER / The Dallas Morning News

Dozens met Sunday to pray, sing and rally at Munger Place United Methodist Church for what they described as sensible immigration reform that doesn’t demonize or punish newcomers to this country.

The Dallas gathering was one of more than 100 events nationwide sponsored by the Interfaith Immigration Coalition. They were scheduled during the current congressional recess, when many members of the U.S. House and Senate are in their districts.

Lori Stafford, a local organizer with United Methodist Women, said that all members of the North Texas congressional delegation were invited as were members of the state Legislature.

She said she wanted them to see “that their constituents want progress on humane and just immigration reform.”

None of the legislators from Austin or Washington, D.C., attended the Dallas event, one of eight in Texas.

The rally assembled U.S.-born activists with immigrants hailing from such places as Pakistan, Brazil and the Congo to listen to religious music as well as Christian, Muslim and Jewish speakers.

Many cited the election of President Barack Obama, whose father was a Kenyan immigrant, as hope for a change in the approach to immigration legislation. In recent years, there’s been a vocal call among many conservatives to crack down on illegal immigration and have law enforcement work harder to return illegal immigrants to their home countries.

“Taxpayers shouldn’t have to live in fear of being separated from their children,” said Rev. Owen K. Ross, pastor of Christ’s Foundry of the United Methodist Church.
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Book looks at advent of Jews in Steel City

And here is another new book about immigrants, these are the Jewish immigrants in 1840-1915 Pittsburgh. DP


Squirrel Hill is the center of Jewish culture in Western Pennsylvania. But long before Murray Avenue and the surrounding streets bustled with families going to and from synagogue on Saturdays, before there were specialty shops and restaurants catering to Jewish clientele, there were Jews in Pittsburgh.

Even if they initially resisted coming to Western Pennsylvania.

According to Barbara Burstin, author of "Steel City Jews: A History of Pittsburgh and its Jewish Community, 1840-1915," Cincinnati was a more enticing destination than Western Pennsylvania for one very practical reason.

"You couldn't get here very easily from the East," says Burstin, a historian who teaches history at the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University. "There was no train connection from the East, so (Jews) went to other cities much further west."

Burstin, a Long Island native who moved to Squirrel Hill from Connecticut more than 30 years ago, embraced the challenge of putting together an early history of Jews in Pittsburgh.

"I enjoyed talking to people," she says. "I enjoyed the research. It was like being a detective and ferreting out clues, trying to understand the path these people took."

In the 1840s, a few Jewish peddlers started selling wares on Pittsburgh streets. Still, the influx of Jews was slower than in most areas. It wasn't until 1846 that the first Jewish communal institution -- the Troy Hill Cemetery founded by William Frank, David Strassberger and Emmanuel Reis -- was established,

"In Jewish tradition, if there's a death, you're obligated to bury that person according to Jewish rites, and so they needed a cemetery, even before a synagogue," Burstin says.

The Troy Hill Cemetery was, unfortunately, established in the nick of time. Two young children -- including Frank's infant son -- were buried there within six months.

In 1848, the first synagogue, Shaare Shamayim (The Gates of Heaven), was established Downtown at the corner of Penn Avenue and Sixth Street.
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Stories of recent immigrants are told in 'New Mainers'

A new book tells the story of 29 immigrants in Maine and shows how diverse that state is. Also how important the immigrant population is. DP

BY KELLEY BOUCHARD, Maine Sunday Telegram

Hooria Majeed's world was shattered one day when she opened the back door of her home in Kabul, Afghanistan.

She discovered the body of her husband, Abdul Karim, shot in the chest and dumped on the doorstep by the Taliban shortly after they seized control of her country in 1996.

Her husband was an accomplished artist who refused to stop creating the paintings and sculptures that were his passion and his livelihood. She was a nurse who could no longer leave the house to shop for food, never mind go to work, without covering herself from head to toe in a burqa and fearing for her safety with every step.

In one horrible instant, she and her three young sons were alone in a city where they were now considered infidels. She screamed with terror at the sight of her dead husband. She pummeled her arms and legs black and blue in her grief.

"I had no husband, no brother to look out for me," Majeed recalled recently in her apartment in Portland's East End. Her son, Sediq, was her interpreter.

"I could be beaten just for being outside alone," she said. "It was a big problem."

Majeed is one of 29 people featured in "New Mainers: Portraits of Our Immigrant Neighbors," a new book that will be released Feb. 27 at a reception at the University of Southern Maine. She and her boys arrived here in 2002 after spending several years living as refugees in Pakistan.

The book contains 25 profiles and photographs of individuals and couples who came to Maine in the last few decades.

They hail from every hemisphere and represent the changing face of a state whose population has been largely white for a long time. They are men and women, professionals and laborers, artists and athletes, each carrying compelling stories of their pasts and making significant contributions in their new home.

"Maine's immigrant population is small, but it's one of the most diverse in the nation," said Pat Nyhan, author of the 25 profiles. "We wanted to discover who these immigrants are, to get to know them as people and learn how they came to live here."
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Teachers, tutors try to keep up with demand for ESL classes

Here is another story that disproves what so many people think, that immigrants don't want to learn English. There are long waiting lists almost everywhere. DP


Jang “Bobby” Wen Yu and Frank Helverson sat at a table in Jang’s home on Seybert Street in Hazleton as they have regularly for two years to talk.

They discussed employment figures on pie charts, but it’s not the subject that keeps them together —the charts were from the last decade — it’s the language.


Helverson speaks it.

Jang wanted to learn.

Together, after being paired through Catholic Social Services, they worked out a teacher-student relationship that has become a friendship.

Last month, Helverson and his wife attended Jang’s wedding and 12-course reception dinner in New York City’s Chinatown.

At his family’s restaurant, Golden City in Hazleton, Jang manages conversations with customers more easily because of his practice sessions with Helverson.

“My English is getting much better,” he said.

Helverson said he volunteered as a tutor to counteract anti-immigration sentiment he noticed in Hazleton two years ago when the city introduced an Illegal Immigration Relief Act that included English-only provisions.

“I wanted to do something positive. Also I was hearing the wrong notion that immigrants don’t want to learn English,” he said.

In Hazleton, people are waiting in line to learn English.

At Catholic Social Services, 16 volunteers tutor 20 adults. Thirty-three more students are on a waiting list, and the organization hopes more will volunteer as tutors.

The waiting list is longer still at Luzerne County Community College, where 100 people study classes in English as a second language, yet 190 more want to join the program funded by the state and federal governments.
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U.S. to open military to temporary immigrants: report

Immigrants with "green cards" and special skills, who have lived here at least two years, are encouraged to join the military and could become citizens in a few months. DP

Reporting by Glenn Somerville; Editing by Peter Coone

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. military will begin recruiting immigrants with special skills who are in the United States on temporary visas, offering a chance to become citizens in as little as six months, The New York Times reported.

A report on the newspaper's website on Saturday said it would be the first time since the Vietnam War that the armed forces would be open to temporary immigrants, provided they have lived in the United States for at least two years.

Immigrants with permanent resident status, or "green cards," are eligible to enlist in the U.S. military.

A Pentagon spokesman said he knew of the program but had no details.

The Times said the program could help the military fill shortages in medical care, language interpretation and field intelligence analysis. It will be limited to 1,000 enlistees in its first year, most for the Army and some for other services.

Temporary immigrants who want to enlist would have to prove they had lived in the United States for two years and had not been out of the country for more than 90 days during that time. They would also have to pass an English test.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Immigrants find survival in learning language

These immigrants realize they need English to succeed here and these volunteers are helping them. Some are illiterate in their own language and must learn English to become citizens, help their own children and hold jobs, etc. DP

English skills » Volunteers teach English to people new to the country.

By Jennifer W. Sanchez, The Salt Lake Tribune

Thirty-five-year-old Nyanjur Bagadalor has never been to school in her life.

In war-torn Sudan, she stayed home to do house chores while her brothers got an education. She grew up speaking Dinka and later picked up Arabic.

But that didn't help Bagadalor when she moved from Africa to Utah in 2000. She couldn't speak English. Traveling with her two young daughters, the refugee managed to make it here with strangers pointing her in the right direction.

"I didn't know anything," she said in almost-fluent English with an accent. "I felt sad."

Today, Bagadalor is studying the language with the help of a volunteer through the English Skills Learning Center (ESLC) in Salt Lake City.

The nonprofit agency matched Bagadalor and Heather McMaster through its one-on-one tutoring program.

For seven years, the pair have been meeting almost weekly in Bagadalor's kitchen or living room in her cozy downtown apartment while she cares for her now four children, ages 3 to 18.

"The little ones are usually crawling all around us during our lessons," said McMaster, a retired nurse who lives in Sugar House.

Bagadalor said learning English has been difficult because she's never studied reading and writing in any language and rarely used a pen; she and her husband were trying to adjust to the U.S. and raise their family; and she worked the night shift loading mail until she was laid off last month.

But, her hard work and McMaster's dedication have paid off.

Bagadalor took the U.S. citizenship test -- the first exam in her life --- more than two years ago and passed. She also passed her driver license test last year.
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100,000 Parents of Citizens Were Deported Over 10 Years

This is an amazing figure. It is not known how many children are affected, some stayed here without their parents. Others went back with them, which means all these children who are U.S. citizens are being "deported" too. DP


WASHINGTON — Of nearly 2.2 million immigrants deported in the decade ended 2007, more than 100,000 were the parents of children who, having been born in the United States, were American citizens, according to a report issued Friday by the Department of Homeland Security.

But the department lacks data that might have addressed questions left unanswered by the report, like the number of American children who were left behind in the United States or, alternatively, exited the country with their deported parents. Nor could the report say in how many instances both parents of such children were deported.

Similarly, said Representative José E. Serrano, Democrat of New York, since no one knows how many children a given deportee had, the number of affected children could be much higher than 108,434, the exact number of deported parents of American citizens.

So “the problem goes deeper than just the numbers you see,” said Mr. Serrano, who requested the study. He called the circumstance “tragic.”

“If they took their children back,” he said of the deportees, “then technically we deported an American citizen. No matter which side of the immigration issue you fall on, there’s something wrong with the notion of kicking American citizens out of their own country.”

The Homeland Security Department’s office of inspector general, which conducted the review, said it had ordered a look at the feasibility of tracking down more data about the deportations.

Mr. Serrano, who represents a heavily Hispanic district in the Bronx, is vice chairman of the House Appropriations subcommittee that oversees spending on the department. He has introduced legislation that would allow immigration judges to take family status into account when deciding on deportations.

Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies, a policy institute in Washington that supports tighter controls on immigration, said immigrant parents of children born here should not receive special treatment.

“Should those parents get off the hook just because their kids are put in a difficult position?” Mr. Krikorian said. “Children often suffer because of the mistakes of their parents.”

Salvadoran Immigrants Turn Attention Back Home

Immigrants from El Salvador, some here illegally, some legally, are all following the political story back home. They all have families there and the election will affect all of them. The economy there is much worse than here. DP


PORT CHESTER- LIKE many immigrants, some of the Salvadorans who live here have one foot in the United States and one foot in their homeland.

Their soul and spirit are back in El Salvador with the spouses, parents and children they left behind when they came here seeking jobs. Much of the money they earn ends up in El Salvador in cash remittances for those relatives.

And a March 15 election in El Salvador is generating excitement and heated debate in some neighborhoods here — even though Salvadorans living in the United States can’t vote in it unless they return home.

The region’s Salvadoran pockets — in Port Chester, in Hempstead and Brentwood on Long Island and in Bridgeport in Connecticut — are hotbeds of campaign fervor. On Jan. 11, for example, organizers for the Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front, the leading opposition party in El Salvador, held a meeting in St. Peter’s Roman Catholic Church here to drum up support and raise money for its presidential candidate, Mauricio Funes, a television journalist turned politician. Fifty to a hundred people were there, depending on whom you ask.

Hoping to scotch anxiety-provoking rumors, the speakers promised listeners that remittances would not be blocked if the presidency were won by the F.M.L.N., an outgrowth of the leftist guerrilla movement that fought the Salvadoran government in the 1980-92 civil war. They also tried to calm fears that an F.M.L.N. victory might mean that the United States would jettison a visa program that gives temporary protected status to 229,000 Salvadorans.

Supporters of the ruling party, the Nationalist Republican Alliance, known as Arena, and its presidential candidate, Rodrigo Ávila, have also campaigned among the more than a million Salvadorans estimated to be in the United States. Guillermo Chacon, secretary of the Salvadoran-American National Network, a 20-year-old nonpartisan group that helps Salvadorans with housing and other social services, said presidential candidates from the smaller parties had even taken flights to New York to rally the faithful.
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Multicultural Literature in the United States Today

Immigrants from all countries have written their experiences in letters, books and many other forms. We can all read these stories and get a better understanding of our history. DP

By The Editors of News Blaze

For 500 years immigrants from diverse cultures have sought freedom and opportunity in what is now the United States of America. The writers among them recorded their experiences in letters, journals, poems and books, from early colonial days to the present. "We are a nation of many voices," writes Marie Arana in her essay, and that is what this eJournal USA on multicultural writing is about: to show how voices from various ethnic backgrounds have enriched American society through art and cultural sharing that invites understanding.

Newcomers may write of loneliness, like the anonymous Chinese immigrant to the "land of the Flowery Flag" who scratched a wistful poem on a barracks wall at the Angel Island Immigration Station near San Francisco, in the early 20th century:

The west wind ruffles my thin gauze clothing.
On the hill sits a tall building with a room of wooden planks.
I wish I could travel on a cloud far away, reunite with my wife and son.

Challenges are inevitable as immigrants adjust to life in a new country, with a new language, and as their new neighbors become acquainted with them. The articles in this journal examine that process of mutual assimilation and the interactions that broaden perspectives, regardless of ethnic heritage.

Ha Jin, Immaculee Ilibargiza, and Lara Vapnyar are relatively new immigrants who choose English - their second language - in which to write about their mother countries and the country that is their new home. Ofelia Zepeda and Susan Power, descendants of indigenous American nations, draw on ancient traditions of their tribes.

Gerald Early - writing on "What is African-American Literature?" - taps hundreds of years of creativity, which evolved through slavery and the civil rights movement to the current, popular Hip Hop Fiction. Early argues that "urban literature has democratized and broadened the reach and content of African-American literature." African-American writers Tayari Jones and Randall Kenan, call on their firm roots in the American South for the special regional flavor in their work.

Akhil Sharma writes of how his bicultural life and Ernest Hemingway helped shape his writing. "Because this wave of Asian immigrants has created curiosity within American society as to what exactly it is like to be in Asian families, I have been lucky to have had my books read," he writes. Persis Karim and Diana Abu-Jaber, half Iranian and Arab, respectively, recall coming to terms with two cultures in their own families, while Jennifer 8. Lee describes American assimilation of cultures as a story wrapped in a fortune cookie. These and other contributors write about the ways they belong to America while they retain the uniqueness of their original heritages.

More than ever, Americans want to participate in the multicultural experience, whether it is through appreciation of music, art or sampling ethnic food - and along the way forming friendships with the Arab, Korean or Guatemalan restaurateur. Often they simply immerse themselves in vibrant cultures depicted between the covers of a book.

- The Editors

(This is a product of the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site:

Friday, February 13, 2009

Interfaith coalition launches to help immigrants

Maybe, if everyone works at it, we will get immigration reform this year. DP

Submitted By JTA

WASHINGTON (JTA) -- A top Reform movement leader joined other faith leaders and members of Congress to urge the enactment of comprehensive immigration reform.

The Interfaith Immigration Coalition called on Congress and the Obama administration to adopt a "humane and equitable" immigration policy by the end of 2009.

"This issue has a special resonance for the Jewish people," Rabbi David Saperstein, the director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, said Wednesday afternoon at news conference on Capitol Hill. "Throughout history, the Jewish community has been the quintessential immigrant community, often forced to flee from land to land to land. Having struggled to adjust to societies that did not welcome our arrival, we understand many of the challenges faced by today's immigrants."

The coalition called for a policy that would include upholding family unity as a priority, creating a process for undocumented immigrants to earn legal status and eventual citizenship, restoring due process protections and reforming detention policies and aligning the enforcement of immigration laws with humanitarian values.

The group also said it was launching an education and advocacy campaign through its member organizations and congregations throughout the country.

Saperstein said he would be speaking about the issue to about 700 high school students at a National Federation of Temple Youth conference this weekend in Washington. He was the only Jewish leader who spoke at the news conference, but the coaltion includes the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society and virtually every other major Jewish organization.

U.S. Reps. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.) emphasized the importance of preserving "family unity" in any immigration reform. He added that faith-based institutions are places that "really care about immigrants and where immigrants have true power."

Angel Island center for immigrants reopens

See more in my post on 9 Feb., Angel Island's ghosts linger. DP

By Rebecca Heslin, USA TODAY

After a decades-long campaign to memorialize Angel Island — Ellis Island's West Coast counterpart — the immigration processing center in the San Francisco Bay reopens to the public Sunday.

During a dark period in American history from 1910 to 1940, 1 million Chinese immigrants were greeted on Angel Island with aggressive questioning and racism as a consequence of the Chinese Exclusion Act.

Angel Island closed in 2005 for vast refurbishment after being nearly demolished in 1970. The first phase will allow visitors to tour the crowded barracks that housed immigrants for weeks and even years and the interrogation rooms in the immigration station.

Guided tours cost $7 for adults and $5 for children. Visit or call 415-435-3522 for more information.

Jewish Coalition Calls for Immigration Reform

By Nicole Neroulias, Religion News Service

Jewish groups are asking the Obama administration to make immigration reform a priority for the new president's first 100 days, by suspending raids on businesses and private homes and developing a path to citizenship for undocumented families.

Progress by Pesach, named for the Jewish holiday also known as Passover, which begins April 9 this year, refers to the time when Jews were strangers in the strange land of Egypt, said Gideon Aronoff, president of the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, one of the campaign sponsors.

The campaign's Web site,, aims to collect 10,000 signatures and send thousands of letters requesting "immigration reform, not raids" to Obama, Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano and other government officials over the next 10 weeks.

"Undocumented immigration is a symptom of the broken immigration system," Aronoff said. "Enforcement can't possibly be the total package that government brings to solving the problem."

In addition to their historic experiences as immigrants, U.S. Jews are reeling from last year's raid on the Agriprocessors kosher meat plant in Postville, Iowa. Roughly 400 traumatized Hispanic families, unable to support themselves and confused by their legal options, have relied on the struggling town's charity.
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Thursday, February 12, 2009

Faith Leaders Shape Local Immigration Debates

A coalition of religious leaders is trying to shape immigration reform. Compassion for the immigrants is a big reason for their feelings. DP

By New America Media, News Analysis, Marcelo Ballvé

PATCHOGUE, N.Y. -- "When it comes to immigration, the law is an ass." These forceful words were spoken not by an immigration lawyer or activist, but by a lanky, bearded Methodist pastor on Long Island. The Rev. Thomas Goodhue directs the influential 800-member Long Island Council of Churches, and last month he joined a coalition of religious leaders calling for immigration reform.

"Current immigration policy violates everything our religious traditions teach us about compassion for the sojourner among us," said Goodhue, flanked by Protestant, Muslim and Jewish leaders.

The urgency of their call was magnified by the location: a synagogue in Patchogue, a seaside town where only a few months before a gang of local high schoolers killed Marcelo Lucero, an Ecuadorean immigrant.

Police labeled the Nov. 8 murder of Lucero a hate crime, and it galvanized immigrant advocates on Long Island.

Lately, as the temperature rises in local and state immigration battles, with a backlash against immigrants often serving as a backdrop, clergy have emerged as influential voices.

Around the country, particularly in places where immigration has only recently emerged as a major issue, clergy have argued publicly for solution-oriented policies. They've also warned against the scapegoating of undocumented immigrants.

In Nashville, Catholic and Jewish leaders joined in a coalition called "Nashville for All of Us," which defeated a ballot measure to designate English the city's official language. Proponents said it would help immigrants assimilate and save the city money, but Bishop David Choby was among those arguing that the measure was mean-spirited and impractical, since it would marginalize the foreign-born from civic life.
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Haitian seniors learn English in Stamford class

These Haitian seniors, many here 25 years, are learning English, finally. Now they will be able to talk with their grandchildren. Many are illiterate in their own language, so this is a big hurdle to overcome. DP

By Magdalene Perez, Staff Writer

STAMFORD -- Twenty-six years after leaving Haiti to start a new life in the United States, L'Icianie Icart had her American citizenship, but she didn't have something else important to a grandmother of 78 years: the ability to communicate with her English-speaking grandchildren.

Now, Icart and other local Haitian-American seniors have an opportunity to take their first steps toward becoming English speakers. Through a $5,000 state grant and a partnership with the Haitian American Community Center, the Stamford Senior Center is providing English classes for Haitians age 50 years and older.

According to experts, teaching older Haitian immigrants English is a unique challenge. Many Haitian adults are illiterate in their native languages, French and Creole. Just 52.9 percent of the country's population age 15 and older can read and write, according to the Central Intelligence Agency World Factbook.

Senior Center class leaders will need to be aware of that and other cultural sensitivities when crafting a successful English course.

"I told them from the beginning, 'Don't be ashamed,' " instructor Mina Philippe said. "I taught my own mother to read. They're not the only ones."

The class of about 16 students meets Monday nights in the community center's basement on Hope Street. Instead of books or blackboards, the group uses visual cues and rote memorization to learn vocabulary. About 85 percent of the class is unable to read or write, Philippe said.

This week, Icart and classmates studied numbers, colors and dates. Together they watched a video in which two actors illustrated various concepts: wet, dry, rich, poor. Icart and her companions practiced the phrases out loud.

"Today is February 9, 2009," the group repeated, with just the slightest hint of a French accent.

For the Stamford Senior Center, the small class is the culmination of years of unsuccessful attempts to organize an English-language program for Haitian seniors, said Jeanne Franklin, the center's executive director. While language programs for Russian- and Spanish-speakers flourished, efforts aimed at the Haitian community always seemed to fall flat.

"We'd never get 10 people in the past," Franklin said. "We'd get two, we'd get three, and then the next week they wouldn't show up."

Last year, when a state grant became available, Franklin decided to take another tack. She called the Haitian Community Center and enlisted the help of Father Rony Philippe. Maybe what was missing was a closer connection to the community, she thought.

The suspicion was dead-on. Father Philippe and other Haitian Community Center members told their church about the class every Sunday.
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Glenwood Springs community joins fight to keep immigrant

This boy is not here legally and is supposed to be deported, but the whole town loves and admires him and they are helping him to stay. DP

By Nancy Lofholm, The Denver Post

GLENWOOD SPRINGS — Jose Mendoza Turbin had never been far from his village in the Salvadoran jungle when gang violence propelled him to ride a bus for 23 days and 1,500 miles, make a desperate dash across the Rio Grande, and head for a mountain town in Colorado.

He was 17 but had the equivalent of a fifth-grade education. He knew only two English words: "Thank you."

In the four years since, the soft-spoken young man with an ever-ready grin has worn out those words. He has been thanking a school and a community that supported his dogged determination to learn and, now, his fight to avoid deportation.

That fight has taken on new urgency. He has been ordered to appear for deportation in Grand Junction on Wednesday.

"He's just too valuable to send back. This community needs him," said Ginny Badger, a teaching assistant at Glenwood Springs High School.

Mendoza Turbin began legally seeking asylum within weeks of entering the United States, arguing that returning to his home country will place him at the mercy of violent Salvadoran gangs that had tried to recruit him.

Determined to get him away from those gangs, Mendoza Turbin's farmer parents put him on a bus with a backpack of clothing and food.

"I was crying, and my heart was breaking. I cried all the way," Mendoza Turbin said.

When his bus reached El Paso, he joined a group crossing the Rio Grande. He was arrested by Texas border agents. The detention center was full, so he was released to the custody of his brother.

His brother, Raphael Orlando Mendoza Turbin, has been doing construction in the Roaring Fork Valley on a work visa. Jose moved in with his brother and enrolled in high school.
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Tackling the three R’s in a second or third language

To learn math or any other subject, these kids have to first learn English. If a math teacher tests with word problem, the student might know the math concepts but not some of the words, and fails the test. Please read this whole story, very interesting! DP

Math may be a universal language – but what happens when your word problem includes words you don't know?

By Mary Wiltenburg | Correspondent

Clarkston, Ga.-- Stolen shopping carts collect behind Indian Creek Apartment Homes. In good weather, Nyo Nyo spends hours pushing her 2-year-old around the parking lot in one, her skirt flapping, his head high, like a prince surveying his realm. His mother is less at home in the country that took her family in four years ago, when they arrived in the Atlanta suburbs from Burma (Myanmar) by way of a Thai refugee camp.

“The problem, she says, is language. “No English,” she apologizes, and calls to the oldest of her three kids, on the playground outside their apartment.

Reluctantly, daughter Thayoomoo Ywin untangles herself from a swing and comes running. Thayoomoo is 8 going on 30. After 2-1/2 years at the International Community School (ICS) in nearby Decatur, Ga., her English is close to fluent, she’s on track doing math at a second-grade level, she’s in the top half of her class in reading, and she is her parents’ lifeline to the English-speaking world.

Her dad, Thet Naing Aye, speaks enough English to support the family on a $11.20-an-hour job at a Goodyear tire plant. Her mom often depends on her to make sense of responsibilities from the grocery store to school forms to the state driver’s manual.

“She has a lot of friends. If they want to go to the store, their daughters have to go with them,” says Thayoomoo, translating for her mother as they sit on the woven mat that is the family’s main living room furnishing. “If they know English, they could go.”
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Bill: financial aid to illegal immigrant students

A Washington state bill is being debated to give financial aid to illegal immigrant kids who have been here most of their lives and have gotten their education in our schools. We should help these kids, they will start businesses, create jobs, pay taxes and be good for their communities. DP


OLYMPIA, Wash. -- Against advice, Luis Ortega and Manuel Garcia gave their full names to a committee of lawmakers when they testified Wednesday in favor of a bill that would make illegal immigrant students eligible for state financial aid for college.

Ortega and Garcia are both illegal immigrants, brought to the United States when they were kids by their parents. They were advised not give their full names to protect themselves from deportation. But they were two of a half dozen students who came forward and spoke openly.

"We're not asking for a free pass, all I'm asking for is sharing with you the American dream," Ortega, an 18-year-old University of Washington student, told lawmakers in the House Higher Education Committee.

Under a bill being considered here, students like Ortega and Garcia would be eligible for the state's main financial aid program. The proposal would expand the state needs grant program, which provided around $182 million in financial aid for 72,000 students in fiscal year 2008.

The proposal comes at a time when hostile feelings toward illegal immigration - and even legal immigration - are heightened in a deeply troubled economy, and as the federal government continues a crackdown on illegal immigration, breaking records for deportations.

Several people spoke against the bill, echoing many well-known arguments, saying that illegal immigrants cost the American economy, and that lawmakers should be worried about providing education to Americans.
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Elderly immigrants find life in U.S. a tough go

Families who bring their elderly relatives to the U.S. are responsible for them, but the current financial situation has made this difficult. Some are regretting their move here. DP

With government aid limited and the economy straining the finances of the relatives who sponsored them, many are thinking increasingly wistfully of their homelands.

By Anna Gorman

Several times a day, Shaukat Ali prays in the garden of his daughter's Artesia home -- for his family and his health and now, for the economy.

"There is no alternative but to ask our God," said Ali, 70.

Like many elderly immigrants, Ali dreamed of reuniting with relatives in the United States and working a few years before retiring. But since arriving here legally from Pakistan three years ago, Ali has not been able to find a job and said he has become a heavy bur- den on his daughter and son-in-law.

"They are not in a position to support me," he said. "Dollars are not growing on trees."

Adjusting to life in the U.S. can be difficult for any newcomer, but elderly immigrants have an even tougher time. Unable to find work or receive retirement benefits, many older immigrants depend on family members for financial support. And with the economy collapsing, relatives who sponsored them for green cards and agreed to be financially responsible for them are increasingly having trouble doing so.

"Economic resources are shared at the household level," said Steven Wallace, professor at the UCLA School of Public Health, who has written about older immigrants. "If one or more of the parents loses a job, that squeezes everybody in the family."

Federal law limits access to benefits for elderly legal immigrants, making it difficult for them to get Supplemental Security Income, health coverage or cash assistance. Once they become citizens, obtaining federal benefits becomes much easier. Restrictions on assistance often result in even more pressure on family members in the U.S.
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Some places revisit immigration laws

State lawmakers have proposed hundreds of immigration laws since 2005. Not many have been enacted and many of those are being reconsidered. DP

By Emily Bazar, USA TODAY

Some states, cities and counties that plunged into the immigration debate are having second thoughts.

In Texas, Alabama and elsewhere, lawmakers have repealed or modified measures that cracked down on illegal immigrants or made English the official language. In Iowa and Utah, legislators are proposing similar reversals.

They cite various reasons, including the time and expense of fighting legal challenges, the cost of implementing the measures while tightening their budgets and the barrage of publicity and accusations of racism that come with such laws.

"For us to spend our time pitting neighbor against neighbor was a sacrilege," says Judith Camp, a city councilwoman in Oak Point, Texas, about 35 miles north of Dallas, who voted to kill the city's English-only resolution in December. The measure, adopted in 2007 on a 3-2 vote, was rescinded on a 3-2 vote. "We're just a tiny little city and we were getting a lot of negative publicity."

Muzaffar Chishti of the Migration Policy Institute, which analyzes immigration trends and policies, says some states and communities are "taking a more skeptical view" of immigration laws because of the legal costs and attention.

Most state and local laws that passed as federal reform failed remain in place, and some communities have mounted expensive campaigns to keep them. Farmers Branch, Texas, has steadfastly defended its ordinances despite legal challenges and public protests.
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Let’s face it – English is a crazy language.

If we have trouble with English, what chance have immigrants got?

You think English is easy? Read this.

1) The bandage was wound around the wound.

2) The farm was used to produce produce.

3) The dump was so full that it had to refuse more refuse.

4) We must polish the Polish furniture.

5) He could lead if he could get the lead out.

6) The soldier decided to desert his dessert in the desert.

7) Since there is no time like the present, he thought it was time to present the present.

8) A bass was painted on the head of the bass drum.

9) When shot at, the dove dove into the bushes.

10) I did not object to the object.

11) The insurance was invalid for the invalid.

12) There was a row among the oarsmen about how to row.

13) They were too close to the door to close it.

14) The buck does funny things when the does are present.

15) A seamstress and a sewer fell down into a sewer.

16) To help with planting, the farmer taught his sow to sow.

17) The wind was too strong to wind the sail.

18) Upon seeing the tear in the painting I shed a tear.

19) I had to subject the subject to a series of tests.

20) How can I intimate this to my most intimate friend?

Let’s face it – English is a crazy language.

English was invented by people, it reflects the creativity of the human race, which, of course, is not a race at all.

That is why, when the stars are out, they are visible, but when the lights are out, they are invisible.

It took us a lifetime to try to understand most of this, what chance have immigrants got?

'It's tough because the only English they get is at school'

Many of these kids already know 2 or 3 languages and are learning English now. Let's hope they are able to keep some of those languages as they grow up. DP

"They've only been to 'school' on the ground in front of their hut," education coordinator for immigrants says.

By Elisa Finneran | Special to the Daily Press

NEWPORT NEWS - Some children new to the U.S. face several hurdles. As they learn the basics, they also have to learn English. For a few, it is not their second language — it is their third or fourth.

"Show me big dog," says classroom teacher Christy Anderson as a group of kindergartners spread their arms as wide as their smiles.

"Now show me little dog." The children cup their hands together and giggle as they grasp the concept of big and little.

At another table a small group of first-graders listen attentively. "Who remembers the cha cha cha?" asks Nell Spoon.

"Cha is for chin," a little boy, new to America, answers as he places the correct card on the table.

At Sedgefield Elementary in Newport News, Spoon is one of the school's four full-time English as a Second Language instructors who work with 125 students daily.

Like all elementary students, these children are learning to read and write. But in addition to mastering the basic curriculum, they must also learn the English language.

And there are some students who do not have any other family members who speak English.

"It's tough because the only English they get is at school," said Anderson. "Sometimes the kids can eventually teach their parents."
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