Thursday, April 30, 2009

Hidden in the promised land

Read this whole story, it tells about the month long, terrifying trek of this man from his home in Guatemala to Ithaca NY. - - Donna Poisl

Migrant workers in Central New York choose lives of loneliness and fear

By Erin Geismar Editor in Chief

Blood mixes with sand, and with every painful step Román takes, it feels like he might as well be taking one back. Ahead of him there is a line of people. In the cold darkness of the desert at night, a group of 15 trudges on diligently, though a few, Román included, are faltering. His shoes are broken, the sand leaks through, weighing his steps. His toes have been rubbing together for hours, and two toenails dig their way into the flesh of other toes. He’s bleeding, he’s hungry, and he’s tired. The food is gone. The water is gone. He can’t keep walking. He stops and puts his hands to his knees; they’re throbbing now. When he walks he feels bowlegged. He hangs his head low.

“If you keep walking like this we’re never going to get there,” the guide yells back from the front of the line. “If you want to make it to the United States you have to be stronger.”

He would keep saying that again and again.

“Think about how much money you’ve already spent,” he continues. Román thinks about money all the time. About how much he’s spent trying to get to America — so far, he was down almost $1,000. But he thought about how much he hoped to make when he got there.
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Orange County's Vietnamese immigrants reflect on historic moment

This photo exhibit is reminding young people of their parents' history and suffering during the war in Vietnam. - - Donna Poisl

Every April, as the anniversary of the communist takeover of their homeland approaches, they look back -- and try to make sure their descendants know and appreciate their history.

By My-Thuan Tran

Thirty-four years after tanks smashed through the gates of Saigon's Presidential Palace, marking a symbolic end to the Vietnam War, the bitter memories still burn among many of the refugees who live in Orange County's Little Saigon.

As decades passed and the memories of war fade with many Americans, community leaders in the largest Vietnamese enclave in the United States want to remind a new generation of the suffering and hardship that took shape on a day they still call "Black Friday."

Some in the community worry that younger Vietnamese -- fully Westernized and many reconciled with the Vietnam of today -- will forget why their parents and grandparents fled their homeland, that the memories of the communist takeover will slowly dissolve.
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Recession hits immigrant workforce harder than native workforce

Immigrant workers, regardless of their legal status or skill level, are more likely to be hard hit by the economic situation than others. - - Donna Poisl

Foreign-born workers -- both skilled and unskilled, legal and illegal -- have endured greater increases in joblessness than their native-born counterparts over the last 18 months, one study shows.

By Teresa Watanabe

Immigrants have been hit harder than native-born Americans by the recession, with larger increases in joblessness among both educated and uneducated workers, according to a study released today.

Immigrants in California -- both legal and illegal -- fared particularly poorly, with jobless rates here nearly tripling to 12.2% in the first quarter of 2009, compared with 4.5% in the third quarter of 2007, according to the report by the Center for Immigration Studies, a Washington-based research group that supports immigration restrictions. The study is based on U.S. Census statistics.

Nationally, the immigrant jobless rate rose to 9.7% from 4.1% during that period, while the rate for native-born workers rose to 8.6% from 4.8%.

The jobless rate for Latino immigrants grew twice as fast as that for non-Latino immigrants, the study showed.
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Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Join the Virtual March on Washington

Sign up now and send a message to your Representatives in Congress.

On May 1st, thousands will be calling on Congress to do the right thing on immigration—and to improve the treatment of all workers. Whether or not you can go to a march near you, make your voice heard!

We need to show Congress that there is a growing movement for immigration reform that stands with the President.

Participate in our virtual march by sending Washington a message with our easy to use tool. Your letter will go to your Representatives in Congress, and to key leadership in the Senate.

Don’t forget to ask your friends and family to join, too!

African immigrants risk lives on epic trek to U.S.

This is an amazing story about the struggles these immigrants go through to go from Africa to the U.S. The fact they are from war-torn countries gives them special status when they arrive here. - - Donna Poisl

By Mica Rosenberg, Reuters

TAPACHULA, Mexico (Reuters) - Jailed repeatedly for his political views, Ethiopian immigrant Sharew paid smugglers around $10,000 to move him through a dozen countries and leave him a year later in the grubby southern Mexican city of Tapachula.

Once on Mexico's southern border, which has grown into a major stepping-stone for hundreds of migrants fleeing conflicts in the Horn of Africa, he was still 2,000 miles away from his destination: the United States.

The immigrants, mainly from Ethiopia, Somalia and Eritrea, are increasingly following a new, epic route down the continent to South Africa, across the Atlantic by boat or plane and then a trek overland though South and Central America.

"It is an enormous voyage. They've told us that along the way some lose their lives in Africa because they are attacked, sometimes even by lions," said Jorge Yzar, head of Tapachula's detention center, where dozens of immigrants from all over the world sleep in dormitories before being deported or let go.
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Monday, April 27, 2009

Immigrants learn, one syllable at a time

This very intensive English class is teaching immigrants some of the finer points of English; accent, intonation, nuance. They need this knowledge to get good jobs, like they had in their home country. - - Donna Poisl

By Matt O'Brien, Staff writer

OAKLAND — "How are you?" Marianna Matthews asks her class. "How are you?"
Identical words, slightly different questions. The teacher asks her adult students if they understand the difference.

"It's called intonation," she said, diagramming the flow from one syllable to another. "It's the music of English. Whether your voice goes up or down."

The mysteries of English are, in part, about words and how to pronounce and write them.
But the students at The English Center in Jack London Square, hailing from the Ivory Coast, Mongolia, Uzbekistan, China, Bhutan, Myanmar, Latin America and elsewhere, want more than words and grammar. They are looking to understand the nuances.

"I want to find the same job here that I had in Lithuania," said student Pavel Sedliar, of Walnut Creek. "But I must have perfect English."
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Lawyer makes case against immigrant myths

This article lists several myths about immigrants and immigration and introduces an author whose book dis-spells many of them. - - Donna Poisl

By MERCEDES OLIVERA / The Dallas Morning News

While politicians may debate the merits of immigration reform, many economists and researchers have already made up their minds: Immigrants contribute far more to the U.S. economy than they take.

It's a view expressed most recently in the book – Hispanic Heresy: What Is the Impact of America's Largest Population of Immigrants? –released in January and written by a Dallas lawyer and two Texas Tech University business professors.

The authors' research, filled with graphs and data from professional and scholastic journals, federal agencies and news reports, works to dispel many of the myths thrown about by cable TV talk shows and radio hosts.
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Refugee and immigrant programs receive boost

These immigrant women are being taught skills and how to start a business using those skills. They are also getting help learning how to function in this country. - - Donna Poisl

Community » Welcome centers will help integrate newcomers into community.

By Julia Lyon, The Salt Lake Tribune

Midvale » The women drawing their needles back and forth Saturday morning were practicing a sewing stitch that could one day change their lives. As members of the new "Mothers Club," they are gaining skills and learning how to start a business -- just the kind of initiative one philanthropic group hopes to see spread across the state.

A $1 million, 2½ year effort to integrate immigrants and refugees will support the launch of four "welcome centers" across the Salt Lake Valley this spring.

The centers will consist of programs provided by existing educational and community groups, which will use the substantial infusion of cash to expand and strengthen their offerings.

The money comes from the Women's Philanthropic Network, a group affiliated with United Way of Salt Lake, that set out a few years ago to harness the power of women's donations to make lasting change.
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We Need an Immigration Stimulus

This opinion piece gives a good history of immigrants and economics. Immigrants are more likely to start businesses than native born and we need new business. - - Donna Poisl

A recession is exactly when we want innovative outsiders.

by L. Gordon Crovitz

At the dawn of the Industrial Age, in 1719, the British Parliament passed a law banning craftsmen from emigrating to France or other rival countries. The law also targeted anyone who tried to entice skilled British workers to share technological information with foreigners.

"At that time the chief concern was the loss of iron founders and watchmakers," Gavin Weightman writes in his new book, "The Industrial Revolutionaries." Spies from around the world tried to uncover the secrets of British engineering, but "were often reduced to lurking around local inns, hoping to engage knowledgeable workmen in conversation and induce them to cross the Channel for some splendid reward."

This attempted protectionism of ideas was doomed by easier travel and communication. The precursor to the London Times complained in 1785 that a Briton who set up a textile plant in France had "entailed more ruin and mischief on this kingdom than perhaps even the loss of America."

Which brings us to our own era, and the debate on immigration reform beginning this week with congressional hearings that include an appearance by former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan. President Barack Obama says he wants to address the issue by the end of the year.
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Sunday, April 26, 2009

Metro wants immigrant students to spend more time with English speakers

There are differing views on how best to teach English to immigrant students. This school pledges to raise test scores for their school and believes that language immersion is one way to do it. This is the way it was done in the 1800s and most of the 1900s. - - Donna Poisl

School officials hope language immersion with improve test scores

By Jaime Sarrio • THE TENNESSEAN •

Nancy Colin knows what it's like to attend a school where the teachers don't speak your language.

Colin moved to Texas from Mexico when she was 13. She was enrolled in special classes for foreign language speakers but remembers just wanting to be treated like every other kid.

"It takes a while to learn English," she said. "But when I was 13, I wanted to be in regular classes."

Now, as the mother of a first-grader at A.Z. Kelley Elementary and a translator at Cole Elementary, Colin is watching closely to see how Metro Nashville Public Schools deals with its growing population of non-English-speaking students.

She's not the only one. Metro schools must meet testing goals this year to regain local control and avoid further sanctions prescribed under the No Child Left Behind law. A crucial piece of that is improving the Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment Program scores of students whose first language isn't English.
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Good Neighbors: Combining verbs, nouns, wood shop

This vocational carpentry course is for Latinos and is teaching them English along with cabinet making. This sounds like a more interesting way to learn a language than sitting in a classroom, studying from a book. - - Donna Poisl

Students build English skills along with woodworks

By Dave Newhouse, Oakland Tribune columnist

Carpentry is about cutting corners, not conjugating verbs. But at Laney College, there's a unique program that combines building wooden cabinets with building basic English skills.

It's a vocational trade course of sorts worth college units — seven units per semester. Classes are held from 6 to 10 p.m., Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, and students are so eager to learn that they're reluctant to leave.

"These guys have to be told to go home at night," said Ron Mackrodt, department chairman in Wood Technology at Laney College, "and most of them work in the daytime."

The students, mostly men, are Latinos from other countries and they are seeking a career and a better grasp of the English language. Only the English they're learning isn't for the purpose of writing term papers; it's to help them function as carpenters.

They're taught the English words for tools, carpentry terms, and also measurements in inches, feet and yards, because their native countries are on the metric system.
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Latinos in the South often targets of abuse

This new report is 64 pages of unsettling information about the way Latinos are treated in southern states. Read the full report at - - Donna Poisl

Low-income Latinos have become growing targets across the South. In a report released this week by the Southern Poverty Law Center, poor Latinos described life in the South as living in a "war zone."

The SPLC's "Under Siege: Life for Low-Income Latinos in the South" documents the widespread abuse facing low-wage Latino workers in Southern states. Focusing on Nashville, Charlotte, New Orleans, rural southern Georgia and northern Alabama, the Montgomery, Ala.-based civil rights nonprofit surveyed hundreds of residents who detailed a striking degree of abuse, including "widespread hostility, discrimination and exploitation." Researchers said they found a "population under siege and living in fear" -- fear of the police, fear of the government and fear of criminals who prey on immigrants because of their vulnerability.

In the South laws to protect workers from abuse are weak and almost nonexistent, making it even more challenging for Latinos suffering from wage theft, workplace discrimination or workplace injuries to seek justice. Nearly one third of people surveyed reported on-the-job injuries, and only 37 percent of those said they received appropriate treatment. The rate of deaths for Mexican workers in the South was one in 6,200--more than double the national average.
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Pronunciation key to success in English

This class helps new English speakers learn the various sounds that are not in their own language, but very necessary in English. We would have the same problem learning their languages. - - Donna Poisl

By Dan Barker

Speaking English means more than learning words, which is why Morgan Community College is offering a course in pronunciation.

For many immigrants, it can be hard to even hear the kinds of sounds that Americans use in speaking their version of English, because not every language uses the same sounds, said teacher Ruth Tryon.

On Tuesday, the class was studying the “V” and “B” sounds, which can be difficult to differentiate, she said. They sound the same to those who do not use them in their native tongue.

Tryon had them work to see that the “B” sound uses the lips and the “V” sound uses the lips and teeth with a sound in the throat. They spent time seeing if they could notice the difference and try the sounds out by exaggerating the use of their lips and teeth.
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More immigrants expected, and that's good

When the economy starts to pick up again, immigrants will be needed in the work force again. It is hoped that they are not leaving because of job cuts. - - Donna Poisl

Economists predict workers will be needed to fill future gaps


The idea that Utahns with pioneer ancestry marrying young and having big families will keep the state forever white and forever young is a myth, asserts senior research economist Pam Perlich from the University of Utah.

Perlich, a demographer, presented her predictions for the state's make-up for the next 50 years at the Mountainland Regional Council on Workforce Services Thursday in Midway to regional administrators in the Department of Workforce Services and industry leaders who work with them.

Future demographics may not be what many might expect, she said, but it should be viewed as an opportunity that will require action now to benefit from later.

Perlich began by discussing current trends in immigration both foreign and domestic.
The current recession threatens to create an exodus from areas of shrinking job markets to areas of growth. One aim of President Barack Obama's stimulus money is to keep people where they're at, she said.

Utah is an area of growth. Americans and internationals, legal and illegal immigrants, are continuing to come to Utah even though there are no jobs for them. Why? Because the West is viewed as a long-term growth region.
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Dismissing The Census Will Only Hurt Not Help Immigration Reform

Some groups are telling undocuments people to avoid the Census counting. Here is an interesting piece giving all the reasons why these people should be counted. - - Donna Poisl

By Felicia Persaud

CaribWorldNews, NEW YORK, NY, Fri. April 24, 2009: The National Coalition of Latino Clergy and Christian Leaders, in its passionate push for immigration reform, is attacking the one issue that could actually help their cause – the U.S. Census.

The group has issued a dim-witted call for undocumented immigrants to boycott the Census, a call that they believe will somehow miraculously force the Barack Obama administration to hand earned legalization to those desperate for a green card.

But the foolish action could only hurt the immigrants they are advising and making it worst for reform to be obtained, especially in this climate of economic recession. The National Coalition of Latino Clergy and Christian Leaders should be encouraging their flock to fill out the Census form for several reasons that will prove beneficial to this group in the long run. Let’s remember that immigration reform will not happen in a vacuum.

First off, the U.S. Census of 2010 provides the opportunity for the undocumented to be truly counted and actually provides some form of proof to show that they actually do live and have been living in the country.
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Thursday, April 23, 2009

More than just a welcome mat

This free preschool program is working hard to make sure the poor kids who need it the most, are enrolled. These at risk children will do better in primary school if they attend preschool. - - Donna Poisl

Illinois has won national recognition for its Preschool for All program, and ranks first in the nation for providing preschool to 3-year-olds. A new agenda is now on the horizon: Find and enroll youngsters who are the most at-risk of academic failure, including children of immigrants and those who are homeless.

by Debra Williams

Finding children who need preschool the most sometimes takes more than just putting out the welcome mat. That reality is at the heart of an agenda set by the Illinois Early Learning Council, the advisory body for the state’s free universal preschool program. The goal of the agenda: Find and enroll children who are the most at-risk of academic failure and who need preschool the most, but whose families are not aware of, or are not taking advantage of, free preschool.

“The idea of ‘If you build it, they will come,’ doesn’t always work,” says Elliot Regenstein, a co-chair of the council. “We want to make sure we have reached the highest priority children first.”
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Riverdale Park and Ipala celebrate sister city partnership

These immigrants, who are originally from this city's sister city, are volunteering to work on the annual river cleanup. It is unusual for immigrants to volunteer on projects, this is a good way to make the partnership stronger. - - Donna Poisl

by Elahe Izadi | Staff Writer

Saturday's cleanup at Riverside Park in Riverdale Park was more than just an effort to clean the Anacostia Watershed; it was first step in solidifying a partnership that spans thousands of miles.

Members of the Ipaltecos Ausentes, a local group of expatriates from Ipala, Guatemala, the Ipalan mayor and Riverdale Park officials and residents all pitched in during the Anacostia Watershed Society's 15th annual river cleanup and Earth Day celebration.

The towns of Riverdale Park and Ipala, Guatemala became sister cities in June 2008. Sister cities register with Sister Cities International, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit that promotes citizen diplomacy through partnerships between American and international towns, counties and states.
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Poor Latinos are victims of abuse nationwide, activists say

These low income immigrants have very little protection by the law. Sometimes it is the police who are taking advantage of them. - - Donna Poisl

By Arthur Brice, CNN

(CNN) -- Low-income Latinos are routinely discriminated against in the South, a new report says, but the study's author and others say the problem exists nationwide, with millions of Spanish-speaking immigrants living "beyond the protection of the law."

The report, released Wednesday by the Southern Poverty Law Center, documents the experiences of 500 immigrants in the South, finding that Latinos routinely are cheated out of wages, are denied basic health protection and fall victim to racial profiling.

"Under Siege: Life for Low-Income Latinos in the South" details stories such as that of a Tennessee woman who says she was jailed at a cheese factory for asking for pay, a bean picker in Alabama who says his life savings were taken by police at a traffic stop, and a rapist in Georgia who was not arrested because the suspect's victim was an undocumented immigrant.
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After Losing Freedom, Some Immigrants Face Loss of Custody of Their Children

When this woman was sent to jail, her baby was adopted by a stranger, with the court's approval, saying she had abandoned him. He should have been sent to a relative. No one knows how many other parents have lost custody of their children like this. - - Donna Poisl


CARTHAGE, Mo. — When immigration agents raided a poultry processing plant near here two years ago, they had no idea a little American boy named Carlos would be swept up in the operation.

One of the 136 illegal immigrants detained in the raid was Carlos’s mother, Encarnación Bail Romero, a Guatemalan. A year and a half after she went to jail, a county court terminated Ms. Bail’s rights to her child on grounds of abandonment. Carlos, now 2, was adopted by a local couple.

In his decree, Judge David C. Dally of Circuit Court in Jasper County said the adoptive couple made a comfortable living, had rearranged their lives and work schedules to provide Carlos a stable home, and had support from their extended family. By contrast, Judge Dally said, Ms. Bail had little to offer.
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Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Immigrant Children in Legal Limbo

Please read and leave positive comments. There are undoubtedly many negative comments. leave a positive one. -- Donna Poisl

From United We Dream coalition

The New York Times has published a piece on the DREAM Act. We need help from you to make sure that the discussion around this piece remains positive and supportive of the students who put themselves out there.

Please read and leave positive comments.

Tamar Jacoby, ImmigrationWorks USA
Mark Krikorian, Center for Immigration Studies
Nick, Dream Act Portal
Hiroshi Motomura, U.C.L.A. law professor

Sample Talking Points:
Too many immigrant kids who grew up in the United States, who call America home, and who want nothing more than to contribute to American society, are being denied a fair opportunity to earn their citizenship.

The problem is not the immigrant youth, it is the outdated system that ignores them. Our outdated immigration system is not responsive to America's needs.

The problem is the outdated immigration system that deprives hope from thousands of kids who graduate from our high schools, and deprives communities from tapping the talents and potentials of valuable contributors to our society and economy. The government is ignoring reality, pretending that these kids aren't American. Ignoring the problem will not make it go away, but will only make things worse.

The DREAM Act is a practical, fair solution that upholds the best of our shared American values of fair opportunity, accountability, and strong work ethics.

The DREAM Act is tough, but fair: The DREAM Act does not punish the innocent, but also sets tough but fair rules. For an immigrant student to qualify, he/she must have lived in the US for at least 5 years, earn a high school diploma, show good moral character, and be committed to go to college or enter military service.

The United States of America should not discriminate, and should recognize that every child growing up in America deserves a fair and equal opportunity at a chance to become a productive member of our society. The United States should ensure fairness in ALL of its policies on education and children.

We should not punish any innocent kid in America for something that's out of their control. We should treat all our high school graduates with fairness. We should not be unfairly rewarding or punishing any of our students for who their parents happen to be.

The immigrant kids who rest their hopes on the DREAM Act want to pay their fair and full share of fees and tuition, the same as any other student in America. This DREAM Act is about FAIRNESS, and EQUAL OPPORTUNITY for ALL. We should live up to our tradition as a society that believes in fairness and justice, and strive to treat all residents with fairness and equality.


United We Dream coalition
P.O. Box 7552
Ann Arbor, MI 48107

Report Challenges Negative Image of Immigrant Elders

This is an interesting report. Elders in the immigrant communities are often overlooked when organizations need people to get involved and help others. Some people just think they are too old and not able to help. But often, they just have to be asked. - - Donna Poisl

New America Media, News Report, Paul Kleyman

Note: Six million older immigrants live in the United States, a figure projected to triple by 2030. Advocates for these elders have set out to bring their voices –- and new respect for them as community contributors –- to the public and agency decision makers, who often dismiss them as mere clients seeking benefits.

If treated as partners, rather than mere users of public services, immigrant elders can help cash-strapped agencies solve problems in their communities, according to a new report.

The report by Temple University’s Center for Intergenerational Learning in Philadelphia found that although older immigrants and refugees in the United States are often treated merely as seekers of services, they are more effective than government agencies in communicating with members of their communities.
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Rotarians hear about needs filled by Literacy Council

Here is another article telling about the Literacy Council and the terrific work they do. With one on one tutors who are volunteers. - - Donna Poisl

By Harold Reutter

Members of Grand Island Rotary were like members of a class when Diann Muhlbach gave them a lesson about the Literacy Council of Grand Island.

Muhlbach’s most pointed lesson came when she gave the Rotarians a menu that was printed with a few English letters, with the majority of the letters coming from the Russian alphabet.

She asked them to choose what they wanted to order from the menu.

Only two choices were clear: One was tomato soup, while the second obvious choice was a hamburger. Everything else on the menu was indecipherable.
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Judge in LA orders green card cases reopened

This is good news, they should be on a case by case basis and not just an automatic "widow penalty". - - Donna Poisl


LOS ANGELES (AP) — A federal judge tentatively ordered the Department of Homeland Security to reopen the cases of 22 people who were denied green cards because their American spouses died during the application process.

U.S. District Judge Christina A. Snyder ruled the so-called widow penalty doesn't necessarily require that immigrants' permanent residency applications be denied when their American spouses die. Citing a 2006 decision by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, Snyder ruled this week that applicants don't lose their status as spouses of U.S. citizens if the death occurs before the government rules on their applications.

The decision, if made final, would be a victory for more than 200 people across the country who have been affected by the widow penalty, said attorney Brent Renison, who filed the class-action lawsuit in Los Angeles.
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Tuesday, April 21, 2009

U.S. Colleges Say Illegal Immigrants Should Be Eligible for More Financial Assistance

The U.S. College Board has come out in favor of illegal immigrants being charged in-state tuition. Let us hope this helps others agree to the same thing. These kids have gotten a good American education, they should continue and become good American citizens too. - - Donna Poisl

by Rob

U.S. colleges are breaking their silence on immigration, urging Congress to allow students who are illegal immigrants to apply for financial aid and qualify for in-state tuition, the Associated Press reports.

In a report released Tuesday, the U.S. College Board, which is best known for heading up the SAT program but also consists of 5,000 colleges, is also asking that Congress provide illegal immigrants a path to citizenship.

The report marks the first time the College Board has officially weighed in on the thorny issue, and came in response to how some states are taking steps to bar illegal immigrants from paying in-state tuition.

Illegal immigrants are entitled to attend American public K-12 schools. But in many states, those who go on to achieve high marks do not qualify for paying in-state tuition, even if they are class presidents and valedictorians.
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National Minority Supplier Development Council Holds Meeting

Small businesses are often owned by immigrants, all struggling in our present economy. The quarterly meeting of minority-owned businesses will be held this week. - - Donna Poisl

by Patricia

The National Minority Supplier Development Council is holding its quarterly meeting this week in Washington, D.C., with its focus the importance of minority-owned businesses.

The organization, presidents of its 38 regional affiliates, board chairmen and representatives of their certified minority businesses are gathering for three days of meetings, which began Tuesday.

"Asian, black, Hispanic and Native-American business owners, like their counterparts in corporate America, face many challenges in this economy," council President Harriet R. Michel said in a news release. "Small business is the engine that drives the American economy. We will spend some time visiting with our representatives in Congress to educate them on the value that the nation's minority-owned businesses bring to corporations, and the key role they can play in helping to turn the U.S. economy around."
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Assimilating culture - what language tells us about immigration and integration

The way our language has developed is fascinating. This study shows how some of our words came from the Vikings after they invaded England. - - Donna Poisl

( - They're a firm part of our language and even speak to us of our national culture — but some words aren't quite as English as we think.

Terms such as 'law', 'ugly', 'want' and 'take' are all loanwords from Old Norse, brought to these shores by the Vikings, whose attacks on England started in AD 793. In the centuries following it wasn't just warfare and trade that the invaders gave England. Their settlement and subsequent assimilation into the country's culture brought along the introduction of something much more permanent than the silk, spices and furs that weighed down their longboats — words.

Dr Sara Pons-Sanz in the School of English is examining these Scandinavian loanwords as part of a British Academy-funded research project — from terms that moved from Old Norse to Old English and disappeared without trace, to the words that still trip off our tongues on a daily basis.

By examining these words in context, tracking when and where they appear in surviving texts from the Old English period, Dr Pons-Sanz can research the socio-linguistic relationship between the invading and invaded cultures.
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Our view: Proficiency in English must be goal

Employers and all employees will benefit if workers have better language skills. This can not be denied by anyone. Safety is the number one benefit. - - Donna Poisl

AT ISSUE: All will benefit when employees acquire better language skills


The problem of a growing number of workers in area businesses with limited English proficiency skills is a complex issue with no easy solution.

Nevertheless, there are things we can — and should — do as a community to improve the situation not only for employers, but for the employees as well.

A recent survey of businesses in the Utica and Syracuse area found that four in 10 businesses employ people with poor English language skills. Making matters worse, however, is that many local employers lack knowledge about programs that could help build their workers’ language skills.
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Monday, April 20, 2009

Adult School taking a hit when students need help the most

We have to hope that English classes for immigrants are not closed in the budget cuts, when these immigrants succeed, they are a great addition to the country. They start businesses, have better jobs and also pay more taxes. - - Donna Poisl

By J.M. Brown - Sentinel staff writer

LIVE OAK -- "Hello? Is Ann home?"

"Yes, she is. Just a minute. She's in the dining room."

Curious students inside the English as a Second Language class at the Santa Cruz Adult School pick up old desk phones and pretend to call each other as they recite lines of dialogue. They giggle good-naturedly at each other as some stumble through the exercise.

Ranging in age from 18 to 67, the students are Chinese, Mexican, Filipino, Salvadoran and Guatemalan -- brought together not as much by a common language as by a common goal. The dozens who attend the free class each day as work and family obligations permit are all striving to learn a skill that will make life more simple in Santa Cruz County.
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Report shows immigrants tend to be in stable families

Read this whole article, there are some very interesting comparisons here between illegal immigrants and the rest of the population. Education, age, income, etc. - - Donna Poisl

by Linda Chavez

A new report out this week from the Pew Hispanic Center confirms what many observers already suspected about the U.S. illegal immigrant population: It is made up increasingly of intact families and their American-born children. Nearly half of illegal immigrant households consist of two-parent families with children, and 73 percent of these children were born here and are U.S. citizens.

Hard-line immigration restrictionists will, no doubt, find more cause for alarm in these numbers. But they should represent hope to the rest of us. One of the chief social problems afflicting this country is the breakdown in the traditional family. But among immigrants, the two-parent household is alive and well.

Only 21 percent of native households are made up of two parents living with their own children. Among the illegal population, 47 percent of households consist of a mother, a father and their children.
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Sunday, April 19, 2009

Saving for a new home away from home

Refugees are learning how to build or repair their credit histories, save for a down payment and apply for a mortgage. - - Donna Poisl

Homebuyer programs help penny-pinching refugees achieve American Dream


Soe Than has set his sights on owning his first home and settling down. But he’s not your average firsttime homebuyer in Buffalo.

Like many others, he and his wife, Thi Thi Aung, have been in a first time homebuyer class for months, learning about credit histories, loans and everything they need to know about buying and owning a home.

They’ve also been participating in a special matched savings program at M&T Bank, setting aside enough money to cover a downpayment. Finally, they signed a contract for a particular house in Riverside.
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Illegal status clouds future for graduates

This story shows why we need the DREAM Act to be put into law. This boy has done so well, he is in the top tier of his class, but there is no way he can go to college or use his education. - - Donna Poisl

by Angela Mapes Turner, The Journal Gazette

José speaks with frustration, but not bitterness, about the principle of American life that most inspires him.

“Everybody has the opportunity to do something,” he said of his adopted country. “Well, not in my case. A lot of people have the opportunity to do something.”

José pays attention to detail, from the tips of his carefully spiked hair to his layered T-shirts and shiny, clean Nikes.

Attention to detail helped the 19-year-old high school senior learn English in a few short years. It helped him earn a spot in the National Honor Society and the top tier of his class.
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Asian Americans join conversation on immigration reform

About 12% of illegal immigrants in this country are Asians, they are starting to join into the debate about immigration reform. - - Donna Poisl

Posted By: Tyche Hendricks

The movement for comprehensive immigration reform has gained a head of steam in the ten days since a senior Obama administration official said the president planned to begin addressing the issue this year, and Bay Area residents are weighing in.

Though overhauling the immigration system has been a particular concern for Latinos because immigrants from Latin America make up a disproportionate share of the country's undocumented population, Asian Americans have plenty at stake as well.

Tonight San Jose Rep. Michael Honda, chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, will join Chicago Rep. Luis Gutierrez on the latest leg of his "listening tour," designed to highlight the stories of families that have been separated by U.S. immigration laws.
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Struggling to Rise in Suburbs Where Failing Means Fitting In

Immigrant kids often live in poverty. Having high goals and reaching them are both difficult, many drop out of school and get into trouble and stay in poverty. - - Donna Poisl


LANGLEY PARK, Md. — Class at the youth center had just let out, and a gaggle of teenagers moved toward the door, turning saggy pants and ring tones thrumming with reggaetón hits into adolescent statements of Latino cool.

Some had rap sheets, and some had babies. Some had gang tattoos. Most had immigrant parents with menial jobs who survived on sweat and worry. They were children of the Washington suburbs, but the poverty and violence around them rivaled that of urban cores. Jesselyn Bercian paused to rub the belly of a pregnant staff member.

“I’m not very happy with my job right now,” Jesselyn told her.
An American-born daughter of Salvadoran immigrants, Jesselyn was 19 years old with a smooth face and a friendly air; her nick name was Gigglez. But she had an eighth-grade education, a gang history and an ex-boyfriend in prison for murder.
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Saturday, April 18, 2009

'Made in L.A.', movie about sweatshops

Check out this documentary about immigrant sweatshop workers' struggle for basic labor protections. This movie will help put a human face on the issues of immigration, immigrant workers' rights, and supporting humane immigration reform.

Made in L.A. is an Emmy award winning film that follows the remarkable story of three Latina immigrants working in Los Angeles garment sweatshops as they embark on a three-year odyssey to win basic labor protections from a trendy clothing retailer. In honor of May Day, they have just launched a nationwide screening campaign from April 15th to May 31st and beyond.

They are inviting student groups, grassroots organization, congregations and individuals from all over the country to join our efforts to use the film as a catalyst for dialogue, debate and, ultimately, a change towards humane labor and immigration reform.

You can find details as well as a short new web video at their online May Day Campaign page:

And more info at

Immigration red tape kept couple apart for a year

The long wait for immigration to work makes you understand why so many people come here and stay illegally, they know it is too long and hard to do it legally. And this couple's wait was even shorter than many. - - Donna Poisl

Utah man welcomes his Mexican wife home.

By Jennifer W. Sanchez, The Salt Lake Tribune

While his wife, Ignacia, waited in Mexico, Marc Carpenter waited for the letter that would reunite them.

On March 27, after 409 days, a friend -- who checked Marc's mail often while he was at work -- called. She said a letter from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services was sitting in his mailbox; she was on her way with it.

"It was the longest 15 minutes of my life," Marc said.

He immediately called Ignacia, who, despite having a "bad" feeling about the letter's contents, stayed on the phone as Marc opened the letter in front of his Burger King co-workers.

It was the "approval notice" they had been waiting for. Ignacia could come back to Salt Lake City.
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Brooklyn International Students on 'Being American'

Read this interview, explaining how this Brooklyn school is successfully raising expectations for all their students, including the Muslim kids. - - Donna Poisl

Amsterdram and NYC: How Schools Handle Assimilation

by Beth Fertig

NEW YORK, NY April 17, 2009 —In this 400th anniversary year of Henry Hudson's voyage on a Dutch ship to what would become New York, Amsterdam and New York City are celebrating their shared history. Both are multi-cultural cities with immigrants from more than 150 countries. But there are challenges, too. Especially in the schools - where immigrants and their children often run into trouble. Yesterday, WNYC's Beth Fertig reported on a school in Amsterdam that's trying to raise expectations for children of Muslim immigrants. Today, she takes us to a Brooklyn high school that's been successful with newcomers.
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Somali immigrants in KC worry about their image in the wake of piracy troubles

Somali immigrants in this country are afraid everyone will hate them because of the Somali pirates causing so much trouble. Let's hope Americans are more understanding than that. - - Donna Poisl

By LEE HILL KAVANAUGH, The Kansas City Star

For Somali natives living in Kansas City, the news of pirates trolling their homeland’s polluted waters cuts twice.

These Somalis see the pirates as orphaned boys looking for a way to survive, but they also denounce the violence. They say the world doesn’t know their country’s bigger problems, doesn’t understand the hopelessness that might drive someone to seize a ship.

They also fear that their new country will lump them in with the pirates and treat them all with the same disdain. Kansas City is home to the second-largest Somali community in the United States — some 5,000 people, mostly in the city’s Northeast area.
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Friday, April 17, 2009

Little pre-K access for Latinos

Latino kids are the ones who can benefit from pre kindergarten the most and yet, many of them are not enrolled. This puts them at a great disadvantage when they start school. - - Donna Poisl

Kids behind at start of school, advocates say

By Margaret Ramirez | Tribune reporter

Inside Casa Infantil Head Start in Logan Square, teacher Janeth Medellin called on her students to form a circle and then started singing a bilingual version of the "Good Morning" song.

"What day is today?" she asked 4-year-old Gustavo. "¿Qué día es hoy?"

When he hesitated, she touched his shoulder and said, "It's OK to answer in Spanish." With that, he shouted in English, "Monday!"

By using bilingual preschool curriculum and providing financial assistance, the Casa Infantil Head Start program is confronting one of the most debated issues in early childhood education: how to raise academic levels of low-income, Latino children.
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Laying down law for immigrants

This program is explaining to immigrants that domestic abuse is illegal in this country, even if their own culture allows it. - - Donna Poisl

Counseling program warns against domestic violence

By Anne Krueger (Contact) Union-Tribune Staff Writer

EAST COUNTY — In a cramped room filled with about 30 recent Iraqi immigrants, Dilkhwaz Ahmed asked for their reactions to a story she told about a woman who was beaten by her husband.

“If he kept doing it again and again, he must go to prison,” said Haman Salman, 34, a woman wearing a pink blouse and sitting in the back of the room.

Kameel Maqo, 40, who was a taxi driver in Iraq, had a different reaction.

“It's her personality that decides whether the guy wants to beat her up or not,” he said. “There must be a reason that guy beat her up.”

Ahmed explained to the group – all of whom arrived in the United States within the past year – that domestic violence that might have been tolerated in Iraq is not acceptable here.
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Multilingual Chicago Speaks

This is an interesting, easy to understand explanation of why it is important for all people to have more than one language. - - Donna Poisl

By Janet Nolan and Maria Vargas, Co-chairs, Multilingual Chicago

Juan Maldonado, the 15-year-old teen in Oscar Avila's story "Alone, Adrift. U.S.-born immigrants lost in Mexican Schools," (Chicagoland, April 12), did not have to feel "stupid" when his family moved him from West Chicago, Ill. to Mexico.

It's never easy being the new kid on the block, but had Juan been exposed to a culture and educational system that values and builds proficiency in one's home language and adds a second, he would have been prepared to embrace the language and culture of his extended family.

Many Americans and recent arrivals to our country mistakenly believe all children should learn English first. While learning English quickly is crucial for adults to function well in the United States, applying this straight-from-the-gut outlook to children is fundamentally flawed. And this attitude, which masquerades as common sense and has been unwittingly co-opted by many legislators, educators and the general public, is hurting all children-- non-English and English-speaking alike.
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Education majors get intercultural classroom experiences

Teachers do a better job if they more completely understand their students' cultures. These teachers are taking special courses to learn about other cultures. - - Donna Poisl

By Asmara Anyan, Staff Writer

In 49 out of 50 states, the population is becoming increasingly diverse through growing numbers of minority groups, according to an article on MSNBC. This demographical development may not only be of interest for sociologists but also for a different group of people - teachers.

“Effective teachers build relationships in the classroom,” said Suzie Henning, intercultural education field placement coordinator. “Strong relationships require an understanding of the culture students are coming from.”

Whitworth offers an education course that specifically aims at developing such cultural awareness.

All elementary and secondary education majors are required to take a practically-oriented class called Field Immersion in Intercultural Education.
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A long way from streets paved with gold

Immigrants, and especially refugees, are often very surprised at how difficult it will be for them to succeed here. Language, jobs, rent, expenses and so much more to contend with. Many wonder if they should have come. - - Donna Poisl

Burmese immigrant finds life far from family and culture has its problems
By SHARON HONG, Staff writer

ALBANY The Burmese young man sat at the small kitchen table in his apartment on Delaware Avenue and stared at an e-mail from his old teacher.

"My dear friend in America," began the letter that wove an account of ramshackle shelters and hungry children. The correspondence arrived unexpectedly from his teacher at the Umpium refugee camp in Thailand.

X, the name he uses, is a member of the Karen tribe that has long been persecuted by the Burmese government. When X was 13, his parents paid a Karen soldier to let their son accompany him to the Thai border. X lived at the camp for seven years. He came to America in August.

Despite the uncertainty of life there, the camp meant rations, shelter, education and the comfort of being with his own people. The e-mail found X dejected and disappointed. He felt powerless to help the people whose plight he knows well.

"They think here I have two, three jobs and lots of money," X said. "They don't know it's hard to live in the U.S."
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Giving a Boost to Hispanic Small Business


The Latino Coalition Quickly Acts to Accelerate Economic Recovery

WASHINGTON, April 16 /PRNewswire-HISPANIC PR WIRE/ -- Amid disheartening news headlines and statistics that chronicle how the present economic downturn is affecting U.S. Hispanics in a more severe way than members of other ethnic groups, the Latino Coalition has been working to ensure recovery comes fast - and equitably - to Hispanics across the nation.

While the national unemployment rate stands at 8.5%, the number for U.S. Hispanics at 10.9%, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Similarly, the percentage of Hispanics losing jobs across several key domestic industries is higher than for other ethnic groups. Lastly, median weekly wages for Hispanic workers are lower than those of their counterparts in other ethnic groups.

One persistently encouraging sign, however, is the dynamic expansion of Hispanic-owned small businesses in America; a trend that started growing at the end of the 90s and has continued throughout this decade. During the early stages of this recent expansion, Hector V. Barreto, Chairman of the Latino Coalition and Administrator Director of the Small Business Administration (2001-2006), was a first-hand witness to the entrepreneurial prowess of Hispanics and to the often uneven playing field' they faced in accessing federal government resources to launch or expand their small businesses and oversaw an unprecedented growth in loans and contracts to all business particularly the emerging Hispanic Market.

Today, as Chairman of the Latino Coalition (TLC) and Chairman of Business
Matchmaking (BMM) - both non-profit, Los Angeles-based organizations - Barreto is committed to ensuring that Hispanic entrepreneurs secure their fair share of the federal government's annual $80 billion in small business contracts and procurement opportunities.

One such opportunity will take place in Washington, DC, on May 6th, 2009, as the Latino Coalition and BMM jointly host a day-long Economic Summit and business matchmaking event. The program is designed to facilitate tangible business opportunities for attendee. In addition, the event will keep Hispanic entrepreneurs informed of key issues that affect their businesses and create one on one meetings between certified small business owners and officials representing over 25 (to date) federal agencies and departments.

"I am grateful for my experience as a business owner and in my tenure at SBA have found a fantastic opportunity to build communities and partnerships for a stronger America," Barreto said. "We look to our DC matchmaking event to be the biggest one we've yet organized, and look forward to welcoming entrepreneurs from all across the nation."

For details on how to register for the Latino Coalition's Washington, DC,
matchmaking event, visit:

Monday, April 13, 2009

Voicing Pain Through Performance

These immigrant kids are coming together and performing their stories. A terrific way for everyone else to find out the difficult lives they lead and what prompted them to come to the U.S. - - Donna Poisl


Standing in a circle, in a windowless classroom near an on-ramp to the Queensboro Bridge, two dozen high school students chanted in unison. Their accents revealed their origins: Honduras, Ghana, Albania, Vietnam.

What are we, why are we, where are we going?

Why are we leaving, what are we doing?

Then, rapid-fire, they spoke the lines they had first uttered in a classroom discussion about displacement and emigration but now were molding into art.

“We had to leave; the rebels took over!” declared Stephanie Saint-Val, from Haiti.

“We left the city for the desert,” Hadeel al-Hindawi, from Iraq, said more shyly.
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Ex-valedictorian hopes for a DREAM come true

The DREAM Act was designed for people exactly like this university graduate. We must work to get it passed. We need these people living here, legally. - - Donna Poisl

Facing possible deportation, she turns to bill that would provide a path to citizenship


SAN ANTONIO — In elementary school, Benita Veliz dreaded substitute teachers. Her classmates would act up and the sub would threaten to call the principal, a prospect so upsetting to Veliz that her regular teacher began placing her in a colleague’s classroom on days the teacher could not make it to class.

Imagine how Veliz, now 23, reacted this January when she was thrown into jail after a traffic stop because she is an unauthorized immigrant.

“To go from that to being in jail was surreal,” Veliz said.

Her parents brought her across the border when she was 8 years old. She worked doggedly in school, graduating valedictorian of her class at Jefferson High School in 2002 and later from St. Mary’s University. She works as a secretary for a church and dreams of going to law school.
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Activists hope to pressure Obama

Everyone wants immigration reform quickly, but we realize the economy has to be taken care of first. Then it will be easier to do the next things. - - Donna Poisl

Tony Castro, Staff Writer

As President Obama prepares for his first trip to Mexico, activists are intensifying the campaign for comprehensive immigration reform that they fear has been shoved to the back burner by the economic slump.

Immigration reform leaders say they were relieved by recent reports that Obama, who will meet with Mexican President Felipe Calderon next week, plans to speak publicly about the issue in May and will press lawmakers from both parties to begin discussing legislation by the fall.

"But we know that good will and promises in this politically charged atmosphere (are) not going to be enough," said Juan Jose Gutierrez, spokesman for the Los Angeles-based Full Rights For Immigrants Coalition.
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Importing a taste of home

A restaurant, famous in Guatemala, has opened their 50th store in this county and this is the way many of us learn about other cultures. A tasty way, too. - - Donna Poisl

Diners flock to new Guatemala fast food franchise in Chelsea

By Maria Sacchetti, Globe Staff

CHELSEA - First and foremost, they come for the chicken. Thousands of hungry customers are pouring into this city from across New England, transforming a quiet corner of Chelsea into a virtual tourist attraction. People are lining up by the hundreds, waiting as long as two hours in the rain, wind, and sun.

After all, this is Pollo Campero.

Last week's arrival of Guatemala's most famous restaurant chain - which means "Country Chicken" in English - is drawing comparisons to the Krispy Kreme doughnut craze almost a decade ago. To astonished outsiders, it looks like just another chicken restaurant. But to Central American immigrants, it is a precious opportunity to be immersed in the tastes, sounds, and smells of a home far away.
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Immigrants help keep Washington's economy strong

This article cites a recent report about immigrants and their contribution to the economy. - - Donna Poisl

Because of the too-often polarizing debate about immigration reform, the real economic contributions that immigrants make are often overlooked. In this guest column, an immigration advocate and a business advocate discuss a new Washington state-specific report that suggests helping immigrants better integrate into society helps everyone.

By Pramila Jayapal and Renee Radcliff Sinclair, Special to The Times

The early experiences of Amalia Cudeiro, Bellevue School District's new school superintendent, mirror the experiences of many foreign-born residents in Washington and across the United States.

Born in Cuba, Cudeiro came to the United States as a child. Her father was an accountant, but because he didn't speak English, he was only able to find work as a dishwasher. Cudeiro gave back to her father — she earned a doctorate from Harvard, built a much-lauded career in education, and today is poised to become the first immigrant school superintendent in a city where one in four residents is foreign-born.

Cudeiro's journey and contributions may be viewed as a microcosm of immigrants across Washington state.
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Friday, April 10, 2009

Emanuel Now a Backer of Immigration Action

The White House Chief of Staff is pushing for immigration reform now that the Hispanic voting bloc is so powerful and the president wants to do it this year. - - Donna Poisl


WASHINGTON -- As the White House gears up to push an immigration overhaul, advocates are finding they have an unexpected ally in White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel.

Mr. Emanuel has long been a voice of caution on easing rules for immigrants, fearing such a position could hurt Democrats at the polls. That stance has antagonized Hispanic lawmakers and activists, who favor a clearer, easier path to citizenship for certain illegal immigrants.

But as chief of staff, Mr. Emanuel has taken concrete steps that are sending a different message. He pushed hard for Congress to act fast on a children's health-insurance bill, including a provision lifting Clinton-era restrictions on benefits for legal immigrant children.
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Thursday, April 09, 2009

Breaking down the language barrier

This ESL class is helping immigrants learn English, they know they need it to get a decent job. - - Donna Poisl

By Collin Smith

Eveline Bacon’s favorite part of the day is teaching English to non-native speakers.

Through coordinating and teaching Integrated Community’s English as a Second Language classes — which began September 2008 — Bacon can reach people directly and see firsthand if her work changes lives for the better.

For some of her students recently, however, change has come, for good and bad, whether they like it or not.

“Most of the husbands (of the women in ESL classes) work in construction, and right now, that’s really slow,” said Bacon, Integrated Community intercultural ESL program manager. “A lot of the husbands are unemployed. The women realize now they need to get a job, learn more English.”
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U.S. citizens caught up in immigration sweeps

Mistaken detentions are increasing and must be terrifying and humiliating to these citizens. They are sometimes held for days before they are believed. - - Donna Poisl

The detentions, which in some cases have nearly led to the deportation of citizens or legal residents, are drawing increased attention.

By Andrew Becker and Patrick J. McDonnell

Reporting from Tacoma, Wash., and Los Angeles -- Rennison Vern Castillo thought his legal troubles were nearly over at the end of a jail stay for harassing his ex-girlfriend. But then a U.S. immigration hold order blocked his release.

"They think you're here illegally," a jailhouse guard said to him.

Castillo, mystified, insisted it was all a mistake. Though born in Belize, he had come of age in South Los Angeles, spoke fluent English, served a stint in the Army and had become an American citizen about seven years earlier.
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Dutch officials visit Dearborn to learn about improving Muslim relations

Michigan has a large Muslim community and officials from The Netherlands are learning from their experience. They want to discover ways to help their own Muslim immigrants to be better accepted. - - Donna Poisl

Gregg Krupa / The Detroit News

Dearborn -- Dutch officials visited the city Wednesday to discern why Muslims are more accepted in the United States than in The Netherlands.

Dutch society is plagued with problems of high unemployment and low integration and participation in the society by Moroccan and some Turkish immigrants. There also are ongoing culture wars between Muslims and the Dutch, including the assassination of the filmmaker Theo van Gogh in 2004 and the production of a film "Fitna," which Muslims criticized as highly intolerant. Amid the social and religious tensions, the Dutch are trying to negotiate the difficulties sometimes caused by free speech and seeking to reassert their long tradition of tolerance and freedom.

Dutch Cabinet Minister Francis Timmermans and an entourage of officials met with 35 local Muslim, Jewish and Christian leaders at the Islamic Center of America, the largest mosque in the country.
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Obama to Push Immigration Bill as One Priority

This is terrific news, we so desperately need immigration reform. - - Donna Poisl


While acknowledging that the recession makes the political battle more difficult, President Obama plans to begin addressing the country’s immigration system this year, including looking for a path for illegal immigrants to become legal, a senior administration official said on Wednesday.

Mr. Obama will frame the new effort — likely to rouse passions on all sides of the highly divisive issue — as “policy reform that controls immigration and makes it an orderly system,” said the official, Cecilia Muñoz, deputy assistant to the president and director of intergovernmental affairs in the White House.

Mr. Obama plans to speak publicly about the issue in May, administration officials said, and over the summer he will convene working groups.
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Why Immigration Reform Now Isn't Such a Bad Idea

This probably is a good time for the administration to do this. Hispanic voters are an important segment of the Democratic party and they should be listened to. - - Donna Poisl

by Dylan Loewe, Democratic political strategist

The New York Times is reporting that the White House intends to jump-start a new debate on immigration reform this year, a move in line with promises made by the president during the campaign season. Not surprisingly, there is some trepidation among Democrats as to whether an issue as thorny as immigration might distract from this year's debate on health care, energy and education.

There are, to be sure, some serious risks in addressing immigration reform during an economic crisis. If the White House fails to persuade the public that immigration reform would have a positive impact on the economy, the president faces presenting Republicans with their first winning issue of 2009. The battle cry from the right will undoubtedly be that Democrats are bringing millions of new workers into an economy short on jobs.

Still, now might be the perfect time to debate the issue.
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Wednesday, April 08, 2009

CNN Series Must Also Highlight African Immigrants

There are over two million immigrants from Africa here and they are asking to be included in all the discussions. - - Donna Poisl

By Martin Mohammed

The U.S.African Chamber of Commerce (USACC) urges CNN to consider including a focus on the growing African immigrant population in the United States within its ongoing "Black in America" series.

Chamber President, Martin Mohammed, has been in contact with Soledad O’Brien to discuss expanding the story about Blacks in America.

Without representing African immigrants, who now number over two million, the story of Blacks in America is incomplete. The USACC believes CNN has a duty and responsibility to tell the whole picture and to tell an accurate one of the many contributions this population is making to the U.S.
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Irish on move again for immigrant rights

These immigrants are seldom heard from, but are as interested in immigration reform as Hispanics and Asians. - - Donna Poisl

Posted by James F. Smith

The campaign on behalf of Irish immigrants in the United States is back on the trail, after a presidential election season that derailed hopes for comprehensive immigration reform in the last couple of years.

The Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform kicked off its renewed campaign with a gathering of a couple hundred people last night in Canton, south of Boston, at the Irish Cultural Centre of New England.

ILIR President Ciaran Staunton says on the lobby's website: "ILIR wants to make sure that this is the last generation of Irish in America that has to listen to a family member's funeral on the telephone. It is our goal that this is the last generation of Irish to be undocumented in America."
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A Plan To Influence And Convince: Strategic Advice For The Legislative Passage Of CIR In 2009

This article gives lots of good reasons for Comprehensive Immigration Reform. - - Donna Poisl

by Robert Gittelson

The President has requested our council regarding strategies for successfully pursuing Comprehensive Immigration Reform, (CIR), this year through Congress. In a recent radio interview on Spanish language radio, he told the interviewer, "get the various immigrant rights groups together and have them start providing some advice in terms of what strategies we're going to pursue in Congress." I, for one, am taking this matter seriously, and taking President Obama at his word.

He has asked for advice, and I have advice, so here it goes. I have been suggesting for the past two years, that both the enforcement-leaning right and the human rights-leaning left, have many more reasons to pass CIR than to reject CIR.
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Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Hundreds honor slain English teacher

This teacher was one of the victims of the horrible shooting in NY last week. She was doing what she loved to do. Friends have asked people to remember her by helping others. - - Donna Poisl


BINGHAMTON - Temple Concord on Riverside Drive was indicative of Roberta King's life. Her heart overflowed, and so did the temple Monday.

About 700 people were in seats and another 200 found space standing on the Temple's stage or next to the entrance for Mrs. King's funeral service. Shiva will be observed from 3 to 8 p.m. today at the Temple.

Mrs. King's brother Joel Badaines of Sydney, Australia, recalled phoning his sister upon hearing 13 people had been gunned down Friday at the American Civic Association on Front Street.
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At Wind of the Spirit, immigrants learn how to fend for themselves

This resource center teaches immigrants how to live in their city and also teaches them English. - - Donna Poisl

by Jamie Duffy

Every Thursday evening, Kevin Dickson arrives at the offices of Wind of the Spirit on Morristown's Market Street with a new English lesson in hand. In a small room about 10 by 12 feet, crammed with 20 plastic school desks and a whiteboard, Dickson teaches basic English to immigrants from Honduras, Mexico and Guatemala.

They are eager students, even though a few are timid to try out these new words. On a recent Thursday, Dickson drew a simple grid on the board with six intersecting streets: First, Second and Third; Main, Green and Broad. Small squares and rectangles represented the library, supermarket, fire and police departments, church, school, bakery and train station.
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Monday, April 06, 2009

Panel urges driving rights for illegal immigrants

There are good arguments on both sides of this issue. It seems that it is more important to have everyone registered and insured, than for them to be here legally. Without a license, they can't get insurance, and many are still driving. - - Donna Poisl

by SAMANTHA HENRY, The Associated Press

NEWARK, N.J. - Alejandro Chavez, an undocumented immigrant from Puebla, Mexico, worked in the apple orchards of Washington state for years, driving to and from work with a valid state motor vehicle license. When he moved to New Jersey seven years ago to work on a Morristown horse farm, he lost his driving privileges. The state told him he couldn't transfer his driver's license because he wasn't a legal U.S. resident.

It's a growing issue in New Jersey and in other parts of the country: Should illegal immigrants, a sizable part of many state economies, be allowed to obtain state driver's licenses?

"We may be undocumented, but we invest a lot into this country," said Chavez, who now pays $10 a day to get a ride to work. "I can understand that many believe we don't deserve any rights at all, but I think it's a better system to have people registered, and their identities verified."
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Editorial: Valuable help for immigrants

Immigrants need all the help they can get to learn English, it is a hard language to learn. Toyota is to be commended for this program. - - Donna Poisl

Language skills: City schools are using a $600,000 Toyota family literacy grant as a positive way to help immigrant families.

by editorial staff

Three city elementary schools are participating in a forward-looking program to help non-English speaking Hispanic students and their parents improve their English language skills.

If the effort matches the success other cities have experienced with the program, it will ease the path toward higher student achievement and ease their parents' path toward assimilation into American society.

Memphis applied for a $600,000 Toyota grant, which is coordinated by the National Center for Family Literacy. The program focuses on the needs of Hispanic and other immigrant families on a nationwide basis.
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Sunday, April 05, 2009

Literacy advocate Billie Pollard of Appleton honored for her lasting efforts

This wonderful woman is being honored for all her years of teaching English and literacy to immigrants. She started in the 1970s and has taught thousands of students. - - Donna Poisl


To longtime literacy advocate Billie Pollard, learning to read, write and talk in English isn't only about books, workbooks and vocabulary drills.

Pollard, 95, started teaching refugees and other immigrants about the English language and American culture in the 1970s, before the Fox Cities had established formal literacy programs.

She would take students to parks to identify trees, to the bakery to watch cake decorators and to the cheese factory to see the cheese-making process. She would get them dancing and exercising. She wanted the U.S. newcomers to relax, interact and enjoy the company of fellow students and the volunteer tutors. Add in other more traditional means of instruction, and the learning would come.

"You don't just read out of a book," said Pollard, a retired teacher who lives in Appleton. "You get out there and you use everything. The idea is to help the people fit into society. That is very important for me."
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Friendship buds through citizenship mentoring

Immigrants and tutors work hard together to learn English and pass the citizenship test and become friends in the process. - - Donna Poisl

Boulder County group first to offer one-on-one tutors

By Amy Bounds

Alejandro Saldana was so nervous about communicating with his limited and shaky English that he often didn't want to leave his Lafayette house after moving here from Mexico two years ago.

"I was afraid to go to the grocery store," he said. "It was hard to be at barbecues and parties and not be able to communicate. It's really frustrating when you want to talk and you cannot."

So he signed up for one-on-one English classes through the Boulder County nonprofit Intercambio de Comunidades, initially meeting tutor Jack Ringel in a bookstore. As a friendship developed, they began meeting at Saldana's home and recently became one of the first Intercambio pairs to add studying for an American citizenship test to their language lessons.
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Bill would help educate children of illegal immigrants

More people in discussion forums in favor of the DREAM Act. We can't afford to let these well educated young people leave our country, we need them to compete in the world. - - Donna Poisl


An increasing number of college graduates have discovered that even a diploma from an Ivy League school can't help them find a job. It's not the right sheet of paper.

Told from childhood that an education would change their lives, many children of undocumented immigrants are now facing disillusionment and worse – deportation – after living in this country most of their lives.

Should their lack of a legal document prevent them from becoming contributing members of our work force?

Scholars, legal experts, business leaders and representatives of community organizations will be addressing the question next week at a Southern Methodist University symposium on the DREAM Act, a bill introduced again last week in Congress.
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Friday, April 03, 2009

Op-Ed: Jews, once strangers, must act to help immigrants

This opinion piece tells why some groups who were once immigrants must help recent immigrants, even in other ethnic groups. They must remember their own experience - - Donna Poisl

By Lauren Bastien ·

ST. PAUL (JTA) -- Remembering is fundamentally important to Jews, from the pre-biblical days to the present. We remember at Purim; we remember at Yom Kippur; we remember on Yom Hashoah. And on Passover, we are commanded to remember when we were strangers in Egypt, our Exodus and subsequent freedom.

As Jews, being the stranger, "ger," is central to our identity. We were told recently in Mishpatim: "And you shall not mistreat a stranger, nor shall you oppress him, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.” Thirty-five more times in the Torah we are reminded to welcome the stranger.

Whether we are newcomers or our families have been here for generations, we must act with the memory of the stranger when we think about how we relate to immigrants today.
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Kerr: The language is the key to everything

These immigrants tell how important learning English is to immigrants who want to succeed here. - - Donna Poisl

By Bob Kerr

The phrase is pronounced “come on” or something close to that. It means “thank you” and I tried to use it as much as possible during the two-week visit. But there were those times when I could tell I had gotten it wrong and I was looking into the face of someone who was looking back at a foreigner who didn’t know the language.

The experience came to mind Wednesday night at the Pawtucket Public Library, where people told of enduring the same experience every day. And they are not here for a visit, as I was in Vietnam in 2003. They are here for the long haul and they know the frustration, confusion and sometimes the anger that comes with looking into the eyes of an American and not being able to make the simplest connection.

There are nine countries represented by the people who meet for language class at the library — Venezuela, Lebanon, Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Colombia, Togo, Mexico, Brazil and Portugal.
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This couple in Texas is being celebrated for all the work they do to teach English to immigrants. We need more people like them. --- Donna Poisl

By Dan Garcia

This week's Texoma's treasure is a couple who have influenced hundreds of lives. They're Dean and Scottie Eastwood and they've been helping immigrants learn how to speak english for nearly 30 years.

Dean directs a program at Lamar Baptist Church in Wichita Falls called english is a second langauge. Her husband Scottie, uses his talents to teach.
With the help of other volunteer teachers, the Eastwoods are providing a sense of belonging and self confidence among their students.

"We hope they can cope with everyday life here. To think about being able to go to the grocery store and doctor and cope with accidents. There's just so many things that's a problem if you don't know the language."

Oldest US Latino rights group to meet in Mass.

LULAC has decided to include more people and more areas of the country. They want to expand to include more than just Mexican Americans and want to bring more women in too. - - Donna Poisl

By RUSSELL CONTRERAS, Associated Press Writer

BOSTON — It's the country's oldest U.S. Latino civil rights group. Its members were behind key Supreme Court battles and famously hosted President John F. Kennedy in Houston, Texas the night before he was assassinated.

Since 1929, the League of United Latin American Citizens has remained largely active in the American Southwest and Midwest, where the bulk of the nation's Mexican-American population has historically resided.

But this weekend the civil rights group known as LULAC will host a women's conference in Boston. It will be its first ever national conference in New England.
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Hispanic Women Soar to Leadership Positions

Immigrants are almost always entrepreneurial and good business people. Hispanic women are upwardly mobile. Read this whole story and see how they succeeded. - - Donna Poisl

by Rob

With the economy in a tailspin, news of financial calamity is everywhere.

Major banks are failing, car manufacturers are floundering and real-estate values are tumbling. Lost in the blizzard of doom-and-gloom tales are the stories of a group of people who, through hard work, ingenuity and perseverance, continue a quiet and steady march towards progress.

Such is the story of Hispanic women in America.

Every April, in celebration of the sometimes gravity-defying strides made by Hispanic women, recognizes the significant achievements and advancements made by Hispanic women in America.
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Thursday, April 02, 2009

In Rural Wisconsin, German Reigned For Decades

People who insist that all past immigrants immediately learned English should study their history. This town is a perfect example, it was settled by English and Irish, then German immigrants arrived in the mid 1800s. These immigrants kept their language for generations. - - Donna Poisl

by Jennifer Ludden, NPR

All Things Considered, April 1, 2009 · In the contentious debate over immigration, critics often assert that immigrants and their children aren't learning English as quickly as previous waves of newcomers did. But did European migrants of yore really assimilate quickly?

You might be surprised if you explore that question in the tiny town of Hustisford, Wis., an hour west of Milwaukee. There, local members of the town's historical society can give you a tour of the well-appointed, two-story white frame house of the town's founder, an Irishman from New York named John Hustis.
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New Jersey Governor Corzine Supports DREAMs and Other Pro-Immigrant Measures

New Jersey Governor Corzine also supports the DREAM Act, a nice step toward immigration reform on a federal level. - - Donna Poisl


On Monday, New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine’s state panel on immigrant policy revealed a decidedly progressive set of recommendations.

For example, Corzine supports undocumented students being able to pay in-state tuition at the state’s public colleges much like the DREAM Act.

Corzine said most of New Jersey’s immigrants are in the state legally, and that the children of the state’s estimated 400,000 illegal immigrants; “are not here because they chose to be, but because of their families, and they should not be discriminated against.”
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A Rush for Work Visas Even as Demand Dips

Partly because of the backlog from last year, the H-1B visas requests will still not fill all the positions open. Our country is lacking in highly educated and skilled workers in certain industries and we need these foreign workers, even in the present economy. - - Donna Poisl


The yearly scramble by employers for temporary visas for foreign scientists and technology engineers started on Wednesday, with immigration authorities expecting fewer new petitions this year because of the recession and because of new restrictions on financial companies that received emergency federal aid.

For five business days beginning Wednesday, Citizenship and Immigration Services will accept petitions for the temporary visas known as H-1B for the 2010 fiscal year, which begins Oct. 1. In recent years, visa limits were reached in the first days of the application period.

Over the weekend, employers like Microsoft and Cisco Systems rushed to send petitions by express mail and courier services so they would reach the agency when it opened Wednesday.
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Free local program teaches English, provides resources for immigrants

Immigrants and refugees all know they have to learn English, but it is a very difficult language. These free classes are helping as many as they can. - - Donna Poisl

by Zeynep Memecan

“Do you want to repeat?” asks Norma Elliott, enunciating each word slowly with a special emphasis on the final “t.” She is addressing five students who have just completed watching a movie specially made for English learners. Elliott runs workshop sessions at the Riverside Language Program, which has offered classes at its home in Riverside Church for 30 years to provide free classes in ESOL —English for Speakers of Other Languages—for more than 200 adults.

The program draws immigrants and refugees who speak about 30 different languages and represent more than 50 countries. Among them are homeless people and victims of human trafficking and torture. Some, because of customs, poverty, or war, have never gone to school. Others have the equivalent of doctorate degrees in their native countries. The youngest student is 17 and the oldest is 70. All have legal status and a desire to learn English as quickly as possible.
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Quick action for immigrants in Jersey

Here is a small step that makes us think immigration reform on a large scale might not be far behind. - - Donna Poisl

Opinion, El Diario NY

Governor Jon Corzine’s support of sensible policies towards immigrants is a welcomed response in a state where municipalities have attempted to chase out immigrant workers and families. These municipalities must also have a clear directive on the role of local law enforcement.

On Monday, a panel Corzine established in 2007 delivered policy and legislative recommendations for integrating immigrants. There was a clear need for that significant groundwork. In the Garden State, towns like Riverside attempted to enact punitive ordinances against landlords who rented to undocumented immigrants. Hate groups have targeted immigrants and day laborers continue to suffer harassment.

With the exception of a driver’s license policy, Corzine has expressed overall support of the recommendations. While the timeline for implentation is not clear, many of these recommendations warrant immediate action.
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Anti-immigrant view hurts state

Many people do not realize that when an area is anti-immigrant, it carries over into all aspects of the community. It even stops new businesses from moving there. - - Donna Poisl

Georgia must be hospitable to people to bring new jobs

By Jerry Gonzalez, For the Journal-Constitution

Our Legislature is intent on passing bills that would make Georgia significantly less competitive for foreign investment. Measures like Senate Bill 67, which would make English the language for driver’s license exams and eliminate other languages, only serve to diminish Georgia’s competitiveness on the global market.

On the surface, the legislation is being pushed as a “public safety” issue because people should be able to read road signs in English. But Georgia conducts tests for people who are illiterate by reading the exams to the drivers.

In January 2009, the city of Nashville voted against an English-only referendum because it would send the wrong message about Nashville’s hospitality. Obviously, Nashville’s elected officials and community leaders wanted to ensure they remain competitive for foreign investment.
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