Friday, November 29, 2013

On Thanksgiving: What Immigrants Bring to Our Shores

This writer came to the US 26 years ago and writes his thoughts for Thanksgiving.    - - Donna Poisl

This week, a local news reporter called me. He was doing a Thanksgiving-themed piece on people who had washed up here in our coastal New England town from other countries (a la pilgrims). He was looking for local expatriates or immigrants who had  ”done well.”

This last qualifier made me think. Done well.

I arranged to meet the reporter for an evening interview at one of our local diners. There, over a cup of hot tea, I gave dates and years and reasons for leaving Ireland, followed by my motivations for staying in the U.S. of A.
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Russian-speaking immigrants in Oregon: A historical explainer

Immigrants often settle in an area because it reminds them of home, then more come to form communities.    - - Donna Poisl

By Melissa Binder

Why was Oregon so popular among Russian-speaking immigrants that they grew to represent one of Portland's largest immigrant groups?

Because it looks like home, said Tatiana Osipovich, a professor of Russian at Lewis & Clark College, and because it has lots of farmland. Slavic immigrants were able to grow most of their native crops in the Northwest climate, she said, and it was comforting to be able to eat traditional food so far away from home.

Portland provided jobs, she said, but was small enough and close enough to farmland that the immigrant groups were able to establish their own communities. They still tend to live close together.
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Illegal Immigrants Are Divided Over Importance of Citizenship

Many undocumented immigrants are not insisting on citizenship, they want legal residency in the US, so they can work and live peacefully.    - - Donna Poisl


Glendy Martínez is waiting anxiously to see if Congress will ever pass legislation to allow immigrants like her, without papers, to stay in the country legally. But frankly, she says, she does not care if it will include any promise of citizenship.

With the earnings from her job in a Houston hair salon, Ms. Martínez, 30, is supporting one child born in Texas and three others she left behind in her home country, Nicaragua.

“So many people back there depend on those of us who are here,” she said. “It would be such a help if we could work in peace and go back sometimes to see our children.”
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In novel Maryland program, children help parents learn English

This program helps the parents learn English and at the same time helps the kids fine-tune their English.   - - Donna Poisl

By ZAINAB MUDALLAL Capital News Service

ASPEN HILL — Playing the role of the teacher is not a game of dress-up for 10-year-old Giselle Jimenez. Her English is stronger than her mother’s, Maricela Cabrera, 35, who often needs Giselle’s guidance on homework assigned in a family literacy class they are taking together.

Cabrera and Giselle are teaming up to learn English in a course offered by the Literacy Council of Montgomery County, a novel, intergenerational approach to helping adults with low levels of literacy learn English, by making their children the teachers.
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Demand Grows for Classes in English Slang

Before you are really fluent in a language, you must learn the local street talk and you can only learn it there.   - - Donna Poisl

by Elizabeth Lee

LOS ANGELES — Many people who learn English as a second language think they have a good grasp of it until they watch an American TV show or speak to someone from the United States and realize there's a lot they don’t understand. Some are actually coming to the U.S. to learn American slang, since it's rarely taught in textbooks back home.

Most people come to Venice Beach seeking sun and entertainment, but for Hussain al Shahri of Saudi Arabia and his classmates, the beach is a classroom.

Their teachers are strangers they meet by the beach.
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At Catherine McAuley Center, English helps immigrants find jobs, settle in

This center has one-on-one tutoring for their students. Volunteers teach the immigrants English and help them pass their citizenship tests.   - - Donna Poisl

by Hayley Bruce

After being in the United States for more than eight years, 41-year-old Francoise Kasine said she feels more at home  in Cedar Rapids than she does in her former home country of Rwanda.

And for that, she credits her English tutor, Ann Sullivan, and the services provided by the Catherine McAuley Center in Cedar Rapids where she’s worked with a tutor to help get her citizenship and learn English.

The Cedar Rapids resident came to the United States with her husband and three children after 11 years of moving around the world in an attempt to get into America and escape genocide in Rwanda.
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Horowitz: New Generation of Latinos Fit Familiar Immigrant Pattern

Immigrants are assimilating as fast as they have in the past, Univision's new cable channel proves the point.   - - Donna Poisl

Rob Horowitz, GoLocalWorcester MINDSETTER™

Contrary to the rhetoric and scare tactics of some opponents of comprehensive immigration reform, Latinos are following the typical immigrant pattern of rapid assimilation into American culture. Univision’s recent launch of Fusion, an English language cable channel whose target audience is young Latinos, is a case in point. It is a market response to the fact that most young Latinos watch television in English. A new analysis conducted by the PEW Hispanic Center finds that 90% of Latinos ages 18 to 29 who get their news from television do so in English. There are similar percentages for entertainment viewing.
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Sunday, November 24, 2013

Jewish and Latino communities share history, goals in Tucson

In the 1800s Jewish migrants came to Tucson and lived among the Mexican people already here. Both groups are working now on common issues and to make the city better.     - - Donna Poisl

By Ernesto Portillo Jr.

When Tucson passed from Mexican to American hands in the mid-1800s, newcomers began to flow from the East. Not all of them spoke English, either. Some spoke Yiddish or an Eastern European language.

Staking their future in Tucson, which was a very Mexican town, the new migrants shared space with the Spanish-speaking families, many of whom had migrated generations before. Both communities found common ground in the dusty streets of the Old Pueblo.

Today a small group of Jewish and Latino Tucsonans want to re-stake their historical common ground by starting a new dialogue, a new relationship that will lead them to working on common issues and a better understanding of Latino and Jewish cultures and issues.
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Friday, November 22, 2013

A quick note about our friends fasting on the National Mall

from American Immigration Council

Dear Friends:

For the past 11 days and counting, a group of immigration reform supporters have gone without any food or drink (except for water), participating in what they are calling the "Fast for Families."  Their dedication and personal sacrifice is inspiring, and has captured the attention of members of Congress, Vice President Joe Biden, Gloria Steinem and others who stopped by to talk with them and hear their stories.

When I visited their tent on the National Mall, I could see the toll that their sacrifice was having on their bodies, but was amazed at how their spirits seem lifted by their cause.  I couldn’t help but stand in awe of their dedication and ask myself, am I really doing all I can to change the immigration policies that are causing great pain and suffering in our nation?

As we approach the Thanksgiving Holiday, I hope you will join me in challenging yourself with the same question and sending the fasters the love and support they deserve.

You can reach them via Facebook at on Twitter using hashtag #Fast4Families or via the web at

Thank you for your kindness,
Ben Johnson

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Walking for reform: Immigrants begin NJ pilgrimage to gather support

Supporters of immigration reform are walking across New Jersey, with more joining them every day.    - - Donna Poisl

Written by William Sokolic, Courier-Post

When her grandfather passed away in Mexico in September, Magali Rodriguez couldn’t be there to say goodbye.

The Bellmawr resident has not seen her grandparents since she entered the United States 20 years ago as an illegal immigrant. She was 3.

“Yet I am not a legal resident,” she said Monday outside Camden’s Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, where she joined more than two dozen others for the start of a nine-day pilgrimage in support of national immigration reform.

Without such reform, Rodriguez likely would be detained if she went to Mexico and tried to re-enter the U.S.
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Immigration Laws Should Reflect Our Values, Not Politics Or Fears

We all come from immigrants, but many have forgotten that.   - - Donna Poisl


A few days ago I stood with immigrants and faith leaders at the foot of the U.S. Capitol, the site of many rallies for immigration reform in recent years. But we weren't there to rally. Instead, we were gathered to pray and to fast for immigration reform. The next day, I was back at the Capitol, this time helping to deliver more than 11,000 pro-reform postcards to the House of Representatives. These postcards had been gathered by my organization from constituents in all 50 states, and they were in addition to the 10,000 we delivered this past summer.

I find it personally incomprehensible that the fight for comprehensive reform has gone on for so long when everyone agrees that our current system hurts immigrants and our entire nation. It is more than a cliché that we are a nation of immigrants. When did Washington forget that?

Who among us doesn't value our ethnic heritage? Where our parents, grandparents and great-grandparents came from, how they arrived here. We celebrate them in the foods we still eat, the traditions, artifacts and stories we still enjoy. I treasure a plate that belonged to my German grandmother along with the stories of my adventurous great-grandfather who left Spain at age 14 and immigrated to Denver by way of Cuba, where he learned the cigar-rolling trade.
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Obama to Allow Military Immigrant Relatives to Stay in US

More details on the story I just posted.    - - Donna Poisl

By Sandy Fitzgerald

 The Obama administration says illegal immigrants who are relatives of U.S. active military and veterans will no longer be deported, and can apply to stay in the United States.

The move is being made because the government is concerned about the "stress and anxiety" faced by troops whose relatives were in danger of being deported, reports The Washington Times. Further, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration services says veterans have earned the right to keep their relatives in the United States.

“Similarly, our veterans, who have served and sacrificed for our nation, can face stress and anxiety because of the immigration status of their family members in the United States," says an agency memo. " We as a nation have made a commitment to our veterans, to support and care for them. It is a commitment that begins at enlistment, and continues as they become veterans."

The new policy will apply to troops' and veterans' spouses, children and parents, who can apply for parole status that will allow them to stay in the United States in one-year increments that can be renewed by the USCIS.
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US offers reprieve to illegal immigrants with military relatives

 This is good news, at least for some of our undocumented residents.  - - Donna Poisl

from the Jamaica Observer

WASHINGTON (CMC) – The United States has offered a reprieve to illegal Caribbean and other immigrants who are close relatives of active military troops and veterans by allowing them to stay in the country and move towards becoming permanent residents.

After deliberating for over three years, the US Department of Homeland Security said in a memorandum that the new policy seeks to appease troops who are concerned that their immigrant family members could be deported while they were deployed.
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Children of Hispanic immigrants face unique religious challenges

This would solve two problems; get more volunteers helping poor people and more young people into churches.    - - Donna Poisl

By Matthew Brown, Deseret News National Edition

Father Arturo Banuelas has a solution for the growing number of Catholic young adults leaving the church: Get them to care about and serve others.

"What happens is that begins to change the way you see religion," Banuelas said of the youths of the St. Pius X Parish in El Paso, Texas, who give service in the impoverished Sierra Mountains of Mexico.

Caring for the poor opens the door to meaningful Bible study and teaching of Catholic doctrines, which lead to a deep, personal and longlasting commitment to their faith, said Banuelas, who has been pastor over the parish since 1988.
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Why Faith Groups Are Rallying Behind Immigration Reform

Marches for immigration reform are becoming more common and maybe they will help.   - - Donna Poisl

By Jack Jenkins

As Rabbi Jason Kimelman-Block marched toward the U.S. Capitol Building on a cloudy afternoon this October, he said he felt “a little nervousness.” Walking arm-in-arm with dozens of other faith leaders and surrounded by thousands of chanting protestors—some holding signs that read “People of faith for immigrant justice!”—Kimelman-Block suddenly realized he might be arrested for the first time in his life.

“I’d never done this before,” Kimelman-Block said. “People were cheering and chanting, and it felt like folks were making a big sacrifice for the larger cause. It felt very powerful.”

His inaugural act of civil disobedience was part of the “Camino Americano: March for Immigrant Dignity and Respect,” a massive day of action that gathered thousands in Washington, D.C. to pressure Congress into passing sweeping immigration reform that would create a viable pathway to citizenship for America’s more than 11 million undocumented immigrants.
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Can Obama legalize 11 million immigrants on his own?

Many people suggest this; here is the full explanation.   - - Donna Poisl

By Brad Plumer

It's now looking extremely unlikely that Congress will enact immigration reform this year. And that raises a question: Could President Obama use his executive powers to effectively legalize some of the 11 million undocumented immigrants already in the United States?

This possibility has actually been raised several times before. Back in August, Sen. Marco Rubio warned House Republicans that if they don't pass a bill, Obama will act on his own: "I believe that this president will be tempted, if nothing happens in Congress," Rubio said, "to issue an executive order as he did for the Dream Act kids a year ago, where he basically legalizes 11 million people by the sign of a pen."

It's not just Rubio. Immigration reform advocates have been quietly discussing the possibility of executive action on legalization as a "Plan B" if the bill dies. (The White House, for its part, has shown no signs of contemplating any such move.)
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Immigration reform needed now, say backers

Agricultural groups need workers and are urging Congress to act now on immigration reform.     - - Donna Poisl

Christine Souza, California Farm Bureau Federation 

If immigration reform is to happen, it must be now: That's the message supporters of immigration reform continue to send to members of Congress. Agricultural groups and other organizations say they intend to continue to put pressure on lawmakers to pass comprehensive reform, to follow up on momentum created by a "fly-in" event in Washington, D.C.

"We need to keep telling our representatives the importance of passing real reform. Otherwise, legislators will think its OK if they wait—and if they wait, that could be for four to seven years or more until it is addressed again," said Rayne Pegg, manager of the California Farm Bureau Federation Federal Policy Division. "Legislators are in their districts, so share your stories with the message that reform must happen."
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Immigration reform's failure could cost GOP

This story is playing out in many states, immigration reform is needed for many reasons.   - - Donna Poisl

By Brana Vlasic, California News Service

WASHINGTON -- The House's failure to pass immigration reform could create political trouble for a growing number of Republican representatives from districts with sharply rising Latino and Asian populations.

The problem is especially apparent in California, where Latino and Asian populations in Republican districts are triple the national average. Both groups gave President Obama more than 70 percent of their votes in 2012.

In four California districts, the 2012 election results were so close the incumbents' margin of victory is smaller than the projected number of new eligible Latino and Asian voters turning 18 by 2014, according to an analysis by Tom Wong, a political science professor at UC San Diego.

As the number of voting age Latinos and Asians grows, there is mounting political pressure on Republicans to support an immigration measure that would create a path to citizenship for some of the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants.
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Colingo Unveils New Online School to Help Students Speak English Through Live and Authentic Classes

Company Announces $2.4 Million Funding Round Led by Atlas Venture


SAN FRANCISCO, Nov. 20, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- To help English-learners worldwide stop struggling and start speaking English, Colingo today launched a live, online English school with teacher-led group videochat classes, personalized skills-training and private tutoring. Colingo also announced that it has completed a $2.4 million round of funding.  Led by Atlas Venture, 500 Startups, Morado Ventures, Crosslink Capital, Havoc Capital, Social Leverage participated in the round. Noted angel investors Ben Ling, Ted Rheingold and Chegg Founder Aayush Phumbhra also invested.

Through its live video classes, Colingo provides a personalized path to English fluency for global professionals who have a basic understanding of English, but lack the confidence and skills to speak in conversational settings. Offered 24 hours a day, Colingo's classes blend authentic conversation about contemporary topics with structured skills training and assessment of over 70 core grammar and pronunciation skills. An average class size of three to five provides an intimate, low-pressure environment where students can gain comfort and confidence while improving core skills and receiving feedback.

"For many professionals today, it's critical that they are fluent in English to excel at their jobs," said Dustin Dolginow of Atlas Venture. "I am thrilled to support the company opening the doors of potential for those who may not have otherwise had the chance to learn to speak English at the levels they need to succeed and compete in the global economy."

Colingo joins Harvard by offering students Small Private Online Classes (SPOC) rather than the Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) offerings that are popular today.  With MOOC dropout rates approaching 90%, largely due to lack of interpersonal interaction, SPOCs group classes with instructors.  "We're getting our students to stop studying and start speaking," says founder and CEO Benjamin Lowenstein. "You don't learn to ride a bike by watching a video."

"Created by the teacher, each class is new and unique, and in contrast to most schools we never run the same class twice," said Lowenstein. "An hour on Colingo isn't just aimless talking; it's an hour of immersive practice focused on a core skill, tied into a larger learning path."

After a 7-day free trial, classes are available through a contract-free $50 a month subscription, which allows students to attend unlimited classes at a price lower than most offline English schools. For students craving more personal attention from teachers than the group classes provide, the company is now launching its personal teacher program. Students who choose this plan receive a weekly hourlong one-on-one lesson with a dedicated teacher in addition to access to the group classes. Working with Colingo's proprietary personal-teaching curriculum, the personal teacher acts as a learning coach to help the student craft a personalized study plan through a live assessment of their skills. Personal teachers can also help students with specific areas of interest, such as TOEFL test prep or improving business English skills. The teacher also acts as a motivational coach to help students stay focused on overcoming their obstacles, and is available to answer questions anytime via email. The Personal Teacher plan costs $150 a month and is launching today.

About Colingo
Colingo was founded in 2011 to break down barriers to personal, social, and economic opportunities by teaching people around the world to speak English. The company has taught over 12,000 hours of teacher-led small group videochat English classes to students from more than 180 countries.  For additional information visit

SOURCE Colingo

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Culture shock: Adjusting to a new life in America

Every immigrant has a story, this is about a high school student who moved to North Dakota.    - - Donna Poisl

 By ABIGAIL WU | Century Star

BISMARCK, N.D. — The foreign halls are filled with throngs of people. Peals of laughter echo off the walls as friends chat while trekking toward their next class. As she glances around apprehensively, she cannot help but feel slightly mournful for the past, for the familiar.

Junior Zhang Jie moved to Bismarck from Nanning, Guangxi, China, in September.

"There's 60,000 people here," Zhang said. "And in the city I'm from there is 6,000,000 people."

Zhang moved to Bismarck with her mother, Meiying Edin, to join Charles Edin, now Meiying's husband.
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Learning English and Braille, teen takes on many challenges

Not much to say, except "Wow!"   - - Donna Poisl

By: Jennifer Johnson, Grand Forks Herald

Jyoti Rai sat slightly hunched over a table Wednesday at Red River High School, fingers clutching a small stylus as she rapidly nicked a piece of paper clasped between two plastic slates.

After a few moments, the ninth-grader removed the paper and flipped it over, running her fingers over the top to check her work. Rai, who was born in a Nepalese refugee camp, is blind and has been using the Braille slate for the past eight years.

Rai represents the district’s first blind English language learner student and is one of a growing number of refugees, particularly ethnic Nepalese from Bhutan, who have been attending area schools. The district has added about 28 refugee students each year since 2008, according to last year’s annual district report.
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The Benefits of Bilingualism, Do American schools need to change?

Let's hope MANY more people will ask this question and come to the same answer.  - - Donna Poisl

By Rhianna LaValla, Staff Writer

Over the course of my short time here at NDSU, I have met quite a few new people. I would say a good half of them speak a foreign language. Why only half you might ask? Well, those people that speak a foreign language usually come from somewhere other than the United States. The other half is from the United States.

Most countries in Europe require students to start learning another language in grade school. I have a friend, Caroline, who lives in Germany and she started learning English and Italian in second grade. So why do we not do this in America, supposedly one of the most educated first world countries? I know it would have been much easier to learn a language when I was young compared to now. I took three years of Latin in high school and suffered through every minute of it.
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What's it like to help others learn English in Central Minnesota?

This teacher uses her own experiences to help her students learn English.    - - Donna Poisl

Written by Frank Lee

WAITE PARK — Janet Schleper sometimes struggles to communicate, so she knows what it’s like for those who live in Minnesota but were not born in the U.S.

The 57-year-old from St. Cloud had a stroke when she was 3, but she now volunteers as an English as a Second Language tutor at Discovery Community School in Waite Park.

Schleper volunteers several hours a day and several days a week helping those whose native language is not English improve their language skills.

“I talk with them, and if they don’t understand a word, then we use picture books where I look for the word and then explain it to them,” she said. “I help them with their homework. Another day, I might be helping them with their ABCs.”
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The National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators Announces Newly Elected Leadership for 2014-2015


WASHINGTON, Nov. 20, 2013 /PRNewswire-HISPANIC PR WIRE/ -- The Nominations Committee of the National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators (NHCSL) announce the newly-elected leadership for 2014 – 2015. NHCSL members present at the Annual Meeting on November 16, 2013 in Orlando, Florida, elected the following candidates to serve as members of NHCSL's Leadership Board:

President:  Senate President Eduardo Bhatia (PR)
First Vice President: Representative Angel Cruz (PA)
Vice President for Public Policy: Representative Catherine Miranda (AZ)
Vice President for Membership: Representative Mark Archuleta Wheatley (UT)
Parliamentarian: Senator Carmelo Ríos Santiago (PR)
Secretary: Assemblyman Jose Rivera (NY)
Treasurer: Representative Juan Candelaria (CT)

"From the streets of Los Angeles to the public schools of the Bronx, there is no state of the Union where Latinos are not becoming local leaders and responsible politicians. NHCSL unites the collective energy, leadership and experiences necessary to shape the future of our country. Our time is now, and I look forward to working with the newly elected leadership team to execute this mission," expressed NHCSL President, Senator Eduardo Bhatia (PR).

This newly elected leadership team will serve for two years. The NHCSL Officers are charged with representing the organization's member constituencies and serving as the voice of over 350 Hispanic state legislators across the country. Representative Minnie Gonzalez (CT) will continue to serve on the leadership team as Immediate Past President.

The NHCSL is the premier national association of Hispanic state legislators working to design and implement policies and procedures that will improve the quality of life for Hispanics throughout the country. NHCSL was founded in 1989 as a nonpartisan, nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization with the mission to be the most effective voice for the more than 340 Hispanic legislators. For more information visit

SOURCE  National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators

CONTACT: Jackie Bado, 202-434-8070

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Speaker Boehner Ignores the Costs of Doing Nothing

For Immediate Release

November 14, 2013
Washington D.C. - Yesterday, Speaker of the House John Boehner reassured the far-right wing of the Republican Party and anti-immigrant activists that he would never agree to a conference to hammer out an agreement on a House immigration bill and S. 744, the Senate’s bipartisan immigration bill that passed in June. While that statement may have been reassuring to a few die-hard anti-immigration reform activists, it had the opposite effect for the vast majority of Americans. The Speaker’s statement does not stop the clock on the economic, social, and societal costs of doing nothing on immigration. It also does not honor the hard work of Democrats and Republicans who have worked in good faith to pass the Senate bill and negotiate on various fronts in the House.  

However, what Speaker Boehner's statement does do is open the door to more protests and public outrage, encourage states to continue to take the lead on immigration policy and leave the administration in the difficult situation of deciding how long they will let Congressional inaction continue before they will intervene. When Congress refuses to act they make themselves less relevant and reinforce the idea that they cannot work constructively to fix our nation's most pressing problems.

Thus, rather than tamp down the flames of reform, the Speaker’s statements will embolden those who will work to fix immigration policy on their own - for better or worse. It’s inevitable that immigration reform will happen it’s just a matter of how much our economy, communities, and the Republican Party will lose in the meantime.


For press inquiries contact, Wendy Feliz at or 202-812-2499
Newly Released Calculator and Fact Sheets Explain Obamacare in Spanish


WASHINGTON, Nov. 15, 2013 /PRNewswire-HISPANIC PR WIRE/ -- The Kaiser Family Foundation today launched a new Spanish-language consumer resource center to explain how the Affordable Care Act (ACA) may impact individuals and families throughout the United States.

The center features a new Spanish-language subsidy calculator, which allows consumers to estimate health insurance premiums and tax credits within the ACA marketplaces according to their zip code, income, family size, age and tobacco use. Organizations and individuals are welcome to embed the calculator on their websites for free.

Also featured on the new consumer resources center are Spanish versions of the Foundation's "Obamacare and You" fact sheets: "Obamacare y Usted." These short explanations provide an overview of what the health law means for people who are uninsured, have a pre-existing condition, buy insurance on their own, obtain coverage through an employer, qualify for Medicaid, have Medicare, or are women. The Spanish-language consumer resources page also features the Foundation's newest animated video, "Los YouToons Se Preparan Para Obamacare," which can be embedded or downloaded for free.

The Spanish-language resource center can be found at All of the Foundation's Spanish-language materials can also be found on the Foundation's website in English.

SOURCE  Kaiser Family Foundation

Contact: Amanda Keammerer, (202) 347-5270,, Victoria Chao, (650) 854-9400,
Help Keep the FACTS in the Immigration Debate

The latest news from Congress has confirmed the path to immigration reform is not going to be easy or straightforward. However, the debate will continue in Congress, in the news and in your community, and as it does, the opportunity for fear and misinformation to derail the conversation will be constant.

Protecting immigration reform from harmful external influences requires extreme diligence.  The American Immigration Council is embedded in the education, law and policy worlds and is dedicated to the task of keeping this debate on course by promoting the FACTS.

But we need your help!  Click here to help us keep the FACTS in the immigration debate.

We are working to amplifying your voice... the FACTS on immigration... through:

* comprehensive research,
* cutting-edge litigation,
* thoughtful lesson plans,
* strategic op-eds,
* instructive practice advisories,
* timely blog postings and
* targeted state and district fact sheets

There is no room for complacency. The American Immigration Council is working every day to get the facts into the hands of the people who can make the most impact and guide the conversation down a path that will not only improve our country's immediate economic future, but protect our country's best asset: our rich cultural diversity, for generations to come.

The American Immigration Council's multi-faceted approach has been the foundation of our mission for over 26 years.  Help us continue this mission in 2014 and keep the immigration debate on course and fueled by the facts! Donate today and help us toward our year-end goal of $75,000.

Thank you in advance for your support.

Best wishes,
Ben Johnson, Executive Director, American Immigration Council

Thursday, November 14, 2013

NHCLC Head Calls for Unprecedented Activism to Urge Leaders to Pass Immigration Reform 


During Justice Summit Next Week, Dr. Samuel Rodriguez and NHCLC will ask Congress for commitment to Immigration reform in early 2014

SACRAMENTO, California, Nov. 14, 2013 /PRNewswire-HISPANIC PR WIRE/ -- After House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) said today that the House will not go to conference on the Senate-passed immigration bill, signaling that Immigration reform will not move forward in 2013, Dr. Samuel Rodriguez, president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference (NHCLC), the nation's largest Christian Hispanic organization representing more than 40,000 churches, made the following statement:

"I am extremely disappointed in today's comments that immigration reform will not move forward this year, but I am committed now more than ever to this cause and will do everything in my power to ignite an unprecedented prophetic activism movement to force the hand of our leaders to remain steadfast in passing comprehensive immigration reform. Reform is necessary to save 11 million lives and heal broken communities across this country.

"Next week, the NHCLC will be hosting a Justice Summit in the Washington, D.C., metro area and immigration reform will be one of the highest priorities. We will be going to the Hill seeking a commitment from the Republican leadership to pass comprehensive immigration reform in early 2014."

Rodriguez last week announced that he would be fasting beginning Nov. 5 for 40 days to help ensure immigration reform is passed. Believing immigration reform is as much a religious issue as it is a policy, Rodriguez and NHCLC leaders have been actively rallying support from the Evangelical Christian community, which was once hesitant to embrace reform but now believes it is necessary to heal communities, usher in peace and promote righteousness and justice.

In order to join together, amplify influence and find solutions for some of the most pressing issues in our nation, the NHCLC is hosting a multi-cultural Justice Summit focusing on protecting human rights and dignity Nov. 18-19 in Arlington, Va. The Summit, which is open to the public, will feature political, social and educational experts. On Tuesday, Nov. 19, Summit attendees will lobby Congress on justice issues, including immigration, as part of the conference, and a Congressional Luncheon will be held with various leaders confirmed to join including House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA), Eliot Engel (D-NY), Debbie Wasserman-Schultz (D-FL) and Trent Franks (R-AZ).

The National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, the nation's largest Christian Hispanic organization, emphasizes "seven directives" of Life, Family, Compassionate Evangelism, Stewardship, Justice, Education and Youth. For additional information, visit


CONTACT: Matti Stevenson, 1-719-360-0586,; Kristin Cole,

Monday, November 11, 2013

When Skilled Immigrants Have Other Options

Several countries are competing for skilled immigrants and the US does not always win them.    - - Donna Poisl

By Paul Feltman

Would it surprise you to know that most potential immigrants don't want to come to America? A worldwide poll conducted by Gallup shows that while more than 600 million individuals want to emigrate, the United States is not where most of them want to go.

In fact, more than three-quarters of respondents—77 percent—named a country outside the U.S. as their top-choice destination. Often they chose to go somewhere close, but when the sky's the limit, their answers reflect a stark new reality: The U.S. is no longer the default option for ambitious young immigrants, including those trained as engineers, doctors, and other professionals.Paul Feltman is director of Global Talent Bridge initiative, a nonprofit that works to integrate and credential skilled workers from other nations who want to pursue their career in the U.S. 

Instead, we're competing for their attention and talent. Countries like Canada, Australia, and even Germany are proactively encouraging skilled workers to choose their nations for a new home. These countries often sweeten the pot by offering services to help new arrivals find jobs and become integrated.
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Immigration Statistics Fast Facts

Here are the numbers and a timeline.   - - Donna Poisl

By CNN Library

(CNN) -- Here's a look at what you need to know about U.S. immigration statistics.
Immigration Statistics:
2012 - U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement removes 409,849 undocumented immigrants.

2011 - The estimated number of undocumented immigrants in the U.S. is 11.5 million.
The undocumented immigrant population grew by 27% between 2000 and 2009.
59% of undocumented immigrants are from Mexico.
2.8 million undocumented residents live in California, while 1.8 million reside in Texas.
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Immigrants Comprise Significant Share of NYC Economy

Interesting piece about NYC and its immigrants and the Mayor-elect.   - - Donna Poisl

By Genevieve Belmaker, Epoch Times

NEW YORK—The economic power of immigrants in the largest city in the United States is unquestionable. A report released on Nov. 7 by State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli’s office shows that New York City immigrants have not only rebounded from the recession, but are also earning more now than they did two years ago.

“New York City is very important to the strength of New York state,” said DiNapoli, who added that his own grandparents immigrated to the city from a small Italian village. His comments were made during a press event in New York City on the same day the report was released.

He also touched on the long-term strength of immigrant communities. From 2000 to 2011, the areas of the city with the highest immigrant populations had the most economic growth, according to DiNapoli.
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Ken Braun: Keeping immigrants out keeps job creation down

Here is another piece telling how immigration reform and more immigrants will help our economy.    - - Donna Poisl

By Ken Braun

A recent column in this space about immigration reform created an unusual bipartisanship among some of  those commenting from both Left and Right.

From the Right came fears about immigrants thieving away jobs from Americans already here. Supposedly it’s just a Presidential plot to bring in more Democratic-leaning voters.

Those on the Left said I was supporting a big corporation plot to bring in cheap labor and put American workers on the streets. It was identical to the Right-wing fears, save for the alleged motive being “profits over people” rather than Presidential politics.
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‘As mayor, I see the contributions of immigrants’

This big-city mayor knows how important immigrants are to his and all cities.  - - Donna Poisl

By Mayor Rahm Emanuel

In Chicago on Wednesday, 300 community members, including elected officials, stood in front of local immigration offices on Congress Parkway, demanding a stop to deportations and a House of Representatives vote on comprehensive immigration reform. More than 100 of them took to the streets for peaceful acts of civil disobedience, and it’s happening not just in Chicago. In the last month there have been acts of civil disobedience in New York, Washington, D.C., Orlando and across the country, with hundreds of people having the courage to stand up and say the time for immigration reform is now.

The gridlock in Washington is coming at the expense of American families in Chicago and across the country. A handful of elected officials caused a government shutdown, and now a handful of elected officials are standing in the way of comprehensive immigration reform. The time for immigration reform is now. We must continue to step up the pressure on Congress to do what’s right for our families and what’s right for the economic future of our country.
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We Need Immigration Reform Now!

Immigration reform must take into account what is best for the children in families with undocumented immigrant parents.    - - Donna Poisl


Nine-year-old Jaime Gordillo Villa was born in the United States and is a good student who has gotten awards for both good grades and behavior. He wants to be a lawyer when he grows up to help immigrants and others who need help. He says he doesn’t want people to suffer for things they didn’t do.

His family knows about suffering since coming to the United States to start a new life. Jaime adored his big brother. They studied and played soccer and video games together. But when his brother was detained by immigration officials his family had to spend so much money on lawyers to try to keep him here that they lost their home. And then his brother was deported anyway. Jaime’s afraid his mother or father might be next if they are caught by the police and he might lose them too.

He is one of fifty courageous children the Center for Community Change has coming to Washington, D.C. on November 14 to share their stories with members of Congress and urge them to pass immigration reform with a pathway to citizenship this year.
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Immigration reform doesn't go far enough

This opinion piece author wants easier requirements for immigrants because we need more of them.    - - Donna Poisl

By: Josh Smith/ contributor

Are President Obama’s proposed immigration reforms enough? About 11 million undocumented workers live in the U.S. today, with more entering daily. Many people are worried about the economic consequences of immigration, but are their concerns valid? According to professional economists, immigration requirements ought to be loosened because immigration is an overall gain for our economy.

Much of the debate surrounding the issue of immigration is marked by a discussion of the impacts of immigration on the U.S. economy. Many of these conversations suffer from shortsighted economic reasoning, or a simple lack of knowledge about the intricacies of how the economy works. Several “myths” subsist, endlessly perpetuated around grills during summer barbeques, despite being entirely incorrect.
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Lafayette Adult Resource Academy use real-life situations to teach ESL

These advanced classes help English learners to pronounce words correctly and learn words they use in their day-to-day lives.   - - Donna Poisl

Written by Mikel Livingston

Walking through her English language learning classroom at Lafayette Adult Resource Academy renews Meg Foley’s faith in the human condition.

“All you have to do is look in here,” said Foley. “It’s the joy of everyone here being together, the eagerness of the students. They come to class wanting to learn. I’m always amazed.”

Foley teaches advanced and intermediate classes, part of a free English program offered by LARA that currently reaches more than 350 English language learners in the Lafayette area.
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Study: Bilingual Brains Can Better Resist Dementia

Another good reason to learn a language.    - - Donna Poisl

Written by Brian Krans

New research suggests that speaking a second language can delay dementia and Alzheimer’s disease by an average of four years.

Finding ways to preserve mental clarity as we age remains a major area of focus for neuroscientists. The current consensus is that an active, learning mind is one with the best chance of remaining sharp into its golden years.

New research published Wednesday in the journal Neurology suggests that people who speak more than one language have lower rates of three different types of dementia, including Alzheimer’s.
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Study shows social positioning may affect student learning

This papers shows how a student's learning depends on many things in his/her life.   - - Donna Poisl

by University of Arkansas professor Hayriye Kayi-Aydar in a paper published this fall in TESOL Quarterly.

TESOL Quarterly is the peer-reviewed publication of TESOL International Association. TESOL stands for teachers of English to speakers of other languages.

"We all have assumptions about students," Kayi-Aydar said. "We assign positions to students in our classrooms, but we need to let them have more influence over their positions."

Social positioning theory says that people take on various positions within groups and assign positions to others, mostly through talking, according to research cited in Kayi-Aydar's article. Social status, gender, race and culture may impact positioning, which may change over time as relationships between people evolve.
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Learning English, But Lost In Translation

Since a law was passed in 2002, kids learning English in these schools are doing much worse than before.   - - Donna Poisl

By Asma Khalid

BOSTON — The English-language learning population is the fastest-growing demographic in the Massachusetts public school system. But it’s also consistently the worst performing, with the lowest MCAS scores and the highest dropout rates.

This school year, the Massachusetts Department of Education is rolling out a new program that aims to train thousands of teachers to help non-English-speaking students.

The mandated teacher training program has grand ambitions to improve student performance, but the changes come with a long, complicated history. In order to understand why the state is training some 30,000 teachers, you have to look back at 2002.

Eleven years ago, voters in Massachusetts approved a ballot referendum that essentially banned bilingual education for kids who enter the public school system and don’t speak English. It passed overwhelmingly, with almost 70 percent of the vote.
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Remembering the Contributions of Immigrant Soldiers this Veterans Day

Tens of thousands of foreign-born men and women are in our military.   - - Donna Poisl

Written by Policy Center in Integration, Military, National Legislation, USCIS

Immigrants fill every imaginable role in U.S. society. They are found in every profession, from farmworker to brain surgeon. They are the owners of small neighborhood bodegas and the C.E.O.s of high-tech transnational corporations. They represent their communities in town councils and in the U.S. Congress. And, not surprisingly, they are also found throughout the ranks of the U.S. military, fighting on the front lines and shaping policy in the Pentagon. The importance of the myriad roles that immigrants play in the armed forces has only increased since 9/11. In recognition of their service, tens of thousands of foreign-born military men and women have been offered, and taken, an expedited path to U.S. citizenship. These two decisions—to join the U.S. military and to become U.S. citizens—are perhaps the most powerful signs of full-fledged integration into the social fabric of the United States.
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American Immigration Council and Other Immigration Advocacy Groups Urge Supreme Court to Interpret Child Status Protection Act Broadly

For Immediate Release

November 6, 2013

Washington, D.C.—This week, the American Immigration Council filed an amicus curiae brief urging the Supreme Court to rule in favor of young adults who, due to long delays caused by visa backlogs, lost the opportunity to obtain their “green cards” before they turned 21. The brief was filed in collaboration with the American Immigration Lawyers Association, National Immigrant Justice Center, Asian Americans Advancing Justice, and the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund.

The case, Cuellar de Osorio v. Mayorkas, involves a provision of the Child Status Protection Act of 2002 (CSPA). The amicus brief argues that in the CSPA, Congress specifically remedied the problem of children who, due to long delays caused by visa backlogs, turned 21 and lost the opportunity to immigrate with their families before a visa became available. Specifically, the brief argues that children listed as beneficiaries on all types of visa petitions – and not simply those filed by lawful permanent residents, as the government argues – are entitled to retain the earlier filing date of their parents’ visa petitions when new visa petitions are filed for them as adults. As a result, they do not have to wait as long for new visas. The brief presents compelling case histories illustrating the hardship that these families have suffered as the result of the government’s narrow interpretation.  

The amici were represented on a pro bono basis by Lori Alvino McGill and Nicole Ries Fox of Latham and Watkins, LLP. Read more about this case and the Child Status Protection Act on our website.


For press inquiries, contact Wendy Feliz at or 202-507-7524.
Federal Judge Approves Settlement Agreement in National Class Action Lawsuit on Work Authorization for Asylum Seekers

For Immediate Release

November 5, 2013
Washington, D.C. – On Monday, November 4, U.S. District Court Judge Richard Jones ordered the final approval of a nationwide class action settlement agreement. The settlement will help ensure that asylum seekers, who have fled persecution in their home countries, are not unlawfully prevented from working and supporting their families while the government adjudicates their cases. The changes will commence on December 3, 2013.

The agreement stems from a case filed in December 2011 by the American Immigration Council and the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project (NWIRP), with co-counsel from the Seattle law firm Gibbs Houston Pauw and the Massachusetts Law Reform Institute. The complaint challenged widespread problems with the “asylum clock”—the system government agencies use to determine when immigrants who have applied for asylum may obtain permission to work lawfully in the United States.

The case, filed on behalf of asylum seekers around the country, alleged that the current system unlawfully denies asylum applicants the opportunity to obtain employment authorization if their asylum applications have been pending for six months or more. Some end up waiting several months or years for the government to make a decision on their asylum applications. Indeed, one plaintiff from China had been waiting nearly 10 years for his case to be resolved.

“Under the settlement agreement, the process for getting work permits will be more transparent and fair, and the government will be more accountable for errors in determining asylum seekers’ eligibility for work authorization,” according to Mary Kenney, Senior Staff Attorney with the American Immigration Council.

“We are very excited that after the Court’s order, we are only four weeks away from changes that will help thousands of asylum seekers, people who were placed in desperate circumstances, unable to seek employment to support themselves and their families while waiting for their asylum applications to be resolved,” said Chris Strawn, director of the asylum unit at NWIRP.

Among the benefits of the settlement: asylum seekers with Immigration Court cases may now present their asylum applications to the Court immediately, without having to wait months for an initial hearing before an Immigration Judge; certain asylum seekers whose cases have been pending on appeal will now be able to obtain work authorization when the Board of Immigration Appeals remands their cases to an Immigration Judge; asylum seekers and their attorneys will be provided with more effective notice so that they do not inadvertently accept hearing dates which preclude work authorization.

The successful conclusion of this lawsuit will bring clarity and accountability to a problem that has plagued the asylum process for decades and has impacted thousands of immigrants trapped in a cycle of delay and denial of the right to work.

For press inquiries, contact Wendy Feliz at or Chris Strawn at
 Sign petition for House to work on immigration reform

With Congress set to consider comprehensive immigration reform, please see this powerful message LTG (Ret.) Ricardo Sanchez has for VoteVets supporters about one of the first soldiers he lost in Iraq. When you're done reading, please join us in urging the House to take action here:

VoteVets Supporter -

One of the first soldiers I lost in Iraq wasn't an American citizen.

His story began like many others who come to this country seeking a better life while giving back to their communities. Some do it through public service jobs and volunteerism, others in our churches and community centers.

He chose to do it through military service, but he lacked citizenship when he made his Final Journey home -- despite the fact his sacrifice for our nation was just as enduring as those born here.

Comprehensive immigration reform recently passed the U.S. Senate but remains stuck, waiting for the House of Representatives to take action.

Please join me, VoteVets, and Daily Kos in signing a petition urging them to act now. Add your name to mine and we'll deliver your message to House leadership.

My war experiences give me a perspective on this issue that very few others have. While in command of U.S. operations in Kosovo and Iraq, I learned the importance of controlling the borders -- it was literally a life and death issue.

The bill that passed the Senate is a fair mix of proposals to secure our borders while providing immigrants an opportunity to give back to this great nation they already call home.

This is the right approach, and I hope you'll join me in supporting it.

All the best,
LTG (Ret.) Ricardo Sanchez

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Immigration reform: Have you voted yet??? 

Polls are open until midnight EST Friday!  Final results posted Monday morning!

Already voted? Click here to see current results.

We want to know...

What do YOU think will have the most impact in reshaping our immigration system?

Over the years the immigration debate has been approached from different angles.

Activists, attorneys, scholars, law makers, teachers and everyday people have worked for change through educational outreach, sensible policy and through strategic litigation.

 As we look to the future, we wanted to stop and ask you… where do you see the path for success?

Click here to vote!

Monday, November 04, 2013

Immigration reform is economic stimulus

Detroit's economic woes could be solved with immigration reform, so could most of the country's.   - - Donna Poisl

Detroit News Editorial

Obamacare’s premium sticker shock, botched website rollout, and chilling effect on the economy is a cautionary tale of the unintended consequences when Washington tries to reform consumer markets. By contrast, immigration reform currently stalled in Congress is an example of sensible reform of a core government function that promises to simplify immigration and benefit the larger economy.

Obamacare and the government shutdown have deepened political mistrust between the White House and the Republican House, and Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, has blocked a Senate-passed immigration bill from coming to the House floor.
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We will always be a nation of immigrants

Our country's history is all about immigrants; both political parties have to work together for immigration reform.    - - Donna Poisl

from Cynthia B. Rosenberg

If the Republican Party looks not only to the history of the nation but its own history as a party, it will have plenty of reasons to back comprehensive immigration reform, including a path to citizenship for the undocumented ("Can Republicans do the expedient thing on immigration?" Oct. 28).

No amount of gerrymandering can change this history or alter its impact on the present debate.

Despite the increasing partisan nature of our political process, past legislative debates give some reason to hope that a compromise can be reached this year. Immigration, unlike other political issues, has never had a clear partisan slant, because partisans in each party have good reasons for taking a pro-immigration stance.
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Friday, November 01, 2013

Immigrants take Oath of Allegiance, become United States citizens on Wednesday

These 77 Michigan residents are now new U.S. citizens, congratulations to them!   - - Donna Poisl

By Jonathan Van Zytveld

GRAND RAPIDS, MI – On Wednesday morning, 77 men and women from 35 countries took their Oath of Allegiance before a federal judge and became permanent residents of the United States.

The Hon. Scott W. Dales presided over the Naturalization Oath Ceremony Wednesday at the Catholic Diocese of Grand Rapids Cathedral Square Center. The ceremony is the final step in the process of becoming a United States citizen.

"I always find it kind of inspiring," Dales said. "It is a big thing for people to step into a new country and feel a certain excitement. You're no different than you were before, in some respects, but in others, you're completely different.
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Report: Scammers calling immigrants, pretending to be IRS, threatening deportation until money is paid

Immigrants should be careful if they get one of these calls.     - - Donna Poisl


The Internal Revenue Service today warned people about a sophisticated phone scam targeting taxpayers, including recent immigrants, throughout the country.

Victims are told they owe money to the IRS and it must be paid promptly through a pre-loaded debit card or wire transfer. If the victim refuses to cooperate, they are then threatened with arrest, deportation or suspension of a business or driver’s license. In many cases, the caller becomes hostile and insulting.

“This scam has hit taxpayers in nearly every state in the country. ... Rest assured, we do not and will not ask for credit card numbers over the phone, nor request a pre-paid debit card or wire transfer,” says IRS Acting Commissioner Danny Werfel in a press release. “If someone unexpectedly calls claiming to be from the IRS and threatens police arrest, deportation or license revocation if you don’t pay immediately, that is a sign that it really isn’t the IRS calling.”

Scammers may be able to recite the last four digits of a victim’s Social Security number, and often “spoof” the IRS toll-free number on caller ID to make it appear that the IRS is calling.
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How immigration reform would help Chicago

This tells how reform would help Chicago and the same goes for cities across the whole country.    - - Donna Poisl

By Stephen Bouman

Chicago is a city of immigrants, a microcosm of how new Americans can and do revitalize communities across our country. But for all Americans to benefit from what immigrants can offer, both economically and culturally, we need Congress to reform our immigration laws — thoughtfully, fairly and immediately. This is especially important this fall, as the House mulls critical decisions about reform that could have enormous consequences for our city.

I live in Edgewater, a North Side hub of immigration. If the House passes a comprehensive immigration reform bill like Senate Bill 744, which the Senate passed recently, that would benefit our community. First, it would better save our immigrant neighbors’ families from the trauma of being torn apart by detention and deportation. Second, it would help our undocumented neighbors come out of the shadows, where they’re often exploited. Third, and most important, reform would bring immigrants’ gifts for hard work and entrepreneurship to the table, rejuvenating everything from our business districts to our congregations.
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Speaking Spanish is Great, But Only If You're Not Latino

This heading is funny -- and true. Non-Latinos want to learn Spanish and Latinos are leaving Spanish and learning English.   - - Donna Poisl

By Maribel Hermosillo 

As an undocumented migrant, my father didn't speak Spanish to us growing up. In fact, he was obsessed with learning English quickly. He read newspapers every day hoping to catch up. Lucky for us, my mother wanted us to know Spanish so we could connect with our family in Mexico. Today, my ability to speak Spanish is much better than many first-generation Mexican-Americans, but I still have much to learn.

Honestly, my first language is Spanglish.

There are roughly 37 million Spanish speakers living in the United States, which makes Spanish our second-most common language. According to the Pew Research Center, the percentage of Latinos who speak Spanish will fall from 75% to 66% by 2020, even though the number of Spanish speakers will rise to a projected 40 million by 2020.
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What It Takes (And Means) To Learn English As An Adult

Read this and see what big sacrifices immigrants make to learn English and how hard it is and how long it takes. - - Donna Poisl


Ana Perez never made it to high school. Her education ended after the sixth grade, when war broke out in her native El Salvador. She says she's "desperate" to learn English, but she gets nervous trying to speak it.

Immigrants like Perez see English as the key to a better life. Many hope learning the language will help lift them out of poverty and integrate them into American society. But gaining English proficiency is a difficult task amid everyday obligations.
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Should Bi-Lingual Learning be Required?

This thoughtful piece asks if all kids in US schools should be taught in bilingual classes and gives good reasons for his answer.   - - Donna Poisl


This generation of K-12 students is growing up in a society that is increasingly bilingual. Foreign language requirements have long been a core requirement for high school graduation and are also part of most arts-based college degree programs. Along with Spanish, languages like French and German are common options for students.

But just how "foreign" is Spanish in today's society? The U.S. Census estimates that there are 50.5 million Hispanic people living in America, and another 3.7 who are residents of Puerto Rico. This number represents a 43 percent increase in the recorded Hispanic population from 2000 to 2010 at a rate four times faster than the rest of the U.S. population. Further, 35 million children 5 and over spoke Spanish at home in 2010. English as a second language K-12 programs have existed for decades, but maybe that program should be expanded.
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