Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Barrier grief: English issues mistaken for learning disabilities in Boston schools

Many immigrant children are sent to special education classes when all they actually need is more help with English.    - - Donna Poisl

By: Erin Smith, Erica Moura

Even as the state braces for a wave of unaccompanied immigrant children, school systems, including Boston, are failing in assessing and educating non-English speaking students they already have.

More than one in five children of immigrants who are learning English in Boston schools have been placed in special education classes in what advocates say is a costly waste of taxpayer dollars that could also be robbing hundreds of bright students of any chance to go to college and create better lives.

“Part of the problem is the parents don’t speak English or know what’s going on,” said Yael Zakon-Bourke of the Massachusetts Association for Bilingual Education. “They’re just being told that their children need extra help. The problem is they may not be getting the extra help they need.”
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Grad talks up value of Waukegan library’s Spanish GED program

This man learned English in this class and now he volunteers to teach others.  - - Donna Poisl

Yadira Sanchez Olson, For Sun-Times Media

As a chemical engineer in Mexico, Pedro Gomez had only one barrier that was keeping him from moving up in the field.

He didn’t speak English.

English is the universal language, he thought, so “where better to learn it than in the United States,” Gomez said.

With that in mind, he made a trip last year, from his native land of Michoacán — a western state in Mexico — to Waukegan, where a casual visit to the Waukegan Public Library has taken him in an unexpected path.
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Immigrants look to help back home

Immigrants from DR Congo in this Illinois city are organizing to send money to their families back home and better their lives.   - - Donna Poisl

By Roberto Hodge, The Register-Mail

GALESBURG — People from the Democratic Republic of the Congo have migrated to the United States in order to better themselves and the lives of those they know in DRC.

The Congolese have lived in the Galesburg-Monmouth area for a number of years and they came together under one roof for their first conference Saturday in the former Weston School on Mulberry Street.

Césaire Murhula, the speaker of the conference who’s originally from Kinshasa, the capital and largest city of the DRC, said he’s lived in the States for two years.
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Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Huge Wins for Immigrants in New York City!

Several programs will receive large grants to help immigrants in NYC.   - - Donna Poisl

from Steven Choi, Executive Director, New York Immigration Coalition

It has been a month of exciting wins for immigrants in New York City!

Last week, the New York Immigration Coalition was joined by New York City Council’s Immigration Chair Carlos Menchaca to announce a landmark $10.3 million dollars to expand several key programs for immigrant communities.

This week, Mayor Bill de Blasio signed into law ground-breaking new City Council legislation to create a new municipal ID program for all New Yorkers.

These are major victories for the City’s immigrant communities, which will provide critical help for New York City’s three million immigrants, including:
Click on the HEADLINE above to read the list of six organizations receiving this money.

Immigrants Who Speak Indigenous Languages Encounter Isolation

A very sad story about Mexican immigrants in New York City who don't speak Spanish or English. Most are illiterate, and never attended school as children.  - - Donna Poisl

Kirk Semple, New York Times, July 11, 2014

Laura is a Mexican immigrant who lives in East Harlem, a neighborhood with one of the largest Latino populations in New York City. Yet she understands so little of what others are saying around her that she might just as well be living in Siberia.

Laura, 27, speaks Mixtec, a language indigenous to Mexico. But she knows little Spanish and no English. She is so scared of getting lost on the subway and not being able to find her way home that she tends to spend her days within walking distance of her apartment.

“I feel bad because I can’t communicate with people,” she said, partly in Spanish, partly in Mixtec. “I can’t do anything.”
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Teachers HELP Trains Teachers In English Learner Techniques

While these ESL teachers do not know any other languages, they are taught short cuts and techniques to make it easier for their students to learn English. Very interesting.  - - Donna Poisl

From chattanoogan.com

The Teachers HELP (Helping English Language Proficiency) Summer Academy, which is a part of a five year program to offer high-quality English Learner (EL) endorsement and professional development opportunities, opened with a science lesson.

Anjelika Riano, the ESL (English as a Second Language) coach with the Hamilton County Department of Education, lectured the group of in-service and pre-service teachers about the parts of a plant. The “students” were expected to keep up with the lesson and to take notes… all in Russian. This immersion experience was intended to let these teachers feel what an English learner student feels while trying to learn academic content in an unfamiliar language.
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Parents Learn English in Summer ESL Program

After dropping their children at their school, these parents can go to ESL classes themselves in the same school.   - - Donna Poisl

Posted by Mansfield ISD

The Department for English Language Learners (ELL) and Bilingual Education provided a unique summer English language learning program for parents whose children attended the MISD Pre-K/K summer school program at Erma Nash Elementary.

The idea came from Cindy Adkison, ELL/Math Improvement teacher. Adkison, pictured above, who believed the success our district has had in providing a quality English as a Second Language (ESL) program that turns our English Language Learners into fluent English speakers would work for adults.

“Why not provide an opportunity for the parents,” noted Adkinson. “Logistically, it was easy, since the parents could take their children to Erma Nash and then simply walk over to RL Anderson for their own class.”
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Felipe Alou and Orlando Cepeda know how far young players have come learning English

These baseball stars tell what it was like coming to the USA in the 1950s, compared to what the new players experience now.    - - Donna Poisl

By JANIE McCAULEY  AP Baseball Writer

SAN FRANCISCO — Felipe Alou and Orlando Cepeda knew little English when they arrived in the minor leagues in the mid-1950s, putting them among the first wave of Spanish-speaking players thrown into a different culture to play professional baseball, build new lives and send money back home.

It was their chance to make it in the sport they loved, provided they could overcome challenges that often extended beyond the field.

Early on, well before blossoming into a Hall of Famer, Cepeda was told by a manager to go home to Puerto Rico and learn English before coming back to his career in the U.S. Alou had similar experiences and forced himself to speak some English when he arrived from the Dominican Republic, yet he still lacked confidence in the language.
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Friday, July 11, 2014

CHCI Congratulates Julian Castro on His Confirmation as U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development

WASHINGTON, July 9, 2014 /PRNewswire-HISPANIC PR WIRE/ -- The Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute (CHCI) congratulates San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro on his Senate confirmation today to lead the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). With this confirmation, Sec. Castro will join the top ranks of Latino appointees including Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez, Small Business Administrator Maria Contreras-Sweet, and Office of Personnel Management Director Katherine Archuleta, among others.

Castro will also be the third Latino to serve as Secretary of HUD since the department named its first secretary in 1966. He follows in the footsteps of Henry Cisneros, who also served as San Antonio mayor before serving in President Bill Clinton's administration as the Secretary of HUD, and Mel Martinez, who served as Secretary of HUD under President George W. Bush.

"I am thrilled that the nation will benefit from Mayor Castro's talent and skill as our next HUD Secretary," said Esther Aguilera, CHCI President & CEO. "In this important role in our nation's government, Castro will serve as an excellent role model to all young, emerging Latino leaders behind him. CHCI applauds the Senate for recognizing his great achievements as a visionary leader and for taking swift action to confirm his nomination."

Mayor Julián Castro, a San Antonio native, earned his undergraduate degree from Stanford University with honors and distinction and a juris doctorate from Harvard Law School. In 2001, at the age of 26, he became the youngest elected city councilman at that time in San Antonio history.

In 2009, Castro was elected mayor and became the youngest mayor of a Top 50 American city. Among his accomplishments as a three-term mayor, Castro focused on revitalizing the city's urban core, attracting 21st century jobs to the region, positioning San Antonio to be a leader in the New Energy Economy, and raising the educational attainment of youth of all ages – with a particular focus on working to expand quality pre-kindergarten education. He is the identical twin brother to CHCI Board of Directors member, Rep. Joaquín Castro.

About CHCI
Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute (CHCI), a nonprofit and nonpartisan 501(c) (3) organization, provides leadership development programs and educational services to students and young emerging leaders. The CHCI Board of Directors is comprised of Hispanic members of Congress, nonprofit, union and corporate leaders. For more information call CHCI at (202) 543-1771, visit www.chci.org, or join us on Facebook, Twitter (chci), LinkedIn, and YouTube.

SOURCE  Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute

CONTACT: Scott Gunderson Rosa, (202) 548-5876, sgrosa@chci.org
Children in Danger: A Guide to the Humanitarian Challenge at the Border

from American Immigration Council 
July 10, 2014
Washington D.C. - Today, the American Immigration Council releases Children in Danger: A Guide to the Humanitarian Challenge at the Border, to provide basic information about the situation the U.S. is facing as thousands of young migrants show up at our southern border.

The guide seeks to answer common questions about the child migrants, including who they are and why they are coming, what basic protections the law entitles them to, and what the U.S. government has done so far. Consolidating data, government regulations, and media reports, it addresses a complex situation that President Obama declared an “urgent humanitarian situation” along the southwest border. The federal government’s coordinated response by several agencies has ignited a vigorous debate between advocates for refugees and unaccompanied minors and the government. This guide aims to help those engaging in the debate to understand the key concepts and America’s laws and obligations related to unaccompanied children.

To view the guide in its entirety, see:
Children in Danger: A Guide to the Humanitarian Challenge at the Border (American Immigration Council, July 10, 2014)

For more information, contact Amanda Beadle at abeadle@immcouncil.org or 202-507-7527

Monday, July 07, 2014

World Cup Fervor Shows How USA Has Assimilated to Immigrant Cultures

This writer gives the history of our World Cup fervor over the past 30 years, very interesting.    - - Donna Poisl

by Andres T. Tapia

After nearly a century of fierce and condescending resistance, mainstream American culture has caught World Cup fever and is now just as infected as the rest of the world.

Face and hair painted crowds are overflowing in public squares in places such as Chicago, San Francisco, and Kansas City and riveting audiences in bars and airports across the nation as they hunch over beers or luggage to live the thrill of this action packed, record breaking goal scoring FIFA World Cup 2014 taking place in Brazil over the course of four weeks.

This has precipitated anywhere from benign bewilderment by many older generation Americans ("seems like I should be watching this but I don't know what's going on!") to derisive commentary by people such as anti immigrant provocateur Ann Coulter who claims that the only people watching the World Cup in the US are immigrants.
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5  Key Challenges Immigrants Face in the USA

by Sarah Brooks

The immigration firestorm is heating-up again as border states experience surges in the number of migrants coming into the United States.  Children sent without supervision are specifically growing in numbers, as US officials grapple with the issue.  At the same time, several thousand newly minted United States citizens earned their rights and privileges at customary Independence Day ceremonies.  While the political divide and social elements of immigration are widely known and reported, there is a personal side to the issue, which often flies below the radar.  

The fact is, immigrants face pressures and challenges whether or not they entered the United States legally, so their personal concerns are more immediate than prevailing US immigration policy.  Finding their place within the fabric of U.S. society is difficult for international immigrants, who face some of the same issues whether they are from Europe, Central America or the Middle East.  These and other hurdles stand in immigrants' way, slowing their progress on U.S. soil.

Employment Difficulties
The promise of a prosperous economic future is one of the lures for immigrants relocating to the United States.  And while conditions in the land of opportunity may eclipse the economic climate in their home countries, employment success isn't guaranteed on American soil either.

Even workers able to land employment in the U.S. find limited mobility and end up struggling in the same lower-level employment roles they fill upon arrival.  Common barriers include language difficulties and lack of education for advancement.  And education shortfalls are sometimes defined as lack of United States education, rather than a complete absence of credentials.  Certifications and job experience obtained outside the U.S., for instance, don’t always translate into positive references for U.S employers.  As a result, highly capable and experienced workers often resign themselves to jobs for which they are overqualified.

Cultural Isolation
The American melting pot includes representation from a wide variety of diverse ethnic, religious and cultural traditions.  Yet there really is no place like home, so immigrants detached from their lineage and cultural history sometimes feel isolated in the United States.  Insensitivity and American cultural imperatives sometimes exacerbate the issue for immigrants committed to drastically different ideals than those held by their newfound neighbors.

Access to Housing
Immigrants face a number of housing issues.  For starters, they lack references and credentials to assure landlords, so they are considered risky to rent to.  And since cost is a significant concern for many immigrants getting started in the U.S., their options are limited to begin with.  Public assistance helps some immigrants bridge the gap, but many do not qualify for available programs, resigning them to share living spaces with too many roommates.  In extreme cases, immigrants face pressure from local authorities when occupancy levels exceed allowable standards, forcing them to seek housing they cannot afford.  Like employment, housing difficulties reflect limited mobility for immigrants, who often remain stuck with unsustainable living conditions.

Prejudice and Discrimination
Stereotypes and other social pressures lead to undue discrimination for many immigrants, who are characterized negatively across society.  Arab immigrants and others exhibiting physical characteristics tied to particular groups, for example, face bias due to the radical actions of militant Muslim groups.  And immigrants targeted for discrimination don't enjoy the same legal protections as their United States counterparts, meeting with resistance from law enforcement and justice personnel.

Adequate Education
Immigrant education starts with language, in most cases, requiring access to ESL classes and other educational resources.  While programs exist, they are limited and access is difficult in some parts of the country.  So though many immigrants are committed to mastering English, their progress is slowed by access to instruction.  School aged immigrants also face obstacles in the traditional U.S. education system, experiencing discrimination and indifference from school mates and administrators.  Cultural assimilation stymies immigrants' advancement too, as they struggle with American customs.

Regardless of their national origins, immigrants to the United States each experience some of the same difficulties integrating with American society.  Employment, housing and education can be difficult to obtain, for example, limiting mobility for many immigrants.  And language barriers commonly thwart immigrants' advancement, despite their commitments to learn the language.

Author Bio:
This is a guest post by Sarah Brooks from free people search. She is a Houston based freelance writer and blogger. Questions and comments can be sent to brooks.sarah23@gmail.com.

Tuesday, July 01, 2014

No Childhood Here: Why Central American Children Are Fleeing Their Homes

July 1, 2014

Washington D.C. - Today, the American Immigration Council releases No Childhood Here: Why Central American Children Are Fleeing Their Homes by Elizabeth Kennedy.

Based on evidence obtained through 322 interviews with children recently returned to El Salvador, as well as conversations with journalists and local, regional, and government officials, this report sheds light on some of the structural conditions that compel minors to migrate to the United States or other countries in the region. In particular, crime, gang threats, or violence appear to be the strongest determinants for children’s decision to emigrate. The report finds that through the information collected and analyzed to date, violence, extreme poverty, and family reunification play important roles in pushing kids to leave their country of origin.

Kennedy is a Fulbright Fellow currently conducting interviews with child migrants in El Salvador and documenting what drives these children to flee their home, and has been conducting research into the causes of child migration and the effects of child deportation for several years.

To view the report in its entirety, see:
No Childhood Here: Why Central American Children Are Fleeing Their Homes by Elizabeth Kennedy. (American Immigration Council, July 1, 2014)


For more information, contact Wendy Feliz at wfeliz@immcouncil.org or 202-507-7524
America Must Uphold Its Obligations to Protect Children and Families Fleeing Persecution

For Immediate Release

American Immigration Council
June 30, 2014

Washington D.C. - As the numbers of unaccompanied minors and mothers with children crossing our southern border grows, the U.S. government faces a critical test of its historic commitment to protect those fleeing violence and persecution. How we respond will signal to the world whether our commitment to due process and the protection of refugees is real or illusory, and it could have a profound effect on how other countries around the world respond to our call to deal fairly and humanely to refugee crises in places like Syria and the Sudan.

Unfortunately, the initial response by the Administration has been more focused on appeasing its critics with get-tough political messages that prioritize streamlined enforcement over due process and humane treatment. Most recently, the White House has sent a request to Congress asking, among other things, for the authority to process minor children from Central America more expeditiously, and media reports have indicated that their goal is to deport mothers with children as quickly as possible (some reports indicate a goal of 15 days) in order to send a message to the sending countries. This emphasis on speedy removals rather than on determining whether these children and families have a legitimate fear of persecution, and whether or where they may be safely returned to avoid further abuse or exploitation is an abandonment of fundamental principles of due process and fairness - principles that define our judicial system - and undermines the moral authority of our voice in the international community.

Our response must be built on the recognition that many of these children and families can and should be safely returned, but many deserve and have the right to the protections that our laws afford to those who are fleeing violence and persecution. The answer must be to focus our resources on determining what the facts behind these cases are, and to create environments and processes where children are safe from harm and are treated humanely while their cases are reviewed. The deterrent effect, if any, will be no less if we invest in creating a process that takes months instead of days, but the quality of the decisions will be dramatically different. If the process has real integrity and involves a real examination of the safety and well-being of the kids then we can all stand behind any decision that is made, whether it is to return the child or allow them to stay.   

There is universal agreement that the immigration court system - which has long been starved of funding by Congress - can and should function more efficiently. That system must be given the resources it needs to respond, not replaced by a streamlined process that prioritizes speed over accuracy. Finding ways to remove children and mothers quickly without giving sufficient consideration to the circumstances behind why they have fled and what the consequences would be if they were quickly returned to some of the most dangerous places in the world would be disastrous. Any type of action that bypasses the laws put in place by Congress to protect these children and families and to screen them to see if they have an immigration benefit available, cannot be tolerated. A rush to deport children would be unprecedented and would demote the U.S. and its reputation around the world as a leader in protecting refugees.


For press inquiries, contact Wendy Feliz at wfeliz@immcouncil.org or 202-507-7524202-507-7524.