Tag Archive | "immigrants"

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Let’s Stick to the Facts About Immigrants, the New Builders of America

By Ann-Marie Adams

Connecticut has a significant number of foreign-born residents. So perhaps it’s time to create a Commission on Immigrant Affairs — not a “clearing house” as a former politician has been advocating around town. That new organization got off to a bad start when he and his colleagues forgot to invite certain immigrants to a conversation they “kick-started” in October.

Immigrants don’t need more encumbrances or gatekeepers like those to navigate. They need a clear path to innovate and build. This new commission would be crucial to improve and promote economic development, education, health and the political well being of the new Americans with entrepreneurial spirit. The commission, like the Mayors’s Commission on African and Caribbean Immigrant Affairs in Philadelphia, would help clear their path.

Consider this: Of the state’s 3.6 million residents, an estimated 478, 323 are foreign-born. The Nutmeg State has a slightly higher percentage of immigrants, 13.4 percent versus 13 percent, than nation as a whole. In the Greater Hartford area, 78.5 percent of immigrants are skilled, and 30 percent have college or graduate degrees, according to state data.

Dr_AnnMarie_AdamsMoreover, the Migration Policy Institute data show that Connecticut has the highest proportion, 49.4 percent, of foreign-born residents who are citizens. Immigrants from Latin America and the Caribbean comprise the largest share of the state’s foreign-born population. The country of origin with the largest percentage of the immigrant population in Connecticut is Jamaica. Of the state’s total immigrant population in 2011, more than 7 percent were born in Jamaica, 6.6 percent in India and 5.9 percent in Poland.

the-hartford-guardian-OpinionHowever, there has been a shift in the immigration trend from Latin America and the Caribbean origins to Europe and Asia in the last decade, notably from Italy, Canada, Poland, India and China. The diversity of immigrants in the state can be a boon for Connecticut, still recovering from the Great Recession, which was preceded by two decades of no job growth.

President Barack Obama’s recent call to rebuild America’s ports along the Mississippi River and at New Orleans is, no doubt, a strategy to expand trade with other countries and create jobs. Immigrants provide a wealth of knowledge for anyone looking to enter markets in other parts of the world. And that’s why some states in the US are already welcoming immigrants as a stratagem for revitalizing de-industrialized cities, neglected since the late 1950s.

After all, migration has been used since the dawn of time to develop nations and build economies. Economist John Kenneth Galbraith aptly surmised that migration is an economic engine and the oldest action against poverty.  The US bears witness to that. Immigrants and their children, from Andrew Carnegie to Steve Jobs, founded 40 percent of the Fortune 500 companies. Immigrants and their children’s companies employ 550,600 people and generate about $2 billion in revenue. Moreover, immigrants have generated more than a quarter of all jobs in high-growth sectors, according to the Immigrant Learning Center.

Connecticut has its own success stories. Here, immigrants founded General Electric, Pitney Bowes, United Technology Corporation and Edible Arrangements. In Hartford, Albany Avenue and Main Street are lined with small businesses founded by Jamaicans and other immigrants – providing valuable tax revenue for a city in which 52 percent of its businesses are nonprofits. Imagine the possibilities if cities and states knew how to create an effective synergy.

The story about immigrants as builders and job creators is remarkable. And despite the facts present, the false narrative about immigrants as a drag on the economy is pervasive and to the contrary. Most immigrants create jobs and provide labor on farms, factories, hospitals, hotels and schools, bringing revenue to financially strapped colleges and depressed cities across America. Perhaps it’s time we start having informed discussions that stick to the facts about immigrants, the new builders of America.

In the meanwhile, Connecticut and the rest of the country must foster an environment that champions difference and innovation. After all, more than half the country supports this common-sense approach to job creation. And this can only continue with immigration reform. According to a Quinnipiac University Poll, 57 percent of voters favor illegal immigrants staying in the U.S. and following a path to citizenship. Another 12 percent say illegal immigrants should be allowed to stay but with no path to citizenship, while 26 percent say illegal immigrants should be forced to leave.

While thinking about what to do with illegal immigrants, let’s not lose sight of what can be done to encourage our legal immigrants, who for centuries have been boosting the American economy.

All you have to do is create a commission to help foster their growth and get out of their way.

 Ann-Marie Adams, Ph.D. is the founder of The Hartford Guardian. Follow her on twitter @annmarieadams.

© This article and photo should not be cited, copied, or published elsewhere without written permission from The Hartford Guardian and its publisher, CABC Inc.


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Hartford Board of Education and City Need Immigrant Representation

Four party-endorsed candidates are vying for four seats in the Hartford’s Board of Education election on Nov. 5. Voters could have had other choices had the political parties feverishly engage city residents, many of whom are immigrants and children of immigrants.

See voting ballots online here.

Hartford is set to hire a school superintendent, continue its controversial reform efforts and manage millions of grants and donations it attracted from the federal government, Bill Gates and “corporate reformers,” who are set to close schools in the North End of Hartford. Moreover, the Hartford Public School district, like other districts across the nation, is implementing common core state standards, new teacher evaluation methods and curriculum for 21st century students.

Therefore, all eyes should be on the 2013 reshuffling, even if there are only four party-endorsed candidates. The Democratic Party candidates include Michael Brescia, 79,  a former Buckley High School teacher; Beth Parker, 35, a research scientist at Hartford Hospital and a faculty member in health sciences at the University of Hartford; Craig Stallings, 40,  a self-employed tax specialist. Working Families Party incumbent Robert Cotto Jr., 32, is a senior fellow at Connecticut Voices for Children.  There are no Republican candidates.

Joe Gonzalez, a 39-year-old warehouse manager and a Democrat, is a write-in candidate. Originally from Ponce, Puerto Rico, Gonzalez said he wants to represent the Hispanic immigrant. Though not an immigrant, Gonzalez’s desire to represent immigrants highlights a larger issue. In a city of immigrants, very few immigrants find their way into the Hartford’s political arena, much less the inner circles.

The Hartford Guardian is not seeing enough evidence that Hartford is integrating its immigrant population.

editorialbannerthumbWith nativism on the rise, new arrivals to the city are experiencing a higher rate of discrimination and exclusion. This is unfortunate because in other cities, such as Philadelphia and Baltimore, the immigrant population has spurred economic growth and vitality. The same can be done for Hartford’s 124,893 residents if more effort is put into integrating these immigrants into all aspects of the city, including commissions, boards and the city council—fostering a sense of belonging. And it can start with the school board, seen by ambitious politicos as a sure and steady pathway to higher office.

Of the total population in 2011, more than 22 percent are foreign born. And 26 percent, or 31,474, of the entire population are school-age children below 18. More than half the school’s students are migrants, immigrants or children of immigrants, according to recent estimates by school officials. Moreover, Hartford school boasts a diverse student population from more than 24 countries and who speak more than 70 languages. In fact, about two thirds of the city’s population is from the Caribbean region. Understanding these sub-cultures in the city will be crucial to “turning around” schools. We don’t see meaningful reform happening any other way. And the record of slow and misguided growth in the school district confirms this.

The current board in no way represents the city’s population, especially the immigrant population—the most vulnerable residents in the city. Consequently, the board has failed to attend to the need of most immigrant families and their children who find it difficult to navigate the school system and who are wrongly treated as “foreigners who don’t vote.”   Board members seemingly don’t understand the nuances of navigating a new country with a different accent. Or think about it during meetings.

Additionally, the Hartford Democratic Town Committee, which is primarily responsible for recruiting possible candidates for elected office, does a poor job of engaging new Americans. Members do not advertise their meetings, or do outreach, in these communities. For example, the HDTC does not update their website,  another way of keeping information from the public’s purview.

In fact, when the HDTC held a recent meeting to select its slate, it failed to inform the immigrant papers, online news sources, or community organizations. Some critics say it was done deliberately to exclude these groups and to engineer a carefully handpicked board. As for the Hartford Republican Party, it seemingly wants nothing to do with immigrants at this time. The Working Families Party already has its candidate.

This circumscribed life for new Americans in Hartford is unacceptable. Most of these citizens are Democrats. They should not be excluded from any part of the democratic process, or only told to show up and vote.

City officials, including the town committees, can correct this decade-old problem by appointing first-generation immigrants and their children to the board so that they too have a voice in what kind of education their children receive. Instead of erecting barriers to an already messy and complicated democratic process, officials should ensure these residents feel a sense of belonging so the city can reap the benefits of an engaged and caring community.

Public relations strategies that “support immigrants” are not enough. Real support is having new Americans seated at the table.

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Hartford Groups to Host Rally for Immigrant Rights

HARTFORD — Many recent immigrants in the United States will rise up on National Day of Action for Immigrant Justice in an effort to show “solidarity with the movement to demand that Congress pass comprehensive immigration reform.”


The Hartford march will begin at 3:30 p.m. at  the Old State House, south on Main Street, and turn right on Capitol Ave., meet at the Capitol steps.

Organizers are hoping to make this event the largest mobilization of immigrants and allies in U.S. history.
There will be simultaneous marches in New Haven, Bridgeport, Stamford and Danbury.
For information on local marches please contact Latino Progress at http://preview.tinyurl.com/latinoprogress.

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Hartford Library Kicks Off Immigrant Education, Outreach

By Simone Tyrell, Staff Writer

HARTFORD — The Hartford Public Library on Thursday kicked off its “Creating a Vibrant Hartford: Adult Learning as a Pathway to Change” series, a pilot conversation that focuses on adult education and immigration.

The series is a follow up to a low-key meeting held on Feb. 18 to inaugurate a series of community dialogues. Many in attendance were optimistic about the pilot conversation about this form of education with an emphasis on immigration. Organizers said that the series promises to be both “thought provoking and enlightening.”

Participants in Hartford Library's Community Dialogue Series

Director of Community Development and Civic Engagement at the Hartford Public Library Richard Frieder last month pointed out the main theme of the discussion, which was the importance of having a place to conduct a serious and open discussion on adult immigrant education. He said he hopes the series hosted by the library on the issue of adult  immigrant education will be a community building exercise, where people from diverse backgrounds are able to actively participate.

The program was made possible by a grant from Everyday Democracy, a public interest group, based in East Hartford. Carolyne Miller Abdullah, Director of Community Assistance and Sarah Eisele-Dyrli, Research and Education Officer facilitated the pilot conversation, which were limited in its outreach.

Organizers said the two major goals for this program were to develop community brokers, which is a  person who works one on one with new immigrants to get them settled and to encourage Community Development, where immigrant and nonimmigrant populations come together and engage about important issues throughout the community.

For more information or to sign up, call 860-695-6365 or email:


What is a Community Dialogue and how does it work?
• It’s a series of small group discussions in April and May focusing on Adult Learning as a Pathway to Change
• Dialogues are guided by trained facilitators from the community
• This is not just talk. The dialogues lead to an action agenda.

Why should you participate?
• To partner with neighbors, friends, and community leaders
• To take an active role in identifying needs and actions
• To strengthen your community
• To create better opportunities for Hartford residents and new arrivals.

By participating you will:
• Find out where to turn for your learning needs
• Advocate for your rights and develop leadership skills
• Meet your neighbors and make new friends.

What will happen at the Kick-Off event on March 22?
• Learn more about the community dialogue and how you can get involved
• Get a chance to participate in a mini-dialogue
• Hear from Mayor Segarra and other community leaders
• Free refreshments will be served!

What’s next? 
• Come join us! Get your questions answered or sign up for the Kick-Off Event or for the Dialogues! 
Call 860-695-6365 or email hartfordlistens@hplct.org.

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Blacks vs. Immigrants Is a Zero-Sum Argument

New America Media, Commentary, Sam Fulwood III and Henry Fernandez,

The zero-sum argument that pits black Americans against undocumented workers is a false premise.

At the heart of this specious challenge to fairness for all U.S. workers is the idea that blacks resent undocumented Latino immigrants for taking away jobs that would rightfully belong to them. Restrictionist opponents of immigration reform seize on this line of attack and exploit it to drive a wedge between the two racial and ethnic communities.

It’s not working.

Don’t take our word for it. Ask Jose Luis Marantes, an immigrant rights activist in Washington, D.C., who has found some of his most ardent supporters from within the ranks of the nation’s most frightened future workers: students on black college campuses.

Marantes, a youth organizer for the Center for Community Change, said that a recent encounter on the Howard University campus convincingly demonstrated to him the divide-and-conquer strategy’s failure. He was attending an Africana studies class to discuss impending legislation to change the nation’s immigration policies.

“One student stood up in the class and challenged me [on immigration reform],” he said. “This student said he was from Los Angeles and that where he came from Mexicans were the enemy because they took work from black people. ‘So why should I listen to anything you have to say?’”

Marantes recalled the air in the room getting thick with tension. But that moment passed as quickly as it came when a second student spoke up to denounce his classmate’s comments as uninformed.

For a remarkable hour, Marantes sat back as the predominately black classroom debated immigration policies and U.S. history. The students talked about how blacks were denied worker rights, how some of their ancestors were shut out of jobs and opportunities, and how today’s laws cripple a fresh generation of workers. Some students argued that it’s unfair—“like slavery”—for contemporary immigration laws to break up families and pit one group against another for seeking a better life.

“That class taught itself,” Marantes said. “They were curious about the issue and hungry for information. Once they got the right information, it was clear that the old arguments didn’t seem right.”

Marantes said he didn’t challenge the first student-—one of his classmates did with accurate information. That changed the whole mood in the class.

“From that point on, it wasn’t about blacks,” he said. “It wasn’t about Mexicans. It was about employers undercutting workers and when they understood that, it was, like, ‘Ah! I get it!’”

The debate and the class eventually ended. And that’s when the most remarkable thing happened, Marantes said. One student approached him and said the class discussion opened his eyes. He wanted to know what he could do to help push the immigration effort at the university. That student was joined by others on the Howard campus, which has a long history of student activism for progressive causes.

So when this weekend’s march in Washington begins, some 85 black students from Howard University will be among the activists calling for comprehensive immigration reform for new American families and economic justice for all American families.

They will join tens of thousands of diverse Americans from around the country who will listen to black leaders such as Marc Morial of the National Urban League and Ben Jealous of the NAACP, who both have prominent speaking roles.

They’ll groove to the truly American band Los Lonely Boys, whose music is a combination of rock and roll, blues, soul, country, and Tejano. And they will hear from Esther Lopez of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union, which fights as hard today for black, brown and white workers as it did generations ago for Polish and Italian immigrants.

The students will also march with those who don’t have great titles or the blessings of a college education, but have figured it out. Low-wage black workers from places like New Haven, Conn., and Milwaukee, Wis., are marching because they know their economic futures rely on a fair playing field for all workers.

This requires comprehensive immigration reform that makes undocumented workers legal residents so they can join with black, white, Asian and Latino workers to bargain fairly for wages, organize unions, and stand up for basic workplace protections. The simple dignity of a hard day’s work for a fair day’s pay in our shared American journey has built not just a country, but bridges among communities.

Sam Fulwood III and Henry Fernandez are Senior Fellows at American Progress.
Related Story:

New Immigrant Rights Campaign to Mount Largest March of Obama Era

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Report: Recession Hits Blacks, Latinos, Immigrants Harder

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The current recession is having an especially severe impact on employment prospects for immigrant Hispanics, according to an analysis of the latest Census Bureau data by the Pew Hispanic Center, a project of the Pew Research Center.

The unemployment rate has increased more and the share of the working-age population that is employed has fallen more for immigrant Hispanics than for other racial and ethnic groups in the first year of the recession. Trends in other indicators during the one-year old recession, such as the change in labor force participation or the growth in the number of unemployed persons, also reveal a more severe impact on foreign-born Latinos.

Native-born Hispanics and blacks in the labor market have also felt strong negative effects from the recession. However, changes in the employment rate and other indicators of labor market activity during the recession have been less severe for them than for foreign-born Hispanics.

The report is based on an analysis of the latest data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and Census Bureau.

Estimates are presented for the fourth quarters of 2007 and 2008 encompassing the first year of the ongoing recession.

The report, Unemployment Rises Sharply Among Latino Immigrants in 2008, authored by Rakesh Kochhar, Associate Director for Research, is available at the Pew Hispanic Center’s website, www.pewhispanic.org.

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