After a decades-long fight, Filipinos who served in the U.S. Armed Forces in World War II see their claim recognized by the American government thanks to the Obama administration’s stimulus package.
Tag: economic crisis
The good days have returned for Brazilian immigrant Claudete Alcântara. Thanks to a $50,000 grant from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), the Everett Literacy Program has reopened its English classes and she is one of 54 students who have now returned to school.
Feet in 2 Worlds reporter Jelena Kopanja produced a piece for PRI’s nationally-syndicated daily program The World about how Ecuador tries to convince its expats to return home.
For Arizona immigrants 2009 was the year of raids in workplaces, traffic stops that led to deportations and reports of violations of human and civil rights.
Phoenix-based FI2W reporter Valeria Fernández produced a radio piece for NPR’s Latino USA on immigrants who work in the dairy industry and the farmers who hire them.
By Valeria Fernández, FI2W contributor
For almost two years now, one of my sources here in Arizona had insisted that I do a story about immigrants working in dairies. I finally started to work on this one about five months ago, before I even knew which direction it was going to take, or even that it was going to become a radio piece. I needed to become familiar with the universe of dairies at a time when Arizona was facing an intense crackdown on illegal immigration.
There was naturally going to be fear and resistance on the part of immigrant workers. For about two years now, the state has had a law in place that sanctions companies who knowingly hire undocumented labor.
The law has been used mostly to conduct work-site raids in businesses, resulting in the arrest of a couple of hundred workers. The number is not large, but the chilling effect on local immigrant communities is much bigger.
In a couple of ways, this was unexplored territory for me. I was as nervous as the subjects of the story. Not only was I going to leave the comfort of print, but also, I was going to do it in English, my second language. I feared leaving my small notepad and using a microphone instead. Often times I would just tuck it away, and listen to people to help them relax.
There have been stories about workers in agriculture, but I wanted to do a story about what life was like in the dairies. I had all sorts of preconceptions.
Immigrants worldwide “are overwhelmingly choosing to stay put in their adopted countries, rather than return home,” in the face of the economic crisis, and those in the U.S. continue to “strongly buy into the American Dream,” said a couple of reports released this week.
Migration and the Global Recession, published Tuesday, done by the Migration Policy Institute for the BBC World Service, reported that “some migration flows, particularly illegal migration, are … down as would-be migrants are being deterred by reduced job prospects in countries that would previously have offered them better opportunities.”
At the same time, A Place to Call Home, released Wednesday by the non-profit group Public Agenda, said that “despite the worst economic crisis in decades, renewed national security concerns in a post-9/11 world and an immigration policy many consider to be broken, …immigrants themselves hold fast to their belief that America remains the land of opportunity and remain committed to becoming U.S. citizens.”
“Seven in ten immigrants say they would do it all over again,” said Scott Bittle, Public Agenda’s executive vice president in a conference call with reporters. “Most say they made the right choice (in migrating.)”
By Merry Pool and Jelena Kopanja, FI2W contributors
After 15 years of living in Europe, Sandra Bustamante was going home to Ecuador on the day of her 40th birthday. For months, she and her husband had not been able to find stable work in Spain and going back to Bustamante’s native country seemed the only option for this family of five. Her 4-year-old daughter Camilla encouraged them with her excitement. Although Camilla had never been to Ecuador, “ever since we’ve told her we’re going, she had been running around the house, waving the Ecuadorian flag and yelling ‘Viva Ecuador!’” Bustamante said.
That was last August. A year later, it seems that Bustamante’s dream of opening an Italian restaurant in Quito is well on its way, according to an infommercial by the Ecuadorian National Secretariat for Migrants (SENAMI).
Bustamante’s family was one of the first beneficiaries of the recently established Plan Bienvenid@s a Casa (Welcome Home Plan), which offers business subsidies, customs breaks and low-interest loans to Ecuadorian migrants who want to return home.
It is estimated that some 1.5 million Ecuadorians, 11 percent of the country’s natives, now live outside the nation’s borders. The Welcome Home Plan is part of President Rafael Correa’s 2006 campaign commitment to make migrants a central component of his administration’s agenda. Ecuador may well be the only Latin American country trying to lure its citizens home during the global economic crisis.
By Maibe Gonzalez Fuentes, FI2W contributor
NEW YORK — Four years ago Jorge Guerrero, a 46-year-old Ecuadorian immigrant, realized his dream of buying a house.
“They (real estate brokers) served everything on a silver tray for me,” Guerrero recalled in a phone interview in Spanish. “They told me that because my wife and I had a good income I didn’t even have to use my savings to buy a house, I could get a loan for the full price, rent the upper floor and the basement to pay the mortgage, and refinance to lower the interest rate.”
It seemed too good an opportunity to pass up. He bought a house in Jamaica, Queens for $580,000. But things did not go quite as planned. The upstairs tenants failed to pay their rent for months, and Guerrero lost $10,000 in defaulted rents and legal fees.
“And then the whole economy went down and everything changed,” he said.
His wife, an accountant, was laid off from work in September of 2007; Guerrero suffered an accident at his workplace in July that will prevent him from working for at least six months. Today, after four years of making mortgage payments without a single interruption, he still owes $595,000 — $15,000 more than he spent on the house in 2005, while the actual value of the property has plunged to $500,000.
Guerrero’s options, which he explained with the precision of someone who has spent a lot of time researching, are foreclosure, bankruptcy or loan modification. While the latter is his preference, it is not an easy path. (more…)
PHOENIX, Arizona — When things got tough in Arizona, many families decided to leave to avoid being caught in the local illegal immigration crackdown. But Maria Garcia’s family wouldn’t move. When her husband was fired for not having legal documents, they stayed and weathered the storm. After 23 years, the Garcias say they’re here to stay.
“My father passed away, he was sick for many years and I couldn’t see him. Now my mother is sick. But I know that if I leave it would be very dangerous for me to come back,” said the migrant from Colima, Mexico.
Two recent national studies present contradicting data about whether the current recession and anti-immigrant climate are pushing undocumented immigrants to leave the U.S. and return to their home countries.
A new report by the Center for Immigration Studies – a group that advocates lower immigration levels – shows that the illegal immigrant population has fallen by one-third over the past two years. According to the study based on Census Data, Arizona is the state with the highest drop. About 180,000 of the 530,000 undocumented living in Arizona left, according to research conducted by Steven Camarota.
Yet another study released earlier by the Pew Hispanic Center said while that the number of people entering the country illegally is dropping, undocumented migrants who are already here are not returning.
So are immigrants leaving or staying?
A month ago, Immigration and Customs Enforcement sent letters to 652 businesses across the country to let them know their hiring records would be audited “to determine whether or not they are complying with employment eligibility verification laws and regulations.” The goal was to check whether those companies have been making sure they are not hiring people not authorized to work in the U.S., a.k.a. undocumented immigrants.
The initiative apparently has led to firings at some of those companies. Last Saturday, pro-immigration activists and workers demonstrated in Los Angeles to demand that President Obama stop the audits as well as the use of e-Verify, an employee ID verification system widely criticized by immigrant advocates.
ICE’s increased vigilance over employers –it said the number of letters it sent in July exceeds the numbers sent during the entire previous fiscal year– follows Obama’s promises that his approach to enforcing immigration laws would focus more on the labor demand side rather than on the supply, i.e. the undocumented workers who’ve been the target of raids and deportations in the last few years.
But L.A. activists said this particular measure has swollen the ranks of the unemployed in the midst of the economic crisis.