Saturday, December 31, 2011

Why more Hispanic children are living in poverty: A Q&A |

Why more Hispanic children are living in poverty: A Q&A |

Why more Hispanic children are living in poverty: A Q&A

Published: Friday, December 30, 2011, 8:07 AM
daniel-santo-pietro.JPGDaniel Santo Pietro, Executive Director of the Hispanic Directors Association of New Jersey, is pictured in this Star-Ledger file photo.

More Hispanic children — 6.1 million — are living in poverty than children of any other racial and ethnic group, according to the Pew Research Center’s analysis of 2010 U.S. Census data. To find out what’s behind the numbers, editorial writer Linda Ocasio spoke with Elsa Candelario, executive director of the Hispanic Family Center of Southern New Jersey; Kristin Nicely Colangelo, the center’s program director for health, education and family prevention; and Daniel Santo Pietro, chairman of the public policy committee of the Latino Action Network.

Q: What were your thoughts when you read the poll numbers?

Candelario: It seems Hispanics have been overrepresented in negative statistics as long as I can remember: drop-out rates, teen pregnancy rates, health outcomes, higher level of diabetes and heart disease, that kind of thing. Even those who are documented, and second and third generation, are living in poverty. Forty percent of Hispanics are uninsured, not because they are undocumented, but mainly because they work in small businesses and service sector jobs where they are not covered. Large numbers got into deceptive subprime mortgages that wiped out their savings. Statewide, Hispanics rent far more than own. State policies and initiatives ought to be directed toward turning these numbers around.

Q: How does the number of undocumented affect the numbers?

Santo Pietro: Many undocumented don’t show up in Census numbers. People are caught in all kinds of gray areas here — some undocumented, some in between who are trying to gain legal status. They’re suffering from the vagaries of immigration law. There were 400,000 deportations nationwide last year, and 350,000 of them were of a noncriminal nature. They were working parents who were in the wrong place at the wrong time. Families lost a wage earner and they’re in crisis.

Q: What other factors affect Hispanic families?

Santo Pietro: Specific industries that employed Hispanics were hit hard by the economic downturn. Construction was one of the areas hardest hit and 25 percent of the Hispanic workforce is involved with construction nationwide. In New Jersey, landscaping and housing construction were hard hit. Another portion of the population is involved in small businesses. A large portion isn’t college educated. In general, people without college education are caught in a pinch.

Candelario: They also work in restaurants, bodegas, beauty salons. Landscaping is a big one in the spring and summer. Many of these small businesses have been affected by the recession, which has affected employment opportunities.

Nicely Colangelo: Teen unemployment has gone through the roof. Lots of retailers have closed and those are the jobs teens entering the job market seek out. We have many populations vying for low-level jobs who were not vying for them several years ago.

Q: Are you seeing people who were once middle class, or mostly those who were living close to the edge of poverty?

Candelario: It’s both the middle class and those close to the edge. We see it in the Puerto Rican, Mexican and Dominican communities, the three largest groups in Camden. These are families with multiple children, who need concrete support, such as help with utilities, mortgage, food, medical expenses, back rent. They are facing all kinds of issues regarding the necessities of life and making ends meet.

Nicely Colangelo: We have a high increase in the number of people coming in for very basic services. It used to be a matter of case management and they were able to move forward. Now, there’s no light at the end of tunnel, they’re in a hole, with no living-wage employment. Many are going into training programs, but there are no jobs waiting for them. It’s really devastating.

Q: How have state cuts affected these families?

Nicely Colangelo: We are seeing families that were relatively stable coming in with no employment opportunities. Puerto Ricans (who are U.S. citizens at birth) can access programs easier. Family struggles have gotten worse, with after-school program cuts. New Jersey After 3 was hit hard in the first wave of cuts last year. New Jersey Family Care eliminated many immigrant parents. Families say they are struggling with the decision of whether they can afford to work, because they could no longer afford child care or health insurance.

Q: What are the consequences of having an increase of Hispanic children in poverty?

Santo Pietro: Hispanic children are becoming a larger percentage of the student body around the state. If we’re not successful in educating these children, New Jersey won’t have a workforce to get us out of recession and into recovery. You need to see these children as part of a stronger state and thriving economy. We have to do something to turn this around. It’s a benefit to the whole state.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Federal Budget Gives Private Prison Corporations a very Merry Christmas | Cuéntame | Latino News. Video. Music. Impact

Federal Budget Gives Private Prison Corporations a very Merry Christmas | Cuéntame | Latino News. Video. Music. Impact

Federal Budget Gives Private Prison Corporations a very Merry Christmas

Dec 26, 2011 // No Comment // Categories: Feature, Immigrants For Sale.

Why is it that for-profit prisons get some holiday cheer (and break) while everyday, working class Americans cannot? What is wrong with this picture–and why is it that Congress has approved more funding in 2012 for an industry that reaps the profits out of human misery? -Iliana

Via Grassroots Leadership

Even as lawmakers have been unable to extend a payroll tax break for working Americans and unemployment insurance for those out of work, they have been able to provide a benefit for one group this holiday season – private prison corporations that benefit from the detention of immigrants.

Last Saturday, December 17th, Congress agreed on funding for the Department of Homeland Security for fiscal year 2012. While the measure actually reduces overall spending by the department by $111 million, it increases Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s by more than $50 million from Fiscal Year 2011. The increase includes an allocation for 34,000 daily immigration detention beds, up from 33,400 last year. As Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services puts it in a recent press release:

“If Congress is trying to reduce the federal deficit, why are they going to increase immigration detention?” said Eric B. Sigmon, LIRS Director for Advocacy. “Instead Congress should invest in proven alternatives that are cheaper, more humane, and more effective.”

Those extra 600 beds are likely to be operated by private prison corporations. That’s because ICE largely contracts for-profit prison corporations and county jails to detain immigrants. In fact, research Grassroots Leadership published with the Detention Watch Network shows that 47% of all detention beds are operated by for-profit corporations. What’s more, private prison corporations like GEO Group and Corrections Corporations of America have spent millions lobbying the federal government on immigration-related issues.

And, that lobbying is paying off. Troubled rivate prison corporation GEO Group was recently awarded a contract to operate ICE’s new “civil” detention center in Karnes County, Texas. And, Corrections Corporation of America is trying to win a contract for a new facility in South Florida, but is meeting stiff community resistance. Just yesterday, community groups in New Jersey published a report about the role of campaign donations in winning an ICE-contracted detention center by private prison company Community Education Centers.

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Top 10 Immigration Stories of 2011 - New America Media

Top 10 Immigration Stories of 2011 - New America Media

Top 10 Immigration Stories of 2011

Top 10 Immigration Stories of 2011

Story tools


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2. Losing Home—Immigrant Families’ Path Through Foreclosure and Beyond
Queens Latino and New America Media trace the paths of three Latino immigrant families who lost their homes.
3. Black Legislators on Frontline Against AZ-Style Immigration Bills
Black politicians have come out in defense of immigrants, questioning the morality of tough immigration laws in states from Nebraska to Georgia.
4. 67 Sueños -- Activating the Silent Majority Left Out of Dream Act
Sixty-seven percent of undocumented youth and young adults would not qualify for the Dream Act. This immigration policy paradox inspired the creation of 67 Sueños -- a media and organizing project, based in Oakland Ca. designed to give voice to those left out of the dream legislation.

5. Latino Immigrant Is Rising GOP Star in Surprise, Arizona
Steve Montenegro, a Republican legislator from Arizona who supported SB 1070 and opposes the Dream Act, is himself an immigrant from El Salvador.
6. Immigration’s New Battlefield (5-Part Series)
The battle over immigration is now being waged at the state level. Since Arizona’s immigration law SB 1070 went into effect one year ago, five states – Alabama, Georgia, Indiana, South Carolina and Utah have passed similar laws. NAM interviewed community leaders and ethnic media journalists to learn the impact of these laws on the five states at the frontlines of immigration’s new battlefield.
7. How Do Ethnic Media Say “Illegal Immigrant”?
Before publishing a story on immigration, every editor faces a question: What term should be used to describe an immigrant who is in the United States illegally?
8. Is the Gulf Coast Safe for Immigrant Women?
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A ballot initiative in Mississippi and Alabama's recently-enacted anti-immigration law are turning the Gulf Coast into hostile terrain for immigrant women.

9. Ethnic Media Confront Humanitarian Crisis in Alabama
Members of the black, Latino and other ethnic media met in Birmingham to explore their best responses to Alabama’s anti-immigration law.

10. Postville Deportees Push for Change in Guatemala
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