Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Pulitzer-prize winning journalist comes out as illegal immigrant

Pulitzer-prize winning journalist comes out as undocumented immigrant
By Liz Goodwin

Pulitzer-Prize winning journalist Jose Antonio Vargas reveals in The New York Times Magazine that he's lived in the United States for nearly 20 years as an illegal immigrant.

Vargas writes that his Filipino mother sent him to live with his grandparents--who were legally living in the Bay Area--when he was only 12 years old. He was placed on a plane with a man who he was told was his uncle--in actuality, a "coyote," ie., a person who helps marshal illegal immigrants across the U.S. border--and has never seen his mother since.

When he was 16, Vargas writes, he applied for a driver's license and discovered that his green card was fake. He spent the next 15 years hiding his secret from friends, classmates, and employers, hoping that some form of immigration reform would pass in the meantime and allow him to live openly in the country.

"This deceit never got easier," he writes. "The more I did it, the more I felt like an impostor, the more guilt I carried — and the more I worried that I would get caught. But I kept doing it. I needed to live and survive on my own, and I decided this was the way."

Now, Vargas is starting a campaign called Define American, where he's spotlighting immigrants' stories.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Latinos in the House

Hispanic population exceeds 50 million, firmly nation's No. 2 group

The growing Hispanic population in the United States has reached a new milestone, topping 50 million, or 16.3% of the nation, officially solidifying its position as the country's second-largest group, U.S. Census Bureau officials said Thursday.
"Overall, we've learned that our nation's population has become more racially and ethnically diverse over the past 10 years," said Nicholas A. Jones, chief of the bureau's racial statistics branch.

Several trends emerged from the 2010 census, according to Robert M. Groves, director of the Census Bureau, and Marc J. Perry, chief of the population distribution branch.

South sees largest growth this decade

The country is growing at a smaller rate. Growth is concentrated in metropolitan areas and in the American West and South. The fastest-growing communities are suburbs such as Lincoln, California, outside Sacramento. And standard-bearer cities such as Boston, Baltimore and Milwaukee are no longer in the top 20 for population, replaced by upstarts such as El Paso, Texas, and Charlotte, North Carolina, the officials said.

The most significant trend, however, appeared to be the nation's new count of 50.5 million Latinos, whose massive expansion accounted for more than half of the nation's overall growth of 27.3 million people, to a new overall U.S. population of 308.7 million, officials said. The Hispanic population grew 43% since 2000, officials said.

In stark contrast, all other populations together grew by only about 5%, officials said. The nation as a whole expanded by 9.7%.
Bureau officials declined Thursday to say how much illegal immigration has spurred growth among Latinos and other minorities, saying the sources of the growth are still being studied.

"Those are actually very excellent questions," said Roberto Ramirez, chief of the bureau's ethnicity and ancestry branch. "We are actually in the middle of the process of investigating that."

D'Vera Cohn, a senior writer at the Pew Research Center in Washington, said the birth rate, rather than immigration, is the primary driving factor in the Latino boom. Hispanics now account for nearly one-quarter of children under the age of 18, Cohn said. "Hispanics are a younger population, and there are just more women of a child-bearing age," she said.

Although immigration remains a major contributor to Hispanic population growth, the recent recession and high employment rates may have prompted a tapering off in the rate of foreign-born nationals seeking U.S. residence, analysts said. Intensified border patrols may have reduced illegal immigration, but those measures "remain at the margins," said William Frey, a demographer at The Brookings Institution. He added that America's overall undocumented immigrant population -- estimated at between 10 million and 11 million people -- may have even declined in recent years, though accurate numbers are difficult to acquire.

While Latinos are evidence of a growing voting bloc, they may not necessarily spur immigration reform in Congress, which has been paralyzed politically for years on whether to reform immigration laws or roll out additional crackdowns such as a beefed-up border patrol, said one immigrant rights advocate in Arizona.

"We hope these census numbers signal a new era of racial politics in our states, rooted not only in strong economies but also equalities for all people," said Jennifer Allen, executive director of the human rights organization Border Action Network.
Home to the busiest border crossing for illegal immigration, Arizona has been the nation's hotbed for several laws targeting illegal immigrants, including the much-publicized Senate Bill 1070 that is now being challenged on constitutional grounds in federal court because one of its controversial provisions allows racial profiling by police, critics charge.

Several states have tried to pass measures similar to Arizona's, but not with much success, Allen asserted.
The census figures may dampen further immigration crackdowns in Arizona because the new population count "demonstrates the growing importance of Latino voters throughout the state," Allen said.

As the census figures are used for congressional redistricting in states, Latino voters should not be "written off and treated as disposable constituents," she added. The census data show that while the white population increased by 2.2 million to 196.8 million, its share of the total population dropped to 64% from 69%, officials said.

The Asian population also grew 43%, increasing from 10.2 million in 2000 to 14.7 million in 2010, officials said. Asians now account for about 5% of the nation's population. The African-American population, which grew by about 4.3 million, is now about 40 million, or 12.6% of the population, a slight increase over 12.3% in 2000, officials said.

Persons reporting "some other race" grew by 3.7 million, to 19 million, or 5.5% of the nation, figures show.
The vast majority of Americans, 97%, reported only one race, with whites as the largest group, accounting for about seven out of 10 Americans. The remaining 3% of the population reported multiple races, and almost all of them listed exactly two races. White and black was the leading biracial combination, figures show.

"The face of the country is changing," said Jeffrey Passel, demographer at the Pew Hispanic Center.
Demographic data had already been released for all states except New York and Maine and for the District of Columbia.
In fast-growing states where whites and blacks dominated past growth, Hispanics are now the greatest growth engine, Frey said.

The significance of the numbers to the United States is more than just an increase of an ethnicity. Research shows that along with the changing demographics, the country has become more diverse in other ways, Passel said. For instance, there is a substantial mixing of the American population through interracial marriage, he said.

Another change is the concentration of the growing populations. Previously, the Hispanic population was concentrated in eight or nine states; it is now spread throughout the country, Passel said.Meanwhile, most of the data released so far show decreases in the population of white children, Frey said.

Minorities will have a greater presence among future generations, he said. For example, in Nevada, 61% of children are minorities, compared with 41% of adults. In border states like Texas, demographers say, Hispanic populations are expected to surpass non-Hispanic populations within the next decade.

"Without question, we are becoming a Hispanic state," said Texas state demographer Lloyd Potter. "I live in San Antonio, and there you see Spanish advertisements, television shows and newspapers everywhere," he said. In cities and towns across the region, there are Spanish-speaking restaurants, retailers and annual festivals.

"It's helpful to be able to speak a little Spanish if you're non-Hispanic," Potter said. "My neighbors don't really speak much English. While my Spanish isn't great, at least we can interact and be neighbors." But while the labor force may absorb Spanish-only employees, an emerging debate among policy makers asks whether their children face additional challenges in English-speaking schools.

"Education attainment is the single best determinant for a whole variety of social outcomes," said Steven Camarota, director of research at the Center for Immigration Studies in Washington. Analysts speculate that while population levels swell, comparable growth in education levels may take some time.

"In New York City, Italians once had a much higher high school dropout rate," Camarota said, noting an Italian immigration flux in the United States that spanned the years of 1890 to 1920. "It took them 60 to 70 years to lower those levels and close the socioeconomic gap."

U.S. Hispanics top 50 million
The Hispanic population is now 50.5 million, or 16% of the country
The white population is 197 million, dropping to 64%
The black population is 40 million, or nearly 13%
The Asian population grew 43% to 14.7 million, or about 5%

By Michael Martinez and David Ariosto, CNN

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Sotomayor as Liberal “Enforcer” on Supreme Court?

Adam Liptak writes today about the quick evolution of Sonia Sotomayor into the liberal bulwark on the Supreme Court. People forget that there was substantial concern on the left that Sotomayor would wind up more of a moderate; those fears may or may not be more likely ascribed to Elena Kagan. But Sotomayor has become what amounts to a liberal on a conservative Court.

Liptak looks in particular at a series of discretionary writings by Sotomayor referring to why the court declined to hear a particular case.

Justice Sotomayor wrote three of the opinions, more than any other justice, and all concerned the rights of criminal defendants or prisoners. The most telling one involved a Louisiana prisoner infected with H.I.V. No other justice chose to join it.

The prisoner, Anthony C. Pitre, had stopped taking his H.I.V. medicine to protest his transfer from one facility to another. Prison officials responded by forcing him to perform hard labor in 100-degree heat. That punishment twice sent Mr. Pitre to the emergency room.

The lower courts had no sympathy for Mr. Pitre’s complaints, saying he had brought his troubles on himself.

Justice Sotomayor saw things differently.

“Pitre’s decision to refuse medication may have been foolish and likely caused a significant part of his pain,” she wrote. “But that decision does not give prison officials license to exacerbate Pitre’s condition further as a means of punishing or coercing him — just as a prisoner’s disruptive conduct does not permit prison officials to punish the prisoner by handcuffing him to a hitching post.”

You’re at least seeing a recognition in her writing of that wrongly-derided concept of empathy; the ability for a judge to understand the circumstances of an individual and apply it to the underlying facts of a case. Liptak posits Sotomayor as the counterpoint to Justice Samuel Alito, with the two almost coming across as “enforcers” for the beliefs of their ideologically aligned colleagues.

Strip away the racial or gender politics of the selection. On the merits, the Sotomayor picked has worked out pretty well for the country, and unlike some other decisions this one will definitely outlast Obama’s Presidency by several decades.

David Dayen

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Obama and Latino Punishment?

WASHINGTON – A day before the pivotal midterm elections, President Barack Obama pulled back from remarks he made last month when he called on Latino voters to punish their "enemies" on Election Day. In an interview Monday with radio host Michael Baisden, Obama said he should have used the word "opponents" instead of enemies.
Republicans were quick to criticize the president's remarks. House Minority Leader John Boehner was expected to use Obama's words in an election eve speech in Ohio to paint the president as a staunch partisan.
"Sadly, we have a president who uses the word 'enemy' for fellow Americans, fellow citizens. He used it for people who disagree with his agenda of bigger government," Boehner said, according to prepared remarks released in advance of his speech.
Obama's original comments came during an interview with Eddie "Piolin" Sotelo, a Hispanic radio personality. Piolin questioned how Obama could ask Latinos for their vote when many don't believe he's worked hard to pass comprehensive immigration reform.
Obama responded: "If Latinos sit out the election instead of saying, 'We're gonna punish our enemies and we're gonna reward our friends who stand with us on issues that are important to us,' if they don't see that kind of upsurge in voting in this election, then I think it's gonna be harder."
The president said Monday that the message he was trying to send was that voters need to support lawmakers who stand with them on the issue.
"Now the Republicans are saying that I'm calling them enemies," Obama said. "What I'm saying is you're an opponent of this particular provision, comprehensive immigration reform, which is something very different."
With Republicans poised to score sweeping victories in Tuesday's election, Obama has been imploring the Democratic base to vote in hopes of turning some close races in his party's favor.
Though Obama had no publicly announced campaign events on his schedule Monday and Tuesday, the president has been doing radio interviews targeting young people, African-Americans and voters in key states. He was also to hold a conference call Monday night with campaign volunteers in Florida, New Hampshire, New Mexico and Hawaii

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Monday, October 4, 2010

Racial predatory loans fueled U.S. housing crisis: study

Predatory lending aimed at racially segregated minority neighborhoods led to mass foreclosures that fueled the U.S. housing crisis, according to a new study published in the American Sociological Review.

Predatory lending typically refers to loans that carry unreasonable fees, interest rates and payment requirements.

Poorer minority areas became a focus of these practices in the 1990s with the growth of mortgage-backed securities, which enabled lenders to pool low- and high-risk loans to sell on the secondary market, Professor Douglas Massey of the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University and PhD candidate Jacob Rugh, said in their study.

The financial institutions likely to be found in minority areas tended to be predatory -- pawn shops, payday lenders and check cashing services that "charge high fees and usurious rates of interest," they said in the study.

"By definition, segregation creates minority dominant neighborhoods, which, given the legacy of redlining and institutional discrimination, continue to be underserved by mainstream financial institutions," the study says.

Redlining is the practice of denying or increasing the cost of services, such as banking and insurance, to residents in specific areas, often based on race.

The U.S. economy is still struggling with the effects of its longest recession since the 1930s, which was triggered in large part by the housing crisis, which was in part triggered by the crash of the subprime loan market.

Subprime lending refers to loans made to consumers with poor credit and others considered higher risk. They tend to have a higher interest rate than traditional loans.

The study, which used data from the 100 largest U.S. metropolitan areas, found that living in a predominantly African-American area, and to a lesser extent Hispanic area, were "powerful predictors of foreclosures" in the nation.

Even African-Americans with similar credit profiles and down-payment ratios to white borrowers were more likely to receive subprime loans, according to the study.

"As a result, from 1993 to 2000, the share of subprime mortgages going to households in minority neighborhoods rose from 2 to 18 percent," Massey and Rugh said.

They said the U.S. Civil Rights Act should be amended to create mechanisms that would uncover discrimination and penalize those who discriminated against minority borrowers.

The study is published in the October issue of the journal.
(Editing by Paul Simao)

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Jan Brewer at Her Best

Can we get Mexican immigrants to teach her English? Larry, Barry and Terry, please help!