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Author Topic: Immigration  (Read 15187 times)
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« on: November 17, 2006, 08:07:27 AM »

Published: November 17, 2006
The stories are unique to the Ogunleye family, but familiar to everyone in the projects of their old neighborhood.

Mary DiBiase Blaich for The New York Times
Ranti Ogunleye across the street from his family?s former apartment. He is the director of the Urban League on Staten Island.
The mother tells about the stray bullets that came through the window of their unit at Staten Island?s Park Hill apartments ? a place the youngsters called Killer Hill and others dubbed Crack Hill.

The father remembers when his older son came home with $17 or $18 in his hand, courtesy of a drug-dealing recruiter who told the boy to buy some milk and keep the change.

The younger brother, now 26, recalls the divided turf between housing projects, where youngsters from one ganged up on another, and the day?s biggest worry was sneaking safely through.

And Adewale Ogunleye, a 29-year-old defensive end for the Chicago Bears, will not forget the time his mother took him to the apartment of the neighborhood bully and told her son to beat up the boy.

?I said: ?Hit him. What are you waiting for?? ? Lawrencia Ogunleye said. ?You can?t be running away. This is your home.?

Adewale Ogunleye (pronounced ADD-ay-WALL-ay oh-GOON-lay-UH) won, and the boy never bothered him again.

?When your mom?s watching, you can?t lose,? said Adewale, whose Bears (8-1) beat the Giants at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., last Sunday and will return this weekend to face the Jets (5-4).

It is a rare back-to-back road trip that takes him close to home, and the family that protected him.

Gabriel Ogunleye, the father, had a comfortable life as the son of a provincial king in Nigeria. He left it behind in 1972 to pursue a broader education and the American dream. Lawrencia, whose father worked in West Africa?s cocoa business, followed in 1973, motivated to succeed by her grandmother?s insistence that she would not.

The couple began in Brooklyn, taking college classes and whatever job would help pay for them. Gabriel cleaned toilets, drove a cab, worked as a security guard. He knows how it feels to have car tires shot out, to have a gun to the head, to be left tied up, he said.

With children, the Ogunleyes moved to what they thought was the relative safety of Staten Island, to a federally subsidized housing project ? a cluster of red-brick, six-story buildings with more than 1,000 apartments on Park Hill Avenue.

?The place looked so nice compared to where we lived in Brooklyn,? Lawrencia said.

Then the drug epidemic of the 1980s and violence of the 1990s closed in around them, and the Park Hill apartments became less a place to live than a place to survive. The Ogunleyes wondered if they could build the life they dreamed of in an America they did not imagine.

?We went through hell,? Gabriel Ogunleye said. ?But we made it. We made it.?

Gabriel and Lawrencia ? known to friends as Wale (pronounced Wall-ay, short for Adewale, the name the couple handed their oldest son) and Lawrie ? did not merely earn college degrees, but graduate degrees, too. They settled into careers as social workers in New York City.

Three of their four children ? Patricia, Adewale, Ranti ? have college degrees and careers, too. The youngest, a daughter named Dayo, is expected to graduate this year from Howard University and pursue medical school.

?I am very proud,? said Gabriel, who moved the family out of Park Hill about 12 years ago, to a little house a couple of miles away. ?I know it is because of God. It is not because I am smart. It is not because my wife is smart. I believe that America is a great country. I love this country. If you want to make it, you will make it.?

For much of his childhood, Adewale Ogunleye simply wanted to make it to and from school. His world was sliced into overlapping factions. There were clashes between African-Americans and the recent African immigrants (most from West African countries), where an Ogunleye stood apart from a Smith, and usually got taunted for it.

There were fights based on geography ? especially in junior high, as Park Hill youngsters walked over the hill to I.S. 49, next to the high-rise housing project called the Stapleton Houses.

The violence grew more dangerous and more random. They saw the police sweeps through the area, and the responding gunshots fired and rocks thrown from the rooftops. Bold headlines and police-blotter mentions were routine.

?It was a little scary, but when you?re living in it, you don?t understand how rough it really is,? Adewale said after a Bears practice in Lake Forest, Ill., last week.

An Immigrant Tale: Hard Life, Hard Work, All in the Family
               E-MailPrint Single Page Reprints Save
Published: November 17, 2006
(Page 2 of 2)

His parents knew, and they now admit now to being scared then. They dreaded having to pass through the menacing gangs that stood on the street corners and in the dim hallways. They saw that the loiterers they passed on their way to work in the morning were the same ones they saw when they returned at night.

?My parents were very strict, to the point that sometimes we didn?t understand why they were being so strict,? Adewale said. ?But there was so much love there. I see now that they loved us so much they never wanted anything bad to happen to us, so maybe they put their grips on a little too tight. But it worked out for the best because we all turned out to be pretty good kids.?

Adewale inherited the protective gene. In junior high, he walked his younger siblings to the elementary school in one direction, then turned back, met up with friends ? safety in numbers ? and walked to his school. Once they crossed Osgood Avenue, they were in foreign territory. Children learned which streets to avoid and which were outlets to safety. But Adewale, a tall and gangly child, still found himself bloodied by an occasional fight.

His disdain for the turf wars steered him to Tottenville High, a middle-class school on the opposite end of Staten Island, a long train ride away, that was trying to become more racially integrated.

There he blossomed into a strong football player. His parents abhorred the game?s violence, but when the coach told them that Adewale was good enough to earn a college scholarship, they begrudgingly supported his participation.

Adewale started for four seasons at Indiana. He left with a degree in English and a No. 5 ranking on the Big Ten?s career sack list. A serious knee injury midway through his senior season wiped out his N.F.L. draft prospects, and Adewale, 6 feet 4 inches and 260 pounds, signed as a free agent with the Miami Dolphins.

He had 9? sacks in 2002 and 15 in 2003, earning a trip to the Pro Bowl. The Dolphins traded him to the Bears in 2004 for Chicago?s top receiver, Marty Booker, and a draft pick. He had 10 sacks last season, and has 2? sacks this season, having missed two October games with a strained hamstring.

Ranti Ogunleye is two and a half years younger and about nine inches shorter than his brother. He is director of the Urban League in Staten Island and, provided a walking tour of their old neighborhood Wednesday. He has not lived there for more than a decade, but knows many of the residents.

?Living in Park Hill brought a toughness out of us, and helped us learn to get along with everybody,? Ranti said.

He stood on the sidewalk along Park Hill Avenue, near a tree with a trunk painted in honor of Ernest Sayon, a purported drug dealer who suffocated in police custody in 1994, sparking a resident march and a riot-gear police response. He looked up to 6F, the top-floor two-bedroom apartment where his family lived. He recalled having spitting contests out the windows with Adewale.

He ducked into the building?s ground-floor hallway. It is a cheerless place, painted yellow, with brown-tile floors and bare fluorescent bulbs on the ceiling. He stood before the door of 1U, where the Ogunleyes moved for the extra bedroom.

Outside and around the corner, he chatted with Mike Jones, an old friend and Tottenville football teammate of Adewale?s who still lives in the area.

?Coming up in the urban ghetto can be tough,? Jones said. ?It?s calmed down nowadays. It?s not as rough as it was growing up.?

In front of him was a Home Depot that replaced a ragged strip mall. Behind him was a large mural on the side of a building, titled, ?To all our fallen soldiers.?

It honors young Park Hill residents who have died in the past couple of decades. All are identified only by a street name, and more than 40 are listed.

?If you don?t take your child from the street,? Lawrencia Ogunleye had said a few days earlier, from a house a couple of miles away, ?the street will take your child.?
« Last Edit: December 13, 2006, 09:47:20 AM by Crafty_Dog » Logged
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« Reply #1 on: December 13, 2006, 09:48:05 AM »

Trading Places
How Immigration
Upended Dreams
Of an Entrepreneur
Mr. Hairston's Stucco Workers
Quit to Become His Rivals;
Illegals Drive Prices Down
A Wife's Political Riposte
December 13, 2006; Page A1

HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. -- About five years ago, the journey of Starletta and William Hairston from the underclass to the upper class hit a roadblock.

Both were born to poor black Southern families. William, a stucco subcontractor, built a thriving business beautifying houses in the gated communities on this resort island, a magnet for wealthy retirees seeking a laid-back lifestyle by the sea. Starletta, a former flight attendant, won accolades for her community activism.

Then Hilton Head suddenly saw a wave of illegal immigrant workers from Mexico. Mr. Hairston, 54 years old, initially hired the Hispanic newcomers for his stucco business, helping it flourish. But soon, some of those same workers splintered off to form their own businesses, undercutting Mr. Hairston with lower bids to capture jobs. The Hairstons' net income plunged from roughly $500,000 in 1997 to about $70,000 in 2005, according to the couple.

To stay afloat, the Hairstons remortgaged their house twice and sold a condominium and a plot of land. Mr. Hairston now hustles for jobs in Charlotte, N.C., and beyond, looking for better opportunities. Meanwhile, Starletta Hairston, 53, won election to the Beaufort County Council, where she has joined a wave of local officials around the country trying to pass new laws cracking down on illegal immigrants.

Amid the debate over illegal immigration, one of the most contentious questions is whether unauthorized workers from Mexico and other Latin American countries displace U.S. workers, especially low-wage workers in agriculture, cleaning and construction.

The Hairstons' saga shows that the issue is not just about low-paid workers, but also entrepreneurs who set out to make their own fortune. As an ambitious small-business man, Mr. Hairston helped himself to undocumented immigrant labor and thrived with it. But as more immigrants flocked to the area and acquired skills, some of them harnessed their own entrepreneurial drive and became competitors.


Question of the Day: What is the net effect of illegal immigration on the U.S. economy?Mr. Hairston got his start in the plastering business in his native North Carolina. His business took off in Atlanta in the late 1980s when construction in the city boomed. Mr. Hairston married Starletta, the daughter of a maid who raised eight children alone, in 1985. The next year they had a son, William III. The couple restored a dilapidated boarding house in downtown Atlanta and moved in.

By the mid-1990s, stucco jobs increasingly took Mr. Hairston and his predominantly black crew from Atlanta to Hilton Head Island. Mr. Hairston fell in love with the moss-draped oak trees and intercoastal waterways inhabited by snowy egrets. Golf and hotels had turned the area into a resort mecca, and in the mid-1990s, a housing boom in the area allowed Beaufort County to boast the fastest growth and lowest unemployment in the state. "There was tons of work ... and only a couple stucco contractors in the whole area," recalls Mr. Hairston, a tall, strong man who sports a shaved head and a goatee. For some time, he commuted from Atlanta, living in motels or houses that he rented for himself and his employees. "He was a good subcontractor," says Ellis Smith, owner of Sandcastle Constructors, a local home builder for whom Mr. Hairston did several stucco jobs.

Mr. Hairston eventually convinced Starletta to leave Atlanta for Hilton Head. Mrs. Hairston had just had the couple's second son, Skylor, when she arrived in 1993. In Hilton Head, the Hairstons were far from their roots. They rented houses in tony gated communities. Typically the only black family, the couple says they endured complaints from white neighbors who didn't like seeing company trucks parked in the driveway or their son's plastic playhouse in the yard.

Mr. Hairston's business thrived. He says there was more work than he could keep up with, and a dearth of locals willing to do the heavy lifting required of stucco work: mixing and lugging buckets of cement, for example. "It was hard to find people willing to work sunrise to sunset," says Mr. Hairston. Many people, he added, only "worked long enough to keep their trailer lights on."

Latin American immigrants were just starting to trickle into the area, as word spread that jobs in construction and hospitality were plentiful. Immigrants were increasingly bypassing traditional gateways, like California and Texas, to seek work in the Southeast.

So Mr. Hairston, who until then had mostly relied on black labor, hired a handful of Mexicans. He says they were diligent and eager to learn. They were "prepared to acquire basic knowledge and not afraid to try" new work, says Mr. Hairston. When he needed more hands, his Mexican workers sent for their relatives back home and elsewhere in the U.S. Mr. Hairston says they presented Social Security numbers, and he in turn paid taxes and workers' compensation although he acknowledges some of them had probably entered the U.S. illegally.

In 1997 the stucco business made $971,000, according to the Hairstons' tax return. To handle his blossoming business, Mr. Hairston rented a large office with four rooms, two restrooms and warehouse space behind it. He bought a condominium and a plot of land as investments. Flush with success, the Hairstons broke ground on a 7,600-square-foot, three-story house with an ornate gold-and-black gate, a cherub fountain in the front and a large swimming pool in the back.

As Hilton Head prospered, more and more Mexican immigrants flocked there. From 1% of the population in 1995, Latinos accounted for 11% of Hilton Head's 34,000 residents in 2000, according to census figures. Officials peg the current Latino population at about 15%.

One immigrant who prospered was Fidel Serrano.

After eking out a living as a baker at a doughnut shop in Houston for five years, Mr. Serrano moved to Hilton Head Island in 1994, joining two brothers who had recently settled there. "There was plenty of work and life was calmer here for the kids," recalls Mr. Serrano, a native of Mexico. Mr. Serrano, his wife, two sons and two brothers rented a rundown two-room trailer, for which they collectively paid $600 a month.

Mr. Serrano began to work in stucco, perfecting his skills as an employee of Mr. Hairston's Pro Plastering & Stucco. He says he earned $8 to $10 an hour during the two-and-a-half years he worked for Mr. Hairston. In the beginning, Mr. Serrano recalls, Mr. Hairston still employed several black workers. But gradually Mr. Hairston came to rely more on Mr. Serrano and other Mexican immigrants. "We showed up for work every day and we were dedicated," Mr. Serrano recalls.

On His Own

Around 2000, Mr. Serrano struck out on his own, working as a subcontractor to Mr. Hairston. He supplied Mr. Hairston with crews for several jobs. "I was able to train the workers," who were all Spanish speakers, he recalls. Mr. Hairston typically paid him about 25% of the value of the contract for the job, he says. Mr. Serrano says that he pays taxes on all his workers, as well as workman's compensation.

Mr. Hairston says that for a while it didn't bother him that some of his Latino workers, like the Serranos, struck out on their own. "I never thought I would be competing against them," he says. But he felt particularly stung when he encountered one of his workers -- who had asked for two weeks off -- working on an $80,000 job on a high-end house that Mr. Hairston's company had bid for.

Mr. Hairston's business gradually began to unravel. Mr. Hairston "would bid and another guy who used to work for him would bid on the same job," recalls Greg Goldberg, another builder, who is currently president of the local home builders' association. Mr. Goldberg himself says he hired some of Mr. Hairston's former workers.

Mr. Hairston says that he never knew by how much he was undercut because the bidding process in construction isn't open. Builders often approach two or three subcontractors and invite them to make an estimate for a project. The builders rarely reveal the value of the winning bid to the losing parties.

Mr. Hairston says that he found himself losing bid after bid. Longtime customers didn't want him, he says -- a fact the contractors confirm. "We get happy with a subcontractor that does good work and we'll use him all the time," says Mr. Smith of Sandcastle Constructors. Currently, he employs Premium Stucco, owned by Fidel Serrano, Mr. Hairston's former employee. "They do an excellent job,'" he says, noting that they are working on a $2 million house that his company is building.

Mr. Serrano received his green card last year and bought a three-bedroom house. Most of his jobs are in luxurious gated communities, some of the same ones where Mr. Hairston thrived a decade ago. "Work is the only thing you can do to better yourself," Mr. Serrano says. "We aren't expecting the government or anyone to support us." He says that Mr. Hairston does good work and declines to comment about his former boss's financial difficulties.

In addition to facing competition from former workers, Mr. Hairston says he also faced competition from subcontractors hiring illegal immigrants and paying them under the table. Mr. Hairston says that while he hired undocumented workers he paid payroll taxes and workman's compensation for them which added about 20% to his labor costs.

Other subcontractors agree they are being undercut by competitors who hire illegal immigrants off the books. Danny Miller, who runs a stucco business called Two Brothers, says that "on a weekly" basis, his company loses bids for jobs to contractors who hire illegal immigrants. "That pretty much explains it all," says Mr. Miller.

At Sea Island Supply, owner Ron Sandlin remembers when mainly blacks and whites came in to buy brick, stucco and masonry materials. Now, his clientele is 85% Hispanic. He and his staff are taking Spanish lessons at a local college.

Though construction in Hilton Head continued to boom, Mr. Hairston closed his business office in 2002. He began to seek jobs in other markets. By 2003, revenue from Mr. Hairston's stucco business had fallen to $182,000 from $971,000 six years earlier.

As their fortunes were souring, Mrs. Hairston, a Republican who had become involved in community activities, decided to run for a seat on the 11-member County Council of Beaufort County. Her long hair usually adorned with a headband, she campaigned on improving conditions in impoverished areas. In a runoff, she defeated her white male Republican opponent by 50 votes and took office in January 2003.

Political Inspiration

Shortly after taking office, Mrs. Hairston requested a meeting with Hilton Head Mayor Tom Peeples, himself a residential developer. "William didn't understand why he couldn't win any bids. I thought, 'Let's find out what we can do,' " recalls Mrs. Hairston. "We went in there to say we were willing to work with him," says Mr. Hairston. Mr. Peeples told them that it was about who could give him the best price, according to the couple.

Mr. Peeples didn't reply to several messages left at his business office and voice mail.

Gradually, Mrs. Hairston found a new political inspiration: the immigration issue. "I saw inequities," she says, adding she also felt illegal immigrant workers were being exploited. Others see her motivation differently: "Starletta got bitter because of her husband's business," says Juan Campos, a Hilton Head restaurateur and Latino activist. Mrs. Hairston says she isn't motivated by her husband's plight, noting that Mr. Hairston no longer does business in the area.

In September, Mrs. Hairston presented a draft of an "illegal immigration relief ordinance" to the County Council. Under the ordinance, companies that knowingly hire undocumented laborers could have their business licenses revoked. The ordinance would require that all businesses volunteer to participate in a federal government pilot program that verifies whether a Social Security number matches an individual's name. It would bar illegal immigrants from getting a business license.

If the ordinance passes, "costs for yard service, green fees and house painting might escalate marginally for a while," Mrs. Hairston says, but "we will hold the moral and ethical high ground."

Loud Opposition

The County Council voted overwhelmingly to move the proposal forward in the first and second readings. But after loud opposition from Hispanic residents and many employers, the council instead approved on Monday a watered-down version called "lawful employment ordinance," which is less controversial and mainly reinforces existing federal and county employment codes. The council is to take its final vote on Dec. 27.

Whether the ordinance passes or not, it's not helping the Hairstons now. Starletta Hairston lost a Republican primary in June and will go off the council next year. William Hairston hasn't bid on a job in Beaufort County for at least two years. Instead he flies to North Carolina every week, where he says he uses a native-born, mostly black crew.

Mr. Hairston remains in touch with some of his old workers. A few months ago, Paul Serrano, who with his brother Fidel left to form a rival stucco company, approached Mr. Hairston to help him secure a green card which would put Paul Serrano on the path to citizenship and allow him to travel back and forth legally to Mexico to visit his elderly mother who is ill.

Mr. Hairston agreed to fill out forms attesting to his former employee's business skills and good character. He says he did it as an act of compassion but acknowledges the larger irony.

"He's my competition and I just signed papers to get him legal," says Mr. Hairston. "I'm making it possible for him to live the American dream."

WSJ 12/13/06
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Posts: 42462

« Reply #2 on: December 13, 2006, 03:45:30 PM »

Charles Murray on Immigration
What's my position on immigration? Well, since apparently someone asked (and I have never published anything on immigration), here goes.
Regarding illegal immigration:
1. Making laws about who gets to become a citizen, under what circumstances, is a legitimate function of the state.
2. Protecting borders is a legitimate function of the state.
3. Enforcing the law is a central function of the state.
4. Immigration reform must begin first with enforcement of existing immigration law. If it takes a wall, so be it.
5. And while I'm at it, I'll mention that English should be the only language in which public school classes are taught (except for teaching English as a foreign language) and in which the public's business is conducted.
Regarding legal immigration:
1. Immigration is one of the main reasons-I'm guessing the main reason apart from our constitution-that we have remained a vital, dynamic culture, but immigration of a particular sort: Self-selection whereby people come here for opportunity. That self-selection process used to apply to everyone. It still applies to the engineers and computer programmers and entrepreneurs who come here from abroad, but it is diluted for low-job-skill workers by the many economic benefits of just being in the United States. Most low-job-skill immigrants work very hard. But Milton Friedman was right: You can't have both open immigration and a welfare state. The tension between the two is inescapable.
2. Massive immigration of legal low-skill workers is problematic for many reasons, and some of them have to do with human capital. Yes, mean IQ does vary by ethnic group, and IQ tends to be below average in low-job-skill populations. One can grant all the ways in which smart people coming from Latin American or African countries are low-job-skill because they have been deprived of opportunity, and still be forced to accept the statistical tendencies. The empirical record established by scholars such as George Borjas at Harvard cannot be wished away.
3. I am not impressed by worries about losing America's Anglo-European identity. Some of the most American people I know are immigrants from other parts of the world. And I'd a hell of a lot rather live in a Little Vietnam or a Little Guatemala neighborhood, even if I couldn't read the store signs, than in many white-bread communities I can think of.
4. When it comes to the nitty-gritty, I would get rid of reuniting-families provisions, get rid of the you're-a-citizen-if-you're-born-here rule, and make immigrants ineligible for all benefits and social services except public education for their children. Everybody who immigrates has to be on a citizenship track (no guest workers). And I would endorse a literacy requirement. Having those measures in place, my other criteria for getting permission to immigrate would be fairly loose. Just having to get through the bureaucratic hoops will go a long way toward reinstalling a useful self-selection process. But, to go back to basics: None of this works unless illegal immigration is effectively ended.
I suppose other libertarians will disagree, but I don't see a single item in this approach that runs against the principles of classical liberalism.
Charles Murray
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Posts: 7826

« Reply #3 on: June 03, 2007, 10:13:29 PM »


I understand what you are saying and

Well yes that's the argument that is made.   And I would submit this has *obvious validity*.  For example we made exceptions after WWII to obtain brilliant minded scientists like Von Braun. [ot: I just saw a cable show that (sadly as far as I feel) we allowed not only people who were swept up by the Nazi tidle wave but advid supporters and architects into the US as well.] Von Braun of course was  great to have for us a nation.

I still am not convinced that Cao cannot apply for or receive citizenship like everyone else.

There is no shortage of Asian/Middle Eastern American doctors from my vantage point!  They are here by the tens of thousands at least in the NYC metro area.  I don't see how they could be practicing with a license if they were not legal.

If Cao is so smart he can marry a Chinese American girl?  I have a South African niece.  It took work, a lawyer, money, time and sweat but she is an American Citizen now.

Like Schwarzenegger.

Was GG protesting this about Cao? GG was the same guy who was proclaiming on his website (in the late 90's) that the export and stealing of military secrets to China was a bogus complaint. He typed on the message board more or less that the Chinese could figure this out anyway so what's the big deal.  But if I had to choose I would keep Cao and send Gilder to China.
To set my opinion straight GG is obviously a genius.  And he seems an honorable man. He invested his own money with us on his stock picks and his business. He made and lost money with us subscribers to his newsletters.  I wonder how many other gurus do this.  He was right about the telecosm just off by an unknown number of years.  But some of his political ideas are based in fantasy and naivity like some his investment ideas - like "listen to the technology" as the key to investing success.  He called Intel, ATT, and Microsoft a bunch of dinosaurs.  Maybe they can be viewed that way froma technology point of view but they are not going away.

Somewhat off the topic: I notice Cao left Avanex before it crashed to one dollar a share.  Or did someone at the immigration office lose their shirt in Avanex and get him deported?  Sorry for my wiseguy remarks here.  I lost a lot on Avanex.  I take responsibility but it is hard not to be annoyed.

As always I appreciate the divergence of views and being able to express them here.

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Posts: 42462

« Reply #4 on: June 05, 2007, 07:52:45 AM »

The author for me has a suspect background in MALDEF and related organizations, but as part of search for truth, I post her piece here:


The Great Assimilation Machine
June 5, 2007; Page A23

For more than 200 years the United States has been the great assimilation machine, churning Germans, Swedes, Italians, Poles, Greeks, Russians, Lebanese, Chinese, Indians, Pakistanis and myriad others into Americans. There are many Americans today who believe, or worry, that the largest group of recent immigrants -- the nearly 20 million Hispanics who have come here in the last several decades -- are unwilling or unable to do the same.

In his 2004 book, "Who Are We? The Challenges to National Identity," Harvard political scientist Samuel P. Huntington warned that "Mexican immigration is leading toward the demographic reconquista of areas Americans took from Mexico by force in the 1830s and 1840s," a sentiment I hear echoed frequently in the debate over immigration reform. Others warn that the country is playing host to a burgeoning new underclass of poorly educated, welfare-dependent Hispanics who will overwhelm us with social pathologies. Still others marshal statistics that appear to support their view that Hispanics are indeed failing to assimilate as have previous ethnic groups.

The real story of Hispanic assimilation, however, is a lot less gloomy -- although a bit more complicated -- than the critics charge. Part of the problem is the interpretation of statistics: As we are in the midst of a huge influx of new immigrants, legal and illegal, including seven million Mexicans who have arrived since 1990, any statistical snapshot that includes these newcomers (who make up about half the adult Hispanic population) will distort the overall moving picture.

Take Hispanic dropout rates. A snapshot looks bad: 42% of Hispanics, according to the Current Population Survey, had not finished high school in 2005. But nearly half of the people counted aren't dropouts in the usual sense; they've never dropped in to an American school. They are immigrants who completed their schooling, such as it was, before coming here in their late teens or 20s. Granted, low education levels will make their climb up the economic ladder slower -- 60% of Mexican-born adults have not completed high school. But the earnings of Hispanic immigrants will improve as they gain work skills and experience, and the evidence is strong that they will do so. Mexican-born men, for example, had higher labor force participation rates than native-born male workers, 88% compared with 83%, and lower unemployment rates than native workers, 4.4% compared with 5.1% in 2006. Labor force participation rates of illegal aliens are higher yet, a whopping 94%.

More importantly, the children of Hispanic immigrants are graduating from high school. The high school completion rate for young, U.S.-born Hispanics is 86%, only slightly lower than the 92% of non-Hispanic whites. Hispanic immigrant children who do enroll in school after they come here are as likely as American-born Hispanics to earn a high school diploma (although half of Mexican immigrants 15-17 years-old do not enroll in school).

Hispanics are more likely than either whites or blacks to continue their education at two-year institutions; in 2000 they represented 14% of all students enrolled in two-year institutions. Only 12% of U.S.-born Hispanics earn four-year degrees compared with 26% of non-Hispanic whites. Nonetheless, the economic returns on education are substantial for Hispanics. As a 2006 study on Hispanics by the National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences reported, "We consistently find that, after adjusting for the levels of human capital (e.g., schooling and English language proficiency), Hispanics do almost as well as whites with respect to both employment and labor market earnings," which the authors note is not the case for blacks, who still lag behind whites even after adjusting for observable measures of human capital.

English proficiency is, of course, essential if Hispanics are to fully assimilate into the mainstream, and one issue many Americans have expressed great concern over. But despite anxiety that Hispanics aren't learning English and will soon insist that the U.S. become bilingual, the evidence suggests otherwise. True enough, most Hispanic immigrants have poor English skills: The 2000 Census reported that 26 million people spoke Spanish at home, and of these, 14 million were unable to speak English well. But there is nothing unusual about this; historically most immigrant groups have taken a generation or more to produce fluent English speakers. In 1900, nearly 50 years after the peak period of German immigration, 600,000 students attended German bilingual schools in the U.S.

But if Hispanic immigrants have been slow to learn English, their American-born progeny have quickly adapted. English is the preferred language of virtually all U.S.-born Hispanics; according to a study by the Pew Hispanic Center, indeed, 78% of third-generation Hispanics cannot speak Spanish at all. Even in Southern California, an area with the largest population of Spanish speakers in the nation, 96% of third-generation Mexican Americans prefer to speak English at home, according to a recent study by sociologists Ruben Rumbaut, Douglas Massey and Frank Bean.

The fear that Hispanics are or will become an isolated, economically alienated group within the larger American society also does not jibe with a variety of other measures. A 2006 Commerce Department study reported that Hispanics are opening businesses at a rate three times faster than the national average. In 2002, the last year for which detailed data are available, there were 1.6 million Hispanic-owned businesses generating $222 billion in revenue. Most of these businesses are family affairs, with few employees, but some 1,500 Hispanic businesses employed 100 or more people, generating $42 billion in gross receipts.

Half of all Hispanics own homes. This is substantially below the 76% of non-Hispanic whites that are homeowners. A Department of Housing and Urban Development analysis of Hispanic home ownership trends suggests that the gap can be explained by a number of factors, including age. Home ownership increases with age, but nearly twice as many Hispanics as non-Hispanic whites are under 35, while only 10% of Hispanics, but nearly one quarter of whites, are over 65.

One genuinely disturbing trend is the increase in out-of-wedlock births among Hispanics, which has risen to 46% in 2004 from 24% in 1980, compared with 24.5% for non-Hispanic whites and 69% for blacks. (Mexican immigrants have a somewhat lower rate of unmarried childbearing, 35%.) This is not good, but it is not clear that these unmarried mothers remain so for long or that their children grow up in fatherless homes. Marriage rates for Hispanics are virtually the same as for non-Hispanic whites, suggesting many unwed mothers make it to the altar eventually, and they are no more likely to divorce than whites. The most comprehensive study of marriage and cohabitation, produced by the Department of Health and Human Services in 2002, shows that 77% of Hispanic women will marry by age 30, compared with 81% of non-Hispanic whites but only 52% of blacks. Moreover, 67% of Mexican origin children live in two parent families, compared with about 77% of whites, but only 37% of blacks.

Finally, consider that ultimate indicator of assimilation, intermarriage. One in four Hispanics marries a non-Hispanic white spouse, but nearly one-third of all U.S.-born Hispanics who are married have non-Hispanic spouses; and the percentage is slightly higher among college-educated Hispanic women (35%). There is a curious, and provocative fact buried in all this. The Population Reference Bureau notes in its 2005 study of intermarriage that, because most children of intermarriages are reported as Hispanic on Census data, "Hispanic intermarriage may have been a factor in the phenomenal growth of the U.S. Hispanic population in recent years, and it has important implications for future growth and characteristics of the Hispanic population." In other words, the widely cited prediction that by mid-century Hispanics will represent fully one third of the U.S. population fails to take into account that increasing numbers of these so-called Hispanics will have only one grandparent or great-grandparent of Hispanic heritage. At which point Hispanic ethnicity will mean little more than German, Italian or Irish ethnicity does today.

Ms. Chavez is chairman of the Center for Equal Opportunity and the author of a number of books, including "Out of the Barrio: Toward a New Politics of Hispanic Assimilation" (Basic Books, 1991).
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« Reply #5 on: June 05, 2007, 10:13:31 PM »

Naturally (no pun intended) Chavez fails to mention that the hispanic population according to the US census in 1993 was 22.8 million.  Only seven years later it was 35 million in 2000.  At that rate by now it is 48 million!  I can only assume that doesn't include
people who are here illegally.  To say the Latino population is not *exploding* (now more than the number of Blacks in the US) is pure and unaldulterated BS.   Of course she desires to sugar coat it.  Of course she makes this into a racial war.  What about the people here illegally from Europe, Middle East, and Asia?  How many millions are we talking about?  There is no end.   There is no limit.  From my place in the NYC metro area almost every single business I go into has people who are obviously from somewhere else.  I don't get it.  Are all these people here legally or not?   The government is failing the people who are here  legally whether they were born here or elsewhere.  My beef is not with reasonable immigration.  But what I see is crazy.  Decades ago when we had waves of Irish, Italians, Jews, there was no medicaid, medicare, emergency rooms, etc.   I just don't get any of it.  One doesn't know how to believe or what information to trust.  I heard that it is estimated that 40% of illegals are going around using SSN.   What the hell is going on?  Why do I have to be afraid to express outrage?
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« Reply #6 on: June 13, 2007, 12:15:29 AM »

The question of how do we deal with immigrants who have special quailities that can serve our national interest.

Article by Charles Krauthammer on immigration bill:
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« Reply #7 on: August 11, 2007, 09:11:13 PM »

In the recent issue of this medical journal is a remarkable story of a 19 year old illegal immigrant who spoke no English and with $65 in his pocket began a journey that would take him to Harvard medical school and to a professorship of neurosurgery and oncology at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.

It makes one proud to be in a country where such opportunity is available.  Yet this individual's achievements are still quite rare.

Apparantly he could not have done this at all in Mexico.  What our politicians and left leaning media should be asking and making clear the reasons why people cannot do this in Mexico.   Is it that corrupt in Mexico?  Why is there not the same opportunity in a country like Mexico?  Why is not education not as available there?  Etc.

I am in awe of stories like these.  Compare this to the "little" narcisistic punks we hear about every day in the news like Spears, Hilton, Smith, Bonds.   Anyway I digress while I let off steam about our sick love of celebritism.

The read a bit long but worth the read for a real uplifting and inspiring story:

The New England Journal of Medicine

 Volume 357:529-531       August 9, 2007       Number 6

*Terra Firma — A Journey from Migrant Farm Labor to Neurosurgery*
Alfredo Quiñones-Hinojosa, M.D.

"You will spend the rest of your life working in the fields," my cousin told me when I arrived in the United States in the mid-1980s. This fate indeed appeared likely: a 19-year-old illegal migrant farm worker, I had no English language skills and no dependable means of support. I had grown up in a small Mexican farming community, where I began working at my father's gas station at the age of 5. Our family was poor, and we were subject to the diseases of poverty: my earliest memory is of my infant sister's death from diarrhea when I was 3 years old. But my parents worked long hours and had always made enough money to feed us, until an economic crisis hit our country in the 1970s. Then they could no longer support the family, and although I trained to be a teacher, I could not put enough food on the table either.

Desperate for a livable income, I packed my few belongings and, with $65 in my pocket, crossed the U.S. border illegally. The first time I hopped the fence into California, I was caught and sent back to Mexico, but I tried again and succeeded. I am not condoning illegal immigration; honestly, at the time, the law was far from the front of my mind. I was merely responding to the dream of a better life, the hope of escaping poverty so that one day I could return home triumphant. Reality, however, posed a stark contrast to the dream. I spent long days in the fields picking fruits and vegetables, sleeping under leaky camper shells, eating anything I could get, with hands bloodied from pulling weeds — the very same hands that today perform brain surgery.

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My days as a farm worker taught me a great deal about economics, politics, and society. I learned that being illegal and poor in a foreign country could be more painful than any poverty I had previously experienced. I learned that our society sometimes treats us differently depending on the places we have been and the education we have obtained. When my cousin told me I would never escape that life of poverty, I became determined to prove him wrong. I took night jobs as a janitor and subsequently as a welder that allowed me to attend a community college where I could learn English.
In 1989, while I was working for a railroad company as a welder and high-pressure valve specialist, I had an accident that caused me to reevaluate my life once again. I fell into a tank car that was used to carry liquefied petroleum gas. My father was working at the same company. Hearing a coworker's cry for help, he tried to get into the tank; fortunately, someone stopped him. It was my brother-in-law, Ramon, who climbed in and saved my life. He was taken out of the tank unconscious but regained consciousness quickly. By the time I was rescued, my heart rate had slowed almost to zero, but I was resuscitated in time. When I awoke, I saw a person dressed all in white and was flooded with a sense of security, confidence, and protection, knowing that a doctor was taking care of me. Although it was clear to me that our poverty and inability to speak English usually translated into suboptimal health care for my community, the moment I saw this physician at my bedside, I felt I had reached terra firma, that I had a guardian.

After community college, I was accepted at the University of California, Berkeley, where a combination of excellent mentorship, scholarships, and my own passion for math and science led me to research in the neurosciences. One of my mentors there convinced me, despite my skepticism, that I could go anywhere I wanted for medical school. Thanks to such support and encouragement, I eventually went to Harvard Medical School. As I pursued my own education, I became increasingly aware of the need and responsibility we have to educate our country's poor.

It is no secret that minority communities have the highest dropout rates and the lowest educational achievement levels in the country. The pathway to higher education and professional training programs is not "primed" for minority students. In 1994, when I started medical school, members of minority groups made up about 18% of the U.S. population but accounted for only 3.7% of the faculty in U.S. medical schools. I was very fortunate to find outstanding minority role models, but though their quality was high, their numbers were low.

Given my background, perhaps it is not surprising that I did not discover the field of neurosurgery until I was a medical student. I vividly remember when, in my third year of medical school, I first witnessed neurosurgeons peeling back the dura and exposing a real, live, throbbing human brain. I recall feeling absolute awe and humility — and an immediate and deep recognition of the intimacy between a patient and a doctor.

That year, one of my professors strongly encouraged me to go into primary care, arguing that it was the best way for me to serve my Hispanic immigrant community. Although I had initially intended to return to Mexico triumphant, I had since fallen in love with this country, and I soon found myself immersed in and committed to the betterment of U.S. society. With my sights set on neurosurgery after medical school, I followed my heart and instincts and have tried to contribute to my community and the larger society in my own way. I see a career in academic medicine as an opportunity not only to improve our understanding and treatment of human diseases but also to provide leadership within medicine and support to future scientists, medical students, and physician scientists from minority and nonminority groups alike.

My grandmother was the medicine woman in the small town in rural Mexico where I grew up. As I have gotten older, I have come to recognize the crucial role she played not only in instilling in me the value of healing but also in determining the fate and future of others. She was my first role model, and throughout my life I have depended on the help of my mentors in pursuing my dreams. Like many other illegal immigrants, I arrived in the United States able only to contemplate those dreams — I was not at that point on solid ground. From the fields of the San Joaquin Valley in California to the field of neurosurgery, it has been quite a journey. Today, as a neurosurgeon and researcher, I am taking part in the larger journey of medicine, both caring for patients and conducting clinical and translational research on brain cancer that I hope will lead to innovative ways of fighting devastating disease. And as a citizen of the United States, I am also participating in the great journey of this country. For immigrants like me, this voyage still means the pursuit of a better life — and the opportunity to give back to society."

Source Information:

Dr. Quiñones-Hinojosa is an assistant professor of neurosurgery and oncology and director of the brain-tumor stem-cell laboratory at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Baltimore, and director of the brain-tumor program at the Johns Hopkins Bayview campus.

An interview with Dr. Quiñones-Hinojosa can be heard at
« Reply #8 on: August 12, 2007, 10:55:58 PM »

I was merely responding to the dream of a better life, the hope of escaping poverty so that one day I could return home triumphant.

How/why is this this any different from any other illegal?

Why is this man's story supposed to make us feel good? Is it the "successful" outcome? What about the hundreds of thousands of other illegals who don't quite make it to doctor status? Are their stories not worth telling? If he had only become a janitor, would his story still be as inspirational?

It makes one proud to be in a country where such opportunity is available.

It sure does. But can you explain the apparent hypocrisy of praising this illegal while denigrating those who just want a better life and don't achieve "success"?
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« Reply #9 on: August 12, 2007, 11:31:11 PM »

***If he had only become a janitor, would his story still be as inspirational?***

Are you kidding?

***What about the hundreds of thousands of other illegals who don't quite make it to doctor status? Are their stories not worth telling?***

Generally yes.  IMO this is *not* like the millions of Grapes of Wrath stories that can *all* be told with *one* novel.   Just as boring and mundane as my going to medical school and not a story that is worth telling.  Jjust as the guy who jumped the fence and came to the US to aspire to janitorhood is a story that I find not interesting. (I suppose you do?)  So I went to med school. So some guy came here and landed a job as a janitor which he probably did in the country of origin. 

As for myself, I didn't have nearly the adversity this guy had.  Either you're just putting me on or if you really can't see the difference than I might as well not bother posting here.

***But can you explain the apparent hypocrisy of praising this illegal while denigrating those who just want a better life and don't achieve "success"?***

I agree with you about this point.   Your point about hypocrisy is valid.  Yes one could point out he was a criminal just like all illegals regardless of outcome.  And I agree outcome doesn't excuse his initial starting out by breaking our laws.

All day long I am surrounded by people who are from somewhere else.  How many are here legally or not I don't know.  But there is no question they are coming by the millions.  And contrary to what we are hearing many are not from Mexico.

« Reply #10 on: August 13, 2007, 02:10:07 PM »

I agree with you about this point.   Your point about hypocrisy is valid.  Yes one could point out he was a criminal just like all illegals regardless of outcome.  And I agree outcome doesn't excuse his initial starting out by breaking our laws.

Cool. Just making sure we're on the same "still an illegal" page.
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« Reply #11 on: September 14, 2007, 07:02:30 AM »

I'm tired of hearing how tough the immigrants of today have it and how as in Colin Powel's words this country wouldn't survive without them.  What a bunch of crock.

When my grandparents came off the boat circa turn of century they didn't get this:
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« Reply #12 on: June 15, 2012, 09:42:59 AM »

Obama administration stops deporting young immigrants

The policy change affects certain young illegal immigrants
Only those younger than 30 who came to America before the age of 16 qualify
They must be successful students or have served in the military, with clean records

Washington (CNN) -- The Obama administration said Friday it will stop deporting young illegal immigrants who were brought to the United States as children if they meet certain requirements.

The election-year policy change will cover people younger than 30 who came to the United States before the age of 16, pose no criminal or security threat, and were successful students or served in the military, the Department of Homeland Security said.
It also will allow those meeting the requirements to apply for work permits, the statement said.
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« Reply #13 on: September 25, 2012, 04:39:35 PM »

September 25, 2012, 10:37 AM.How to Raise High-Achieving Kids.

Immigrant kids were found to be higher achieving academically and better off Daniel Akst

Here’s a novel recipe for raising successful kids: see that they’re born overseas, but bring them to America before they hit their teens.

That, at least, is the implication of a new study by sociologists at Johns Hopkins University who tracked 10,795 adolescents into young adulthood.

Basically, the sociologists found that the immigrant teens beat the pants off native born children in academic achievement and, as adults, psychological well-being. American born children of immigrants also seemed to enjoy an advantage. The researchers adjusted for socioeconomic background and school conditions, so they were comparing apples to apples.

(Related: America’s New Tiger Immigrants)

Looking at kids 13-17, the researchers focused on the level of difficulty in the students’ math and science classes, as well as the proportion of courses each passed. In turning to adults 25 to 32, the sociologists looked at years of schooling and highest academic degree attained. They assessed general psychological well-being using a scale of five items, such “not feeling socially isolated” and “able to control things.”

(Related: How Red Light-Green Light Leads to Better Learners)

Given that a quarter of American children are the offspring of immigrants, the study’s findings have positive implications for the U.S. workforce in the years ahead, at least as far as the role of immigrants is concerned.

But why did the immigrant kids turn out so well compared to their socioeconomic peers? The authors suggest they derive inspiration and a sense of community from their families and fellow immigrants—and that policymakers look for ways to extend these benefits to all minority kids.
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« Reply #14 on: September 28, 2012, 08:48:15 AM »

Notable & Quotable
Former Boston University President John Silber, who died Thursday, writing about bilingual ballots in The Wall Street Journal in 1986..
Former Boston University President John Silber, who died Thursday at age 86, writing in this newspaper about bilingual ballots on April 30, 1996:

English has never been declared our official language for the simple reason that, until recently, no one doubted that it already was. The country was established by English speakers, its founding documents and laws are written in English and its legislatures transact their affairs in English.

This is a lesson my father learned soon after he came to this country from Germany in 1903 to work on the German pavilion at the St. Louis World's Fair. When the fair closed he went to look for work. Walking down the street, he saw a sign saying, "Undertaker." Supposing this to be a literal translation of the German word "unternehmer," meaning "contractor," he went inside and was surprised to find himself in a room full of coffins. Embarrassed, he concluded that it was time to learn English.

Like all immigrants seeking naturalization, he had to demonstrate proficiency in English. It would never have occurred to him or to any of the millions of other immigrants speaking many different languages to seek accommodations such as ballots in their native tongue. He, like them, had freely chosen to live in a country where the language was English.

This is our historic tradition. But in 1975 Congress amended the Voting Rights Act to require bilingual ballots. Thus the lawmakers abandoned tradition, making a change of Constitutional consequence, amending in effect the very concept of U.S. citizenship. The naturalization statutes presume that English is the language of U.S. citizens. Why else is English required for naturalization? . . .

In the last weeks of the Soviet Union, I visited Moscow. I was struck, reading my visa application, to see that the Soviet government wanted to know both my citizenship and my nationality. I found this incomprehensible, for as an American, my citizenship and my nationality are one and the same. America is a nation based on a set of ideals and allegiance to those ideals—it's not based on ethnicity or national origin.
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