“Third, “attracting skilled immigrants is not just the domain of immigration and visa policy, but also depends on the success of policy efforts in other fields.” These include the extent to which a place provides a welcoming environment for immigrants and their families, and a country’s progress towards domestic education and training policies for growing a skilled workforce. Immigration must, therefore, be part of a much broader social- and economic-policy strategy that includes education, training, employment, research, investment, and other areas.”
The debate over immigration reform can be pretty heated, with too many hateful and hurtful comments to count. But why? Can’t we just approach the issue logically? Robert Reich is here to help us do just that.
As a First-generation Portuguese-American, I was recently caught off guard when The White House released a report entitled
Guatemalans in Rhode Island
Join Guatemalans in Rhode Island in celebrating their heritage at the 3rd Annual Festival Guatemala on Sunday, September 9, 2012 from 10am to 6pm at Roger Williams Temple of Music in Providence, RI. For more information contact email@example.com. The festival is coordinated by the Guatemalan Center of New England.
For many Guatemalans, Rhode Island became a passing point on the way to political asylum in Canada—simply a temporary stop-over. In the 1980sand 90s, the Guatemalan community became more visible, settling in places like Providence, Central Falls and Woonsocket. Today, Guatemalans can also be found in large numbers in Aquidneck Island (primarily Portsmouth and Middletown) working in nurseries and running their own lawn care businesses.
When Guatemalans first began to settle in Rhode Island, one of the biggest attractions for them was that it was a peaceful place, especially compared to cities like New York and Los Angeles. Many of the first Guatemalans to reach Rhode Island were from small farming communities, and the rural feeling of Rhode Island—and particularly Aquidneck Island—made them feel very much at home.
The first reported Guatemalans began to arrive in New England in the early to mid-1960s. Those were the years of the civil rights movement, and many women and African Americans were moving out of jobs as domestic workers into better-paying ones. There was a need to fill these abandoned positions, and employment agencies in Boston reached out as far as Guatemala searching for domestic workers. By the late 1960s and early 70s, many of these women eventually found their way to Providence when city life in Boston became too overwhelming for them and their families. At that time, the Guatemalans who arrived in Rhode Island found very few Hispanics living here. The only services that were available to them were limited ones offered by the Catholic Church. Many Guatemalans felt isolated from their people as they sought places to speak their language or for the familiar foods that they needed to cook their native dishes. The only Hispanic business where they found a bit of comfort was a place called Fefa’s Market, a restaurant and market in South Providence (owned by Josefina Rosario), which sold many Latin American staples. Eventually Guatemalans looking for food that reminded them of home ended up at Roger Williams Park, where a Guatemalan family pulled up their truck once a week to sell tortillas.
Feelings of isolation were often expressed by many Hispanics in Rhode Island, including one Guatemalan woman interviewed for this project, who considers herself and her family to be one of the first to arrive in Rhode Island in 1962. Because of her undocumented status when she and her family reached Rhode Island, she remembers very little about her life in the West End of Providence, where she and her family lived in hiding in the home of a friend for almost two years. Even at the age of eight, she recalls living in fear that they would be found by authorities, and the loneliness sometimes led her to wish she could return to her country just so she could walk outside and breathe the fresh air of her familiar world. During her interview, she commented on the irony of hearing her parents talk about coming to America to find a more stable place to live, a place where they could gain economic security and safety, and to be free to walk the streets without fear of government oppression. At that time, there were three such families from Guatemala who had been brought to Rhode Island through the Catholic Church, an entity that at the time was not readily prepared to give them the appropriate services needed to become contributing citizens of the U.S.
Formal records show that during the 1970s and 80s Guatemalans began to settle in high numbers in the West End neighborhood of Providence, and also in the Olneyville neighborhood of Providence—on Westminister Street and in the vicinity of Saint Teresa’s Catholic Church, where a Spanish mass held every Sunday made them feel at home. The areas around Broadway Street in Providence, just east of Olneyville, are also heavily populated with Guatemalans. There are also pockets of Guatemalans in northern Rhode Island, in places like Central Falls and Woonsocket. Remarkably, in North Providence, a small community developed in the 1990s, one that includes Quiché-speaking Mayans, an interesting phenomena that raised a new set of social barriers for this community.
According to one Guatemalan who has lived in Rhode Island since the 1960s, the Guatemalan community today is still very isolated. Many individuals do not get involved in political advocacy or find it hard to access state social services for which they qualify primarily because they are accustomed to fearing anything public or government sponsored. The Guatemalan community today lives quietly in Rhode Island, and still relies on some assistance from the Catholic Church and other social service agencies, yet they have formed two organizations in an effort to educate their community about issues of amnesty and immigration reform. A number of restaurant and markets that sell Guatemalan foods are now serving the large number of Guatemalans who live in Providence and Central Falls.
They celebrated on the back porch in Warwick with Chinese food and champagne. It was June 26. The Supreme Court had removed a long and terrible uncertainty from their lives. Friends e-mailed and called with congratulations.
Kudos to the Virginia & Spanish Peanut Co., founded in 1913 by Armenian immigrant Peter S. Kaloostian and operated these days by his great-granddaughters.
"America has always been a nation of immigrants, and throughout the nation’s history, immigrants from around the globe have kept our work force vibrant, our businesses on the cutting edge, and helped to build the greatest economic engine in the world,” the White House report said. Mr. Obama planned to meet Wednesday morning with the Congressional Hispanic Caucus to discuss immigration legislation.
The report was released as Mr. Bush led a naturalization ceremony at his new presidential center just outside Dallas and used the opportunity to likewise tout the benefits of welcoming foreigners into the United States. Although Mr. Bush said he would not take a position on specific legislation, his speech was a reminder to Republicans that he has long believed it was necessary to overhaul the system in a way much like the Senate bill outlined.
“America can be a lawful society and a welcoming society at the same time,” Mr. Bush said at the ceremony, broadcast live over the Internet. “We can uphold our traditions of assimilating immigrants and honoring our heritage as a nation built on the rule of law.
“But we have a problem,” he added. “The laws governing the immigration system aren’t working. The system is broken. We’re now in an important debate in reforming those laws. And that’s good. I don’t intend to get involved in the politics or the specifics of policy. But I do hope there is a positive resolution to the debate, and I hope during the debate that we keep a benevolent spirit in mind and we understand the contributions that immigrants make to our country.”