Category: Boston

Immigrants in the Boston metro area.
BostonImmigration NewsLatino

Honduran Immigrants in the U.S. Follow News About Coup Back Home… And Many Support It

By Diego Graglia, FI2W web editor

Hondurans protest in D.C. - Photo: Peruanista blog

Hondurans protest against coup in D.C. - Photo: Peruanista blog

Hondurans in the United States are intensely following the events in their home country, after the military on Sunday rushed President Manuel Zelaya out of bed and sent him into exile in Costa Rica.

But not every talk-show caller nor every demonstrator in American cities is asking for the swift return of the democratically-elected president. Many Hondurans in the U.S. support the coup and the government that took power in Tegucigalpa, despite unanimous condemnation from the international community — including President Barack Obama.

“I think it’s a good thing that they took him away, because he would have won the election on Sunday, and he would have been in office another four years,” restaurant owner Marlen Nunez told WDSU in New Orleans, where there is a big Honduran community. She was referring to Zelaya’s botched attempt to conduct a non-binding national referendum asking voters if they wanted to change the constitution to allow him to run for a second term.

“Constitutionally, a president shouldn’t be in office more than four years … that’s not a democracy,” Nunez said.

(more…)

BostonImmigration News

On May Day Immigrant Families Come Out in Support of Immigration Reform in New England

May Day rally in East Boston - Photo: Eduardo A. de Oliveira/EthnicNEWz.org.

May Day rally in East Boston. (Photos: Eduardo A. de Oliveira/EthnicNEWz.org)

With unexpectedly low turnout, peaceful protests took place across the country today, with rallies in Los Angeles, Chicago, Miami, New Jersey, New York and other cities. Although two factors –rain and the possible spread of swine flu– represented a setback in some cities, advocates feel this is the right moment to push for immigration reform. Police in East Boston, Massachusetts estimated there were 1,000 protesters at a local rally. Across from City Hall in Manchester, N.H., demonstrators numbered only 60, according to organizers.

Fausto da Rocha, a Brazilian activist in Massachusetts was not disappointed with the low attendance. “I’m satisfied to see several religious leaders here today, people who can influence many in their communities,” he said . “Everyone knows the time for legalization is now.”

What the rallies lacked in numbers they compensated for with the participation of entire families.

At least three immigrant families whose members were separated by recent Immigration and Customs Enforcement raids attended the rally in Manchester. At one point, Aaron Silvestre, 6, an American citizen whose father was detained for a few weeks, told the crowd: “We need to keep families together. The police should not take fathers away like they took my father.”

(more…)

BostonImmigration News

Mass. Governor Meets Ethnic Media Over In-State Tuition, Driver's Licenses, Immigration Reform

Gov. Deval Patrick and Frank Herron, director of the Center on Media and Society at the University of Massachusetts, Boston. (Photo: E. de Oliveira)

Gov. Deval Patrick and Frank Herron, director of the Center on Media and Society at the University of Massachusetts, Boston. (Photo: E. A. de Oliveira)

By Eduardo A. de Oliveira, EthnicNEWz.org and FI2W reporter

Proclaiming that, “we need immigration laws that are consistent with our values,” Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick held a wide-ranging press conference with ethnic media journalists at the State House in Boston.  At the meeting, last Friday, the governor defended the creation of partnerships with immigrant communities, answered questions on topics such as bilingual education and driver’s licenses for undocumented immigrants, and commented on race relations under President Barack Obama.

The audience of about fifty journalists –more than 35 from immigrant communities– came from African-American, Brazilian, Chinese, Haitian, Japanese, Korean, Latino, Polish, Portuguese and other print, broadcast and Web media.

The governor made brief remarks at the opening of the press conference, saying democracy thrives when it maintains an unfiltered press. He then opened the floor to the journalists’ questions on topics from “anywhere in your agenda you want,” he said.

At least one topic formed a common thread for many of the journalists: access to driver’s licenses for undocumented workers, many of whom contribute to the state economy and pay taxes.

(more…)

BostonBrazilianImmigration News

Brazilian Immigrants Move Closer to Gaining Political Representation Back Home

By Eduardo A. de Oliveira, EthnicNewz.org and FI2W reporter
Brasília - O senador Cristóvam Buarque fala durante sessão não deliberativa do Senado Foto: José Cruz/ABr

Brazil's Senator Cristovam Buarque. (courtesy photo: AGENCIA SENADO)

Brazil’s Senate is debating an amendment to the nation’s constitution to create at least four congressional seats to represent Brazilian citizens who live abroad in the US, Japan, Europe, and the rest of the world.

Fifty-nine senators recently voted in favor of the amendment — authored in 2005 by Senator Cristovam Buarque of Brasilia.

Brazilians in Massachusetts celebrated the victory, although the amendment still faces an uphill battle. Before it can get passed into law, it must go through one more voting session in Brazil’s Senate, and two in the House.

Currently 3 million Brazilians, worldwide, live outside Brazil, sending about $5 billion back home every year. The Brazilian state of Alagoas, with a population of 2.9 million people, has more natives who live abroad than in the state itself.

“Put it this way: Imagine if Pernambuco [a northern state in Brazil with population of 6 million] did not have its own congressmen. You [Brazilians living in the US] all represent a state,” said Sen. Buarque during a live interview on “Conexao Brasil,” an evening radio show on Portuguese-language WSRO (650 AM) radio station in Framingham, Mass.

(more…)

BostonBrazilianImmigration News

U.S. Census Reaches Out to Ethnic Media To Avoid Undercounting Of Minorities

Census regional director Kathleen Ludgate at a talk with New England ethnic reporters.

Census regional director Kathleen Ludgate at a talk with New England ethnic reporters.

The 2010 U.S. Census gets underway one year from now. Amid concerns over an undercount of immigrants and ethnic minorities, census officials recently met with ethnic media journalists from New England to address fears and suspicions that may discourage people from participating in the census survey.

According to the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights there are three main reasons why the 2010 census will be especially challenging:

  • The rise of anti-immigrant rhetoric, and heightened immigrant enforcement activities, have created real fear and distrust of the government;
  • The foreclosure crisis and Hurricanes Katrina and Rita have displaced millions of people, making it hard to do an accurate count; and
  • As the first census after 9/11, the Census Bureau will have to deal with Americans’ privacy concerns about how their information is used.

The journalists attending the meeting in Boston represented TV, radio, Internet and newspaper media for African American, Brazilian, Cape Verdean, Chinese, Polish and Spanish communities. Census regional director Kathleen Ludgate told them that the census needs to create media buzz where it matters, in the communities.

“The idea here is to have ethnic journalists tell us the talking points that interest their own readers,” she said.

Addressing the fear that some undocumented residents have about answering the census, Ludgate said “whether it’s the Patriot Act or anything else that’s happened over this decade, the Census Bureau has a good track record of maintaining confidentiality.”

Some immigrants workers have told ethnic newspapers and radio programs that they fear personal information could be used against them if it is revealed to local authorities — even if the information turns out to be inaccurate.

“We don’t share information with the city or anyone else. The only purpose for the data we collect is for the census,” assured Ludgate, whose Region I office oversees all six states of New England, upstate New York, and Puerto Rico.

Census media specialist Cesar Monzon explained, all employees of the census sign an oath of confidentiality, which is renewed annually. Anyone who reveals specific information about any household would be subject to up to five years in prison, plus a $250,000 fine.

In addition, federal laws require that specific data about residents be concealed for 72 years before it can be made accessible to the general public. (more…)

AsianBostonImmigration News

Boston’s First and Only Asian City Councilor Announces Run for Mayor

By M. Thang, EthnicNEWz.org
Boston Herald)

Yoon and children Nathan and Mimi. (Photo: Boston Herald)

Two-term Boston City Councilor Sam Yoon — the only Asian on the council of 13 elected members — announced his bid to run for mayor Sunday.

His announcement ends years of speculation that he would eventually run for the city’s top job. In an interview with Sampan newspaper in October of 2005, shortly after he won his first preliminary election for city councilor, the Korean-born Yoon demurred on answering if he’d like to run for mayor, replying “I’m going to take things one step at a time.”

More recently, the Boston Globe — which yesterday announced Yoon’s entry into the mayoral race — ran a story just five days ago, about his out-of-state fundraising as a “potential” candidate for mayor.

Yoon’s candidacy comes during a time when the racial composition of the city — and consequently the Boston electorate — has been changing. Earlier in the decade, Boston became a “majority-minority” city, with minorities making up more than half of the city’s population of roughly 589,000, according to the 2000 Census.

At the same time, Felix Arroyo, a native of Puerto Rico, became Boston’s first Latino city councilor, joining African American incumbents Charles Yancey and Chuck Turner on the council before Yoon’s first election in 2005.

(more…)

BostonBrazilianLatino

Immigrants, Physicians Look to Obama for Health Care Reform

By Eduardo A. de Oliveira EthnicNewz.org and FI2W reporter

When Barack Obama begins to focus on health reform as part of his lengthy to-do list, the new President probably won’t address the case of Pretinha, a 64-year-old undocumented housecleaner from Framingham, Mass., who worked for 22 years, but has no health insurance.

She is not alone. Dr. Milagros Abreu, a Boston University physician, knows hundreds of working families who, despite having paid taxes for years, were left behind by the Massachusetts Health Reform of 2006.

Dr. Milagros has helped more than a 1,000 Latino families enroll in a local health insurance.

Despite Pretinha’s lack of insurance, doctors at MetroWest Medical Center acted promptly after discovering her heart was failing. She was rushed to the operating room to receive a pacemaker, a small device that uses electrical pulses to normalize the heart rate.

Pretinha’s life was saved only because there were people who care for those who “simply don’t qualify.”

“Since June, our goal has been to draft a concrete proposal so the President can work on health reform on day one,” said John McDonough, a former Mass. state representative, and an envoy of Sen. Edward Kennedy’s office to spearhead health reform efforts.

President-elect Obama has said he will look for Congressional input on the direction the country takes on health care reform. But will the Republican minority in Congress compromise? Or will 46 million Americans, of which 32 percent are Latinos, remain uninsured?

“It’s probably too early to say how the Republicans will vote,” said McDonough, who admits that the illness of Sen. Kennedy, who was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor last May, has helped soften some hearts, but will not be decisive. (more…)

BostonImmigration News

A Vigorous Defense: Latino Journalists Respond After New Owner of Boston Hispanic Paper Criticizes Hispanic Media

By Mary Thang, EthnicNEWz.org

Latino publishers in Massachusetts, including one that has served Spanish-reading communities for more than 30 years, are angry that the president of Phoenix Media/Communication Group called Hispanic newspapers in the area “not very good.”

Cover of El Mundo’s Jan. 7, 2009, edition (image: ElMundoBoston.com)

Brad Mindich, president of the media group that now owns Spanish-language El Planeta newspaper, told EthnicNEWz.org in an interview last month that “the other Hispanic newspapers published in the area, with due respect, they are not very good.”

In the same interview (by Edwardo A. de Oliveira, who is also a Feet in Two Worlds reporter) Mindich admitted he doesn’t speak Spanish. “I have no idea what they’re saying,” he said in partial response to a question on what caught his attention about El Planeta. El Planeta is the only non-English publication of its new owner, which also publishes the Boston Phoenix and Stuff@Night.
In response to Mindich’s remarks, Spanish-language El Mundo, which has covered Latinos in the Boston area since 1972, published a cover story on his suelta de lengua, or loose tongue, comments.

“For someone who cannot even speak or read Spanish to offer an opinion on editorial content on publications…serving the Latino community comes across as arrogant and condescending – which are the last qualities I want to see in someone controlling a media outlet in my community,” said El Mundo‘s vice president, Alberto Vasallo III, in an open letter that follows the cover story (see the full text of the letter below).

The story quotes Dalia Díaz of Lawrence-based Rumbo, whose articles and photos have been republished on EthnicNEWz.org; Victor Cuenca of Providence en Español in Rhode Island, who is a past interviewee of NEWz; Sergio Rivera of Worcester-based El Vocero Hispano; and Víctor Manuel González Lemus of Siglo 21 of New England.

The four publishers were all offended by Mindich’s remarks.

“We cover our communities in different ways and all with great sacrifice, with much love and not only for commercial purposes” (“Nosotros cubrimos a nuestras comunidades de diferentes formas y todos con mucho sacrificio, con mucho amor y no solamente por asuntos comerciales“), said Díaz, director of Rumbo. (more…)

BostonBrazilianCommentaryImmigration News

A Brazilian Immigrant Journalist Looks Back at 2008

By Eduardo A. de Oliveira, EthnicNewz and FI2W reporter

For millions of immigrant workers 2008 began with a sour taste in all the mouths they have to feed. Six months into 2007, Congress had drowned their highest hopes by killing the Immigration Reform bill.

For many families there was no choice but to return home – in the Brazilian community of Massachusetts alone there were 10,000 retornados, according to the Brazilian Immigrant Center.

Among those who remained here, much of the rhetoric about the need for immigrants to learn English got stuck in the back of their heads. The consequences were best seen in Framingham, Mass.

During a lottery for seats in an English-as-a-second-language course at Fuller Middle School, 500-plus immigrants competed for 165 seats. Of course the ‘no cost’ policy wooed many. But more than ever, they saw English as the language of their future – whether or not they are documented.

EDUARDO A. de OLIVEIRA

Hairdresser Marta dos Santos smiles upon hearing the news that she is one of 165 immigrants picked for an ESL course at Fuller Middle School. More than 500 people tried to get a seat in the classes. Photo: EDUARDO A. de OLIVEIRA

Despite being an election year, 2008 also served to harden immigrants’ hearts.

In the Republican presidential primary, candidates debated who would be the toughest on deporting undocumented workers. Forget about the melting pot, at that point workers learned that to half of America, all that mattered was their immigration status.

In the end, the Republicans selected a presidential candidate who had a record of trying to help undocumented immigrants. But the workers’ future in the U.S. looked grimmer as gas prices hit $4 per gallon, straining the livelihoods of delivery men, truckers, and taxi drivers.

But David Grabowski, a Health Economist at Harvard Medical School, found something about higher gas prices that was not bad news at all.

“We’ve discovered that for every 10 percent in price increase, there are 2.3 percent fewer fatalities in traffic related accidents. Among teenage drivers, at least 6 percent more lives were spared,” said Grabowski, who compared data from Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS), from 1985 to 2006.

In another health-related story, a Dominican doctor used her Boston University credentials to fill a gap left behind by the Massachusetts Health Care Reform law. (more…)

BostonBrazilianImmigration News

Brazilians Debate Whether Undocumented Housecleaner ‘Betrayed’ Her Boss

By Eduardo A. de Oliveira, EthnicNewz and FI2W reporter

The news on the local Portuguese-language newspaper Brazilian Times

The news on the local Portuguese-language newspaper Brazilian Times

The talk of the town within the “Brazilian corners” of Somerville and Framingham, Massachusetts is whether the Brazilian housecleaner employed by Homeland Security official Lorraine Henderson betrayed her boss by agreeing to record their conversations for immigration authorities. Henderson, the Boston area port director for the Customs and Border Protection Division of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, was arrested last Saturday for allegedly employing an undocumented Brazilian housecleaner at her home in Salem, Mass.

The controversy in the Brazilian community, which we reported earlier this week, has now made it to the airwaves on Portuguese-language radio in the Bay State.

“Three years ago my boss asked if I had Social Security. I said no. She fired me, but her neighbors kept my services. I would never record a conversation with somebody who gives me a job,” said a listener to a show on WSRO (650 AM), who declined to reveal her name.

“I simply asked my listeners: if a boss treated you well, gave you a job, would you do what this housecleaner did to Henderson?,” said Fausto da Rocha, host of “Brazilian Immigrant Center on the Air” a show broadcast every Monday morning on 1360 AM. (more…)