Category: Boston

Immigrants in the Boston metro area.
BostonBrazilianImmigration News

Brazilians in Massachusetts Shocked After Arrest of Homeland Security Official

By Eduardo A. de Oliveira, EthnicNewz and FI2W reporter

Members of the Brazilian community in Boston and the surrounding region are expressing concern following the arrest on Saturday of the federal official responsible for keeping undocumented immigrants and illegal drugs out of ports in Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island. Lorraine Henderson, the Boston area port director for the Customs and Border Protection Division of the US Department of Homeland Security, was arrested for allegedly employing an undocumented Brazilian housecleaner at her home in Salem, Mass.

Henderson - Photo: Boston Globe.

“I don’t know if my boss will inquire about my immigration status next time I clean her home,” said a housecleaner from Somerville, Mass., who spoke under condition of anonymity.

Henderson hired the unnamed worker starting in 2004. According to a Boston Globe report, she was warned by a fellow Homeland Security employee in 2006 that she should terminate the services offered by the undocumented contractor, but she refused to do so.

Henderson, the Globe said, “was arrested at her home shortly before 8 a.m. (Saturday) after an eight-month undercover investigation during which a cleaner wore a wire.”

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BostonImmigration News

In Massachusetts, Temple Turns Into Free Health Clinic To Serve Immigrants

By Eduardo A. de Oliveira, EthnicNewz and FI2W reporter

Jaime Viviani is treated at Congregation Beth-El, a Jewish temple in Sudbury, Massachusetts
(Photo: Elizabeth Mendonca/Brazilian Times)

SUDBURY, Mass. — Despite the economic crisis, the Barbosa family will have a healthy holiday this year.

Three generations of the Brazilian clan are undocumented and uninsured. But Alessandra Barbosa knows that if her mother or her daughter ever need health care they can find it at Congregation Beth El, a Sudbury Jewish temple which becomes a walk-in clinic on Tuesday evenings.

In spite of all the talk about how Massachusetts Health Reform has increased access to care, there are those, mostly undocumented immigrants, who are falling through the cracks.

“Last year, we provided care to 515 patients through 753 visits, nearly all the patients ranging in age from 19 to 64,” said Kim Prendergast, resource developer with MetroWest Free Medical Program. “About two-thirds of them were Brazilian and 15 percent, Hispanic.”

What started four years ago as a “band aid” to care for about twenty low-income people has morphed into a reliable source of treatment for forty patients a week. I strolled through the temple last week as nurses rallied language interpreters to help with the majority-immigrant crowd.

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BostonBrazilianImmigration News

Brazilian Voters in Massachusetts Favor Dems Today, May Switch in the Future

NASHUA, NH – By Eduardo A. de Oliveira, New England Ethnic News and FI2W

Heloisa Galvão, president of the Brazilian Women’s Group in Massachusetts, is concerned that immigrant voters don’t have all the information they need to vote today.

“Yesterday we received at least nine calls from people who simply didn’t know where they should go to vote,” said Galvão, who headed to a polling place in Jamaica Plain at 7 am.

Today, the Women’s Group, a grassroots non-profit organization that trains Brazilian housecleaners to use products based on natural formulas, will have two staffers by the phone to help voters.

According to Immigration and Naturalization data, 53,045 Brazilians were naturalized in this country between 1991 and 2007. In Massachusetts, at least 3,900 became American citizens between 2004 and last August.

During two informal polls taken by the Vem Viver show at local station WSRO, Portuguese speakers showed high support for Barack Obama. The Democratic candidate led his opponent, John McCain, by big margins both days the surveys were conducted: 14 to 6 yesterday, and 39 to 10 on Friday.

Despite heavy support for the Democrats, many in the community believe that won’t be the case in the future. With at least sixty evangelical churches serving Brazilians in the state, some predict Republican support will spike in coming years.

[Brazilian Women’s Group can be reached at 617-787-0557, extensions 14 or 15.]

BostonImmigration News

Obama's Undocumented Aunt: A Reflection of the Nation's Immigration Reality

By Suman Raghunathan, Feet In 2 Worlds consultant

The Associated Press broke the story Friday that presidential candidate Barack Obama has a half-aunt, Zeituni Onyango, who, after her request for political asylum was rejected, is now undocumented and living in Boston.

The range of immigration statuses within Obama’s extended family reflects the reality of many immigrant families in the United States. Both Obama and his half-sister, Maya Soetoro-Ng, are US citizens; Soetoro-Ng is married to a Canadian citizen. And like many immigrants, Obama has a large extended family still living in Kenya, his father’s homeland.

Today, mixed-status families are extraordinarily common. For example, according to the Urban Institute, there are at least 5 million children in the country with at least one immigrant parent. According to the Pew Hispanic Center, 3 million of these children have at least one parent who is undocumented.

During nearly two decades of historic migration to the US, in a period of extended economic growth powered in large part by immigrant labor, the number of Americans born to immigrant parents has risen steadily. The changes to the nation’s demographic make-up are dramatic. According to Pew, more than half or the growth in the US population in the last decade alone came from Latino communities, much of it due to recent immigrants and their children.

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AsianBostonImmigration News

What’s Lost in Translation? Asian Americans Fight for Bilingual Ballots in Boston

“Sticky rice” is no longer an option at the polls in this year’s presidential election, but that hasn’t changed Massachusetts Secretary of State William Galvin’s opposition to transliterating English names into Chinese characters on the November ballot.

A battle has raged for the past year between Asian American activists and Galvin over the extension of a 2005 voting rights agreement that has required Massachusetts to transliterate English names into Chinese characters on election ballots.

At the end of June, elderly Asian Americans marched through the rain to the State Capitol to demand a meeting with Gavin over the issue of bilingual ballots. However, Gavin has repeatedly denied requests to meet with the Asian American community over the issue.

Galvin said that transliteration, the practice of using Chinese characters to approximate the sound of a candidate’s name in Mandarin or Cantonese, is imprecise and would confuse voters. Former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, for example, would literally translate to “sticky rice.” Democratic presidential candidate, Barack Obama, could translate as either “Oh Intellectual Overcome Profound Oh Gemstone” or “Europe Pulling a Horse.” Former Democratic presidential candidate, Sen. Hillary Clinton, could translate as either “Upset Stomach” or “Like Prosperity.”

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