Immigrant


American politicians, and Americans themselves, love to call themselves “a nation of immigrants”: a place where everyone’s family has, at some point, chosen to come to seek freedom or a better life. America has managed to maintain that self-image through the forced migration of millions of African slaves, restrictive immigration laws based on fears of “inferior” races, and nativist movements that encouraged immigrants to assimilate or simply leave.

But while the reality of America’s immigrant heritage is more complicated than the myth, it’s still a fundamental truth of the country’s history. It’s impossible to understand the country today without knowing who’s been kept out, who’s been let in, and how they’ve been treated once they arrive.


Where we come from

  1. We’re all immigrants

    This map from the 2000 census colors each county according to which country most of its residents cite as their “ancestry.” What might be most surprising about this map is the predominance of light yellow in Appalachia; in those counties, more people say their ancestry is simply “American” than anything else. But this is a strikingly recent phenomenon: the number of people saying their ancestry was “American” nearly doubled from 1990 to 2000. It’s amazing that in a country that’s been around for more than 200 years — with many family lineages having lived in the New World for even longer — most people are still able to identify their ancestry based on the countries in which their families lived before they immigrated to the United States.

  2. The very first American migration

    Even the first Americans were immigrants — it’s generally accepted that they came across “Beringia” (the land that’s now the Bering Strait, the body of water between Russia and Alaska) at least 20,000 years ago (and possibly as long as 30,000 years ago). But scientists are still trying to piece together when the first Americans came through Beringia; how many of them there were; and whether they came all at once, or in multiple waves.

    This map, from a 2007 paper, is based on an analysis of mitochondrial DNA — which children inherit only from their mother, making it easier to trace one line back for many generations. The researchers hypothesize that the group that came to Beringia from Asia, approximately 25,000 years ago, actually stayed in Beringia for some time before some of them came through to the Americas. Then, however — according to this analysis — they populated the Americas fairly quickly, spreading as far south as Chile by 15,000 years ago. The analysis also suggests that some early Americans migrated back to Asia from Beringia, while other, newer waves of immigrants crossed to America.

  3. America has more immigrants than anybody

    Later waves of European immigration killed off most of the first Americans (largely through European diseases, which traveled through the Americas much more quickly than European humans did). That set the stage for European Americans to rebrand the United States, in particular (where indigenous populations were almost completely “replaced”), as a “nation of immigrants.” Even today, America is still home to more total immigrants than any other country in the world. In this map, each country’s size is distorted to reflect the size of its immigrant population. It’s based on 2005 data, but a 2013 UN report shows that 19.8 percent of the world’s international migrants live in the United States.

  4. …but as a share of the population, the US doesn’t crack the top 10

    As much as American politicians pat themselves on the back for representing “the most welcoming country in the world,” there are smaller countries that have been more open to immigrants in recent decades. So on this chart from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), which measures the percentage of each country’s population that was made up of immigrants in 2000 (the orange dot) and 2010 (the blue bar), America doesn’t even hit the top 10. Some of the countries that outrank the United States are tiny — it’s much easier for 40 percent of Luxembourg’s population to be immigrants, since the country has only 540,000 people, than it would be for the United States — but medium-size countries like Canada, Australia, and Spain also outrank the United States.

  5. The simplest explanation of how immigration to America has changed

    If this feature were called “A nation of immigrants in one map,” this is the one we’d show you. The bottom line: before 1965, Germany sent more immigrants to America than anyone else; after 1965, Mexico did.

    Here’s why: from World War I to 1965, the immigration system was designed, essentially, to keep the United States white. Rice University sociologist Stephen Klineberg has called it “unbelievable in its clarity of racism.” Each country was given a certain quota of immigrants who were allowed to come to the United States each year, based on who’d been in the country in 1890.

    Combined with existing laws that prevented any Asian Americans from coming into the country, the laws of the 1920s basically froze the demographics of the immigrant population in place until 1965.

  6. The Danish Utahns, and other immigrant enclaves

    This GIF, compiled by internet hero @MetricMaps, tracks where immigrants from different countries have settled in the United States. The result is an exhaustive portrait of more than two dozen different native countries and regions. Some ancestry groups pop up in interesting places, revealing forgotten pockets of American history — the Danish population in Utah, for example, is the result of an extremely early wave of Danish conversion to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormons).


Forced migration, then and now

  1. David Eltis and David Richardson/Atlas of the Transatlantic Slave Trade, reprinted with permission of Yale University Press

    Forced migration built America

    The American myth about “a nation of immigrants” excludes millions of forced migrants to America from Africa, who were brought to the US over two centuries of the trans-Atlantic slave trade. It’s hard to overstate how much slaves built America: according to historian Steven Deyle, the value of all slaves in 1860 was seven times the value of all currency then in circulation in the United States. Slave labor built the agrarian economy of the South and fed the cotton mills of the industrializing North. But slaves had no way to become citizens, build wealth, or bring their families — they had no opportunity to practice the self-reliance that America often expects of its immigrants.

  2. David Eltis and David Richardson/Atlas of the Transatlantic Slave Trade, reprinted with permission of Yale University Press

    The first illegal migrations were of trafficked slaves

    The forced migration of Africans to America also represents the first unauthorized migration to the United States. The Constitution banned the “importation” (trafficking) of slaves into the United States after 1809, but black-market slave trading continued until the Civil War. According to historian David Eltis of Emory University, 1.5 million Africans arrived in the Americas after the countries they landed in had theoretically banned the slave trade. Because there were no restrictions on voluntary migration to the United States until the 1880s, these were the first people to come to the country illegally.

    The Atlas of the Transatlantic Slave Trade documents 78,360 slaves landing in mainland North America from 1800 to 1865 — about 20 percent of all arrivals over the 200 years of the slave trade. (Since slave importation wasn’t banned until 1807, many of those arrivals could have been legal.)

  3. Modern-day forced migration: human trafficking

    Large-scale human trafficking is no longer legal, let alone widely condoned. But it still happens. This graphic is one attempt to map the global reach of the contemporary human-smuggling industry.

    A report by the Urban Institute in 2014 interviewed 122 victims of labor trafficking in the United States, and found that 71 percent of those traffickedactually had legal visas when they arrived in the country. But because immigrant workers’ legal status is tied to their employer, most victims who escaped their traffickers had lost their legal status by the time they were connected to law enforcement. Furthermore, the report found, public officials often encountered labor-trafficking victims and failed to realize what was going on — or, worse, sided with the traffickers and threatened to report the victims to federal immigration agents.


A nation of immigrants

  1. The most famous immigrant in American history

    Give me your tired, your poor;
    Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free;
    The wretched refuse of your teeming shore;
    Send these, the homeless, tempest-toss’d, to me;
    I lift my lamp beside the golden door.

    —Emma Lazarus, 1883

    Of course, the Statue of Liberty was itself an immigrant. It was designed and cast in copper in France over the span of a decade, from 1876 to 1884, as an intended gift from the French government to the United States. But the statue then had to wait in France for several months until the Americans had done enough work on its pedestal. It was then shipped to the United States in 350 separate pieces, housed in 214 crates, to be assembled by American workers once it arrived.

  2. An insanely detailed map of immigrants in America from 1903

    This exhaustive map includes 51 infographics (for each state plus Washington, DC). The right column of the infographic covers how many immigrants settled in the state each year; the left column shows their occupations. The top depicts the ethnic mix, color-coded by race: Teutonic, Keltic, Slavic, Iberic, Mongolic, and “all others.”

    At the time, those racial labels were real — and the source of anxiety. A medical journal article from this era expressed concern about the “preponderance of the Iberic and Slavic races” among recent immigrants, because of “their poorer physical and mental equipment” compared to “Celtic and Teutonic” immigrants.

  3. How charities helped immigrants become American

    The organization Hull House (founded by Jane Addams) was devoted to serving Chicago’s urban poor; in the process, it set the template for charity in America. And most of Chicago’s urban poor were immigrants: in 1890, in fact, immigrants made up 77 percent of the city’s population. To better tailor its services to the communities it served (and to assist the federal government in its study of urban “ghettos”), Hull House researchers produced maps like this one, which shows the ethnicity of each immigrant family living in a given tenement block.

    The result was that Hull House increasingly focused on teaching English, civics, and other skills that would help immigrants and first-generation Americans assimilate — what would be called the “Americanization” movement. The existence of organizations like Hull House, which were willing to take the time to help immigrants acclimate to America and learn things (like English) that they needed to succeed, was an important factor in helping the European immigrants of 100 years ago assimilate to the point where they simply counted as “white” Americans.

  4. Are today’s immigrants less Americanized?

    The “Americanization” movement of the early 1900s wasn’t just about how to help immigrants. It was also grounded in the belief that immigrants should be welcomed to the United States only if they wanted to, and could, be successfully assimilated into America. That idea survives today, in everything from the metaphor of the country as a “melting pot” to the demand that immigrants “learn English.” But while “learning English” is shorthand for assimilation, and despite fears that this generation of immigrants is less assimilated than their forerunners, immigrants to America in the late 20th century were much more likely to know English when they got here, or to pick it up quickly, than the immigrants who lived at Hull House. Even Latino immigrants, who lag behind other immigrants (who tend to be more educated) in how long it takes them to speak English, perform much better than the European immigrants of the 1880s.

  5. The grandchildren of today’s Latino immigrants barely speak Spanish

    Second-generation Latinos — the children of immigrants — tend to be fully bilingual; this might mean they’re used to speaking with their parents in Spanish but using English outside the home, or just that they’re in situations where they deal with Spanish and English speakers pretty much equally. And with the third generation, who are grandchildren of immigrants, bilingualism fades quickly. In fact, the proportion of immigrants who speak mostly English (35 percent) is bigger than the share of Latinos who are thoroughly bilingual in the third generation.

  6. Immigrants are saving the Midwest

    More Americans are leaving Middle America than moving there (with the exception of North Dakota). But immigrants are forestalling Middle America’s demographic decline. A Chicago Council study in 2014 found four metro areas (including Davenport, Iowa, on the Illinois border, and Duluth in eastern Minnesota) that grew between 2000 and 2010 solely because of the immigrant population, and another five where immigrants made up more than 50 percent of the metro area’s total growth over that time. But immigrants might be having an even bigger impact in rural areas in Middle America, where the demographic crunch is most acute. In Kansas, immigrants make up 5.3 percent of the rural population; in Nebraska it’s 4.8 percent. Just as importantly, immigrants are making these areas demographically younger. The Chicago Council report found that Wichita, Kansas, for example, lost 24 percent of its 35- to 44-year-old, native-born population from 2000 to 2010 — but its immigrant population in that age range grew by 87 percent.


A nation of (immigration) laws

  1. 200 years of immigration in one gorgeous visual

    It’s easy now to assume that Mexico has always been among the main sources of immigration to America. But as this wonderful chart by Natalia Bronshtein (using 200 years of government data) shows, that’s not even close to true. There’s an interactive version on Bronshtein’s website: you can hover over any color, at any point, and see the exact number of immigrants who became residents from that country in that decade. But taken as a whole, the chart tells a very clear story: there are two laws that totally transformed immigration to the United States.

  2. The 1920s law that made immigration much less diverse — and created illegal immigration as we know it

    Because the quota laws were passed in the early 1920s, but were based on immigration flows from 1890, they actually rolled back immigration from certain countries. Politicians were worried that new immigrants from Southern and Eastern Europe (largely Italians and Jews) were genetically “inferior” immigrant stock was threatening Americans’ quality of life. This pair of maps, from the New York Times, shows the effects of the primary quota law: the National Origins Act of 1924. The map to the left of the slider shows annual immigration to America from various European countries before the law was passed; the map to the right of the slider shows the quotas imposed for each country under the law. The National Origins Act forced the legal immigrant population to plummet — and made “illegal immigration” a widespread phenomenon for the first time in American history. It hasn’t stopped since.

  3. How America began to rely on Mexican labor

    With World War II causing labor shortages, the United States started to encourage seasonal labor from Mexico. As the map shows, the 2 million braceros who came under the program (from 1942 to 1964) migrated from all over Mexico to most of the United States. Most worked in agriculture, under punishing conditions: according to some reports, braceros were sprayed directly with DDT (an insecticide now known to be carcinogenic and toxic to humans). The bracero program was supposed to prevent migrants from settling in the United States by sending 10 percent of their paychecks back to Mexico. But many braceros returned to Mexico only to discover their money had not. Many Mexican Americans are descended from braceros, and the memory of their mistreatment colors their opinions of guest-worker proposals today.

  4. America’s only been a global destination for the past 50 years

    The modern era of immigration to America began in 1965, when the restrictionist quotas of the National Origins Act were replaced by the Immigration and Nationality Act. It’s only in this era that immigration to the United States has really become a global phenomenon — with European and Mexican immigrants joined by Asian, Central and South American, and African immigrants. There are still more immigrants from some countries than from others — in 2013, there were twice as many naturalized US citizens from Mexico as from any other country — but as this chart shows, immigration to the United States has never been more globally balanced.

  5. How to come here the right way

    From one perspective, there are plenty of ways to come to the United States legally — there’s an alphabet soup of visas, not to mention immigrant Americans’ ability to sponsor family members for green cards. But the overwhelming majority of the world’s non-American population isn’t eligible for any of these paths. In other words, there’s no legal immigration “line” for them to get into. Furthermore, there are far too many qualified applicants for most available visas — causing years-long (or even decades-long) backlogs for Mexican, Chinese, Indian and Filipino immigrants hoping to bring their parents, adult children, or siblings to the United States. This flowchart, from Reason Magazine, shows who’s able to come “the right way” and who isn’t. Spoiler alert: most aren’t, and most of those who are will have to wait a long time.

  1. Joe Posner/Vox

    The era of unauthorized immigration: 1996–2006

    This chart documents the biggest wave of unauthorized migration in US history: from 1996, when the economy was booming and a law made it harder for unauthorized immigrants to “get legal,” to the US recession of the late 2000s. The line graph (and the left y-axis) shows how many immigrants entered the country illegally each year; the bar chart (and the right y-axis) shows the estimated number of unauthorized immigrants living in the United States at that time.


Nativism, then and now

  1. One reason some Americans fear immigrants? They overestimate how many there are

    Americans have an unfortunate tendency to overestimate how many people in the United States are immigrants — possibly because many white Americans assume that most Latinos in the United States are immigrants (and some assume most Latinos in the United States are unauthorized immigrants). Fears of America being overrun by immigrants make a little more sense if you think that a third of people living in the United States are immigrants already.

  2. America’s first single-issue party was anti-immigrant

    The American Party of the 1840s and 1850s was often called, and is remembered today as, the “Know-Nothing Party.” In the 1856 presidential election, as shown here, Maryland sent its electoral votes to the party (which had nominated former President Millard Fillmore). The leading Know-Nothing in Congress, Lewis Charles Levin of Pennsylvania, was also the first Jewish member of the US Congress. American nativists have usually been more afraid of some kinds of immigrants than others — and one way for an immigrant to assimilate into American life is to play the “good immigrant,” attacking the bad ones.

  3. When Louisville rioted against Catholic immigrants

    In 1855, the Know-Nothing Party was beginning to take over politics in Louisville, Kentucky. The night before a local election in August, Know-Nothings armed with torches paraded through the city’s Catholic areas, telling voters to “keep their elbows in.” That day — fueled by rumors that hundreds of armed Germans were taking over polling places, and that an Irishman had killed a Know-Nothing — the Know-Nothings exploded into wholesale rioting in the Irish and German sections of town. At least 22 people were killed — and probably many more. From the blog the Public I: “The death toll would have been higher but in the German district one of the first buildings looted was Armbruster’s brewery. The rioters got so drunk they could only satisfy themselves with torching the building before passing out.”

  4. An 1885 “vice map” of San Francisco’s Chinatown

    The first immigration restrictions in US history were passed in 1882, when the Chinese Exclusion Act more or less eliminated legal immigration from China. This created a market in human smuggling and trafficking — especially of young Chinese women. The US Customs and Border Protection website is still proud of the agency’s work in “kidnapping” Chinese women “in order to save them” from brothel owners and human traffickers. But as this “vice map of Chinatown,” created by the City of San Francisco, shows, attempts to “save” immigrant victims from their traffickers often bled into prejudice against the immorality of the immigrant community itself.

  5. Fears of an immigrant “fifth column” bought into Nazi propaganda

    One of the recurring themes in American nativism is the fear that immigrants will be more loyal to their native countries than to their adopted ones — including in times of war. This map, from a book of Nazi propaganda, tried to exploit those fears. It sent the message that every one of the 20 million German Americans in the United States could be counted on to stand with their homeland rather than with the country that their families had lived in for (in some cases) generations. But the fear was groundless. The United States never had a substantial Nazi-sympathizer movement — and the closest thing to it were the “isolationists,” who were interested in staying out of World War II not because they were loyal to Germany, but because they didn’t feel any connection to Europe.

  6. Japanese internment camps

    During World War II, fears of an immigrant fifth column led President Franklin D. Roosevelt to order 120,000 Japanese Americans into internment camps in the western United States. The majority of internees were American citizens, and many were born in the United States. Internment ended in 1944, before Japan surrendered to the United States. But many internees had lost their homes and belongings. Several thousand German Americans and Italian Americans, among others, were also put into camps during World War II. But the scope of the Japanese internment is striking — especially because no Japanese American was ever found guilty of espionage.

  7. Langston Hughes’s doodles turn a pro-immigrant map into an anti-Jim Crow one

    While other Americans worried that immigrants were a threat to a country at war, the Council Against Intolerance made this illustrated map to argue the opposite: that prejudice itself would weaken the United States against its enemies. It’s a relatively early example of an idea that’s become popular in recent decades: that diversity itself is what makes America strong, and that difference is something to be celebrated rather than eliminated. This particular copy of the council’s map was owned by Langston Hughes, who penciled in a couple of illustrations of his own — including a burning Ku Klux Klan cross near Louisiana — making the point that the people most interested in preserving differences between groups tend to be the ones least interested in tolerance.


A bordered country

  1. This is what the border actually is

    Popularly, “the border” is a line between United States and Mexico. But officially, it’s a 100-mile area that stretches all the way around the United States — covering as much as two-thirds of the nation’s population. The legal definition of the border matters because the government has long said it can do things “at the border” to track down unauthorized migration and smuggling that it can’t do other places, from setting up “checkpoints” within the United States to check drivers’ citizenship to straight-up racial profiling. As recently as 2011, Border Patrol officers were boarding buses in upstate New York to ask passengers for IDs, and responding to police calls in Forks, Washington. New guidance from the federal government, which came out in December 2014, has opened the door to narrowing the definition of the “border” — but it’s not clear whether it will.

  2. Joss Fong/Vox

    The militarization of the US/Mexico border

    Increasing border security is a very recent phenomenon: the number of Border Patrol agents on the United States/Mexico border has more than quadrupled from 1995 to 2014. The militarization of the border hasn’t been evenly spaced: it’s concentrated on the areas that people are most likely to cross. The buildup was supposed to stop unauthorized entrances, but it also made it harder for unauthorized immigrants to leave the United States if they ever wanted to return. Immigrants who were used to splitting time between their jobs in the United States and their families at home moved their families to the United States instead — and the unauthorized population grew, and settled.

  3. A volunteer effort to identify immigrants who died crossing the border

    The more agents there are on the high-traffic sectors of the border, the more immigrants try to brave the stretches too dangerous for Border Patrol. That’s made the border more lethal: immigrants often die of thirst or heat exposure when crossing the desert. Some citizen groups attempt to provide water stations to keep migrants safe, though they’ve had to face court cases arguing that they’re trying to encourage people to come to the United States illegally. Officials in Pima County, Arizona, working with a human rights group, use GIS mapping to track deaths of migrants along the border. They’ve recorded 2,187 deaths in Arizona alone from 2001 to 2014.

  4. La Bestia

    Mexican freight trains carry cargo-like cars and plastics northward to the United States. They also, for years, have carried Mexican and Central Americans hoping to cross. Hopping “La Bestia” (the popular term for immigrants stowing onto Mexican freight trains) has become a symbol of unauthorized migration to the United States — not just in politics, but in American popular culture. It’s also an illustration of just how far “border security” can stretch outside of the United States’ own territory. In 2014, the Mexican government agreed to force the major freight lines to travel more quickly — a plan that will take a few years — in the hopes that it will be harder for would-be migrants to catch rides. But just as border militarization in the United States simply made the journey more dangerous for desperate migrants, the question will be whether a faster Bestia will deter migrants or punish them.

  5. The maps you need to understand the 2014 “border crisis”

    Scholars of immigration agree that people make the decision to migrate based on two types of reasons: “push factors” that lead them to leave their country of origin, and “pull factors” that lead them to come to one new country in particular. When tens of thousands of Central American families and unaccompanied children presented themselves to border agents in Texas in the spring and summer of 2014, many Americans and politicians blamed “pull factors” like President Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. But a map created by the Department of Homeland Security, depicting where unaccompanied child migrants were coming from, told a different story: migrants were leaving some of the most dangerous communities in the most dangerous countries in the world.


A borderless world

  1. Immigrants come from everywhere

    As noted above, since 1965, immigration to the United States has become a truly global phenomenon. It’s one thing to know that, but it’s another thing to see it in front of you.

  2. Remittances: the foreign aid program bigger than foreign aid

    Many immigrants send money back home — called remittances — either to help them save up and buy property to return to their home countries or to support family members who can’t come to the United States themselves. Immigrants officially sent $51 billion in remittances home in 2012 — far larger than the US government’s foreign aid budget of $39 billion that year. This map shows that the countries that receive the most remittances aren’t always the countries with the most emigrants in the United States — they’re the poorest countries with large US-emigrant populations.

  3. The hidden diversity of America’s immigrants

    The stereotypical face of immigration to America in 2015 is a Latino one. Americans routinely overestimate how many Latinos are immigrants, and particularly how many are unauthorized immigrants. And it’s true that Latin American countries send more immigrants to the United States than other regions. Because of that, it’s sometimes necessary to dig a little deeper to see how diverse the immigrant population really is. If this map of New York showed the most popular non-English language in each neighborhood, it would likely be monotonous. But by showing the most popular language that isn’t English or Spanish, it shows that New York is still a quilt of dozens of different immigrant communities.

  4. The twin cities of El Paso and Ciudad Juarez

    El Paso and Ciudad Juarez might be the world’s strangest twin city. The separation of the US border helps create vastly different environments in the two cities: El Paso is far more affluent than its Mexican twin; Juarez is a global crime capital, while El Paso has long been one of the safest cities in the United States. But they’re undoubtedly two halves of the same metropolitan area. In 2011, 14,000 people crossed one footbridge between the two cities on a daily basis. This colorized NASA photo shows buildings in gray and vegetation in red. The band of vegetation in the lower right of the photo might be the first thing you notice: evidence of a visible barrier separating Mexicans and Americans. But in the heart of the city, in the center of the photo, it takes tracing the Rio Grande to tell where Mexico ends and America begins.

By Dara Lind on June 10, 2015

This section of Graphic Humor in political-economic, national or international issues, are very ingenious in describing what happened, is happening or will happen. It also extends to various other local issues or passing around the world. There are also other non-political humor that ranges from reflective or just to get us a smile when we see them. Anyone with basic education and to stay informed of important news happening in our local and global world may understand and enjoy them. Farewell!. (CTsT)

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When Chinese textile worker Wang Mingzhi heard he could more than triple his income with a three-year stint working in Japan as an apprentice, he eagerly paid a broker $7,300 in fees and deposit money.

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In this May 17, 2013 photo, Wang Zhigan, a 31-year-old Chinese laborer, picks up a dried food as he prepares a lunch at his dormitory in Hokota, Ibaraki prefecture, north of Tokyo. Caught between Japan’s shrinking workforce and tight restrictions on immigration, employers such as small companies, farms and fisheries are relying on foreign interns from China, Vietnam and other countries under a program set up to transfer technical expertise to developing countries, but which critics say is abused by some employers seeking a source of cheap labor. (AP Photo/Koji Sasahara)

From afar, Japan seemed a model of prosperity and order. Japanese government backing of the training program he would enter the country under helped ease worries about going abroad. But when he joined the ranks of 150,000 other interns from poor Asian countries working in Japan, Wang was in for a series of shocks.

Promised a clothing factory job, the 25-year-old wound up at a huge warehouse surrounded by rice paddies where he was told to fill boxes with clothing, toys and other goods. Wang and other new arrivals weren’t given contracts by their Japanese boss and monthly wages were withheld, except for overtime.

Anyone who didn’t like the conditions could return to China, their boss told them. But then Wang would have lost most of his deposit. And how could he face his family, who were counting on sharing in the $40,000 he hoped he would earn for three years work.

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In this May 17, 2013 photo, Chinese laborers Li Jin, 23, left, and Wang Xile, 22, sit in a room of their dormitory in Hokota, Ibaraki prefecture, north of Tokyo. Caught between Japan’s shrinking workforce and tight restrictions on immigration, employers such as small companies, farms and fisheries are relying on foreign interns from China, Vietnam and other countries under a program set up to transfer technical expertise to developing countries, but which critics say is abused by some employers seeking a source of cheap labor. (AP Photo/Koji Sasahara)

“We didn’t have any choice but to stay,” Wang said from his bunk in a cramped house he shared with a dozen others in Kaizu, a small city in central Gifu prefecture.

Wang’s story is not unusual. Faced with a shrinking workforce and tight restrictions on immigration, Japanese employers such as small companies, farms and fisheries are plugging labor shortages by relying on interns from China, Vietnam and elsewhere in Asia. The training program is intended to help developing countries by upgrading the technical expertise of their workers but critics say it is abused by some employers who see it as a source of cheap labor.

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In this June 9, 2013 photo, Chinese textile worker Wang Ming Zhi, right, with his colleague Cao Li Mei listens to an official from the Gifu General Labor Union at his room in Kaizu, Gifu prefecture, central Japan. When Wang heard he could more than triple his income with a three-year stint working in Japan as an apprentice, he eagerly paid a broker $7,300 in fees and deposit money. Wang and other new arrivals weren’t given contracts by their Japanese boss. They say they were told the company would withhold wages until the end of their three years in Japan, and only give them overtime pay until then. (AP Photo/Malcolm Foster)

Employers committing violations such as failing to pay wages numbered 197 last year, down more than half from 452 in 2008, according to Japanese officials. Lawyers and labor activists say the true number is many times higher and interns fear being sent home if they speak up despite government attempts to prevent abuses.

In interviews with The Associated Press, eight current and former interns described being cheated of wages, forced to work overtime, having contracts withheld or being charged exorbitant rents for cramped, poorly insulated housing. Some said they were prohibited from owning cellphones. The internship system has been criticized by the U.N. and the U.S. State Department, which in its annual “Trafficking in Persons Report” said Japan is failing to stop cases of forced labor.

“The program is portrayed as way to transfer technology, and that Japan is doing a wonderful thing, but in reality many are working like slaves,” said Shoichi Ibusuki, a lawyer who has represented several interns in court cases.

Some say the plight of the interns highlights the need for Japan to rethink its deep-seated resistance to immigration, out of sheer economic necessity. A government institute projects Japan’s workforce will plummet by nearly half to 44 million over the next 50 years as the population ages and birthrates remain low. At that rate, many companies will run out of workers. Foreign workers and first generation immigrants make up less than 2 percent of Japan’s workforce. In the United States, the percentage is 14.2 percent, and in Germany it is 11.7 percent, according to U.N. figures.

Unions and others have called for the training program, established in 1993, to be abolished and replaced with a formal system for employment of foreign workers. That will better meet the demand for low-skilled laborers as young Japanese flock to the cities and shun work that is dirty, dangerous or difficult, they say.

“We need to stop the deception,” said Ippei Torii, vice president of ZWU All United Workers Union, which has battled on behalf of interns. “If we need to bring in foreign workers, then we should call them workers and treat them so.”

Hidenori Sakanaka, former chief of the Tokyo Immigration Bureau who has become a champion for immigration, said Japan needs 10 million immigrants over the next 50 years or its economy will collapse.

“That’s really our only salvation,” said Sakanaka, now head of a think tank. “We should allow them to enter the country on the assumption that they could become residents of Japan.”

The chances of that happening are low. Immigration is perceived as a threat to Japan’s prized social harmony, and opponents paint scenarios of rising crime and other problems.

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In this May 17, 2013 photo, Chinese laborers Li Jin, 23, left, stands with his colleagues in front of their dormitory in Hokota, Ibaraki prefecture, north of Tokyo.Caught between Japan’s shrinking workforce and tight restrictions on immigration, employers such as small companies, farms and fisheries are relying on foreign interns from China, Vietnam and other countries under a program set up to transfer technical expertise to developing countries, but which critics say is abused by some employers seeking a source of cheap labor. (AP Photo/Koji Sasahara)

About 20 years ago, Japan granted special visas to Latin Americans of Japanese descent but many had difficult fitting in. After the 2008 global financial crisis they were offered money to return home.

The training program got public attention earlier this year after a Chinese intern stabbed to death his boss and another Japanese employee at a fishery in Hiroshima but its ongoing problems have not been front page news.

The government strengthened laws covering the program in 2010, including prohibiting trainees from paying deposits to labor brokers. Japanese employers are expected to pay the third-party agencies. A panel of experts and officials is reviewing the program again to see if it needs further changes.

“There are some who go against the objectives of this program and use it as a source of cheap labor,” said Jun Nakamura, an immigration bureau official. “We have tried to strengthen the legal framework.”

After not receiving their regular wages for 16 months, Wang and about a dozen others at the distribution company in Gifu confronted their boss, Akiyoshi Shibata, demanding their back pay. They said he gave them a choice: return to China or drop their complaints, apologize and stay on.

Wang and three others chose to go home. A few days later they were taken to the airport, where Shibata paid them each 750,000 yen ($7,500), barely enough to cover the broker fee, according to Zhen Kai, an official with the Gifu Ippan Labor Union who helped in negotiations between the two sides.

In a phone interview, Shibata said he withheld 50,000 yen (about $500) every month from each trainee’s wages for the first year as a security deposit due to problems in the past, including cases where trainees ran away. He said he paid the remaining regular wages on time and in the end paid them all they had earned.

After “all this trouble,” Shibata said he has decided against using foreign interns any more.

“I think it may be better to scrap the program since there’s a risk both sides will just be unhappy.”

 

By Malcolm Foster,KAIZU, Japan (AP) —Nov.22, 2013
Detained border-crossers may find themselves sent to the infamous hieleras, or ‘freezers.’
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The moment Border Patrol agents swooped in on Claudia and her husband, Marvin, as they tried to sneak across the Rio Grande, the 31-year-old mother of two almost felt relief.

It had been an arduous 18-day journey from their native of El Salvador, which they had fled for fear of their lives at the hands—and machetes—of a vicious gang, she said in a recent interview.

But she soon faced a new, unexpected ordeal as she quickly was separated from her husband and locked away with her preteen son and infant girl in cold cells with an ominous name.

“Then they took us,” Claudia said, “to the famous hieleras.”

Las hieleras, or “the freezers,” is how immigrants and some Border Patrol agents refer to the chilly holding cells at many stations along the U.S.-Mexico border. The facilities are used to house recently captured border crossers until they can be transferred to a long-term Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention facility, returned to their native country or released until their immigration hearing.

According to interviews and court documents, many immigrants have been held for days in rooms kept at temperatures so low that men, women and children have developed illnesses associated with the cold, lack of sleep, overcrowding, and inadequate food, water and toilet facilities.

These complaints are backed up by anonymous surveys of recent migrants. A 2011 report (PDF) from the advocacy group No More Deaths, for example, found that about 7,000 of nearly 13,000 immigrants interviewed reported inhumane conditions in Border Patrol cells—with about 3,000 of them saying they suffered extreme cold.

The treatment of migrants in these facilities has been muted in the roiling debate in Congress over expanding the Border Patrol and overhauling the nation’s immigration system. But for thousands of men and women, the facilities have provided a harsh official greeting after what they thought would be the hardest part of their journey, crossing the border.

Since their experience, Marvin and Claudia have filed administrative complaints against the Border Patrol, which can result in agents facing disciplinary action. The couple’s baby still has a persistent cough, Claudia said.

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“It’s that they make you feel like you’re worthless,” she said. “They make you feel like you’ve committed a horrible crime.”

Apprehended immigrants are staying longer in short-term detention because ICE facilities are too crowded to accept new detainees, and there are not enough Border Patrol agents in some stations to process immigrants in a timely manner.

A few lawmakers have taken an interest in the problem. In June, Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., added an amendment to the immigration overhaul package, calling for limits on the number of people held in a cell, adequate climate control, potable water, hygiene items and access to medical care, among other stipulations.

It ultimately was stripped from the Senate version, but Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard, D-Calif., has included similar stipulations in a bill she proposed in September, called the Protect Family Values at the Border Act. It is currently in committee.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection first approved, then declined, to give The Center for Investigative Reporting a tour of one of the Border Patrol stations in question, citing unspecified pending litigation.

Luis Megid, a reporter with CIR partner Univision, was allowed in. He said the cells looked as immigrants have described, but cleaner—concrete cells, aluminum toilets, doors with glass windows. He was not allowed into a holding cell with detainees to judge the temperature. Border Patrol agent Daniel Tirado told Megid that agents are supposed to provide blankets upon request.

Christopher Cabrera, a local vice president of the National Border Patrol Council, the union that represents the agency’s 21,000 agents, said that when a tour or special investigative inspection is scheduled, the station typically brings in a cleaning crew ahead of time.

It’s clear the stations are overcrowded. Border Patrol agent Juan Ayala said he recently made 732 bologna sandwiches for a single lunch at the Border Patrol station in McAllen, Texas. It took him almost five hours, he said. He loaded the sandwiches and juices into a shopping cart and delivered them to the 732 adult immigrant detainees in the station that day.

The station, Cabrera and Ayala said, was built to hold between 200 and 250 people at any one time.

Out of everything, former detained immigrants said it was the cold that was the worst. Several border crossers who have contacted attorneys and immigrant rights groups agreed to speak to CIR about conditions in the facilities, but on condition of anonymity to protect their pending asylum cases.

Adonys, 15, who came from Honduras in July to join his mother, said the Border Patrol apprehended him crossing the border near McAllen, in a group of 28 men, women and children. Agents put him in a van and took him to their station to process him.

He said the agents made him take off all his layers except for a T-shirt and made him remove his belt and shoelaces.

“I bent over to untie my shoelaces, and I felt an agent pouring cold water on me,” said Adonys, who has filed an asylum request. “He was laughing.”

Five other agents stood by, saying nothing, Adonys said.

They then moved him to a cold cell, wet shirt and all.

“I asked for something to cover myself with, and he said, ‘No, you’re just going to be in there like that,’ ” Adonys said. “It was very, very cold. It was unbearable. We couldn’t stand it.”

Sofía, a 25-year-old woman who has applied for asylum and also requested anonymity, was held for two weeks. She said it was so cold in one cell that she could see her breath.

“It’s so cold, you’re trembling,” she said. “Your lips split.”

Few complain, but problems appear widespread

Despite the conditions in the detention rooms, legal complaints about short-term detention are few. Generally, lawyers and immigrants alike are more concerned with the immediate issue of how to stay in the United States, attorneys said.

Earlier this year, Americans for Immigrant Justice, based in Florida, filed tort claims on behalf of seven women and one man detained in las hieleras in the spring. Like Claudia and Marvin, these people were held in stations in South Texas. The problem, however, stretches along the U.S.-Mexico border, according to lawyers and activists.

“I don’t see how it could be any more widespread,” said James Duff Lyall, a border litigation attorney for the ACLU in Arizona.

Lawyers for detained immigrants raise concerns that migrants are placed in these cold rooms for punitive reasons. Immigration detention is intended, however, to ensure that people seeking asylum or fighting deportation appear in court. It is not because they have been convicted of a crime.

International and North American human rights standards are stricter for this type of detention than for criminal lockups because no one has been convicted of anything.

Immigration detention is held to a Fifth Amendment standard, said Lyall of the ACLU. The Fifth Amendment prohibits conditions that amount to punishment without due process of the law, including freedom from risk of harm and the right to adequate food, clothing, shelter and medical care.

Further potentially violating immigrants’ right to due process, according to Lyall, is the denial of access to an attorney and to their consulate, as well as coercing detainees to sign voluntary removal orders.

While many of these standards are laid out in internal Customs and Border Protection policies and procedures, the agency is not subject to regular inspections to ensure compliance.

The agency’s policy dictates that “whenever possible,” detainees should not be held in short-term detention for more than 12 hours. At 24 hours, agents need to file a report to the station’s patrol agent in charge if a detainee hasn’t been transferred yet. At 72 hours, the chief of the sector should get a report.

For human rights attorneys, the conditions in las hieleras likely violate international standards. Michele Garnett McKenzie, advocacy director at The Advocates for Human Rights, said that if the temperature is turned down for humiliation or to degrade the detainees, that would be evidence of a more serious kind of violation.

“There’s a point where [the temperature] is deliberately turned down to harass people and make them unable to sleep,” McKenzie said, “and that’s where the allegation is here.”

Journey from El Salvador to a holding cell

For Claudia and her family, the cold holding cells were a shock.

They had left San Salvador, El Salvador’s capital city, in a hurry. They stuffed some clothes, diapers and cash in two small backpacks, got on a bus and went north. Marvin had gotten his paycheck from his bus-driving job the day before, and Claudia had a bit of cash from helping an aunt sell food on the street.

The couple had just gotten word that their family had been “denounced”—marked for death—by MS-13, the gang that ran their neighborhood. Marvin saw gang members torturing Claudia’s brother-in-law, who had a rival gang tattoo on his chest. The family was able to lay low for a while, but once the threat came, they fled.

For 18 days, the family rode crowded, broken-down buses to Cancun, Mexico, and then on to the town of Reynosa, bordering South Texas. The baby developed a cold. The parents didn’t have the money to pay coyotes controlled by a cartel to smuggle them across the river. As a result, the cartel held them in a house for eight days until a family member in Canada wired the money.

They were caught not long after crossing the river.

Once inside the Border Patrol detention facility, Claudia was given a heat-reflective “space” blanket—which she likened to a potato chip bag—to keep her and the baby warm. Her son was separated into a cell with other teens, no one would tell her where her husband was, and the baby was coughing. The small cell was packed.

Miles away, at another Border Patrol station, Marvin was in a similar cold, crowded cell. There was barely room to crouch, let alone lie down and sleep.

Even if the agents did turn off the overhead lights, which they never did, and even if they didn’t make a ruckus every time someone closed their eyes, which they always did, there were no mattresses. Just the cold, hard concrete floor, directly underneath large ceiling vents blowing cold air, according to Marvin.

In both cells, the toilet was in plain sight. In Claudia’s cell, a security camera pointed at it, and she could see the agents watching the screens in the control room whenever a woman got desperate enough to use the toilet. In Marvin’s cell, the area around the toilet was covered with dried spit laced with blood.

There were no showers, no soap, no toothbrushes.

Claudia got two sandwiches a day—bologna on white bread. The water was muddy-tasting, so she was afraid to drink it, even though she was breastfeeding. Her son got a few frozen mini-burritos and punch.

The baby coughed more.

After they were taken to the hospital, a doctor scribbled a prescription while a nurse allowed Claudia to bathe the baby and dress her in clean clothes. Then the agents took them back to the cell. They did not fill the prescription, she said.

They lived like this for six days, until one day, the agents told Claudia and her two children they could go. With no friends or family, Claudia and the kids found help at La Posada Providencia, an immigrants’ shelter in San Benito, Texas, where the program director, Sister Zita Telkamp, contacted the pro bono legal organization ProBAR to help find Marvin. The lawyer, Meredith Linsky, found him at an ICE facility.

In total, Claudia and her children spent 144 hours, or six days, in short-term detention, transferred among three different stations. Marvin spent 120 hours split between two Border Patrol locations.

The baby is still sick, and Claudia has nightmares about the Border Patrol coming back. The family’s plan, according to Marvin: “Continue struggling on so they don’t return us.”

 

Text by Rachael Bale, The Center for Investigative Reporting, November 19th 2013

Reporter Andrew Becker contributed to this report. This story was edited by Robert Salladay and copy edited by Nikki Frick and Christine Lee.

A study finds that granting citizenship to undocumented workers would increase pay, tax revenue and overall spending.

Undocumented workers till an asparagus field near Toppenish, Wash., on the Yakama Indian Reservation© Elaine Thompson-AP Photo

Adding 203,000 new jobs, $184 billion in tax revenue and $1.4 trillion to the nation’s overall economy seems like a pretty good idea for a country clawing its way out of an economic downturn.Would Americans still think it’s a good idea if that boom required granting undocumented immigrants immediate citizenship? The answer might be less than unanimous, but the folks at the Center For American Progress say it’s an idea worth considering sooner rather than later.

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Five years after gaining citizenship, undocumented workers would make 25.1% more annually, according to a study obtained by The Huffington Post. That raise will “ripple through the economy” as immigrants use their income to buy goods and pay taxes.

The plan, as with nearly any mention of immigration reform in the U.S., has drawn its fair share of criticism. In his book “Immigration Wars: Forging An American Solution,” former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush insists that the economic benefits of a path to citizenship are outweighed by the potential damage to the “integrity of our immigration system.”

The junior senator from Bush’s state, Republican Marco Rubio, flat-out disagrees and has joined Arizona Sen. John McCain in calling for a clear and immediate path to citizenship for undocumented workers. They wouldn’t be the first or even the most high-profile Republicans to make that call, either.

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In 1986, Ronald Reagan made immigration a priority of his presidency by instituting the Immigration Reform and Control Act, which National Public Radio recently spotlighted for granting amnesty and, eventually, citizenship to undocumented workers who had been in the country since 1982.

How did that work out? Ask the Department of Labor, which reports that immigrants granted citizenship under Reagan’s plan got a 15.1% bump in pay immediately afterward.

But what if Americans just aren’t ready for such a sweeping change in immigration policy? Then they’re going to have to wait a whole lot longer for a payout while they make up their minds. The Center For American Progress study showed that delaying the citizenship process could put off benefits for both workers and the greater economy by a decade or more.

Powerball winner Pedro Quezada says, “Imagine … so much money. But it will not change my heart.” He says his wife can have “whatever she wants.”

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LAWRENCEVILLE, N.J. — The Dominican immigrant who won one of the largest lottery jackpots in U.S. history said Tuesday he felt “pure joy” at winning, and he plans to buy a car so he doesn’t have to walk everywhere.

Pedro Quezada, a former shop owner who lives in a working-class suburb of New York City, appeared at New Jersey lottery headquarters to officially claim the $338 million Powerball prize.

New Jersey man says he won $338 million Powerball jackpot

Lottery officials said Quezada had decided to accept the winnings in the form of a lump-sum payment worth $221 million, or about $152 million after taxes. It’s the fourth-largest jackpot in Powerball history.

Quezada said his mind is not yet clear enough to know how he will use the money, but he said he could use a good car. Asked what kind of car he has now, he said, “My feet.”

Until last year, he worked 15 hours a day at the store his son now runs.

“Imagine … so much money,” Quezada said. “But it will not change my heart.”

He said he would share his winnings with family members and would use some to help his community. He said his Mexican-born wife of nine years, Ines Sanchez, could have “whatever she wants.”

Neighbors told The Record newspaper that the Quezada family has suffered bad luck in recent years. Two years ago, thieves broke into their apartment and stole everything from clothing to jewelry. The year before, a fire destroyed much of their store, they said.

Quezada would not talk about any of the hard times.

“I know he’s going to do something good with the money,” Quezada’s son, Casiano, said from behind the counter of the family store, the Apple Deli Grocery. He said he is proud of his father and still in disbelief that he won.

The family moved to the U.S. in the 1980s from the Dominican city of Jarabacoa, Casiano Quezada said.

Pedro Quezada’s neighbors saw a lot of themselves in the winner: hardworking, a family man, an immigrant and someone who has known hard times.

The neighbors were thrilled that one of their own finally struck it rich.

“This is super for all of us on this block,” said Eladia Vazquez, who has lived across the street from Quezada’s building for the past 25 years. Quezada and his family “deserve it because they are hardworking people.”

Fellow Dominican immigrant Jose Gonzalez said he barbecues and plays dominoes with Quezada in the summers in a backyard on their street.

“He sometimes would work from six in the morning to 11 at night, so I did not see him much,” Gonzalez said Monday night. “I am happy for him. … I don’t know where he is now, but I imagine he will drop by to say hi to his friends.”

Powerball is played in 42 states, Washington, D.C., and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The chance of matching all five numbers and the Powerball number is about 1 in 175 million.

Associated Press writers David Porter and Angela Delli Santi contributed.

Earlier this year, Peru passed a resolution to reduce its carbon footprint. It prescribed the use of clean energy and a stop to the illegal culling of Amazonian rainforests. Peru acted with good reason. Peru is a country that relies on its agricultural and fishing sectors as major sources of employment and food. A majority of the country’s population lives in the coastal desert, and relies on water from shrinking mountain glaciers and ever-more erratic rains in the Andes. As a result, climate change could hammer the Peruvian economy and Peruvians’ way of life.

That said, Peru produces just 0.4% of the world’s carbon emissions. Any solution to global climate change will have to come from beyond Peru’s borders, and one of the places where that change must happen is the United States of America. The U.S. produces some 18% of the world’s carbon emissions, second only to China. Nonetheless, the U.S. has failed to implement wide-ranging policies to reduce carbon emissions. How do Barack Obama and Mitt Romney see the problem of climate change, and what solutions do they offer?

ROMNEY
Mitt Romney has expressed some seemingly contradictory positions on the causes of climate change, according to a  timeline compiled by Climate Silence. In his 2010 book No Apology, Romney questioned the scientific consensus attributing climate change to human-caused greenhouse gas emissions. On the campaign trail the next year, however, he told a town hall meeting that he believed that humans were contributing to global warming, and that therefore, “…it’s important for us to reduce our emissions of pollutants and greenhouse gases that may well be significant contributors to the climate change and the global warming that you’re seeing.”

Months later, however, Romney again began publicly questioning the idea that global warming is caused by humans. “I don’t know if it’s mostly caused by humans. … What I’m not willing to do is spend trillions of dollars on something I don’t know the answer to,” he said in Lebanon, New Hampshire. This year, however, Romney told Science Debate, “I am not a scientist myself, but my best assessment of the data is that the world is getting warmer, that human activity contributes to that warming, and that policymakers should therefore consider the risk of negative consequences.”

That said, Romney’s policy recommendations on issues of energy and government regulation suggest that concerns about climate change will not weigh heavily on his decision-making. Romney is strongly advocating an increase of gas and oil drilling both on-and-off-shore in the United States. Romney opposed a tax credit for the production of wind energy.

Romney has also taken a dim view of proposals to regulate carbon emissions. He stated that he disagreed with the Environmental Protection Agency’s right to oversee carbon emissions as pollutants. While Romney voiced some support for cap and trade (in which carbon emission limits would be set, and companies could buy and sale credits for emissions) while governor of Massachusetts, the policy is not part of his 2012 platform.

OBAMA
For those concerned about climate change, Obama’s first term in office has been a mixed bag of success and disappointment. Obama has continued U.S. resistance to the Kyoto Protocol, an international treaty which prescribes cuts in carbon emissions, despite the U.S. having signed the document in 1997. While Obama pushed cap and trade legislation through the House of Representatives in 2009, the bill died in the Senate and has shown no signs of being resuscitated.

After the failure of cap and trade, however, Obama empowered the EPA to regulate carbon emissions as pollutants. His administration also toughened emissions standards for cars and trucks. His administration has sought to have subsidies for oil and gas companies lowered and eliminated, while pushing for tax credits and other incentives for renewable energy providers.

Looking ahead, Obama has made little mention of climate change in the 2012 campaign. One notable exception was his acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention, when he said that, “Climate change is not a hoax,” and promised further carbon reduction. Nevertheless, Obama’s platform includes more oil and gas drilling the United States.

 

By Nick Rosen, October 3, 2012

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The U.S. presidential election and Peru: Immigration

In little more than a month, millions of Americans will head to the polls to select the next president of the United States. What would the election of Mitt Romney or the re-election of Barack Obama mean for Peru? This multi-part series will seek to answer that question, issue-by-issue. Today, we look at the two candidates’ positions on immigration.

Peruvians in the United States
It’s hard to track down a firm number on how many Peruvians are living in the United States. The U.S. Census finds about 600,000 people claiming Peruvian origins in the country, but that includes native-born and naturalized U.S. citizens. A press release from Peru’s representatives in the Parlamento Andino estimated that there a million Peruvians living in the U.S., with half of them undocumented. Other estimates say that two-thirds of the Peruvians resident in the U.S. are undocumented. Most estimates suggest that between 2% and 4% of Peru’s citizens live in the United States.

Peruvian immigration to the U.S. has a huge economic impact back home. The Inter-American Development Bank calculates that in 2011, Peruvians in the U.S. sent some $902 million back to their families in Peru. Whil remittances from Europe have fallen, those from the United States have grown in the past year.

Positions on undocumented immigration
As estimates suggest that at least half of the Peruvian immigrants living in the U.S. are doing so without a legal visa, the candidates’ positions on “illegal” immigration are important for the Peruvian community.

When Barack Obama ran for the presidency in 2008, one of his campaign promises was to implement comprehensive immigration reform, providing a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants. That has not happened.

A more modest bill, the DREAM Act, which would have provided a path to citizenship for undocumented young people who were brought to the United States as children and later completed high school, was voted down by the Republican majority in Congress. The president later implemented an executive order which, at least temporarily, accomplished much of what was outlined in the DREAM Act. Still, Obama recently said that the failure to implement comprehensive immigration reform was the greatest failure of his first term, and providing a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants who meet certain criteria remains part of his platform in the 2012 campaign.

Under Obama’s government, deportations of undocumented immigrants increased, with some 1,100 Peruvians deported from the country in 2010 and 2011, according to El Comercio. On the other hand, the administration’s Justice Department sued to stop an Arizona state law that would have allowed local law enforcement officers to question anyone they believed to be in the United States illegally.

Mitt Romney’s position on undocumented immigration deviates sharply from Obama’s. Rather than advocating a path for citizenship, Romney has called for creating incentives for undocumented immigrants to leave the United States. Among the initiatives would be a “mandatory employment verification system that will enable employers to be sure that those they hire are eligible to work. This will discourage illegal immigrants from coming to America to seek jobs,” according to his campaign’s website. Romney says that he would  reform the temporary worker program to make it a viable alternative to illegal immigration.

Romney also believes that denying undocumented immigrants benefits, such as state drivers licenses and in-state tuition at public university, will help stop the flow of undocumented workers. The Romney campaign has repeatedly refused to state whether Romney supports the Arizona state law, though it has said that Romney believes that states should have more power to draft immigration laws. Romney has said that he would veto the DREAM Act, but does say that young people who come to the U.S. as children and later serve in the military should have a path to citizenship.

Positions on legal immigration
The two candidates’ positions are significantly closer on legal immigration. Both candidates have called for more visas for high-skilled workers and those with advanced degrees, citing the positive impact that these immigrants have on the economy. Both candidates have stated that there is a need to reform the temporary worker program so that economic sectors like agricultural and tourism can get the workers that they need.

Romney says that he would facilitate and speed up the processing of visas for the relatives of American citizens and permanent residents, and would raise the caps of high-skilled immigrants from many countries.

Barack Obama opposes the designation of English as the official language of the United States, saying that it would keep Spanish speakers from accessing government services. Mitt Romney says that he would support legislation designating English as an official language.

Thinking in another language changes how people weigh their options.

The study of how people process foreign languages has traditionally focused on the topics we wrestled with in high school French or Spanish classes — botched grammar, misunderstood vocabulary, and mangled phonemes. But in recent years psychologists have gone to the laboratory with a phenomenon that historically was only discussed in memoirs by bilingual writers like Vladimir Nabokov and Eva Hoffman: a foreign language feels less emotional than the mother tongue. Consider the case of taboo words. For many multilinguals, swearing in a foreign languagedoesn’t evoke the same anxiety (or bring the same emotional release) as using a native language. Decreased emotionality in a foreign language spans the gamut of emotions, from saying “I love you,” to hearing childhood reprimands, to uttering morally grave lies, or being influenced bypersuasive messages in advertising.

Researchers have sought to understand the range and limits of these emotional language effects. Lower proficiency and/or late acquisition of the foreign language seems to be a crucial constraint. For people whogrew up bilingual, skin conductance responses and self-reports were similar when listening to emotional phrases in either language. One method for finding new types of emotional-language effects is to examine areas where cognitive neuroscience reports that people can switch between analytical processing and emotional processing. Gut, automatic or instinctive reasoning is grounded in an emotional good-bad response. Alternatively, reasoning can be the result of a deliberative process that involves careful, logical analysis. Would bilinguals be more analytical and less emotional when making decisions in a foreign language?

Boaz Keysar, Sayuri Hayakawa, and Sun Gyu An of University of Chicago asked this question in a paper recently published in Psychological Science. They studied framing effects, a phenonmenon investigated by Daniel Kahneman and others. When a decision is verbally framed as involving a gain, humans prefer a sure outcome over a probabilistic outcome. When the same situation is framed as involving losses, people sometimes prefer to gamble. For example, given a scenario involving 600 sick individuals and two types of medicines to administer, research participants prefer the medicine which will save 200 people for sure, rather than the medicine which has a 1/3 chance of saving all 600 sick people and a 2/3 chance of saving no one. If the formally identical illness scenario is provided, but framed in terms of how many people will die, then research participants are more likely to choose the probabilistic option. Framing effects are one of the classic examples of how humans deviate from logical reasoning, and indeed, individuals with a propensity for logical reasoning, such as those with Asperger Syndrome, are less influenced by the verbal frame when making these types of decisions.

The Chicago researchers randomly assigned bilinguals to read and respond to decision-making scenarios using either their native or foreign language. Similar versions of the study were conducted in the U. S, France and Korea.  This was important because a foreign language may feel more emotional when it is the language of daily life, as happens when studying at a foreign university. English was the first language for the U. S. participants and the foreign language for Korean participants. In France, English was the native language and the French was the foreign language but also language of immersion. Data from all three locations were consistent: the standard framing effects were found for the native language and were absent in the foreign language. The implication is that people were less influenced by emotional aspects of the scenarios when reading scenarios in their foreign language. This is an impressive finding since one might have supposed that the stress of using a less proficient language would diminish the cognitive resources needed for deliberative reasoning, thus pushing people to make gut, instinctive or emotional responses.

The authors ran additional experiments using a paradigm called loss aversion, another case where emotion can influence decision making. People are reluctant to accept bets that involve a chance of losing money, even if the odds are in the favor of winning, such as a 50 percent chance of winning $12 vs. losing $10. Keysar and colleagues found that, regardless of whether the bilinguals played with hypothetical money or real cash that could be kept after the experiment ended, bilinguals accepted the positive bets more often when they played using their foreign language and more often resisted betting when using their native language. This confirmed the finding of being reasoning more logically when using a foreign language.

Language has been traditionally viewed as a vehicle for communicating information (indeed, Chomsky famously characterized language as a mental algebra). Researchers have assumed that, as along as people are proficient enough, then how they respond will not be affected by the language they are using. It is now becoming better appreciated that people answer surveys differently depending on the language. For example, Chinese international students studying in North America agreed with traditional Chinese values more when answering a survey in Chinese; they had higher self-esteem scores when completing a self-esteem questionnaire in English. The full extent of these effects of languages on responses are still being investigated.

Like the other emotional-language effects discussed above, Keysar’s study on how language influences decision making are laboratory effects. Is this what happens outside the lab? Psychologists are increasingly advising foreigners in the US to seek psychotherapy with a bilingual counselor, and, to minimize missing nuances or emotional implications, to avoid conducting life-or-death conversations in a foreign language, such as a serious talk with a doctor, taking a polygraph test, or undergoing police interrogation. But in the decision making case studied by the Chicago team, use of a foreign language led to more logical and better decisions. Does this imply that bilinguals should routinely seek to use their foreign languages when making decisions? Should they buy a house or plan their retirement using a foreign language? An ethnographic approach could analyze cases where individuals end up using their native or a foreign language to conduct business. A wide range of laboratory and/or field experiments should be conducted in order to determine if the elimination of framing effects is a cute laboratory finding or something that may influence real life.

Are you a scientist who specializes in neuroscience, cognitive science, or psychology? And have you read a recent peer-reviewed paper that you would like to write about? Please send suggestions to Mind Matters editor Gareth Cook, a Pulitzer prize-winning journalist at the Boston Globe. He can be reached at garethideas AT gmail.com or Twitter @garethideas.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR(S)

Catherine Caldwell-Harris, Associate Professor of Psychology at Boston University, received her Ph.D. in Cognitive Science and Psychology from the University of California, San Diego. Trained in psycholinguistics and cognitive science, she has conducted research on a wide variety of topics, including language processing, cross-cultural psychology and individual differences in cognitive styles.

 

Arguing against immigration policies that force foreign-born innovators to leave the United States, a new study to be released on Tuesday shows that foreign nationals played a role in more than three out of four patents at the nation’s top research universities.

Conducted by the Partnership for a New American Economy, a nonprofit group co-founded by Mayor Michael Bloomberg of New York, the study notes that nearly all the patents were in science, technology, engineering and math, the so-called STEM fields that are a crucial driver of job growth.

The report points out that while many of the world’s top foreign-born innovators are trained at United States universities, after graduation they face “daunting or insurmountable immigration hurdles that force them to leave and bring their talents elsewhere.”

The Partnership for a New American Economy released a paper in May saying that other nations were aggressively courting highly skilled citizens who had settled in the United States, urging them to return to their home countries. The partnership supports legislation that would make it easier for foreign-born STEM graduates and entrepreneurs to stay in the United States.

“Now that we know immigrants are behind more than three of every four patents from leading universities, the federal laws that send so many of them back to their home countries look even more patently wrong,” Mayor Bloomberg said in a statement.

But some worry that the partnership’s ideas for immigration reform would undermine similarly skilled American workers while failing to address broader problems with immigration policy.

“No one is asking what is in their best interest, the American worker,” said Eric Ruark, director of research for the Federal for American Immigration Reform, an advocacy group that is pushing for reduced immigration. “It’s what is best for the employers. What is best for the foreign workers. It’s not as if the foreign workers aren’t skilled. What’s being ignored is we already have a domestic work force that has the same skills.”

The most recent study seeks to quantify the potential costs of immigration policies by reviewing 1,469 patents from the 10 universities and university systems that had obtained the most in 2011. The schools include the University of California system, Stanford and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Patents, the study maintains, are a gauge for a nation’s level of innovation and an important way for the United States to maintain an edge in STEM fields.

In one illustration of the issue, the study notes that nine out of 10 patents at the University of Illinois system in 2011 had at least one foreign-born inventor. Of those, 64 percent had a foreign inventor who was not yet a professor but rather a student, researcher or postdoctoral fellow, a group more likely to face immigration problems.

Some of the patents that were reviewed for the report have become business ventures. Wenyuan Shi, a professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, earned a patent for an ingredient in a lollipop he developed that works as a dental treatment for children. A native of China, Mr. Shi has created a company to commercialize his inventions.

But current immigration laws can make it difficult for foreign-born students to remain in the United States after graduation. And employers may be wary of hiring them because green cards, allowing for permanent residency status, are limited and the process of obtaining one is cumbersome and expensive.

Under the current system, foreign-born students are allowed to stay in the United States for 12 to 29 months after graduation, provided they find a job or internship in their field.

After that, more permanent visas are difficult to obtain, restricted by factors like country quotas. The study notes that China is entitled to the same number of visas as Iceland.

Dr. Ashlesh Murthy came to the United States from India in 2001 to pursue a master’s degree in molecular biology at the University of Texas at San Antonio. Working with his professors there, he developed a vaccine for the sexually transmitted disease chlamydia, which obtained patents in 2011 and 2012.

Nonetheless, Dr. Murthy had to negotiate a bureaucratic maze to remain in the United States, and at one point was stuck in India for an extra month because American officials in India doubted a previously approved visa.

Noting that university officials petitioned a congressman to intervene on his behalf, Dr. Murthy, said, “If I was not in a position where they really wanted me, I seriously doubt I would have gotten back.”

* By , NYT, June 25, 2012

In the 1993 movie “Groundhog Day,” Bill Murray plays Phil Connors, a reporter who, confronted with living the same day over and over again, matures from an arrogant, self-serving professional climber to someone capable of loving and appreciating others and his world. Murray convincingly portrays the transformation from someone whose self-importance is difficult to abide into a person imbued with kindness.  It seems that the Nietzschean test of eternal return, insofar as it is played out in Punxsutawney, yields not an overman but a man of decency.

But there is another story line at work in the film, one we can see if we examine Murray’s character not in the early arrogant stage, nor in the post-epiphany stage, where the calendar is once again set in motion, but in the film’s middle, where he is knowingly stuck in the repetition of days. In this part of the narrative, Murray’s character has come to terms with his situation. He alone knows what is going to happen, over and over again.  He has no expectations for anything different.  In this period, his period of reconciliation, he becomes a model citizen of Punxsutawney. He radiates warmth and kindness, but also a certain distance.

The early and final moments of “Groundhog Day” offer something that is missing during this period of peace:  passion. Granted, Phil Connors’s early ambitious passion for advancement is a far less attractive thing than the later passion of his love for Rita (played by Andie MacDowell).  But there is passion in both cases.  It seems that the eternal return of the same may bring peace and reconciliation, but at least in this case not intensity.

And here is where a lesson about love may lie.  One would not want to deny that Connors comes to love Rita during the period of the eternal Groundhog Day.  But his love lacks the passion, the abandon, of the love he feels when he is released into a real future with her. There is something different in those final moments of the film.  A future has opened for their relationship, and with it new avenues for the intensity of his feelings for her. Without a future for growth and development, romantic love can extend only so far.  Its distinction from, say, a friendship with benefits begins to become effaced.

There is, of course, in all romantic love the initial infatuation, which rarely lasts.  But if the love is to remain romantic, that infatuation must evolve into a longer-term intensity, even if a quiet one, that nourishes and is nourished by the common engagements and projects undertaken over time.

This might be taken to mean that a limitless future would allow for even more intensity to love than a limited one.  Romantic love among immortals would open itself to an intensity that eludes our mortal race.  After all, immortality opens an infinite future.  And this would seem to be to the benefit of love’s passion.  I think, however, that matters are quite the opposite, and that “Groundhog Day” gives us the clue as to why this is.  What the film displays, if we follow this interpretive thread past the film’s plot, is not merely the necessity of time itself for love’s intensity but the necessity of a specific kind of time:  time for development.  The eternal return of “Groundhog Day” offered plenty of time.  It promised an eternity of it.  But it was the wrong kind of time.  There was no time to develop a coexistence.  There was instead just more of the same.

The intensity we associate with romantic love requires a future that can allow its elaboration.  That intensity is of the moment, to be sure, but is also bound to the unfolding of a trajectory that it sees as its fate.  If we were stuck in the same moment, the same day, day after day, the love might still remain, but its animating passion would begin to diminish.

This is why romantic love requires death.

If our time were endless, then sooner or later the future would resemble an endless Groundhog Day in Punxsutawney.  It is not simply the fact of a future that ensures the intensity of romantic love; it is the future of meaningful coexistence.  It is the future of common projects and the passion that unfolds within them.  One might indeed remain in love with another for all eternity.  But that love would not burn as brightly if the years were to stammer on without number.

Why not, one might ask?  The future is open.  Unlike the future in “Groundhog Day,” it is not already decided.  We do not have our next days framed for us by the day just passed.  We can make something different of our relationships.  There is always more to do and more to create of ourselves with the ones with whom we are in love.

This is not true, however, and romantic love itself shows us why.  Love is between two particular people in their particularity.  We cannot love just anyone, even others with much the same qualities.  If we did, then when we met someone like the beloved but who possessed a little more of a quality to which we were drawn, we would, in the phrase philosophers of love use, “trade up.”  But we don’t trade up, or at least most of us don’t.  This is because we love that particular person in his or her specificity.  And what we create together, our common projects and shared emotions, are grounded in those specificities.  Romantic love is not capable of everything. It is capable only of what the unfolding of a future between two specific people can meaningfully allow.

Sooner or later the paths that can be opened by the specificities of a relationship come to an end.  Not every couple can, with a sense of common meaningfulness, take up skiing or karaoke, political discussion or gardening.  Eventually we must tread the same roads again, wearing them with our days.  This need not kill love, although it might.  But it cannot, over the course of eternity, sustain the intensity that makes romantic love, well, romantic.

One might object here that the intensity of love is a filling of the present, not a projection into the future.  It is now, in a moment that needs no other moments, that I feel the vitality of romantic love.  Why could this not continue, moment after moment?

To this, I can answer only that the human experience does not point this way.  This is why so many sages have asked us to distance ourselves from the world in order to be able to cherish it properly.  Phil Connors, in his reconciled moments, is something like a Buddhist.  But he is not a romantic.

Many readers will probably already have recognized that this lesson about love concerns not only its relationship with death, but also its relationship with life.  It doesn’t take eternity for many of our romantic love’s embers to begin to dim.  We lose the freshness of our shared projects and our passions, and something of our relationships gets lost along with them.  We still love our partner, but we think more about the old days, when love was new and the horizons of the future beckoned us.  In those cases, we needn’t look for Groundhog Day, for it will already have found us.

And how do we live with this?  How do we assimilate the contingency of romance, the waning of the intensity of our loves?  We can reconcile ourselves to our loves as they are, or we can aim to sacrifice our placid comfort for an uncertain future, with or without the one we love.  Just as there is no guarantee that love’s intensity must continue, there is no guarantee that it must diminish.  An old teacher of mine once said that “one has to risk somewhat for his soul.” Perhaps this is true of romantic love as well. The gift of our deaths saves us from the ineluctability of the dimming of our love; perhaps the gift of our lives might, here or there, save us from the dimming itself.

 

* Text By TODD MAY, NYT, FEBRUARY 26, 2012

 Todd May is Class of 1941 Memorial Professor of the Humanities at Clemson University.  His forthcoming book, “Friendship in an Age of Economics,” is based on an earlier column for The Stone.

THANKSGIVING 1971, the 350th anniversary of the “first” of the harvest celebrations in Plymouth, Mass. Invited to speak to a local historical society about that long-ago event, I described the ritual significance of food to the colonists and the Native Americans who attended. Afterward, someone asked, “Did they serve turkey?”

This was no idle question, for it captured the uneasiness many of us feel about the threads that connect past and present. Are our present-day values and practices aligned with the historical record, or have they been remade by our consumer culture? Is anything authentic in our own celebrations of Thanksgiving? And isn’t the deeper issue what the people who came here were like, not what they ate in 1621?

To return to the first of these harvest feasts is to return to the puzzling figure of the Puritan, the name borne by most of the English people who came to New England in the early 17th century. What did they hope to gain by coming to the New World, and what values did they seek to practice?

The easy answers simplify and distort. Nathaniel Hawthorne, who came along a couple of centuries later, bears some of the blame for the most repeated of the answers: that Puritans were self-righteous and authoritarian, bent on making everyone conform to a rigid set of rules and ostracizing everyone who disagreed with them. The colonists Hawthorne depicted in “The Scarlet Letter” lacked the human sympathies or “heart” he valued so highly. Over the years, Americans have added to Hawthorne’s unfriendly portrait with references to witch-hunting and harsh treatment of Native Americans.

But in Hawthorne’s day, some people realized that he had things wrong. Notably, Alexis de Tocqueville, the French writer who visited the United States in 1831. Tocqueville may not have realized that the colonists had installed participatory governance in the towns they were founding by the dozens. Yet he did credit them for the political system he admired in 19th-century America.

After all, it was the Puritans who had introduced similar practices in colony governments — mandating annual elections, insisting that legislatures could meet even if a governor refused to summon a new session and declaring that no law was valid unless the people or their representatives had consented to it. Well aware of how English kings abused their powers of office, the colonists wanted to keep their new leaders on a short leash.

Tocqueville did not cite the churches that the colonists had organized, but he should have. Like most of their fellow Puritans in England, the colonists turned away from all forms of hierarchy. Out went bishops, out went any centralized governance; in came Congregationalism, which gave lay church members the power to elect and dismiss ministers and decide other major matters of policy. As many observed at the time, the Congregational system did much to transfer authority from the clergy to the people.

Contrary to Hawthorne’s assertions of self-righteousness, the colonists hungered to recreate the ethics of love and mutual obligation spelled out in the New Testament. Church members pledged to respect the common good and to care for one another. Celebrating the liberty they had gained by coming to the New World, they echoed St. Paul’s assertion that true liberty was inseparable from the obligation to serve others.

For this reason, no Puritan would have agreed with the ethic of “self-reliance” advanced by Hawthorne’s contemporary, Ralph Waldo Emerson. Instead, people should agree on what was right, and make it happen. Wanting social peace, the colonists experienced plenty of conflict among themselves. It was upsetting when this happened, but among the liberties they carefully guarded was the right to petition any government and to plead any grievance, a liberty that women as well as men acted on.

The most far-reaching of these Puritan reforms concerned the civil law and the workings of justice. In 1648, Massachusetts became the first place in the Anglo-American world to publish a code of laws — and make it accessible to everyone. Believing that the rule of law protected against arbitrary or unjust authority, the civil courts practiced speedy justice, empowered local juries and encouraged reconciliation and restitution. Overnight, most of the cruelties of the English justice system vanished. Marriage became secularized, divorce a possibility, meetinghouses (churches) town property.

And although it’s tempting to envision the ministers as manipulating a “theocracy,” the opposite is true: they played no role in the distribution of land and were not allowed to hold political office. Nor could local congregations impose civil penalties on anyone who violated secular law. In these rules and values lay one root of the separation of church and state that eventually emerged in our society.

Why does it matter whether we get the Puritans right or not? The simple answer is that it matters because our civil society depends, as theirs did, on linking an ethics of the common good with the uses of power. In our society, liberty has become deeply problematic: more a matter of entitlement than of obligation to the whole. Everywhere, we see power abused, the common good scanted. Getting the Puritans right won’t change what we eat on Thanksgiving, but it might change what we can be thankful for and how we imagine a better America.

 

Oh, and what did they eat? Although the menu in 1621 is nowhere specified, it certainly included venison, Indian corn, fish and “wild turkeys,” one species of the fowl that the Pilgrim Edward Winslow reported were accumulated in abundance just before the celebration.

* Text by DAVID D. HALL (NYT), November 23, 2010
David D. Hall, a professor at Harvard Divinity School, is the author of the forthcoming history “A Reforming People: Puritanism and the Transformation of Public Life in New England.”

I want to share a couple of articles I recently came across that, I believe, speak to the core of what ails America today but is too little discussed. The first was in Newsweek under the ironic headline “We’re No. 11!” The piece, by Michael Hirsh, went on to say: “Has the United States lost its oomph as a superpower? Even President Obama isn’t immune from the gloom. ‘Americans won’t settle for No. 2!’ Obama shouted at one political rally in early August. How about No. 11? That’s where the U.S.A. ranks in Newsweek’s list of the 100 best countries in the world, not even in the top 10.”


The second piece, which could have been called “Why We’re No. 11,” was by the Washington Post economics columnist Robert Samuelson. Why, he asked, have we spent so much money on school reform in America and have so little to show for it in terms of scalable solutions that produce better student test scores? Maybe, he answered, it is not just because of bad teachers, weak principals or selfish unions.


“The larger cause of failure is almost unmentionable: shrunken student motivation,” wrote Samuelson. “Students, after all, have to do the work. If they aren’t motivated, even capable teachers may fail. Motivation comes from many sources: curiosity and ambition; parental expectations; the desire to get into a ‘good’ college; inspiring or intimidating teachers; peer pressure. The unstated assumption of much school ‘reform’ is that if students aren’t motivated, it’s mainly the fault of schools and teachers.” Wrong, he said. “Motivation is weak because more students (of all races and economic classes, let it be added) don’t like school, don’t work hard and don’t do well. In a 2008 survey of public high school teachers, 21 percent judged student absenteeism a serious problem; 29 percent cited ‘student apathy.’ ”


There is a lot to Samuelson’s point — and it is a microcosm of a larger problem we have not faced honestly as we have dug out of this recession: We had a values breakdown — a national epidemic of get-rich-quickism and something-for-nothingism. Wall Street may have been dealing the dope, but our lawmakers encouraged it. And far too many of us were happy to buy the dot-com and subprime crack for quick prosperity highs.


Ask yourself: What made our Greatest Generation great? First, the problems they faced were huge, merciless and inescapable: the Depression, Nazism and Soviet Communism. Second, the Greatest Generation’s leaders were never afraid to ask Americans to sacrifice. Third, that generation was ready to sacrifice, and pull together, for the good of the country. And fourth, because they were ready to do hard things, they earned global leadership the only way you can, by saying: “Follow me.”


Contrast that with the Baby Boomer Generation. Our big problems are unfolding incrementally — the decline in U.S. education, competitiveness and infrastructure, as well as oil addiction and climate change. Our generation’s leaders never dare utter the word “sacrifice.” All solutions must be painless. Which drug would you like? A stimulus from Democrats or a tax cut from Republicans? A national energy policy? Too hard. For a decade we sent our best minds not to make computer chips in Silicon Valley but to make poker chips on Wall Street, while telling ourselves we could have the American dream — a home — without saving and investing, for nothing down and nothing to pay for two years. Our leadership message to the world (except for our brave soldiers): “After you.”


So much of today’s debate between the two parties, notes David Rothkopf, a Carnegie Endowment visiting scholar, “is about assigning blame rather than assuming responsibility. It’s a contest to see who can give away more at precisely the time they should be asking more of the American people.”
Rothkopf and I agreed that we would get excited about U.S. politics when our national debate is between Democrats and Republicans who start by acknowledging that we can’t cut deficits without both tax increases and spending cuts — and then debate which ones and when — who acknowledge that we can’t compete unless we demand more of our students — and then debate longer school days versus school years — who acknowledge that bad parents who don’t read to their kids and do indulge them with video games are as responsible for poor test scores as bad teachers — and debate what to do about that.


Who will tell the people? China and India have been catching up to America not only via cheap labor and currencies. They are catching us because they now have free markets like we do, education like we do, access to capital and technology like we do, but, most importantly, values like our Greatest Generation had. That is, a willingness to postpone gratification, invest for the future, work harder than the next guy and hold their kids to the highest expectations.


In a flat world where everyone has access to everything, values matter more than ever. Right now the Hindus and Confucians have more Protestant ethics than we do, and as long as that is the case we’ll be No. 11!


By THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN (September 11, 2010)

Jasmine Caldwell was 14 and selling sex on the streets when an opportunity arose to escape her pimp: an undercover policeman picked her up.
The cop could have rescued her from the pimp, who ran a string of 13 girls and took every cent they earned. If the cop had taken Jasmine to a shelter, she could have resumed her education and tried to put her life back in order.

ATT00062
Instead, the policeman showed her his handcuffs and threatened to send her to prison. Terrified, she cried and pleaded not to be jailed. Then, she said, he offered to release her in exchange for sex.
Afterward, the policeman returned her to the street. Then her pimp beat her up for failing to collect any money.
“That happens a lot,” said Jasmine, who is now 21. “The cops sometimes just want to blackmail you into having sex.”
I’ve often reported on sex trafficking in other countries, and that has made me curious about the situation here in the United States. Prostitution in America isn’t as brutal as it is in, say, India, Nepal, Pakistan, Cambodia and Malaysia (where young girls are routinely kidnapped, imprisoned and tortured by brothel owners, occasionally even killed). But the scene on American streets is still appalling — and it continues largely because neither the authorities nor society as a whole show much interest in 14-year-old girls pimped on the streets.
Americans tend to think of forced prostitution as the plight of Mexican or Asian women trafficked into the United States and locked up in brothels. Such trafficking is indeed a problem, but the far greater scandal and the worst violence involves American teenage girls.
If a middle-class white girl goes missing, radio stations broadcast amber alerts, and cable TV fills the air with “missing beauty” updates. But 13-year-old black or Latina girls from poor neighborhoods vanish all the time, and the pimps are among the few people who show any interest.
These domestic girls are often runaways or those called “throwaways” by social workers: teenagers who fight with their parents and are then kicked out of the home. These girls tend to be much younger than the women trafficked from abroad and, as best I can tell, are more likely to be controlled by force.
Pimps are not the business partners they purport to be. They typically take every penny the girls earn. They work the girls seven nights a week. They sometimes tattoo their girls the way ranchers brand their cattle, and they back up their business model with fists and threats.
“If you don’t earn enough money, you get beat,” said Jasmine, an African-American who has turned her life around with the help of Covenant House, an organization that works with children on the street. “If you say something you’re not supposed to, you get beat. If you stay too long with a customer, you get beat. And if you try to leave the pimp, you get beat.”
The business model of pimping is remarkably similar whether in Atlanta or Calcutta: take vulnerable, disposable girls whom nobody cares about, use a mix of “friendship,” humiliation, beatings, narcotics and threats to break the girls and induce 100 percent compliance, and then rent out their body parts.
It’s not solely violence that keeps the girls working for their pimps. Jasmine fled an abusive home at age 13, and she said she — like most girls — stayed with the pimp mostly because of his emotional manipulation. “I thought he loved me, so I wanted to be around him,” she said.
That’s common. Girls who are starved of self-esteem finally meet a man who showers them with gifts, drugs and dollops of affection. That, and a lack of alternatives, keeps them working for him — and if that isn’t enough, he shoves a gun in the girl’s mouth and threatens to kill her.
Solutions are complicated and involve broader efforts to overcome urban poverty, including improving schools and attempting to shore up the family structure. But a first step is to stop treating these teenagers as criminals and focusing instead on arresting the pimps and the customers — and the corrupt cops.
“The problem isn’t the girls in the streets; it’s the men in the pews,” notes Stephanie Davis, who has worked with Mayor Shirley Franklin to help coordinate a campaign to get teenage prostitutes off the streets.
Two amiable teenage prostitutes, working without a pimp for the “fast money,” told me that there will always be women and girls selling sex voluntarily. They’re probably right. But we can significantly reduce the number of 14-year-old girls who are terrorized by pimps and raped by many men seven nights a week. That’s doable, if it’s a national priority, if we’re willing to create the equivalent of a nationwide amber alert.
 

By NICHOLAS D. KRISTOF (NYT;May 7, 2009)

******************************************************************

Some comments  from  Editors’ Selections NYTimes, than  aim to highlight the most interesting and thoughtful comments that represent a range of views.

Prostitucion

I live in New Zealand where prostitution is legal. This has helped sex workers in many ways although problems remain. It’s legalization hasn’t started NZ down any sort of moral slippery slope and in fact (as an American expat) I find my new homeland to be a much more moral place than the US (although again certainly not perfect).
— David, Rotorua, New Zealand

How come no one ever writes about young teenage boys ‘on the street’?…..it’s just as much a problem in the the USA, as it is in Thailand, or other exotic sex tourism locations that do get written about.
— Tim Hughes, Amesbury,England,UK

 

Many state have laws allowing newborns to be abandoned at hospitals to prevent them from being discarded into dumpsters. These children are placed in protective custody by the state. How about making similar laws to protect girls who are in forced prostitution? They would just need to show up at any emergency room to escape their abuse. I have never heard of any state allowing children 13 yrs old to consent to sex. The pimps, johns and corrupt police officers need to be prosecuted as high-level sex offenders. It is immoral to not offer strong protection and care to these children.
— Minta Keyes, Tucson, AZ


My parents through me out of the house after failing freshman year of college 43 years ago- a teen as an adult I had no idea what to do. Raped, pregnant they wouldn’t let me back. But as others say – the goverment can help but also the biggest help is good people – not just nonprofit charities – just people – friends to drive you to the hospital, a man who hires and trains you for a small job, neighbors to babysit…allows you to move on to a better life. So now I try to help others since I got into a good life – after many years.
— Karenna, Witherbee, NE

 

Nice sentiment, but don’t the thousands of men who USE prostitutes also share some blame? Would you hang out and play poker with a guy who cheats at cards? Why is it so easy to hang out with guys who use teenage girls for sex? Only men can change this horrific cultural phenomena by ostracizing men who think a few moments or evening with a prostitute is acceptable entertainment. Why don’t you write that column Mr. Kristoff? Are you willing to point out that the customer is a MAJOR abuser too? If men recognized that paying for sex is a morally depraved act and called each other on it, the pimps, cops, social workers, etc. would be out of a job.
— Sandy McIntire, Mount Hope, WV

In 2003 I went to Atlanta representing the Department of Justice to a meeting about the problem of juvenile prostitution. In a room were school officials, the police, child welfare representatives, a judge from the juvenile court and several other people from other agencies. All of these agencies could not figure out why children “disappeared” from the system. The schools could not track dropouts, the police laughed at the 15 year old on the street with her pimp leering over the door of the car, the child welfare people whined about the case loads and the judge passed stern judgement on the children who came before her court while the child welfare agency released the children into the tendure care of their pimps. I pointed out repeatedly to OJJDP and the people that the view was agency centered rather than child centered. I also pointed out that many european countries are now bar coding children to make sure they don’t fall through the cracks. No, their systems are not perfect but they sure seem superior to the period “crises” which we seem very adept and rediscovering. See Every Child Matters in the United Kingdom. Last year we discovered 4 children who had been murdered in Washington DC and discovered in a freezer. That was the ultimate example of children falling through the cracks. We can track stolen cars but not missing children in those cracks.

 

Michael Wiatrowski, Ph.D.
Woodbridge, Virginia

 

 

Thank you for showing that forced child sex slavery happens not just across the globe but also across the street.

You wrote: “Prostitution in America isn’t as brutal as it is in, say, India, Nepal, Pakistan, Cambodia and Malaysia (where young girls are routinely kidnapped, imprisoned and tortured by brothel owners, occasionally even killed).”

Sadly, prostitution here IS as brutal. In this country–in my own state and in yours–young girls ARE routinely kidnapped, imprisoned, and tortured by brothel owners. And yes occasionally even killed. These are US citizens as well as internationals. This brutal treatment is not an exception or occasional rare case, but a regular part of child prostitution in the US. How else would the brothel owners control them?

My anti-trafficking work has taken me to 40+ countries including many of the ones you mentioned. My organization is a member of the Florida Coalition Against Human Trafficking, and sadly we see the same brutal treatment that happens in other countries happening right in our backyard.

Thank you again for continuing to shine light on the darkness of child sex slavery. We appreciate your work very much.

Diana Scimone
President
Born to Fly International, Inc.
Stopping child sex trafficking…setting kids free to soar
http://www.born2fly.org
http://www.dianascimone.com
— Diana Scimone, Orlando, FL

A U.S. airline apologized yesterday to nine Muslim American passengers from the Washington area who were removed from a flight out of Reagan National Airport, but a Muslim civil rights group said it intends to press a discrimination complaint against the airline for its treatment of the passengers.

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“It is incumbent on any airline to ensure that members of the traveling public are not singled out or mistreated based on their perceived race, religion or national origin. We believe this disturbing incident would never have occurred had the Muslim passengers removed from the plane not been perceived by other travelers and airline personnel as members of the Islamic faith,” said the complaint filed with the U.S. Department of Transportation by the Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), an advocacy group.

The New Year’s Day incident aboard an AirTran flight to Orlando marked the latest case in which Muslim or South Asian travelers have alleged that they were illegally singled out for scrutiny. Contradictory accounts given by airline and federal aviation security authorities also highlight the difficulty of decision-making and affixing responsibility in tense situations involving a perceived threat.

ph2009010300206

Profiling by security agencies based on race, religion or ethnicity has concerned civil rights groups since at least 2001, when airport security escalated in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks. CAIR, for example, publishes a brochure advising Muslim passengers about how to protect their rights during air travel, including how to request respectful searches and how to avoid confrontations with airport security personnel.

Laila Al-Qatami, a spokeswoman for the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, said her group tracked about 20 such reports in 2008, although the AirTran case was unusual because the airline initially refused to rebook the passengers.

“It seems in this case the airline has to take another look at what its policies are, how it handles a situation like this and what it considers suspicious behavior,” Al-Qatami said.

In 2008, the Transportation Department said it handled 87 complaints alleging discrimination by airlines based on race, ethnicity, national origin or color, but only four were security related, spokesman Bill Adams said. However, Adams said security checkpoints staffed by the Transportation Security Administration are outside the department’s jurisdiction.

TSA spokesman Christopher White said the agency’s office of civil rights has received 32 complaints since Oct. 1.

AirTran initially defended its actions in removing the nine passengers after others reported their remarks about the safest place to sit on an airplane.

But as reports of the incident spread yesterday, the airline said in a statement that it had offered the group a refund for their replacement tickets and free return airfare. It also apologized to 95 other passengers whose flight was delayed about two hours.

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“We regret that the issue escalated to the heightened security level it did on New Year’s Day, but we trust everyone understands that the security and the safety of our passengers is paramount and cannot be compromised,” AirTran spokesman Tad Hutcheson said. “Nobody on Flight 175 reached their destination on time . . . and we regret it.”

Brothers Kashif Irfan, 34, an anesthesiologist, and Atif Irfan, 29, a lawyer, both Alexandria residents, said they believed that their families and a friend were profiled at least in part because of their appearance. All but one of their group are native-born U.S. citizens, and the ninth is a legal permanent U.S. resident, they said; six are of Pakistani descent, two are of Turkish descent, and one is African American. All five adults and a teenager appeared traditionally Muslim, with the men wearing beards and the women in head scarves, they said. They were on their way to a religious retreat in Orlando.

The incident began about 1 p.m. Thursday when Atif Irfan, his wife, Sobia Ijaz, 21, and Kashif Irfan’s wife, Inayet Sahin, 33, took their seats at the rear of the plane.

Officials said two teenage girls sitting nearby became alarmed when they heard Sahin remark that sitting near the engines would not be safe in the event of an accident or an explosion. The girls told their parents, who told a flight attendant, AirTran officials said.

The Muslim passengers said their innocuous banter was misconstrued.

“The conversation we were having was the conversation anyone would have,” Atif Irfan said in a telephone interview from Florida. “She did not use the word ‘bomb,’ she did not use the word ‘explosion.’ She said it would not be safe to sit next to the engines in the event of an accident.”

Officials with the airline and the TSA differ over what happened next.

AirTran officials said the flight attendant notified two federal air marshals on board about the report before telling the captain. The air marshals called both the FBI and airport police to the scene before the pilot emerged from the cockpit, the airline said.

But TSA officials said the pilot, who has authority over who flies on his plane, requested that the air marshals investigate and that the passengers be removed.

FBI agents quickly cleared the passengers of wrongdoing. However, an AirTran gate agent barred them from booking a new flight because she had not been notified of their clearance, the airline said.

One traveler became irate and made an inappropriate remark, the airline said. Airport police were summoned, but by the time officers arrived, the passengers had left to book a flight on another airline, airport spokeswoman Tara Hamilton said.

Inayet Sahin disputed the airline’s account. The gate agent “saw the FBI agents leave,” Sahin said. “She told us that her corporate office told her not to rebook us on the flight.”

Atif Irfan said he was glad for the apology but said the group had not decided whether to accept AirTran’s offer to pay for their replacement tickets and return flight.

CAIR Executive Director Nihad Awad said, “There is a big difference between ‘see something, say something,’ which we all support, and reporting suspicions based solely on stereotyping and bias.” His group was contacted by the Irfans for assistance and reported the incident to news organizations.

By Amy Gardner and Spencer S. Hsu
Washington Post Staff Writers
Saturday, January 3, 2009

The murder of José Sucuzhañay, an Ecuadorean immigrant who died over the weekend at a hospital in Queens, has thrown a harsh light onto a savage, hate-inspired crime that should sicken us all. This horror is also a reminder that bigotry can be deadly, not just to the groups intentionally targeted, but to anyone unfortunate enough to cross its path.

i761178José and his brother Romel appear to have been misidentified as gay as they walked home, arms around each other, on a predawn morning in the Bushwick section of Brooklyn. Romel managed to escape the three men who emerged from a passing car wielding a baseball bat and shouting anti-gay and anti-Latino epithets.
José was struck on the head with a bottle, then kicked and beaten into unconsciousness. He was subsequently declared brain dead and expired last Friday night, one day before his mother, who was traveling from Ecuador, could reach him.
The victim, who had come to this country a decade ago, had been living the immigrant dream. Starting out as a waiter, he eventually bought several buildings and became co-owner of a real estate agency in Bushwick. He cared for his community and was well-liked in return.


This was the second recent killing of an Ecuadorean in the New York area. In November, Marcelo Lucero was stabbed and beaten in the Long Island village of Patchogue by a group of teenagers who, the police say, had been roaming the streets looking to beat up “a Mexican.”

Several teenagers have been arrested and charged in the Long Island case. But New York City police, who are still searching for Mr. Sucuzhañay’s killers, need to do all they can to bring those people to justice. A lynching in the heart of New York City is more than enough to remind us that bigotry cannot be tolerated.

 

* EDITORIAL , NYT,17 December 2008

Words have consequences. Steve Levy, the Suffolk County executive, is learning that the hard way during a horrible week. Seven teenagers were arrested and charged in the fatal stabbing last Saturday of Marcelo Lucero, an Ecuadorean immigrant, on a street in the Long Island village of Patchogue.

The apparent lynching caused shock and anger across the country. Politicians, religious leaders and villagers gathered Wednesday in Patchogue to console the victim’s relatives and to condemn racial hatred. Mr. Lucero’s brother, Joselo, spoke movingly in English and Spanish of how strangers’ words of support had made him feel like part of a larger family.

Mr. Levy was not there. He later called Joselo Lucero, who asked him to please stay away from public remembrances.

Mr. Levy’s past harsh words and actions against undocumented workers have now left him cornered with a tragically limited ability to lead the county in confronting a brutal act that surely pains him as much as anyone.

Local lawmakers often complain about immigration, but Mr. Levy went much farther than most. He founded a national organization to lobby for crackdowns. He went on “Lou Dobbs.” He tried to deputize county police to make immigration arrests and to rid the county work force of employees without papers. He sought to drive day laborers from local streets, yet rigidly opposed efforts to create hiring sites. Even as tensions simmered in places like Farmingville, a hot spot for anti-immigrant resentment, Mr. Levy would not budge.

He parroted extremist talking points, going so far as to raise the alarm, utterly false, that illegal immigrants’ “anchor babies” were forcing Southampton Hospital to close its maternity ward. He denounces racist hatred, yet his words have made him a hero in pockets of Long Island where veins of racism run deep.

All that came back to haunt Mr. Levy this week, when an evil act underscored the need to draw together. Immigrant advocates assailed him for having poisoned the atmosphere. Some called for his resignation. With tactless self-pity, Mr. Levy complained to Newsday that the killing would have been a one-day story anywhere but his home turf. He laments that people overlook his recent, far more measured tone on the issue. He insists that people have a distorted picture of him. Mr. Levy needs to realize that distortions cut both ways.

* Editorial (NYT, November 14, 2008)

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