Friday, July 30, 2004

Tennessee advocates campaign for immigrant college opportunity

"Some think the solution lies in The Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act (DREAM). The DREAM Act, sponsored by Sen. Orin Hatch (R-Utah), proposes granting a six-year conditional permanent resident status to alien minors who entered the U.S. before age 16, lived in the country at least five years and have no criminal or deportation record."

"The bill has yet to make the top of the Senate agenda, but the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition (TIRRC) has already launched its support campaign, working with area students and activists to meet with representatives of senators Bill Frist and Lamar Alexander, and collecting a 6,000-signature petition lobbying for the bill."

"'Our goal is to get as many people as possible to know about these student's stories,' said David Lubell, TIRRC state coordinator."

Nashville City Paper

Thursday, July 29, 2004

Nation watches implications of Tennessee driver certificate

"'This is a disaster, potentially,' said Tyler Moran, an analyst with the National Immigration Law Center, which advocates for the rights of immigrants. 'I really think it's created a bit of a mess.'"

"For once, Moran is in agreement with state Rep. Donna Rowland, a conservative Republican from Rutherford County. Rowland said she would 'absolutely not' advise other states to follow Tennessee's lead."

"'I hope states learn from our mistakes,' she said. 'The certificate of driving will become exactly what the driver's license has become, which is a de facto national ID.'"

"Tennessee's experiment is being scrutinized by numerous states trying to balance road safety against federal immigration policy and homeland security."

L.A. Times

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Strength of Nashville Hispanic real estate market brings movement toward professional organization

"[A] group of about 50 agents, appraisers, mortgage lenders, nonprofit agencies and home inspectors met yesterday to learn how they could join the National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals, based in San Diego. The organization has 11,000 members in 48 states, said Moises Vela, its executive director."

"The local real estate market is booming, agents said yesterday. Nashville has a 'solid 30 to 40' real estate agents who serve Hispanic clients almost exclusively, said Rob Harvey, the outgoing president and chief executive officer of Village Real Estate."

"'Any professionals that work with Hispanics can be part of our association. The idea is to teach Hispanics to be homeowners, to realize the American dream without being taken,' said Miguel Torres, who organized yesterday's meeting and who teaches Spanish-language seminars on the home-buying process."

The Tennessean

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

ESL students thriving under reforms

"There's still work to do, but Metro is producing more of these success stories after revamping its ESL program over the past three years under coordinator Sayra Hughes."

"Community organizer Dante Roa can remember when easily explained situations often caused friction among Metro's teachers and ESL students."

"'The teachers … thought (students) were misbehaving. But the reason was that they didn't understand what was going on and they were asking some of their friends to interpret what the teacher was saying,' said Roa, a retired professor who works with Bienvenidos, a nonprofit group for new Hispanic residents."

"'I see that the schools are doing much better in trying to teach our youngsters, our Hispanic and non-English-speaking children,' Roa said."

"'The numbers speak for themselves,' Hughes said. 'Before, the students at the elementary grade levels would get 30 minutes to one hour of instruction a day. Now they're receiving 7½ hours a day. The number of exited students from year to year has completely doubled.'"

"ESL teachers aren't required to speak all of the languages of their students. Instead, they use special techniques to make English and other subjects easier to learn."

The Tennessean

Monday, July 26, 2004

Poplar Grove kindergarten meets diversity goal

"The incoming kindergarten class at Poplar Grove - which registered for classes Friday - will be the most diverse in the history of the Franklin Special School District's only year-round school."

"This year, the kindergarten class has 28% minorities, said Principal Christi Buell. That is out of a class of 100 students. Eleven percent of those students are African American, 11% are Hispanic, 3% are Asian, 3% classify themselves as other types of minorities and 72% are white."

"Last year, instead of drawing up an attendance zone for the for-choice school to get it more in line with the rest of the district's minority numbers, the school board decided to give the school two years to recruit at least 25 minority students to kindergarten. This year's numbers show that goal has been reached ahead of the deadline."

The Tennessean

Friday, July 23, 2004

Puerto Rican Sounds infielder lip reads in English and Spanish to offset hearing impairment

"The 27-year-old [Luis] Figueroa is legally deaf and has been since the age of 6, when a high fever caused nerve damage that took away about 75% of his hearing."

"He furthered his chances of moving through the ranks by learning to lip-read in two languages, English as well as his native Spanish."

"'I think Spanish is more hard,' Figueroa said. 'Because Mexican Spanish is different than in Puerto Rico, and Dominican is different than Puerto Rico. Everybody has a different word.'"

"'But in English there is only one word. So I learned English from the captions on TV.'"

"In his first season with the Sounds, he's one of the team's hottest hitters, and despite his relatively advanced age for a baseball player, Figueroa is still hopeful of someday playing his first major league game."

The Tennessean

Thursday, July 22, 2004

Metros owner aims for 'Spanglishization' of the Nashville soccer team

"As the curtain fell on the Nashville Metros 15th soccer season last Saturday, some optimistic eyes were cast to the future."

"[Metros owner/chairman Lynn Agee] said he was looking toward involving more of the Spanish community next year."

"'It’s what I call the ‘Spanglishization’ of the Metros,' he said. 'There are a number of Spanish leagues around Middle Tennessee, and we want to target them to become more of our fan base and part of our team. And I mean in all areas, from our owners, to coaches, staff, players.'"

Nashville City Paper

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Mayor Purcell hosts public outreach to immigrant community

"Mayor Bill Purcell will hold the first International Mayor's Night Out meeting 6 p.m. Thursday, at Glencliff High School, 160 Antioch Pike. Mayor Purcell and representatives from various Metro departments will meet directly with residents from Nashville's immigrant community about issues or concerns that affect their lives. The Mayor's Office of Neighborhoods is working with the Tennessee Foreign Language Institute to provide translators for residents who speak limited English. Also, residents will have access to translated brochures and pamphlets regarding various Metro services. Upon arrival, people who wish to speak with Mayor Purcell will be asked to provide their name, address and a brief description of their issue or concern. Requests to speak with Mayor Purcell will be handled on a first-come, first-served basis."

Nashville City Paper

Monday, July 19, 2004

Hundreds of driving certificates issued

"The state issued 724 driving certificates in the first 12 days they were available."

"The Tennessee Department of Safety issued nearly 4,200 traditional driver's licenses in the same period."

"Safety department spokeswoman Beth Denton said the department has worked hard to eliminate any difficulty applicants may experience visiting testing centers."

The Tennessean

Friday, July 16, 2004

Nashville food safari: Super Pollo, Las Paletas and Lichita

"As recently reported in The Tennessean, the New York-based Modern Language Association has introduced a new service on its Web site that provides maps and data about languages in the United States. The data show that in Davidson County, 51,429 residents speak a primary language other than English. (With those statistics gathered from the 2000 census, it is estimated that the actual numbers are considerably higher.)"

"English-speaking Nashvillians can experience those foreign tongues for themselves in the ethnic markets, restaurants, cafes and service centers that are popping up all over the city at a pace that has recently outdistanced even Walgreen's."

"[O]n Nolensville Road, in the space formerly occupied by Neely's BBQ (which has moved to MetroCenter), is Super Pollo, opened just this Saturday by Israel Ceja, whose mother Carmen owns and operates the tax and financial service office next door. Super Pollo, as the name suggests, is devoted to chicken, which is grilled over hickory wood and served in sandwiches or as meals. Sides include rice, beans, corn, potato salad, fries, corn and coleslaw. Francisco Alduenda, who is in charge of the kitchen, notes that everything—from salsas to tortillas—is made fresh in-house. Desserts include bread pudding, carrot cake with coconut, and rice pudding. Super Pollo, at 4023 Nolensville Road, has a large dining area and a drive-through window. It will be open seven days a week, from 10 a.m.-10:30 p.m."

"Las Paletas is the wildly popular Mexican popsicle store owned and operated by the fetching Paz sisters in the bustling 12 South neighborhood. A little closer to home for the hundreds of Latino immigrants living in the Nolensville Road area is Lichita. Housed in a cheerfully painted, tropical-blue-green building at 4405 Nolensville Road, the store sells paletas and nieves, the Mexican version of Italian ice. Paletas come in fruit or cream versions, and nieves are available in a half-dozen flavors. Lichita is open seven days a week, 7 a.m.-10 p.m. Phone: 834-7488."

Nashville Scene

Thursday, July 15, 2004

Nashville Scene profiles advocate Jerry Gonzalez

Nashville Scene"Impassioned by an abiding distrust of authority, Gonzalez now serves as the lead lawyer in two of the most important cases in Tennessee. In August 2002, he filed the first of several lawsuits alleging that Wilson County prison guards were terrorizing inmates, breaking jaws and shooting them with stun guns. Already, four guards have pled guilty to felonies. Initially, Wilson County officials blithely dismissed Gonzalez's claims of a jail gone wild. But now the FBI is investigating the facility and may be preparing serious civil rights charges against one of the jail's former guards. Additional pleas are also expected. At the request of the U.S. Justice Department, a federal court has stayed all legal proceedings until the investigation is over. When it's all said and done, the Wilson County Jail will make Abu Ghraib look like the Opryland Hotel."

"Meanwhile, in a case where the abuse is perhaps less obvious, but no less insidious, Gonzalez filed a challenge this week to Gov. Phil Bredesen's new law that restricts aliens, even legal ones, from obtaining driver's licenses. An avid spokesperson for Hispanic rights, Gonzalez believes Tennessee discriminates against aliens who are here legally - and these are mostly Latino - for no apparent reason."

"'I think they're hypocrites, and they have a bug up their ass about illegal immigrants,' he says matter-of-factly. 'I'm not advocating illegal immigration. I'm advocating that the state of Tennessee should stay the heck out of the immigration business because they don't have a clue.'"

Nashville Scene

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

Family courts to hire and train bilingual divorce mediators

"Nashville has a growing Hispanic population and is believed to have the largest group of Kurds in the country and a significant number of Somalis. There aren't enough trained family court mediators who can help them if they choose to divorce."

"To help them, Metro Court officials are getting grant money to train Spanish-, Kurdish- and Somali-speaking mediators."

"Applicants must have a graduate degree or be a certified public accountant. They also have to have four years of experience in psychiatry, psychology, counseling, social work, education, law or accounting."

"Anyone interested in applying for the training can e-mail a request for an application to or fax the inquiry to 880-2315."

The Tennessean

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

Federal lawsuit challenges constitutionality of Certificate for Driving law

"[A] lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court ... claims the state's unique new law 'exhibit(s) a deliberate indifference' to the constitutional rights of immigrants and Hispanics and a 'pervasive pattern' of discriminatory actions in day-to-day operations at driver's license office."

"'Despite their assertion that homeland security is a compelling interest, I think their real reason for this law is that they don't like illegal aliens getting driver's licenses,' said Gonzalez, head of the local chapter of the League of United Latin American Citizens."

"Gonzalez will be seeking a preliminary injunction later this week to stop the state immediately from issuing any more driving certificates until a judge rules on the lawsuit. He also will ask that the suit be considered a class-action suit applying to all immigrants and Hispanic residents who might be affected by the law."

"The suit challenges two other state policies as well: one is a year-old law banning Mexican consulate identity cards - but not those from any other country - as valid identification in applying for driver's licenses and state IDs."

The Tennessean

Monday, July 12, 2004

Partnership 2010 taps Hispanic Marketing Group

"Partnership 2010, the economic development arm of the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce, has named McNeely Pigott & Fox Public Relations its new agency of record."

"McNeely Pigott & Fox, which was one of nine local agencies that submitted proposals for the contract, will provide communications and marketing support to Partnership 2010 for the next four years. Marcela Gomez of Hispanic Marketing Group partnered with McNeely Pigott & Fox on the proposal."

Nashville Business Journal

Friday, July 9, 2004

Court interpreters meet in Nashville this weekend

"The Administrative Offices of the Courts (AOC) are holding the first Tennessee Court Interpreter Conference today and Saturday at the Nashville Downtown Library, 615 Church St."

"About 100 participants are expected. They will learn about different issues that could come up in their court translation services such as forensic applications of DNA analysis, firearms identification, trial court issues, blood spatter analysis and finger print analysis."

"Tennessee currently has 120 certified and registered court interpreters representing languages such as Spanish, Japanese, Arabic, Laotian, French, Bosnian, Croatian, Farsi Thai, Russian, Portuguese, Dutch, Bulgarian and Mandarin Chinese."

Nashville City Paper, The Tennessean

Thursday, July 8, 2004

Scarritt-Bennett puts world on display at Celebration of Cultures

"This weekend at Scarritt-Bennett Center ... Nashville's melting pot of cultures simmer together at Middle Tennessee's largest international festival, Celebration of Cultures."

"From educational speakers to foreign foods and kids' activities, culture shock will be a good experience during the two-day event."

"'We say it is like traveling the world without leaving the block,' said Carolyn Oehler, president of Scarritt-Bennett Center. 'People are going to get a taste of all of the cultures in Nashville.'"

"'If we are going to be a city, everyone needs to be included,' Oehler added. 'The festival is a symbol of what Nashville is becoming. As we get to know each other, that fear and anxiety that exists disappears, and we are able to discover and embrace the differences.'"

"Celebration of Cultures is 5:30-8 p.m. Friday and 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Saturday at the Scarritt-Bennett Center, 1008 19th Ave. S."

Nashville City Paper

Wednesday, July 7, 2004

Anticipated use of Certificate for Driving frustrates advocates, legislators on both sides

"Tennessee's new driver's certificate for people who cannot prove legal citizenship in the United States has state legislators on both sides of the issue agreeing that changes need to be made to the law."

"Advocate groups for and against immigrant rights both say the new law is difficult to understand."

"'We've essentially given illegal aliens a free pass,' said Donna Locke, head of Tennesseans for Immigration Control and Reform. 'Illegal aliens have no rights except to be treated humanely as they are deported.'"

"Jerry Gonzalez, with the Nashville chapter of the League of United Latin American Citizens, said the law is an ill-fitting compromise."

"'It's unconstitutional, and it's unworkable and will do absolutely nothing to address the issue of terrorism in the state of Tennessee,' he said."

The Review Appeal

Associated Press story on Certificate for Driving attracts national, international attention

"A new law that went into effect last month means Dina Guirguis, an Egyptian in the United States on a temporary student visa, can't renew her Tennessee driver's license when it expires in a few years."

"Melissa Savage, a policy analyst with the National Conference of State Legislatures, said the certificate is the first of its kind, and other states will be watching to see how it works."

"That's not much comfort to Guirguis, who will have to start using her passport -- written entirely in Arabic and French -- as her primary identification in the United States."

CNN, International Herald Tribune, Borneo Bulletin

California columnist praises Certificate for Driving as innovative experiment, dismisses discrimination concerns

"Tennessee decided on a wonderful compromise: A certificate of driving that can't be used for formal identification. For example, it can't be used for buying an airline ticket. At least for now, the insurance lobby isn't sold on the idea. But don't worry. It'll come around once the companies see that illegal immigrants don't drive any better or worse and that there's money in it."

"A similar proposal by California Gov. Schwarzenegger to put a distinct mark on state driver's licenses ran into a liberal wall recently. Some worried it smacked of the Stars of David that Jews were forced to wear in Nazi Germany, or would lead hospitals and other public institutions to treat the undocumented or their children differently."

"What this over-the-top fear doesn't account for are other forms of identification available to the undocumented, especially the IDs available from foreign consulates."

"I know what question I'd ask Kerry and Bush during their upcoming debates: Do you know what's happening in Tennessee, and do you agree or disagree?"

Tuesday, July 6, 2004

Knoxville businessmen form Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of East Tennessee

"'Our mission is to bridge the gap between mainstream businesses and Hispanic businesses. We want to create opportunities for entrepreneurs in the Hispanic community to start new businesses and help existing Hispanic businesses to continue growing,' said [Aurelio] Valeriano, president and CEO of Southeast Construction LLC in Knoxville and chairman of the new chamber."

"'Obviously they are an important and growing segment of the community,' said county government spokesman Mike Cohen, who met with the Hispanic chamber organizers."

"The growth of the Hispanic population prompted county government to launch a Spanish-language version of its Web site,, earlier this year."

"Another indicator of the growing economic clout of the Hispanic community is its buying power statewide. The purchasing clout of Hispanic consumers in Tennessee will zoom from an estimated $2.9 billion in 2003 to approximately $6.5 billion in 2008, according to a report published by the University of Georgia's Terry School Business and the Simon S. Selig Center for Economic Growth."

Friday, July 2, 2004

Tennessee drivers license/drivers certificate featured on NPR's Morning Edition

"Tennessee begins using driving records in an effort to track immigrants. Instead of a state-issued driver's license, temporary and undocumented immigrants will receive driving certificates. State officials call it an anti-terror measure, but some say the certificates will cause more confusion. Jacqueline Fellows of member station WPLN reports."


Thursday, July 1, 2004

Education non-profit launches comprehensive parent resource web site in English and Spanish

"A national education organization hopes a new Spanish/English Internet resource will help Latino parents advocate for their children in school and call attention to the needs of Latino students nationwide."

"With 40 million Latinos living in the United States, representatives from The Education Trust, an independent non-profit, say parents need information about the schools, their child’s curriculum and their rights and responsibilities as parents."

"The key is making emerging data about the Latino population and education accessible in a language the parents can understand, Education Trust Principal Partner Paul Ruiz said Wednesday."

The website is

Nashville City Paper
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