Sunday, February 29, 2004

Memphis criminal targeted Hispanics

"A man convicted of robbing the same Hispanic victims twice in one month at gunpoint has been sentenced to 27 years in prison."

"Jermaine K. Hughey, 25, was convicted in November of four counts of aggravated robbery and four counts of attempted aggravated robbery for the Aug. 9, 2002, and Aug. 30, 2002, crimes."

"State prosecutor Steve Jones said Hughey specifically targeted his victims, who did not speak English, confident they would not call the police."

No Child Left Behind is adjusted to give ESL students a year to ramp up English skills

"U.S. Secretary of Education Rod Paige recently gave English as a Second Language students more time to get up to speed before they have to take the same tests as everyone else. And those tests can get schools in hot water if the scores aren't good."

"They will have to take tests to measure their math skills and the amount of English they know, but they don't have to take the same reading tests as other students during their first year."

"'It gives us more time to work with students,' said Linda Fair, principal of Metro's Haywood Elementary, where 40% of students are ESL. 'It's a move that is workable and fair to children. They come to us with a strong language barrier, and they don't know enough (English) to tell us what they know.'"

"Schools also got a reprieve because none of the scores from first-year ESL students counts against the school."

The Tennessean

Trinity Elementary: 3% Hispanic

Enrollment: 520

Hispanic: 17

The Tennessean

Scales Elementary: 1% Hispanic

Enrollment: 580

Hispanic: 6

The Tennessean

Saturday, February 28, 2004

Susan Howell: communicating with English learners requires not only language instruction but also cultural, religious sensitivity

"Teachers must understand a child's culture, religion and background, Susan Howell said. Poverty and uneducated parents are also roadblocks for immigrant or refugee children trying to learn English, she said."

"'If language is all you're dealing with, it's a piece of cake,' Howell said. 'Language is not the issue. It's dealing with the individual and where they're coming from.'"

"Howell has worked for 25 years in the English language learner program in the Nashville, Tenn., school district. She spoke to teachers Friday during the conference 'Partnerships: Together Moving Every English Language Learner Forward' in Springdale, Arkansas. More than 300 teachers and administrators from around the state attended the two-day conference."

"Teachers must also be sensitive to religious and cultural beliefs, Howell said."

"'I think too often we don't see into the lives of our children,' she said."

Northwest Arkansas Morning News

Friday, February 27, 2004

Editorial: Initiatives between police and Hispanics are good first step to improving public safety

"The formation of an advisory board of community leaders is an excellent step toward fostering communication between Nashville's Hispanic residents and Metro police."

"A forum attended by about 100 people this week to discuss problems in south Nashville revealed some of the problems that exist. Hispanics are fearful about crime in the community, and the police department is eager to improve matters. But improvement requires stronger communication among all involved."

"The good part of the issue is that concerned citizens and officials recognize the problem and are willing to meet and talk about it. Only through such events can progress be made."

The Tennessean

Thursday, February 26, 2004

Black History Month highlights cultural diversity at McMurray Middle School

"One by one, McMurray Middle School students broke out of a single file and introduced 37 of the 50 countries represented at the school. From Afghanistan, Cuba and France to Mexico, Laos and Togo, they waved the national flags."

"Though the assembly celebrated Black History Month and Brotherhood-Sisterhood Week, it touched on much more than one culture."

"And rightly so, teachers say. Talking about Martin Luther King Jr. and his leadership was just a jumping-off point to delve into multiculturalism."

The Tennessean

Wednesday, February 25, 2004

Rutherford County's high TennCare enrollment is due to large Hispanic population, says Health Department official

"Rutherford County, which ranked fifth in per capita TennCare enrollment growth, has a relatively large Hispanic population that could help explain a high TennCare growth rate in a county with a healthy economy, said Ellen Gray, director of the county's Health Department."

"'Not all of them can get on TennCare,' Gray said, 'but much of that population are young and of child-bearing age and their children that are born here many times can and do get on TennCare. We want them to so they can have good insurance and coverage.'"

"Census figures show that Rutherford County ranks 11th in the size of its Hispanic population. The pregnancy rate in the county ranked in the top 20% in 2002, state data show."

"Hispanic workers tend to be clustered in construction and service sector jobs that are less likely to offer health insurance benefits, Gray added."

"Other factors that can influence county TennCare rates include the relative number of children, disabled people and nursing home residents, Elam said. Those groups are still able to get on TennCare in many cases, despite changes in recent years that have made it harder for able-bodied adults to get coverage."

The Tennessean

Hispanic employment down in January after 2003 job gains

"The unemployment rate for Hispanics jumped to 7.3 percent in January, reversing a decline over the second half of 2003, according to a private analysis of government data."

"The January rate for Latinos was up from 6.6 percent in December, said the study released Monday by the Pew Hispanic Center, a Washington-based research group."

"Immigrant males, especially the most recently arrived, showed the greatest increase in employment over the last six months of 2003, and the construction industry accounted for over half of the total Latino job gains."

"But the report also said the decrease in the Hispanic unemployment rate in 2003 was also due to a large number of discouraged workers having given up trying to find work. Those workers are no longer considered 'participating in the labor force.'"

"Overall, there were 17.7 million employed Hispanics at the end of 2003, up 659,000 from end of 2002."

"By comparison, the number of employed non-Hispanics was much larger -121 million - but that number grew by just 371,000 during the same period."

"That trend suggests Latinos took a disproportionate share of new job opportunities last year, Kochhar said."

Associated Press

Background articles about Hispanics and law enforcement in Tennessee

"Officers get intense training in Spanish language, culture," Associated Press, 5/27/03

"With Immigrant Boom, South makes Translation," Los Angeles Times abstract, full text, 5/27/03

"Language Barrier: With More Latinos Coming to the South, Police Must Learn Spanish," ABC News, 7/24/01

"Distrust of police make some Hispanics targets of crime," Associated Press, 2/21/00

Tuesday, February 24, 2004

Police chief creates "El Protector" Hispanic community relations program

"'I find it disgusting that people in this community are held hostage by robbery, drugs and gangs, but I hear from (officers) that we don't hear from you because you are too fearful,' Metro Police Chief Ronal Serpas said."

"To turn around that fear and suspicion, Serpas said, he is launching a new initiative called 'El Protector.'"

"Modeled after a program he ran in Washington state, the program will enlist a board of community leaders to advise police and will involve one full-time Hispanic officer as a community liaison, said Capt. Rick Lankford, commander of the south Nashville police precinct whom Serpas tapped for the job of launching the program.'"

The Tennessean

Monday, February 23, 2004

Open-zoned, year-round Williamson County school recruits minority students

"Poplar Grove's diversity task force hit the ground running last week in an attempt to get minority families to apply to the open-zoned, year-round school beginning today."

"The Franklin Special School District Board of Education decided earlier this month not to zone the K-8 school as it rezoned the rest of its elementary schools to even out the percentage of students from minority and low-income backgrounds. The board also required that Poplar Grove recruit at least 50 minority students in the next two years to its kindergarten class or face possible zoning. That meant that the task force needed to work fast because today is the first day the school is accepting applications for next fall. The deadline for applications is March 5."

The Tennessean

Sunday, February 22, 2004

Bilingual Nashville homicide detective follows whispering killer in Marcos M. Villatoro's novel Minos

"A Nashville native, the author is the son of a Salvadoran mother and a Tennessee father. Like his main character in Minos, except for the switch in gender and profession, the author shares much of the same background."

"Romilia Chacon is a Nashville homicide detective who has been searching for her sister's killer for six years. Dubbed The Whisperer by the FBI, the serial killer long has been sprinkling enigmatic clues around his crime scenes."

"Two caveats: Romilia is a great character but you could call her Romilio and not lose much in the translation. How many young, beautiful, widowed mothers, even if they are star detectives, watch porn, swear like stevedores, and guzzle Wild Turkey? OK, maybe a few."

"And speaking of translation, don't expect to find much here; it helps to know a little Spanish."

Memphis Commercial Appeal, Marcos M. Villatoro

Saturday, February 21, 2004

Letter to the Editor: make English an immigration requirement

"This is a rebuttal to writer Anita Wadhwani's story, 'Police, Hispanic groups to attack language barrier.' (Feb. 20)"

"The system could tremendously cut down on [misunderstandings] — as well as taxpayer funded 'language training' — if lobbyists would lobby for, and legislators would legislate, a simple, yet effectively important, law: Require and demand that, not only Hispanic but all immigrants pass a certain level English equivalency test prior to legally entering and setting up household in America."

The Tennessean

Friday, February 20, 2004

Nashville police force tries to bridge language and culture gaps, needs more Spanish-speaking officers

"Metro officers say it's in their interest to have a better relationship with all people who speak limited English, including those in the Hispanic community."

"'You've got to meet people halfway,' said E.T. Davenport, a patrol officer in his third decade on the force. 'People can be fearful of the police,' especially those from countries where the police routinely abuse power, he said. 'When you get fearful, certain things kick in. You may not cooperate. That makes the situation harder.'"

"'A lot of times, what we do as police officers depends on what we can mediate. If you can mediate, you can reach some resolution, whether it's issuing a citation or something else. But you've got to be able to communicate.'"

"Meanwhile, police said they have been working to meet the challenges of providing safety and security to a community that now includes dozens of languages, Spanish chief among them."

"The Police Department has translated materials into Spanish and puts officers through Spanish language training."

"Those efforts are helpful, but what the force really needs most are more Spanish-speaking officers, Ulysses Hernandez said. He is among a handful of Metro officers who are native Spanish speakers and who are called on to translate for other officers."

The Tennessean

Thursday, February 19, 2004

Lebanon conducts census, uses growth to get bigger share of state funds

"Lebanon is conducting a special census starting this month to update its population, which officials believe has grown since the 2000 Census."

"The city estimates that for every person counted, Lebanon receives $98 in state-shared revenue, which would mean more than $100,000 more per year, based on current projections."

"City Liaison Sue Akins said conservative projections indicate growth of at least 1,350 people, based on new building permits."

"'There may be people new to our community. An example is an increase in our Hispanic population, who may not be familiar with the census process,' Akins said."

"'We want them to understand this is only to count the total number of people. Specific information is not required.'"

The Tennessean

Wednesday, February 18, 2004

New IRS rule says people requesting individual taxpayer ID number must file tax return first

People without social security numbers, including legal and illegal immigrants, need an individual taxpayer ID number (ITIN) to identify themselves to the Internal Revenue Service when they pay their taxes.

"The ITINs have been used by Tennessee residents who are otherwise ineligible for social security numbers, such as people on temporary working visas."

"In addition, many illegal aliens in Tennessee have applied for the ITIN to establish bank accounts and get insurance, said Jose Gonzalez, co-founder of Conexion Americas, which provides assistance and resources to Hispanics in Middle Tennessee."

"Conexion American estimates that 65 percent of the approximately 120,000 Hispanics in Middle Tennessee are undocumented."

"About a quarter of the ITINs issued for tax return purposes never actually find their way onto a return, said IRS Commissioner Mark W. Everson. He announced recently that from now on, all W-7 forms that are used to apply for ITINs must be accompanied by a tax return."

"The IRS also will change the appearance of the ITIN from a card to an authorization letter to avoid any possible similarities with a social security number card. An ITIN always starts with the numeral 9."

"Gonzalez said his organization supports the move."

"'Our organization is about the promotion of integration and that's what we preach to our constituent base, that you are in this country and regardless of your immigration status, you need to participate, and there's some mechanisms for you to do it,' he said."

Nashville City Paper

Tuesday, February 17, 2004

House Majority Leader supports Bredesen driver certificate system

"'I think it is a reasonable compromise,' House Majority Leader Kim McMillan said Thursday. 'It addresses the issue of public safety by having a driver's certificate, and it addresses the Homeland Security issue by having a two-tiered system.'"

"Under Bredesen's proposal, the certificate would be issued to people who can pass the state driver's license exam but have no documentation to prove they entered the country legally."

"The certificate would be clearly different from a driver's license and would state prominently that it is for driving only, not for identification. Also, the certificates would only be valid for one year. Regular driver's licenses are issued for a period of five years."

The Tennessean

Franklin redraws school district maps for racial, socioeconomic integration

"Six neighborhoods were rezoned in Franklin Special School District Thursday in an effort to create more evenly distributed minority and socioeconomic populations throughout the traditional calendar schools."

"Students living in Heritage Place, Andover, Cheswick, Royal Oaks apartments, River Oaks apartments and the Natchez neighborhood will be going to new schools next year. The changes bring minority percentages at Liberty Elementary from 49% this year to 41.5% next year. It also boosts the percentages at Johnson from 24% to 32.8% and at Moore Elementary from 24.5% to 26%. It virtually does not move the 32% minority percentage at Franklin Elementary."

"The Andover and Cheswick subdivisions off Liberty Pike will be rezoned to the much closer Liberty Elementary, bringing more majority students to school with the district's highest percentage of Hispanic students. Finally, students who have been bused from the Natchez area in downtown Franklin to Moore Elementary since 1994 will go to school at nearby Johnson Elementary."

The Tennessean

Monday, February 16, 2004

Metro Police Department reaches out to South Nashville Hispanics in February and April forums

"A consortium of Metro departments and local Hispanic organizations, led by the Scarritt-Bennett Center, is paving the way to foster better relations between Metro Police and the Hispanic community in South Nashville by holding public meetings."

"The forums are a collaboration of the Mayor's Office of Neighborhoods, the Metro Human Relations Commission, the Metro Nashville Police Department, the Nashville Area Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, La Noticia Hispanic Newspaper and Scarritt-Bennett."

"Metro Police and the Hispanic community have often been at odds in part because of language problems. A study, commissioned by Mayor Bill Purcell, found that the entire immigrant population was marginalized, in part, because of the lack of translators, ESL classes and a cross understanding of cultures."

"Metro Police invite South Nashville residents to participate in the public forum 6:30-8:30 p.m. Feb. 23 at Glencliff High School Auditorium and then again on April 19 at the same time and location. Glencliff High School is at 160 Antioch Pike in Nashville."

Nashville City Paper, The Tennessean, Scarritt Bennett

Sunday, February 15, 2004

Nashville native Richard Speight, Jr. stars in romantic comedy with twists on "Green Card" theme

"Love for Rent tells the story of Sofia (Angie Cepeda), a Colombian college student struggling with immigration issues in LA, who accepts a $50,000 offer to rent her body and soul and become a surrogate mother to a wealthy couple."

"Throughout her pregnancy, Sofia’s cousin and best friend Monica (Martita Roca) and her husband George (Richard Speight Jr.), are by her side. Monica is a delightfully outspoken character, and a great source of encouragement and support to Sofia, helping her endure the strange yet comical and amusing rituals that the Baumans put her through to ensure a perfectly healthy baby."

"Richard stars as George, who married Monica to help her get legal immigration status. But ... George has a secret crush on her!"

Love for Rent, Richard Speight, Jr.

Pinewood Elementary: 1% Hispanic

The Tennessean

Saturday, February 14, 2004

Senator Frist leads civil rights weekend for fellow senators

"Following a pledge to reach out to black voters, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist led a largely Republican group of senators through the South as they visited sites important to the 1960s civil rights movement."

"Georgia Democratic Rep. John Lewis, a leader of the civil rights movement, is serving as tour guide during the three-day trip, which also includes stops in Selma, Birmingham and Nashville, Tenn."

"'The civil rights movement transcends party,' Lewis said. 'It's good to have Republican senators here; they will be able to go back and take a message to the president and their colleagues.'"

"The trip was organized by the Faith and Politics Institute, a Washington-based nonprofit that seeks to build bridges between people of different backgrounds."

"An analyst at the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, a think tank focused on black issues, said Republicans want to win over minorities because black and Hispanic populations are growing much more quickly than white Americans."

"The Republican senators on the trip were Sam Brownback of Kansas, Norm Coleman of Minnesota, Mike DeWine of Ohio, George Allen of Virginia, Richard Shelby of Alabama and Sessions."

"Jon Corzine of New Jersey was the only Democratic senator on the trip."

"Republican Sens. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and Lamar Alexander of Tennessee planned to join the group Sunday in Nashville, site of lunch counter sit-in protests against segregation."

NES customer support line speaks Spanish

"Nashville Electric has added Spanish to its automated customer service telephone line. Customers who speak Spanish may call 736-6900 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to obtain information about NES programs and services, make payment arrangements, check payment history or learn the amount of their bill and when it's due."

Nashville City Paper

Friday, February 13, 2004

Dedication of main public library's new Civil Rights Room will attract non-violent movement's leaders

"It's an event no Middle Tennessean should miss. It's a history lesson. It's history in the making. It's storytelling. It's a commemoration."

"And it's free. All you have to do is go. And go, you should."

"This weekend, beginning with a series of workshops from 1-3:30 p.m. Saturday, the commemoration of the Nashville Public Library's new Civil Rights Room will begin."

"The room, which opened in December, is designed to capture the 'drama and history of a time in the 1950s and 1960s when thousands of Nashvillians came together in a nonviolent campaign to eliminate racial segregation throughout the city.'"

"This weekend, John Lewis is just one of those who participated in the civil rights movement here and elsewhere who will be coming to Nashville. Others include the Revs. James Bevel, James Lawson and C.T. Vivian as well as Diane Nash."

The Tennessean, Nashville Public Library

Thursday, February 12, 2004

Couple moves across town to raise children in social, economic, racial diversity

"Chris and Doug finally decided that they were not doing their children any favors by living in a homogeneous neighborhood and sending them to a school with little diversity among its population."

"'The world is changing,' said Doug, who manages the Kool-Vue Mirrors and American Condenser warehouse in Nashville. 'There is so much meshing of different cultures in America and people are so transient, it helps to expose kids to all kinds of cultures.'"

"It was those thoughts that moved them to put their house up for sale. Across town, they found another home on Everbright Avenue, about a block from the old Battle Ground Academy campus. Chris said they picked the area off Columbia Avenue in Franklin because they wanted a neighborhood that was diverse 'socially, economically and racially' and because it was zoned for Franklin Elementary."

"'There is just a worldview that our children are now getting that I know benefits them in a way they were not exposed to before,' she said. 'If the only Hispanic people in our children's lives are gardeners and restaurant workers, then something is very wrong. And if my children only become sensitive of the history of African-Americans in our country during black awareness month, then something is very wrong.'"

The Tennessean

American Bar Association formalizes opposition to CLEAR Act provisions

At its mid-year meeting in San Antonio, Texas, the American Bar Association passed Resolution 105 in opposition to provisions of the Clear Law Enforcement for Criminal Alien Removal (CLEAR) Act. Law-enforcement agencies have also denounced the CLEAR Act.

With the passage of Resolution 105, the ABA formally opposes the CLEAR Act provisions which would require local law-enforcement authorities to also enforce federal immigration law or risk losing federal funds, as well as provisions which would impose "criminal penalties such as fines and forfeiture for immigrants who overstay visas or commit other violations that are currently punished by deportation."

"The bill would let local law enforcement officials detain and seize assets of suspected illegal immigrants and grant them qualified immunity for mistakes they make while doing so."

"'This federal bill jeopardizes the separation of powers by asking local law enforcement officers to enforce civil immigration laws,' said Ohio delegate David C. Weiner in support of the resolution. 'Mere undocumented presence would become a felony and result in asset forfeiture. Meanwhile, local authorities are granted absolute immunity for improper application of complex civil immigration laws.'"

"'It's mean spirited and punitive in nature and, more than that, it's bad law enforcement,' Esther Lardent, chairwoman of the ABA commission on immigration policy, said of the CLEAR Act."

American Bar Association, San Antonio Express-News

Wednesday, February 11, 2004

Editorial: drivers license is wrong tool for immigration enforcement

"Gov. Phil Bredesen's new two-tier driver's license system aims to help boost national security."

"Opponents of the legislation who want Tennessee to demand Social Security numbers as proof to obtain a driver's license want to stop illegal immigration."

"Neither approach is likely to eliminate the problem of illegal immigration, but the governor's approach may at least satisfy the need to test all drivers and get them insured. The governor has proposed that the state issue certificates to immigrants who cannot prove they are here legally."

"Opponents call the driver safety issue bogus, and they say the change in the law has led to illegal immigrants seeking driver's licenses from Tennessee. However, the implementation of the law as a tool to catch illegal immigrants is faulty. The Tennessee Highway Patrol is in the business of safety on the highways. They can stop an illegal resident for speeding, but they can't stop him or her for being in the United States illegally."

"Public safety should always remain paramount in this discussion. Most Tennesseans aren't going to care where someone comes from when they're broad-sided by an automobile. They should want to know whether Tennessee has licensed the driver and whether the driver has insurance. The debate over immigration status belongs somewhere else."

The Tennessean

Settlement reached in GMAC car loan discrimination litigation

"General Motors Acceptance Corp. yesterday agreed to settle a class-action lawsuit, filed in Nashville six years ago, that claimed discrimination against blacks and Hispanics borrowing money to buy vehicles."

"In the settlement, the GM consumer lending unit said it will cap markups at 2.5 percentage points for loan terms up to 60 months and 2 percentage points for longer-term loans."

"The settlement, which was as much as 15 months in the making, also requires that loan documents tell borrowers that interest rates may be negotiable and that the dealer may retain part of the finance charge."

"It channels $1.6 million to yet-to-be-chosen consumer groups for credit-education programs and requires GMAC to offer at least 1.25 million no-markup car loans to qualified black and Hispanic borrowers in the next five years."

The Tennessean

Tuesday, February 10, 2004

Gill: illegal immigrants are criminals and are rightly called "illegal"

"An activist with the Georgia Association of Latino Elected Officials recently told the Atlanta Journal Constitution that the use of terms like 'illegal alien' and 'illegal immigrant' when referring to people who have come into the U.S. illegally is offensive to Latinos and Hispanics and is comparable to using the 'N-word' when referring to blacks. Others claim that the terms are dehumanizing, degrading and derogatory."

"Actually, the only 'de-' word that should be applied to them is 'de-'ported."

"It is important to recognize that all illegal aliens are criminals. They come into the country illegally; they stay in the country illegally; most work in the country illegally; and millions break numerous laws to fraudulently obtain documents that help them continue to stay and/or work in this country illegally."

"One hundred percent of them are criminals. To refer to them as anything but illegal is to diminish and deny the truth."

"Aggressive enforcement of our laws should not be limited to those who live and work here illegally but should extend to those who break the law in hiring them as well. Individuals and companies who employ illegal aliens to reap additional profits by paying low wages are not undocumented employers. They, too, are criminals and should be treated as such."

Nashville City Paper

Home ownership still relatively elusive for minorities, immigrants

"Despite progress made over the last decade, the percentage of minority homeowners still lags far behind the national average."

"'Racial disparities in housing are alive and well in the United States,' said Stuart Gabriel, director of the Lusk Center for Real Estate at the University of Southern California at Los Angeles. 'It signals that something is wrong in this land of plenty.'"

"Yet the real estate industry is pinning its hope for the future on minority and immigrant buyers."

"'Immigrants typically provide an initial stimulus to rental markets for their first few years in the United States,' said Michael Carliner, an economist for the National Association of Home Builders. 'After becoming established, they become a major factor in the for-sale marketplace.'"

The Tennessean

Monday, February 9, 2004

Donelson and Hermitage popular home for Hispanic families

"Greg Rodriguez, president and chief executive officer of the Tennessee Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, moved to Hermitage with his family about 10 years ago."

"Rodriguez said many Hispanics are finding jobs in the service industry here, and he thinks that may be a reason more Hispanic families have moved to the area in recent years."

"Viviana Milan, a real estate agent with Remax Heartland who has several Spanish-speaking clients in the area, agreed with Rodriguez that jobs are a huge draw for Hispanic families."

The Tennessean

Sunday, February 8, 2004

Nashville businesses are speaking Spanish

"In hiring Spanish-speaking employees such as Miguel Torres, the Nashville nonprofit group Affordable Housing Resources joined other Nashville employers who reach out to Spanish-speaking residents."

Law firm Bass Berry & Sims has two fluent Spanish-speaking lawyers, including David Esquivel, who represents a former Salvadoran coronel in a human rights case. "The firm has enjoyed an 'unexpected, great benefit' in hiring able employees who are bilingual," according to Jennifer Habib, the firm's marketing director.

"'We get calls all the time' for Spanish-speaking workers, said Greg Rodriguez, president and chief executive officer of the Tennessee Hispanic Chamber of Commerce."

"Of the 5.35 million or more residents of Tennessee, at least 133,000 speak Spanish at home, according to 2000 U.S. Census data on language use. That's nearly triple the 48,531 counted in 1990. Spanish is the most-spoken foreign language in Tennessee, the data show."

The Tennessean

Saturday, February 7, 2004

Gospel Fiesta makes waves as area's first bilingual gospel music show

"Television hosts and vocalists Joel and Rose Perales never viewed themselves as pioneers when they began performing gospel music more than three decades ago. But the duo are now making history as the co-hosts of Gospel Fiesta, the only bilingual gospel music show on the Christian Television Network (CTN)."

"Joel and Rose Perales co-host Gospel Fiesta Saturdays at 10:30 p.m. on WHTN. The program is available on broadcast television on Ch. 39, and also airs on Comcast Cable on Ch. 21. It is also available on satellite; subscribers should check with providers for channel numbers."

"The program, which is recorded and produced in Mt. Juliet at the WHTN studios, eschews preaching or talk, instead offering viewers a heavy dose of gospel performers singing in both English and Spanish."

"'We've been together so long that now on the show, sometimes I'll say something in English and my wife will interrupt me in Spanish, then I'll come back in English. We also sing on the show, and have a wonderful time while also introducing some people to Spanish and others to English. We were real surprised and happy to be the first bilingual gospel program on CTN, but I don't think we're going to be the last.'"

Nashville City Paper

Friday, February 6, 2004

Bredesen proposes license restrictions, new second-tier licenses and third-tier "certificate"

"The governor introduced legislation Feb. 5 that seeks to restrict licenses to those who are legally present in the United States, citizens or immigrants."

"Legal immigrants will be able to obtain a license that will be valid during the period of time they are authorized to live in the United States. If there isn't a definite end to their length of stay, the driver's license will be valid for only one year."

"Tennessee residents who cannot establish legal presence in the United States will be eligible for a 'certificate for driving' that will be distinguishable from a driver's license. The certificate will state that it has been issued for driving purposes only and not for identification. The certificates will expire annually."

"The certificate would be clearly different from a driver's license and would prominently state that it is for driving only and not for identification, according to the Bredesen administration."

"'At first glance, I don't think it meets the criteria I and others would like to see,' said Rep. Donna Rowland, R-Murfreesboro. 'My issue with the driver's license has always been a 'legal vs. illegal' situation. I don't want to legitimize an illegal.' She said she is reserving judgment until she has reviewed the bill and there had been some 'frank discussion' on it."

"Donna Locke, leader of Tennesseans for Immigration Reform, didn't like it at all. 'We do not support Bredesen's proposal to allow illegal aliens to continue to get state documents, in the form of 'driving certificates.' The public-safety argument is a false one.'"

"Bredesen’s legislation is the result of recent review of the issue by the Departments of Homeland Security and Safety (DOS)."

"DOS openly opposed Rowland’s bill last year saying issuing driver licenses to undocumented aliens heightened safety by assuring all drivers had passed needed testing."

"In a release, Bredesen stated, 'It is clear to me that we need to make some changes, and what I’m proposing is a moderate, common-sense solution that balances homeland security concerns with public safety concerns in a responsible way.'"

The Tennessean, Nashville City Paper, Nashville Post, Nashville Business Journal

Hispanic-owned businesses get $4.4 million in TDOT contracts

$4.4 million figure amounts to 11% of contracts awarded to female- and minority-owned businesses but less than 0.3% of total contracts awarded.

"Female- and minority-owned businesses' share of Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) contracts last year amounted to $40.3 million. That's of a total of $1.6 billion in all TDOT contracts awarded. Here's the breakdown of the contracts given to so-called disadvantaged business enterprises:

Group — Amount / Goals for number of contracts awarded / Contracts awarded / Number of vendors

African-American men — $5,231,742 /25 / 49 / 31

African-American women — $708,075 / 8 / 20 / 5

Asian-Indian Americans — $2,126,442 / 11 / 11 / 1

Asian-Pacific Americans — $290,557 / 4 / 4 / 1

Hispanic Americans — $4,382,373 / 15 / 28 / 2

Native Americans — $1,725,752 / 17 / 7 / 3

White women — $25,815,391 / 162 / 273 / 42"

The Tennessean

Thursday, February 5, 2004

Foreign-born women's program hit by office burglary

"A fledgling computer-training program for refugee and immigrant women suffered a big setback this week when staff arrived at work to find all their computers stolen and the office in shambles."

"'When I left the office, I felt like a refugee again,' said Aida Brcic, executive director of the American Association of Refugee and Immigrant Women, whose east Nashville offices were burglarized Saturday."

"One of the aims of the association is to help foreign-born women learn job skills, Brcic said. Many have left everything behind to flee violence in their home countries. The agency also holds workshops on domestic violence and immigration and legal issues, and organizes cultural events."

The Tennessean

Nolensville Elementary: 1% Hispanic

The Tennessean

Wednesday, February 4, 2004

Nickelodeon hit Dora the Explorer visits TPAC through Sunday

"As the first Latina heroine in an American children's show, the proudly bilingual Dora uses Spanish words and, more important, gets her audience to repeat them as they assist her in her adventures."

"In Dora the Explorer Live! — Search for the City of Lost Toys, the theatrical version of the show making a tour stop through Sunday at Tennessee Performing Arts Center, Dora will have the advantage of actually being in the same room with her adoring and helpful fans."

"'The second the curtain comes up, they're screaming and running up to the stage and yelling out Spanish words to show me what they've learned,' says Christina Bianco, the 21-year-old actress who plays Dora on the tour."

The Tennessean

Tuesday, February 3, 2004

Affordable Dental Clinic markets to Nashville Hispanics

"Demand for oral surgeon Jeffrey Carter's Affordable Dental Clinic is meeting expectations and fueling expanded hours of operation."

"Carter opened Affordable Dental Clinic in August across from Baptist Hospital in Nashville to provide service to Hispanics and people without insurance."

"The clinic is marketing to the region's fast-growing Hispanic population, which represents almost half of Affordable Dental Clinic's patients."

"The clinic has hired Colombia native Laura Gomez to help communicate and provide service to Spanish-speaking clients."

Nashville Business Journal

Center for family business will include Hispanic businesses statewide

"A new family business-oriented nonprofit plans to spread its services from Middle Tennessee to cities across the state."

"The Tennessee Family Business Center has been formed by a group of local owners of second- and third-generation family businesses who see the need for a forum promoting family business best practices."

"The new center will invite local and national professional experts to offer their take on operating family businesses. It also will try to broaden its appeal by reaching out to the growing number of Hispanic family businesses in the state."

Nashville Business Journal

Radio Free Nashville talks of airtime for Hispanic community

"At the organizational meeting, held last Wednesday at the Nashville Peace and Justice Center, the station's co-founder and president Beau Hunter outlined the Radio Free Nashville vision. He described a public-affairs forum for Nashville's Hispanic and Kurdish communities, a home for political content outside the mainstream, a training ground for high-school radio enthusiasts--and, above all, a music station playing all types of local, national and international artists."

Nashville Scene

Monday, February 2, 2004

Inability of Tennessee Hispanic businesses to get lottery contracts is result of community's youth, disunity

"'The Hispanic community is pretty young,' said Ramon Cisneros, chief executive officer of Spanish-speaking newspaper La Campana."

"That youth appears to show itself sometimes in an inability to speak with one voice, especially if they wanted to take a case to the legislature."

"Two of the main business groups — Tennessee Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce — don't get along."

"They collided last July over recruiting the U.S. Hispanic Chamber's 2007 convention to Nashville. The Tennessee chamber was handling the recruiting without assistance from the Nashville group. During a reception, members from both nearly came to blows when Nashville Hispanic chamber leaders showed up uninvited."

"'We're probably going through some growing pains,' Cisneros said. 'It will take awhile for the waters to cool down.'"

"The Hispanic community has no representation in the General Assembly, while there are several black legislators and the Black Caucus has significant leverage."

The Tennessean

Bill to repeal drivers license law is delayed, Bredesen proposal is in the works

"House committee action was delayed on legislation that would prevent immigrants who are illegally in this country from obtaining a Tennessee driver's license."

"The House sponsor, state Rep. Donna Rowland, R-Murfreesboro, asked the subcommittee of the House Finance Committee to delay action on the bill for four weeks."

"Rowland said that the Senate sponsor, Sen. Bill Ketron, R-Murfreesboro, 'needs more time to get his bill together,' and that she wants to wait and see the driver's license bill that Gov. Phil Bredesen is expected to propose."

The Tennessean

Franklin Tomorrow education task force looks for members knowledgeable about Hispanic population

"Franklin Tomorrow has created an education task force to work on goals that include everything from getting great educators to move here to embracing learning for everyone, no matter their age."

"After meeting a couple of weeks ago to find out more about each other, the group discovered it needed to add a few members to gain expertise in three areas: early childhood education, special needs and the Hispanic population, Minor said."

"The task force will meet again on Feb. 11."

The Tennessean, Franklin Tomorrow

Target of 1999 Hispanic abuse investigation is working for State of Tennessee probation program

"Ronald Crowe, one former Detection Services employee, told the Scene that Lawson seemed to enjoy tormenting the Hispanic residents he was charged with protecting."

"Noka Blanco, who owned a company near the Ivy Wood apartment complex that supplies Hispanic laborers to construction firms, told the Scene in 1999 that she started hearing stories of Lawson's abuse from her Hispanic employees."

"But now Larry Lawson is working as a surveillance officer for Community Corrections, a state-funded Metro probation program for nonviolent offenders. For $23,000 a year, Lawson conducts visits to selected offenders at home to make sure they're not violating terms of probation. His supervisors defend the hire by saying he's never been convicted of anything."

Nashville Scene, Community Corrections Program

OT: Our Town at Belcourt this week

"Scott Hamilton Kennedy's film OT: Our Town, which opened Friday at the Belcourt Theater, profoundly shatters the myth that contemporary youth are incapable of appreciating anything that doesn't completely reflect their background or environment."

"What the film shows is that clever, creative educators can make classic works come alive for students. The movie documents Compton teacher Catherine Borek's struggle to interest inner-city African-American and Latino kids in launching a production of Thornton Wilder’s Our Town. Wilder's play focused on Grover's Corners, N.H., and illuminated a community and a time far different from Compton’s mean streets."

Nashville City Paper

Sunday, February 1, 2004

Higgins Himmelberg & Piliponis hires Bill Merrell to head Hispanic-focused legal practice

"The firm has named Bill Merrell to manage Hispanic legal services, a practice area opened by the firm to focus on companies and small businesses led by Hispanics as well ass to assist individuals and families who may encounter language barriers when seeking legal help."

"Prior to joining HH&P, Merrell practiced law in Houston as a solo practitioner for nine years and a partner in the law firm of Murphy Merrell & Vercher for 17 years. Merrell is a member of the Nashville Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and is licensed to teach Spanish in the Tennessee public school system."

Nashville Business Journal
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