Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Tennessean editorial: outreach needed to ease Certificate for Driving confusion

"Tennessee officials will need all the help they can get from the immigrant community to enforce the new driving certificates that will be given out beginning Thursday."

"The first certificate hasn't been issued, but the documents already are a mess because of conflicting information from various law enforcement agencies and the state. The Department of Safety will send out letters this week to various groups, including the Tennessee Retailers Association explaining the law, but the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition could turn out to be the state's best resource on this issue."

"The coalition meanwhile is helping the state by urging immigrants to both get the certificate and carry extra I.D. in case they are stopped. The group has also managed to help three immigrants wrongly denied driver's licenses."

The Tennessean

Tuesday, June 29, 2004

College graduation rate lower for Hispanic students

"About 23 percent of the Hispanic freshmen in the study earned their bachelor's degrees by age 26, compared to 47 percent of white non-Hispanic students, according to the study released Wednesday by the University of Southern California's Pew Hispanic Center in Washington."

"Non-Hispanic blacks also fared worse than whites, with a graduation rate of 30 percent. Asian-American freshmen had a graduation rate of 51 percent, the study said."

"Richard Fry, the report's author, said many factors affected Hispanic students: They were more likely than whites to enroll only part-time, to contribute financially to their families and to live at home rather than on campus."

Yahoo! News (AP)

Monday, June 28, 2004

State will issue Certificate of Driving this week

"Thursday, driving certificates will be available for the first time at all full-service testing stations in the state."

"The governor's homeland security chief, Maj. Gen. Jerry Humble, said the certificate was not valid Tennessee identification, but state troopers have the discretion to accept it as proof that the person they are ticketing is who they say they are. Certainly, Humble said, it wouldn't work for state troopers to arrest anyone they pull over for producing a certificate and no other ID for simple misdemeanor offenses."

"State Sen. Bill Ketron, R-Murfreesboro and a major backer of the law, said that's exactly what troopers should do. That's what he says he and other legislators were told all along, and that's why the vast majority voted in favor of the law. Immigrants should carry other ID, such as a passport, he said."

"However, Humble said that working officers have always had the authority to verify someone's identity using whatever documents they had at hand, including a library card. The certificate would be no different."

"'It doesn't mean it's ID,' he said. 'We've got to be practical about this. There's a whole lot of difference between issuing a ticket for littering (to someone producing the certificate) and a terrorist being able to board an airplane with one.'"

"The Nashville-based Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition will set up its own 800 number next week to take complaints from applicants about licenses or certificates. David Lubell said his group has helped three immigrants wrongly denied driver's licenses. The three applicants eventually got their licenses with the assistance of the Safety Department, Lubell said."

The Tennessean

Sunday, June 27, 2004

Hispanic Nashville Notebook adopts Monday to Friday schedule

Every day since October 2003, this web site has highlighted stories of interest to the Hispanic community in Nashville. Beginning this week, these stories will appear here with the same consistency, but since most of our readers visit during the work week, the new publication schedule will be Monday through Friday. If you have any comments or concerns about this change, I would love to hear from you. I started this web site mostly as a personal project, but I am pleased to know that there are others who enjoy reading these stories as well.

Best wishes,

John Lamb

Friday, June 25, 2004

Department of Safety authorizes use of Certificate of Driving to identify drivers, state troopers retain discretion

"State troopers will honor new driving certificates for immigrants as valid identification, even though they are stamped with the words 'not valid for ID.' The previously unannounced policy surprised and angered some supporters of the new law yesterday, even as it pleased others."

"Earlier this month, Department of Safety officials said they would advise state troopers and local law enforcement to reject the certificates as identification, but yesterday spokeswoman Beth Denton said troopers will accept the wallet-sized laminated cards as valid ID when issuing misdemeanor tickets."

"However, she said, 'it's important to know that troopers retain the discretion and authority to maintain that an individual can properly identify themselves.'"

"It's uncertain whether all police departments will honor the certificates as ID. ... Nashville's police will honor the certificate, while others across the state have asked their legal departments to advise them on the issue."

"Until it is clear what various police departments will do, [David] Lubell's group [Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition] is advising immigrants who get the certificates to carry extra ID, such as a passport, in their cars."

The Tennessean

Thursday, June 24, 2004

Hispanic group plans civil rights complaint against Nashville-based HCA

"A Hispanic advocacy group plans to file a complaint against HCA Inc. with the Office for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services over the company's handling of charity care, according to Reuters."

"Officials with Consejo de Latinos Unidos, based in Los Angeles, says HCA patients are routinely not informed about discount options and are subjected to aggressive collection tactics."

"'We are sick and tired of this egregious behavior against the uninsured,' K.B. Forbes, executive director of the group, said at a press conference in New York."

"Three HCA patients attended the press conference that Forbes held and detailed how they were charged fees far above what an insurance company would receive for the same procedure. One patient at a HCA hospital in Denver said he was billed $22,000 for an appendectomy that would have cost a health plan $6,000."

Nashville Business Journal, Reuters

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

From migrant worker to Harvard MBA

"Just the sight of peach trees is still enough to make Martin Curiel itch. As a boy, he spent hours with 50-pound bags of the fruit slung around his neck as he plucked peaches off the trees in California."

"Curiel and his family of migrant workers followed the harvests of cherries, olives, and other crops. But peaches were particularly difficult. In the heat, peach fuzz would stick to the sweat on Curiel's neck and cause days of infuriating itching."

"Yesterday, Curiel graduated from Harvard Business School, walking off the stage not only with a master's degree and a California consulting job, but with plans to found the Migrant MBA Project, a nonprofit that will put his degree to use back in the fields where he worked as a child."

"In 2002, Hispanics made up just 4.5 percent of students in MBA programs, according to the National Society of Hispanic MBAs. With the help of the College Assistance Migrant Program, an educational advocacy group for migrants, Curiel was able to find only seven former migrant workers nationwide who had earned an MBA degree."

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

Spanish collection debuts in Clarksville Public Library

"In an effort to reach out to Clarksville's Spanish-speaking population, the Clarksville-Montgomery County Public Library will soon have a variety of Spanish novels, reference books and children's materials available to the public."

"Library Director Steve Lesnak said the donation means as many as 70 books will be added to the library's collection."

"'It will be a combination of adult and children's books,' he said. 'We will have some adult books on coping, a book on how to gain citizenship and plenty of novels by native speakers from South America and Spain.'"

"Juan Vasquez, the president of Hispanic Organization for Progress and Education, said he is grateful the need for Spanish library materials has been recognized."

"According to 2000 Census data, 5.2 percent of Montgomery County's population is of Latino or Hispanic descent, and 3.8 percent of the county's population speaks Spanish at home."

"Additionally, the Tennessee State Library and Archives is in the process of allocating Spanish books and software to libraries across the state. The materials were paid for through the federal Library Services and Technology Act. It is not yet clear when those materials will be available in Clarksville."

Monday, June 21, 2004

Nashville Bar Association President Gregg Ramos rebukes Representative Buck for "wetback" remarks

"I was also troubled this past session by the display of what can only be described as racism, plain and simple, in our legislative halls. I am referring to state Reprsentative Frank Buck's derogatory comments about Hispanics, including his use of the term 'wetback.' Perhaps adding fuel to the fire was Representative Buck's subsequent assertion to the press that he didn't know the word was offensive."

"While giving Representative Buck the benefit of the doubt, at least for the moment, allow me to here and now resolve any and all questions concerning the term. It is a highly offensive racial epithet! It is, and always has been, offensive to me, my family, and every other Hispanic I know. The irony of it all is that it is a hateful term used against good, hard working, and brave individuals who have literally risked their lives traveling to this country for the unpardonable sin of seeking a better way of life for their families."

Nashville Bar Journal, page 2 (PDF)

Sunday, June 20, 2004

Multilingual homework hotline expands to eight counties

"Based in Nashville, the hotline offers help on homework to students in grades K-12 in math, language or vocabulary, science, and history or social studies. Bilingual teachers are also available in Arabic, Spanish, Laotian and Kurdish."

"Originally intended for the Metro school system, the hotline has expanded and is now offering its services to eight counties."

"The Homework Hotline will reopen for the new school year the second week of August. The number is 298-6636 and assistance is available from 4-8 p.m. Monday-Thursday."

The Review Appeal

Saturday, June 19, 2004

If St. Matthias Episcopal Church's walls could speak, they'd be trilingual

"St. Matthias Episcopal Church in South Nashville has English- and Spanish-speaking congregations. A third, Korean-speaking, congregation will soon worship at the church, possibly by early July."

"Crane will continue to hold services in English at 7:30 a.m. and in Spanish at 1:30 p.m. [Moon Lee, priest of the Korean congregation,] will conduct services in Korean at 9 a.m. and 11 a.m."

"Occasionally, all three congregations will worship together. Previously, a special service conducted by Episcopal Bishop Bertram Herlong in 2001 was conducted in all three languages."

"For Crane, the ultimate goal is to establish a permanent Hispanic congregation in South Nashville. She would like to train members to be leaders in the church and ultimately have a 'totally Hispanic priest.'"

"'I see myself as someone who is laying the foundation,' she said. 'I may not see the fruit.'"

The Tennessean

Friday, June 18, 2004

No health insurance for 60% of Hispanics

"More than a quarter of the Tennessee population under the age of 65 - about 1.4 million people - were without health insurance for at least part 2002 and 2003, according to a new study."

"Ron Pollack, executive director of Families USA, the national health-care advocacy group that released a study on uninsured Americans this week, will speak about the issue at 7 p.m. today at the Main Library, 615 Church Street."

"The report also found great disparities among races, with about 23.5 percent of non-Hispanic whites, 42.9 percent of non-Hispanic blacks and 59.5 percent of Hispanics without health coverage."

Nashville City Paper

Thursday, June 17, 2004

Census data maps out Nashville's linguistic diversity

"Nashville’s prestigious 37205 ZIP code that includes the upscale Belle Meade area has 414 residents who speak Spanish, 48 speakers of Japanese and 25 speakers of Thai."

"Thanks to the Modern Language Association’s new Language Map Data Center, anyone on the Internet can see a breakdown of the top languages spoken in their state, their county or their ZIP code, based on 2000 Census data."

"While 457,993 Nashvillians speak English, 51,429 speak other languages, according to the data."

"'I think it’s really important to realize how diverse we are as a nation,' said Janice Rodriguez, director of the Tennessee Foreign Language Institute. 'We have to recognize and appreciate all the cultures that have made us the United States.'"

"MLA and local officials said it was possible that certain groups were underrepresented in the data."

"'Census data can be dated, as well as not fully reflective of the community,' Rodriguez said. 'Census numbers for Spanish speakers (in Nashville) don’t reflect what social service agencies are finding.'"

The Tennessean, Modern Language Association

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

ETSU hosts summer school for migrant students

"East Tennessee State University is holding a summer program for migrant students to help them make the transition to local schools."

"Hillary Hester, the program coordinator, says the language barrier is the biggest problem. She expects about 80 to 100 students ranging in age from 3 to 21 to participate each week in the summer program, June 21-July 30."

"Eligible students have moved within the last three years with a parent, guardian or spouse seeking work as agricultural or fishery laborers."

The Tennessean

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

President Bush appoints Vanderbilt-educated Chattanooga attorney to federal immigration bureau

"Robert Divine, chair of law firm Baker Donelson Bearman Caldwell & Berkowitz' immigration group has been named as the principal legal advisor of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Department."

"Mr. Divine has been appointed by President George W. Bush to this key position."

"He earned his law degree at Vanderbilt University School of Law and his Bachelor of Arts degree at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill."

Nashville Business Journal, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (PDF),

Baker Donelson Bearman & Caldwell

Monday, June 14, 2004

Variety show with Gloria Estefan will honor Hispanic military personnel

"The television special is scheduled to air in September. Estefan will be joined by other acts in the variety show, but those performers have not yet been confirmed."

"Navy officials said a foreign-born sailor will also go through a naturalization ceremony to become an American citizen – part of the show’s effort to showcase the Hispanic experience in the armed services, officials said."

"About 10 percent of sailors are Hispanic and that number has increased slightly over the last four years, according to the latest Navy figures. The 2000 Census reported that 12.5 percent of the American population identified itself as Hispanic." Online

Sunday, June 13, 2004

New York Times follows harsh immigrant smuggling voyage

"Each hour that passed seemed more unbearable than the last. Meals were only big enough to whet the appetite: a handful of crackers and small cube of cheese at breakfast; a watery vegetable stew with a small plate of sardines and rice at lunch; about the same for dinner."

"The rough waves and asphyxiating humidity quickly took their toll on passengers who had never seen the ocean before, much less ridden across it. They became pale. Their lips cracked and blistered. They complained of dizziness, nausea and diarrhea."

"Sickness spread. The water on board was clearly not safe - there were floating particles visible in every glass - but that was all there was to drink. Many of the passengers said that if they had known they would feel so bad, they would have never embarked on the journey."

"A young passenger named Vinicio said he had lived through worse. He looked about 15, but explained he was a veteran migrant. He had previously tried to reach the United States twice by land, and once by sea. Each time, the authorities caught him and sent him back to Ecuador."

"Home to him was Queens. Vinicio had never made it there. But that is where his parents and two older brothers live, he said, and he would take as many boat rides as necessary until he reached them."

New York Times

Saturday, June 12, 2004

Nashville uniform firm gets under U.S. Border Patrol's skin

"'I just received a half-dozen new shirts, pants - and the labels all say they are made in Mexico,' said Rich Pierce, a Tampa, Fla.-based agent and executive vice president of the 16,000-member National Border Patrol Council, the agents' union. 'Why can't we have uniforms made in the U.S.? The other agents I've talked to all think this is some bad joke.'"

"The agency contracts with VF Solutions of Nashville to supply 30,000 border agents and customs inspectors with uniforms for the current fiscal year. The $30-million contract allows the company to subcontract work to plants in the United States, Mexico, Canada and the Dominican Republic."

"Officials at VF Solutions would say only that their contract allowed them to manufacture in Mexico."

L.A. Times

Friday, June 11, 2004

Wal-Mart case alerts employers to criminal implications of hiring undocumented workers

"'Until recently, immigration was interested only in identifying illegals and taking them to immigration, not a criminal court,' says [Elliott Ozmet, a Nashville attorney]. 'Now the government is not only arresting the illegal workers, it brought criminal charges against individuals at company and the company.'"

"In another illegal worker case, this time the U.S. Government vs. Wal-Mart, says Ozmet, it's alleged Wal-Mart had to know that contractors supplying janitorial services at 61 Wal-Marts were using undocumented workers, based on earlier arrests."

"'This case is still pending,' says Ozmet. 'But it has alarmed businesses that have (turned a blind eye to the hiring practices of vendors). The government is cracking down. If you have illegals working for you, even though it's through an independent contractor, you may no longer be safe from prosecution.'"

Nashville Business Journal

Thursday, June 10, 2004

Tennessee's certificate of driving isn't meant to be used as I.D., but its legal effect may be in the eye of the beholder

"Tennessee will soon be informing everyone, from banks to other states to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, that it has a new official document that can't be used for official identification."

"'There's a question about Tennessee's ability to tell other states, other police departments, private businesses, and even the federal government what they can or cannot accept as an identification,' said Tyler Moran, policy analyst with the National Immigration Law Center, an immigration advocacy organization."

"The individual decisions of insurance companies and law enforcement concern immigrant advocates such as David Lubell of the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition."

"In Tennessee border states such as Arkansas, where officials had heard of the document, officials also were making up their minds about what to do with it."

"'They would be allowed to drive, but they might be arrested for being here illegally,' said Mike Munns, administrator of the state's Office of Motor Vehicles."

"Southwest Airlines said it would not accept the driving certificate as ID; other airlines, such as Continental and American, weren't aware of the new law when contacted this week."

The Tennessean

Wednesday, June 9, 2004

Legal immigrants with temporary visas face life without drivers license

"Immigrants who become citizens and immigrants granted permission to remain permanently in the country, such as refugees, are among those who can continue to get licenses."

"Students, immigrant workers and anyone here on a temporary visa will not. Neither will immigrants who can't prove they're legally in the country."

"The main distinction in the new law is between longtime legal immigrants and those here temporarily or those here illegally, said Brig. Gen. Jerry Humble, director of the governor's Office of Homeland Security. The certificates also will expire along with an immigrant's visa, ensuring that immigrants who become illegal don't possess legal driving documents."

"Immigrant workers and students said yesterday they fear they'll be mistaken for illegal immigrants. They don't want to carry around additional and hard-to-replace ID such as their foreign passports or immigration paperwork, and they don't know what ID they'll substitute for routine activities such as applying for an apartment, opening a bank account or renting a car."

The Tennessean

Tuesday, June 8, 2004

Reality show 'Urban Jungle' tests survival skills in the barrio

"Sí TV, the Latin-themed cable network that principally broadcasts in English, first appeared in February and is now available in seven million homes. To followers of what some have called the language wars, the channel appears to suggest an elegant solution, one that is especially evident in its new reality show, 'Urban Jungle.'"

"'Urban Jungle' sends nine young suburbanites of various ethnic backgrounds (the show calls them 'privileged brats') to live and work in the barrio of East Los Angeles for the chance to win $50,000. What's left out of the premise is the real challenge of the show: to master the art of American cultural flexibility, which here means learning, relearning and unlearning both Spanish and English. (One contestant already speaks Spanish.) To start things off, one contestant, Vanessa, a blond party girl, makes it clear how little she knows: 'I had to be told the definition of what the barrio was. And when I first read it off of something, I pronounced it 'bar-ee-OH.' '"

"So far, no one has lost points for xenophobia, though Bryan makes the case for assimilation: 'If you're going to come here, learn the language.' But which language, and where's here?"

"By the end of the second episode the contestants' experiences indirectly reflect the barrio's influence. They're squabbling and suffering from hangovers, but they're also coming to appreciate the struggles of the urban poor and to enjoy the moral charge of hard work. Hey, good for them. That usually lasts a few days."

The New York Times

Monday, June 7, 2004

Spanish-speaking mid-wife serves Monroe County at maternity clinic

"Twenty years ago, pregnant women in Monroe County had few choices when it came to prenatal care and doctors were swamped. Even worse, many patients could hardly afford a doctor's visit."

"[M]ore than 2,000 babies have been born at the center since it opened."

"Despite losing state funding in 2003, the agency continues to serve women through federal grants and local, private donations. They also keep a Spanish speaking mid-wife on staff, to aid the growing Hispanic population in East Tennessee."


Sunday, June 6, 2004

Federal appeals court reverses dismissal of Tyson wage depression lawsuit

"An appeals court said a lawsuit may go forward that claims that Tyson Foods Inc. hired undocumented immigrant workers to depress wages at a Tennessee poultry plant."

"The lawsuit claimed that Tyson relied on a network of recruiters and temporary employment agencies that brought workers into the United States and supplied them with false identification."

"In May 2002, Tyson argued that, because its workers are covered by a collective bargaining agreement, it was the union - not individual workers - that would have to pursue claims of damage. Federal Judge R. Allan Edgar of Chattanooga agreed and dismissed the lawsuit in July 2002."

"In yesterday's ruling, the appellate court said the trial court had wrongly determined that the issue fell under the National Labor Relations Act."

The Tennessean

Saturday, June 5, 2004

Asurion to hire over 200 new employees, seeks Spanish speakers

"Nashville-based Asurion announced Thursday its Nashville call center will hire 200 more employees by mid-July, following an increase in the volume of business at the local site. This will bring the total number of workers in the Nashville area to approximately 1,000."

"Asurion has a growing base of Spanish-speaking customers and is interested in hearing from job applicants who speak that language. Applicants must have the equivalent of a high school diploma, at least one year of experience in customer service and have basic computer skills, according to the company."

"Most of the 200 new jobs will be customer service representatives, but the company is also hiring supervisors, customer relations specialists and technical hot line specialists."

The Tennessean,

Friday, June 4, 2004

New 'certificate' may not be sufficient for legal driving; separate law requires valid ID

"[P]olice have the right to ask anyone for a valid identification - and can take people into custody for not producing one. So the new law is causing confusion among Tennessee police officers. Some agencies plan to enforce the 'no ID' law; others - including Davidson County - won't."

"Metro Police Chief Ronal Serpas has decided that his officers will accept the certificate as ID unless there's evidence that it either is counterfeited or obtained fraudulently, said spokesman Don Aaron."

"State troopers, on the other hand, won't. Several police and sheriff's departments contacted yesterday hadn't decided."

"To get the driving certificate, immigrants must have both photo identification that proves their identity, such as a foreign consulate ID or temporary visa paperwork, and documents that prove their Tennessee residency, such as an electric bill."

"There's no law specifying which documents are acceptable ID to police. It's often up to individual officers to decide whether they'll accept foreign documents, such as another country's passport, police officials said yesterday."

The Tennessean

State ID still available to immigrants eligible for Certificate of Driving

"Gerado Navaro is an immigrant from Mexico working in the U.S. He would like a full-fledged driver's license, but on Thursday he only got an identification card...not a license. For undocumented immigrants like Gerado, another document called a Certificate of Driving won't be issued until July 1st, allowing him to drive."

"Between now and July 1st, undocumented immigrants needing a license to drive will not be able to get one. On July 1st, the state plans to issue the 'Certificates of Driving' that will require the same driving tests but will not be for identification purposes."


Thursday, June 3, 2004

New drivers license law in effect; testing stations turn away applicants; 'certificate of driving' not yet available

"Melanie Ingram, 35, was turned down after the only documents she could show were her expired West Virginia driver's license and letters proving she lived in Nashville. She called the vital records department in her home state but was told that, even with a credit card, she wouldn't be able to get a copy of her birth certificate for a week. That will be too late. She's due to board a plane Tuesday for a Florida vacation and has no valid photo identification."

"Although it may be frustrating for some initially, backers of the license measure say it will ultimately ensure that the state is doing its part for national security in general, including airline travel."

"The plan includes a new document that will be issued beginning July 1. The so-called 'certificates of driving' will be issued to all undocumented immigrants and to legal immigrants here on a temporary basis."

The Tennessean

Wednesday, June 2, 2004

Guaranty Trust opens Hispanic mortgage division

"Murfreesboro-based Guaranty Trust has added a Hispanic home ownership division and hired personnel experienced in the Hispanic culture and home ownership."

"'We want to be a leader in our industry in the area of mortgage lending to boost Hispanic homeownership,' says Wendell Mandrell, president of Guaranty Trust."

"Natalie Graham, a mortgage loan originator, will shoulder Guaranty Trust's efforts to provide mortgage services to Hispanics. She will help prospective home buyers and real estate agents identify and select finance options for new construction or existing homes."

Nashville Business Journal

Tuesday, June 1, 2004

State boards and commissions: less than 1% Hispanic

"About 38% of the about 2,500 members of state boards and commissions who reported their gender are women, according to the secretary of state. About 86% of those who reported their race are white, 13% African-American; less than 1% are Hispanic, Asian and Native American. Many didn't report that information."

"Thus far, under the Bredesen administration, more than 200 people have taken on the mostly unpaid work. Reporting race and gender is voluntary for many boards, according to the secretary of state. Of the appointees who listed such information, 77% are white, 22% African-American, less than 1% Hispanic and no Native Americans or Asians. A third were women."

"State's racial makeup:

White, 80%

Black, 16%

Hispanic, 2%

Asian, 1%

American Indian, less than 1%"

The Tennessean
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