Thursday, March 31, 2005

House Elections Subcommittee kills immigration bill reports that a measure increasing the immigration review responsibilities of state and local government in Tennessee was defeated in the House Elections Subcommittee.

"The measure would have required proof of citizenship to vote or receive government benefits, unless those benefits are mandated by federal law."

"Further, it would require all employees of state and local governments who become aware of an immigration violation to report it in writing to federal authorities. Failure to do so would be a crime punishable by a fine of up to $2,500."

"State Election Coordinator Brook Thompson, who was called upon to testify, said he knows of no cases in Tennessee where an illegal immigrant has tried to vote."

"The only person to speak in support of the bill was Patricia Heim, a former Davidson County election commissioner, who said a television reporter in 2000 had compared voter registration rolls with a list of immigrants and found at least one noncitizen registered to vote."

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Notario abuse law unenforced

The Nashville Business Journal reports that the term "notario publico" is still being used in Tennessee to trick Spanish-speakers into paying for fake legal services.

"Notarios typically obtain a notary public license and then market themselves to the Hispanic community as notario publicos - who, in Mexico and other Latin American countries, are licensed attorneys. But in the United States, a notary public is authorized only to witness the signing of legal documents."

"A 2002 Tennessee law - requiring notary publics without law licenses to clarify their non-attorney status in advertisements and forbidding them from providing legal advice or from accepting fees for legal advice - has not been enforced."

"'It's an underground problem because the English speakers never see it,' says Nashville lawyer Sean Lewis. 'The notarios blatantly do whatever they want to do, with no oversight.'"

Mexican expatriates seek voting sites in U.S.

The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports that Mexican businessmen in the U.S. are petitioning the Mexican government for voting sites here.

"Voting would be modeled after the recent Iraqi out-of-country voting, said Jose Artemio Arreola, a member of the coalition Vamos por el voto in Chicago. For example, registration and voting sites would be set up in places with at least 15,000 Mexican expatriates. Chavarria has proposed using U.S. post offices as polling sites."

"And U.S. immigration experts note that expatriates from other countries -- Australia, Ukraine and Poland, for example -- don't experience problems voting in the United States."

Monday, March 28, 2005

Tennessean reader: illegal immigrants cause long lines and should be turned away

A letter to the editor of the Tennessean asserts that the real reason for delays at drivers testing stations is the presence of illegal immigrants.

"Rather than using FedEx consultants, the best way to decrease wait times at driver-testing stations is to stop issuing driving certificates to illegal aliens."

The reader goes on to express support for legislative efforts by State Rep. Donna Rowland which would force the Department of Transportation to turn away illegal immigrants who want to get insurance and demonstrate their knowledge of Tennessee's road rules.

Friday, March 25, 2005

Free book program with bilingual selections comes to Nashville

The Tennessean reports that Davidson County has adopted the Imagination Library program that mails free books to children.

"The program gives children 60 books, one a month for the first five years of life. It's popping up everywhere, but Tennessee is the first state to attempt to reach every eligible child."

"Once a child is signed up, they receive a new book addressed to them by mail every month. The books are hand-picked by a panel of childhood education experts and include classics, interactive books and bilingual stories told in English and Spanish."

To sign up children in Davidson County, fill out and send in the form on page 2 of this brochure.

For information on the broader program and its availability in other Tennessee counties:
• Write to Governor's Books from Birth Foundation, 710 James Robertson Parkway, 11th floor, Nashville, Tenn. 37243.
• Call 253-3600 or, toll free, 1-877-992-6657
• Fax 253-1420
• Read more online at

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Hispanic entrepreneurs open new Mexican restaurants

The Tennessean reports that restaurants continue to cultivate careers in business and integrate Hispanics into the Nashville community.

"[Nashville Area Hispanic Chamber of Commerce President Yuri] Cunza said Hispanic entrepreneurs are starting more restaurants and businesses in west Davidson County, and that plenty of area Hispanics work for a living - and work their way up to management positions and business ownerships - at eateries all over Middle Tennessee."

The article features the story of Cecilia Alva, who came to the U.S. from Peru and worked her way up in the restaurant business and is now a part owner in Fiesta Azteca, a Mexican restaurant on Elliston Place.

"Cunza said Hispanic entrepreneurs, who he declined to name, are also competing for a prime west-side restaurant space, the former Rio Bravo chain restaurant at 3915 West End Ave."

"Also coming soon to the west side are two other large Hispanic-owned Mexican restaurants - Cinco de Mayo at 358 White Bridge Road and Las Palmas in the Kroger Shopping Center at the corner of Gale Lane and Franklin Pike."

The Sea Inside tells of Spaniard's quest to die

Hispanic Magazine reviews the movie Mar Adentro, or The Sea Inside, which tells the true story of a Spaniard quadriplegic who fought for years for the power to end his life. The movie was released in theaters in 2004 and will be available on DVD in May.

"He wanted to die in order to be free again. Ramón Sampedro, a former ship mechanic from the northwestern Spanish province of Galicia, waged a 30-year battle to end his life with dignity after a diving accident left him paralyzed from the neck down."

"Mar Adentro unites a real confluence of talents. Director Alejandro Amenábar (The Others starring Nicole Kidman, Open Your Eyes starring Penélope Cruz and later re-made into Vanilla Sky, and Thesis) is a young cinematic genius who continues to stretch his abilities. The 32-year-old, who was born in Santiago, Chile, and moved to Spain with his family when he was barely a year old following the 1973 coup that overthrew Salvador Allende, says he was drawn to telling Sampedro’s story after happening on his book, Letters from Hell."

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Immigrant advocates host legislators tonight, immigration bills questioned reports that immigration-related bills in the Tennessee legislature are drawing fire from immigrant advocates, such as the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition (TIRRC), which is hosting a legislative reception in Nashville tonight.

"Civil rights and immigrant activists say a handful of bills in the Legislature unfairly target foreign nationals, but sponsors of the legislation claim they're just trying to curtail the influx of illegal immigrants in Tennessee."

"Among the proposed bills, one would require driver's license exams be given only in English, another would deny public benefits such as TennCare and driving certificates to foreign nationals, and one bill would prohibit immigrants from getting any state government services if they cannot show they're in the country legally."

At least one aspect of the proposals may contradict existing law.

"TennCare Bureau spokeswoman Marilyn Elam said federal law prohibits any state from denying temporary Medicaid benefits to illegal immigrants. The federal government pays more than two-thirds of the costs of TennCare, which has about 1.3 million enrollees."

"The TennCare Bureau estimates that about 500 foreign nationals, including refugees and documented or illegal immigrants, receive TennCare benefits for up to 30 days at any given time."

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Nashville ranks 47th nationwide in linguistic diversity

The Nashville City Paper reports that Nashville ranks as the 47th most linguistically diverse city in the U.S., with 66 languages being spoken across Davidson County, according to research by the U.S. English Foundation.

"Just over 480,000 residents, 90 percent, speak English in Davidson County and 26,175 speak Spanish, nearly 5 percent of the local population."

On a statewide level, Tennessee has fewer Spanish-speakers than most other states. In a separate ranking of states with the most Spanish-speakers, Tennessee came in 27th.

According to the U.S. English web site, "the goal of the U.S. English Foundation [is] to ensure that English continues to serve as an integrating force among our nation's many ethnic groups and remains a vehicle of opportunity for new Americans."

Belmont University holds open house for minority adjunct faculty candidates

Minority Adjunct Faculty Open House
April 6, 2005
Massey Board Room
Belmont University
5:30pm - 7pm
RSVP requested by April 4

Belmont University seeks to serve students from diverse backgrounds by
creating learning experiences that reflect continuous improvement in an
environment that is already characterized by academic excellence.

Our diversity initiatives are of the utmost importance to us, and we
warmly encourage and especially welcome all minority doctoral candidates
and master level professionals to learn more about Belmont University.

Monday, March 21, 2005

Nashville professor: white nationalists use immigration strife in recruiting

Vanderbilt University law professor Carol Swain says that frustration about immigration is attracting more educated Americans to the cause of white nationalism.

"Vanderbilt's Swain said white nationalists are trying to draw support not just from the working class. Over the last decade they have sought to recruit younger and more educated supporters aggrieved over U.S. immigration policy and racial entitlements."

Friday, March 18, 2005

Mexico City embraces NASCAR race, attracts Nashville speedway's attention

A recent NASCAR race in Mexico City turned out 94,000 enthusiastic fans, catching the attention of a Nashville track which has not previously targeted the U.S. Hispanic market.

"'It's definitely an attractive demographic,' said Cliff Hawks, vice president and general manager of Nashville Superspeedway, which plays host to a pair of Busch Series races this year. 'The potential is there for it to become really big in the future.'"

"Hawks said his track has made no special effort to cultivate fans among Nashville's growing Hispanic community, 'but that could change, considering the tremendous reception we saw in Mexico City.'"

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Metros soccer team will hold open tryouts this weekend

The Nashville Metros, North America’s oldest continuously owned and operated soccer franchise, will conduct open tryouts for the club’s 16th season in 2005.

When: Saturday, March 19 and Sunday, March 20

Time: 11:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.

Where: The Nashville Metros play at Ezell Park, located at 5135 Harding Place, one mile east of I-24 at Exit 56. From I-24, travel east on Harding Place. The stadium complex is located on the right side of Harding Place, just past the train overpass and the new police and fire stations. When you turn off of Harding Place, be sure to take the left fork of the road into the stadium complex. (See map below)

Cost: $10 (one time administrative fee)

The tryouts will be conducted from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m. on both dates. Potential players need to plan to attend both days. Anyone desiring to participate in the tryouts should come prepared with playing equipment, as well as a $10 administrative fee to defray the cost of evaluations.

Housing for out-of-town players attending the tryouts is being provided by the team’s official hotel, Holiday Inn – The Crossings. To obtain the special discounted hotel rate, call Holiday Inn - The Crossings at 888-683-8883 and be sure to request the special “Nashville Metros rate” for the weekend.

Playing in the United Soccer Leagues’ Premier Development League (PDL), the highest level of amateur soccer in the U.S., the Metros draw top players from area colleges and universities, as well as foreign nationals seeking additional playing experience. The May – July season does not interfere with collegiate seasons or jeopardize collegiate eligibility.

Metros players have gone on to compete at the highest levels of U.S. and international soccer, including the U.S. Men’s National Team, Major League Soccer and top foreign leagues. Many have also used their Metros training and experience to springboard them into stardom in their collegiate careers.

Nationally, the PDL has grown to fill major gap in U.S. soccer development. With 54 teams from coast to coast in 2005, many franchises have become regional college all-star teams, giving the best young players new opportunities to hone their skills during their collegiate off-season. Since the PDL is exempted from NCAA regulations against off-season team training, league experience places American players on a more equal footing with foreign players, who often train year-round to develop their abilities.

For additional information on the tryouts, email Head Coach Obed Compean at
o.compean AT nashvillemetrossoccer DOT com
or telephone the Nashville Metros office at (615) 832-5678.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Immigrant and Refugee Legislative Reception scheduled for March 23

You are invited to the:
Second Annual
Tennessee Immigrant & Refugee
Legislative Reception

Wednesday, March 23rd, 2005

Location: Nashville, TN
Offices of Waller Lansden Dortch & Davis, PLLC
511 Union Street, 27th Floor Conference Center
Corner of 6th and Union Street
(Parking available at the City Center)



Last year over 50 Tennessee legislators, the mayor of Nashville, numerous representatives of all branches of government and over 175 New American leaders from across Tennessee attended this historic event. All those who participated agreed it was an amazing opportunity to network with the state's top decision-makers and advance issues of importance to the newest Tennesseans and their families.

This year promises to be bigger and better than ever. We expect U.S. Congresspeople, State Legislators, State government officials and local decision-makers to all take part in this unique gathering.

This event is FREE and open to anyone who supports the rights of immigrants and refugees. If you or anyone in your community needs an interpreter (in any language), please let us know and one will be provided.

You may register by following this link, or by contacting Jami Peterson at
jami AT tnimmigrant DOT org
or call (615) 846-6672

Monday, March 14, 2005

Bank of Nashville helps Hispanic homebuyers, keeps eye on emerging Hispanic-owned competition

In an interview with the Nashville City Paper, Bank of Nashville Chairman and CEO Hunter Atkins referred to his bank's efforts to fund a mortgage pool for underserved Hispanics in Nashville as an example of reaching less affluent communities without necessarily building new branches.

Atkins also described how Hispanic-owned financial services providers might enter the Nashville market:

"I think that you can see a Latino-owned entity that provides financial services take a significant market share of that market in advance of being a true Tennessee chartered bank. For example, some check-cashing entities have expanded their product line to include investment sales, insurances, etc. Or they refer to a sister company that will fulfill that need. Hence, the timetable for a Latino bank established with a Tennessee charter is not necessarily the same timetable for a proliferation of services by various Hispanic-owned companies to deliver those services to that market."

Friday, March 11, 2005

Univision star to visit Nashville this weekend

Fernando Arau, star of Univision's morning Despierta America progam, will visit Christ Church in Nashville this weekend. Arau's press announcement says only that he will be "bringing his humor to the city and sharing his testimony."

The event will be held on Saturday, March 12, at 6:00 p.m. and Sunday, March 13, at 12:30 p.m. at Christ Church, 15354 Old Hickory Blvd. For more information, call 615-834-6171 x411.

Grant brings Spanish resources to Murfreesboro's Linebaugh Library

The Tennessean reports that a Library Services and Technology Act grant has filled the shelves of Murfreesboro's Linebaugh Library with Spanish-language materials. The materials include books like "Spanish translations of novels, encyclopedias, General Educational Development workbooks and manuals for getting a driver's license," as well as "international keyboards for computers, Spanish computer software, [and] English courses on DVD and CD." The grant also allowed the library to hire a Spanish-language translator.

"[Rosa] Senior, the staff member hired through the grant, helped create a brochure in Spanish to let the Hispanic community know of the resources available to them. She also leads a Spanish story-time session every Thursday at 6 p.m. for local children. Adults also can attend a computer class taught in Spanish at 6 p.m. March 15 at the library."

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Reminder: Business After Hours tonight with Manuel, at the Frist

See original story.

More Hispanic firefighters in Nashville

The Tennessean reports that six of sixty-nine new firefighter hires in Nashville are Hispanic. In 1995, Hispanic firefighters represented less than half a percent of the Nashville Fire Department; in 2005, the percentage had tripled to 1.3%. The percentage of Hispanics in the overall Nashville population is 4%.

Wednesday, March 9, 2005

Certificate for Driving means more frequent trips, inconsistent treatment at problematic driver's license testing stations reports that UT law students Jen Comiskey and Maha Ayesh discovered "discrepancies between Department of Safety regulations and how individual driver's license stations implement them."

"They also found occasional problems that include 'rudeness and hostility, number skipping, false assumptions (and) inconsistent acceptance of documents,' according to the presentation they gave at a November community meeting in Knoxville."

Holders of a Certificate for Driving have to return annually to renew the document, compared to once every five years for a driver's license.

Tuesday, March 8, 2005

Hispanics lag in health, clinics step in

The Tennessean reports that Hispanics and other minorities suffer from various health problems to a greater extent than Caucasians, even when income and education are taken into account.

"Hispanics are twice as likely as Caucasians to develop diabetes and suffer complications such as blindness and amputations."

"Hispanics make up 14% [of the] nation's population, but account for 18% of new HIV cases."

"A study by the nonpartisan Center for Studying Health System Change found that almost one in three Hispanics and one in five blacks lack health insurance, compared to about one in 10 Caucasians."

"Clinics that offer care on a sliding scale to people without insurance aim to fill the gap, and are scattered throughout Nashville. ... At the Saint Thomas Health Center South off Harding Road, which offers care on a sliding-fee scale, 90% of the patients are Hispanic. The entire staff is bilingual, and many are from Spanish-speaking countries."

Nashville-based LINK2GOV provides Spanish-language access to IRS

In a press release, Nashville-based LINK2GOV announced that its IRS access line is now available in Spanish.

"Ed Braswell, President and CEO of LINK2GOV, 'New this tax season, callers to our toll free number may select a Spanish-speaking option when making payments through our call center. We realized early on that this growing population needed our attention and we answered the call.'"

"The Nashville-based company, LINK2GOV provides online payment processing services for the Internal Revenue Service. Taxpayers can make a federal tax payment by calling the toll free number at 1-888-PAY-1040 (1-888-729-1040) or through LINK2GOV's website,"

Monday, March 7, 2005

Southern Poverty Law Center joins custody case of Hispanic mother ordered to learn English

The Tennessean reports that the Southern Poverty Law Center, a national civil rights organization based in Montgomery, Alabama, has agreed to jointly represent the Hispanic mother who was ordered by Wilson County Juvenile Court Judge Barry Tatum to learn English or risk a custody hearing. Nashville Attorney Jerry Gonzalez already represents the mother.

"'She now has three attorneys representing her as well as the resources of a nationally recognized civil rights group behind her,' Gonzalez said. 'Not only are they experts in this field, they've also entered an application to pay for all costs. We will do everything humanly possible to protect her rights.'"

"Gonzalez said the SPLC legal team has been briefed on the case and filed a formal motion seeking permission to join the legal fight, which is required for out-of-state attorneys."

Metros kick off 2005 season with Cinco de Mayo doubleheader

The Nashville Metros will kick off their record-breaking 16th consecutive season this May with a Cinco de Mayo weekend doubleheader against two divisional rivals, the Austin Lightning and last year's divisional champions, the El Paso Patriots.

The soccer club will host Cinco de Mayo Festival activities for both the Friday, May 6 game against Austin and the Saturday, May 7 game against El Paso.

The Metros will begin their 16-game season with three of their first four games in the friendly confines of Nashville's Ezell Park Stadium. Then the team will have to become road warriors as they play six of their next eight games on the road before finishing up with three of four at home.

The Metros, who finished fourth in the always tough Mid South Division of the Premier Development League last season, will play home-and-home series with each of the other six teams in the division this year. They will also play home-and-home series against the Kansas City Brass and the expansion Springfield (Missouri) Storm, both from the PDL's Heartland Division.

New Metros Head Coach Obed Compean promises a new look for the 2005 Metros. Along with many familiar players and longtime fan favorites, the Metros plan to introduce to a national soccer audience for the first time the best young players from Nashville's rapidly growing Hispanic and international communities.

Compean said his goal this season is to win the Mid South Division and make the PDL playoffs.

"I think we'll be competitive from our first match," he said. "I think we'll be very tough at home and do the best we can on the road."

In addition to counting in the PDL standings, the first four matches of the season are qualifiers for US Soccer's 2005 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup national soccer championship tournament. The Metros last qualified for the prestigious tournament in 2001, when they fell in the second round to Major League Soccer's L.A. Galaxy.

Season tickets for the 2005 Metros season are now on sale at the team's web site at A 10-ticket Adult Flex Pass is just $50 while a 10-ticket Youth Flex Pass (16 and under) is $25. Flex pass tickets are good for any 2005 Metros match and can be used in any combination. Single game tickets are $7 for adults and $4 for youth.

For more information on the Metros, visit their web site at

Nashville Hispanic Chamber announces Business After Hours with Manuel

The Nashville Area Hispanic Chamber of Commerce will hold its Business After Hours mixer at the Frist Center for the Visual Arts this Thursday, March 10. The several special guests include Manuel Cuevas, who will address the group about his success and his views of our emerging Hispanic community. The group includes a free tour of the famous Manuel exhibit consisting of 50 jackets he created as a personal “thank you” to America plus costumes made for Johnny Cash, Marty Stuart, Linda Ronstadt and many more.

The event includes appetizers, Latin American music by Serenatta, authentic Mexican tunes, a special performance by Argentine Tango, business networking and Manuel's exhibit.

March Business After Hours event will also feature a special presentation of the Latino Films to be shown at this year's Nashville Film Festival.

For more details, visit the chamber's web site.

Friday, March 4, 2005

Nashville Hispanic high school students under pressure to drop out

The Tennessean reports on the pressures leading Hispanic high school students to drop out more frequently than black or white students.

"The dropout rate for Hispanics in Metro is 21.6%, nearly 4 percentage points higher than the dropout rate for all Metro students and higher than the dropout rate for blacks or whites."

"Statewide, the dropout rate for Hispanics last year was 17.1%, considerably higher than the overall dropout rate of 10.7% despite Hispanics constitute only 3.2% of all schoolchildren."

"'Academically, when they enter, they just feel hopeless,' said Metro Schools Director Pedro Garcia, himself an immigrant from Cuba. 'At 15, 16, 17, they have very little education. They are looking at being 20-something when they graduate, so they give up.'"

"For the adults, a lack of working English means the jobs they often qualify for are low-paying."

"The feeling of futility on both sides leads many parents to ask their children to simply drop out and get a job to boost the family income, said Josias Arteaga, who runs Hispanic Achievers, an educational outreach program for Hispanic children and their parents at the Harding Place YMCA."

The Tennessean profiles the work of Hispanic Achievers in a separate story:

"One program targets grade-schoolers and focuses on math, reading, writing and Spanish. Students from Harpeth Hall, a private all-girls school, work with elementary- and middle-school-age children on weekends and serve as role models, tutors and mentors."

"The high school program allows Hispanic students to choose courses that focus on careers. Hispanic professionals in those areas mentor the students and tell them the ins and outs of becoming a doctor, lawyer or engineer, for instance. They encourage the students to stay in school and think about long-range goals rather than short-term gains."

"The final approach of Hispanic Achievers is reaching out to parents, said Josias Arteaga, the program's director."

Thursday, March 3, 2005

Sunday race brings NASCAR to Mexico

The Nashville City Paper reports that NASCAR's first-ever points race in Mexico will take place Sunday at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez in Mexico City. The race is dubbed the Telcel Motorola Mexico 200 presented by Banamex and is expected to draw top-level NASCAR drivers due to the open date in the Nextel Cup schedule.

"The hometown fans - both here and in Mexico City - will have a common rooting interest as Jose Luis Ramirez, a NASCAR Grand National West Series competitor, tries to make the field of 43. The Mexico City native will drive the No. 43 Del Valle Nectars Dodge which is co-owned by Nashville record and racing mogul Mike Curb."

Wednesday, March 2, 2005

Highway racial profiling bill introduced in state legislature

The Tennessean reports that Rep. Henri Brooks of Memphis has introduced a bill designed to keep better records of what happens in traffic stops conducted by the Tennessee Highway Patrol. The concern is that the possibility of racial profiling cannot be discovered with current record-keeping methods.

A 2002 Tennessee study which did not include the THP "found that officers searched Hispanics 140% more often than the state average and blacks 16% more than the state average. Evidence was seized from Hispanics and blacks above the state averages. Factors other than racial profiling - such as commuting patterns, tourism, demographics of universities and colleges, and the deployment of law enforcement within a city - may be at work, the study's authors found. The data did not definitively show or refute racial profiling was happening in Tennessee, they said."

The Tennessean has a copy of the proposed record-keeping bill here.

Tuesday, March 1, 2005

Austin Peay attracts most Hispanic students among state colleges

The Tennessean reports that Austin Peay had 438 students among its fall 2004 enrollees, the most of any public college or university in the state of Tennessee. That number represented 21% growth in the Hispanic population of APSU from 2003 to 2004 and 21% since 1999. Middle Tennessee State University had 415 Hispanic students, the second greatest total.

"Ramon Magrans - APSU professor of Languages & Literature and an expert in Latin American and Cuban culture - attributes much of the increased Hispanic enrollment to the university's small class sizes, an active Hispanic student body and growth at Fort Campbell."
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