Thursday, November 30, 2006

Dehumanization, vitriol against immigrants concerns Davidson County Sherriff

Targeting of immigrants is subject of comprehensive review in Nashville Scene cover story

The cover story of this week's Nashville Scene ("The Nativists Are Restless") reviews many of the past year's incidents and statements against immigrants and Hispanics in Tennessee. (Many of these stories have been covered in the Hispanic Nashville Notebook and can be found via the search box to the left, but the Scene story provides an excellent summary and new interview material.)

The justifications for the negativity are varied.

Some of the vitriol is dangerous, according to Davidson County Sherriff Daron Hall. In the Scene cover story, Hall describes the tone on Nashville talk radio and expresses grave concern: "There is an element of people out there that scares me to death."

Unfortunately, this article is not the only recent cover story linking nativism to Nashville. In August, the national magazine The Nation featured Nashville prominently in a cover series asking, "What's fueling the new nativism?" (story here).

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Outreach to Hispanics is part of ambitious Nashville MLK parade plan

"Anyone who lives inside the United States can never be considered an outsider anywhere within its bounds." -Letter from Birmingham Jail

The Tennessean reports in this article that a plan to make Nashville's 2007 parade celebrating Martin Luther King, Jr. the biggest in the country includes an outreach to Hispanics.

"About 7,000 people attended the Martin Luther King Day Parade earlier this year. The event included services at the Jefferson Street Baptist Church and an outdoor program with music and performances that was geared to younger people."

"But this latest effort to beat Atlanta — think the Schermerhorn Symphony Center and Tony Giarratana's 65-story tower, which would be the tallest building in the South — is fueled by a desire to realize King's dream of including all people."

"Organizers are reaching out to more whites and Hispanics, many of whom have participated in the past, as well as to Asian and Kurdish residents."

"Yuri Cunza, president of the Nashville Area Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, said Hispanics' participation made sense even though the black quest for civil equality in the 1960s was different from the current Hispanic struggle."

"'It's only natural for a population like ours to relate and embrace and respect that history,' Cunza said. 'Ours is a different struggle, but at a human level and civil rights and human rights level we can relate to them."

"'We want to be there for them as we would want them to be there for us.'"

The Hispanic Nashville Notebook turned to Martin Luther King, Jr. and his Letter from Birmingham Jail as a voice for inspiration in 2006 (story here).

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Large Nashville law firms are among least diverse for women partners

Third-to-last in nationwide review; efforts underway "to reverse that trend"

The Tennessean reports in this article that Nashville ranked third-to-last in a recent study of diversity among female partners at large law firms in major U.S. cities.

"The study, which looked at partners of the largest law firms in 44 U.S. cities, found that 0.26 percent of Nashville firms had minority women partners. Only two cities fared worse in the study by Washington, D.C.–based Association for Legal Career Professionals, formerly the National Association for Law Placement."

"The study is stunning to some given Nashville's diverse population — nearly 27 percent African-American and almost 5 percent Hispanic — and the fact that the city has two law schools and two historically black universities, some legal experts said."

"'[S]tatistically Nashville may not fare very well, but ... some things are being done in Nashville to reverse that trend,' said Billye Sanders, a partner at the Nashville firm of Waller Lansden Dortch & Davis."

Wendy Warren, chairwoman of the Nashville Bar Association's Minority Opportunities Committee, is also quoted in the story.

"'I won't say that in the past there has not been discrimination. That would be ... naive to say that that's the case,' said Warren, an associate at the Nashville firm of Bass, Berry & Sims. 'But I would say now that the Nashville market is ... aggressively trying to recruit minorities and women, from my perspective.'"

"She believes female and minority lawyers should be actively trying to socialize with people who may be very different from themselves."

"She and Sanders said they believe that diversity at law firms makes good business sense because many client companies won't hire firms that aren't diversified. Furthermore, the lawyers said, having different perspectives leads to better problem solving for clients."

The ALCP study is consistent with a similar story earlier this year (reported here in the Hispanic Nashville Notebook), in which Nashville was found to lag behind the national average in law firm diversity among male and female partners and associates.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Vanderbilt business school tops nation in Latin American case study competition

$10,000 Carnegie Mellon challenge: create supply chain for alternative fuel

A team of students from the Vanderbilt Owen Graduate School of Management won first place at the 11th annual International Case Competition Nov. 10-11 at Carnegie Mellon University’s Tepper School of Business.

The Tepper School’s Operations Management and Latin American Business clubs teamed up this year to host the highly regarded competition, which kicked off with a panel discussion, “Emerging in Latin America: Operational Issues and Challenges Faced by Business.” The panelists included representatives from the International Finance Corporation, Deloitte, The Innovation Circle and Honeywell.

Following the panel discussion, student teams from top business schools were asked to design an effective supply chain for raw vegetable oil and biodiesel, a clean burning alternative fuel produced from domestic, renewable resources, for a fictional agribusiness investor in Latin America. The challenge was based on a current real-world case from one of the competition’s judges.

The teams received the challenge Friday afternoon and had to prepare a presentation by 1 a.m. on Saturday. The first round of presentations began Saturday at 8 a.m. The students competed to win the top prize of $10,000. Second place winners receive $5,000 and third place takes home $2,500.

The Owen School team – first-year students Marlene Marengo and Melissa Shearer and second-year students Landon Davies, Krista Fakoory and Blair Stilwell – took the top spot with a plan that maximized production of raw vegetable oil and biodiesel and called for an aggressive construction schedule to build several raw vegetable oil and biodiesel plants to gain market advantage. The winning team also suggested forming strategic alliances with diesel engine manufacturers and special interest groups to promote the use of biodiesel and support for raw vegetable oil as a renewable energy source and a healthy alternative to the trans fats and animal fats used in cooking.

Schools in this year’s competition included the Tepper School, Yale School of Management, the University of North Carolina’s Kenan-Flagler Business School, the University of Texas at Austin’s McCombs School of Business, Columbia University Business School, the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Sloan School of Management, Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management, University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business, Purdue University’s Krannert School of Management, the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School and Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business.

The Owen Graduate School of Management at Vanderbilt is ranked as a top institution by Business Week, The Wall Street Journal, U.S. News & World Report, Financial Times and Forbes. For more news about Owen, visit

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Guitar maker Manuel Delgado brings business, family craft to Nashville

Tradition began in Mexico; instruments played by superstars

WPLN reports here on Manuel Delgado, a guitar-maker who recently moved to Nashville from East Los Angeles, bringing with him a rich family tradition.

"Third generation guitar and stringed instrument maker Manuel Delgado moved recently from East Los Angeles to East Nashville. The last time the Delgado guitar company uprooted this significantly was when Manuel's grandfather and great-uncle moved from Juarez, Mexico to the U.S. in the 1940s. He's a one-man operation, but there's something from those patriarchs in every instrument Manuel Delgado builds, as WPLN's Craig Havighurst reports."

"There in the breakdown of Los Lobos's monster hit 'La Bamba' is a Delgado requinto jarocho. The band became Delgado customers when they were still in high school, shopping and hanging out at Candelas Guitars on Cesar Chavez Avenue in Los Angeles. That's where Manuel grew up, and where his family also built instruments for classical guitar legends Andres Segovia and the Romeros, as well as folk and popular artists like Arlo Guthrie and Jose Feliciano. Today, Manuel Delgado surrounds himself with reminders of a family tradition that goes back to 1928."

The Delgado Guitars web site is here.

Update: The Nashville City Paper interviewed Delgado here on 1/14/07.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Coalition calls for strong showing at second vote on international bans

Update 11/22: Language ban passes second of three readings

The Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition circulated this action alert for a response to three international bans before the Metro Council tonight. This is the second reading for the proposed language ban, and the community is again asked to wear yellow as an expression of solidarity.

More information on the three international bans is available in yesterday's Hispanic Nashville Notebook, here.

Update November 22, 2006 6:00 a.m.: The language ban passed its second of three hurdles by the minimum vote necessary. The other two international bans were suspened indefinitely. Related stories below.

The Tennessean - result of vote, mentioning opposition of more than 100 people including "Japanese, Colombians, Kurds, Somalis and more"

WKRN - Result of vote, with focus on Hispanic community and Nashville Chamber position (video)

Nashville City Paper - Result of vote, mentioning "light applause in one section of the audience and dead silence in the other"

The Tennessean - story today on English-learning program in Nashville

WPLN - story before the second vote, on English-learning in Nashville

Last call for nominations for the 2006 Hispanic Nashville Noteworthy Awards

Nominations for the 2006 Hispanic Nashville Noteworthy Awards are due Thanksgiving Day, November 23. More details here.

Update 1/15/07: The winners have been announced.

Race, Hispanic Ethnicity, and Immigrant Differences in Asthma During Childhood

Vanderbilt lecture available online

Katherine Donato, Professor of Sociology at Vanderbilt University, discussed the differences in childhood asthma among ethnically and geographically diverse populations. The event was sponsored by the Center for Medicine, Health, and Society as part of their fall seminar series. Katharine Donato studies immigration between Mexico and the United States, immigants in the U.S. economy, and the social determinants of health.

Listen to lecture: "Race, Hispanic Ethnicity, and Immigrant Differences in Asthma During Childhood" Nov. 15 at Vanderbilt University

Monday, November 20, 2006

Nashville Chamber: latest voice questioning Metro Council's international bans

City's reputation at risk

The Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce has joined the chorus of voices questioning the wisdom of three bans that are currently pending before the Metro Council - a language ban, a landlord ban, and an employer ban - all relating to internationals living in Nashville (column published by The Tennessean here). The three pieces of legislation are up for a vote Tuesday night. The three bans are the latest in a series of legislative proposals from the Council that would have an adverse effect on internationals. The previous bans considered by the Council were a sidewalk ban and a taco ban.

Michael A. Carter, vice chairman of small business for the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce, is quoted as saying that the new bans "will damage Nashville's international reputation as an open, inclusive and increasingly diverse community." Carter further points out that "[t]he Nashville region is increasingly competing for economic recruitment in the international arena, and, collectively, the proposed ordinances send a negative and unwelcoming message to relocating companies, particularly international companies that employ large numbers of foreign-born populations."

A lot of newsprint has been spent on the language ban. Various letter writers expressed their opposition to the language ban in this article and also in this article. Yuri Cunza, president of the Nashville Area Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (not the same as the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce), penned this column opposing the language ban. An editorial earlier this year in support of language respect was written by Virginia Scott and is here. Translation for internationals in transition has been applauded by both the Nashville City Paper and The Tennessean. (The Tennessean's editorial on the wisdom of the landlord ban is here.)

English-learning is thriving in Tennessee, as are efforts to reach out to non-English speakers, as indicated by this article in September 2006 about Volunteer State Community College's efforts to assist non-English speakers with their transitions; this article in September 2006 about the Marshall County Library's refusal to impose a language ban on its collection; this report in June 2006 about Nashville public schools' success in converting English learners to English-speakers; this story in May 2006 about legal rights forums directed at Spanish-speaking immigrants, sponsored by the Nashville Area Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and the Tennessee Human Rights Commission; this story in March 2006 about Metro Schools Director Pedro Garcia's reaching out in Spanish to Hispanic parents; this article in December 2005 about the efforts of Middle Tennessee YMCA and Girl Scout programs to integrate Hispanic and bilingual students; this story in October 2005 about Senator Lamar Alexander's proposal to offer a $500 credit and other incentives for prospective citizens to learn English;
the Tennessee Court of the Judiciary's discipline of a Middle Tennessee judge in September 2005 for improperly conditioning a mother's custory rights on her ability to speak English (story here); this story in July 2005 about Metro Police's use of volunteer interpreters; and this story in June 2005 about Cracker Barrel's English-learning programs for employees.

More background on the status of the language ban is available in this previous article on the Hispanic Nashville Notebook.

Nashville ranks 47th nationwide in linguistic diversity (story here).

Brentwood's Orchid acquires manufacturing plant in Monterrey, Mexico

The Nashville Business Journal reports in this article that Brentwood-based Orchid International has acquired a die-cast manufacturing facility in Monterrey, Mexico.

"The facility was formerly owned and operated by Hawk Motors. Now named Orchid Monterrey, the plant will continue to make die cast electric motor components. The operation will be expanded later to include metal stamping processes for the electric motor industry as well as the automotive and consumer products industries, according to a release."

"The company is also in the design stage of a new general metal stamping and assembly plant in the Brownsville, Texas/Matamoros, Mexico region. The company plans to build multiple facilities throughout Mexico."

The following excerpts are from the company's press release:

Richard Quinlan, President of Orchid International states, “The addition of Orchid Monterrey is a significant step in the planned growth of our lamination stamping and die casting business. Coupled with our existing U.S.-based operations in Texas and Wisconsin, this acquisition will further enable Orchid to service our existing customers throughout North America, and better position us to capitalize on future growth in the electric motor and transformer markets.”

Lamination stamping involves processing special grades of steel into thin stampings that are utilized in the manufacture of electric motor and transformer components. Certain electric motor components are then die cast in aluminum before the motors are constructed and subsequently installed in various electric powered devices.

"Headquartered in Brentwood, Orchid operates six manufacturing facilities in the United States, Canada and Mexico."

Friday, November 17, 2006

Juan Gabriel in concert at Nashville's Municipal Auditorium December 2

"The most successful popular musician in the history of Mexican music"

Mexican superstar Juan Gabriel will appear for the first time in concert at the Municipal Auditorium in Nashville on Saturday, December 2 at 8:00 p.m. Doors open at 7:00 p.m.

With a show lasting more than three hours, the artist famous for "Querida" will land on Nashville soil and deliver a performance that has drawn steady crowds numbering more than 10,000 per night.

More than sixty band members will support Gabriel in scenic musical presentations of hits like "No Tengo Dinero" and "Abrazame Muy Fuerte." Traditional Mexican dance, flamenco, and mariachi music arranged in impeccable choruses - along with an orchestra, guitar, piano, trumpet, and the rhythm of dancers - combine for a crowd-pleasing treat for the senses.

Tickets are available at the Municipal Auditorium box office, Ticketmaster online, or Ticketmaster outlets at Kroger stores and elsewhere. For more information call toll-free 877-385-7734.

Having sold over thirty million albums in his career, Juan Gabriel is a six-time Grammy nominee and an inductee in the Billboard Latin Music Hall Of Fame. He has been described as "the most successful popular musician in the history of Mexican music." An extended biography is available here.

Hispanic Nashville Datebook

If you know of an event that should be listed in the Datebook, or if you are computer-savvy and want to help keep the Datebook current, pleas contact the editor.

Colombian students to participate in Cool Springs Model U.N.

The Tennessean reports in this article that a YMCA program is hosting a Model U.N. in Cool Springs beginning today. The article states that 1,200 teenage students are expected to attend, including a delegation of students from Colombia, South America.

Tennessee YMCA Youth in Government hosts and runs the event.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Nashville Chamber Orchestra performs with Wynonna, Donna Summer in Thanksgiving celebration of Community and Unity

Schermerhorn performance will also include NCO Gospel Choir, Mt. Zion Baptist Church youth choir

The Nashville Chamber Orchestra is presenting two evenings of 'Thanksgiving Celebration' featuring Wynonna, Donna Summer, the NCO Gospel Choir and Mt. Zion Baptist Church’s youth choir, Judah Generation. The performances are Friday, November 24, & Saturday, November 25, 2006, at 8:00 pm at the beautiful Schermerhorn Symphony Center.

The concert theme is ‘Celebrating Community …Embracing Unity.’

Tickets are availabe here.


Thanks to those of you who let me know that this site was down on Tuesday. As much as I profess to be computer-savvy, I let the domain name expire. One credit card charge and several hours later, we are back online.

I apologize for the interruption.

Photo by iluvcocacola (cc)

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Fatal shooting leaves unanswered questions for family and birth country of Shelbyville resident Fermin Estrada

"It's a couple of Mexicans" ... missing audio on police tape ... officer who pulled the trigger is back on duty ... DA says no wrongdoing

NewsChannel5 reports here and here that the fatal shooting of Shelbyville resident Fermin Estrada by local law enforcement has been investigated by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, but Estrada's family and the Mexican consulate have not been able to obtain the report. Estrada's death was one of three violent killings of Hispanic men that made headlines in Middle Tennessee this past March (story here).

"During a family barbeque, Fermin Estrada walked two friends around his own property. ... A neighbor saw the three men and called 911."

"Caller: It's a couple of Mexicans walking on the back of my property, and one of them has a gun shoved in his side.
Dispatcher: And was he on your property?
Caller: He was right on the property line."

"NewsChannel 5 Investigates obtained in-car police video from the scene. You can hear officers arrive on scene and speak to the neighbor. Police reports show Officer James Wilkerson then grabs his assault rifle and heads to the woods."

"Shelbyville Officer James Wilkerson shot and killed Fermin Estrada in front of his family in his backyard ... [t]he family and witnesses maintain police never identified themselves."

"Police said they did and they added Fermin fired towards the officers -- and that's why they shot."

"[T]he one piece of evidence that would clear things up and determine whether the officers identified themselves is missing."

"On the tape released by police, the audio goes silent right before the shooting."

"Eight months later, the the Shelbyville officer who pulled the trigger is back on full duty."

"Lawyers filed a wrongful death lawsuit ... late Thursday."

"Now, the Mexican Consulate is getting involved. It wants the FBI to investigate. Since Fermin Estrada was a Mexican national as well as a U.S. citizen, the consulate feels it has a duty to see that justice is carried out."

"The [Tennessee Bureau of Investigation] conducted the only official report into the officers' actions. Under state law, the TBI can't release it. The district attorney who has seen the report won't comment. The police chief hasn't seen it, but said the DA assured him his officer did nothing wrong."

Monday, November 13, 2006

FBI frees Mexican child from forced prostitution in Nashville

Sex traffickers used border lure

The Tennessean reports in this story and the Memphis Commercial Appeal reports in this story that the FBI and other federal agencies have freed a Mexican child from forced prostitution in Nashville, an ordeal that began when sex traffickers promised her passage across the U.S. border to a "restaurant" job in Nashville. The investigation brought charges against 10 men for running brothels full of Latin American women and girls who were forced into prostitution after they were promised legitimate jobs in the U.S. Two of the people charged with luring these ordinary immigrants into prostitution were living in the Nashville.

"Once in Nashville, she met Mendez and was taken to an apartment at 5099 Linbar Drive."

"There, court documents allege, Mendez raped her and threatened to kill her family if she did not work as a prostitute. She was 14 at the time."

"The girl told investigators that she was a virgin when she arrived in Nashville and described the rape as very painful."

"Two weeks later, court documents say, Mendez took her to a Kentucky brothel and forced her to have sex with 14 people on the first day. Afterward she was sick with a headache and severe pelvic inflammation and had to be hospitalized for several days."

The Tennessean article says that federal officials claimed that this was "the first case to their knowledge involving children smuggled into the country to be forced into the sex trade" - which would be at odds with this statistic from Johns Hopkins University that sex slave traffickers bring 15,000 women into the United States every year, many of them young girls from Mexico; or this CIA report (found here) that the number is closer to 50,000.

A similar arrest was made in Nashville in 2005 (story here), after authorities arrested a woman in Nashville for forcing Honduran women and children into slavery in New Jersey.

One international relief organization has recently opened an office in Nashville to combat sex trafficking and will train Metro Police next year, according to the Tennessean.

"'It's very new for us to have on our radar in Tennessee, but' sex trafficking is 'not a new thing,' said Amber Beckham, coordinator for World Relief's Network of Emergency Trafficking Services."

Other stories on the same subject: New York Times, 2004, San Francisco Examiner, 1997

Update 11/14/2006: WKRN-Channel 2 filed this report and also interviewed residents of the apartment complex in this follow-up story.

Update 11/17/2006: Five indicted

Friday, November 10, 2006

Tennessee State University hires Spanish-speaking recruiter

Hispanic outreach seeks diversity, growth

According to this story in USA Today, historically black colleges are reaching out to Hispanics, and Tennessee State University (TSU) is one of those schools. The desired result is twofold: to grow the schools, while at the same time offering opportunities to groups who are underserved in higher education.

"Recruiting Hispanics is an extension of the mission to educate 'underserved' groups, says Lezli Baskerville, president of [the National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education]. 'Disproportionate numbers of Hispanic families are low-income. Disproportionate numbers are first-generation. We've got a model that works.'""Tennessee State University also wants to grow. In June, the 9,000-student school hired Jose Vazquez to recruit adults and Hispanics."

"Vazquez meets with local Hispanic leaders and recently attended a gathering for Day of the Dead, an annual Mexican celebration."

"'They need to know that we're here, and I'm here if they have any questions,' he says."

"The university advertises in Spanish-language newspapers and yellow pages. 'We see strength in diversity,' associate vice president Evelyn Nettles says."

TSU is also part of a Latino health coalition in Nashville, in partnership with the Hispanic Community Group of Tennessee (story here).

TSU's web site describes the school as "a comprehensive urban coeducational land-grant university founded in 1912 in Nashville, Tenn. The 450-acre main campus, with more than 65 buildings, is located in a residential setting; the Avon Williams Campus is located downtown, near the center of the Nashville business and government district. Through successive stages, TSU has developed from a normal school for Negroes to its current status as a national university with students from 42 states and 52 countries."

Health coalition “Community Readiness Assessment Report” set for November 16

Collaboration of Hispanic Community Group of Tennessee (HCGT) and Tennessee State University-Center for Health Research

The Hispanic Community Group of Tennessee invites the community to attend a workshop: “Community Readiness Assessment Report” on Thursday, November 16, 2006, from 12:30pm-1:30pm, at the HCGT office (2720 Nolensville Pike, Suite 210).

Please RSVP to help plan for light refreshments ( or 587-0365).

The Hispanic Community Group of Tennessee (HCGT) has been collaborating with Tennessee State University-Center for Health Research on a project to assess and improve the Nashville Hispanic community’s readiness to participate in community-based, collaborative initiatives in the area of Hispanic health. The first part of the project involved conducting a Community Readiness Assessment. Sixteen organizations and 32 members of the Hispanic community have responded to the assessment questionnaire.

The second part of the project is a series of capacity-building workshops. The Nashville Latino Health Coalition is also participating as a co-organizer of the workshop series. The first workshop for Hispanic community members was held on Saturday, Oct 28 (“Construyamos Puentes para la Salud: Bridges to Care” / “Let’s Build Bridges for Health: Bridges to Care”).

The second workshop will be held on November 16, in which we will present the Community Readiness Model and report the assessment results. The subsequent workshops are scheduled for Saturday, Nov 18, and Saturday, Dec 2.

Contact information:
Juan Canedo, Hispanic Community Group of Tennessee (587-0365,
Pamela Hull, Ph.D., TSU Center for Health Research (320-3005,

Thursday, November 9, 2006

Metro Schools' Hispanic parent group elects officers

11% of students in Metro are Hispanic

This story on News 2-WKRN and this story in the Tennessean report that COPLA, the Hispanic parents' group created by Metro School Board director Pedro Garcia, has elected officers. Cesar Muedas is the new chairman of the group, Adelina Winston is vice chair, and Sandra Mendoz is secretary. COPLA stands for Comite de Padres Latinos, or Committee of Latino Parents.

"Director of Schools Pedro Garcia organized COPLA earlier this year to help build relationships with the parents of Latino students, who constitute more than 11 percent of the district's student population."

"Ruben De Pena, Metro's language translation specialist, was asked to help organize COPLA."

"'We are mirroring the Parents Advisory Council, but our purpose is for our parents to be informed and involved with the children,' De Pena said. 'We want to help make parents aware of the tools that exist. There is a lot of excitement. This is a good venue for them to interact with the system.'"

"There are three concerns Muedas sees as significant for Latinos in the school district —- the issue of gangs, the number of schools that don't have parent-teacher organizations and graduation rates. But, while working on concerns, Muedas said the group also wants to work on the positives."

"'I am not speaking for all Hispanics who have children in the system, though,' Muedas said. 'I am just starting to learn the concerns.'"

Photo: Cesar Muedas

Wednesday, November 8, 2006

Senator-elect Bob Corker's nuanced view of immigration bureaucracy

"We have made it incredibly difficult for people who came to our country to work and study, and that needs to be corrected."

Tennessee has a new U.S. senator, and his name is Bob Corker. The Nashville Scene reports in this article that the senator-elect shared his views with that publication's editorial board on a variety of topics a few weeks before the election. Those thoughts were published for the first time today, in a post-campaign environment, and they paint in greater detail Corker's thoughts about "the" border, immigration bureaucracy, and how the various immigration rules and processes could be improved:

The first point is secure the border…. I think most Americans think we ought to secure the border. And let me just give you an experience. I was out of the state for 18 hours to do the immigration spot. We flew into Tucson and drove into Tombstone, Wyatt Earp’s old hangout, and I went to a place downtown to eat and sat with ranchers and former city council members and they could tell I was from someplace else…. The next morning, we had a conference call at 5 a.m. and then we drove down to the border. You get down there, it’s amazing. You can look out into the desert as far as you can see and there’s this pathway coming into America and then there’s big hole in the fence and then there’s actually these two big water tanks—at least there were that day—for people to get a drink of water if they happen to be thirsty coming into our country illegally. It really is eye opening…. And by the way, we have this image of who is coming into our country. People from all kinds of nationalities are coming across our borders.

So, I really do think we need to secure our border. No. 2, I think we should allow people to work here—I’m going to use the same words as are in the commercial—but only if they’re legal…. Our immigration policies as it relates to temporary workers are unbelievably antiquated and bureaucratic, and I think that has led to a lot of the illegal immigration because it’s too difficult to do it the right way; it’s too difficult to work temporarily in the country the right way. The other thing that never gets talked about in immigration is that, since 9-11, our country is making it very difficult for—we used to welcome the best and brightest from other countries from China, Japan and Europe to come here and work and study. Companies like Google and Intel were created by people like that. Since 9-11, we have made it incredibly difficult for people who came to our country to work and study, and that needs to be corrected….

Thirdly, the fact that people who are here illegally must return home and come back through legal channels, which was the third point in the ad. Sen. [John] Cornyn, who is from Texas, I think has the most thoughtful proposal as it relates to the people who are here in our country. And what it says is that people who are here illegally would register and say that they are here illegally…. They could work up to two years here and under really tough circumstances could work even longer. But for these people to work here in the country on a longer-term basis, they have to return home and come back through legal channels…. I think that this proposal is actually fair. Many—most—Hispanic families go back home a great deal anyway and visit. It happens all the time. I think what’s happened to those immigrants who are here illegally, they feel like people are looking at them all the time…. What that [proposal] does is do away with any long-term prejudice toward an entire population…. And it gives people time to do the right thing….

The fourth point in the ad—and this is taking longer than 26 seconds—is that we need to have an instant employer certification method. As I go around in the state, document fraud is a huge, huge deal. It’s amazing. You’ve got 20 people using the same Social Security number…. And then I think if people abuse the process they ought to be punished.

So that’s my policy. I actually think it’s very thoughtful. I know it’s very difficult to implement all of those things. Anything that we do on immigration is going to be difficult. But I think it’s fair, and I think it will work….

Tuesday, November 7, 2006

Tara Lentz volunteers with a heart for Spanish-speaking Nashvillians

Spanish/religion major follows calling to Second Presbyterian Church, Conexion Americas

This Tennessean story profiles Tara Lentz, a 22-year-old former cheerleader from Blowing Rock, N.C., who is one of four participants in this year's Nashville Ephinany Project, launched in 2000 by Second Presbyterian Church.

"The goals of the 11-month program include developing a Christian community to live as an example of Christ's service to others, to engage in spiritual disciplines like prayer and service and to help the volunteers determine their futures."

"Tara, who has degrees in religion and Spanish from Wake Forest, is applying both disciplines to her work at Conexion Americas, a non-profit that serves the Hispanic immigrant population by helping them with language skills, professional counseling and connecting them with services. 'We try to do what's needed to help them integrate' comfortably into the Nashville area."

"Tara's calling to help Hispanic immigrants assimilate was heavily influenced by a mission trip 'to work with migrant farm workers in South Florida, in a place called Immokalee.' That revealed to her how much these new Americans needed Spanish-speaking people of faith."

"Tara's thinking of a life in the nonprofit world. Or in the ministry. Social work? Whatever the cause, 'I definitely want to use my Spanish. Immigration is such an important issue.'"

"To her, it's just following the lessons of the Bible."

"'Everything I've learned about love and Christian faith is that Jesus was welcoming to strangers. People of faith everywhere have to learn ways we can welcome these people.'"

Holidays Around the World this Saturday

Fundraiser celebrates cultures, supports Susan Gray School

The public is invited to join over 200 children as they celebrate diverse cultures at the Susan Gray School's Second Annual Holidays Around the World event Nov. 11 from 5 to 9 p.m. Proceeds from the event will go toward the construction of a new, fully accessible preschool playground at the school.

"This is a fun event that celebrates the diversity of global cultures as well as the diversity of the children and families at the Susan Gray School," said Ruth Wolery, Susan Gray School director.

The event will begin at 5 pm at the Susan Gray School, where nine of the classrooms will be decorated to represent countries including Thailand, Ivory Coast, Italy, Scotland, Morocco, China, America, Mexico and Costa Rica. Families and children will visit each "country," which will include arts, crafts, games and music to teach the visitors about the holidays the countries celebrate. The event will move to the Cohen Fine Arts Building on the Peabody campus from 6:30 to 9 p.m. In addition to silent and live auctions and refreshments, there will be gingerbread houses for the children to decorate, a visit from Santa Claus and the annual SGS Angel Tree.

The Susan Gray School, located at the corner of 21st Avenue South and Edgehill Avenue, offers an early education program for children from birth to 5 years. The school serves typically developing children and children with various disabilities such as cerebral palsy, autism, failure to thrive, pre-maturity, Down syndrome and speech language delays. It is affiliated with Vanderbilt's Peabody College of Education and Human Development.The school also serves an economically and culturally diverse population including families from Afghanistan, Argentina, China, Ethiopia, France, India, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Russia, Thailand, Turkey and Uruguay.

Tickets for the event are $75 for families, $30 for singles and $15 for Vanderbilt students. Cost includes food, drinks and family entertainment.

For more information about the event or to purchase tickets in advance, contact the Susan Gray School at 322-8200 or e-mail More information is also available on the school's Web site, here.

Hispanic Nashville Datebook

If you know of an event that should be listed in the Datebook, or if you are computer-savvy and want to help keep the Datebook current, pleas contact the editor.

Hispanic Art and Folklore Festival this Saturday

The Madison Art Center hosts a Hispanic Art and Folklore Festival this Saturday, November 11 from 5:00 pm to 8:00 pm. The event features an all-Hispanic art exhibit, which will be on display through December 2.

The Festival this Saturday will include the artists and activities for the public, such as painting, decorating sugar skulls, storytelling (Spanish w/English Translation), live Hispanic music, authentic foods, explanations of traditions, and much more.

The Madison Art Center is located at 403 Gallatin Road South, Madison, Tennessee, 37115. Phone 615-868-8000.

Hispanic Nashville Datebook

If you know of an event that should be listed in the Datebook, or if you are computer-savvy and want to help keep the Datebook current, pleas contact the editor.

Monday, November 6, 2006

Radio broadcast "The World" studies Nashville immigration debate

Today's broadcast of The World - a radio co-production of the BBC World Service, PRI and WGBH Boston - will include a report on the immigration debate in Nashville.

The program airs locally at 3pm and again at 8pm on 1430 WPLN AM. Air times for other U.S. cities are here. The broadcast will also be available at some point on The World's web site here.

Update November 6, 2006 4:35pm: A direct link to the radio report is here.

Thursday, November 2, 2006

Bear-trap bureaucracy denounced in groundswell of support for ordinary immigrants

Claudia Nunez and other Nashville residents caught in deportation threat

Sparked by stories in the Nashville Scene and Channel 2 News about Claudia Nunez, a young mother targeted by the federal government for deportation after driving without a license, local commentators are taking up her cause and petitioning not only for her, but also against a bear-trap bureaucracy that treats ordinary people like enemies of the state.

A variety of Nunez-supporting comments from across Nashville were listed here on, with the resulting petition for Nunez being circulated here.

The Nashville City Paper described the plight of two other potential deportees in this story on Wednesday, and then published this editorial today calling for simplification of the path to legal immigration status.

A coalition of dozens of Tennessee organizations that has been fighting for years for ordinary immigrants and against bear-trap bureacracies is the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition. The coalition's fourth annual statewide convention will be held this Saturday at Glencliff High School (details here).

Update 11/2/06 12:15pm Today's Nashville Scene has this follow-up story about the Nunez case, the petition, other demonstrations of support, and a possible appearance by Nunez at the coalition convention this Saturday.

Update 11/3/06 6:30pm It's worth mentioning that every representative from Tennessee except Jim Cooper voted last December to sharpen the teeth of the bear trap and make Claudia Nunez and everyone in her situation a felon (HR 4437 provision regarding “illegal presence” - roll call here). HR 4437 is what sparked the massive immigrant rallies and boycotts this past spring and was known as the "House bill" that stood in contrast to a Senate bill that took some of the red tape out of obtaining legal status. The only portion of either bill that has become law is the component approving the construction of a partial fence along the Mexico border - but not any appropriation to fund it. So after the politicians weaponized the immigration debate for whatever gain they expected to receive in return next Tuesday, the status quo is unchanged, and Nunez and millions of ordinary people remain in the same old trap.

Nissan launches Hispanic music marketing campaign

In the wake of its recent move to Nashville (aka Music City USA), Nissan North America has launched Shift_musica, a marketing campaign designed to attract Hispanic consumers through music.

Read the press release here.

Wednesday, November 1, 2006

2006 "Hispanic Nashville Noteworthy" Awards

Nominations due November 23

Nominations are being accepted for the inaugural "Hispanic Nashville Noteworthy" Awards, for exceptional people, groups, events, and work* in the Hispanic community in Nashville. The Noteworthy Awards are a project of the Hispanic Nashville Notebook.

*These are examples only. Anyone and anything can be nominated - a restaurant, business, book, accountant, taco stand, newspaper, party, church, mural, dentist, school, neighborhood, politician, song - anything, as long as it is noteworthy and in the Hispanic community in Nashville.

Send to the editor a description of the person, group, event, or work you believe is especially "noteworthy," along with an explanation for your nomination (with some specifics), your connection to the nominee, a short bio or background of the nominee, any additional information that supports your nomination such as newspaper articles or pictures, and your contact information.

Nominations are due by Thanksgiving, November 23.

"Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things."

Update 1/15/2007: The winners have been announced
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