Friday, October 8, 2010



Cash flowing to native lands
Mass. residents sent $1.8b last year to loved ones back home
By Maria Sacchetti, Globe Staff | September 20, 2010
Delmy Aldana works two jobs — at a restaurant by day and the post office at night — to send hundreds of dollars a month to her native El Salvador. Half pays the mortgage on a house she built for her family, and the rest covers necessities for relatives, including a teenage son and 71-year-old mother she left behind.
“It’s really hard,’’ said Aldana, a 31-year-old Lynn resident. “The money I send my mother helps her to survive. What I send her pays her bills, the electricity, the water, the telephone. If I didn’t send money . . . I don’t know how she would manage.’’
Across the state, Aldana and other immigrants showed their enduring devotion to their loved ones last year by sending $1.8 billion home to more than 200 countries, according to the first full accounting of the cash that flows out of Massachusetts. The findings are based on a Globe review of annual reports that money-transfer companies such as MoneyGram and Western Union are required to file each year with the state.
The reports do not specify who sent the money, but industry analysts and government officials say that they believe the vast majority are immigrants, who favor money- transfer companies because they are quick and easy to use.
The top destinations for the money transfers last year — Brazil, the Dominican Republic, China, and Guatemala — closely mirror the major immigrant groups in Massachusetts. But the list also reflects the state’s remarkable diversity, with sizable amounts going to Ghana, Poland, and Taiwan.
In Massachusetts, where 14 percent of the population is foreign-born, and elsewhere, immigrants are under constant pressure to juggle responsibilities in two worlds. They work to cover daily expenses here while sending cash, known as remittances, to their native lands from tiny bodegas or big stores such as Walmart.
Back home, the money covers food, medicine, shelter, and small luxuries, such as washing machines, to ease daily life. Immigrants also send money for emergencies, such as the Jan. 12 earthquake in Haiti or the recent flooding in Pakistan, and for celebrations, such as India’s Diwali festivities or Mother’s Day in Mexico.
“These are not payments of convenience,’’ said Daniel O’Malley, executive vice president of the Americas at MoneyGram.. “They’re payments of love and support.’’
Money transfers slumped during the recent recession, but the amount immigrants send remains closely tied to the cost of living back home, said Manuel Orozco, an associate with the Inter-American Dialogue, a Washington-based research group.
Brazil, a South American nation that includes skyscraper-studded metropolises and struggling small towns, tends to have a higher cost of living, so immigrants send an average of $500 a month, he said. Remittances to Haiti, a poorer nation, average $120 a month.
Brazil saw remittances from Massachusetts plunge $100 million last year, probably because that country’s economy is stronger and cash-strapped immigrants here could send less. But they rose about $17 million to Guatemala, a nation racked by poverty and natural disasters that depends heavily on money from abroad.
In El Salvador, more than one in five families rely on money from abroad, according to the US State Department.
Aldana, a bubbly mother of four, came here in 1997 from the Central American nation and stayed after two devastating earthquakes in 2001 killed hundreds of Salvadorans. By working in Massachusetts, she was able to build her mother a house in El Salvador that is bright and clean and protected by an alarm system. In Lynn, her three children are safe and thriving in school.
She misses her mother and the 13-year-old son she left behind, but said her work in the United States offers all of them a better future.
“You have to have something,’’ she said. “I do it for my children and for my mother.’’
Many immigrants are also directing the money toward bigger dreams, such as launching small businesses back home, prompting advocates for immigrants to urge the state to court these investors. They say state officials should pay closer attention to the cash flows and suggest that immigrants set aside a portion to invest here, too.
“This is a huge amount of money,’’ said Eva Millona, executive director of the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition, a nonprofit that is hosting a major national conference later this month on integrating immigrants into the United States. “There is a loss here that needs to be addressed.’’
Frances Martinez, executive director of La Vida Inc., a nonprofit group in Lynn, said she counsels immigrants to face the reality that many of them will never return home. She advises them to reserve a portion of their remittances, $50 to $60 a month, for their children’s college educations.
“Every time I go to the Dominican Republic, I see these humongous mansions and all these investments with the money from the United States,’’ she said. “When I see them I say, ‘Wow, they are probably never going to live there.’ ’’
Nixon Andama of Watertown, a native of Uganda, said immigrants struggle with conflicting priorities. The 40-year-old real estate analyst is building his career here, but he also bought a farm in Uganda to appease his mother, though he doesn’t plan to return. In Uganda, he said, people are typically buried on their farms, and owning land is an important tradition.
“It’s a social thing,’’ said Andama, who still sends money to his relatives there. “When you become an adult in society in Uganda, everyone expects you to build your own home. If not, it will be the talk of the village, and you’re kind of looked down at because you didn’t build.’’
The state Division of Banks, which licenses money-transfer companies, requires them to file an annual financial report to ensure that they comply with state licensing laws, said David Cotney, chief operating officer of the division.
The agency does not review the data to gauge the industry’s impact on the economy, though Cotney said he hopes to collect the reports electronically by the end of 2011, which would make the data easier to analyze.
Some say the state should tax remittances or find another way to make money from them, since the cash is leaving the state.
“That is money that is not spent in the Massachusetts economy,’’ said Ira Mehlman, spokesman for the Washington-based Federation for American Immigration Reform, which favors stricter controls on immigration. “Obviously that is lost. It is certainly a factor that ought to be considered when formulating immigration policies.’’
But Orozco said his research in Latin America shows that immigrants send only 15 percent of their income. Money-sending does not vary widely by immigration status, either, he said, though naturalized citizens tend to send more than those in the country illegally, because they tend to have higher-paying jobs.
The state’s reports show that more established groups, such as Italians, Irish, and Portuguese, are still sending money, though less than newer arrivals. Massachusetts residents sent nearly $24 million to Portugal last year, $20 million to Ireland, and about $10 million to Italy.
Today’s immigrants can transfer money far more easily than their predecessors, who sent it in letters or with friends visiting home. Now, senders fill out a form at a money-transfer outlet, hand over the cash, and pay a fee. Remittances to Latin America, for example, cost about 5 percent of the total amount, according to the Inter-American Dialogue.
In Massachusetts, the leading money-transfer companies are Western Union, which sent 35 percent of the state’s total remittances in 2009, and MoneyGram, which sent 12 percent.
In Waltham, the money-transfer service at La Chapincita is as popular as the cans of beans on the neatly stocked shelves and recent editions of Prensa Libre, a major daily newspaper in Guatemala. Braulio Mazariegos, one of the store owners, said he opens even during snowstorms to keep the money-transfer service available to his customers.
“Many families depend on the money they send,’’ he said. “The immigrants never let them down.’’
Maria Sacchetti can be reached at Follow her on Twitter at @mariasacchetti.
"The amnesty alone will be the largest expansion of the welfare system in the last 25 years," says Robert Rector, a senior analyst at the Heritage Foundation, and a witness at a House Judiciary Committee field hearing in San Diego Aug. 2. "Welfare costs will begin to hit their peak around 2021, because there are delays in citizenship. The very narrow time horizon [the CBO is] using is misleading," he adds. "If even a small fraction of those who come into the country stay and get on Medicaid, you're looking at costs of $20 billion or $30 billion per year." (SOCIAL SERVICES TO ILLEGALS IN CALIFORNIA ALONE ARE NOT UP TO $20 BILLION PER YEAR. WELFARE FOR ILLEGALS IN NEVADA, NOW 25% ILLEGAL, IS SOARING!)

U.S. Taxpayers Spend $113 Billion Annually on Illegal Aliens
America has never been able to afford the costs of illegal immigration. With rising unemployment and skyrocketing deficits, federal and state lawmakers are now facing the results of failed policies. A new, groundbreaking report from FAIR, The Fiscal Burden of Illegal Immigration on U.S. Taxpayers, takes a comprehensive look at the estimated fiscal costs resulting from federal, state and local expenditures on illegal aliens and their U.S.-born children.
Expanding upon the series of state studies done in the past, FAIR has estimated the annual cost of illegal immigration to be $113 billion, with much of the cost — $84.2 billon — coming at the state and local level.


Subject: From the L.A. Times Newspaper

1. 40% of all workers in L. A. County (L. A. County has 10 million people) are working for cash and not paying taxes. This was because they are predominantly illegal immigrants, working without a green card.
2. 95% of warrants for murder in Los Angeles are for illegal aliens.
3. 75% of people on the most wanted list in Los Angeles are illegal aliens.
4. Over 2/3's of all births in Los Angeles County are to illegal alien Mexicans on Medi-Cal whose births were paid for by taxpayers.
5. Nearly 25% of all inmates in California detention centers are Mexican nationals here illegally.
6. Over 300,000 illegal aliens in Los Angeles County are living in garages.
7. The FBI reports half of all gang members in Los Angeles are most likely illegal aliens from south of the border.
8. Nearly 60% of all occupants of HUD properties are illegal.
9. 21 radio stations in L. A. are Spanish speaking.
10. In L. A. County 5.1 million people speak English. 3.9 million speak Spanish (10.2 million people in L. A. County).

(All 10 from the Los Angeles Times) Less than 2% of illegal aliens are picking our crops but 29% are on welfare. Over 70% of the United States annual population growth (and over 90% of California, Florida, and New York) results from immigration. Add to this TWO BILLION dollars of Los Angeles County is sent to Mexico untaxed.

The most insightful study remains one done by the National Research Council in 1997. It gauged federal, state and local fiscal costs and contributions over the lifetime of an immigrant in 1996 dollars. Citizen children were included.
The study found that an immigrant high school dropout -- which characterizes nearly half of today's unauthorized people -- received $89,000 more in services than he paid in taxes in his life. But an immigrant with at least some college -- a quarter of today's unauthorized -- gave $105,000 more than he got. For the high school graduates left, those who arrived during their teens or earlier were slightly profitable for the government, while the children of those who arrived later paid off the small deficit of their parents.


“We could cut unemployment in half simply by reclaiming the jobs taken by illegal workers,” said Representative Lamar Smith of Texas, co-chairman of the Reclaim American Jobs Caucus. “President Obama is on the wrong side of the American people on immigration. The president should support policies that help citizens and legal immigrants find the jobs they need and deserve rather than fail to enforce immigration laws.”
“Obama’s rejection of any serious jobs program is part of a conscious class war policy. Two years after the financial crisis and the multi-trillion dollar bailout of the banks, the administration is spearheading a campaign by corporations to sharply increase the exploitation of the working class, using the “new normal” of mass unemployment to force workers to accept lower wages, longer hours, and more brutal working conditions.” WSWS.ORG

OBAMA & LA RAZA DEMS Push For Amnesty


Dems embrace immigration fight
By: Scott Wong
September 29, 2010 04:31 AM EDT
Polls show that voters favor Republicans’ hard-line approach to immigration, and there’s virtually no chance that any immigration bill will pass before Congress adjourns for the fall campaign.

Yet two days before the Senate heads home, Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) is expected to introduce sweeping immigration legislation, a move seemingly designed to drive Hispanics and reform backers to the polls and remind them which party is still pushing for liberalized immigration laws.

Menendez’s comprehensive reform bill — which would provide a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants — will most likely die a quiet death at the end of this Congress, alongside another immigration measure known as the DREAM Act, which was blocked last week by Senate Republicans.

But Democratic strategists say there is still political wisdom in the party’s embracing, rather than running from, immigration measures during an election year.

“The conventional wisdom is that [immigration] is a bad issue for Democrats. That is wrong,” said one Democratic House aide familiar with the party’s strategy.

“The politicos in the Democratic Party said what we need to do is not talk about it and it will go away, but with 400,000 deportations of people who are not criminals, it is not going away.”

Menendez, chairman of the Senate Democratic Campaign Committee, insisted his latest efforts are more about good policy than politics.

But he said his immigration plan and last week’s DREAM Act vote offer voters a clear choice on Nov. 2.

“If you look at all of the polls, overwhelmingly, people want to see a resolution of the problem. They want to see our system reformed,” Menendez told POLITICO Tuesday. “So clearly, you see the difference between those who are willing to move forward and get a reform and [those who are] not, and for the Hispanic community, clearly they understand who stands on their side and [who does] not.”

Republicans think the legislation is just a game to gin up the base, potentially in heavily Hispanic parts of the country.

The fall push for immigration reform is “for effect rather than reality,” said Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.). And Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), who previously sponsored the DREAM Act but doesn’t support it now, called it nothing more than a “cynical ploy for votes.”

“Sooner or later, we’ve got to do it, but anything done in this time period is just for show,” Hatch told POLITICO. “Apparently, [Menendez] thinks there is some benefit, but it is cynical and it’s not right to do it at this point. And it’s very unlikely for it to have any success. In fact, it’s impossible.”

Even some pro-immigrant activists, like Marie Gonzalez of Kansas, an early advocate of the DREAM Act, say there’s little enthusiasm for comprehensive legislation, particularly just a week after the more narrow DREAM Act measure went down in defeat. The bill would provide a path to legalization for young, undocumented immigrants who attend college or join the military for two years.
“Anyone that is willing to help us, we’re always for that, but the reality is that this is very unlikely,” said Gonzalez, 24, whose parents brought her to the U.S. from Costa Rica when she was 5 but who is still awaiting citizenship. “Given the timing, given the lack of bipartisan support, I think it’s hard to get excited about it.”

Sources familiar with the Menendez bill said it will be introduced as early as Wednesday night and will resemble the Democratic framework Menendez, Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada and New York Sen. Chuck Schumer rolled out in April after talks with Republicans broke down.

“It has the same basic elements,” said one Senate Democratic aide.

The original blueprint included a path to citizenship for the 11 million illegal immigrants already in the U.S., an employer verification program using tamperproof biometric ID cards, a temporary worker program and measures to beef up border security with more personnel and technology.

The Menendez bill could include the DREAM Act, and the senator has said his legislation will have “plenty of Republican ideas in it.”

But Republicans say Menendez has yet to reach out to them.

“I’ve heard that argument before, and what that means is they don’t have any Republicans who support it,” said John Cornyn of Texas, chairman of the Senate Republican Campaign Committee.

Added Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), who at one time had been his party’s chief negotiator on immigration reform but now backs tough measures like the Arizona law: “Generally speaking, if you want something done, you consult with the other side of the aisle, but that is not Sen. Menendez’s style.”

While pre-election partisanship is a given, most Republicans will cringe at any overhaul plan that includes a pathway to citizenship. They simply dismiss such a plan as “amnesty” for lawbreakers.

Menendez believes “there must be an accommodation and a special program for those illegally here before we can consider anything else, and that’s a nonstarter,” said Rep. Brian Bilbray (R-Calif.), chairman of the conservative House Immigration Reform Caucus.

A Gallup Poll conducted in the last week of August revealed that voters trust Republicans over Democrats on the issue of immigration 50 percent to 35 percent.

Meanwhile, a Rasmussen Reports poll the same month showed that voters favor Republicans on immigration 44 percent to 35 percent. The gap has narrowed since June, when the GOP held a 15-point advantage.

The two parties were driven further apart this summer as Republicans rallied behind Arizona’s immigration law, known as S.B. 1070, which requires police to check the immigration status of people suspected of being in the country illegally. The Obama administration is challenging the law in the courts, an action unpopular with some vulnerable Democrats.

“We have met a wall of united Republican obstruction which is unprecedented when it comes to immigration debates in this country,” said Deepak Bhargava, executive director of the Washington-based Center for Community Change, which backs an immigration overhaul.

Previous immigration reform bills, he noted, had attracted at least some GOP support in the Senate — 12 Republicans backed an overhaul bill in 2007.

“A shift was made to press forward and stop waiting for Republicans to come to the table,” Bhargava added.


Police Chief: Border Violence Has Officially Crossed Over

Last Update: 10/04 6:24 pm

BROWNSVILLE – Brownsville Police Chief Carlos Garcia says the border violence has officially crossed over into the Valley. Two Tamaulipas men were assassinated inside a truck Friday.

The chief of police says the investigation has led them to believe this wasn’t a crime committed by someone in the US. “This was a hit ordered by the cartel,” he says.

Cameron County Judge Carlos Cascos isn’t surprised to see spillover violence in Brownsville. He says, “it was a matter of time before it trickled down to our community.”

Residents say they didn't think it would become a reality. One woman who wanted to conceal her identity says witnessing a crime, such as the shooting of the Tamaulipas men, could be very dangerous. "If an innocent family would have been passing by and seen that they would have been the next target," said one woman. She worries about future violence and is considering moving out of the Valley.

Cascos advises everyone to be cautious and more aware of their surroundings.