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Archive for the ‘Economy’ Category

The Haitian Immigrant Dilemma in the Dominican Republic

The countries of Haiti and the Dominican Republic share 30,000 square miles that make up the Island of Hispanola. And although their histories have been intertwined since colonial times, there are also considerable differences – cultural, racial, linguistic, and economic. The Dominican Republic has had a stable democratic government and has the second largest economy in the Caribbean, while Haiti is still lacking a comprehensive governmental structure and is one of the poorest countries in the world. Their histories also share deep conflicts marked with blood. In the 1800s, Haiti occupied the Dominican Republic for decades. Then in 1937 nearly 30,000 Haitians were massacred on the border during the military dictatorship of Rafael Trujillo.

But when a devastating earthquake shook Haiti on January 12, 2010, the Dominican Republic was one of the first countries to provide aid for their neighbor. Since then, thousands of Haitians have migrated to the Dominican Republic and many of them have been living there without documentation. Now, over a year later, the conflicts and cultural clashes have resurfaced. Since this January, nearly 6,000 Haitians have been deported to their native Haiti, which is still reeling — with a cholera epidemic, homelessness and electoral chaos. Human rights organizations now report race motivated attacks against Haitians living in the Dominican Republic. Maria Hinojosa traveled to the Island to report on what is happening there.

Produced by Xochitl Dorsey, Mixed and Engineered by Mincho Jacob, Edited by Maria Martin. Executive Producer Martha Spanninger.

Right-click here to download an .mp3 of this segment.

Listen to Vanessa’s story, a five-month pregnant Haitian woman who lives undocumented in the Dominican Republic.
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Domestica en America

They work in our homes, our gardens, restaurants, and they are our neighbors — but what we don’t realize is they live everyday in fear of being deported. More than 11 million undocumented immigrants live in the United States and often they are voiceless, invisible, and afraid to stand up to injustice. But despite their immigration status, they are people just like every other American with their own unique stories.

Independent Producer and Latino USA contributor Maria Martin brings us the story of one invisible migrant that will touch your heart.

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Small Immigrant Businesses Have A Big Impact

You might be tempted to discount the economic impact of immigrant-owned Mom & Pop businesses, but—as we hear in this report from Karina Salazar—the chain of employment they create makes them a significant source of job creation, even in a large market like New York City.

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This report comes to us from the “Beyond the Border” project at the University of Arizona, in association with NAHJ: The National Association of Hispanic Journalists. Monica Ortiz Uribe served as Karina Salazar’s mentor.

A Story About Gratitude & Family

Writer Julia Alvarez lives in Vermont, a state with a rich history of rural life. Spend any time on a family-owned farm, though, and you begin to realize just how difficult the work is, and how thin the margin is between success and failure.

A family-owned dairy farm is the setting for the novel Return To Sender. It tells the story of Tyler, an eleven year old boy with a passion for astronomy and his growing friendship with the children of Mexican farmworkers who labor on his family’s farm.

It’s a story about family, and the land, and borders, and gratitude — and we thought it was an excellent story to bring you on this holiday weekend.

Among several other awards, Return To Sender is the recipient of the 2010 Pura Belpré Award, presented by the Association for Library Service to Children, a division of the American Library Association. It is named after Pura Belpré, the first Latina librarian at the New York Public Library and it is presented each year to a Latino/Latina writer and illustrator who best portray, affirm, and celebrate Latino cultural experiences in outstanding works of literature for children and youth.

The Mayans of San Francisco: Navigating Three Worlds

In Mexico, the Yucatan Peninsula is home to a large Mayan population. And here in the United States, the San Francisco Bay Area has one of the largest Mayan populations in the nation. Monica Ortiz Uribe found out how Mayans hold onto their heritage while making a home for themselves in the San Francisco Bay area.

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Beyond the Images

Haiti’s troubled history means the country has often been blamed for its own fate. But Haitians themselves, with a strong sense of historical memory, often talk about the revolution that freed their ancestors from slavery as though it happened last year. They are a proud nation with a rich culture and strong sense of community.

As international media descend on the desperation in Haiti in the aftermath of devastating earthquakes, writer Edwidge Danticat fears that Haiti’s complicated history may be forgotten. Haiti was a poor country for a reason. But this poverty kept Haitians united in ways many do not comprehend. Danticat says media images may focus on a few looters and desperate people doing desperate things. But the real story, Haitians helping Haitains, is largely being overlooked. And that, she says, is the real soul of Haiti.

Listen to Edwidge Danticat’s extended conversation with Maria Hinojosa.

Right-click here to download an .mp3 of this segment.


Haiti Earthquake – Beyond the Images.

A Tale of Two Dairy Farms

The price of milk these days is not a matter of pride for this country’s dairy farmers. Not that this is good news for consumers either, as most of the price associated with milk comes from transportation and labor costs. The situation is so dire that Sen. Arlen Specter, D-Pennsylvania, this week introduced the Federal Milk Marketing Improvement Act of 2009 (S. 1645) to allow the Secretary of Agriculture to determine the price of milk used for manufactured purposes.

To help control labor costs, dairy farmers over the past two decades had come to rely on immigrant labor. Many immigrants had first hand knowledge of working with animals and were not afraid to work the long, grueling hours needed on a dairy farm. And many dairy farmers are calling for an expanded guest worker program.

But the immigration controversy complicates matters for farmers. From the Feet in Two Worlds Project, reporter Valeria Fernandez and producer Rene Gutel bring us the story of two dairy farms in Arizona, where immigration is an extremely hot topic.

Right-click here to download an .mp3 of this segment.

Watch a slide show as you listen. (Photos courtesy of Valeria Fernandez and Terry Green Sterling.)

A Tale of Two Dairy Farms from NPR's Latino USA on Vimeo.

Ethical Issues Around Healthcare

When South Carolina Rep. Joe Wilson interrupted President Barack Obama’s speech with his now famous “you lie” outburst, the actual statement by the President that prompted that incident was how federal healthcare legislation would not mandate coverage for undocumented immigrants. In fact, the bills touted by Congress in the days that followed excluded undocumented immigrants, even if they wanted to buy into the system voluntarily with their own money.

Dr. James J. Walter

For his part, Congressman Wilson later apologized to the President, who accepted. But speculation on whether racism was a factor filled the national media this week. And few in the media even examined the wisdom of a policy that would literally leave millions of people who live in this country out of the healthcare system.

Latino USA’s Maria Hinojosa speaks with Dr. James J. Walter, Professor of Bioethics at Loyala Marymount University, about the ethical issues surrounding the issue.

Right-click here to download an .mp3 of this segment.

Toughing It Out

Opportunity is what brought many immigrants to seek work in the U.S. So what happens when opportunities are bleaker thanks to a recession? Some studies indicated that a few immigrants have returned home, and many others have chosen not to migrate at this time. But the majority of immigrants here have decided to “tough it out.”

For immigrant workers, tough economic times are nothing new. Many grew up with little opportunities and poor paying jobs, if they could even find them. So surviving a U.S. recession is often a matter of adjustment. As contributor Eliza Barclay reports, some immigrants try to pick up “odd jobs” while others create their own small businesses.

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Girl From Empanada

One of the many ways that workers are trying to get ahead in these tough economic times is to create their own small businesses. While there are many challenges to creating new ventures, this alternative is often best suited to the strong work ethic that many Latinos bring when they come to this country and inspire in their children.

In San Francisco, reporter Robynn Takayama found a daughter of Chilean immigrants who once owned her own business but left that behind to get her college degree. Instead of entering the shaky job market after graduation, she decided to reopen her old business. Her name is Paula Tejeda. But she’s better known as the “Girl from Empanada.”

Right-click here to download an .mp3 of this segment.

To listen to and watch a related slideshow produced by Robynn Takayama, click on the photo below.

Si Se Puede: Chicago Workers’ Sit-In

A labor dispute in Chicago at the end of 2008 caught the nation’s attention. What made it so newsworthy was a confluence of unique factors stemming from the economic issues facing the country.

Leah Fried, UE organizer

The controversial bank bailout of 2008 was supposed to ease the nation’s credit crisis. But one bank that received billions in bailout funds had cut off credit to a Chicago-based manufacturer, forcing the plants closing.

When the company said the bank refused to extend credit to pay for benefits and salary for 60 days as required under federal law, the local union, led mainly by immigrants and supported by a multicultural coalition of workers, decided to occupy the plant until “justice” was given them.

Armando Robles, president of UE local 1110 in Chicago.

Dan Collison and Elizabeth Meister of Long Haul Productions spoke at length to the worker leaders and brings us their story titled, “Si Se Puede: Chicago Workers’ Sit-in.”

Immigrant Lending Circles

The concept of a lending circle is not unusual among immigrant communities in this country. In the past, groups of immigrants have pooled resources for many projects, often with the goal of providing important, costly improvements in their home communities. Other times, immigrants have pooled resources to start their own businesses, or create jobs in their home countries through micro-lending.

In San Francisco, contributor Emily Wilson brings this story of a local bank that’s helping immigrants with credit using the lending circle concept.

Right-click here to download an .mp3 of this segment.

Reverse Foreign Investment

While the economy has waned in the U.S., the problem of drug violence in Mexico has only gotten worse. On the streets of some Mexican cities, gangs fight each other as well as police and the military for control of the lucrative drug routes. And it’s getting so that it’s hard to tell the good guys from the bad, as the spillover affects the population. Those who can, get out. Sometimes they travel to safer locations in Mexico. Sometime, they simply come here.

It’s been reported that one out of every 10 people born in Mexico today now lives in the United States. When most people see this statistic, they often think illegal Mexican immigration of poor workers. But legal Mexican immigration, particularly from that of business elites, is helping a thriving housing market in places like San Antonio, Texas. Ruxandra Guidi has the story.

Right-click here to download an .mp3 of this segment.


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