Latino USA

Archive for the ‘Economy’ Category

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.”


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

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.


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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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