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Unformatted text preview: Immigration Issue Brief 2 The Community Input Project Silicon Valley Community Foundation is committed to the best ideas and most effective solutions-- at the local and the regional levels. With those goals in mind, the community foundation has initiated the Community Input Project, a series of strategic conversations around needs and issues that matter most. The issues were selected based on a review of local data, the many excellent assessments available about the health, social and environmental concerns in the region, and issues community members and leaders have raised. The community foundation anticipates this process will spur a greater interest in regional partnerships as well as strategic solutions for meaningful, lasting and transformative change. The community foundation's board of directors will take the results of the community input process into consideration when making decisions about future directions and strategies. This brief represents a summary of important trends and issues related to immigration. Similar briefs are available in the areas of arts and culture, environment, community economic development, housing, civic engagement, health, child and youth development and education. Introduction Immigration is an enduring hallmark of the United States, helping to drive economic growth and define national identity since the country's founding. Although the United States has benefited greatly from immigration, the nation has historically been ambivalent about newcomers and their role in society. This ambivalence has created formidable challenges for immigrants throughout the course of U.S. history, whether they hailed from Europe, Africa, Asia, Latin America or the Middle East. Nevertheless, the majority of immigrants across the generations--overcoming poverty, discrimination and other barriers--have successfully pursued the American Dream, bettered their lives and those of their children and enriched society in the process. To continue thriving as a nation, the United States must be intentional about weaving newcomers into the fabric of society and creating opportunities for them to work with native-born residents on shared goals and interests (1). interests of the nation. In 2006, Congress began to debate comprehensive immigration policy reform, which has led to increased attention of the issue by many immigrants and non-immigrants alike. Today, immigrant policy options are vigorously debated among presidential candidates and political parties (1). Policies erode immigrant integration efforts. Three acts of Congress in 1996--welfare reform, immigration reform and anti-terrorism legislation--limited immigrants' eligibility for federally funded health and social service programs. Further, policies enacted since September 11, 2001 (from the USA Patriot Act to the Real ID Act) have weakened civil rights protections for both citizens and non-citizens, particularly those who are of Arab, Muslim, Middle Eastern or South Asian descent (1). Regional Indicators SiliconValleyhasculturaltiesaroundthe world. With 36 percent of its population born in another country, the San Jos area tops every other U.S. metro area, besides Miami, in its percentage of foreign-born residents (2) Netforeignin-migrationhaslongbeena substantial source of new population and in 2007 increased by 11 percent (2). See Figure 1 Theregion'sresidentsaremorethantwiceas likely as U.S. residents to speak a language other than English (2). See Figure 2a Amongthosewhospeakalanguageother than English at home, the largest proportion speak an Asian or Pacific Islander language (49 percent), just ahead of the share of Spanish speakers (40 percent) (2). See Figure 2b ImmigrantswithnoEnglishskillsearnedan average hourly wage of just $7.41 compared to $31.44 for those with excellent English skills (3). Major Trends Global migration is a growing phenomena. As a result of global economic and political factors, the foreign-born population in the United States tripled in the past four decades and currently totals 37 million or nearly 12 percent of the overall population. One in seven U.S. workers is an immigrant and one in five schoolage children (most of whom are citizens) have an immigrant parent (1, 8). Immigrants are a significant, increasing proportion of the workforce. As native birth rates continue to decline and as the Baby Boom generation begins to retire, immigrants and their children--as workers, taxpayers, consumers and entrepreneurs--become even more critical to U.S. economic vitality and global competitiveness. Currently, immigrants play an important role in many sectors of the U.S. economy, but they are most concentrated in jobs at the high end and low end of the labor market (1, 8). Immigrant issues are highly politicized. Current immigration policies, which have been patched together over the past two decades, are increasingly inadequate for advancing the best DEFINITION: IMMIGRANT INTEGRATION Grantmakers Concerned with Immigrants and Refugees defines immigrant integration as a dynamic, two-way process in which newcomers and the receiving society work together to build secure, vibrant and cohesive communities. There are six pathways in the framework: Communitywideplanning Well-beingandeconomicmobility Equallanguageandeducation Healthtreatmentandopportunity Socialandculturalinteraction Civicparticipationandcitizenship 1 In2000,theregionwashometo177,233 undocumentednewcomers,approximately 17percentofwhomwerelessthan17years ofage(4). IncomparisontoU.S.-bornresidents, immigrantshavefargreaterneedsinthe areasofhealthcare,housing,employment, childcareandtransportation(3). See Figure 3 40,000 30,000 20,000 10,000 0 -10,000 -20,000 -30,000 -40,000 Source: Joint Venture: Silicon Valley Network * Provisional population estimates for 2007 Source: Joint Venture: Silicon Valley Network Source: Santa Clara County Office of Human Relations, Citizenship and Immigration Services Program 2 Issues for Discussion ImmigrantsintheSiliconValleyarediversein termsofnationalorigin,legalstatus,economic status,culture,educationandlanguage.It wouldbeanoversimplificationtogeneralize aboutissuesfacingimmigrantsasawhole.The primaryissuesforAfricanandEasternEuropean refugeesandasyleesclearlydifferfromthose forundocumentedimmigrantsfromMxicoand LatinAmerica.Undocumentedimmigrants--who donotbenefitfromtheprotectionsandrights offeredbyformalstatusandarethereforemore vulnerabletodiscrimination,exclusionand isolation--warrantspecialattention. Labor Silicon Valley's highly skilled immigrant workers.Theregion'shightecheconomyrelies increasinglyonimmigranttalent.In2000,49 percentoftheregion'sworkersinscienceand engineeringjobswerebornabroad,andby2005, itexpandedto55percent.Immigrantsfounded approximately25percentofSiliconValley's high-techfirms(2). Researchindicatesthatmanyskilledimmigrants cannotusetheirprevioustraining,educationor workexperiencetosecureemploymentintheir fieldintheUnitedStates.Theseworkersmaybe unfamiliarwithAmericanjobsearchtechniques andneedassistanceinupdatingskillsorgaining U.S.licensureorcredentialsintheiroccupations. Inaddition,employersandregulatorybodies oftenlackexpertiseincomparingeducationand skillcertificationsobtainedoutsidetheUnited States,leavingmanyskilledimmigrantsworkingin jobsthatrequirelowerskillsthantheypossess(5). Silicon Valley's low-skilled immigrant workers. WhileoneineightU.S.residentsis animmigrant,oneinfivelow-wageworkersis animmigrant.InSiliconValley,manyimmigrant workersnotinthehigh-techindustrycontribute substantiallytotheeconomythroughlow-wage productionwork.Itisestimatedthatimmigrant womenfromdevelopingcountriesrepresent 68-90percentoftheoperativelaborforceinthis region.Immigrantwomenearnsubstantiallyless thanimmigrantmen.Undocumentedworkers, confirmimmigrantrightsandprohibitarrest duetotheirlackofworkauthorization,havelimited solelyonthebasisofillegalresidency(3,7). optionsformovingoutoflow-wagejobs(3). Discrimination.Aspublicdebateincreasingly framesimmigrationasalegalandeconomic Language threat,informaldiscriminationisreinforcedboth Shortage of English-Language Acquisition insideandoutsideoftheworkplace.InSilicon Programs.ImmigrantsneedEnglishlanguage Valley,immigrantsweremorelikelytobethe skillstofunctioneffectivelyinthreecoreroles: victimsofpolicediscriminationandtoreport asleadersandcaretakersoftheirfamilies,as experiencingdiscriminationintheworkplacefrom membersoftheircommunitiesandasworkers. theirboss(35percent),theirco-worker(25percent), Englishproficiencyislinkedtohigherwagesand orfromajobinterviewer(20percent)(3). economicopportunities.EnglishasaSecond FollowingtheeventsofSept.11,Arab,Middle Language(ESL)programswiththreetosixhours Eastern,MuslimandSouthAsiancommunities ofinstructionperweekcanhelpimmigrants havebeenthetargetsofhatecrimesandmedia acquirebasiclanguageskillsfortheirfamilyand stereotyping.Furthermore,theirfamilieshave communityroles. beentornapartbygovernment-sanctioned OtherESLprogramsaddressfamily,healthand financialliteracyaswellasthecivicrequirements necessaryforpassingtheU.S.naturalization exam.VocationalESLprogramsaregearedto theEnglishskillsrequiredforemployment, includingforparticularjobsoroccupations. DespitethelargegrowthintheU.S.immigrant populationandthebenefitsofpromotingEnglish proficiency,federalandstatefundingforESL programshasnotkeptpace.Fundingshortfalls canmeanlongwaitingperiodsforenrollment, overcrowdedclassroomsandlackofupdated materialsandequipment(5). Human Rights Law enforcement and deportation. Oneof themostimportantandunsettlingnewtrends inimmigrationpolicyisthefederaldeputization ofstateandlocalofficialstocombatillegal immigration.Thishasmeantthatlocalmayors, countyexecutives,citycouncils,policechiefs, sheriffs,statetroopers,stateattorneygeneral, hospitaladministrators,housinginspectors, emergencyroomworkersandESLprogram providers,tonamejustafew,havebeenpressed intotheroleofimmigrationlawenforcement. Inreactiontofederallawrequiringlocal governmentstocooperatewiththeDepartmentof HomelandSecurity'sImmigrationandCustoms Enforcement,citiessuchasSanJoshave adopted"sanctuarypolicies."Suchresolutions actions,suchasracialprofiling,massdetentions anddeportations(6). Civic Participation and Citizenship Opportunities for participation.Civic participationforanimmigrantorrefugeeoften beginswithneighborhoodeffortstoreduce crime,improveschools,increaseaccessto healthcareordevelopaffordablehousing. Artisticandculturalexchangemayalsobe astartingpoint.Participationcaneventually expandtopolicyadvocacyandelectoral work--testifyingbeforetheirrepresentatives andhelpingtoregisterandmotivatevoters--but isnotlimitedtothesehighlyvisibleformsof politicalinvolvement.Fornaturalizedimmigrants, votingandrunningforelectedofficecanbecome furtherexpressionsofcivicintegration(1). AcrosstheSiliconValleyregion,immigrants contributesubstantiallytothepoliticalprocess. InSantaClaracounty75percentofimmigrants whoareregisteredtovotereportthattheyvote allofthetime.Additionally,numerousofficials whosecountryoforiginisnottheUnitedStates, haverunforandbeenelectedtopublicoffice inmanycitiesinSantaClaraandSanMateo counties.Notably,immigrantsalsoparticipatein appointedpositionsincludingboards,council, andcommissions(7). 3 Barriers to naturalization. U.S. citizenship, which is attained through the naturalization process, allows immigrants to participate fully in civic life, and is a powerful and symbolic gesture of commitment to the United States. In addition to voting rights, citizenship brings many practical advantages: the ability to travel freely on a U.S. passport; U.S. government protection and assistance when abroad; substantially increased ability to sponsor relatives living abroad; protection against deportation; and access to the federal safety net of income support and other benefits (5). The importance of citizenship has risen in the past decade because new laws passed in 1996 reduced legal immigrants' access to safety net services and their protection from deportation. While citizenship rates are rising, many eligible immigrants have not applied. Those who do not apply tend to be low-income (41 percent), to be less proficient with English (60 percent), and to have low levels of education (25 percent). Designing a new citizenship test for would-be citizens and setting fees that they can afford are two possibilities for increasing citizenship rates for this population (5). DEFINITION: NATURALIZATION The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service, or USCIS, defines naturalization as the process by which U.S. citizenship is conferred upon a foreign citizen or national after he or she fulfills the requirements established by Congress in the Immigration and Nationality Act. The general requirements for administrative naturalization include: Aperiodofcontinuousresidenceand physical presence in the United States ResidenceinaparticularUSCISDistrict prior to filing Anabilitytoread,write,andspeakEnglish AknowledgeandunderstandingofU.S. history and government Goodmoralcharacter Attachmenttotheprinciplesofthe U.S. Constitution Favorabledispositiontowardthe United States Special Immigrant Populations Undocumented immigrants. Living as an undocumented immigrant creates a number of difficulties for foreign-born residents. Undocumented immigrants are ineligible for driver's licenses and car insurance. They are ineligible for student loans, grants or scholarships or public safety net services. They cannot access health care services for their children, nor can they obtain proper identification to cash checks, buy a house or rent adequate housing. Without a permanent resident card or full citizenship status in the United States, many immigrants are forced to work in underground markets with few workplace safeguards and no guarantee of minimum wage compensation. DEFINITION: PERMANENT RESIDENT CARD The permanent resident card or "green card" is a life-long visa allowing a foreigner to live and work in the United States. The card itself is a government-issued plastic I.D. card that serves as proof of permanent resident status in the United States. The card is not actually green, in size and format it generally resembles a driver's license. Sources 1. Investing in Our Communities: Strategies for Immigrant Integration. Grantmakers Concerned with Immigrants and Refugees. Website accessed January 2008. http://www.gcir.org/immigration 2. 2008 Index of Silicon Valley (Draft). Joint Venture: Silicon Valley Network and Silicon Valley Community Foundation. 3. Bridging Borders in Silicon Valley. Santa Clara County Office of Human Relations, Citizenship and Immigrant Services Program. Website accessed January 2008. http://www.immigrantinfo.org/borders 4. Kidsdata.org. Lucile Packard Foundation for Children's Health. Website accessed January 2008. http//www.kidsdata.org 5. Migration Information Source. Migration Policy Institute. Website accessed January 2008. http://www.migrationinformation.org 6. An Introduction for Grantmakers: Arab, Middle Eastern, Muslim and South Asian Communities in the San Francisco Bay Area. Grantmakers Concerned with Immigrants and Refugees and Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders in Philanthropy, 2004. 7. Santa Clara County Trends and Needs Assessment Report. United Way Silicon Valley, 2005. 8. New Americans. Grantmakers Concerned with Immigrants and Refugees, 2006. 9. Immigrants and Intergroup Relations in the 21st Century: New Challenges, New Opportunities. Grantmakers Concerned with Immigrants and Refugees, 2002. 10. Young Children of Immigrants in the San Jos Knight Community. Prepared by David Dixon, Julia Gelatt and Afshin Zilanawala, Migration Policy Institute for the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, 2004. Children and youth. The demographic impact of immigration is especially visible in the children and youth population. Children of immigrants make up nearly one out of five K-12 students in the United States. Among young children with foreign-born parents in the Silicon Valley, about 32 percent have a parent born in Mexico, while 52 percent have a parent born in Asia. Nearly a quarter of the region's children speak a language other than English and are more likely to live in low-income and less-educated households. Studies show that without intervention, children of immigrants are significantly less likely than other low-income children to be exposed to reading and writing activities during the first five years of life (1, 10). 2 4 About Silicon Valley Community Foundation Silicon Valley Community Foundation is a leading voice and catalyst for innovative solutions to the region's most challenging problems. Our mission, vision and values reflect our commitment to serving the vibrant communities in San Mateo and Santa Clara counties. We bring together diverse groups of people--nonprofits, donors, government leaders, business people, faith-based organizations--all of whom care deeply about improving the quality of life in our region. Our goal is impact and we employ a variety of strategies to achieve it, including grantmaking, community initiatives, donor engagement, convening and research. 2440 West El Camino Real, Suite 300 Mountain View, California 94040 650.450.5400 phone 650.450.5401 fax www.siliconvalleycf.org 1 ...
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