The streets of downtown Los Angeles were far from quiet and more populated than the usual Saturday last weekend, as thousands took to the streets to call for action on comprehensive immigration reform as promised by President Barack Obama.
Waving U.S. flags along with those of Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala and others, protesters set out from the corner of Olympic Boulevard and Broadway for a mile-and-half march, which was one of many demonstrations to take place across the country. The largest demonstration drew over 200,000 to the nation’s capital a week earlier.
Marchers ignored the intense heat, choosing instead to focus on the possible outcome, if their calls are answered.
“We want immigration reform for all the undocumented,” said a woman from Oaxaca, Mexico, who did not want to disclose her name but said she is a Los Angeles resident. She was there with her small children who she said were born in the U.S. She has heard about many cases where mothers have been deported and separated from their children and families. She said those stories have her living in fear that the same could happen to her. She hopes the march will help lead to legalization for undocumented residents like her, so she no longer has to live in fear.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there is an estimated 8.7 billion undocumented people living in the U.S. and about one million additional people who are undocumented transients, who come and go. Of those, about 60 percent enter the country illegally and the other 40 percent enter legally, but stay beyond the expiration date on their temporary visa.
“We pay taxes here, we work just like everyone else who has papers, I think even more,” said another protester, Susana, as she sat underneath a tree on Temple Street, at the conclusion of the march that was followed by a rally and speeches by immigration reform activists.
Speaker after speaker noted the importance of everyone being there that day and the need to remain united in their effort to bring about long awaited changes to the immigrations system and legalization of at the country’s undocumented population as Obama promised to do during his first year in office; a promise that remains unfulfilled two months into his second year in office. Angelica Salas, executive director of the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of L.A. (CHIRLA) told the crowd that they want to see a bipartisan reform presented by today, April 1,
“We will participate in the protest on April 10 in Las Vegas, with Congressmen Reid and Gutierrez; and on May 1 we will present a list of those in Congress who have supported immigration reform and those who haven’t,” Salas said.
About 20,000 people took part on Saturday’s event, according to Jorge-Mario Cabrera, director of communications and public relations for CHIRLA. Participants included the young and the old carrying an array of signs and banners. Small children carried flags, dogs wore red, white and blue ribbons and all were united by one purpose for that day: action on immigration reform.
Obama has told immigrant rights activists that he supports moving ahead with immigration reform legislation, but has yet to offer a plan from the White House. There are indications that he supports the Senate’s Immigration Overhaul Outline. This plan would provide undocumented immigrants a path to legal status if they admit they broke the law when they first entered the U.S., pay fines, back taxes and perform community service. Activists are growing tired of the lack of movement from the president’s administration on the issue. The Overhaul Outline would also require undocumented residents to pass numerous background checks and be proficient in English before they can gain legal residency, the first step to becoming a citizen.
There are plans for another demonstration and other activities revolving around immigration reform on May 1 in Los Angeles.
The soon to be rebuilt Garfield High School Auditorium will be renamed in honor of the school’s most famous teacher, Jaime Escalante, the LAUSD School Board announced on Wednesday.
The former Garfield High School teacher immortalized in the 1988 film “Stand and Deliver” died Tuesday of cancer. He was 79.
“Jaime Escalante was more than a great teacher. He was a great visionary who saw in his students their potential for greatness, and used his gift as an educator to help them realize they could soar academically,” said Board of Education Vice President Yolie Flores in a statement released by the school district.
Escalante passed away from coronary and respiratory failure, precipitated by cancer. He died surrounded by his family in the Roseville, Calif., home of his son Jaime Jr., actor Edward James Olmos, said in a statement released by the Latino Print Network. Olmos portrayed Escalante in “Stand and Deliver.”
Garfield students and staff planned to meet early this morning before school for a public tribute to Escalante. The high school’s ROTC, student leaders, band, drill and alumni planned to stand in front of the school and commemorate his legacy, the school’s principal Jose Huerta told EGP.
Escalante taught at the eastside area school for 17 years and is credited with building the Advanced Placement calculus program at the school.
Word of his passing spread quickly Tuesday, prompting condolences for his family and accolades from officials in the state and nationwide.
President Barack Obama said the news of Escalante’s passing brought him great sadness.
“While most of us got to know him through the movie that depicted his work teaching inner-city students calculus, the students whose lives he changed remain the true testament of his life’s work. Through his career Jaime opened the doors of success and higher education for his students one by one, and proved that where a person came from did not have to determine how far they could go. He instilled knowledge in his students, but more importantly he helped them find the passion and the will to fulfill their potential,” Obama said through a White House press released on Wednesday.
Sen. Gloria Romero (D-East Los Angeles) whose district includes Garfield High School, said Escalante “had an incredible vision for what our community could achieve.
“So much of his message can be summed up in one word—ganas,” said Romero, a candidate for state superintendent of public instruction in the June election. “He taught his students, and all of us, so much more than math. He taught us to believe in ourselves, believe in our communities and that it is possible to realize our dreams.”
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said Escalante “shared in my belief that anything is possible in California.”
Los Angeles Unified School District Superintendent Ramon Cortines said the entire district family mourns the loss of Escalante, “one of the finest educators this district has had the privilege to work with.
“Jaime Escalante always insisted in being judged by his results,” Cortines said. “The outstanding achievements of his students are his legacy,” Cortines said in a statement.
Escalante taught his first calculus class of five students at Garfield in 1981, two passed the Advanced Placement test. More students took his class in the years to follow, and when a large number of his students excelled on the AP Calculus test, they were accused of cheating by the Educational Testing Service, which administered the test. Escalante was outraged by the allegations, which he attributed to the racial and economic status of the students, which he believed caused the ETS to doubt their intelligence. To prove their ability, the students took the test again and they all passed. Escalante demanded that their original scored be reinstated.
When news of Escalante’s illness broke last month, calls for donations were made, and received, to help with his medical care.
Escalante left Garfield in 1991 to teach in Sacramento and eventually in his native Bolivia.
According to the Garfield website, a college scholarship fund will be created on his behalf for Garfield students. Donations may be sent to the school and labeled Garfield High School Scholarship Fund-Jaime Escalante.
Escalante is survived by his wife and two sons who are elementary-school teachers, and six grandchildren. Services are pending.
American manufacturing companies, including two in Vernon that saw 50 percent of their business disappear when the U.S. economy took a dive in 2008, want the government to crack down on illegal steel tube and pipe imports from China.
“There’s nothing cheaper than smuggled goods,” says Chris Knox, Vice President of Sales and Marketing at Vernon steel tube company Vest Inc, which along with another company, Hannibal Industries, Inc., employs 250 workers in Vernon.
The tubes and pipes produced by these companies are used in such products as motorcycles, motor homes, exercise equipment, and fencing.
“Pipe and tube have been high on the list of products to ship into the U.S. marketplace, demand has been strong for it,” says Tamara Browne, director of the Washington D.C.-based Committee on Pipe and Tube Imports, CPTI, which is comprised of 40 companies employing 25,000 workers around the country.
Shipments of steel tubes and pipes from China are supposed to be assessed import duties of as much as 264 percent of the market value, but U.S. companies say Chinese shippers are illegally circumventing such duties.
The tariffs are meant to even the playing field, especially at a time when domestic companies are trying to “claw their way back in depressed market conditions,” Browne says.
The two manufacturers worked with CPTI to file trade cases against China, say they suffered blows during the economic downturn. Hannibal Industries, an employee-owned company, reduced its workforce from 330 to 179 workers in 2008, according to its president, Blanton Bartlett, while Knox says Vest Inc. has had to cut back on the hours of its workforce of over 100 people.
Knox says that if Chinese steel tubes and pipe products continue to be “unfairly” shipped into the U.S., “we would all lose our jobs.”
“For the most part it’s very destabilizing to the price levels that we’re trying to sell our product for… This Chinese stuff is coming in substantially cheaper than we’re able to compete at,” Knox says.
Tariffs on Chinese products have also garnered the support of representatives for unionized workers, whose goal is to retain higher paying jobs by fighting what they call “unfair trade practices” from governments countries like China.
“Often these [manufacturing] jobs are better than retail jobs,” says United Steel Worker spokesperson Gary Hubbard.
In the last few months, steel industry investigators discovered that Chinese products were being smuggled into the states by way of Malaysia, where no U.S. tariff is imposed, or shipped inside mislabeled containers. Such cases were brought to the attention of customs and elected officials.
“We’ve become much more vocal and started to pave the way to work with custom service to ensure they’re doing their job to correct it,” Browne says.
Local U.S. representatives, including Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard, have pressed the issue of enforcement with the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, and promised to follow up on the steps the agency takes to prevent further smuggling.
“This kind of illicit shipping puts American business at a competitive disadvantage and ultimately costs American manufacturing jobs,” Roybal-Allard said during a Mar. 24 hearing of the Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee.
While contractors and fabricators who buy products from China are motivated to get the cheapest products that they can get, representatives for U.S. steel tube companies say China has stacked the odds against domestic manufacturers.
Before the tariff was imposed in 2008, American companies were competing against products that were priced 30 to 40 percent lower than their own products because the Chinese government subsidizes the production of steel tubes and pipes, Knox said.
Companies like Vest, Inc. and Hannibal Industries “can compete with anybody in the world, but if it’s unfairly imported, they have a problem with that,” Browne says.
Inspection should be stepped up at the ports, Bartlett says. “They should look at more products brought in to see if it is what it should be… they need to do more inspection of products,” he says.
“Commercial enforcement should be just as important as matters of security” at the ports, Browne says.
Local companies have always had to compete with the international market because of their close proximity to nearby ports, including the Port of Long Beach, which funnels three quarters of the shipments into the U.S., Browne says. In Southern California, CPTI also represents steel tube and pipe companies in Long Beach, City of Industry, Santa Fe, and Rancho Cucamonga.
The U.S. companies have been filing trade cases going back 25 years, but the recent entrance of China into the market has made a dramatic mark, Browne says.
“China is a newer entrant, but they have ramped up so quickly and with such volume they are now a leader in global steel products,” she says.
The East Los Angeles Census office reported a 38.09% participation rate for their area, as of March 30, 2010. The office sent out 200,000 census forms and have so far received back 60,864. Their coverage area is made up of census tracts that include portions of various cities and neighborhoods. Those areas, with rates that apply to each city are as follows: Vernon (43%), Maywood (39%), Cudahy (41%), Bell (43%), Huntington Park (41%), City of Commerce (48%), East Los Angeles, City Terrace, Bell Gardens (42%), Walnut Park, Montebello (48%), Monterey Park (55%), Boyle Heights, South Central, Florence. Area neighborhoods that are not cities by themselves do not have a single participation rate.
With today designated as National Census Day, U.S. Census officials have staged a series of innovative events to serve as reminders to the public to return their Census forms, including a press conference at White Memorial Medical Center in Boyle Heights children born today will receive “I Was Born on Census Day” t-shirts. The “Census Babies,” those born between midnight and 11:59 p.m. on April 1, 2010, will be the last to be counted for the 2010 Census.
The daylong celebration at White Memorial will also serve as an example of how Census participation helps not only government funded hospitals, but community hospitals such as White Memorial as well. The federal government has designated White Memorial hospital as a Health Professional Shortage Area (HPSA) provider site. This federal designation allows White Memorial to offer financial incentives to family care doctors who desire to open their practice at the private non-profit hospital.
Many of the doctors who utilize these incentives to open their practices in underserved communities follow a common desire. For Dr. Hector Flores, his career as a doctor should have left little to be desired. As a partner at a Kaiser Permanente Hospital, he enjoyed the lifetime job security that came with the position. But Flores desired more. As a medical doctor at a for-profit hospital, Flores played a role very few would want to take on; having to deny care to patients because of a lack of medical insurance.
“If patients lost their job or their insurance, that was usually the same time they needed you the most,” Flores recalled. “If you don’t have a card, you don’t get in.”
Flores left his lifetime security in 1988 for a chance to create something that offered him more fulfillments when he joined the White Memorial Medical Center. Within two years, Flores and another doctor established a family care department at the Boyle Heights-based community hospital.
He said the move was in part to work with other doctors who shared his desire to provide care in a disadvantaged community. 20 years later, the department, with 22 doctors, is now the largest Latino medical group in California. The group has received national recognition for its efforts to not only recruit more Latinos into the health care industry, but to persuade those young professionals to remain in the community as family care practitioners. Flores also serves as the co-director of the hospital’s Family Medicine Residency Program.
Flores said there are currently 70 family-care doctors in the department. With its HSPA status, they are able to recruit young family care doctors to the Boyle Heights community. Flores said the hospital is able to guarantee doctors their first-year salary as well as to provide administrative and other overhead support. In addition, these doctors become eligible for both state and federal loan repayment programs. Flores said four of the doctors have utilized the Stephen M. Thompson Physician Corps Loan Repayment Program to help offset the costs of establishing their practice at White Memorial.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) determines the HSPA eligibility of a geographic region with data collected from local Census tracts. This data allows DHHS to identify if an area has enough doctors to service any given community. To qualify for HSPA status, an area must have less than 1 doctor for every 2,500 residents. Flores said that areas that do not meet this standard but still have a high ratio usually qualify for state programs. The state can designate an area as a Medically Underserved Areas (MUA) if the ratio is 1 doctor for every 2,000 residents. White Memorial, as a result of its HSPA status automatically qualifies for MUA funds as well.
Flores said he is confident that the 2010 Census will generate better results from the 2000 effort.
“We didn’t have a big push in 2000,” Flores said. “This is very different than 1999.”
Flores said the Center for Disease Control (CDC) played a big role in why hospitals are more involved in the Census this time around. After the 2000 Census, the CDC used the data to help create the Healthy People 2010 Guidelines that identified the health disparities likely to be encountered in areas designated as low-income and high density. Flores said the 2000 undercount played a role in why the goals outlined in the 2010 guidelines were not met.
“When we undercount a community, it has fewer resources to eliminate diseases,” Flores said.
Flores said that the 2000 undercount provided health professionals with a better picture of how to increase care in disadvantaged communities.
For example, Flores said hospitals such as White Memorial learned that it needed to establish stronger partnerships with community-based organizations. Today the hospital has partnerships with the Mexican American Opportunity Foundation (MAOF) to provide daycare services for patients and a nursing program administered by the TELACU Education Foundation.
Flores also said that data from 2010 Census and White Memorial’s HPSA status can help generate a federally-funded community health clinic on the hospital campus to increase medical services for residents.
“The [undercount] brought incredible awareness on how much work we needed to do for health professionals,” Flores said. “That’s why full participation in the Census is important.”
Flores cited a long-standing program, ‘Jovenes Para Salud’ as an example of a partnership between the White Memorial family-care department and local non-profits to creates a comprehensive approach to health care. Since the program’s 1994 start, over 500 students have participated in the educational program.
With its partners at AltaMed and the Hollenbeck Youth Center, the family-care department has worked with students to stay in school and nurture those interested in a health career. Flores said that over 90 percent of program participants have gone on to college. Of those students, 16 pursued careers as health professionals with seven becoming doctors.
Christians on Sunday began their observance of Holy Week, which commemorates events at the core of Christian beliefs — Jesus Christ’s crucifixion and rising from the dead.
The weeklong observance began with Palm Sunday, the joyous celebration of Christ’s triumphal return to Jerusalem, which is then followed by solemn observances of the Crucifixion on Holy Friday, and the celebration of Christ’s Resurrection on Easter Sunday.
Dozens of local Catholic high school students and several youth groups from parishes throughout East Los Angeles on Sunday held their annual recreation of the “Passion of Christ” in the main Mausoleum at Calvary Cemetery in East L.A. Spectators joined pageant performers as they reenacted the stages leading to Christ’s crucifixion, singing hymns and saying prayers as they walked.
The event ended with Bishop Gabino Zavala blessing the crucifixes from the different parishes.
This is also an important week among the Jewish faithful. Passover, the Jewish holiday commemorating God’s deliverance of Israelites from bondage in Egypt, began at sundown on Monday, with observant families throughout the Southland holding a traditional feast called a Seder.
Passover also involves the remembrance of those in need. The Seder includes a phrase spoken in Aramaic, the language spoken by Jews in ancient times, “Let all who are hungry come and eat. Let all who are needy come and celebrate the Seder with us,” said Rabbi Mark S. Diamond, executive vice president of The Board of Rabbis of Southern California.
“This phrase is so important,” Diamond said. “The food is not simply a way for us to sate our hunger. The intention is to sit down at your Seder and remember there are people who are hungry and needy around you.”
Passover is observed for seven days by Jews in Israel and eight days by many Jews outside Israel because of different interpretations of Jewish law.
The reckless and deceptive practices of our financial industry have devastated businesses, families and our economy. It is time for Congressional leaders to stop listening to financial industry lobbyists and start protecting the future of our nation.
The U.S. Women’s Chamber of Commerce believes the establishment of a strong Consumer Financial Protection Agency (CFPA) is a crucial step in reforming financial rules and restoring the trust we need to rebuild a thriving American economy.
The CFPA will benefit business, especially small businesses, which create most of the nation’s new jobs. It’s too often forgotten in the debate over the CFPA that small-business owners frequently rely on personal credit — such as personal credit cards and home equity loans — to start, run and expand their business.
Small-business owners have been hit hard by the continuing crisis in business and consumer lending. They have been rocked by waves of credit contraction, foreclosures and business closures — affecting them, their customers, suppliers, the communities they do business in and their families.
Banks that profited from predatory lending now are choking businesses by cutting lines of credit or pulling them entirely.
Some of our members have been forced out of business. Others are struggling to keep doors open. Many of our members can’t expand their businesses even though they have viable business opportunities because they cannot access the credit needed to capitalize on their opportunities. Even with orders and contracts in hand, they can’t get credit needed to hire new workers, buy new equipment and add necessary business infrastructures.
The unscrupulous practices of the credit-card industry have delivered another hard blow, as unwarranted credit rate escalation, increased fees, and decreased credit availability have left many firms unable to manage day-to-day purchases.
Lenders offering sound mortgages and other credit were undercut by those pushing misleading products with hidden risks. Women were 32 percent more likely to have received subprime mortgages of all types than men, regardless of income.
Women also are 41 percent more likely than men to have received higher-cost subprime loans, regardless of income.
Women business owners and consumers have been hurt especially hard by predatory lending. Millions of women business owners, who used their home equity to secure small-business loans, are at risk of losing both their homes and businesses.
Elizabeth Warren, chair of the Congressional Oversight Panel charged with reviewing the state of the financial markets and regulatory systems, provided this snapshot of economic devastation in a December article: “One in five Americans is unemployed, underemployed or just plain out of work. One in nine families can’t make the minimum payment on their credit cards. One in eight mortgages is in default or foreclosure. One in eight Americans is on food stamps. More than 120,000 families are filing for bankruptcy every month. The economic crisis has wiped more than $5 trillion from pensions and savings, has left family balance sheets upside down, and threatens to put 10 million homeowners out on the street.”
A disproportionate number of those suffering are women. Women, who were already at a higher risk for retirement insecurity, are now terrified about what the future will hold.
We cannot let the financial practices that drove us to this disaster continue. If we do, there will be no real recovery for business and for women generally. The next crisis, when it comes, will be even worse.
Business owners and consumers need the security of knowing that the costs and risks of financial products, services and lending are fully and fairly disclosed. We need a strong federal agency to promote financial product safety and accountability. We need a CFPA with independent rule-making authority and enforcement powers.
We cannot let financial industry lobbyists succeed in killing the CFPA or winning a pale substitute that would not actually be able to protect consumers and small-business owners. We cannot accept a CFPA subject to interference by bank regulators who have failed us time and time again.
We cannot let those whose risky, deceptive practices destroyed so many jobs and businesses kill the reforms designed to prevent the next calamity. It is time for our Congressional leaders to act to support the financial protection and well-being of all Americans.
Dorfman is CEO of The U.S. Women’s Chamber of Commerce (TM), the leading advocate for women on economic and leadership issues and vice president of the National Association of Small Business Contractors.
Copyright (C) 2010 by the American Forum
It was one of those bold policy decisions made by President George “The Decider” Bush. In 2005, to secure the U.S.-Mexico border, Bush directed that an electronic “virtual fence” be built to detect “bad guys” trekking into our country. Of course, like all things Bush, he privatized the project, turning it over to Boeing.
How’s that worked out, you ask? Well, $672 million has been spent so far, and Boeing was supposed to hand over the first stretch of its phantasmagoric fence to the border patrol in January. But there were…uh…problems. For example, the high-tech stuff was deployed, but the components were not fully connected, so vast expanses of land weren’t covered. Also, the radar Boeing installed can’t seem to distinguish between a person moving through the brush and…well, the brush itself.
There’s more. Boeing’s satellite detectors take too long to notify the area command centers, so by the time a live person checks out a suspicious movement, whatever caused it is gone.
Meanwhile, a Boeing vice president whines that the virtual fence job is more complex than anticipated, and that the government should start over: “They really need to come up with the right calculus,” he recently explained, “and we’ll support that answer and look to be their preferred contractor to build whatever portion of what that calculus is.”
Excuse me, sir, but—huh? The fact that a vice president of this major corporation can’t even string English words into a comprehensible sentence might suggest that Boeing’s ineptness goes far deeper than its inability to link electronic components together.
He’s right, however, that the government should start over. And it should start by booting Boeing–and by asking for our $675 million to be returned. Also, the government should probably scrap Bush’s whole fantasy of “virtualosity” as a way to control America’s borders.
Jim Hightower is a radio commentator, writer, and public speaker. He’s also editor of the populist newsletter, The Hightower Lowdown.
As a result of the recently enacted American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009, also known as the federal economic stimulus package, the Department of Public Social Services (DPSS) in partnership with the South Bay Workforce Investment Board (SBWIB) received federal funding to place 10,000 CalWORKs participants and some dislocated workers into Transitional Subsidized Employment (TSE) in the public, private and non-profit sectors through September 2010.
To weather the economic downturn, hundreds of local businesses, non-profits and public agencies have already tapped into millions of these federal stimulus funds to employ new workers in subsidized employment at virtually no cost to their businesses. Nearly 5,000 qualified job candidates have been employed through One-Stop and WorkSource Centers across LA County using federal funding to cover their wage costs.
“This is a golden opportunity for area businesses trying to stay competitive and position themselves to expand,” stated Jan Vogel, director of the South Bay Workforce Investment Board which administers L.A. County’s Subsidized Employment Program. “We have heard from numerous employers praising both the speed at which we help them bring on new hires, as well as the quality of the people they interview and bring on board.”
TSE covers 80 percent of the costs of hiring a qualified CalWORKs participant and the employer covers the remaining 20 percent, which is offset wholly through the costs of in-kind supervision incurred when hiring a subsidized employee.
“The people we hired through this program are developing into valued employees,” says Julian Keeling, CEO of Consolidated International (CII) in Los Angeles. CII recruited seven TSE participants.
“CII now is operating in a more efficient manner with higher levels of service to our customers. Our new employees have been quick to learn, are enthusiastic about their work and are completely dependable. Most importantly they have blended effortlessly and without friction into CII’s existing staff. The misguided impression that the unemployed either are unwilling or unable to work is totally false.”
“It put a lot of people back to work who were pretty much at the bottom and not knowing what’s [going to] happen and how they’re [going to] pay that next bill,” says Ms. L., a single mother who was laid off from her previous job a year ago. She is one of the 20 participants Valencia-based Pacific Lock Company brought on board at $10 an hour, assembling padlock parts with the prospect of being hired by Pacific Lock as a full-time unsubsidized employee after the TSE period expires.
Los Angeles based Executive Financial Enterprises (EFE) is another company that desperately needed an administrative assistant. Tapping into the TSE pool, they recruited a CalWORKs participant on a trial basis on Oct 12, 2009. EFE management was so impressed with the quality of work provided by this TSE participant that they recruited seven more participants by the end of October 2009, and filled their understaffed night shift’s needs by bringing on board an additional five TSE participants a few days later. The EFE executive management is planning on an On-The-Job Training program for these participants with the goal of placing several of them into permanent, unsubsidized employment within the company.
The employers who have hired TSE participants are extremely pleased with the quality of staff they have added to their workforce and many of them are considering offering full-time unsubsidized employment to some of the TSE participants currently working for them.
Los Angeles area local businesses are encouraged to join us and seize this unique opportunity to meet their hiring needs at the same time help boost the economy. For more information on the TSE Program visit www.employmentstimulus.org or call (310) 970-7796.
Philip L. Browning is the director of the Los Angeles County Department of Public Social Services.