A Busy Year for LIRC

Immigrant Pathways Colorado’s partner in reaching out to immigrants and refugees is the Littleton Immigrant Resource Center (LIRC) at Bemis Public Library.  We’re happy to share some information about their accomplishments in 2016:

LIRC had a busy year and continues to grow services to serve more clients. In 2016, LIRC served immigrants from 47 countries, screened 370 clients to determine their eligibility for citizenship, and taught ESL or Citizenship classes to 318 immigrants.

LIRC successfully renewed a grant with USCIS to continue its Citizenship Program for the next two years.

LIRC staff members say they feel so fortunate to work with clients who inspire them every day. Some of the LIRC’s favorite clients have been small business owners, food truck owners and caterers, a live organ donor, caregivers, and now even LIRC volunteers. Former students-turned-volunteers have helped more than a dozen other students study to become Americans. Many students work multiple jobs and, though exhausted, still make time to attend LIRC classes because learning English is important to them!

One remarkable student is a refugee from Burma who joined LIRC’s Citizenship program. After she was naturalized, she joined LIRC’s Language Partners program because she wanted to continue improving her English. Another student from Colombia attends LIRC’s English classes and has improved so much that she recently secured a job in an accountant’s office.

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Grant to Fund English and Naturalization Services

Immigrant Pathways Colorado is pleased to announce that our friends at  the Littleton Immigrant Resources Center (LIRC) have  received a two-year Citizenship and Integration grant of $250,000 from the USCIS.  This is the third year the LIRC has received federal grant funds for Citizenship education and Naturalization legal services.

The grant will be used to fund two positions (the same two positions funded during the last grant cycle) and will allow LIRC to provide Citizenship education classes for various levels as well as naturalization legal services.

The City of Littleton, through the Littleton Immigrant Resources Center (LIRC), has been providing citizenship instruction for the past nine  years. LIRC serves permanent residents in the Denver metropolitan area, including immigrants from Mexico, Peru, Guatemala, Venezuela, Colombia, China, Sudan, Iran, and Iraq. LIRC was first awarded a USCIS grant in FY 2012, and also received a USCIS grant in FY 2014. With USCIS FY 2016 funding, LIRC will provide citizenship instruction to 240 permanent residents and naturalization application services to 300 permanent residents.

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Marvelous Time at the August 23 Taco Bar Fundraiser

Rain was threatening – but Immigrant Pathways Colorado had our very own weatherman present, and he promised us no more than a sprinkle.

Sure enough, IPC’s taco bar and silent auction fundraiser the evening of August 24, 2016, went off with nary a hitch at Platte River Bar & Grill on South Santa Fe Boulevard.

Dave Aguilera, Channel 4 weatherman, who graciously volunteered to be our emcee for the evening, provided delightful entertainment along with the beautifully upbeat band, Brighten Star.

Board members all pitched in to make the evening a success, but special thanks is due to Amy Conklin and Michele Wolf for their extraordinary work in gathering amazing silent auction items. (One special item, a patio fireplace, was finally purchased in a very funny last-minute bidding frenzy between two guests, who laughingly bid each other up time after time for a great charitable cause.)

The food was great, as one would expect at Platte River Bar & Grill. Both the food and band were provided by Pancho (Frank Redman), manager of the long-time favorite Littleton hangout.  His terrific support was central to making the evening a success.  Next time you’re there, ask for Pancho and thank him for supporting Immigrant Pathways Colorado!

A shout-out also to the businesses, organizations and individuals who donated items to the auction.

They include:

  • African Eyes Travel
  • Arapahoe Community College
  • Arvada Center for the Arts and Humanities
  • Autawash Carwash and Detail Center
  • Café Terracotta
  • Canvas and Cocktails
  • Chocolate Therapist
  • C.J. Culllinan
  • Colorado Avalanche
  • Colorado Railroad Museum
  • Colorado Symphony
  • Comedy Works
  • Denver Aquarium
  • Denver Art Museum
  • Denver Film Society
  • Denver Zoo
  • Dinosaur Ridge
  • FirstBank
  • Hacienda Colorado
  • Jazz Car Wash and Detailing
  • Kroenke Sports Enterprises
  • Kwik Car Wash
  • Lehrer’s Fireplace and Patio
  • LiDo Wines
  • Karen Martin
  • Mellow Mushroom
  • Nancy Rupert
  • Romano’s Italian Restaurant
  • Saj Mediterranean Grill
  • The Sebastian, Vail
  • Smokin Fins
  • South Suburban Park & Recreation District
  • Town Hall Arts Center
  • Village Roaster
  • Whole Foods Market – Southglenn
  • Wild Ginger
  • Marylin Withers – World of Dance
  • Rebecca Yarbrough

Thanks to each of these merchants, individuals and organizations for their support!

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Africa-born US Residents Embrace Politics to Bring about Change

By Voice of America, Citizen Digital

Published on  2 July 2016

Here are excerpts from an interesting news story published by Voice of America radio about African immigrants:
Africans are one of the fastest-growing immigrant groups in America, representing a small share of the U.S. population, but their numbers have been doubling every decade since 1970.

In 2013, there were 1.8 million African immigrants living in the U.S., a huge increase from 80,000 in 1970, according to a 2015 Pew Research Center survey. The foreign-born Africans living in the U.S. in 2013 accounted for 4.4 percent of America’s immigrant population that year.

But the immigrants, coming from countries all across the African continent, have varied backgrounds and hold extremely diverse political views, said Nii Akuetteh, executive director of the African Immigrant Caucus.

The most common countries of origin for foreign-born Africans are Nigeria, Ethiopia, Egypt, Ghana and Kenya. Some, particularly those from Ethiopia, resettled in the U.S. because of conflicts in their native countries.

Political priorities

Although his group’s interests are varied, Akuetteh said the African Immigrant Caucus’ primary political priority is to encourage the next U.S. administration to provide greater support to the democratic process in Africa.

Akuetteh told VOA that African immigrants must “put the heat on the presidential candidates to stop supporting African dictators,” particularly those in Egypt, Rwanda, Uganda and Ethopia.

There are other dictatorships in Africa, Akuetteh said, but ending U.S. support in those four dictatorial regimes would pressure others in Africa to pursue a democratic form of government.

Sylvester Okere, president of the United People for African Congress, an umbrella organization that works to get Africa-born residents involved in U.S. politics, said economic issues are most important to them.

“Everybody came here for what I call ‘power opportunity’ and connections,” Okere told VOA.

Many African immigrants in the U.S. make their living as entrepreneurs, so Okere wants the next president to create opportunities for minority businesses by “removing roadblocks in a bureaucratic system that hinders people” from being able to pursue their objectives.

Immigration issue

Immigration is another “huge issue” for African immigrants, Akuetteh said.

Most members of the African diaspora came to the U.S. legally through various immigration programs. While most are permanent residents or citizens, others have work or educational visas.

U.S. Census Bureau statistics show Africa-born residents are more educated than the overall U.S. immigration population, with 41 percent having at least one college degree, compared with 28 percent for the immigration population as a whole.

The most popular destinations for Africa-born residents are New York City, metropolitan Washington, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Georgia, and Minneapolis, Minnesota.

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Two New Board Members

Immigrant Pathways Colorado is pleased to announce the addition of two new members to its governing Board: Shirlaine Castellino and Michele Wolf.

Castellino is an immigrant from the Phillipines.  She earned a master’s degree in teaching English as a Second Language prior to becoming the director of the Spring International Language Center, which is located in Littleton.

Wolf was born in Anchorage, Alaska, the daughter of German immigrants.  She has a master’s degree in biology from Texas Tech University and a master’s degree in statistics from Montana State University. She currently works for Cavendish Scott, a consulting company specializing in helping companies become ISO 9001:2015-certified.

Castellino and Wolf were appointed unanimously by the Board at its June, 2016, meeting.

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Immigrants “Want to Have a Voice”

The June 16, 2016, issue of the Littleton Independent had a very nice article about one of Immigrant Pathways Colorado’s major partners – the Littleton Immigrant Resources Center at Bemis Public Library.

The story highlights the program, which helps people studying to become United States citizens.

Deb Schaffer, the citizenship program coordinator at the center, said that the desire to vote is commonly cited in election years, but other reasons for applying for citizenship include the ability to petition for a green card for family members as well as a sense of security. “They all want to say, ‘Yes, I am an American,’” she said.

The full story is available at http://littletonindependent.net/stories/I-want-to-have-a-voice,218302?

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Madeline Albright promotes education: An excerpt from the Denver Post’s coverage of Albright’s DU graduation speech June 4, 2016

Former secretary of state stresses need to be defender of liberty at home and abroad

The former, and first female, secretary of state was on stage from the beginning, sitting among DU’s distinguished faculty and administration, draped in the same brightly striped black robes. Albright, who graduated from Kent High School in Denver, gave the commencement address.

“I can picture my father, pipe in hand, reading the newspaper, and shaking his head at how foolish people can be,” Albright said. “And he thought he knew the answer.

“Because of him, the answer is education,” Albright said, highlighting her father Josef Korbel’s founding of DU’s Graduate School of International Studies in 1964. The graduate and undergraduate schools were renamed the Josef Korbel School of International Studies in 2008.

Albright, 79, gave a vivacious speech on why this graduating class’ degrees are so important in today’s world.

“Getting a degree is hard — so you can imagine how grateful I am to receive one just for showing up,” Albright said to laughter.

Before her address, DU awarded her an Honorary Doctor of Public Service degree for her leadership. The university cited her advocacy and her leadership as the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations from 1993-97 and secretary of state from 1997-2001 for the honor.

“When pride in ‘us’ descends into hatred of ‘them,’ the American tapestry unravels … and spirals into hatred of racial groups and the LGBTQ community, and demonization of refugees and immigrants,” said Albright, whose family came to the U.S. as refugees from Soviet-controlled Czechoslovakia in 1948.

“We cannot will away or wall away the world,” Albright said, referencing Trump’s proposed immigration policy. She said the U.S. should take in more refugees.

“While America cannot be the world’s sole policeman, it must be its best partner,” Albright said, urging the students that “engagement abroad matters,” and it is education that enables it.

“You can produce enough food, build enough shelter and share enough knowledge to allow people to live better,” she said. “The future is not decided by the stars or some course of history, but by the choices that you, and I, and all of us make.”

“You must not only be a consumer of liberty,” she said, “But a defender and enricher of it.”

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Twelve Percent of Coloradans Born in Another Country

 According to the U.S. Census Bureau, as analyzed by the Migration Policy Institute, by 2013, Colorado had a population of more than 4 million (ages 16 and over).  Of those, 12 percent were born in another country.

The foreign-born in Colorado come from other parts of the world as follows:

·         Africa, 25,000, or 5%

·         Asia, 97,000, or 21%

·         Europe, 68,000, or 15%

·         Latin America, 257,000, or 55%

·         Northern America, 14,000, or 3%

·         Oceania, 3,000 or 1%

The category “Latin America” includes South America, Central America, Mexico and the Caribbean.  Northern America includes Canada, Bermuda, Greenland, and St.  Pierre and Miquelon.

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Study: Immigrants Founded 51% of U.S. Billion-Dollar Startups

A new non-partisan 2016 study on entrepreneurship supports the belief that America benefits from robust immigration.

The study, from the National Foundation for American Policy, a non-partisan think tank based in Arlington, Va., was reported in the Wall Street Journal on March 17.  It shows that immigrants started more than half of the current crop of U.S.-based startups valued at $1 billion or more.

These 44 companies, the study says, are collectively valued at $168 billion and create an average of roughly 760 jobs per company in the U.S. The study also estimates that immigrants make up over 70% of key management or product development positions at these companies.

The three highest valued U.S. companies with immigrant founders include car-hailing service Uber Technologies Inc., data-software company Palantir Technologies Inc. and rocket maker Space Exploration Technologies Inc.

Stuart Anderson, the study’s author and the foundation’s executive director, says the findings show that the U.S. economy could benefit from the talents of foreign-born entrepreneurs even more if it were easier for them to obtain visas.

The process to secure a visa is lengthy and cumbersome. The visas are capped at 85,000 per year.  In 2015, the lotter to obtain a visa hit capacity within one week, according to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. The USCIS said it received nearly 23,000 H-1B petitions during the filing period.

While bills to address these issues have been introduced, they have failed to gain traction due to the overall standstill on immigration policy.

According to the study, founders of billion-dollar startups most often hail from India (14), followed by Canada and the U.K., with eight each, then Israel (7), Germany (4) and France (2).  Two brothers, the co-founders of payments startup Stripe, are from Ireland.

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Pew Research Center Says More Mexicans Leaving the U.S.

A study by the Pew Research Center has found that more than one million Mexicans and their families, including American-born children, let the U.S. for Mexico between 2009-2014.  During the same five years, 870,000 Mexicans came to the U.S.

The desire to reunite families was the main reason for the out-migration.  Other factors appeared to be the aging of Mexico’s population and increase in manufacturing centers along the border due to the North American Free Trade Agreement, providing jobs for younger workers.

Read the full article at http://www.denverpost.com/nationworld/ci_29141207/study-finds-more-mexicans-leaving-u-s-than-coming?source=rss

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