HISPANICS HAVE A BRIGHT FUTURE

THE HISPANIC BLOG IS THE LATEST HISPANIC NEWS BY JESSICA MARIE GUTIERREZ

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To the contrary: A staggering 78 percent of second-generation Hispanic adults say that they believe hard work pays off in success. That’s a higher percentage than the 72 percent of their Asian American counterparts who profess such faith in hard work or indeed the 58 percent of all American adults.

To be sure, second-generation Hispanic immigrants have a way to go to catch up to their non-Hispanic white and Asian American counterparts. Both those groups have higher median household incomes and lower poverty rates than adult Americans as a whole.

But the gap is not as large as some might assume. The median household income for second-generation Hispanic immigrants ($48,400), is only slightly lower than the overall national figure (about $50,000). And the poverty rate for that group of Hispanics (16 percent) is virtually the same as the nation’s (15 percent).

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DOES HISPANIC EDUCATION HAVE A STRONG IMPACT ON ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT?

THE HISPANIC BLOG IS THE LATEST HISPANIC NEWS BY JESSICA MARIE GUTIERREZ

photo source: Fox News Latino

The level of Hispanic education, skills and capabilities will have a strong impact on the economic development and competitiveness of the U.S. The level of education among the Hispanic community is not only a social issue but is also a vital economic concern.

There are currently 50 million Hispanics living in the United States, a figure that represents 16 percent of the country’s total population. Hispanic children between five and 17 years of age often face educational challenges, usually scoring lower than the average student in annual reading and mathematics standardized tests. In this context, there are three main aspects to consider in the debate on educational public policy for Hispanics: the increase in their school enrollment rates in the last decade, their low level of educational attainment and the educational gap between whites and Hispanics in the U.S.

Credit: © 2007 JupiterImages Corporation

Compared to other ethnic groups in the country, Hispanics lend a higher degree of importance to education, according to a 2009 Pew Research Center study. This fact, in addition to the effect of public policies and the increased influx of immigrants in the country, contributes to the growing enrollment rates among the Hispanic community. According to the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanic Americans, the average enrollment of K-12 Hispanic students is higher than the average for the general population.

However, reports have shown that the schools that Hispanics are enrolled in are typically lower quality school systems. In addition, the dropout rate in high school is 17.6 percent among Hispanics, as compared to 5.2 percent among the white population and 8.1 percent among the entire U.S. population, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.

Quality continues to be an elusive goal. Although there is a reduction in the gap between the white population and Hispanics in the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) mathematics average scores from 1973 to 2008, this change is not sufficient evidence to show a decrease in the overall educational gap of Hispanics. Regarding SAT scores, Hispanics are scoring lower in mathematics and critical reading than the average U.S. student.

Elements that are prompting the problems associated with the characteristics described above include:

(i) Factors that influence educational achievement.

According to the U.S. Department of Education, there are four factors that affect student achievement: Having a mother who has less than a high school education, being a member of a family on welfare or receiving food stamps, living in a single-parent family, and having parents whose primary language is one other than English. By the end of the 20th century, “about seven out of 10 entering kindergarten from Hispanic or Black families have one or more of these risk factors, compared to about three out of 10 of those from white families.

(ii) Low quality of the schools that they attend.

Hispanics are more likely to attend minority-heavy public schools that are often low performing.

(iii) Constraints to parents when it comes to the possibility of choosing their children’s schools.

The White House Initiative for Hispanics highlights how the challenge of the low educational achievement that Hispanics suffer from represents a problem not only for the community, but also for the entire country, given the importance of this minority within American society. Addressing the challenges that Hispanics face in the U.S. has become quite serious and their growing importance in number and participation in social, economic and political life gives greater credence to their growing demands to live in a more fair and prosperous society.

Read more: Fox News Latino

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WHO IS LAVINIA LIMON: MEET THE CEO OF THE U.S. COMMITTEE FOR REFUGEES & IMMIGRANTS

THE HISPANIC BLOG IS THE LATEST HISPANIC NEWS BY JESSICA MARIE GUTIERREZ

photo source FOX NEWS LATINO

Lavinia Limón has dedicated her career to helping people in trouble, especially immigrants, and is today president and CEO of the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants.

“The USCRI, a citizens’ committee in Washington that tries to influence immigrant and refugee policies, recently celebrated the 100th anniversary of its founding, and our responsibilities are to work on behalf of undocumented children who come alone to this country, the victims of human trafficking and refugees from all over the world,” Limón told Efe.

photo source USCRI

“In the 1980s I was executive director of the International Institute of Los Angeles, and after the immigration reform law was enacted in 1986, founded together with other organizations the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles, CHIRLA,” she said.

Born March 5, 1950, in Compton, California, Limón is the daughter of a Mexican-American father and a mother of German descent. She graduated in sociology from the University of California, Berkeley.

Lavinia Limon, President and chief executive of the U.S. Committee for Refugees & Immigrants photo source Friends of Refugees website

“After studying sociology I realized that my passion is to work with people and help them secure a better life,” Limón said. At the start of her career, she began working with refugees from the Vietnam war and then “I went to serve overseas helping people in Thailand, Indonesia and Saudi Arabia, among other countries,” she recalled.

During the administration of President Bill Clinton, Limón was director of the Office of Refugee Resettlement where she developed programs that helped people in shelters get jobs so they could fully integrate themselves into American life.

Limón said she has personally experienced having what she knows and is capable of doing underestimated because of stereotypes about Hispanics.

“But what I do is, when people don’t consider me capable of doing certain tasks, I do them anyway and surprise them,” Limón said. “I’ve never argued with anyone who thinks in stereotypes, but what I do is show them they’re wrong,” she said.

Read more: Fox News Latino

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WHO IS MICKEY IBARRA: MEET THE FORMER PRESIDENT & DIRECTOR OF INTERGOVERNMENTAL AFFAIRS AT THE WHITE HOUSE

THE HISPANIC BLOG IS THE LATEST HISPANIC NEWS BY JESSICA MARIE GUTIERREZ

Mickey Ibarra served as assistant to former President Bill Clinton and was the director of the Office of Intergovernmental Affairs. He was born in Salt Lake City to a Mexican father and American mother, but grew up in foster care. Before beginning his career in politics, he taught at-risk high school students in Spanish Fork. In March, he donated his collection of photographs, correspondence and other memorabilia documenting his career at the White House to the University of Utah Marriott Library. He also recently gave a speech at the Hinckley Institute of Politics on his journey from schoolteacher to public servant, the importance of being involved politics, and the issue of immigration.

How does a high school teacher end up working at the White House?

My road to the White House was paved by the National Education Association, the teachers union I had the privilege of working for for 16 years of my professional career. But actually it started sooner than that: The person who sparked my interest in government, public service, campaigning, elections and our great democracy and the need for engagement was my high school government teacher, Mr. Steinberg.

I had the privilege of attending high school in Sacramento, the capital of California, so government and politics were certainly available to students who wanted to engage. Mr. Steinberg would provide extra credit for attending a city-council meeting, a school-board meeting. It was Mr. Steinberg who gave me extra credit for attending my first presidential campaign rally and major speech; it was delivered by Hubert Humphrey in 1968 at the Sacramento Memorial Auditorium. And as I heard him speak, I can tell you it sent tingles from my toes to the top of my head. And it was that interest established in high school that propelled me to decide that I was going to figure out a way to engage in public service. And it also provided the seed for wanting to first do that as a teacher. So I was a political-science major at BYU with no intention ever of attending law school. I wanted to be a teacher. And I had an opportunity to do that for five years starting as a teacher at a public alternative high school.

photo source: Brigham Young High School
Class of 1969

That teaching experience led to my political experience with the Utah Education Association. I was a first-year teacher and attended my first national convention of the NEA as a delegate with the UEA. When I walked in that auditorium in Minneapolis and saw 15,000 of my colleagues in convention, many of them of color, it got my attention. This is the organization that I want to be a part of.

photo source: Brigham Young High School
Class of 1969 

I went from a volunteer to a staff member becoming their political manager, which put me responsible for leading the charge of the NEA to endorse Bill Clinton in 1992 for president. then served in the staff of the Clinton/Gore re-election campaign in 1996, posted up at the headquarters in Washington, D.C., and with our re-election, again the first Democrat to be re-elected president since Franklin Roosevelt, I was invited then to serve at the White House as the assistant for Intergovernmental Affairs.

“I prepared myself for that opportunity. Did I ever believe that an opportunity to serve the president would come my way? No. And is anybody ever fully prepared to be at the White House? I don’t think so. But I was prepared to be asked, and I got that chance, and here we went.” 

Why does the United States need immigration reform?
The issue of immigration is personal to me. It is more than a debate around public policy; it is personal, given my history. My father came to this country as a bracero in 1945, and his first labor camp was in Spanish Fork. My father was undocumented for 30-plus years, even though he served in the U.S. Army, had his own business. You don’t need to be documented to make a contribution. And everyone should be documented. But what we’ve got is a system that’s absolutely broken. It actually encourages people to come here without documents, because they’re not going to wait in line for five years to get a visa to come work here if their families are in need of help now. Who would do that? So, yes, that’s an issue that remains a priority for me, and I’m very troubled and concerned about what I see happening—states, including Utah, taking off on their own to decide what immigration law is going to look like. The most extreme case in Alabama, where they’ve turned teachers into immigration agents who can turn children in and their families in if they suspect that they may be undocumented. They have given license to racists in this country who now are emboldened to do the unthinkable. A nation trying to turn back the clock to the Jim Crow days of the ’60s and ’50s and earlier that I thought we had addressed. That’s very unfortunate and not up to the standards that America ought to be all about.

What misconceptions do people have about immigration reform and immigrants?

(1) They’re taking away our jobs.” That’s just nonsense. They’re not taking away anybody’s jobs. Ninety percent of them are doing jobs that none of us would do. Talk to the farmers about how important these workers are to them helping them harvest their crops—to make a profit, to stay in business. So that’s one of the misconceptions. The United States needs that labor; they need that workforce. And without it, they’d be in very difficult circumstances.
(2) They’re just here to freeload; they’re taking down benefits from us”—again, silly. I would say, as a class, there are no harder-working people in the world than the Latino community in this country. They’re not here to freeload, they’re not here to get something for nothing; they’re here to make a living. And are there exceptions to that? Of course there are. But I feel confident in saying that the vast majority of those residents in this country, who are without documentation, would love to figure out how to become documented. And the vast majority of them are also being taxed, and paying their taxes. If we’d come to our senses and document these folks, we’d even realize more taxes from them, and that would be a good thing.

What concerns me is we have so many people giving license and cover to racists. I’m not suggesting everybody who opposes immigration reform is racist.

USHLI Announces Mickey Ibarra Medallion for Excellence in Government Relations

(3) We have a right to protect our border. That’s a responsibility that we have. And that’s what argues for comprehensive immigration reform so we can secure our borders. We’re not going to secure our borders simply by building a taller fence. That’s not going to work. It’s got to be a combination of things, and my hope is that I’ll live long enough to see our country embrace a comprehensive approach in order to deal with this issue. It was Ronald Reagan who was the last president to try and deal with this in a responsible manner, which included providing more than 3 million undocumented residents with amnesty. So if Ronald Reagan can get it done, I’ve got to believe that we ought to keep hope alive for that, too.

What would successful immigration reform look like?


In its broadest context, one, we’ve got to provide for security, to be sure. Two, we’ve got to figure out a sensible visa program that allows for demand to match the supply. Something that’s reasonable. Asking somebody to wait in line for five years so they can come here and work as a dishwasher is nuts. So we’ve got to figure that out, that whole ebb and flow of the workforce—that’s a big piece of it. [Also] how do we deal with at least 11 million undocumented residents now? Do we really think we’re going to ship that 11 million back to the country they came from? I don’t think so; it’s just ridiculous. We’re not going to do that, it’s not possible to do that, and it’s stupid to do that. Should there be a penalty [for being undocumented]? Absolutely. Should there be requirement for them to learn English? That’s fine. Should they be responsible for paying their taxes and all that sort of thing? Absolutely. Should they have to show proof of employment for five, six years, whatever it is, yes. But those criteria can be set, and where they’re met, there ought to be a path to being made legal residents of this country.

It may not be possible to adopt comprehensive immigration reform; I do think it’s possible for us to make incremental progress. For me, step one is addressing the Dream Act: the idea of providing a pathway, an opportunity, for youngsters who were brought to this country by their parents and no responsibility whatsoever for being here without legal status, and have done the right thing and graduated from high school, ought to be provided the opportunity to continue their education here. And if they graduate and stay out of trouble, be provided a pathway for citizenship—that ought to be an easy one. So I’m all for taking a look at taking a bite of the apple rather than trying to swallow the whole thing. It seems to be the Dream Act is where we ought to start.

With Congressman Luis Gutierrez

Why is it important to be involved in politics?

When people disengage from their civic responsibilities, when they check out, others check in. And unfortunately that seems to be too often the extremes of both ends of the political spectrum. And that’s not good. What we need to do is have every citizen of this country embrace the responsibility that they have to engage. This is a democracy. Democracy requires participation. It’s very important to ensure that we engage, that we register, that we vote, that we support candidates who reflect our views and that we hold them accountable for doing the right thing for us, rather than simply reflecting the views of, in many cases, an extreme minority. Some suggest that we get the government that we deserve; I think we deserve better. And to get better, we’re going to have to do more engagement.

What’s your favorite part of being involved in politics?

photo source: Mickey Ibarra, founder and chairman of the Latino Leaders Network (LLN) presented Julie Stav with the Eagle Leadership Award at the 30th LLN Luncheon. Photo by Steve Canning.

Helping people; putting people first. That was the theme in 1992 of Bill Clinton: putting people first again. And that’s really what makes politics and public service one of the most noble endeavors of all. When it’s understood that your core responsibility is helping people accomplish all they can with their God-given talents, helping them overcome the obstacles to success, helping someone has a great reward that I enjoyed at the White House. I was in a position, and I realized that—that very few people get an opportunity to do—to help someone.   
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WHO IS THE LATINO VP AT TAMPICO BEVERAGES: MEET PEDRO DE JESUS THE DOMINICANO IN CHICAGO MAKING A DIFFERENCE

THE HISPANIC BLOG IS THE LATEST HISPANIC NEWS BY JESSICA MARIE GUTIERREZ

Pedro DeJesús Jr. isn’t afraid to knock on doors—or to get knocked down. In his early years, he would cold-call executives for everything from jobs to advice. His intrepidness has led him to the top of one of the world’s leading juice companies, Tampico Beverages, Inc. As senior vice president, general counsel, and corporate secretary, DeJesús Jr. brings order to Tampico’s global brand and pushes it into new territories.

The son of Dominican immigrants, DeJesús Jr. graduated from high school in his hometown of Chicago at 16. He got an associate degree in radiologic technology, working to help his mother with bills after his father’s passing. He quickly realized that life as an X-ray tech wouldn’t get him far financially. So he looked to where the money flowed: the Chicago Mercantile Exchange.

“I walked into the Merc’s administrative office and said, ‘Give me a list of every company in this building,’” DeJesús Jr. recalls. “Then I walked over to a telephone booth, and went down the list, starting with A.” By “G,” he had landed a job as a runner.

For two years, DeJesús Jr. worked days at the “Merc” and nights at the hospital, until he landed a strong opportunity that warranted hanging up his lab coat. But four years later, with little long-term job security, he decided to become an attorney. By 29, he had earned a political science degree from Roosevelt University and entered Northwestern University School of Law. During his first summer, he heard that a Northwestern alum, Ruben Castillo, had just been appointed the first Latino federal judge in Illinois. Though the two had never met, DeJesús Jr. rang his chambers, and within a few weeks, Castillo granted him a meeting. When DeJesús Jr. told Castillo he hoped to work in public-interest law, Castillo advised him to consider joining a big firm first.

“If you don’t do it,” DeJesús Jr. recalls Castillo saying, “people assume that it’s because you couldn’t do it. If you still want to work in public interest, a firm can help subsidize those interests for you.”

The Big Law Firm Track

Although DeJesús Jr. took the big-law-firm track, the pecking order frustrated him. Big decisions, and often the big picture, weren’t privy to him as a junior associate. In 2000, he made a risky leap to a tech firm. Soon after, the dot-com bubble burst, sending DeJesús Jr. back to law-firm life, but with a clear advantage.

“Just to see how business operates, it was a world of learning compressed in a very short time period,” he says. “It’s very difficult at a big law firm to learn that.” In 2010, De Jesus was appointed to the Industry Trade Advisory Committee on Consumer Goods, whose members advise the US Commerce Department on trade agreements impacting the consumer-goods industry.

In 2004, DeJesús Jr. became vice president and corporate counsel for Information Resources, Inc., a consumer data company. DeJesús Jr.’s experience at IRI prepped him for his current post with Tampico Beverages, which sells its brand in more than 50 world markets.

Since 2007, DeJesús Jr. has helped CEO Scott Miller steer Tampico’s culture away from complacency. “When the senior management team came into this business, there was a lack of discipline in legal and business matters,” he says. “Instilling that level of discipline in the organization was one of our big challenges.” Over time, DeJesús Jr. has revamped the legal department, building a new team with “a stronger sense of accountability.” He issued a new employee handbook, business ethics and conduct policy, crisis-management plan, and a first-ever contract-approval procedure. He also redrafted Tampico’s bottling-and-licensing agreement and centralized the company’s trademark database, enabling him to manage the trademark portfolio globally.

(In 2008, Tampico was acquired by Houchens Industries, Inc., the largest employee-owned company in the United States and, according to Forbes, among the largest privately held companies in North America.)

Next up for Tampico is expansion into other Latino food-and-beverage categories. DeJesús Jr. and Miller spent much of 2011 mapping out a growth strategy and evaluating potential acquisitions in “synergistic” industries. As usual, DeJesús Jr. is ready to pounce on a winning opportunity. “More often than not, in both business and life, those who take advantage of change and embrace it—rather than run from it or ignore it—almost always beat out those who do not,” he says.

What’s more, DeJesús Jr. believes it’s his duty to create positive change. He serves as a trustee of Roosevelt University, works for government transparency and accountability with the Better Government Association, and serves on the board of Chicago-based Mujeres Latinas en Acción, which offers culturally sensitive services to Hispanic women.

DeJesús Jr. hopes more Latinos follow the path of doing good—and doing well. “We tell people to go to school and get an education, but we also have to instill the importance of being strong corporate leaders and building wealth,” he says, matter-of-factly. “Because it puts you in the room with people that are making decisions affecting positions of power.”

READ MORE: HISPANIC EXECUTIVE

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