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This Land Is Your Land

Published on Thu, Aug 25, 2011

Jose Antonio Vargas came out of his first closet in high school when he told his classmates and family he was gay.

He came out of his second closet this summer, when he told the world he is an undocumented immigrant.

In his surprising, touching and much talked about New York Times essay, Vargas tells his story of being sent to America from the Philippines by his mother to live with his grandparents. Twelve-years-old when he arrived, it wasn't until he was 16 that he discovered he'd entered the country illegally.

Now 30, Vargas has built the kind of career a young reporter dreams of, much of it during his time at The Washington Post — covering the intersection of politics and technology in the 2008 presidential campaign; crafting a year-long series on AIDS in D.C. that was later adapted into the documentary The Other City; sharing a Pulitzer Prize with the Post team that covered the Virginia Tech massacre. During all that time, he was living with a secret that had the potential to end his career.

Reporting on himself — sifting through the history of his family and journey — hasn't been easy.

''I had to get it right,'' says Vargas. ''I only had one shot to tell this story and I had to tell it right, I had to be really accurate, or else people were just going to start picking holes in it.''

The story itself became a story when the news broke that The Washington Post had spiked the essay at the last minute. While the Times immediately picked up the piece, Washington's media class chewed over the question of why the Post had backed off. Slate media critic Jack Shafer dismissed Vargas's time in the immigration closet as a ''con.'' Post ombudsman Patrick Pexton wrote that Vargas had a reputation as ''a relentless self-promoter.'' Many others leapt to Vargas's defense, hailing his coming-out story as a watershed moment in the debate over immigration in America.Read more...

Published in the Metro Weekly

Outbound Exchange to Brazil

The International Exchage Center is sponsoring an outbound exchange to Brazil. See our "Save the Date" for more information and register today!

New Numbers from U.S. Sentencing Commission Reveal Dysfunction of U.S. Immigration System

Published on Thu, Dec 01, 2011

By Walter Ewing

The broken U.S. immigration system is flooding federal courts with low-level cases involving non-violent defendants, and inundating federal prisons with individuals whose only crime was to enter or remain in the country without permission. Thanks to this ever-widening immigration dragnet, a disproportionateshare of the Latinos and non-U.S. citizens who wind up in federal courts and prisons are there solely because of immigration violations. In other words, the federal government is wasting its limited law-enforcement and criminal-justice resources on immigrants who do not pose a threat to public safety or national security.

These are the inescapable conclusions to emerge from a statistical report released in September by the U.S. Sentencing Commission. The statistics, which cover the first nine months of Fiscal Year (FY) 2011, illustrate the degree to which immigration cases are being channeled into federal court rooms. Immigration offenses accounted for more than one third (35.1 percent) of all federal sentences handed down during this period.1 In comparison, immigration offenses comprised one in five (19.6 percent) of all sentences in FY 2000.Read more...

Published in the Cornerstone: A National Legal Aid and Defender Association Publication

Quick Fact: Asian-owned Businesses Add Billions to the U.S. Economy

At last count, the nation’s 1.5 million Asian-owned businesses had sales and receipts of $506 billion and employed 2.8 million people .

Eased Immigration Laws May Spur Growth, U.S. Chamber Report Says

Published on Wed, Jan 25, 2012

The U.S. needs to ease restrictions on immigrants who plan to open businesses, and create a separate visa for potential entrepreneurs, according to a report by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. 

Current immigration laws make it difficult for people to enter the U.S. and start a business, according to the report, released today by the Chamber and the Immigration Policy Center of the American Immigration Council. Expansion of the visa program would also aid companies’ access to foreign-born graduates of U.S. universities, helping economic growth, the authors of the report said. 

Immigrant entrepreneurs established 18 percent of the Fortune 500 companies, according to a June 2011 report from the Partnership for a New American Economy, a group of business leaders and mayors that advocates for immigration reform. Those companies, such as Google Inc. (GOOG), Big Lots Inc. (BIG) and Comcast Corp. (CMCSA) generated $1.7 trillion in revenue in 2010 and had 3.7 million employees worldwide, the report said. 

“They are going to contribute and succeed somewhere -- why shouldn’t it be the United States?” Thomas Donohue, the Chamber’s chief executive officer, said in a Jan. 12 speech in Washington. 

Immigrants are more likely than native-born U.S. workers to start their own business or be self-employed, according to the Chamber of Commerce study. Of naturalized citizens, 5.1 percent were employed by their own business, compared with 3.7 percent of the native-born citizens, the report found. In Massachusetts, immigrants were 14 percent of the population in 2008 and started 61 percent of the businesses, the report found. 

Legislation Stymied Read more...

Published in the Bloomberg

2006 Winner, Jasminh Duc Schelkopf

My Mom “Thuy”

By Jasminh Duc Schelkopf

International School of Indiana

 

My mother’s name is Thuy. She was born in Saigon, South Vietnam. Her father was a 3-star Lieutenant General for the South Vietnam military and her family had almost everything that you could possibly think of before the civil war of Vietnam. However, when they lost their country, they lost everything. After the war, all they had left was their hope and beliefs.

 

In 1975, North Vietnam won the war. When my mother was only twelve years old (8th Grade), she and her brother and sister were forced to go to Canada. The rest of her family was then scattered around the world in places like France, Australia, Canada and the U.S.A. They all had a very tough time there because they had no support and no money as new immigrants.

 

For seven years after the war, my mother went to school and worked during the evening to help out my grandfather. My mother attended college for only two years because she needed a full time job to support her family. She also went to beauty school, graduated, and worked for the family. Then, having lived in Canada for ten years, my mother realized there was a better future for her in the U.S.A. -- “The Land of Opportunity.” She decided to move to Pennsylvania in 1985.

 

My mother began hard work at a beauty shop near Philadelphia and she worked hard everyday. Her dreams were to “ONE DAY” create her own salon and reach her many dreams. Due to her talents, she developed many clients and made a lot of friends. She saved as much money as she could and even avoided eating out or going to the movies or doing anything fun that might cost money.

 Read more...

Romney Campaign May Be Moving Left on Immigration

Published on Wed, Apr 18, 2012

Mitt Romney’s campaign hired GOP campaign strategist Ed Gillespie, while Kris Kobach’s “advisor” status was put in doubt, according to news reports.

Elise Floey of Huffington Post wrote Tuesday that the Romney campaign “told Politico that [Kris] Kobach is a ‘supporter,’ not an adviser. This contradicts both Kobach’s previous statements and his seemingly larger role in the campaign — a bigger part than the campaign is letting on.”

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach authored Arizona’s controversial immigration enforcement-only law. He endorsed Romney in January, “advised Romney on immigration during his 2008 presidential bid and has long-promoted the strategy of ‘attrition through enforcement’— the immigration-control strategy to drive away the unauthorized population by making their lives so miserable that they will choose to ‘deport themselves’ rather than remain in the U.S.,” according to the Immigration Policy Center.

The Hill reported Tuesday that “Romney’s hiring of Republican strategist Ed Gillespie is being seen as a sign the campaign will heavily court Hispanic voters — perhaps at the expense of immigration hard-liners in the party.”

“When asked for an interview, Gillespie directed The Hill to Romney’s presidential campaign, which said he’d be a senior adviser that will help them with messaging, overall strategy and the August convention in Tampa, Fla,” The Hill added.

“Gillespie, a former head of the Republican National Committee, has long advocated an aggressive outreach to the Hispanic community,” The Hill wrote. “He also heads up Resurgent Republic, an organization focused on messaging to independents, including Hispanic swing voters.”

Resurgent Republic is currently developing a six part “target voter series” focused on suburban women, young voters, seniors, independents, Hispanics and blue collar Catholics.Read more...

Published in the Colorado Independent

Where are our J-1 Participants?

Ever wonder if there are other J-1 Trainees and Interns in your area? This map shows which states have exchange visitors. If you would like to go one step further and connect with other participants in your state, just go to our Facebook page and start a discussion!