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Author Archives: WSS News

Immigration Activists Denounce RAISE Act After President Trump’s Immigration System Proposal

By Jasmyne A. Cannick | California Black Media

President Donald Trump’s proposal for a new merit-based immigration system that would screen visa applicants using a point system may be racist and exclusionary but so is an immigrant rights movement that excludes, overlooks, and straight up ignores the voices of their darker skinned counterparts.

Last week immigrant rights activists decried the Republican-backed proposal known as the RAISE Act or Reforming American Immigration for Strong Employment Act, that would highly favor people between the ages of 26 and 30 with a doctorate, high English proficiency and a job offer with a high salary.   Applicants with the highest number of points would go to the front of the line to receive visas.

The Los Angeles area is home to nearly 3.5 million immigrants with approximately one million of them undocumented.  Here, public officials are quick to proudly tout the dozens of languages that are spoken by Angelenos and how much immigrants–regardless of their citizenship status–contribute to the city’s economy and culture.  In theory, Democratic politicians and immigrant right activists will tell you that all immigrants matter but in practice only one immigrant’s voice is only ever represented, celebrated or invited to the table.

Mass deportation and ICE raids under the Trump administration are not exclusive to Latinos.  Under Trump, more and more Africans and Caribbeans are finding it difficult to qualify for asylum or refugee status when they arrive at U.S. ports of entries–one of the primary ways that they can successfully stay in the country.

An estimated 575,000 Black immigrants were living in the U.S. without authorization in 2013, according to the Pew Research Center study, making up 16% of all Black immigrant’s population. Among Black immigrants from the Caribbean, 16% are undocumented immigrants as are 13% of Black immigrants from Africa.

The Black Alliance for Just Immigration (BAJI) and New York University Law School’s Immigrants’ Rights Clinic 2016 The State of Black Immigrants report found that Black immigrants maintain higher rates of employment in service and sales positions than their counterparts of other immigrant backgrounds.

According to the BAJI, immigrants from African and Caribbean countries comprise most the foreign-born Black population. Jamaica was the top country of origin in 2014 with 665,628 Black immigrants in the U.S., accounting for 18% of the national total.  Haiti seconds the list with 598,000 Black immigrants, making up 16% of the U.S. Black immigrant population.  Although half of Black immigrants are from the Caribbean region alone, African immigrants drove much of the recent growth of the Black immigrant population and made up 39% of the total foreign-born Black population in 2014. The number of African immigrants in the U.S. increased 153%, from 574,000 in 2000 to 1.5 million in 2014, with Nigeria and Ethiopic as the two leading countries of origin.

Los Angeles has a large and vibrant community of Black immigrants that but you’d never know because they are seldom reported on or heard from in the fight for immigrant rights–a fight that is led and dominated by Latinos. And while I expect Republicans to overlook Blacks until it’s politically convenient to pit us against one another, I do not expect the party of coalition building, solidarity and ‘we’re stronger together’ to do the same.

Let me put this into the right perspective for you. The party that calls out people, organizations and Republicans for their exclusion of women, transgender, the LGBT community, people with disabilities, members of the Asian/Pacific Islander community, Latinos, Blacks, veterans, seniors and I could go on and on does not itself (or very rarely) include Black immigrants.

Seldom discussed in mixed company is the fact that African-Americans privately agree with Trump’s assertion that “illegal immigration” has harmed the Black community economically. And even though Trump has no problem throwing African-Americans into the mix when it bolsters his immigration agenda, immigrant rights activists haven’t been as willing to include Black voices in their shared fight.

I look at the fight for the undocumented in America and think–strategically–Latino immigrant rights groups would do good to include the voices and images of Black immigrants to gain support from an already apprehensive and on the fence nation of African-Americans who may need more convincing that the fight for immigrant rights affects Blacks.  Despite HUD Secretary Ben Carson’s belief that slaves were immigrants–most African-Americans do not see themselves as immigrants and many are wary of and oppose the Democratic Party’s insistence that “illegal immigration” doesn’t harm Black employment.  Like white gay rights advocates and the Black community–it wasn’t until the visibility and voices of Black LGBT folks increased that real advances were made on LGBT issues with Blacks who mainly say gay rights as affecting and benefiting wealthy white gays.

Trump and the Republican Party are not going to stop pushing their anti-immigration narrative that “illegal immigration” threatens the jobs of poor Black people.  Many African-Americans already believe that there’s a prevailing attitude among Latinos that they don’t need anything from us except for the blueprint from our fight for our civil rights.

The pathway to victory for Democrats on comprehensive immigration reform needs both Black immigrants and African-Americans to succeed. While Latinos may outnumber African-Americans in cities like Los Angeles the reality is that our vote still matters and neither immigrant rights activists nor the Democratic Party can afford for African-Americans to remain on the fence about immigration reform. We win elections by bringing people together and working together


School is in! Has Your Student Been Vaccinated Yet?

With students preparing to head back to school, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) urges parents and guardians to check the vaccine record of their children. Many vaccine-preventable diseases, such as measles, can easily spread in child care and school settings.

“By getting children all the vaccines recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), parents can protect their children from serious diseases,” said Dr. Karen Smith, CDPH Director and State Public Health Officer. “If you haven’t done so already, check with your child’s doctor to find out what vaccines your child needs before going back to school.”

When children are not vaccinated, they are at increased risk for getting sick and spreading diseases to students in their classrooms, and children and adults within their communities. Babies who are too young to be fully vaccinated, and people with weakened immune systems due to cancer or other health conditions are especially susceptible.

California law requires students to receive certain immunizations to attend public and private elementary and secondary schools as well as licensed child care centers. Schools and licensed child care centers are required to enforce immunization requirements, maintain immunization records of all children enrolled, and report student immunization status to CDPH.

Last April, CDPH reported encouraging results from the annual immunization assessment of children attending kindergarten in California in the 2016-17 school year. The report found that vaccination rates are at record levels: compared to 2015-16 results, the percentage of students attending kindergarten in 2016-17 who had received all required vaccines rose from 93 percent to 96 percent.

“Let’s keep raising our immunization rates in schools and daycares to keep our children healthy and in the classroom,” said Dr. Smith.

To learn more about the vaccination rate of your child’s school or childcare is, go to the Shots for School website, scroll down to the left bottom of the page and click on the “How many students in your school have required shots?” banner. Enter the name of your child’s school or daycare in the online tool.

Visit Shots for School for more information on immunizations for school children in California at www.shotsforschool.org.

From Jamaica To London: CSUSB Students Spent Their Summer Studying Abroad

SAN BERNARDINO, CA- From cobblestone streets in European cities to lush greenery in tropical paradises, Cal State San Bernardino offers students an array of locations to study abroad. With more than 20 countries available, and 14 programs scheduled during summer 2017 alone, there is a place of interest for virtually every student.

The annual three-week study abroad program to Jamaica and the annual four-week program to London both wrapped up in July. The programs, like all CSUSB’s study abroad programs, are a blend of traditional academic studies and cultural exploration.

This year, 12 students participated in the Jamaica study abroad program, which took place June 26 to July 16. The program began in 2006 and materialized after Rafik Mohamed, dean of the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences, spent 10 days on the island as a member of the production staff for a large music festival.

“I spent most of my time with Jamaicans who were also working for the festival, and they introduced me to places and people tourists typically don’t encounter,” said Mohamed, who also has ancestral connections to Jamaica. “Because of that experience, and more significant than my family ties, I felt Jamaica was a place that could meaningfully put on display for students what I’ve come to describe as the ‘paradox of paradise.’”

According to Mohamed, Jamaicans often refer to their homeland as “the land of contradictions.” While it is often viewed as a tropical utopia, Jamaica faces many social challenges and is heavily tied to its colonial past.

“We, therefore, challenge our student-participants to consider the contradictions captured by this juxtaposition between the images of Jamaica put forward by the Jamaica Tourist Board and the vastly different economic and social conditions experienced by everyday Jamaicans,” said Mohamed.

Through an interdisciplinary curriculum and community engagement involving formal partnership with local community agencies, the program offers students an overview of Caribbean society and culture from the beginning of the trans-Atlantic slave trade to the present. Activities include visiting different towns and historical plantations, hiking up waterfalls and even touring musician Bob Marley’s home.

“I really enjoyed the activities since they were related to what we learned in class,” said Jasmin Limon Acosta, biological psychology major. “It was a really great experience embracing it all and seeing how different the culture is.

I also liked where we stayed — it was very local and we got to speak to a lot of the locals and interact with them.”

Students learn from various texts including poems, short stories, music, and historical and sociological articles and essays. The program includes curriculum from sociology, marine science, English, communication, philosophy and theater. Mohamed plans to add anthropology to the agenda in 2018.

“Participating in the Jamaica summer study abroad program was an experience I will never forget. From the classes, readings, excursions and tours, to the community involvement and social gatherings, I will admit that it made learning about the Jamaican culture much richer than sitting in a classroom and getting lectured on it,” said psychology major Ana Romero Baltazar.

“With the knowledge I have gained from this trip, I feel as if I can see the world with a much more open mind, and make connections that I could not have been able to do so before learning a bit more about the history of a different culture,” Baltazar said. “The three weeks felt as if they flew by, but I am thankful for each day I was there, for all the people I met, and for the way the program was structured and put together.”

The London study abroad program, which took place June 27 to July 28, was led by Bradford Owen, associate professor in the communication studies department, and Cherstin Lyon, associate professor in the history department.

Twenty students immersed themselves in academic classroom teachings as well as excursions to cultural sites, theater plays and historical places of interest.

“London is a richly multicultural city with inhabitants from all over the world,” said Owen, who lived and taught in London for an academic year while he was a visiting assistant professor in USC Annenberg School of Communication’s London Program. Owen also co-founded the London study abroad program in 2013 and has co-directed it for the last five years.

For biology major Gabriela Ochoa, it was a trip of a lifetime, satisfying both her desire to travel to London and her college requirements.

“I knew my parents didn’t have the resources to send me on their own, and when I saw I can go with school, I took the opportunity,” she said. “Not only was I visiting the city of my dreams, but I also got school credit for it.”

The academic courses, which were held at the FSU London Study Centre, included HUM 340: Interpretation and Values, taught by Owen, and SSCI 325: Perspectives on Gender, taught by Lyon. HUM 340 explored the similarities and differences in British and American values and cultures through British cinema, while SSCI 325 used scientific, humanistic and social science perspectives to foster an understanding of how gender roles in Western culture are established, maintained and changed.

Syeda Rahman, an English literature major, took Owen’s HUM 340 class. “The course was designed not to overwhelm us with assignments, but to soak in the entire experience, including excursions, the topics we talked about, our stay at Newman House, our stay as a group and also the class assignments. I thought, overall, it was great learning experience.”

Liberal studies major Jocelyn Rodriguez found Lyon’s SSCI 325 course to be eye opening. “Dr. Lyon is a really great professor, and she was able to get us to see gender through multiple different lenses that I would never think to view it through.”

The program also offered HUM 582: European Experience, an independent study course in which a student undertakes independent work under supervision.

To learn more about the city, students participated in four day-long excursions, which included a six-hour walking tour around central London, and admission to six major sites: Westminster Abbey, the Tower of London, Windsor Castle, Hampton Court, the Churchill War Rooms and Tower Bridge Exhibit. In addition, students partook in out-of-town trips to Salisbury, Stonehenge and Bath.

For Karen Watkins, who graduated this past June with a bachelor’s in sociology, these trips related perfectly to what she was learning in Owen’s HUM 340 course. “I enjoyed how our class discussions and films revolved with what we had already seen or were about to see. London was indescribably beautiful. Everything I saw, I will carry with me.”

The program also featured five in-London events, including two theater performances (one at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre), a guided tour of the Tate Modern gallery, the “Making of Harry Potter” tour at Warner Brothers UK, and a farewell afternoon tea.

For the first time in the program, CSUSB President Tomás D. Morales met with the study abroad group for a couple days. He visited Lyon’s SSCI 325 class one morning and joined the group for a walking tour in East London.

“I truly enjoyed having President Morales in London,” said Syeda Rahman, who believes the president’s visit broke many barriers for a lot of the students. “Now I feel that I can go up to him and have a conversation or just write to him. I think it was a great opportunity for me to have him in London because I probably would have graduated without even getting to know the president of the university.”

Jocelyn Rodriguez enjoyed her experience with President Morales as well, and feels she got to know him on a one-on-one basis. “I was able to ask him questions about his life, his education and how he got to where he is in life right now.”

CSUSB also offers summer study abroad programs to places like Mexico City, Italy, Costa Rica, Spain and Taiwan.

For more information on study abroad programs at CSUSB, visit the Center for International Studies & Programs at international.csusb.edu/studyabroad.aspx.

For more information on Cal State San Bernardino, contact the university’s Office of Strategic Communication at (909) 537-5007 and visit news.csusb.edu.