This is a great story in the Washington Post, postive proactive initiatives to combat the rising negative attitudes towards immigrants. This is an example of a strong coalition between government and business! Working towards positive solutions, too bad our local government didn’t have the fortitude to take this type of initiative. 

Amid increasing public hostility to immigrants and intensifying efforts by local and federal authorities to crack down on illegal immigration, these business leaders hope to counter criticism that immigrants steal jobs and burden public services by highlighting the contributions they make to the U.S. economy and improving their ability to integrate.

The initiative is supported by a bill recently introduced in Congress. Sponsored by Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) and three representatives from California, Florida and Texas, it would provide $350 million for immigrant family literacy programs, individual tax credits for teachers and corporate tax breaks for firms that offer educational workplace programs like “Thirst for Knowledge.”

In addition to support from private firms that employ thousands of immigrants from Latin America and elsewhere, the bill is backed by the Americas Society and Council of the Americas, which recently issued a report called “U.S. Business and Hispanic Integration: Expanding the Economic Contributions of Immigrants.”

The report points out that Hispanics make up more than 14 percent of the U.S. workforce, own more than 2 million businesses and have a collective purchasing power of more than $800 billion a year. It says foreign-born workers have much to offer but need more help to master English and become more invested in American society.

It concedes that many Hispanic immigrants arrive with limited educations and that the immigration wave of the past two decades has slightly depressed wages among unskilled American workers. It also argues that immigrants “complement” the overall labor force as more native-born Americans earn degrees and seek higher-level jobs.

The report also asserts that if immigrants are given more opportunities to learn, earn and engage, they will repay the investment as better workers, parents, consumers and participants in public life. Although not endorsing illegal immigration, the report accepts it as a fact of life that needs to be addressed through legislative reforms.

Some companies that employ immigrants have been reluctant to associate themselves with the effort, however, citing fears of public criticism and government scrutiny amid increasingly aggressive federal efforts to track down illegal immigrants and punish their employers.

“Businesses feel cowed by the rhetoric,” said Christopher Sabatini, a policy director at the Americas Society and Council of the Americas. “There is a fear of being labeled as aiding and abetting undocumented immigrants.” He said some companies have curtailed programs aimed at helping immigrant workers because of community disapproval.

One company that has taken a strong public stance in favor of helping immigrant workers is Miller & Long. Myles Gladstone, the firm’s personnel director, said that it once hired mostly African Americans but that since the early 1990s, fewer U.S.-born workers have applied, and they have been largely replaced by immigrants. Today, the firm employs more than 2,000 Hispanics, mostly foreign-born.

24 thoughts on ““Companies Take Lead in Assimilation Effort”

  1. Elena

    What is interesting to me is that the Republicans are in this bizarre quandry. Aren’t they known for supporting business, capitalism, strong work ethic etc? How do they reconcile attacking business on a regular, conspiring to make our economic system look evil and unfair? Isn’t that what they accuse the democrats of doing, villifying the capitalist for keeping the lower class working down, working for peanuts, while the corporate elite get fat and happy? Is this Seinfelds “opposite world” come to real life?

  2. This isn’t the real Republican party, Elena. What happened to Prince William County was a perverse mutation within the Republican party … a band of extremists who USED the party, who forced themselves on the party to further their anti-immigrant and hateful agenda. They chose the one and only time in the 21st century where this could have been possible. With the shock of the 9/11 attacks, with the success the Bush administration had in exploiting those attacks to maximize its political power and occupy Iraq against the better judgment of our most experienced statesmen and military commanders. Then came the implosion that resulted from this corrupt and anti-American practice of stoking hatred, fear, and fanaticism for political gain. It was deserved, but it left a dangerous void.

    Once the implosion set in, starting with Hurricane Katrina and coming to fruition in the 2006 mid-term election, the GOP had two choices. Either admit its mistakes and go in a different direction, or double down on the fear, hatred and fanaticism.

    The gamble was simple. Were there more Freedom Fry Voters in the Republican base, or were there more reality-based voters who were ready for serious reform? There was deep insecurity and indecision. Bush had been revealed to be the idiot he always was (but we didn’t want to see it). There was a void of leadership. THIS is what allowed the rise of the Anti-Immigrant Lobby. There were just enough partisans in the GOP, just enough assholes who want to win at all costs, even at the cost of their integrity and loyalty to this country. There were just barely enough in a time of lowest morale and deepest insecurity, to say, “Anti-Immigrant Lobby, show us what you can do!”

    But as fate would have it, the basis of this desperate strategy proved to be false. There are more thinkers in the party than there are fanatics (Freedom Fry Voters). Lost in the shuffle were the original foundations that you mentioned, Elena. Supporting business, capitalism, personal responsibility, low taxes, pro-gun, and pro-life.

    Some of the mainstream Republicans, while not racists themselves, thought their interests might best be served by hitching their fortunes to the Anti-Immigrant Lobby and the prejudice on which it relies.

    But now, they are realizing the horrific error of this choice. They are looking for a leader to stand up to say, “Follow me, I know the way.” McCain can do it, if his campaign will let him speak for himself. But they’ve somehow got him convinced he doesn’t know how to run his own campaign. They’ve muzzled The Maverick, and have him repeating lines from their sophomoric and insulting advertising campaign. The true Republicans don’t know what he’s talking about right now, and we doubt those who are feeding it to him.

    But we are not tempted to run back to the Anti-Immigrant Lobby. Patience will reward the faithful. The real John McCain will stand up at the convention. The Anti-Immigrant Lobby’s candidate (Mitt Romney) will NOT be the VP. The commercials aimed at Freedom Fry Voters will be replaced with meaningful policy initiatives. And the Straight Talk Express will stamp out the condescending political strategists who are undermining what should have been an outstanding campaign.

  3. Poor republican party.

    When you play with fire, you get burned.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zjpgWLn-29k

  4. DiversityGal

    Why Here Why Now,

    While I think that McCain would certainly be an improvement over Bush (indeed there are many things to admire him for), I am not convinced that “the real John McCain will stand up at the convention.” In fact, I’m quite concerned that he will choose a much more conservative running mate with ideals that will appeal to the “Freedom Fry Voters,” as you have named them.

    As a liberal, his voting record concerns me. I think he actually has more of a reputation for being a “maverick” than he deserves. I grow concerned when he sings, “Bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb bomb Iran,” even if he says he was joking and that anyone who has a problem with it should “get a life.”

    It is horrid how his daughter Bridget was used in a smear campaign against him in 2000. I think it is weird how she is largely behind the scenes, but she is young, and they do not want her hurt; I can definitely respect that. That being said, it concerns me that he would use her name/image to futher a pro-life cause in the fight against Mitt Romney during the primaries:

    http://www.cbsnews.com/blogs/2008/01/11/politics/horserace/entry3701959.shtml

    Finally, it concerns me that John McCain has a history of using the word “gook” in public forums, and said he would not apologize. He only agreed to stop using the word publicly after political pressure in 2000. I cannot even imagine what horrors the man must have endured as a POW, but I do not want the leader of my government to believe that racial slurs are OK, and that his experience means he has a right to use said slurs. For goodness sake, though Bridget comes from the Indian subcontinent, he has an Asian daughter!

  5. Marie

    WhyHereWhyNow

    You said “a band of extremists who USED the party, who forced themselves on the party to further their anti-immigrant and hateful agenda.” This is not the first time this type of thing has happened in the Republican Party. Let me say I am not attacking the Republican Party nor defending the Democratic Party. I am not of either affiliation. In addition, let me say that I always appreciate your posts. They are intelligent and give pause for thought.

    What I would like to say is twenty-five years ago, the evangelical right targeted the Republican Party as the vehicle through which they could advance their agenda. At the same time, a small group of Republican strategists targeted fundamentalist, Pentecostal and charismatic churches to expand the base of the Republican Party. Since the founding of the Moral Majority, the Republican candidates have made many promises to evangelical voters. Republican candidates utter all the right phrases during the campaign season just to get the evangelical vote. They rail against the evils of abortion and homosexuality, promising various constitutional amendments at the state and national level and judges who won’t “legislate from the bench.” Once in office, however, voters usually get nothing more than lip service from the very people they voted for, who quickly turn to their true values of lower taxes, limited government, and big business. Republicans continue to manipulate voters of certain faiths for political gain. The manipulation of voters in PW Co regarding the anti-immigration issue is just another example of manipulation and it will continue to happen until “We the People” stand up against it.

    I do not think McCain will be any different or do anything differently than what has been done in the past. He will say whatever he needs to say to win votes. Once in office things will change as they always seem to do. The same will happen if Obama is elected. Politicians have learned to tickle our ears to get what they want. With that having been said, I always remain hopeful that positive change will come.

  6. If parties weren’t so partisan, they wouldn’t be vulnerable to such attacks. Party lines include a lot of blind assent; this pack mentality will be the downfall of any party. Yet one more reason I am suspicious of all group behavior.

  7. Marie

    DiversityGal

    I am inclined to agree with you. Thanks for the post.

  8. Just Cause

    “it would provide $350 million for immigrant family literacy programs, individual tax credits for teachers and corporate tax breaks for firms that offer educational workplace programs like “Thirst for Knowledge.”

    Call me stupid, but where would this $350 mil come from??

    “The report points out that Hispanics make up more than 14 percent of the U.S. workforce, own more than 2 million businesses and have a collective purchasing power of more than $800 billion a year”

    but what do they cost the tax payers in the end??? I read a statistic that the future costs for illegal immigrants is going to cost half a trillion dollars at the current influx rate.

    “One company that has taken a strong public stance in favor of helping immigrant workers is Miller & Long. Myles Gladstone, the firm’s personnel director, said that it once hired mostly African Americans but that since the early 1990s, fewer U.S.-born workers have applied, and they have been largely replaced by immigrants. Today, the firm employs more than 2,000 Hispanics, mostly foreign-born”

    I would be interested to know the average pay wage this Company pays for its immigrant workers compared to a person who is not foreign born. Makes me wonder if this “firm” is skimming somehwere…if mot in their wage, maybe their benefits…

  9. Censored bybvbl

    It’s good to see some corporations helping their employees assimilate. Isn’t that what the complainers want – assimilation? Why do so many Red Spot sympathizers pick on poor immigrants and declare that they’re evading taxes or not paying their share when the real tax evaders may be found here:
    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/26145921/?GT1=43001

  10. Moon-howler

    Just Cause, I am concerned that you seem to be using the terms hispanic and illegal immigrant interchangeably. i think that it is safe to assume that many perfectly legal hispanics have gotten painted over with the illegal brush.
    —————————————————————————————————-
    I think one of the functions of this bill is to level the playing field as far as surface appearance of ‘assilimilation’ goes.

    I would prefer a bill that tackles the problem of immigration in general. Tremendous amounts of resources are going to have to go into getting such a bill passed because of groups like FAIR who will use fools like Rush Limbaugh and others not worthy of being named to advance their cause which is really anti-immigration.

  11. Censored bybvbl

    I think that Hispanic immigrants and other recent immigrants are at a disadvantage because of technology. Think about how much faster our news travels today compared to the 70s when we probably had our last large wave of immigrants, the Vietnamese. And about how much more tolerant we were of the slowness. We know about Russia/Georgia, the details of Edwards’ affair, Britney’s latest rehab, Allen’s macaca moment – practically everything – as soon as it happens now. We want instant gratification whether it’s speedy service at the drive-up window, an alert salesclerk at the counter, bucks spewed from the ATM. We want those damn immigrants to speak English instantly, know the rules of the road when they’ve never driven a car before, and be familiar with manners, Manassas style. I welcome any effort to speed them on their way – because we all have a tendency to forget out first encounters with learning to drive or to learning to use a computer, or in my case, to drawling French in a high school language class in the South. I learned to drive by following winding, lonely rural roads and illegally using a portion of unopened interstate. My hat’s off to any kiddo or adult who learns to drive in a metro area! Or to any adult who learns a second language.

  12. Censored bybvbl

    Haha – there’s a long-assed run-on paragraph for ya!

  13. Just Cause

    MH- I cut and pasted mostly what is on my post from the top thread and then I asked questions underneath..

    My point is…Miller and Long claim to be taking on some big movement by declaring they have hispanic workers, 2,000 of them blah blah..and I am sure they are legal or else Miller and Long wouldnt announce it..but I am concerned that Miller and Long could possibly take advantage of them and pay them less wages compared to anyone else…

  14. Just Cause

    MH SAID: Just Cause, I am concerned that you seem to be using the terms hispanic and illegal immigrant interchangeably. i think that it is safe to assume that many perfectly legal hispanics have gotten painted over with the illegal brush.

    Ahhh I see why you say that now, I had to re-read what I posted…I was making a point because the thread is coming across that Hispanics add to the wealth ie…800 billion blah blah

    and I was pointing out that illegals costs alot more then what they pay in….

  15. Censored,

    Many immigrants don’t have much need for English if it’s not necessary for their job. Outside of work, they will usually socialize with other immigrants of the same background.

    Those who need it for their job will learn what they need to learn or they will find another job.

    Things will work themselves out. And it goes both ways. If you move to miami or some border town, you may need to learn spanish to get a good job. 🙂

    Something concerns me about technology though. I think the next technological revolution is on its way and it is robotics. In the same way that computers have increased in power exponentially, perhaps robotics will as well. Eventually we will have robots cheap and smart enough to do many tasks that are mostly manual in nature. There is already a robot you can buy to vacuum your house for you every day. No more need to hire a maid to do it. Check out the robots on this page. There’s 1 for vacuuming, 1 for washing hardwood floors, 1 for cleaning workshops, 1 for cleaning pools, and even 1 for cleaning gutters. This is just the beginning.

    http://www.irobot.com/sp.cfm?pageid=95

    Over the years robots will be taking more and more jobs away from working class people. I wonder what will happen to working class people at that point? Will the definition of working class evolve to mean something else.

    So many things will change it’s impossible to say what might happen. During the dot com boom you had network administrators who never went to college making 6 figure salaries while PHDs were collecting welfare checks because they couldn’t find a job.

    Nowadays, the power of the internet and it’s ability to spread knowledge hints that going to college may become obsolete. I work from home 5 days a week. Going into the office is a 20th century paradigm that doesn’t make any sense anymore. My team is scattered all over the usa. We can meet and collaborate at the drop of a hat in a matter of minutes.

  16. Just Cause

    Mackie- Good Point..something more to ponder…It is a scary thought but one that is probably closer to reality than we think……and I want to work from home but Boss wont let me and I am a Procurement Specialist subcontracted to the Military so its not like I need to be here..I do everything over the internet and fax!

    any ideas on how to convince my boss???

  17. Censored bybvbl

    Mackie, I agree with what you’ve said about robotics. Technology has the ability to displace many marginally skilled workers and make many skilled ones marginal. I may have been obtuse while trying to make the point that we’ve become accustomed to speed and we’re not giving current immigrants the usual adjustment period.

  18. Red Dawn

    Mackie,

    It’s worse than you could have imgained.It may be the end of civilzation as we know it.LOL

    http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,368282,00.html

    Ona serious note, you bring up very valid concerns.

  19. A PW County Resident

    I hope this kind of system works. Of course, one should remember that tax breaks for corporations is why they don’t pay as much in taxes so it is a two-edged sword.

    I hope we can do anything to help people emigrating here (legally of course) to assimilate into our culture and provide our culture with the additional flavor that they can bring.

  20. Just Cause,

    In many cases it just doesn’t make any sense to go into an office anymore. Gas prices make it cost prohibitive, avoiding traffic give you more time to sleep or pursue other hobbies, it’s cheaper for companies who save money on office space, and for people who have young children there is the priceless benefit to spend more time with their children before they hit their teen years.

    Unfortunately, your boss is a dinosaur. I’ve met a few like that. When you try to talk to them about the benefits they just make a smile that looks like a grimace. They simply don’t trust you to actually work unless you’re in the office.

    These people will eventually go away. I would suggest that you think about finding work somewhere else. Vote with your feet. If your boss starts losing good employees because they don’t allow work from home, they may begin to rethink their obsolete attitude.

  21. hello

    Let me start out by saying that I don’t see why people are so hung up on immigrants assimilating. I feel that if you speak another language and don’t have to learn English because of a job then fine, it does not bother me at all. I have friends that have been here for years and can’t speak a full sentence in English.

    Having said that, I think that this article is bogus. Notice how now companies are named except for one, Miller & Long. Miller & Long is a construction company where most laborers don’t speak English in the first place (at least in our area). Who are all of these companies? I would be willing to bet that they are all in the hospitality/construction field.

  22. Censored bybvbl

    Marriott and another Bethesda-based company, Miller & Long Concrete Construction, are among several dozen major U.S. corporations spearheading a campaign to turn the divisive national debate about immigration in a more positive direction.

    “This is a mission for us,” said Andy Chaves, a human resources manager for Marriott and a member of the White House Task Force on New Americans. “When our employees become proficient in English and assimilate into our society, it benefits the company, the community and the individual. Everyone gains.”

    The report lists corporations that have offered their large immigrant workforces a variety of skill-building programs. These include scholarships at Wal-Mart, English classes at United Parcel Service, financial literacy programs at Western Union and bilingual skills development at Northrop Grumman shipbuilders.

    Some other corporations listed in the article.

  23. hello

    Sorry Censored, I must admit that I skimmed a bit…

  24. DiversityGal and others contra McCain:

    I have no problem with McCain sending out an add with a photo of his adpoted daughter. If he had been better able to get this feel-good story out in 2000, the effectiveness of Bush/Rove’s “McCain has a black baby” campagin would have been less effective and we would have had a different first act to the 21st century, I believe one that would have foiled the Septermber 11th attacks.

    McCain’s use of the word “gook,” as you say, is somewhat understandable considering that it was a word commonly used during our three wars in Asia to dehumanize people our soldiers were unfortunately ordered to kill. Most of the soldiers who returned managed to root the word out of their vocabulary, but McCain had some slip-ups that understandably offended many Asian Americans. Luckily for McCain, racial slurs toward Asian Americans are only beginning to be considred unacceptable in recent years (Sarah Silverman for instance using the “ch” word. McCain stopped using the phrase once the message got through to him and I accept the fact that he had a harder time catching up to modern standards for racial slurs than others who were not imprisoned and tortured. If he were to use the slur in today’s America, that would be another matter. Truth be told, I hate the fact that he ever said the “g” word in public. But I don’t think that necessarily disqualifies him as a Presidential candiate. In past generations, we have had men with prejudiced believes in the White House, some of whom were caught on tape!

    All I was really trying to say is that I’m frustrated and embarrassed by McCain’s recent campaign tactics. And, having met the man, I feel pretty confident that these frivilous attack ad’s are not his doing. Frankly, your concern about the “g” word is more substantive than the crap the campaign is putting out right now.

    I believe that McCain went into this election saying he’d rather lose than stoop to the level of Karl Rove and the Swift Boaters. But he is caught between a rock in a hard place. He doesn’t want to be embarrassed by a lop-sided defeat, which would ruin his legacy. But that is what he would be facing if he did not have the help of some of these unseemly characters that are running his campaign.

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