Hearing :: Los Angeles: The Regional Impacts and Opportunities of Migration



      MAY 9, 2008






           REVEREND RICHARD ESTRADA, Associate Pastor at Our
           Lady Queen of Angels Catholic Church ("La Placita")
           in Los Angeles and Founder/Executive Director of
           Jovenes, Inc.
           DR. RAUL HINOJOSA-OJEDA, Associate Professor, UCLA
           Cesar E. Chavez Department of Chicana and Chicano
           MS. LUCY ITO, Senior Vice President, California
           Credit Union League

           MR. KERRY DOI, President/CEO, Pacific Asian
           Consortium in Employment (PACE)
           MS. ANGELICA SALAS, Executive Director, Coalition
           for Human Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA)

           MS. EUNSOOK LEE, Executive Director National Korean
           American Service & Education Consortium (NAKASEC)

           (The hearing was held at 11:18 a.m. at California
      State Univeristy Los Angeles, 5151 State University
      Drive, Golden Eagle Ballroom 1, Los Angeles, California)

HASTINGS: Thank you all for being here today. Certainly I want to thank my good 
friend and a person that I work actively with, our Congresswoman Solis.

It's really an honor for the Helsinki Commission to be holding a hearing in Los 
Angeles today on migration, a topic that is not only a center of the great 
debate here, but also in the sphere that Ms. Solis and I work in.

I'm so anxious to get to our witnesses, and I'm going to pass over my 
responsibilities as Chair. I apologize. I didn't introduce myself. My name is 
Alcee Hastings, and I'm the chairperson of the Helsinki Commission in the 
United States Congress.

I'm from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, so I come all the way from yet another 
diverse part of our country. And, actually, the congressional district that I'm 
privileged to serve is one of America's most diverse districts in terms of the 
number of people that migrate there.

But I am delighted that you all are here. I welcome all of our witnesses, and 
I'm sure that Congresswoman Solis will have a lot to say and will introduce our 
witnesses and we will hear from them.

I do encourage -- the Helsinki Commission for the first time went green and, 
therefore, we don't have an awful lot of paperwork that we distribute anymore, 
but I do encourage you to go to our Web site. I think you will find it 

The report from this hearing will go up on the Web site for those of you, 
particularly the students here from Cal State and other universities, when you 
are writing those papers, come down on our Web site. You might find some 
comfort there.

Thank you all for being here.

Congresswoman Solis.

SOLIS: Thank you, Congressman Hastings. I especially am grateful that 
Congressman Alcee Hastings joins with me to have this first historical meeting 
on migration with OSCE and Helsinki Commission.

Some of you may not know what the Helsinki Commission represents, but several 
decades ago with the fall of the iron curtain, so to speak, countries came 
together with the leadership of the United States to talk, in general, about 
cooperation, security and democratization.

And I am very privileged to have been appointed to this particular group of 
different countries representing the United States, and it's the first time 
that a Latina has ever had, I believe, a leadership position in the 

What's unique for us is both Alcee and I share common values and the belief 
that with diversity there is strength. And we, as responsible members of 
Congress, and working with Parliamentarians is to try to talk about issues that 
often don't get the ability to talk about thoroughly in the House of 

This is one way of bringing out our interests, our responsibility to hear what 
is happening with this very important issue of migration. And some of you here 
may say, well, is it migration or immigration? It can be both.

We have brought together here, I believe, a panel of people that can help shed 
some light on what the challenges are, what best practices exist, and also what 
some of the positive aspects of that migration are.

The reason why we came here is because Los Angeles, to me, is the greatest 
incubator of where all these different forces come together, and we are our own 
Ellis Island, so to speak, that New York had that decades ago, centuries ago, 
and now Los Angeles is a port of entry for many, many people from across the 
western hemisphere and from other continents.

I think it's very important today that we hear from our witnesses who can talk 
very credibly about that experience and what we can take back and report back 
to our members of other parliaments.

So the information that we gather here today will be put together in a report 
that will be shared with other parliamentarians at our fall meeting that will 
be held near Russia, Kazakhstan, which is a new developing country, but to talk 
about why it's important to hear about the discussion of migration.

You see it happening in South Africa, you see it happening in Morocco, in 
Spain, you see it happening in Ireland, you see it happening in England, you 
see it happening in the Middle East where Iraqi refugees, for example, are 
being driven out of their home and sent to other countries. Some are welcome, 
some are not.

Here, our experience is very unique. I know the bulk of the people living in 
the surrounding area come from Hispanic, Latino background, and we have been 
going through this experience, I think, since the birth of Los Angeles. So I 
know that we have much that we can add and much wealth and talent that we can 
share with other people in the world.

I just want to tell you very briefly that I'm excited to be here. The reason 
why I have been appointed was because my unique experience as a child of 
immigrants and a member of Congress who can speak and understand at least what 
that means as a value, a value in a member of Congress.

So I've been appointed by the OSCE as a special representative on migration. I 
will be delivering whatever information we gather here to that body of other 
parliamentarians, about 3- or 400 that will gather, so it's very critical that 
we begin this discussion.

In many cases, other countries have been accustomed to only dealing with the 
administration, the current Bush administration. Obviously, Congressman 
Hastings and myself come from a different perspective, and we believe it's 
important and critical for people to understand that there are differences of 
opinion, and in that difference of opinion, we believe that we can shed light 
on the positiveness of what is happening in our communities across the country, 
globally, but also the positive aspects that immigrants make to our great 

With that, I want to thank our panelists, I want to thank the audience. I know 
we have students from UCLA, from Cal State L.A., we have members representing 
different labor organizations, we have different businesses, federations also 
representing different groups in our community, the religious community. And 
I'm just overwhelmed with the excitement that you bring to this discussion 

So with that, I would like to begin with our first speaker, and this is going 
to be Father Richard Estrada who I have known for several years. He is the 
associate pastor of Our Lady Queen of Angels Catholic Church, known to many 
here as La Placita in Los Angeles, the oldest church in Los Angeles. He is the 
founder and executive director of Jovenes, Inc.

Jovenes, as you know, means young people, a nonprofit organization which serves 
homeless and at-risk immigrants and youth.

Father Estrada received his Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of San 
Francisco and studies theological and pastoral studies at the Graduate School 
of Theology in Berkeley, California, the Mexican-American cultural center in 
San Antonio, Texas, and the Fred C. Nelles School in Whittier, California. He 
has spent over 30 years of youth advocacy and program management working with 
high-risk youth in Los Angeles and is nationally recognized as an advocate for 
the less fortunate.

He's a champion of the humane treatment of immigrants, and I remember fondly 
him on many occasions asking me to attend with him on visits on the border to 
provide bottles of water for those migrants who were trying to come here and 
seek jobs, but more importantly to save lives for those that didn't make it 
across that desert.

I'm proud that last September Father Estrada joined me in Washington, D.C., as 
one of the first Hispanic, I believe, significant individuals in this movement 
for immigrants and provided the opening prayer for the Congress during Hispanic 
heritage month.

Thank you very much, Father Estrada. We look forward to hearing your testimony. 
If you can please begin.

ESTRADA: Thank you. My name is Father Richard Estrada from Our Lady Queen of 
Angels Catholic Church. As a Claretian missionary, Catholic priest, and 
religious leader in the new sanctuary movement, I am grateful, Chairman Alcee 
L. Hastings, Representative Hilda Solis, and members of the Commission on 
Securities and Cooperation in Europe, U.S. Helsinki Commission for inviting me 
to testify on Los Angeles Regional Impact and Opportunities of Migration.

Let me remind everyone here that the fundamental issues before this commission 
are nonpartisan and do impact the lives of thousands of people and families in 
Los Angeles. Please take what you hear today and work with your colleagues in 
Congress to seriously discuss and address legitimate concerns regarding the 
separation of immigrant families, the exploitation of immigrant youth, 
exploitation within guest worker programs, the protection of our borders, and 
curbing the flow of unlawful immigration.

The Catholic church and fellow paid communities call for the caring for and the 
just treatment at all times from our elected officials on this very important 

I am here today to share my personal experiences with immigrants, communicate 
the position of the Catholic church on immigration, and, by extension, 
immigration reform and the effects and opportunities presented by migration.

My testimony will focus upon my firsthand accounts of the contributions made 
and continuing opportunities resulting from immigration, the role of the 
Catholic church and interfaith communities in immigration.

In the 1980s youth advocates and myself became aware and concerned for Central 
American children who were fleeing civil war and arriving alone in Los Angeles. 
They would knock at the door of our church and ask for shelter. They were 
hungry, traumatized, and homeless.

Our Lady Queen of Angels church at Olvera Street, the birthplace of our great 
city, better known as La Placita, small plaza, has always been an active and 
spiritual sanctuary for the Hispanic Catholic community. It was then that 
placita became a sanctuary church for our refugee sisters and brothers.

At that time we discovered that public and private agencies were unresponsive 
to the needs of unaccompanied refugee children. A nonprofit organization was 
established to meet the needs of this population of youth.

Jovenes, Inc., not only provided them with health and human services but 
advocated on their behalf. Jovenes, Inc., which means "youth," continues to 
reach out to lonely, traumatized immigrant youth, when giving them hope and the 
tools to succeed, they become culturally integrated into society.

Hundreds of homeless youth have become U.S. citizens and are responsible 
adults. Some examples of our success are Johnny, a Honduran and Hurricane Mitch 
refugee. He is now a youth counselor.

Nettie, a Guatemalan civil war refugee, has been in the U.S. Army and is an 
officer for the past ten years.

Oswaldo, a Mexican immigrant, is a university graduate student.

And Bowong, a Vietnamese refugee, is a chef.

These youth are living proof that, when given a helping hand, immigrants will 
contribute to the fabric of our society.

Los Angeles is fortunate to have a coalition of churches, temples, nonprofit 
organizations, community leaders, elected officials, and labor unions who work 
together on behalf of immigrants. For the vast majority of immigrants, 
migration to the United States, including Los Angeles, is an economic and/or 
family unifying necessity.

Churches', synagogues', and temples' work in assisting migrants stems from the 
belief that every person is created in God's image.

And from the Old Testament, Deutera, God calls upon his people to care for the 
alien because of their own alien experience: "So, you too, must befriend the 
alien, for you were once aliens yourselves in the land of Egypt." Taken from 
the book of Deuteronomy, Chapter 10, Verse 17 to 19.

It is for these reasons that religious leaders hold a strong interest in the 
welfare of immigrants and the ways in which our nation welcomes newcomers from 
all lands.

This country has always been an immigrant nation. The Catholic church is 
historically an immigrant church, and like other faith communities, is present 
throughout sending countries.

In the United States, more than one-third of Catholics are Hispanic -- of 
Hispanic origin, and our church in this country is made up of more than 58 
ethnic groups from throughout the world, including Asia, Africa, the Near East, 
Mexico, and Latin America.

The churches, temples, and synagogues have a long history of involvement in 
immigration issues, both in the advocacy arena and in welcoming and 
assimilating waves of immigrants and refugees who have helped build our nation 
throughout her history.

Many faith-based immigration programs were involved in the support for and 
implementation of the Immigration Reform & Control Act, IRCA, in the 1980s, and 
those programs continue to serve immigrants today.

As providers of pastoral and social services to immigrants, the growing 
partnerships between interfaith communities continues to give witness to and 
care for the human suffering occurring each day in our base communities of 
faith, social service programs, hospitals, and schools that have resulted from 
a broken immigration system which fails to uphold the dignity or protect the 
human rights of many immigrants seeking simply to improve their own or their 
families' lives in our land of opportunity.

We believe the current surge of separating U.S. children from their 
undocumented parents, apprehending noncriminals in immigration work site raids, 
and the exploitation of workers is immoral. The current immigration system is 
morally unacceptable and must be reformed. Indeed, we see peaceful members of 
our communities living in the shadows of undocumented immigration status.

What is needed to respond to these problems is a true comprehensive immigration 
reform that will provide opportunities for legal status for the undocumented 
currently living in the United States that will lead to permanent residency and 
eventual citizenship.

A work permit is needed for undocumented workers presently residing in a nation 
with protection from employer exploitation. We must strengthen the goals for 
family unity that has been the cornerstone of U.S. immigration policy. These 
are the essential elements of the Catholic church and the broad network of 
interfaith communities proposed for effective, comprehensive immigration reform.

Moreover, we need national policies that help overcome the pervasive poverty 
and deprivation, lack of employment, violence, and oppression that push people 
to leave their home countries because in the ideal world, for which we all must 
strive, migrants should have the opportunity to remain in their homelands and 
support themselves and their families.

Addressing the root causes of immigration -- of migration is as humanitarian a 
mission as is reforming our own immigration system.

We respect and reaffirm the right of our nation to secure our borders and to 
regulate immigration for the common good of all citizens. We also pray for the 
women and men responsible for enforcing the law, but we cannot ignore the human 
needs of immigrant workers and their families when the law fails to protect 
their basic human rights.

The above principles will help guide this effort so that human rights and 
dignity of persons are protected.

But this must be made clear to lawmakers: Enforcing immigration law in the 
absence of providing a path to legalization for the undocumented will be a 
monumental setback to reform. Simply stated, status enforcement provisions will 
work only in conjunction with the other aspects of comprehensive immigration 
reform, legalization and provisions for a work permit for undocumented workers.

Deportation of 12 million people is unreasonable and immoral. It would drive 
families -- it would divide families, create economic turmoil throughout our 
nation's work force, and create fear on a massive scale. It will essentially 
create a police state environment. People will refuse to cooperate with police 
or report crimes in order to avoid suspicion as being illegal.

When combined with a reasonable worker program and an ability to earn legal 
status, then enforcement-only provisions and increased border security will 
mitigate the amount and efforts of undocumented migration because enforcement 
agents will be able to concentrate their efforts on protecting the border and 
pursuing the decreased number of people smuggling drugs and arms and human 

We are all pilgrim people. For more than two centuries European immigrants have 
travelled here in the hope of making a better life for themselves and their 
families. The same human hopes and needs are trapping a new generation of 
immigrants today, and just as generations of past immigrants were successful, 
our newest immigrants will improve their lives and contribute to our nation 
economically, culturally, and socially. Let us not forget that it was our 
immigrant ancestors who built this country.

Thank you very much.

SOLIS: Thank you, Father Estrada.

I failed to mention that each speaker or panelist will be given five minutes 
and after we will go through a series of questions and then we will go into the 
next panel.

I want to now welcome Dr. Raul Hinojosa-Ojeda, who is the associate professor 
of the UCLA Department of Chicana and Chicano Studies and the Cesar E. Chavez 
Center for Interdisciplinary Instruction. Dr. Hinojosa-Ojeda is also the 
director of the Northern America Integration and Development Center and author 
of numerous books on political economy of regional integrations in various 
parts of the world. He has strong knowledge in investment and migration 
relations between the U.S., Mexico, Latin America, and the Pacific Rim.

Dr. Hinojosa-Ojeda, welcome, and I'm glad you are able to join us today.

HINOJOSA-OJEDA: Thank you. My Congresswoman, you call, I'm here.

And Congressman Alcee Hastings, I'm pleased to see you again.

HASTINGS: Yes, sir.

HINOJOSA-OJEDA: First, I want to begin by commending the Commission for having 
this hearing here. It sends a very important message. This is a global issue, 
and it's going to also increase on a global scale.

My remarks which I presented to you reflects years of study that actually shows 
that the process of migration and remittances, by the way, combined are 
actually much more important to the future of the world economy than a lot of 
the discussions that are being held on trade, liberalization, and investment, 
for example.

If you look at the value of what immigrants provide to a world scale, all 
right, on an annual basis, it's more than $2.5 trillion. It's the third largest 
economy of the world is basically what immigrants provide.

Going forward, it's going to be even bigger because we are expecting over two 
and a half billion people to leave the countrysides moving into cities.

At the same time, we are having massive demographic implosions in the rich 
countries of the world. So both the demographic dynamics are there as well as 
the potential for very strong economic benefit. That's the second point that I 
really commend the nature of the hearing on, not only the impacts but really 
the opportunities.

Our research center at UCLA, and there's many people from UCLA here today that 
are very excited about this and are engaged in research on exactly how it is 
that these issues can be quantified. How can we really make the point? Being 
supportive of immigrants is absolutely a moral issue.

I completely agree with Reverend Estrada that it's also one of economic 
necessity on a world scale. It's one of fundamental importance that we get it 
right and the policies right.

SOLIS: Can I interrupt a moment, Dr. Hinojosa?

We have just been joined by Congresswoman, the Honorable Diane Watson.

Diane, we have just begun our panel discussion -- Congresswoman Watson, and we 
will let Dr. Hinojosa finish and then we will allow for questions. Thank you 
for joining us. Good morning.

Dr. Hinojosa, please continue.

HINOJOSA-OJEDA: Thank you, Congresswoman Watson, for joining us.

What I was saying is that in -- specifically, if we look at the case of Los 
Angeles, it is a microcosm of what this potential economic benefit could be of 
doing the right thing on immigration, in particular, as well as the negative 
consequences of doing the wrong thing.

Lately, you may have heard recently that there is a very strong focus on Los 
Angeles by Department of Homeland Security and ICE and on the raids here. We 
are now studying the economic impact of that. The mayor and business leaders 
made an important statement last week.

I'm here to tell you that the economic study that was presented then and our 
analysis shows that that's actually a very small underestimation of what is 
actually happening. Our estimation is that on an annual basis the undocumented 
population contributes $225 billion to the State of California, $80 billion to 
Los Angeles alone. All right. So the economic impact of actually following 
through on what is the policy of this administration would actually wreak 
havoc, the worst economic depression in the history of the state.

They are playing with fire, and we really have got -- this is, in a sense, an 
opportunity, again, to make clear to the American people the necessity of 
dealing with the immigration issue and doing it right.

Our analysis also shows that if we do do it right, if we do move towards a 
process of legalization and, more importantly, I'll say, is the economic 
incorporation of immigrants out of the shadows into the economic mainstream, 
the economic benefits far outweigh anything that we have now conceived, the 
world bank and what everybody tells us about, as trade liberalization.

Doing the right thing on immigration, legalization of immigrants, creating the 
proper flow for them to come because they are needed, creating the right policy 
framework of that, No. 1, is a win-win proposition.

This is not an issue of just simply being kind to strangers. It is something 
that is of vital economic importance for our nation to incorporate immigrants. 
And we have a history, a very, very important history, that when we do bring in 
immigrants and we fully incorporate them, great things happen.

One of the studies we recently completed is a 20-year impact of the Immigration 
Reform and Control Act, IRCA, which was bipartisan legislation, but there's 
very little tracking of what these legislations have actually done.

What it did immediately was a win-win situation. It raised wages and raised the 
social floor and did away with most of the easily exploitable sweat shop 
environments, even in Los Angeles, in the first six years of IRCA.

Also, very, very significant, the biggest dropoffs in history of undocumented 
crossing of the U.S. and Mexican border occurred right after legalization for 
over six years without spending the billions and billions of dollars that is 
currently being talked about.

So the priorities are all wrong with the Congresspeople in Washington in terms 
of these issues. Legalization first. That is really the vital issue.

Second, questions of economic incorporation are of incredible vital importance 
both here and abroad. What we have been doing is an analysis of the economic 
contributions of legalized immigration.

For example, in the State of California -- it's quite impressive. In the State 
of California over the last 25 years, there has been -- we just finished this 
study. It's an astonishing number, $5.5 trillion, that's with a T, has been 
added by the foreign-born workers, $5.5 trillion.

In Los Angeles alone, $1.5 trillion, with a T. That's a lot of zeros. This is 
very, very significant.

What happens also when you legalize people, when you really bring them into the 
economic mainstream? When we did our analysis 20 years later of IRCA, you see 
the profile of the typical undocumented family before legalization and now 
where they are now 20 years later. Many of their children are here in the room 
as students at UCLA, for example.

But shifting dramatically to an unbanked environment to the banking sector, 
that in itself is the single major contributor of the economic benefit.

By the way, let's not forget, in this country there are over 60 million people 
that don't have access to financial services, and this is extremely important.

This is an issue that cuts way beyond undocumented immigration and immigrants 
in general. It affects all our communities. The bringing in of people into the 
financial sector is, in a sense, the most vital issue.

Now, particularly, I wanted to mention the issue of remittances. On a world 
scale, there are now over $300 billion of remittances. That is more than all 
direct foreign investment and international financial assistance.

Specifically in Mexico, we are talking over $25 billion, far surpassing 
direct-born investment and aid. This is money directly from our communities 
supporting communities abroad, right.

We are actually taking care of business at the grassroots level in terms of 
having a binational, transnational economic strategy, but we are doing it the 
wrong way.

These billions of dollars are moving in the forms of cash out of our cash 
economies here in our communities which do not let us have the multiplier 
effects we should be having here to cash economies in rural areas which 
actually distort those economies and actually move the likelihood of more 
people moving here faster.

So what's the answer? The answer is not only legalization, absolutely we need 
to do that, but we need to move especially towards embracing a new generation 
of technologies.

We haven't had a chance to talk about this lately, but the work we are doing 
now is looking at how the cell phone, which all of us can't live without, 
right? Well, there are now four billion cell phones on the planet. Last year it 
was 1.2 billion cell phones, okay, that were bought mostly by poor people.

The technology is now available for this instrument to be the basis of a 
banking of the unbanked and a movement of remittances directly into 
micro-financial institutions, both credit unions here as well as 
micro-financial institutions abroad.

And I know Lucy is going to talk about this as well. We worked with the 
California credit unions for many years, and what we are doing is working with 
people like Professor Muhammad Yunus, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 
Bangladesh, and networks of financial institutions in Latin America who are now 
part of the hundred million who now have micro-finance institutions.

We are now on the brink of a major breakthrough of taking this huge, huge 
transnational economy of migrants here and of their families abroad and they 
are now part of the solution.

They are not the problem. They are part of the solution of global economic 
development. If we bring the people out of the shadows into a legalized 
framework and empower them with technologies for this new generation of banking 
the unbanked, the economic impacts far outweigh -- the full study is being made 
to the Commission, and we do it here and many other countries around the world 
-- far outweigh anything that will dole around of trade liberalization, 
something it will produce. That's all very positive.

But really focusing on migration, remittances is of critical economic 
importance on a global scale. I really would like the Commission to take this 
up in its next hearing.

Finally, I wanted to make -- a lot of the studies we have been doing, as 
Congresswoman Solis has mentioned, Los Angeles and North America in a global 
comparative perspective.

Europe, since this is a commission that is embedded in the history of Europe, 
actually has a great deal to tell us. We did an analysis of 50 years ago. The 
income gap between Spain and Europe was the same between Mexico and the United 

Today, that gap has disappeared between Spain and Europe, okay, as well as 
Ireland as well as Portugal. They have done economic integration right.

One of the critical things was these were all migrant-sending regions. Spanish 
migration, everyone knows about the Irish migrations, the Greeks. There's no 
more migration from these areas. They are now part of an integrated affluent 

What was the major difference? It turns out, obviously, the European regional 
development funds, as Congresswoman Solis knows, and we worked Councilman 
Torres to create the North American Development Bank, which was an attempt to 
get North America to think about things in a new way here. Europe, they did it 
right. It had a very positive impact.

It is interesting. Our studies have now shown that what really made a 
difference in Europe and Spain, in particular, was migration and remittances. 
Legal migration and remittances going back into the full banking of the Cajas 
Popularis in Spain. That's what did the fascinating multiplier effect of 
remittances creating small businesses and jobs that created a vibrant 
grassroots economy.

We can do this right now. We can do this right here. It's of vital importance 
specifically to L.A.

There's a million undocumented families in Los Angeles. We are the undocumented 
capital of the world. That's not a great thing to say.

But, on the other hand, it's an immense opportunity. If we do things right, and 
we have to be at the forefront of saying the policies have to be changed, they 
have to be changed now.

We have the most to gain from doing that. This will separate us beyond the 
divisiveness of the raids and conflicts that people think about immigration and 
really see it as a brilliant example of the American vision of fully giving 
people rights and having them be fully incorporated is of great -- it's both 
political and moral, but it's also a great economic benefit and can lead the 
way in terms of how we enter this century and meet this most basic challenge of 
economic integration with four billion people that are extremely poor on the 
planet and we are going to have to deal with it.

This is actually immigration, and remittance is doing the right thing. It is an 
extremely vital part of moving forward.

Thank you very much.

SOLIS: Thank you. I'm delighted to have been joined by one of my favorite 
congressional members representing the Greater Los Angeles area. That's 
Congresswoman Diane Watson.

She and I spent time in the state senate, and I recall when I ran first for 
that seat, both she and another member of congress were so welcoming in having 
the first Latina placed there next to her.

We spent many years working on the health committee and did some very good 
things back in our days. But I'm delighted she is here.

She is a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and she is a member of 
the House Oversight Government Reform Committee.

Before she was elected to the House in 2001, she was also our United States 
ambassador to Micronesia under President Bill Clinton.

She has had a legacy here in Los Angeles serving as state senator and also one 
of the first African-American women to serve on the L.A. Unified School 
District. She comes with a great deal of wealth and experience, and I'm so 
delighted that she could be here with us this morning.

Please, Diane, take a moment to speak to us.

WATSON: Thank you so much.

I want to welcome the chairman, and I like to call him "Judge," Alcee Hastings, 
and our co-chair and my good friend Hilda Solis for having me take part.

I did attend one meeting just before you became the chairman. I hope to get 
back on the commission because I think that this is the commission that does 
the important work globally.

I am so pleased to have come in at the time that Dr. Ojeda was speaking because 
-- I'm an alumni of this university and I don't recognize it anymore and we 
were parked way on the other side of the campus and I had to send my aide in to 
find it and I got in at the right time.

I think you summarized what migration and the focus on migration means to the 
global economy that we are in internationally. We cannot hide from the fact 
that we must receive the talents and skills of those who choose to come here 
because they do enrich our economy and our country. We are no longer a country 
that can live in isolation.

And as Hilda can tell you, we are surrounded, particularly here in California, 
with people whose attitudes are, "Keep them out." But we are finding our work 
force is diminishing, those with skilled sets is diminishing and we are finding 
that the salaries are not keeping pace with the rise in the economy.

We have got to figure this out because the people who come here legally or 
illegally, they come to work. They take the jobs that Americans no longer want 
to do, and I'm highly aware of this.

What the panelists need to know is that the political will in Congress is not 
there to deal with this issue of immigration in its complexity. We say many 
things, but when it comes down to working out solutions to be able to utilize 
the people who come here but to have them come through a door of acceptance has 
not really been attended to like it should.

So I want the audience to know we are tied in to the rest of this globe, we are 
tied into it economically, and we will be tied into it culturally.

We have got to understand the cultures and the beliefs of other groups, and 
particularly those who are not as fortunate as we. Otherwise, we become the 

I'm not going to go into that piece of it, but we have to know how to live in 
this global economy that we are in, we have to know how to trade, we have to 
know how to invite people.

As I was reading through the materials, I think the best suggestion that has 
been made out of all of those who have had input today is that we probably need 
to expand green cards. Let people who are not citizens come and get a green 
card, but we need to monitor them to be sure that when time runs out they 

I think the ICE operations where they come in and do the raids and they split 
families and they take workers off is an inhumanitarian indignity and crime. 
Let me put it like that.

The migrants that come to Southern California in the area where we live, we 
work, and we represent come to work, and the remittances that they send back 
home keep people alive right across the border.

And I have explained to my constituents that there are no lines in the sand. 
People who once were in control of this area feel that they can go back and 
forth across the border.

Fences will not do it. So we have to get out of this ideology that you put a 
fence up and you block it and you keep somebody out. We are going to have to 
control the flow over these borders, and it takes those at the highest level of 
government to do that. The highest level of government. Our president, and I 
think we are going to have a new president quite soon, and they are going to 
have to negotiate.

But I am so pleased that the Helsinki Commission is looking at the impacts 
regionally. As you know, California as being a nation state, the sixth largest 
economy in the world, is very, very important when we consider because many, 
many of our immigrants come from over the Pacific, Southeast Asia, over the 
border, and they migrate within the United States from the colder, 
overindustrialized northeastern -- they are bypassing Texas and coming here.

For the Helsinki Commission to look at the impact of migration is a very 
important focus, Mr. Chairman, and I want you to take that back to the 
commission, because we can be anywhere in this globe in nine or ten hours, as 
you know, and a free trade issue we have to look at to be sure there's balance 
in trade and that human rights are observed on both ends.

And so when you come here to Los Angeles and you take a look at migration, you 
are going to get a composite of all of the complexities that we deal with when 
we talk about migration.

So I want to thank the panelists. I came in to hear exactly what we needed to 
hear. Would you come to Washington and help us work through this immigration 

And I would ask the chairperson and the co-chair if we could invite people to 
e-mail us their ideas about how we can enhance the immigration proposal that 
the Hispanic caucus has already put forward.

Obviously, we are not ready to deal with it and that's why it hasn't come to 
the floor and hasn't passed. We are not sure that all of the aspects of 
immigration are considered.

But I certainly welcome the input from our witnesses and people in the audience 
on how we can enhance not only California, not only this region, but the United 
States and our relationship to the rest of the world.

Thank you so much for holding this hearing today. I'm going to stay as long as 
I can, and that's about the next 20 minutes. We have a tough schedule today.

HASTINGS: Alex was just telling me it's www.gov -- you recite it.

ALEX JOHNSON: www.csce.gov.

HASTINGS: Great suggestion, Diane.

Diane also this weekend -- I know because she told me -- is celebrating with 
her mother and friends her mother's 98th birthday.

SOLIS: Thank you for your statements, your very eloquent statement, 
Congresswoman Watson.

Our next speaker is Ms. Lucy Ito. She is the senior vice president of research, 
communications, and credit union development for the California and Nevada 
Credit Union Leagues. She is well versed in remittances and previously worked 
with the World Council of Credit Unions for 14 years where she provided 
management oversight for International Remittance Network.

The issue of remittances is particularly important to understand given the 
critical role that they play in the development of countries. It is even more 
important to understand today given the impact of the slowing economy and the 
impact that that will have on those developing countries as well.

So, as you begin your testimony, we look forward to hearing what solutions and 
advice you have for us.

Thank you, and welcome, Ms. Ito.

ITO: Thank you, special representative Solis and Congresswoman Watson. I'm very 
honored and it's a very big honor and a pleasure to be here this morning.

As Congresswoman Solis mentioned, I'm here not only representing the California 
Credit Union but also the International Credit Union System, which has helped 
educate the United States Credit Union System on the importance of remittances.

Instead of reading my testimony, which is quite long, I've prepared one for 
you. There is a handout that I think will enable us to get through the points 
more quickly. If I could ask Alex to please provide those.

As the handouts are being distributed, let me make a comment about the 
immigration context for remittances. Dr. Hinojosa-Ojeda mentioned the degree of 
immigration that is taking place worldwide.

According to our country's last census bureau, 10.3 percent of the U.S. 
population is foreign-born. Depending on what estimations you look at today, we 
are talking about 28 to 30 million recent immigrants, foreign-born citizens 
here -- excuse me, immigrants here.

And it won't surprise anyone in this room when I make the observation that it's 
the youngest, the poorest, and the most recent immigrants who typically are the 
ones sending money back to their homes.

And it's not a coincidence that this same group also happens to be the most 
unbanked population both here in this country and relatives of theirs back in 
other countries.

If you look at the table on the top of what would be Page 2 in your handout, 
Congresswoman Solis mentioned the Credit Union International Remittance 
Network, IRnet. About ten years ago, because of work that the World Council of 
Credit Unions were doing in Guatemala and El Salvador, we were very shocked at 
the rates that were being charged to remit money back then.

A few of us were talking earlier about 40, $50 to send $100 to another country. 
It was because of that that the California Credit Unions and World Council of 
Credit Unions and other folks decided to experiment, could we remit funds for a 
more affordable price.

Back in 1997, we introduced IRnet where there's a flat $10 fee. We are very 
pleased that the market has matured, recognized that that's a rate that's out 
there, and today the going rate is $11 per remittance.

If you look at the chart that is at the top of Page 2, you'll see in 2007 the 
IRnet system remitted $578 million from the U.S. to other countries. That 
equates to 1.5 million transactions in 2007.

This year, in 2008, it's going to be very interesting to see how the U.S. 
economy affects remittances, but right now for first quarter of 2008, $127 
million has been remitted through IRnet, and that was a total of 350,000 
transactions. That's for the first quarter of 2008.

If we stay on that track, it looks like we are going to be at about the same 
level that we were for 2007. In a couple remarks I'll be making about global 
remittances, there's reason to believe that that may taper off due to the U.S. 

I just wanted to make a few comments about IRnet before I talk about global 
remittances. We can use very important -- it's not to tout IRnet. It's what we 
hope other remittance transfer programs will do.

Something the credit union remittance program does is, in the receiving 
country, it does not require a recipient to have a bank account in that 
country. The remittances are delivered to a person's home or -- in that case 
they get it in the form of a check, or they pick it up at a credit union or 
some other site.

This is important because in other countries, developing countries, the 
unbanked population is estimated to be 80 percent of the population. If you 
don't have a bank account, you can't receive traditional remittances so it's 
important that there are some nontraditional remittance options.

Secondly, often people are cheated with the exchange rates they are quoted 
here, but when they remit the money, it is not the same exchange rate that is 
used when the money arrives to its destination. Credit unions are making sure 
that rate is guaranteed until delivery.

Thirdly, often foreign recipients are charged a receiving fee at the other end. 
That's terrible. That adds to the ridiculousness of gouging people.

Dr. Hinojosa-Ojeda mentioned that new technologies coming through the IRnet 
system at the moment is more traditional. People bring cash, send it out.

Besides the mobile phone technology that's coming up, I'm pleased that card 
technology is going to enable us to send remittances using debit cards in other 
countries, so we would be delighted to keep you posted on that technical 

Let's move to remittances globally. I was really pleased to hear the figures 
before. The World Bank does not estimate all remittances but only those that 
are recorded, and they can see that there was a lot of unrecorded remitting 

In 2007, the World Bank estimated that $240 billion was remitted around the 
world, up from 221 billion in 2006. These recorded remittances equal two times 
international foreign assistance to developing countries.

So let's say international aid is approximately $120 billion a year, 
remittances are double that amount. The World Bank estimates that these 
remittances amount to two-thirds of foreign direct investment globally, and 
certainly remittances are the largest and least volatile source of external 
finances in many a poor country.

In Southern California here, we have many diverse communities, many represented 
from Latin America and Caribbean countries. That's certainly the largest region 
that's receiving remittances estimated at $60 billion in 2007.

And the Inter-American Development Bank has made this observation. They have 
said that remittances may be more than doubling the income of the core 20 
percent of the population in Latin America and Caribbean.

Turning to our last page here, I did want to share with you observations that 
have been made about the economic impact in other countries. You will see on 
this page that I am only taking the top four or five examples of each.

You look at GDP in a country like El Salvador. The remittances that go into El 
Salvador total 15.1 percent of GDP. In an extreme case, Haiti remittances 
account for 24 percent of GDP in that country. Nicaragua, 20 percent of the GDP 
is the amount of remittances in that country.

If you look at participation by local population in receiving remittances, in 
El Salvador 28 percent of the El Salvadorian population receive remittances, 
Guatemala 24 percent, and Mexico 18 percent.

Congresswoman Watson made this comment about how everything is interconnected 
in the economies. That is so true. A very disturbing observation that we have 
made is that if you take Mexico alone from 2002 to 2006, each year remittances 
grew by 20 percent, so you would expect in 2007 another 20 percent.

Instead, for the first three quarters of 2007, remittances to Mexico had only 
grown by 1.4 percent as compared to 20 percent in the previous five years.

Looking at why that might be, the conclusion has been that the weak job market 
in the U.S., especially in construction where a lot of Mexican immigrants are 
employed, that has contributed to this decrease, and also the tighter border 
controls that are being practiced have meant that fewer people are coming here, 
so fewer remitters are here to send back remittances.

I will end my comments there on remittances, but I did want to thank all three 
of you as co-sponsors of HR 1537, the Credit Union Regulatory Improvements Act. 
I'm not just pitching for it here, but if that passes, that will enable us to 
open credit union services to more underserved communities.

Another problem -- yes, there are limited services, but often immigrants are 
also victims of pay day lending. This would allow credit unions to offer pay 
day lending alternatives to underserved communities. Thank you.

SOLIS: Thank you very much.

Because of schedules here, I want to accommodate Congresswoman Watson and will 
ask her to go ahead and ask a series of questions for five minutes and to talk 
-- direct her questions to the panel.

WATSON: You just said something, Ms. Ito, that just caught my attention, pay 
day lending and it's such a ripoff, and it also was mentioned to send monies, 
remittances of $100, you are going to pay 50.

We are going through, at this particular time, with the banking market out 
there and the different items they come up with to really gouge people, so when 
we talk about the complexities, we have to include how remittances are gouged, 
and they are making money and the persons at the other end who are the 
recipients really lose.

You were talking about the credit unions and you mentioned that there would be 
a card. Could that card be then converted into the cash of the country of the 

ITO: Yes.

WATSON: And then you go -- it's like the telephone card?

ITO: It would be a debit card that you put in the machine of the receiving 
country and get local currency.

WATSON: Very good.

Dr. Hinojosa, and I called you Dr. Ojeda. I know those are hyphenated names so 
I can take my choice, right?

HINOJOSA-OJEDA: That's right. Thank you.

WATSON: How do you view the future in terms of migration, immigration, legally 
and illegally on this area of the country, Southern California? And I know 
you've done a lot of research. I've followed you over the decades, and what do 
you see for the future?

HINOJOSA-OJEDA: Well, I think the question also is what would be the optimal. I 
think it's inevitable that we are going to have to bring in a significantly 
larger share of the workforce going forward from immigration.

We simply are not -- in fact, if we don't have immigration, we will be having a 
substantial decrease of close to ten percent in the population without 
immigration. So we need to be growing not only positively in terms of the 
workforce size, but as you were mentioning, also the nature of the skills.

This is, in a sense, a combination of both bringing in the right types of 
workers, recognizing how we are integrated with certain parts of the world, but 
making sure when they get here they are as quickly as possible brought in with 
full rights and economic opportunities to make them the most productive as 

What we find, interestingly enough, is when we legalize people -- remember, we 
have, in a sense, a reservoir here.

IRCA, another thing it did in terms of skills, as soon as legalization took 
place, people's own spending on their own capital, human capital increased by 
over 200 percent, GEDs, ESLs, and on-the-job training.

We actually are looking at productive increases from that that more than 
outweigh this positive impact, which are wage increases. We can bring in, and 
we are estimating, again, about 12 percent to 14 percent of the growth in a 
positive way has to come from immigration, and it can be done at a higher wage 
and skill level.

If I can say one quick thing about the technology issue. This is something that 
we have spent a lot of our time lately on, working with what is the problem, 
why don't we have the banks and the credit unions and now the cell phone 

And there are the debit card solutions. That is definitely part of what we 
already sort of studied and worked with with the Ford Foundation and California 
Credit Union League, and that's a major advancement.

But the problem is the credit unions -- the debit cards, you need ATM machines 
and POS, and most of the countries don't have that, and that's what's 
interesting about the cell phone.

El Salvador is a hundred percent cell phone ready today in the most small 
villages. So marvelous things are happening even in the so-called backward 
countries like Kenya.

WATSON: You triggered something in my mind when you said cell phones. I started 
going to Kenya in the early '80s. And when you get away from Nairobi and you 
really get out in Masai territory and so on and people are walking in their 
costumes and so on, I come back 20 years later and everybody is running around 
the bush with a cell phone.

HINOJOSA-OJEDA: You know what they are doing now is they are using their cell 
phones to send money within the network. That's what I've been doing, traveling 
the Philippines.

And as another very important example, we don't have it here. It's absurd. 
Right in Latin America -- in L.A., everyone's got two cell phones, right? This 
is an -- I should say we are and the students all here are part of a project 
where we are Google-mapping every single money remittance location, check 
casher, and pay day lender, right guys?

And what we are doing is we are measuring the amount of money that's being 
taken out of the community through this unnecessary cost. And Ms. Ito said it's 
$10. There's no reason it's not less than $2. The technology is there to do 

We've analyzed the economic impact of moving toward this new type of technology 
and giving people -- anybody who has a phone number can essentially have a 
virtual bank account now. That technology is available now.

The economic-multiplier effects, we are studying it right now in the L.A. 
areas, and some of your districts are part of our study areas. We have 
multiples of economic growth that can happen as a result of this empowerment.

And in the villages, it's more than ten times. A village that moves towards 
having their money arrive, not in cash, but with a local micro-finance 
institution that can then lend money for productive activities, things that the 
whole town associations spear-headed now can be done on a much broader scale.

It's a very, very important time. We really need to focus having that as an 
integral part of migration and remittance negotiations, as you said, next year 
and take advantage of this huge new interesting possibility.

WATSON: What is really, to us, frustrating is that we know the politics of all 
of this. And rather than a resolution to these problems, we get tied up with 
the politics of it. And believe me, that's where we are right now.

I mentioned before it's going to take a whole new way of thinking about this 
under a different kind, not ideology, but an open mind, thinking how we play 
into this global atmosphere in which we find ourselves now. And we need not kid 
ourselves. It's all political.

What happens with this border to the south, we don't have the same problem with 
the north. Have you noticed that difference? So it operates in an arena that is 
not always authentic.

I want to say this to Reverend Estrada. I'm sorry I missed your testimony, but 
I was reading the background on this hearing and I know many of our churches 
have become sanctuaries.


WATSON: And there is a counter-movement, and we see it where we work, too, for 
giving sanctuary to people who are here without the correct credentials.

Can you remark at this point how strong the sanctuary movement -- I'm Catholic, 
by the way, and I know that our bishop here has offered our archdiocese as a 
sanctuary and getting a whole lot of political pressure. Can you just give us a 
view into the very near future as to this movement?

ESTRADA: The movement is a national movement, so there are 52 different faith 
communities that are part of the sanctuary movement. It's -- we believe it's 
saving lives. We don't want families to be broken apart.

Our hierarchy is not fully, I guess I would say supportive, supportive in the 
sense of, I guess, how we are doing it, to take in a family or a person into 
your church for a period of time who has a deportation order. It's a little 
bit, I guess, controversial. But I think morally it's the right thing to do.

So out of 52 faith communities in the country who are stepping up to the plate, 
and it's all about faith, all about what you believe is right and moral, but 
the real work is trying to change policies, trying to change the current policy.

So each one of our -- in Los Angeles, each one of our five families who have 
been working really hard with attorneys to try to get them to reopen their 
case, to reconsider, so that they could stay here with their children because 
they have -- each one of the families have a U.S.-born citizen, and we are 
adamant about the separation of families.

So the heroes here are the people that say, "Yes, I will go into sanctuaries." 
It's a sacrifice for them. Is it going to grow and make a big difference? It 
will in a small way, but it's people of faith standing up to what they believe 

WATSON: Thank you so much to all of the witnesses, and I appreciate you holding 
this regional hearing here so we can air from a different point of view than 
what we get in Washington, D.C., all the time.

SOLIS: I'm going to defer to my colleague, Alcee Hastings and the Chairman, to 
begin his round of questioning.

HASTINGS: Thank you very much. I won't take much more time because of the fact 
that we have additional witnesses. And early on, the counsel general of 
Honduras was here, and I'd like it if we could recognize her. I know there are 

I also know that our dear friend and colleague is going to have to leave 
because of previous commitments she had told us about. So, Diane, I want to 
thank you.

And, particularly, let me just see a show of hands of the students that are in 
college. Okay. Well, I want -- you know the term, using a sports metaphor, of 
an impact player. Well, you today, if you have not seen or heard of Diane 
Watson, you have seen a real impact player in the lives culturally, socially, 
economically, and politically of this community. She is indeed a living legend, 
and I'm glad she is with us today.

Thank you, Diane.

WATSON: Thank you very much.

HASTINGS: I only have one question, and I'll try to approach it from the 
standpoint of Father Estrada. You and I have lived a few decades and we have 
seen and heard immigration discussions.

How do you compare the current migration debate with that of previous eras? Is 
there any specific advice that -- or factors that you would urge that we as 
policymakers look at?

And just before you start, let me ask Katie -- we sometimes forget that the 
court reporter is going on and on. Are you okay?

THE REPORTER: Yes. Thank you.

HASTINGS: That will be my only question.

ESTRADA: Our church, La Placita, Queen of Angels Church, is right in the center 
of the city. In the '30s, there was this immigration, these immigration raids. 
They say that immigrants would run into the church seeking safety, sanctuary.

So there has been immigration raids, immigrants that were not wanted and so 
forth. But I believe that today it's a lot meaner. It's a lot -- it is a force 
that is immoral. It's an issue that has to be looked at as a moral issue.

I believe that the faith communities have a lot to say here. There is a growing 
movement of interfaith communities that really are stepping up to the plate, 
organizing, are coming together, and really being a witness.

Like the sanctuary movement, I forgot to say, is a witness, giving witness 
because -- I guess to answer your question, it's a lot meaner, it's a lot 
deeper, and it needs to stop.

HASTINGS: Thank you very much.

Madam Chair, I know we have other witnesses and I don't want to get too far 
into that. I won't ask additional questions, and I've taken all your 
information to heart, Ms. Ito.

SOLIS: I want to mention to the audience that we will be posting some questions 
for our witnesses, and they can respond and we will post that on the Web site.

But I wanted to thank you, Father Richard, for coming. You mentioned three 
individuals that you have worked with that have been now successful --  -- 


SOLIS: -- that may have come in without documentation. What kind of resources 
did you use to make that happen? How did that come about?

ESTRADA: Well, we are a nonprofit organization, 501(c), and we develop programs 
for education, and we just -- we don't ask, "Are you documented or 
undocumented?" We create a program for advancement, a program of, say, learning 
English to learning how to get a job, et cetera, health programs, and so forth, 
and they just become part of a population that we work with, and that's how we 
do it.

SOLIS: What is your source of funding, primarily?

ESTRADA: Primarily, we get government funding from the city, from the county, 
we get private funding, and it doesn't -- the future doesn't look that good.

There's a lot more work that has to be done. We have here with us our program 
directors of Jovenes, Inc., and our grant writer that are here today.

Yes, it's not only Jovenes but organizations that reach out to youth and 
families that are getting the brunt of the economic situation.

SOLIS: Thank you, Father Estrada, for your work.

I wanted to pose this question to Dr. Hinojosa. We talk a lot about remittances 
and the importance and the economic strength that that provides to the sending 
countries in terms of the benefits that they get.

Have you seen in your review of how remittances are used if countries, for 
example, like Mexico or maybe Indonesia or Asian-Pacific communities, if 
there's any movement to utilize those remittances to build an infrastructure? 
Because I think that's something of great concern, and people in Europe are 
talking about that as well.

As we see people migrating from, say, old Eastern European countries, as an 
example, they are coming up to work in Spain and Greece and Germany, and they 
are sending that money home, and in some cases there is a system to send that 
money -- to bank it back from the sending country, and they actually created an 
infrastructure so hospitals, housing, things that actually add stability to the 

Can you reflect on that? Have you seen any of that?

HINOJOSA-OJEDA: I just got off the plane this morning. We were in Mexico 
meeting with various state governors. What we are doing is something very 

These are, of course, monies that belongs to families and they need it to live 
on. But if you move it through a banking system and you create an 
infrastructure of saving and investment, that investment can then have very 
significant local impacts.

So one thing we are now -- one of the things we know about migration and 
remittances is people are migrating to save money, to try to save money. What 
doesn't exist is basically institutions for -- that produce products for 

One thing we are doing for various states now is to create a development 
savings bond for remittances so people can, through their cell phone, send the 
money back and put a little bit of it into a savings account which they are 
receiving a return of investment and then that gets matched through this notion 
of 3 for 1.

Instead of 3 for 1 for individual projects which again was breaking through, as 
you know, Zacatecas and various other communities, now we can take it to a 
larger level. We can create local savings bonds for development in the States, 
and with the federal government and the international development institutions 
leveraging that, and then those funds can be used for a wide variety of things, 
infrastructure for housing, and also, by the way, for productive activities.

We are doing something quite interesting now where women's cooperatives in 
Mexico are producing USDA certified organics and nopales, and everybody loves 
nopales, right?

So the market for these foods are now bigger in the United States than in 
Mexico, and now this creates new small business opportunities here for 
companies to import this working directly with economic advancement on a scale 

That's how you can leverage these remittances to really provide economic 
activity on a sustainable basis and a tax base which can then support the 
infrastructure investments and be educational.

So there's a way out of here. There's absolutely clear cases. And the answer 
goes directly to our streets in our neighborhoods, and that's what we have to 
focus on, create, at the local level, working with the churches and credit 
unions, all this networking and we can solve the problem just like we run our 
daily lives here.

SOLIS: I think maybe later on I can get a response from Dr. Hinojosa and Lucy 
Ito. I'm just curious about the amount of money that goes untracked through 
money orders, and I think about my own family when my mother years ago would 
issue a money order, send it back to Nicaragua, and are we able to track that?

And that also is evidence that there is economic strength and stability that is 
being, you know, exposed to those Third World countries. And not just Central 
America, but I know it's in the Asian-Pacific regions as well. Those are things 
I'd like to get information back on.

Let's thank the panelists. This is a very good discussion.

With that, we will transition to our second panelist of witnesses. I'd like to 
ask Kerry Doi to come forward, Ms. Angelica Salas, and EunSook Lee, please come 
forward and join us at the table.

We are going to dive right in. We are going to begin with our first panelist, 
Mr. Kerry Doi, who is the executive director and president of Pan-Asian 
Consortium in Employment, better known as PACE, the largest Pan-Asian community 
development organization in California.

PACE was founded back in 1976 with an initial grant from the City of Los 
Angeles to address the employment and job training needs of the Asian-Pacific 
islander communities. In the last 30 years, PACE efforts have broadened to 
include workforce development, housing, business assistance, and early 
childhood education.

Just two years ago I was proud to have the opportunity to join PACE to honor 11 
women, who were small business owners, with checks of $1,000 to help them begin 
their new companies. I looked at it as micro-loans, and so I know that it's a 
very successful program.

With approximately 300 employees speaking 26 different languages and dialects, 
Mr. Doi will speak to us about the services such as housing programs, job 
training placements, and youth education and business and economic development.

HASTINGS: Is he going to speak in all 26 different languages?

DOI: I can say "aloha," which means several different things in Hawaiian.

SOLIS: Mr. Doi, please begin. You have five minutes.

DOI: Thank you.

Thank you very much, Representative Solis and Mr. Chairman.

It's an honor to be here, and this is a really important occasion. So because 
it was so important, I wracked my brain about what kinds of things to say and 
came up with about 30 minutes of remarks. But in the interest of time, I will 
try to just highlight it and cut it down to five minutes. I did submit written 
testimony to the panel.

HASTINGS: Thank you.

DOI: So I will try to rip through it quickly and highlight some major points.

As Congresswoman Solis said, we are proud to have been of service for over 30 
years in Los Angeles. And since 1976, we have served more than half a million 
illegal people living in the Los Angeles area.

Of these, almost two-thirds have been and continue to be people who are new to 
the United States. Having worked with hundreds of thousands of immigrants over 
the past 31 years, we believe that we learned a little bit about what works and 
what does not, and we welcome the opportunity to share some of what we have 
learned with the commission.

As you know, the County of L.A. has one of the largest and fastest-growing 
immigrant populations in the United States. Immigrants bring a huge surge of 
energy and possibilities to the entire area. Founded in '76 by leaders in the 
API communities in L.A. know that having a job is critical to economic 

Over the years we have added programs that provided complimentary services to 
our primary target population. Today we offer, as the Congresswoman said, a 
full range of programs and services to help families achieve economic 
self-sufficiency including energy conservation, early childhood education, 
affordable housing development, asset building and financial education, and 
small business development.

What makes our program work to empower immigrants to use their skills, energy, 
and ingenuity to fully engage with their new country and make a positive 
contribution? First and foremost, we believe that you must respect the heritage 
and experience.

More than 85 percent of our staff speak one or more languages in addition to 
English. It's more than just language. It's also important to understand the 
culture and life experience of our clients.

One example is the problem of getting the immigrants to use banks as has been 
stated earlier. Many come from countries that come from unstable or nonexistent 
banking systems. Many escaped from repressive governments, and as a result, not 
only do they not understand our banking system, they don't trust any banking 

Traditional means of outreach and program improvement won't work in this case. 
Trust, word of mouth, referrals and experience over time with friends, 
relatives, and neighbors are essential elements to be able to effectively reach 
deep into immigrant communities and be considered an organization to be trusted.

So what kinds of programs and resources and services are needed? PACE has 
identified eight program elements that we offer that we believe are critical to 
effectively empower migrant communities and promote prosperity.

No. 1, English as a second language, because overcoming the language barrier is 
a must for people to fully participate in our system.

No. 2 is financial education, as has been stated earlier, and I don't want to 
beat that point.

But No. 3, asset accumulation is important and building on financial education. 
There are many existing government and private bank programs to help low-income 
people leverage their resources and promote savings.

No. 4, job training, as stated earlier, is vital to economic self-sufficiency.

No. 5, business development, because many immigrants become entrepreneurs 
because it offers the most immediate and sometimes the only way for them to 
earn a livable wage.

No. 6 is affordable housing. The high cost of housing in Southern California is 
legendary and true.

And No. 7, comprehensive family services.

And, finally, mentoring and advocacy. The transitional trauma that impacts 
individuals and families who immigrate to a new country cannot be 

This is exacerbated if the reason for the immigration is because of war, 
persecution, political instability, and a hundred other reasons. Our staffing 
and clients have stories of their journey to America that would make you weep, 
brothers who disappeared, children who drowned in sight but out of reach, 
families living in foxholes and eating bugs.

That they arrived in the United States at all is a miracle. Many of the men and 
women in PACE have shared that experience. It infuses what we do with an 
appreciation, a respect, and a humanity that transcends programs and funding.

We work very hard to identify programs that share our passion for low-income 
people of all ethnicities and nationalities who just want a chance, and we try 
to give them that chance.

So what proactive policy development could government undertake to help PACE do 
what we do better and for more people? Eight critical areas immediately come to 

One is direct job training funding to community organizations that do not 
trickle down through the state and local government.

No. 2, expansion of the Community Reinvestment Act to include the new, emerging 
class of banks that are currently exempt, such as insurance companies or 
retail-sponsored banks.

No. 3, restoration of the Community Reinvestment Act to again include banks 
that have been exempted over the years.

No. 4, elevate and increase affordable housing responsibilities for 
government-sponsored enterprises.

No. 5, we need Congress to insist on continued enforcement of Title VI of the 
Civil Rights Act of 1964, which says that "Simple justice requires that public 
funds, to which all taxpayers of all races, colors, and national origins 
contribute, not be spent in any fashion

which encourages, entrenches, subsidizes or results in racial color or national 
origin discrimination."

No. 6, in light of Title VI, we need Congress to be diligent in their economic 
support programs such as those being discussed right now in response to the 
mortgage foreclosure crisis be equally available to people in need in all 

No. 7, increased funding for refugee and immigrant services and inclusion of 
funding for services for political and economic asylees.

And, lastly, we need for Congress to have the kind of vision that sparked the 
community development movement in the 1960s. Foundations are trying, banks have 
stepped up to the plate, and the federal government's commitment to communities 
dwindles each year.

In closing, I'd like to reiterate that America is a nation of immigrants. They 
provide a vibrancy, resilience, and energy to our nation. Programs that serve 
to ease their way into life in America are not expenses, they are investments, 
investments in America's greatest asset, our people.

SOLIS: Thank you.

Our next speaker is Ms. Angelica Salas, who is working with the Coalition for 
Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles, known as CHIRLA since 1995.

CHIRLA was initially created to help coordinate between directors, service 
providers, and advocacy groups dedicated to advancing the human and civil 
rights of immigrants and refugees in Los Angeles.

CHIRLA's staff of 30 runs over a dozen programs to help educate immigrants 
about their rights, offer legal aid referrals, train immigrants to become 
leaders, and assist in employer/employee wage disputes. They are also an 
important voice for humane policy at the local, state, and federal level.

Ms. Salas, welcome, and thank you and please give us your five-minute testimony.

SALAS: First of all, I want to say, Madam Representative, thank you so very 
much and also Congress for hosting this hearing and for having this forum. It's 
so important that we get to voice from our perspective from the ground what is 
happening in immigrant communities and also to celebrate all their many 

CHIRLA was formed in 1986 to advance the human and civil rights of immigrants 
and refugees in Los Angeles, promote harmonious multi-ethnic and multi-racial 
human relations, and through coalition building, advocacy, community education 
and organizing, empower immigrants and their allies to build a more just 

I speak before you today to testify to the great and open secret in our midst 
that is the often unheralded fact of the immigrant contributions to the County 
of Los Angeles despite the many obstacles in their way.

As an immigrant rights organization, CHIRLA has been witness to the powerful 
presence of immigrants in our county and their amazing contributions to 
development and transformation of Los Angeles. The future of Los Angeles hinges 
largely on how we integrate and provide better opportunities to the million of 
immigrants in our midst.

The Migration Policy Institute, in a recent report on immigrant integration, 
revealed that Los Angeles County remains the largest immigrant metropolis in 
the nation with more than one-third of its 9.9 million residents and nearly 
half its workforce comprised of immigrants.

Consider also the following data from an upcoming report that we are releasing 
today called "A Closer Look: Fortress of Immigrants in Los Angeles," and I will 
provide you with a copy. In this report we have compiled over six years of 
information collected from different reports that have been distributed within 
the last six years, but often I think are shelved and we don't really 
understand the great information.

This report basically says that the City of Los Angeles is home to people from 
more than 140 countries who speak at least 224 different languages.

Los Angeles County has the largest population of Asians in the entire United 
States with a total of 1.3 million people.

The county has the largest population of Hispanic or Latino at 4.7 million 

By 2050, these populations are expected to grow 200 percent and 187 percent 
respectively. Additionally, over 30 countries have the largest representation 
of their nationals outside of their home country here in Los Angeles. Examples 
include the largest population of Mexicans, Central Americans, and Iranians.

The percentage of Los Angeles County residents age five and older who are 
foreign born as of 2006 are 35.4 percent. In addition, 63 percent of children 
in Los Angeles County are members of immigrant families. However, 87 percent of 
these children are themselves U.S. citizens.

The percentage of Los Angeles County residents who speak a language other than 
English at home is 53.6 percent in 2006.

Immigrant worker population in Los Angeles County are concentrated in a variety 
of sectors which vary according to their immigration status. Immigrants as a 
whole are highly representative, in contrast to the general population, in 
manufacturing and personal service trades.

In terms of percentages of the labor force as a whole, immigrants in Los 
Angeles County, including the undocumented, make up 59 percent of the service 
sector workers, 80 percent of production of manufacturing workers, 67 percent 
of construction workers, 62 percent of transportation workers, 61 percent of 
installation workers.

And even in fields where immigrants are less likely to work, their numbers are 
significant. They account for 30 percent of professional workers, 38 percent of 
office support workers, and 34 percent of management and business workers in 
Los Angeles County. Los Angeles County is an immigrant county.

As of 2005, first-generation immigrants have started at least 22 of Los 
Angeles's 100 fastest-growing companies. Immigrant entrepreneurs in Los Angeles 
have founded nationally successful firms such as El Pollo Loco, Panda Express, 
and LuLu's Desserts.

According to one estimate, immigrants are starting as much as 80 percent of all 
new business in Los Angeles. Throughout Los Angeles, immigrant entrepreneurs 
are revitalizing whole neighborhoods, opening up business and creating jobs, 
not just for themselves but for all Angelinos.

According to the Los Angeles Economic Development Corporation, immigrants play 
a vital role in the fashion, furniture, and food-processing industries, the 
main engine for the local economy. Immigrant participation in these industries 
produces millions of dollars in tax revenues and accounts for tens of thousands 
of jobs.

The three industries together created 495,000 jobs for immigrants and U.S. 
citizen workers and paid $103 million in local sales taxes in 2006.

CHIRLA works with low-wage immigrants in the underground economy. These are 
workers who are day laborers, who are household workers who care for others' 
homes and others' children and their elderly parents.

We also work with street vendors. These are men and women who many of them and 
many of the successful restaurants actually started by people who first started 
as street vendors, individuals who sell food and who sell wares on the streets 
of Los Angeles, a very thriving economy.

Unfortunately, these are also the industries in which we see some of the worst 
abuse, day laborers who work many, many hours a day who don't get paid not even 
for the work that they do, household workers who, after we did a report in 
2004, we found that some of the average wages for some of the household workers 
was $2.37 an hour for their work.

Street vendors who are not allowed to work in the city of Los Angeles, even 
though they pay business taxes, even though they pay permits for their carts, 
yet in the city of Los Angeles it is illegal to be a street vendor. A worker 
cannot be illegal. It cannot be a crime to work.

However, there are possibilities, and we have seen that through the creation of 
worker centers and through the organizing of workers in all industries, even 
the informal economy, this can change and workers can demand higher wages, can 
demand that their labor rights be represented, and together they can voice a 
change to their industries and change policies that basically keep them poor.

We have also launched a partnership, now I think in its fourth year end, Playo, 
which basically is a collaboration of the regional Hispanic chamber of 
commerce. It includes most of the Latin American consulates, the Central 
America consulate chapter. We have here one representative, the Mexican, the 
diocese and the diocese of San Bernardino, an organization like CHIRLA, 
together in the past four years we have collected $6 million in unpaid wages 
and back wages.

It also includes the U.S. Department of Labor and the California Department of 
Labor all working together to make sure that at the end of the day people get 
paid for their work.

Promoting civic engagement and language access will help immigrants better 
participate in their social and political environment. Immigrants know their 
social and economic possibilities are multiplied when they learn English.

One-third of Los Angeles County adults or 2.3 million are limited English 
proficient. Today most English classes are filled to capacity and require 
additional government attention to meet the extraordinary need.

With increased investment in English as a second language, programs all over 
Los Angeles will benefit.

Over 60 percent of immigrants in Los Angeles have a high school or college or 
advanced degree. These are 60 percent of immigrants in Los Angeles. Many of 
their skills and knowledge are not utilized because there are few programs to 
recognize their credentials and help them incorporate into high-skilled 

In 1999, CHIRLA began a program called Wise Up. Wise Up is an immigrant youth 
program where we go into the high schools and work with immigrant youths who 
are undocumented. We are in eight campuses in the city of Los Angeles.

We also launched the California Network, which is a network of 29 college 
campuses in which there are undocumented students. What we have right now is in 
the city -- I'm sorry, in the County of Los Angeles, we estimate that 10,000 
young people for graduating every year who are undocumented, who do not have 
access to financial aid.

Many of these young people are stellar students. Many of them -- some of them 
are in this room. They are stellar students who cannot go on to school despite 
their grades and despite incredible willingness to do so.

We have fought for financial aid so we have in-state -- right now, in the state 
of California, we have in-state tuition so children who can show they have been 
in the high school at least three years can actually have access to that 
in-state tuition, but we don't have access to financial aid.

I know of parents who are working two and three jobs, one job to pay the rent, 
one job to put food on the table, and the third job to put their kids through 

Opening up access to higher education and financial aid programs will also 
allow for the best and brightest to become professionals that contribute to Los 
Angeles society and tax base. Opening the doors of education to immigrants is 
critical to capitalizing on all the talent that immigrants have to offer.

Immigrants in Los Angeles County are also contributing to the vitality of the 
Los Angeles County democracy. Los Angeles immigrants are active in campaigns to 
improve housing, educational, health care, and labor conditions in Los Angeles.

Immigrants are central to improving conditions for all who live and work in 
L.A. Examples include the increase of wages and working conditions in the hotel 
and tourist industry in Los Angeles, the adoption of living wage ordinances, 
the protection of First Amendment right to work for day laborers, and the 
community for active citizens in Los Angeles are demonstrating to the rest of 
the country and the world that positive change can be achieved in their 
communities, and I thank the millions of people who are marching the streets of 
Los Angeles for immigrant families.

Most recently, immigrants have filed a record 1.4 million nationalization 
applications, a demonstration of their willingness to become engaged in the 
American process. Most of the applications filed were from immigrants living in 
Los Angeles County. Yet there is little investment in the citizenship or the 
legal visa family.

Billions have been spent on borders and interior enforcement while billions 
have been divested from the citizenship and service provision. Fees have 
increased, but the services have not gotten better, and we see this by the 
backlog of citizenship applications and the legal visas, that there's many of 
them for many reasons that can be up to two decades.

Immigrants thrive in a welcoming environment by creating social and cultural 
networks that encourage them to invest in the creation of safer, cohesive 
communities. Yet, over two decades of restrictive and hostile immigrant 
policies are having a detrimental impact on immigrants and their ability to 
advance politically, socially and economically.

For many immigrants, their lack of access to a path of citizenship is 
relegating them to low-paying jobs with few prospects to achieve their full 

As stated earlier, over one million undocumented immigrants live in Los 
Angeles. According to the Migration Institute, over 537,000 children have at 
least one undocumented parent in Los Angeles. For these children, their future 
is put in peril as a result of their parents' own uncertain future and threat 
of detention and deportation because of their immigration status.

We run an immigrant assistance hotline and receive 15,000 calls a year. Many of 
these calls are people who are calling as a raid is happening in their home.

There have been residential raids throughout Los Angeles County. Homeland 
Security has instituted 75 fugitive operation teams. These are composed of five 
or six team members, and what they do is they go through a list of individuals 
who had previous deportation orders or many times were deported without them 

There is a list with a person's picture and, from my perspective, these are 
bounty hunters. They go out there, they get these -- they try to seek these 
individuals. Many times they don't find them. What they do find is other people 
who happen to live in the same address, and those people are picked up.

We have seen raids in the city of Los Angeles that have devastated our 
community. I've seen and been with children who have been left behind because 
their parents have been picked up in these raids. For these children their 
future is in peril.

The passage of just and humane immigration policies that include legalization 
for undocumented, decreasing the wait times for legal visas and increase in 
labor protections and economic opportunities will exponentially grow immigrant 
contributions to Los Angeles and the nation.

And I could go on and on to illustrate the obvious: There is a great deal of 
untapped potential in our midst, and it is our loss as a community if we 
continue to fail in recognizing the critical need to address immigration 
integration issues in our county in a genuinely committed and coordinated 

We can no longer wait for a government to seize this momentum, especially when 
its enforcement-only policy sends the wrong signal to immigrant families and 
threatens everything that they hold dear about this country.

Immigrant integration is a concrete manifestation of the American dream made 
real. We carry the responsibility of making sure that immigrant workforce 
participation is recognized and reinforced, and that the future generations of 
immigrant children join the mainstream of civic and economic life.

As the facts of immigrant contributions continue to emerge, we can no longer 
hide from the consequences of inaction. The absence of just and humane 
immigration reform will continue to haunt our efforts at local integration if 
we also do not work towards addressing the policy gaps that exist to pursue 
positive integration programs.

This is the challenge and opportunity before us, and I hope that as we have 
done so in the past, in the many battles we have fought with our immigrant 
families and friends, we will also rise to this challenge and make Los Angeles 
County the best example of how immigrant social, political, and economic 
incorporation is done.

Thank you.

SOLIS: Our next speaker is Ms. EunSook Lee. She is the executive director of 
the National Korean American Service & Education Consortium. This organization 
was founded in 1994 by local community leaders of Los Angeles, Chicago, and New 
York who recognize the strength in a common voice.

Their main mission is to project a national voice on major civil rights and 
immigrant issues and to promote the full participation of Korean-Americans in 
their society through education, organizing, and advocacy.

Ms. Lee will focus her testimony on the immigrant integration needs of the 
Asian Pacific Islanders in the area of education, health care, employment, and 
political advocacy.

Thank you, Ms. Lee, for being here.

LEE: Representative Solis and Representative Hastings, thank you also for 
giving me the opportunity to speak today at this hearing, and I've submitted 
written testimony, so I will try to keep to the five-minute limit.

Given that there are one million Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, who I 
will refer to as AAPI, are undocumented and 1.5 million are caught in the 
backlog, immigration reform is a priority we share with others who testified. 
Again, for this morning, I want to focus on integration of immigrants.

In L.A. alone, there are close to 400,000 AAPI and 96,000 Korean-Americans, of 
which 75 percent are immigrants. NAKASEC is a national consortium of 
community-based organizations that work directly daily with AAPI and 
Korean-American immigrants, and so we know what daily struggles we face, and we 
know both the successes and challenges that Los Angeles has sought to address 
the impact of migration.

The City of Los Angeles and our nation, America, must recognize that we have a 
social compact with immigrants. Immigrants work hard to create the tools and 
resources that strengthen our city and nation.

In exchange, they should not be driven underground as second-class citizens, 
but be able to take full advantage of those tools and be able to safeguard the 
health, education and progress of their families and participate fully in civic 
life, for the very future prosperity and security of America is incumbent of 
local governments and Congress to respond to migration by honoring and 
strengthening and not neglecting this social compact.

The newly released report by the National Conference of States Legislatures 
found that in the first quarter of 2008 more than 1,100 bills of largely 
anti-immigrant bills have been considered basically on the five issues of 
employment, identification/driver's licenses, law enforcement, public benefits 
and services, and education.

What is encouraging is that while there has been publicized activities by vocal 
minority fanning the flames of anti-immigrant sentiments, few of these local 
anti-immigrant measures have actually passed.

Moreover, it is our belief that immigrant integration is the antidote to 
anti-immigrant measures and sentiments. Communities that hate or fear 
immigrants are those who have never had contact with them.

Integration is essential to breaking that ignorance and fear of the unfamiliar, 
and it is best done on the local level.

I will focus on immigration integration of AAPI in the area of education, 
health care, and political. First with education. Throughout Southern 
California we have worked with thousands of students and their parents who are 
AAPI to advocate for access to public education at K-12 and post-secondary 

These students have been denied admissions primarily because of a 
misunderstanding of the federal immigration laws or California State 
Educational Code which explicitly protects immigrant students' rights to 
admission regardless of immigration status.

Undocumented immigrant students, particularly from Asia, face the added barrier 
of being denied in-state tuition, again because of a misunderstanding of 
federal immigration laws. Education, as we know, is a chief determinant of an 
individual's future success and quality of life. And for this reason, it is of 
great concern for us.

It is also important to understand that we must enable parents to become 
engaged in their children's activities both in school and education. At the 
heart of the problem is the inability of schools to provide multilingual 
communications to immigrant parents other than Spanish speakers.

We have cases of young Korean-American kindergarten students waiting extra 
hours because their parents only receive notices of early school out in English 
and Spanish. We also have cases of Korean-American parents being forced to ask 
other bilingual parents that they can find at a parent night to interpret for 
them confidential information about their child.

As a result of the public schools' failure to provide language access, limited 
English-proficient AAPI parents are disempowered from monitoring their 
children's academic progress or having a voice in determining school policies.

Too often immigrant children or children of immigrant parents must navigate the 
educational system on their own, some unsuccessful. Provisions of language 
access is part of the solution.

The other part is increased funding for English as a second language and civics 
classes for adults. Contrary to the myth that immigrants do not want to speak 
English, the experience of our L.A. center, the Korean Resource Center, which 
runs an English and civics class in partnership with L.A. Community College, 
there's a long waiting list of immigrant parents willing to enroll in English 
classes after an eight- to 12-hour workday.

Immigrant parents do not question the importance of learning English, not only 
for work but also to remain a central part of their children's lives.

On the issue of health care, nationally one out of two Korean-Americans lack 
health insurance. That is the highest of any community. This is because of two 
primary reasons. One is the high costs make coverage unaffordable and language 
barriers make coverage unusable.

AAPI, particularly Korean-American households in Southern California, have the 
state's highest level of linguistic isolation. Quantitative and qualitative 
research shows that language barriers are associated with lower health 
education, poor doctor/patient interaction and lower patient satisfaction.

These patients are less likely to receive counseling on proper diet, smoking 
cessation, and exercise habits. The immediate danger is that language barriers 
delay care, facilitate misdiagnoses, and wrong prescriptions could be dangerous 
for a patient's well-being. Sometimes it's fatal.

We have on record a story of a limited English proficient Korean-American 
patient who was admitted to Queen of the Valley Hospital in West Covina 
suffering from kidney failure and diabetes. After a week's stay she began to 
feel better and the hospital made discharge plans.

However, while attempting to go to the rest room without assistance, she fell 
off her bed and broke her right arm and hip causing her to prolong her hospital 
stay. A few days later, she complained about pain saying, "Apah," which means 
"pain" in Korean.

The hospital staff did not attempt to find an interpreter to understand her 
repeated comments of "apah." Finally, they asked her husband, who is limited 
English proficient, and they understood that "apah" meant "pain."

From that period on, the nurses would ask, "Apah?" and give her painkillers. 
They never asked where the pain was located or the extremity.

When the niece came to visit, she was shocked in her aunt's treatment and 
questioned the hospital staff about patient communication and lack of 
interpreter services. Even after referring the hospital staff to PALS for help, 
an organization that provides free medical interpretation, the hospital 
continued to ignore interpretation requests.

It was later discovered the patient had an infection in her arm which traveled 
up to her shoulder. A week later, by the time the infection was detected, it 
already entered her bloodstream and it was too late to cure. Complications from 
kidney failure, diabetes, and the new infection, the patient slipped into a 
coma and passed away.

The entire time the patient simply said, "I can't speak English, but I should 
be thankful that they are treating me."

Lastly, integration is socioeconomic but also political. A recent report by 
Grantmakers Concerned with Immigrants and Refugees found that 93 percent of 
AAPI children ages 12 to 17 have an immigrant parent. Moreover, 28.5 percent of 
the sum of all potential voters in California in 2012 will be made up of 
immigrant voters.

AAPI voters are referred to as the sleeping giant who must be stirred in order 
to advocate for policies that impact their lives. While only 52 percent of 
AAPIs who are U.S. citizens over the age of 18 are registered, 85.2 percent of 
AAPI registered voters did vote.

In other words, while we suffer from lower voter registration rates, when 
registered, AAPI promises healthy rates of consistent voter participation, 
particularly when appropriate and adequate resources and support are provided.

In seeking to cultivate a sustained culture in civic engagement, we have a 
responsibility to facilitate their engagement through comprehensive voter 
empowerment activities that are bilingual and bicultural.

What is particularly exciting is the work that many of us on this panel are a 
part of within our own organizations, but also in coalition regionally and 

Unfortunately, rather than facilitating the political participation of 
immigrants, some state and federal governments may be making it more difficult 
for immigrants as naturalized citizens to fully participate.

On April 28, 2008, the Supreme Court by 6-3 rejected a Constitutional challenge 
to an Indiana law requiring voters to show government-issued photo I.D. before 
voting. This ruling is expected to open the doors for other states to move 
forward with wholesale voter disenfranchisement tactics against ethnic and 
language minority voters.

In my submitted testimony I cite more clearly how minority young people and 
seniors will be disenfranchised because of this specific law.

In addition, more than one million legal permanent residents seeking to become 
U.S. citizens are now caught in the naturalization backlogs. The processing 
time will increase from seven months to 18 months. It's now estimated that half 
a million may not be processed before the November elections.

These naturalization backlogs are a grave form of backdoor disenfranchisement. 
While Dr. Emilio Gonzalez, director of USCIS, has resigned, it is not clear 
whether USCIS will begin to take serious action to enable immigrants to become 
full participants of American society.

In closing, not only is it important for Congress to focus on the enactment of 
a comprehensive immigration reform that is a workable solution to the problems 
of our nation's immigration system, but it must also work with local cities in 
focusing on key integration issues such as health care access, education, and 
civic engagement.

Taken as a whole, I urge the committee to consider the need for holistic 
approaches that promote the full integration of immigrants. Like their fellow 
Americans, immigrants arrived to contribute to the greatness and strength of 
this nation, and at the same time expect that Los Angeles and America as a 
receiving city and nation will provide them with equitable and fair 
opportunities to build a better life for themselves and their children and 
their community.

Thank you again.

SOLIS: I will note the time, but the information that this panel has provided 
is very striking and very, very timely. A lot of issues that were raised here 
regarding the federal government's lack of movement in processing applications 
for legal residents to become citizens we know is a big issue and problem.

We realize also the detention of youngsters occurring right now and the 
separation of families is something that, in my opinion personally, is immoral. 
And we have, some of us in Congress, begun to discuss that issue.

I do want to make clear that we do have legislation that I have introduced that 
would look at -- it's called Families First Immigration Act, HR 3890. Whether 
or not it gets the light of day in committee is one thing, but the purpose is 
to try to enlighten our communities that there are individuals in Congress that 
realize that ICE and those involved in detention are actually violating the 
civil rights of many of our young people as well as parents that are being 

We know there have to be protocol set up. We have sent letters also to ICE to 
question them as to what authority they have in terms of rounding people up and 
bringing them in with the fact that they are not providing adequate legal 
assistance or the opportunity to obtain legal assistance, that is, seeking an 
attorney or counsel for many of those that are being detained.

We know that there is a series of major violations going on. This 
administration has been very reluctant in even corresponding back to members of 
Congress. That's how blatantly our -- how can I say it? Their disregard for our 
role as members of Congress.

We are going to continue to fight on that forefront and to see that we find 
protection for those that are being detained, whether it's in Texas, because we 
know of the horrendous separation of infants from mothers and what that is 
called, the posttraumatic stress that our communities are facing, not just the 
Latino, but also other immigrants that are being detained.

My understanding is that facility in Texas, as we are speaking, has many 
individuals from the Asian Pacific Islander countries as well as other Third 
World countries and that are not also having their personal needs addressed as 
well. We know that's a problem.

There was a horrible incident in Arkansas where a woman was detained for three 
days. They did not know she was being held. The enforcement authorities found 
her dead after three days.

Nobody listened to her pleas and cries for assistance and they kind of forgot 
about her. That, to me, is something that I know our members of the Hispanic 
caucus and one of my good friends from the CBC, Congresswoman Eddie Bernice 
Johnson from Texas, has encouraged us to work on getting some answers from this 
administration on the treatment of immigrants and those individuals that are 
innocently being rounded up and incarcerated. We know that's an important issue.

It isn't just happening here in the United States. I think that's what we need 
to try to underscore here. Our role with the OSCE and Helsinki Commission. We 
are finding very treacherous incidents that are occurring every single day in 
European countries.

The most vulnerable population happens to be children and women is why we are 
having this particular hearing here today because we want to share those 
similarities, those things that are not just happening here but reflective of 
what's happening in other countries that are trying to achieve democracy.

We know our countries stands on very strong principles of democracy and social 
justice and civil rights, but we are failing, I think, in our constitutional 
duties to uphold those rights of everyone regardless of their legal status in 
this country.

I am very, very sympathetic to many of the statements that you all have made, 
but I also want to hear from you what the federal government -- in particular, 
we haven't talked about the media and the portrayal of immigrants in the plight 
of this country, and if each of you could maybe tell me what your observations 
have been, that might be some of help to us as well.

We obviously have a bad public relations image with respect to migration and 
what values immigrants bring or don't bring to this country. If you could do 

We will start out with Kerry Doi and go through really quick. If you could 
summarize in a minute or so.

DOI: It's really a complex issue that I've been trying to battle in the last 40 
years, the portrayal of Asians in the media. Just yesterday over the radio some 
talk show host was using ching-chong chinaman kinds of jokes, and it was 
absolutely ridiculous. Aren't we in the 21st century? But it's still going on. 
And it does hurt.

I mean, it continues the image of Asians being sneaky and all those kinds of 
things, which is why back in the '60s we decided to drop the term Oriental and 
recreate the term of Asian to self-identify and recreate a new image.

SALAS: I think the first thing that needs to happen is we need to understand 
that for the past, I would say, almost 15 years we have created "immigrant" 
synonymous to "criminal," and what has happened is that that is the excuse that 
the anti-immigrant, the nativeness movement in this country, many of them who 
then are anchors on major newscasts.

SOLIS: You can say it.

SALAS: Certainly, Lou Dobbs, the O'Reilly Factor, and we can go on. They are 
not the only ones.

In our local press, the newspaper articles that are written or the local 
television newscasts and how they portray immigrants. But the foundation of 
this possibility of treating and speaking of immigrants with such hate and 
venom is this idea that immigrants are equal to criminals.

We have to decriminalize the act of working, the act of trying to survive and 
provide for their families. And we need to do that by stop -- you know, I think 
through Congress and in all these other countries around the world where we are 
putting billions and billions of dollars on the enforcement and then 
castigating and then trying to round up immigrants as criminals. They are not. 
They are workers.

And I think that needs to happen because then what ends up happening when you 
are talking to a Lou Dobbs or O'Reilly, they say, "Well, they have committed a 
crime and therefore we have to pursue them and treat them this way and we have 
to talk about them as one," and we have to reject that idea, reject it once, 
reject it twice, as many times as we can.

These are hard-working people who we should be -- who we should be proud of and 
who we should support and certainly not round up.

LEE: I wanted to agree with both speakers and say what we need to do is have 
Americans understand that the immigration problem is something that doesn't get 
fixed and benefit just immigrants but all Americans.

There's two key misperceptions. One is that there is a diminishing opportunity 
that immigrants are taking away and the feeling that there's a loss of American 
culture with the migration of immigrants. And that's why -- for example, the 
assumption that immigrants don't want to speak English and so on and so forth. 
So I really believe that there are two key parts of it that we have to address.

One is integration and identification. If you can identify -- if nonimmigrants 
can better identify immigrants as part of their own, their political perception 
will change. Political views are the same in themselves, but personal views and 
the attachment to individuals is what changes our communities.

I wanted to mention a case of Andrew Young, a Korean boy born in U.S. and 
raised in Ohio. His parents were deported when he was 14. The community around 
him were nonimmigrant, predominantly white, and predominantly Republicans and 
predominantly Baptists. They knew nothing of immigration, but they knew him and 
his family.

Because of his case, they take political views in terms of immigration. If this 
is what the immigration laws are going to do to people like him, those 
political views need to be changed.

What the media needs do is show how immigrants are more diverse but personalize 
the issue in a human way and not, as Angelica and others mentioned, 
criminalizing the person as someone as the outsider and someone that doesn't 
want to be integrated to the American culture.

SOLIS: Alcee, I'll turn it over to you.

HASTINGS: Thank you very much. Our witnesses have answered all of the 
questions. I guess if we have any follow-up at all, it should attend what I 
always say is the subject of solutions. As all of you were speaking, I was 
thinking of how interactive our overall society is and can be, and to write a 
comprehensive, so-called comprehensive immigration reform measure, one good way 
to do that in today's society might be to start with just a clean slate and 
have everybody phone in, e-mail in, call in and say what ought to be on it and 
have a big slate.

I don't think we are going to get it in this political system because we play 
too much gotcha, and somewhere along the lines I don't think people are 
fair-minded listeners.

I won't ask you any questions. I want to compliment and thank Hilda and the 
administration here at Cal State for accommodating us. And also Hilda's staff 
who have just done a tremendous job in arranging this in a short period of 
time, as well as those that work with us on the Helsinki Commission.

Additionally, we are particularly grateful of the law enforcement in our 
community here has been helpful and very accommodating to all of us as well.

You, as an audience, have been extremely patient, and I really, really 
appreciate it. I always feel that it would be better to not have the high table 
and a low table, but to have everybody -- there's so many ideas in this 
audience, there's so much expertise right here.

Earlier we were meeting. I offered a measure dealing with the Iraqi refugees, 
and a young lady seated here now actually lived in Iraq during the era of 
Saddam Hussein, and it would be interesting to have her perspective as well as 
those of you who are here from labor unions and knowing the extraordinary 
experiences that you have in that regard.

I wanted to end two ways, Madam Congresswoman, really three. I want to point to 
something Ms. Lee pointed out about the law that the Supreme Court upheld, that 
is, an Indiana law regarding persons requiring identification.

My mother died three and a half years ago, and because of her age and 
circumstances, she did not have photo identification and she never drove a car 
to any relative degree. When she did try to drive a car, she had a red '55 
standard car, and we had a dog named True Boy, and the next day they tried to 
get True Boy to get into the car and he ran under the house. He wouldn't ride 
with my mama.

She never had a car, she didn't have that. Just in Indiana last Tuesday in the 
election five nuns showed up to vote from a convent there in Indiana, and all 
of them were in their 90s. None of them had identification.

I mean, come on, what are we saying here? But for this nation to reconcile its 
problems, and I do want to speak to the momentary politics of Mr. McCain and 
Mr. Obama and Mrs. Clinton. They don't know it yet and we don't feel it yet, 
but what they are doing by being a woman, an African-American man, and a white 
man, and there was a Latino in this race and there were other nationalities as 
well, but what they are doing is taking us to a better level.

When all is said and done, the residual from it will be that some level of 
tolerance will be manifested in a different way by virtue of the mere fact that 
they are in the position, particularly Obama and Clinton, to be president of 
the United States. I think that's a very healthy thing for all of us.

Ms. Salas, I agree with you so much about decriminalizing the criminal notion. 
And 9/11 didn't help very much because it added to the word criminal, 
terrorist, and then everything became suspect, and it made it manifest even 
more for those that divide us as we go forward.

But I want to end with a story that I know from the experience of having lived 
on this earth for 71 years. In Arkansas, outside of a town named Hughes, 
Arkansas, a black singer was on his way to Texas with his band. He was a blues 
singer. His name was Percy Mayfield.

He had a nephew who went on to some considerable fame, Curtis Mayfield. Percy 
Mayfield, on a foggy night when his band had finished and they were moving on, 
he and his band was struck by a family from New York that were a white family 
from the rear.

One of his band members died, and he was disfigured such that he only had a 
limited career after that, but he was a songwriter until he died. And his 
disfigurement -- in those days, there were only three black doctors in 
Arkansas, and one came, and a white woman assisted him to be treated in the 
alcove of the emergency room of the hospital in Hughes, Arkansas.

He couldn't convalesce in the place, so they took him to the home of a negro 
woman that was a widow. And he heard her pray and he wrote a song that I, as a 
little boy, also thought was just a blues song and danced close to my 

But the song sums up what we all could be about and what Hilda and I are about 
and Diane and those of us who are sensitive to these issues are about. It says, 
Father Richard, "Heaven is searching for all mankind" -- and I would make his 
song be gender perfect today and say, "humankind understanding and peace of 
mind. If it's not asking too much, Lord, please send me someone to love."

And in the refrain of the song he says, "A less man" -- and I would make it 
gender perfect and say, "a less man or woman," he does not say, "unless Latino 
or Hispanic man," he doesn't say, "African or Asian man." He says "unless man," 
not Catholic man or Protestant man or Jewish man, "unless man puts an end to 
this damn noble sin, hate will put the world in a flame. What a shame."

Thank you all so very much for being here.

SOLIS: It's hard to follow Alcee sometimes because he's so eloquent and has 
moving stories that I enjoy hearing all the time.

I want to reiterate that the testimony that all of our witnesses have given 
will be posted, so everyone can see the full length of their testimony.

I know five minutes doesn't give us enough time to hear everything that should 
be said, and the questioning could go on for one whole day on one subject 
matter, whether it's remittances, education, whether it's allowing access for 
our young people who are undocumented to receive higher education and receive 
the full benefits of our society. Those are all issues we care about.

In the framework of this body, the OSCE, and my role as special representative 
of migration, I'm going to take back everything that we have learned here today 
and we will put it in a report and we will post it.

And I would ask you to also share with other individuals who represent the 
various communities here. We have representatives from Honduras, from 
Guatemala, from Mexico, from our Asian Pacific countries, to also ask them what 
are they doing about this issue in reference to their own home countries and do 
they accept some of the principles that we talked about here today. Because 
this is about one family. It's not just one L.A. It's not just one L.A. County. 
It's not just one California. It's about the entire globe in the planet, and I 
think all of us can really learn from that.

So I ask you to think about that and to take that message back to your 
countries and to your representatives who also have a great deal to say in this 
body of politics that we have.

I thank the witnesses for coming, and I really want to thank the audience. We 
have a number of people in the audience who I know may not have had the full 
extent of understanding everything that was said.

Part of it was because we didn't have interpreters, primarily in Asian, but 
also in Spanish. So I think our challenge will be to try to translate this 
information also and post it perhaps on my Web site in Spanish so people can 
read what took place here today because a lot of information here was very 
powerful, and the fact that we had Congresswoman Watson, Congressman Alcee 
Hastings, and this is probably one of the most important hearings that you will 
hear about that took place outside of Washington, D.C., where you had some of 
your premier leadership on this issue come forward and testify to members of 
the Congress.

With all that is going on surrounding the migration and immigration debate, I, 
like Alcee, am waiting after November to see, when we come back to the House in 
January, and we will begin to pull off the shelf the bills and bills that need 
to be implemented, and that is to address immigration reform and also to work 
better with our neighboring countries to see that we have better relationships 
with them as well.

We have done a great disservice, I think, with our friends south of the border. 
We have not outreached to them adequately. Even to our friends on the other 
parts of the continent to really allow them to understand us better, to really 
see the heart of the American people.

You may not always see that reflected in our leaders or so-called leadership in 
Washington, D.C., as it currently stands. That will change. And I think many 
people across the country and across the world that I have run into, just based 
on this particular group, this one organization, are very, very delighted to 
see the change in our House administration, the fact that we have a democratic 
leader, Nancy Pelosi, who is our speaker who has allowed people like Alcee and 
myself to engage with other countries to our begin our ambassadorial work to 
try heal.

That's what it is. It's about healing. There's some very bad and mixed feelings 
about how people perceive our country. If we can't treat our own citizens of 
our country well, we are not going to be respected by anyone outside of our own 

We have a lot of work to do and a lot of what you say and said here today about 
how we need to make improvements we take very strongly to heart.

I want to thank all of you for being here. The next part of our hearing or our 
tour will be to go to Olvera Street to see La Placita there and to meet with 
some people and also tour the Chinatown Action Service Center to hear about how 
immigrants are reintegrated into society and the positive things that go on as 
well as the challenges.

The federal government has a role to play here, and we obviously know we have 
failed in the last seven years. It's time for a change and we see it coming, 
and we want you also to understand that we are going to be calling on you. This 
is not a job of just two people. It is all of us working together.

So on behalf of the people that I represent in the 32nd District and also part 
of my role as representative on migration for the OSCE and also as a concerned 
daughter of immigrants, I understand the role that we play and take very deeply 
all the comments that have been made today. I want to thank you.

Before we depart, Cal State L.A., on behalf of President Ross, he wanted me to 
present this to Alcee Hastings, who I understand is a close colleague of the 

HASTINGS: Thank you.

SOLIS: I would say to the audience here that if you have any comments that you 
would like to make, you have our Web site, and you can also send us information 
and we would like to hear from you.

(Whereupon, the hearing ended at 1:40 p.m.)