Archive for December 2nd, 2007

A new book, “Why Mexicans Think & Behave the Way They Do!–The Cultural Factors that Created the Character & Personality of Mexicans,” should be of extraordinary interest and use to business people, immigration officials, law enforcement agencies, educational institutions and those planning on visiting Mexico as tourists.

Written by Boyé Lafayette De Mente, internationally known for his business and cultural-insight books on China, Korea and Japan, the book not only points out the cultural pitfalls and misunderstandings most people encounter when dealing with Mexicans, it provides pointers on how to avoid these problems and turn the experience with Mexicans into a plus.

Mexicans have a saying: Como México, no hay dos! (There is no other place like Mexico!), and author De Mente not only agrees, he recounts in vivid detail the cultural factors that created the unique character of Mexican men and women.

He writes: “Mexico’s traditional values and morals were forged in a caldron of aggressive racism, religious intolerance, male chauvinism, corruption and an elitist political system that connived with the Catholic Church to keep ordinary people ignorant and powerless and deny them the most basic human rights.

“But,” he adds, “the reality of Mexico has always been obscured behind a variety of masks–of piety, pride, courage, gaiety, indifference and stoicism.”

De Mente relates how the sexual miscegenation policy of the Spanish conquistadors who destroyed the Aztec empire, and the Spanish administrators and military forces that followed them, created a new race of mix-bloods–mestizos–whose only source of pride and dignity–for mestizo men in particular–was an extreme form of machoism and personalism that was to plague the country down to modern times.

“Personalismo or personalism was and still is the foundation of Mexican society–in business as well as in social relationships,” he says. “It still rules the lives of Mexicans to a degree that is both fascinating and frustrating, especially to Americans.”

De Mente also explains the traditional Mexican view and use of time, of truth, of respect, of face, and the simpatico syndrome. He says that the historical Catholic Church-inspired taboo against criticism of any kind–of anybody about anything–was the primary factor in the continuation of the negative facets of Mexican culture down to recent times.

He goes on to say that despite the fact that the traditional character of Mexicans is a mixture of medieval Catholicism, traditional Indian and Spanish authoritarianism, machoism and self-serving personalism, it has another face: an inherently joyful nature that manifests itself in music, singing, dancing and art.

“For Mexicans life is very personal, very intense,” he adds. “One is always on a stage; with every action, every word, subject to careful scrutiny that must measure up to cultural standards of courtesy, dignity, pride and self-respect in a virtual world based on situational ethics and morality instead of principles.

“But,” he continues, “the same character and personality attributes of Mexicans that often frustrate foreigners in their attempts to understand and deal with Mexico can also make life there deeply satisfying emotionally, spiritually and intellectually.”

“Why Mexicans Think & Behave the Way They Do” removes the masks that have traditionally obscured the realities of Mexican culture, and in doing so provides invaluable insights that make it possible to both understand and deal more effectively with Mexico.

Other books on Mexico by De Mente include “There’s a Word for It in Mexico!–The Complete Guide to Mexican Thought & Culture” and “Romantic Mexico–The Image & the Realities!”

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They are trying to increase the number of citizenship approvals by decreasing pay but offering a cash bonus if they rubber stamp more applicants than in the past.

I’m surprised they haven’t outsourced the document processing center to Mexico yet.

NY Times

Workers who help process millions of visa and citizenship applications for a federal immigration agency are getting pay reductions just as the agency is facing an enormous surge in those applications.

The workers whose wage rate will be cut are contract employees in document processing centers in St. Albans, Vt., and Laguna Niguel, Calif., that are part of Citizenship and Immigration Services, the agency responsible for deciding visa applications and citizenship petitions. Some 280 of approximately 1,000 contract workers in the two centers will receive lower wages after a new contractor, Stanley Inc. of Arlington, Va., takes over tomorrow.

Dozens of workers have protested the pay cuts to Vermont and California lawmakers. During the past two weeks workers picketed in front of the federal office building in Laguna Niguel.

?If you?re trying to get people motivated to deal with a huge backlog, the last thing you would do is slash pay,? said Senator Bernard Sanders, independent of Vermont, who received many calls. ?It just creates more turnover, more discontent and more demoralization.?

Officials at the immigration agency said last week that they received 2.5 million applications for visas and for naturalization in July and August, more than double the applications in the same period last year. Many immigrants rushed to file applications before large fee increases took effect July 30, officials said.

Mr. Wolking said the company would offer bonuses of up to $400 monthly to half of the workers whose wages will decrease, based on their job productivity.

The plan brought little comfort to employees whose weekly income will drop tomorrow by 12 to 20 percent.

?Everybody will be fighting over the ability for half of us to make our rent checks,? said Jeremy Murray, one of those employees, in a telephone interview. He said he had worked at the Vermont center for more than six years sorting incoming applications, making $14.54 an hour. Starting Monday, he said, he will make $12.84 an hour and will no longer be able to work overtime. He will lose as much as $400 a month.

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International Herald Tribune

Villiers Le Bel, France — The first thing everyone mentions is the helicopters, the relentless throbbing of blades cutting through the skies above the housing projects and the probing searchlights that have kept the residents of this heavily immigrant suburb of Paris awake over the last four nights.

The gunfire that echoed off the walls of the tower blocks in a violent outburst of rioting this week has subsided. But the calm, enforced by 1,000 police officers deployed at sunset every night, had a precarious feel to it Thursday as locals, caught in the middle between angry youths and the police, tried to make do with an undeclared state of emergency that has hobbled their daily lives in multiple ways.

‘It feels like we live in a war zone,’ said Nadège Tanier, a 40-year-old mother of two, as she walked by the burned-out hulk of a garbage truck still reeking of burned tires. ‘I feel safer for having all those cops on the streets and the helicopter at night making sure the kids are not planning more riots, but it sure is hard to live like this.’

There is no curfew, but few people go out after dark, when rows of shielded riot police move in to take up positions around the town north of Paris. Buses, a popular target for youths with firebombs in the past, have stopped running in the early evenings, making it hard for people to come home from work. Many shops lock up hours before their normal closing time, partly for fear of vandalism, partly because few customers dare shop after dark.

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Congo the dog is at the center of an immigration debate.

ABC News

An 85-pound German shepherd has become the unlikely face of the immigration debate in upscale Princeton, N.J., after a judge ordered the dog to be put down for attacking an illegal immigrant last summer.

Thousands of people have flooded the Internet and even petitioned the governor to ask that Congo be spared for his attack on Honduran landscaper Giovanni Rivera, who was injured seriously in June and later awarded $250,000 in insurance money.

And while New Jersey Gov. John Corzine has denied calls for a pardon, some town residents are upset the illegal immigrant was allowed to collect monetary compensation for his injuries.

“Too bad Congo doesn’t work on the border patrol,” one resident wrote online. “Maybe there would be less illegals entering our country.”

Another poster called Rivera “illegal scum.”

Rivera has called the attacks racist and political.

“We’ve created a subculture in this country right now. The illegal alien is like a subhuman and that’s a dangerous precedent,” said Rivera’s attorney William Garces.

Not all Princeton’s residents believe the incident should be used to fuel an immigration debate.

“I would hate my hometown and home state to go down in history as the place where suburbanites value their dogs above their lives of those they hire to tend their yards,” one resident said.

Even Congo’s owners, Guy and Elizabeth James, said their case has nothing to do with immigration. They claim their dog was provoked by Rivera.

“They hit my dogs. They grabbed my wife and that’s what this case is about,” Guy James said.

Currently Congo is living at home, and the James family has appealed the local judge’s ruling to put him down. The case now is with New Jersey’s Superior Court.

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Jesus hopes to marry an American girl.


PHOENIX (Reuters) - A Los Angeles company is touting a new reality game show called “Who Wants to Marry a U.S. Citizen” that aims to create televised matrimony between legal citizens and immigrants who have temporary visas.

The show’s backers at Morusa Media hope to make a sort of love match between reality TV and a national obsession with immigration. But the producers make no promise that a marriage will occur or lead to U.S. citizenship.

Show creator Adrian Martinez said that Morusa Media has not yet found a network to produce or air the show, but he is currently in talks with one cable TV network and already has signed up contestants for six episodes.

“It’s this generation’s ‘Dating Game,’ but with a twist — it aims to show love knows no borders,” Martinez told Reuters.

As in the “Dating Game,” which ran on network TV for more than two decades starting in the 1960s, a single U.S. citizen gets to ask contestants various questions. Toward the end of the show, he or she decides which one to select as a potential mate.

So far, most of the contestants are Hispanic immigrants, although at least one is from the Philippines, Martinez said.

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New York Post

BLUFFTON, S.C. (AP) — Republican White House hopeful Rudy Giuliani said Friday he wouldn’t try to change laws that make citizens of children born in the U.S. to illegal immigrants, noting that it’s a matter determined by the Constitution.

“That’s a very delicate balance that’s been arrived at, and I wouldn’t change that,” Giuliani said in response to a question while campaigning at Sun City Hilton Head, a sprawling retirement community down the South Carolina coast from Charleston.

In Wednesday night’s Republican debate, Giuliani and nomination rival Mitt Romney traded accusations of being soft on illegal immigration, and Giuliani took pains to deny that New York was a “sanctuary city” for illegal immigrants during his tenure as mayor.

While New York has never used the designation, it offers protections - allowing illegal immigrants to report crimes, send kids to school or seek medical treatment without fear of being reported - similar to those in cities that label themselves sanctuary cities.

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Hispanic Business

TAMPA — Like other Republican presidential contenders, Mitt Romney favors a get-tough policy on illegal immigrants. But Romney’s desire for tougher immigration enforcement doesn’t apply to Cubans, who he says should be welcomed with open arms.

“I can tell you my inclination would be to say as many Cubans as want to come here should come in,” Romney said in an interview Tuesday with The Tampa Tribune editorial board.

Romney said he favors continuing the nation’s Cuba policy, which restricts investment in the communist nation and prohibits U.S. citizens from visiting there except under narrow circumstances.

He was then asked about the “wet feet, dry feet” policy under which Cuban immigrants stopped by U.S. ships at sea are sent back to Cuba, but those who make it to dry ground are allowed to remain. They can later qualify for expedited permanent residence status.

Romney replied that Cuban Americans are exemplary citizens who have brought “great vitality, skills and energy to the American experience.”

“In my opinion, the more the merrier,” he said.

Romney’s views on Cubans stand in sharp contrast to his proposals for dealing with other immigrants. Earlier in the meeting, he called for tighter border security, identity cards for immigrants proving their legal status and forced repatriation of illegal immigrants.

Cuban Americans have been a coveted voting bloc in past presidential elections, considered crucial in winning Florida’s 27 electoral votes. Candidates have been loath to buck the Miami-based Cuban community, which is strongly anti-Castro and has in the past rejected softening American policy toward the communist nation.

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Sheriff Joe
Sheriff Joe Arpaio

East Valley Tribune

Maricopa County sheriff?s deputies arrested eight illegal day laborers on Saturday during a protest outside a Phoenix furniture store embroiled in a heated immigration debate.

Immigration activists have gathered on Saturdays for the past six weeks outside Pruitt?s Furniture Store to challenge Sheriff Joe Arpaio?s enforcement of immigration laws.

Saturday was the first time deputies made arrests during the rallies. Deputies had arrested 24 illegal immigrants in the area before Saturday, but those arrests were not made during protests.

?I thought it was time to do something more about it,? Arpaio said Saturday night. ?The Pruitt?s situation is getting out of hand. They are demonstrating every week and destroying this business. I don?t think that?s fair.?

Arpaio said the protesters were arrested Saturday on suspicion of violating federal immigration laws.

Demonstrators began protesting at the store near Thomas Road and 34th Street in late October, when the store hired sheriff?s deputies to keep day laborers away from the property.

The store asked the sheriff?s office to help because they felt the presence of day labors was hurting their business.

More than 100 protesters have shown for the rallies, including officials from the American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona.

The union?s legal director, Daniel Pochoda, was arrested by deputies Nov. 5 after he was asked to attend a rally to observe the interaction between protesters and deputies.

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