Category Archives: jobs

Grandma Heads Off To College: A Recession Era Tale

ImageGRANDMA HEADS OFF TO COLLEGE

A RECESSION ERA TALE

               I drove through the quiet, manicured suburban Roseville neighborhood I would no longer call home this morning. My swollen eyes and red splotchy face were the affirmation that I had made the right decision not to put on make-up after my morning shower. That was the last shower I would take as a permanent resident in my daughter’s home. At one point, my daughter knocked asking, “Are you OK Mom?” which I answered, “Yes” though I didn’t tell her I had been in the bathroom for an extra-long time this particular morning because I had been balling my eyes out while writing my two little grandchildren, Hudson (4) & Dayton (2) their good-bye, I will miss you cards. I also didn’t tell my daughter that the first time I walked into a drug store to buy a Thank You Card for their family, I started crying so much that I just had to leave!

Yes! Today is the day I headed off to college! Yet, unlike the eighteen year-old, I am leaving behind six of my eight grandchildren, two of my three daughters, my roses, the vegetable garden, most of my belongings (in storage), my two son-in-laws (who probably aren’t crying) and Baxter, my daughter’s ten year-old pug that may not live to my next visit. (I just realized that in my blubbering, that I forgot to say goodbye to Baxter!)

The impetus for my unstoppable fountain of tears is because I am leaving my youngest grandchildren whom I have lived with for most of their little lives. How will I get along without anyone to share with when I see a magnificent bird, an egg shell from a nest or a giant caterpillar? Who will be there to be just as amazed at the sunset as my little 2 year-old granddaughter Dayton, who asked me to pull the blinds up last night so she wouldn’t miss the “set-sun?” Who will care about whether or not the “owie” on my finger has healed yet? Who will be there to never tire of playing card games, like my three oldest grandsons?

Regardless of the monumental suffering these daily dilemmas and others will create for my aching heart, I had to leave! I had to leave for the very reasons my eighteen year-old granddaughter, Elora left her friends and family behind last year to head to college. If I didn’t leave, I would have the pressure of a poverty-stricken or very family dependent retirement looming large over my loved ones. I had to get my rear-end to graduate school quick!

This was never my plan, yet it was always an unspoken dream cast away after decades of repetitive mental reality checks every time I saw those enviable titles after someone’s name that I knew I could never compete with, no matter what I had accomplished in my life: MPH, PhD. EdD. MSW, etc…

If I listed the journeys I have taken to get to this moment, I would never get through this post, so I won’t. Briefly, after losing my home, my retirement, my marriage and with wages plummeting, I only had the hope to work for $12-15 hr. with little chance for benefits, if I worked in the field I Ioved, without those three initials. My daughter and her husband and 2 babies took me in and we have helped each other for the last 2 ½ years. I am so grateful for them and what they did to bring our family together. Truly one of the better outcomes of this recession has been the return of the extended family experience.

Grandiose plans to be a famous author and “child expert” six years ago were quickly dashed during the recession after I self-published my first book, The New Physics of Childhood (IUniverse, 2009).  Not only was it rejected by many because I did not have a credential behind my name like, PhD., MSW, EdD., etc. I realized that the tone of it (due to a lifetime of pent-up experiences) was somewhat arrogant and harsh. I began the rewrite immediately, along with edits by several professionals. Then the publishing industry took a dive and so did my income. It was time to set idealistic dreams aside and make way for Plan X.

Foreclosure, bankruptcy and divorce (in that order) were juxtaposed to my extinguished author dreams. I knew that the once well-paid work I had done earlier as a caregiver was a very temporary replacement and sabbatical to my teaching career, yet this job title had lasted for over a decade and seemed it was my only real option for earning income forever, unless I had a Master’s Degree! With a Master’s, I could finally earn the respect of my years, since wrinkles don’t show well on a resume. After researching and allowing the dream to simmer, I knew that a Master’s in Public Health was the only way for me. It would allow me to focus on my passion for Preventive Health Education, while also giving me incredible opportunities to influence public policy and the health of communities. It would also provide me with the potential for a real income and benefits so I can rebuild my life and my nest egg before I allow myself the luxury of retirement in my mid-70’s.

I could have never imagined that when everything was gone, save my beautiful family, that the only option was actually the dream I had so wanted, yet had never uttered or allowed myself to think of. This dream also occupies the same space as my dream to be a well-known and respected author one day. *

For now, the reality is one dream at a time! I prepared for two years by taking brush-up courses and using the time to finally become fluent in Spanish. All of my experiences and preparation in the last two and a half years got me accepted to the 3 programs I applied for! In August, I begin my journey in San Francisco State University’s MPH Program in Community Health Education. Yeah!!!!!!

I am saving money by couch-surfing for a month, while I work in my field of choice, in preparation for grad school. I am not thrilled about taking any student loans out and am hoping my second year in school is funded solely by scholarships and part-time work. I have a lot to accomplish professionally, and am committed to being a full participant in my graduate school experience.

During my undergrad career, I was a single mother raising three daughters. I had no time for friends or campus activities. All I wanted to do was race home to my daughters every day after school. The 3-hour commute to higher education ate up many precious hours with my daughters as it was. Now, I am one mile from campus and by myself to focus on school work, etc. Maybe I will even make some friends, something that hasn’t really been a part of my life with every second going to family. Though I am realistic enough to know that I won’t really have time to do much of this or to sit around and play cards while I am in grad school. However, I am already looking forward to visits “back home” to indulge my inner card playing junkie.

Yes, this day, this life, this new chapter is the perfect description of a bitter-sweet moment. I will miss my family in Roseville, but I will actually have more time with my youngest daughter and other grandson, now that I am closer to them.

Beyond the tears and tugging of little heart strings, life is good! I even received a $1,000 scholarship by a wonderful organization that felt compelled by my personal journey. Perhaps there are more angels like this in my future. I sure hope so, because as this Grandma heads off to college, I need all of the angels I can get, yet nothing will take the place of the beautiful family I have waiting for me when I return home after I receive my Master’s in Public Health! It will be the 1st. Master’s Degree in our family, just as my AA & BA were when I received them, years ago. I hope one day I can be an inspiration for my grandchildren so they know that it is never an option to give-up or give-in and that it is never too late for your dreams to come true!

*CONFESSION   – In the middle of preparing to leave for grad school, the writer in me just had to get that one last lick in! I formatted the 30+ years of my children’s stories and printed them out for my grandchildren to read in my absence. More on this project in future posts.

Hasta Luego!  Got places to go, things to do, people to see!

Christina Ivazes

aka Granny Pants

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Filed under Banks, Barack Obama, children, community, Education, Elders, foreclosure, Grandchildren, Grandparents, Granny Pants, health care, jobs, mother, Parenting, prevention, teaching, The New Physics of Childhood, Writing

Jobs and the Elephant in the Room: Immigration Reform

 When Over 11 Million People Residing in a Country Are Not Allowed to Contribute, Everyone Loses!

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bnm (This post is for serious policy makers and those who influence policymakers.)

  The following negative consequences should be enough to spur a sincere effort to address our crippling immigration system during an election season when everything is on the line:

  • Increased border violence between the US and Mexico
  • Decrease in consumer confidence for 11+ million people in US
  • Decreased local, state and federal revenue feeding education, health care, social security and all operating costs
  • Increased oppression, abuse and violence against undocumented females
  • Decreased employer confidence regarding hiring undocumented immigrants
  • Lack of tracking and accountability for undocumented immigrants

Keeping the 11+ million undocumented immigrants in the US living in the shadows is hurting our economic recovery more than anyone dares to assert. What follows are some convincing perspectives on why we need to hurry up and pass immigration reform because the only people that are benefitting from delayed reform are criminals and organized crime.

In a 2007 report by the PEW Hispanic Center, “2007 National Survey of Latinos: As Illegal Immigration Issue Heats Up, Hispanics Feel A Chill,” over half of the adult US Hispanic population worries “that either they, a family member or a friend could be deported.”  Three years later, the 2010 U.S. Census estimated a more accurate number of over 50 million Hispanics in the U.S.  Hispanic attitudes towards immigration policies are absolutely pertinent when considering the total US social and economic impacts.

Back in 2003, journalist Jim Wasserman wrote an article in the Oakland Tribune reporting on the repeal of California’s SB60: “Schwarzenegger Signs Repeal of Immigrant License Law.” It was published well before the economic downturn giving us the window into the future as we now experience the impact of these policies on the total US population 8 years later.

The 2007 article, “Domestic Poverty” (Billitteri) from 2006 Census data shows the growing rate of poverty in the U.S. while the rate of millionaires has also increased. A poor America is a lose-lose for all! Income disparity in the US has resulted from the Bush tax cuts as much as from our remiss as a nation to fix our broken immigration system.  Creating economic, educational and emotional freedoms will create more revenue and opportunities for everyone, both citizen and immigrants. As we know, these statistics of income disparaties have only broadened since Billiteri’s article.

Before current Arizona policies were enacted targeting undocumented immigrants, an analysis was presented by the University of Arizona: Udall Center for Studies and Public Policy, “Immigrants in Arizona: Fiscal and Economic Impacts” (Gans, 2008).The economic model included as an appendix projects over 16 million dollars in savings for Indiana. By itself this report could tip the scales in congress in favor of a “Driving Privilege Card,” and for immigration reform. One of the most impactful statements in this report is “In addition a 2005 report from the Selig Center for Economic Growth, University of Georgia, reported that the current buying power of Hispanics/Latinos in Indiana for 2005 was $ 4,866,103,000.00” (3). But economic consequences of delayed reforms are not the only casualties.

The emotional consequences of living in fear also play a part in the immigration equation. The Psychology of Men and Masculinity is an APA publication covering a wide range of male oriented issues from gender stereotypes to fathering pertaining to males from all backgrounds. A March 2011 article was based on a study titled, “Work-Related Intimate Partner Violence Among Employed Immigrants From Mexico” (Galvez, et. al.). It offers an unlikely, yet powerful approach to this argument in favor of legalizing driving for undocumented immigrants. No matter what your perspective on immigration is in the US, dominating vulnerable populations is just plain Un-American. The emotional consequences of harsh immigration policies, such as denying driving privileges, are the final arguments in favor of a more humane immigration reform.

The most cost-effective and humane way to recover our economy and dignity as a great America is to put immigration reform in front of all other issues today and begin by allowing undocumented immigrants to be accounted for by issuing special driving cards. Then, we can really begin the recovery by engaging the resources and   cnv contributions of 11+ million people! 

Below is an expanded version of this text for those who wish to read about this issue in more detail:

In a 2007 report by the PEW Hispanic Center, “2007 National Survey of Latinos: As Illegal Immigration Issue Heats Up, Hispanics Feel A Chill,” over half of the adult US Hispanic population worries “that either they, a family member or a friend could be deported.” The report highlights the domino effects of delayed immigration reform on the total US Hispanic population from “stepped-up deportations, more workplace raids, and restrictions on access to driver’s licenses…” By randomly interviewing over 2,000 Hispanic adults, asking a variety of questions, the study authors found that over three quarters of the 47 million Hispanics in the US disapprove of the current enforcement tactics on undocumented immigrants. This is almost the direct flip-flop of what non-Hispanics feel (PEW). Despite the risks, Hispanic families, both documented and undocumented believe that their children will have more opportunities than themselves by living in the US.

Opportunities are tenuos for a shadow population. The reality of successfully creating jobs and the innovation that leads to jobs under a shroud of the fear is unlikely. The only innovation that takes place in a climate of fear is carried out by criminals, who thrive underground and who have thrived in recent years.

This PEW study on Latino attitudes towards immigration was done in 2007, just prior to the US Recession and the escalating drug war violence in Mexico. Today, as economic opportunities have decreased with increased enforcement in the US along with a climate of intolerance, young Hispanics rejected by US policies are embraced by drug cartels and gun runners from the US to Mexico, vice-versa. This is a situation where we all lose. These concerns and others brought up in the PEW study have only magnified since its publication. These and others are deep threats to quality of life in the US from the perspectives of the people who are most deeply affected.

Three years later, the 2010 U.S. Census estimated a more accurate number of over 50 million Hispanics in the U.S.  Hispanic attitudes towards immigration policies are absolutely pertinent when considering the total US social and economic impacts.  Lack of opportunities for such a significant percentage of our population is worth deeper consideration. Many opposed to allowing undocumented immigrants to drive legally do not fully understand the negative implications of purely punitive immigration policies.

In order to learn how to create immigration reform that works, we also need to understand the evolution of this situation as it has transitioned from bad to worse for most of us in the US, not just undocumented populations. Back in 2003, journalist Jim Wasserman wrote an article in the Oakland Tribune reporting on the repeal of California’s SB60: “Schwarzenegger Signs Repeal of Immigrant License Law.” He describes how opponents of driver’s licenses for undocumented immigrants proposed that California’s SB60, signed by then Governor Gray Davis, presented a security risk to the US. California’s SB60 allowed undocumented immigrants the right to obtain a driver’s license. Governor Schwarzenegger made repeal of this bill a campaign promise for his first 100 days in office. The article emphasizes opinions by the Governor and his supporters, who believed that by preventing undocumented immigrants from obtaining driver’s licenses, our streets and country would be safer. There was no mention of the potential domino effects associated with this pivotal event that began the economic downturn along with the free for all policies in the financial market. The repeal of SB60 has negatively affected both the US and Mexico’s economies and national security.

Wasserman’s article touts the Governor’s tough talk and focuses on his promise to keep his word, a promise that failed to recognize California’s status as a high-ranking global economy and the impacts of its’ policies on the US and global arena because, “As California goes, so goes the nation” (Author unknown).

Regardless of illegal status, when you deny 2 million people in California alone the right to drive, this affects their ability to secure employment and to be the consumers our global economy depends upon. Local, state and federal sources lose several revenue streams from driver’s license fees, employment taxes, social security, Medicare, and sales taxes. The lack of opportunity presented by delaying immigration reform has affected buying power, but most importantly, has promoted a climate of fear creating an insecure and apprehensive market even more impactful than Wall Street traders. As an example, both California and Nevada tightened driver’s license eligibility in 2003, denying access to undocumented immigrants. They now have the highest US unemployment rates at 11.9 and 12.5 respectively (Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2011). Cutting off economic opportunity has not created jobs.

 “Opponents labeled the law (SB60) a reward for lawbreakers and said terrorists could take advantage of it, easily getting drivers’ licenses and slipping into society” (Wasserman). Isn’t a driver’s license a method of tracking people? Isn’t it difficult to track someone who has no record to track? I and many others believe that having a shadow population operating without accountability only increases the threat to our national security and feeds the need for underground crime. Not only has border crime increased on the US/Mexico border since the repeal of SB60, state and federal revenues have decreased while poverty rates have increased across all cultural lines in both the US and Mexico.

Popular opinion is swayed by political rhetoric and Wasserman’s article depicts the historical rhetoric of 2003. It was published well before the economic downturn giving us the window into the future as we now experience the impact of these policies on the total US population 8 years later.

The 2007 article, “Domestic Poverty” (Billitteri) from 2006 Census data shows the growing rate of poverty in the U.S. while the rate of millionaires has also increased. It highlights that low-skilled immigrant populations are becoming the growing poor in America even as immigrant populations increase, leading to a higher percentage of people in the US living below the poverty level.  It depicts striking statistics of income disparities. As the author exhibits a variety of factors and populations most effected, it is obvious the immigration and tax policies of the past designed to address poverty in America still aren’t producing the desired results.

Articles like Billitteri’s are powerful, yet frustrating illustrations about how ludicrous our economic design is in the US. With objectivity, he recognizes the growing poor among all populations, but especially in the Hispanic community. A poor America is a lose-lose for all! Income disparity in the US has resulted from the Bush tax cuts as much as from our remiss as a nation to fix our broken immigration system.  Creating economic, educational and emotional freedoms will create more revenue and opportunities for everyone, both citizen and immigrants.

Every state has had their own method for tackling the issues of undocumented immigrants. The Indiana Commission on Hispanic-Latino Affairs (ICHLA) worked to create a case presented to the BMV (Bureau of Motor Vehicles) in 2005. This report “Follow-up Report on the Challenges of Obtaining an Indiana Driver’s License” was submitted to Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels, Jr. and the Indiana Legislative Council, making it a part of the official Indiana record. It was an appeal in favor of allowing undocumented immigrants the rights to obtain driver’s licenses. It thoroughly outlines safety and national security considerations in favor of allowing licenses. From Indiana’s rural, agrarian culture void of public transportation to the safety benefits, the ICHLA addresses the economic benefits of increasing state and local revenues for relocating immigrant populations.  The report addresses the nuances of documentation and the values of immigrant populations that will only create benefits when they are seen as contributors. It makes detailed recommendations for the development of an accountability program with a “Driving Privilege Card” meant to boost Indiana’s economy and create safer communities through legalized driving for immigrant populations.

In taking a position in favor of driver’s licenses for undocumented immigrants, the 2005 ICHLA report outlines many of the same issues others have considered. It provides a strong case countering the policies that have led to devastating consequences to national security by creating an unwelcome climate of discrimination.  As part of building an argument in favor of permitting licenses, it also includes how other states like Utah and Washington support a more pragmatic and compassionate policy. It provides pages of wowing statistics on the economic contributions of Hispanics to the US and that there is overwhelming support of other Hispanic organizations for more humane immigration policies. The economic model included as an appendix projects over 16 million dollars in savings for Indiana. By itself this report could tip the scales in congress in favor of a “Driving Privilege Card,” and for immigration reform. One of the most impactful statements in this report is “In addition a 2005 report from the Selig Center for Economic Growth, University of Georgia, reported that the current buying power of Hispanics/Latinos in Indiana for 2005 was $ 4,866,103,000.00” (3). But economic consequences of delayed reforms are not the only casualties.

The emotional consequences of living in fear also play a part in the immigration equation. The Psychology of Men and Masculinity is an APA publication covering a wide range of male oriented issues from gender stereotypes to fathering pertaining to males from all backgrounds. A March 2011 article was based on a study titled, “Work-Related Intimate Partner Violence Among Employed Immigrants From Mexico” (Galvez, et. al.). It offers an unlikely, yet powerful approach to this argument in favor of legalizing driving for undocumented immigrants. The study and the assertions it makes from the focus groups involved offer a deeper and more compassionate window into the immigrant dilemma and the emotional issues surrounding the driver’s license issue.

One of the most underestimated consequences of delayed immigration reform, combined with increased federal and state enforcement of immigration violations, has been the emotional impacts on the families of undocumented immigrants in the form of Intimate Partner Violence (IPV). Through four focus groups of men in intervention programs after battering their partners, this research illustrates the many ways that the stress of being undocumented in the US deteriorates the mental and emotional well-being of individuals and their family members, resulting in increased violence directed towards partners. The descriptions of the barriers Hispanics face and how the males experience demasculinization by methodical immigration policies is illuminating. The study also describes tactics male partners use to control undocumented female partners precisely due to harsh immigration driving restrictions, “Many of these immigrants have not had driving experience or a driver’s license issued from their home country, but increasingly are living in urban areas in which driving can be considered a necessity of daily life. This need can be exploited by an abusive man to surveil and control his partner” (Galvez, et.al).

In this heart-tugging case in favor of driver’s licenses, for undocumented populations in the US, nothing strikes deeper than physical abuse and conditions that enable domination over vulnerable populations. No matter what your perspective on immigration is in the US, dominating vulnerable populations is just plain Un-American. The emotional consequences of harsh immigration policies, such as denying driving privileges, are the final arguments in favor of a more humane immigration reform, but perhaps we need more statistics to drive this point home.

Before current Arizona policies were enacted targeting undocumented immigrants, an analysis was presented by the University of Arizona: Udall Center for Studies and Public Policy, “Immigrants in Arizona: Fiscal and Economic Impacts” (Gans, 2008). This analysis projected fiscal and economic impacts of immigrants on the state of Arizona. It was conducted with the input-output IMPLAN® model of calculating cost versus revenue. It considers in great detail factors such as tax revenues, health care costs, education, sales and property tax, motor vehicle taxes, business taxes, consumer spending, incarceration, etc. Through this input-output model for 2004 costs and revenue of immigrant populations (both documented and undocumented) it was found that immigrants produced tax revenues of $2.4 billion and cost the state of Arizona a total of $1.4 billion, netting a gain of $940 million.

This prescient analysis of political battles to come seems not to have made it to the general public in Arizona, or to Governor Jan Brewer’s office. As an in-depth look into the real numbers of both cost and contributions, this report gives immigration opponents something to chew on. It is yet another example refuting the idea that the costs outweigh benefits. It illustrates with current relevance that by creating economic opportunity, everyone wins. Judith Gans’ extensive experience in immigration policies outlines the contributions of the immigrant community to states in the form of tax revenue generated, especially when immigrants are allowed to contribute. The real test will be in Arizona’s 2011 Fiscal report at the end of this year. Again, driver’s license and immigration reforms will create economic prosperity through tax revenues and this report proves immigrants increase tax revenues when they have the freedom to work and contribute to state economies.

We all know the US cannot deport 11.4 million people (the estimate of undocumented immigrants in the US). If you deny them the freedom to work and contribute to tax revenues, they only become liabilities. It is clear that we need to change how we approach this challenge by elevating immigrants to a point where they can contribute and pay their fair share in running the US.

A driver’s license is the first ticket to economic independence and contribution to society. In the US we sympathize with females in the Middle East, where few have the right to drive a car. We know that preventing a person from having the right to drive is a form of oppression, yet we insist on carrying out these same policies for a significant percentage of the population residing in our own country. Isn’t the bottom line to ensure that those who are here in the United States are accounted for, follow the laws and contribute to our system as a whole so it can run properly with the revenues that equal the population it serves?

WORKS CITED

  • Billitteri, Thomas J. “Domestic Poverty.” CQ Researcher. September 7, 2007. Vol. 17 Issue 31.              
  • PEW Hispanic Center. “2007 National Survey of Latinos: As Illegal Immigration Issue Heats Up, Hispanics Feel A Chill.” PEW: Washington, DC, December 2007. PDF. 28 April 2011. http://pewhispanic.org/reports/report.php?ReportID=84
  • “Follow-up Report on the Challenges of Obtaining an Indiana Driver’s License.”  The 2005 Driver’s           License/Immigration Subcommittee on The Indiana Commission on Hispanic/Latino Affairs (ICHLA).  Web. 2 May 2011.
  • Galvez, G., Mankowski, E. S., McGlade, M. S., Ruiz, M. E., & Glass, N. “Work-Related Intimate Partner Violence Among Employed Immigrants From Mexico.” Psychology of Men & Masculinity. 21 March 2011. ProQuest Research Library. Web. 28 April 2011.
  • Gans, Judith. “Immigrants in Arizona: Fiscal and Economic Impacts.” The University of Arizona: Udall Center for Studies and Public Policy. 2008. PDF. Web. 28 April 2011.
  • United States Department of Labor. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Local Area Unemployment Statistics. April 2011. Web. 7 June 2011. http://www.bls.gov/web/laus/laumstrk.htm
  • US Census Bureau. “2010 Census Data.” 2011. Web. 3 May 2011. http://2010.census.gov/2010census/data/index.php
  • Wasserman, Jim. “Schwarzenegger Signs Repeal of Immigrant License Law.” Oakland Tribune. San Ramon, CA. 4 December 2003. ProQuest Newsstand. Web. 27 Apr. 2011.

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Filed under crime, Education, jobs, Mexico, Recession