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13
May

Cinco de Mayo: a popular celebration around the globe

Cinco de Mayo: a popular celebration around the globe

Cinco de Mayo is a wonderful holiday that enables many people to learn about Mexican heritage and culture. May 5 marks the annual holiday, and those who plan to attend Cinco de Mayo celebrations may send money to friends and family members to get ready for these festivities. 

On May 5, 1862, a Mexican troop of 4,500 soldiers faced 6,000 French militants at the Battle of Puebla. Under the leadership of General Ignacio Zaragoza, the Mexican force defeated the French army, and Cinco de Mayo honors those who fought for Mexico's freedom.

Myriad celebrations are held around the globe to commemorate the Mexican army's victory at the Battle of Puebla. For example, The Associated Press reports that ballet folklorico dancers will help Mexican-Americans celebrate the holiday in Houston in 2013, while New York City will close parts of Spanish Harlem and Queens for various street fairs throughout the day. 

"It's very similar to how Irish-Americans celebrate St. Patrick's Day," Jody Agius Vallejo, a sociology professor at the University of Southern California, told the news source. "One way they can honor their ethnicity is to celebrate this day."

10
May

Mexican leaders eye banking sector reforms

Mexican leaders eye banking sector reforms

A banking sector overhaul could provide a wide variety of benefits to Mexico, and the nation's leaders are discussing several options that may help the country's economy.

According to The Associated Press, Mexican officials are actively pursuing solutions to make credit readily available to residents. Additionally, these administrators are studying ways to make credit cheaper, which could affect Mexican citizens who currently work in the U.S. and send money to family members in their homeland. 

While the economic recession of the late 2000s affected many nations, Mexico's financial crisis of 1995 had far-flung effects that still impact the country today. During the crisis, many of the nation's banks nearly went bankrupt, but federal leaders provided short-term financial assistance. Several larger Mexican banks were later sold to foreign investors, and five of these financial institutions have dominated the nation's banking segment since that time. 

"When the banking sector was opened to foreign firms, [Mexican leaders] thought it would increase competition, but [these banks] didn't compete," economic analyst Rogelio Ramirez told the news source. "What we need is a reform to have them compete more and make the market more attractive, but the banks are happy to just issue credit cards."

Banking sector changes could provide additional support to the Mexican economy
Agustin Carstens, Mexico's central bank governor, told Reuters that banking sector reforms could have immediate effects on Mexican residents. In fact, boosting credit across the nation may add 0.5 percentage points to the Latin American economy within two to three years. 

Increasing competition among banks could also encourage these financial institutions to provide additional loans to Mexican citizens. Meanwhile, The Washington Post reports that these banks may develop incentives for mid-sized businesses that list their shares on the stock market, which could deliver a substantial boost to the nation's economy. 

"The [objective] is … for banks to lend more, and more cheaply," Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto told the news source. "Credit is a key input for growth."

Mexican Bankers Association officials said that they would need to study the proposed banking sector reforms to determine exactly how Mexican residents would be affected. However, these leaders stated that they agreed with the goals of the reforms, but specific measures must be followed to ensure that Mexican residents will enjoy the benefits of various economic changes.

10
May

Journalist honors historic Mexican architect

Journalist honors historic Mexican architect

Pedro Ramírez Vázquez, a Mexican architect who passed away on April 16, 2013, had a style all his own that was showcased in a wide variety of structures. In the post-World War II era, the Museum of Anthropology in Chapultepec Park in Mexico City and Museo Amparo in Puebla are just two of his buildings that have withstood the test of time and continue to inspire architects around the globe. 

Elena Poniatowska, a world-renowned journalist and novelist, has plans to honor Ramírez Vázquez in the near future. According to the Los Angeles Times, Poniatowska recently shared her thoughts and views on Ramírez Vázquez with a Mexican newspaper to help others understand his impact on Mexican residents and those who live and work in the U.S. and send money to family members and friends back home. 

During his life, Ramírez Vázquez helped transform Mexican culture through his projects. He was even appointed the leader of the organizing committee for the 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico City and helped the country bolster its global reputation. 

How has Ramírez Vázquez affected Mexican citizens?
As a mid-20th century architect, Ramírez Vázquez had a substantial impact on Mexican residents. His creations have served many Mexican business leaders, citizens and government officials over the years. 

For example, The New York Times reports that Ramírez Vázquez designed the Institutional Revolutionary Party's national headquarters, which served the group as it ruled the country until 2000. This political party also commissioned Ramírez Vázquez to complete numerous government structures during his life. 

Additionally, Ramírez Vázquez was a political leader for a short period. He served as secretary of human settlements and public works from 1977 to 1982, and his accomplishments significantly impacted many Mexican residents. 

Professor notes Vázquez had big impact on architecture community
Luis M. Castañeda, a professor of art history at Syracuse University, said that he is one of many architecture professionals who has been affected by Ramírez Vázquez. In a 2012 interview, Castañeda noted that Ramírez Vázquez wore many hats, taking on multiple responsibilities to ensure that all of his creations met specific criteria. 

"To think of him as somebody who designed buildings is not to take account of all the roles he played," Castañeda told the news source. "He wasn't the one constructing the models or sketching the drawings; he was the one securing the commission from the president."

However, many Mexican residents may remember Ramírez Vázquez for the Museum of Anthropology, arguably his most prominent achievement. 

"Without any doubt, that's what he'll be remembered for," Miquel Adriá, director of the architectural magazine Arquine, told the news source. "He succeeded in projecting in modern form many aspects that we had found in Mexican architecture."

8
May

India officials considering American natural gas exports

India officials considering American natural gas exports

Several Indian leaders are evaluating the benefits of U.S. natural gas exports. According to The Economic Times, India invested roughly $4 billion in the American oil and shale gas sectors between 2008 and 2012, and a few Indian administrators are examining U.S. natural gas exports' potential impact on the nation's economy. 

Nirupama Rao, Indian ambassador to the U.S., is one of several Indian leaders who is advocating for U.S. natural gas exports to go to India in the near future. Rao said that a partnership between India and the U.S. could significantly benefit Indian residents and those who hold jobs in the U.S. and send money back to their families in India. 

"As shale gas has become economically viable to produce, the U.S. has emerged as one of the world's most important gas-producing countries," Rao told the news source. 

U.S. Energy Information Administration and Department of Energy estimates show that U.S. natural gas production may exceed domestic consumption by 2020. Rao points out that India's use of U.S. natural gas exports could help her country's residents reduce their electricity expenses and deliver a substantial boost to the local economy. 

"This scenario opens up the possibility of the export of liquefied natural gas cargoes from the U.S. to other energy scarce countries, including India, where there is significant untapped potential for natural gas demand in all end use segments," Rao told the news source. 

A "win-win" opportunity for India and the U.S.
Shale gas production growth over the next few years could benefit India and the U.S. In fact, Rao notes that U.S. natural gas exports to India may provide a "win-win" opportunity for both countries. 

Job creation is a major initiative for Indian officials, and Rao states that a new partnership between India and the U.S. would represent a significant achievement. The Hindustan Times reports that India has already made significant investments in liquefaction terminals, which could help the Indian economy improve. 

Petronet, India's largest natural gas importer, recently signed an agreement that could affect Indian and U.S. citizens. UPI notes that Houston's United LNG agreed to supply 4 million tons of liquefied natural gas to Petronet annually for the next 20 years

Indian leaders said that the nation's demand for liquefied natural gas is growing at an annual rate of 5.6 percent. The recent partnership between Petronet and United LNG could help India keep pace with its liquefied natural gas needs, and Indian officials will continue to explore their options as well. 

7
May

Energy reform is a hot topic in Mexico

Energy reform is a hot topic in Mexico

Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto has made energy reform a top priority for the near future. According to The Washington Post, Peña Nieto and other Mexican leaders are reviewing various solutions to help enhance the nation's energy segment. 

Since taking over as president in December 2012, Peña Nieto has sought ways to help the country boost its revenue. While Mexico is still the third-largest source of foreign oil for the U.S., Peña Nieto will embark on a massive system overhaul during the summer that could deliver long-lasting rewards to Mexican residents and those who work in the U.S. and send money to family members south of the border. 

"This is about a practical reform that will allow for the introduction of new technology, which we lack, and accelerate the growth of our energy resources in order to lower electricity costs for Mexican families and businesses, and give us a more dynamic energy industry," Peña Nieto told the news source. 

Peña Nieto looks to accelerate energy industry growth
Petroleos Mexicanos (Pemex), the largest oil company in Mexico and Latin America, significantly affects Mexico's economy. As part of the nation's energy reform efforts, Peña Nieto may help Pemex reduce its taxes to ensure that the firm can effectively support the country and its citizens. 

GlobalPost reports that nearly 60 percent of Pemex's revenue currently goes into the Mexican treasury, and this total represents roughly 40 percent of the government's income. Meanwhile, Pemex earns approximately $100 billion a year in revenue, but the company could further increase its profits by receiving tax breaks from the Mexican government. 

The lack of competition among energy oil providers is a major consideration among Mexican leaders as well. Pemex has a monopoly in the country, and George Baker, a global oil industry expert, states that Mexico must attract foreign investors to increase its energy sector profits.

"If you only make Pemex more efficient in Mexico, that's not enough," Baker told The Washington Post.  

Former U.S. ambassador Tony Garza has encouraged the Mexican government to diversify its energy industry investments. By promoting competition among oil companies, more jobs could become available across the nation, which may deliver a substantial boost to the country's economy. Additionally, diversification could help keep electricity costs lower for Mexican business operators and citizens around the country and enable the nation to improve its revenue without delay. 

2
May

President Obama will discuss immigration in Mexico

President Obama will discuss immigration in Mexico

Building a strong partnership between the United States and Mexico is vital for residents in both countries, and President Barack Obama is increasing his efforts to improve relations between these nations. According to ABC News, Obama will visit Mexico on May 2, 2013, and discuss economic and immigration concerns with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto.

"A lot of the focus is going to be on economics," Obama told the news source. "I think we forget [Mexico] is a massive trading partner responsible for huge amounts of commerce and huge numbers of jobs on both sides of the border. We want to see how we can…maintain [an] economic dialogue over a long period of time."

In many cases, Mexican immigrants who are working in the United States send money back home to support their families. As the global economy continues to recover from the downturn of the late 2000s, new employment opportunities could become available in the U.S., which could lead more people to pursue jobs around the country. 

Meanwhile, U.S. officials are exploring options to improve their immigration system without delay. Ben Rhodes, deputy national security advisor for strategic communications at the White House, said that U.S. leaders are working closely with Mexican administrators to identify immigration issues and quickly remove these problems. 

"Mexico is an important partner in immigration reform given that we work with [Mexican officials] every day to secure our border," Rhodes told the news source.

The impact of Obama's visit to Mexico
Obama's trip to Mexico could have far-flung effects around the globe. By working with Peña Nieto to review immigration in the U.S. and Mexico, both countries can take steps to help their citizens. 

NPR reports that Mexico is the second-largest market for U.S. goods and services. During his visit, Obama and Peña Nieto will evaluate strategies to further improve the border between the U.S. and Mexico and deliver significant support to the global economy.

"If the Mexican economy is growing, it forestalls the need for people to migrate to the United States to find work," Rhodes told the news source. 

U.S. Chamber of Commerce chief executive officer Thomas Donohue stated that roughly six million jobs are based on U.S. relations with Mexico. By taking steps to improve interactions between both countries, residents in the U.S. and Mexico could reap the rewards of gradual improvements to their local economies. 

24
Apr

USCIS reveals new grant initiative for soon-to-be citizens

A new grant program will better prepare permanent residents for citizenship.

Since 2009, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has provided newly minted citizens – many of whom send money home to their families – with more than $23 million thanks to the 150 grants that have been provided to immigrant advocacy organizations. And as a recent announcement indicates, that total is about to go up.

USCIS revealed on April 18 that its launching a new grant initiative, called the Citizenship and Integration Grant Program, while will help prepare residents for the naturalization process. The endowment is expected to provide immigrant-serving organizations with $10 million in funding to better ready immigrants for citizenship and the tasks that accompany it.

This opportunity is only available for a limited time, however. USCIS noted that the application period end on May 22, and those who are interested can learn more about it at USCIS' website, which has links to additional websites for more in depth guidance.

Citizenship ceremonies occur throughout the year and are often organized by USCIS. In mid-April, to celebrate National Library Week, USCIS director Alejandro Mayorkas administered the oath of allegiance to more than two dozen people who naturalized, coming from various parts of the world, including Canada, El Salvador, India, Peru and Poland.

17
Apr

Details of immigration bill released

Lawmakers appear to have settled on a comprehensive immigration bill.

When people are hard at work in order to send money home to their families, what's happening in the news can be difficult to keep track of. But there's currently a bill in the Senate that has the potential to impact millions of immigrants who are either here currently or who intend to come to the U.S. in the future so that they can pursue their dreams.

According to details of the legislation, which were provided in summary form to multiple news agencies, unauthorized immigrants who have come to the U.S. will be able to obtain citizenship more quickly through some of the new rules laid out by senators. For example, among people who came to the U.S. before December 31, 2011, they will be allowed to apply for "Registered Provisional Immigration Status," which will afford them with the legal capability of staying with in the U.S. However, they have to pay as much as $500 in taxes and penalties and they will also need to show that they haven't been convicted of three or more crimes.

Once this all checks out, immigrants will maintain this provisional status for a period of 10 years. Once this time passes, they'll then be able to earn a green card. Before they're given one, though, they have to establish that they understand English, in addition to paying a $1,000 fee.

Expanded E-Verify use, new visas
There will also be greater use of the E-Verify system, which companies have been using with more regularity in order to determine whether people are legally authorized to reside in the country. Those who fail to meet the various requirements that enable them to work in the U.S. will no longer be eligible to work.

What may be viewed as one of the best components of the new immigration bill, which has yet to become law, is the production of more visas. Of course, visas are what give immigrants the ability to enter the U.S. There are limits to them, however, as the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services only hands out so many in any given year. But should the bill become law, the annual cap on H1-B visas for high-skilled workers would jump from 65,000 to 110,000. The absolute maximum handed out would be 180,000.

The bill also stipulates that a brand new visa may be created, called a "W" visa. Though it's still unclear how many of these visas would be created, they would go to any worker who's not in an agricultural-based employment sector. They could then work for employers in the U.S., provided these business are registered.

As for those immigrants who work on farms and in other agriculture-oriented jobs, those who came to the U.S. and are undocumented would have to continue working for that same company or farm owner. After five years, they would then become eligible to apply for a green card.

Though this isn't the first time lawmakers have collaborated in order to try and come up with a comprehensive pathway to legalization for undocumented immigrants, political observers believe this bill has a good chance of clearing the necessary hurdles to be signed into law. Eight senators were charged with crafting the bill, led by Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois, Sen. Robert Menendez of New Jersey and Sen. Lindsay Graham of South Carolina.

The overwhelming majority of Americans support undocumented workers' ability to stay in the U.S. In a recent survey conducted jointly by CNN and ORC International, 84 percent of respondents said they should be allowed to continue working.