Skip to content

Brazilian citizens see increase in quality of life under President Lula

Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, current president of Brazil, will step down from his position on January 1, 2011 after eight years on the job. With soaring approval rates, he has changed the lives of many of Brazil’s poorest citizens, reports the BBC.

“It has been the best government, before Lula, we didn’t have a government,” Cremilda Maria da Silva, a citizen of Brazil who lives in a poor neighborhood in the state of Pernambuco, told the news source. She receives regular payments to help support her family under the Family Grant, a program that was expanded by Lula.

One woman who also lives in an impoverished section of Brazil told the news source that under the same initiative she has been able to purchase medicine, a computer and a washing machine.

Perhaps Lula has been so successful because he understands the plight of the poor. He himself was born into a low-income family and worked to support his loved ones in the industrial belt of Sao Paulo, the source reports.

Many people from the nation move to the U.S. in order to find work so that they can send money to Brazil to support their family at home. According to the Migration Information Source, money from remittances can help a family pay for education or durable goods.


Immigrant laborers find an online voice

Maria de Lourdes Gonzalez, a 62-year-old immigrant working as a housekeeper in California, runs a blog titled Vozmob, a site launched by the University of Southern California and the Institute of Popular Education of Southern California to give immigrants a voice on the internet, reports the Los Angeles Times.

The site allows workers throughout the region to record or take pictures of their experience in the U.S. and upload them onto the web to share with friends, family members and the public at large.

Gonzalez herself conducts many interviews with a tape recorder and video camera, often trying to engage people outside garment factories, on buses or those who pass her on the street. She conducts many of these one-on-ones in Spanish.

“The idea is to let those voices be heard,” the woman told the news source, “to bring out of us what’s already inside.” In addition to providing the workers with a space online, the project aims to provide technological education to immigrants.

Many immigrants, like Lourdes and the immigrants she has recorded have come to the U.S. in order to send money home to family and friends living abroad. According to The Migration Information Source, sending money to loved ones abroad helps pay for durable goods as well as education and household expenses.


The price of naturalization

Many immigrants coming to the U.S. work hard and travel long distances in order to seek new opportunities. When it comes time for these immigrants to naturalize, they may face one unexpected hurdle – fees.

Despite discussions of increasing the fee, the current cost of a naturalization application remains $595, according to The Washington Independent. The Citizenship and Immigration Service declined to raise the fee, but several other costs experienced a hike, such as the price of a green card application or petition for an alien relative.

Immigrant rights groups are advocating to lower fees, as they feel that some immigrants who do not make much money will not be able to afford the application. Because the fee is the final step toward becoming a citizen, many workers are held up by the high price of becoming a citizen, even though they are eligible for naturalization.

Workers who do manage to pay these fees likely understand the improvements money can make in one's life. Some immigrants go through the costly process of naturalizing so that they can send money home to family members still living abroad.

According to the World Bank, the total amount of remittances to developing nations in 2009 was estimated to be approximately $290 billion.


Award-winning chef inspired to help feed the poor

When Narayanan Krishnan took a trip to his native country, India, to visit family and friends in 2002, he likely didn’t expect that the visit would lead him to dedicate his life to feeding the hungry.

Krishnan was originally planning to return to Switzerland, where he was living, to take on an elite job in his field. However, Krishnan decided to change his plans when he saw an old man living under a bridge, struggling to feed himself, according to

The experience inspired the chef to found a nonprofit, known as the Akshaya Trust, which has served more than 1.2 million meals to homeless and poverty-stricken people living in India.

Krishnan and a team now travel 125 miles in a donated van seeking out people in need of a good meal. He personally delivers delicious vegetarian cuisine, feeding almost 400 people every day, the news source reports.

Like many foreign-born workers, Krishnan is striving to find a way to help struggling people who are living in his home nation. Many other immigrants working abroad send money to India to help provide for family members at home. Indian immigrants make up the fourth largest immigrant population in the U.S., according to the Migration Information Source.


Majority of Mexican workers in New York City hold a job

Mexican immigrants comprise a large portion of the work force in the U.S. According to the New York Times, three quarters of Mexican immigrants between the ages of 16 and 65 living in New York City are working or actively looking for work.

According to the 2008 census, 96 percent of Mexican immigrants in the city hold a regular job, which is two percent higher than the national average. Men of Mexican descent have the second highest rate of employment among U.S. immigrant populations, just behind Italian immigrants.

Some experts believe that these numbers may be a slight underestimation, as it is likely that some undocumented workers are unwilling to reveal their employment status.

The source reports that numbers collected by the Fiscal Policy Institute show that 28 percent of all working-age Mexicans work in the food-service industry, while an additional 20 percent are working in construction.

Many of these immigrants likely come to the U.S. in order to send money to Mexico to support family members who still lives south of the U.S. – Mexico border. According to CBS, the Central Bank recorded a total of $21.2 billion was sent in remittances to Mexico from the U.S. in 2009.


Journalist discusses experience coming to America

Wendy Carrillo recently wrote an article for the Huffington Post discussing her experience coming to the U.S. as a young girl. Carrillo’s mother left for the U.S. in 1983, when the journalist was only three years old, in order to help her family leave El Salvador.

Though she was only in her early 20s, Carillo’s mother was able to find a position working as a nanny. She was able to send money to El Salvador, and within a few years, Carrillo was able to join her mother.

She writes that it was difficult to adjust at first, but that she was excited about the new opportunities presented to her. “I was five years old. [My mother] had remarried and I had a new family. Life was wonderful and the American dream was within reach.”

Since that time, Carrillo has seen major success in the U.S. She holds degrees from both California State and the University of Southern California, and was recently recognized as Woman of the Year by senator Gloria Romero for her work as a broadcast journalist.

According to the Migration Information Source, more than half of foreign born citizens from Central America living in the U.S. are from El Salvador and Guatemala.


Filipino immigrant honored by CNN for charity efforts

Efren Penaflorida received the title of Hero of the Year because of a program he started in 1997 to provide educational materials and information to children living on the streets in his home country of the Philippines, according to CNN.

Over 12,000 teenage volunteers take part in Penaflorida’s organization, helping to drive pushcarts stocked with books and other supplies through the streets of Manila and other cities in the Philippines.

Upon his return from the U.S., Penaflorida was given a second commendation, the Order of Lakandula, from then-President Gloria Arroyo. However, the hero conveyed modesty after he received this high honor.

“I received the medal but shared the honor with my co-volunteers, my mentor and the children we reach out to,” he told the news source. “The government heads received an instruction from the president to have the pushcart schools replicated all over the country.”

Because poverty is so prevalent in the Philippines, people like Penaflorida, immigrants from the nation who are working abroad and remit to the Philippines, are often considered true heroes. According to the The Migration Information Source, in 2006 there were 1.6 million Filipino immigrants living in the U.S.


Janet Napolitano to visit Boston for naturalization ceremony

Janet Napolitano, the Homeland Security Secretary, will visit Fenway Park, home of the Boston Red Sox, for a naturalization ceremony that will take place during Constitution Week, according to the Boston Herald.

More than 5,000 immigrants will join Napolitano for the ceremony, which is being held just before the anniversary of the singing of the U.S. constitution, which took place September 17, 1787. This will be the second time that Fenway Park hosts such a ceremony. The stadium is available because the Red Sox are currently playing in Seattle.

According to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, there will be a number of similar ceremonies held across the country, including another ceremony in Boston to take place at historic Faneuil Hall. New citizens will also be sworn in on the steps of the Lincoln Monument and the Smithsonian Museum, in the nation’s capital.

Many of these immigrants came to the U.S. to seek out new opportunities for work so that they could send money home to family members who are still living abroad.

According to The Department of Homeland Security, 1,130,181 immigrant obtained legal permanent resident status in 2009, an increase of more than 30,000 from the previous year.


Pew Research releases new data on immigrants in U.S.

A new poll released by the Pew Research Center reveals new information about the number of immigrants entering the United States. According to the research, the annual inflow of undocumented immigrants entering the U.S. between March 2007 and March of 2009 has decreased by almost two thirds since March 2000 to March 2005.

The decline in the inflow of immigrants entering the U.S. reflects an overall reduction of 8 percent in the number of undocumented immigrants who currently reside in the country.

The study estimates there were approximately 11.1 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S. in March 2009, down from 12 million two years earlier. However, the research indicates that there has not been a significant change in the amount of Mexican immigrants living in the U.S., despite the fact that inflow from Mexico has decreased.

Many of the immigrants living in the U.S. are working to send money back home to their families who still reside in Mexico. According to U.S. Immigration Support, last year immigrants sent home more than $17 billion dollars in remittances. Those who elect to send money home may want to use an electronic transfer service to ensure that the funds arrive safely.


Filipino immigrants work long hours to send money home

Filipino immigrants who have moved to another country to find work are often willing to accept positions that have long hours. According to the Bermuda Sun, many workers may take jobs that seem less than desirable in order to send money home to family members who are struggling to make ends meet in the Philippines.

Currently, the unemployment rate in the Philippines is skyrocketing, and the average annual earnings among workers in the nation is under $3,000. One woman told the source that she was able to save enough money from a position as a bartender to send money home to help her brother and sister pay for college.

According to, Filipinos who work regular jobs in some countries may be able to use their earnings to eventually start their own businesses.

“More and more Filipinos are becoming more interested in entrepreneurship in the UAE,” Jojie Dinsay, an official with the Philippine Embassy in the United Arab Emirates, told the news source.

According to Migration Information Source, the number of Filipino immigrants in the U.S. tripled between 1980 and 2006. According to the World Bank, private consumption in the Philippines grew by 5 percent in 2005, in part because of remittances.