by Richard Hobbs
"If you don't have understanding, how can you have compassion?"
The Purposes of KIN of Santa Clara County
KIN of Santa Clara County is an initial step to better understand an increasing, immensely significant segment of the county's population: that of immigrants, who with their U.S.-born children constitute 60% of the county population.
The content of the words and the acronym of KIN of Santa Clara County possess rich meaning. Knowledge of immigrant nationalities (understanding immigrant cultures and communities located in our backyard) provides a significant stepping stone for exploring, grasping, accepting and celebrating the delectable diversity of our county.
Unless we all start from the premise that we are innocently ignorant of the background and conditions of the rich cultures in our midst, and are challenged to rise to new levels of human understanding and humane relations, we suffer the possibility of engaging in insensitive or even discriminatory behaviors. The dual hope of KIN is that we avoid the pitfalls of division, insular living, and unknowing bias, and instead fully embrace newcomers in our midst with open arms, as if they were our own collective relatives, our same kind, the true meaning of kin or kinfolk.
KIN of Santa Clara County was conceived with ambitious goals in mind, to:
Knowledge of Immigrant Nationalities (KIN) can be used in many different contexts:
Cultural Proficiency Training
County and city departments, non-profit human service providers, educational institutions, religious organizations, unions, and businesses will find KIN a valuable training tool to better understand important immigrant groups in Santa Clara County. As a training tool, KIN is best accompanied by live speakers and representatives from the countries represented. Regularly planned speakers incorporating presentations on countries from key constituents served is an ideal and exciting use of KIN. The Immigrant Action Network will attempt to provide knowledgeable, entertaining speakers.
For the eligibility worker, teacher, health worker, Corrections Officer, immigration attorney, or other professional who interacts for the first time with a client or student from Laos, Somalia, El Salvador, or any other country found in KIN, this publication can serve as a useful introduction to understanding important background information on the person's country and general conditions in Santa Clara County.
KIN provides a valuable resource for community organizing. Not only are the key methods for reaching different immigrant communities presented, but important aspects of appropriate and respectful inter-personal communication, knowledge of traditions and religious holidays, ethnic and language differences, dress and customs, and life conditions in Silicon Valley are all made accessible to the community organizer.
The Origins of KIN of Santa Clara County
KIN of Santa Clara County is an integral product of the Summit on Immigrant Needs and Contributions of Santa Clara County. At the time of the summit, it proved impossible to publish a country-by-country profile of our findings and also incorporate additional pertinent background information from each country.
In addition, KIN of Santa Clara County is the result of direct collaboration with all those beacons of light mentioned under Acknowledgements, and with West Valley Community College, which provided additional funding for this project from a National Science Foundation grant provided to the Anthropology Department.
Held in San Jose, California on December 6, 2000, the Summit on Immigrant Needs and Contributions culminated an 18-month process of analysis of the needs of the largest and neediest 16 immigrant groups in Santa Clara County. These immigrants represent 98% of all immigrants receiving any kind of public assistance in the county. A control group of U.S.-born participants was also surveyed to compare the life conditions of immigrants with those of native born.
The findings and recommendations from the summit, including sections on the global context of immigration and the contributions of immigrants, can be found in the 400-page final report, Bridging Borders in Silicon Valley. An Immigrant Resource Guide for Santa Clara County providing topic background and community resources is also available. It will soon be available in nine languages.
The 16 key topic areas of Bridging Borders and the Immigrant Resource Guide are the following:
Family Safety Net
6. Wages/Working Conditions
These areas of need identified in the May 1999 Community Dialogue on Immigrant Needs developed into 16 separate work groups over a 16-month period. These work groups combined their efforts with summit staff, independent experts, researchers, and hundreds of volunteers and interns.
The summit research that is included in KIN comes from the following research efforts:
Reference is made throughout KIN especially to the following Summit research:
It is vitally important to point out the limitations of KIN of Santa Clara County, so that readers will understand that KIN is merely a place on a winding but beautiful path to improving our understanding of different immigrant cultures present in Santa Clara County.
Santa Clara County is a demographic, economic, political, and cultural microcosm of the future, especially for high-tech areas of the globe. No other 1.7 million people on earth live fast-paced lives engendered by incessant innovation, consumerist frenzy, economic spurts and sputters, sharp social contradictions, among immigrants from every corner of the earth.
The quantity, percentage, diversity, and pattern of immigration to Santa Clara County exemplifies the profound demographic shift that is transforming the racial and ethnic composition and the economy and social fabric not only of Santa Clara County, but also of California and the United States. In Santa Clara County, "Immigrants 'R Us".
Santa Clara County is the geographic heart and demographic soul of immigration to Northern California. Nearly 600,000 (one-third) of the county's 1.7 million residents are immigrants. Including the U.S.-born children of immigrants, 60% of the county population constitute what the San Jose Mercury News calls "immigrant stock", or direct immigrant lineage. Santa Clara County has twice as many immigrants as any other county in the Bay Area. Of California's 58 counties, only Los Angeles County and Orange County have more immigrants than Santa Clara County.
According to the 2000 Census, Santa Clara County is a majority minority county with more Asian and Latino immigrants than any other Bay Area county. Approximately 44% are non-Latino white, 26% are Asian, 24% are Latino, 3% are African American, and 3% are two or more races. Similarly San Jose, the 11th largest city in the United States, is a majority minority city and has more immigrants from Vietnam and India than any city outside of Vietnam or India. The white population was more than 80% of the city's population for most of the 20th century, including as recently as 1970. Today it is less than 30%.
The leading countries of origin of immigrants in Santa Clara County are Mexico, Vietnam, the Philippines, India, the People's Republic of China, Taiwan and Iran.
Santa Clara County is home to 5 of the 10 school districts in the Bay Area with the largest percentage of Limited English Proficient (LEP) students. Of the 19 school districts in the Bay Area with a percentage of LEP students above the statewide average, 10 are located in Santa Clara County. For example, 55% of the Franklin-McKinley Elementary School District, 45% of the Berryessa Elementary School District, 31% of the Eastside Union High School District, and 26% of the San Jose Unified School District are LEP students. The San Jose/Evergreen Community College District possess student populations of about two-thirds (2/3) immigrant and/or their U.S.-born children, reflecting the community it serves.
Latinos, Asians, and African Americans now constitute more than 60% of the county's students.
About one-fourth of California's residents are immigrants, and nearly half of Californians are either immigrants or have an immigrant parent. About one-third of the state's annual population growth in the past decade was because of immigration. About a third of the nation's immigrants reside in California.
Nationally, about 1 of every 10 persons in the United States is an immigrant. This percentage compares to 15% at the turn of last century. By 2050, 25% of the U.S. population will be Latino, African Americans will be at about 16%, Asians will increase from 4% to 9%, and the white population will decrease from three-quarters (3/4) to one-half (1/2).
As the demographic soul of Northern California, a veritable "world of heart's delights," Santa Clara County possesses one of the most diverse populations on earth. According to figures and projections from the Immigration and Naturalization Service, about 200,000 immigrants from 177 countries entered Santa Clara County in the past decade. This does not include temporary H1-B workers, tourists, students, undocumented immigrants, or the in-migration of immigrants from other areas. Santa Clara County offers free citizenship days in 18 languages. The Summit on Immigrant Needs public assistance surveys were conducted in 15 languages.
Within 15 years the county's population will have roughly equal numbers of whites, Latinos, and Asians, with a smaller number of African Americans. Immigration is unquestionably driving this demographic shift.
About two-thirds of neighborhoods in Santa Clara County have become more diverse. In one working class West San Jose neighborhood of about 27,000 residents (zip code 95117), almost 3,000 immigrants from 66 countries have moved into the neighborhood since 1990. Zip code 95110 in downtown San Jose is 77% Latino and zip code 95133 in Berryessa is 46% Asian.
In terms of immigration patterns, five of the top six sending countries to the United States are also the top five sending countries to Santa Clara County. These are Mexico, the Philippines, India, Vietnam, and China (PRC). Similarly, these are the top five countries of origin of immigrant public assistance recipients in Santa Clara County, with Mexico and Vietnam constituting over 85% of recipients within these top five.
Similarly, Santa Clara County is home to a large number of the top five refugee populations resettled in the United States: from Bosnia/Herzegovina, the Former Soviet Union, Vietnam, Somalia, and Iran. These refugees have shown a well-founded fear of persecution on account of race, religion, ethnicity, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group.
The Glocal (Global and Local) Context of KIN
The broad context of KIN and immigration to Santa Clara County is the paradoxical nature of the new economy, the world economy and globalization; political, ethnic, and religious persecution; the intense desire of immigrants to live productive and healthy lives; uneven educational attainment by different immigrant groups and therefore distinct positions within the county's distribution of wealth and division of labor; and remarkable contributions by immigrants in Silicon Valley, one of the world's most dynamic and contradictory economies. Indeed, at least one international organization has called all immigrants "refugees of the world economy".
When a focus group of 11 local leaders from 11 different countries with large immigrant populations in Santa Clara County met in May 2000, these leaders clearly laid the key cause of the international dislocation of human beings at the doorstep of increasing worldwide inequality resulting from globalization. These leaders concluded that civil wars based on ethnic and religious differences had less to do with actual inter-ethnic or inter-religious strife than geopolitical considerations for the control of markets, inexpensive labor, and natural resources.
Immigration to Santa Clara County primarily reflects the desire of the world's have-nots to gain access to meeting life's greatest needs, including jobs, education, freedom of belief and opinion, and family security. Adequately meeting many of these needs is generally denied to four-fifths of humanity. For example, only one-fifth of humanity owns four-fifths of the world's resources. (Bill Gates alone possesses the equivalent of the GDP of 44 countries). To a lesser extent, immigration reflects improved opportunity for professionals (e.g. from India and Taiwan) to improve their earning power.
The result in Santa Clara County, as amply demonstrated in the pages ahead, is pronounced educational and economic stratification by different immigrant groups. For example, the random sample survey indicates that while Mexican immigrants on average earn $10 an hour and two-thirds have less than a high school education, immigrants from India earn $32 an hour and two-thirds have a Master's degree or higher. The effects of globalization on who immigrates and why are clearly visible. Mexican service, agricultural, and assembly workers can earn 20 times more per hour and Indo-American professionals can earn five times more per hour in the United States, both providing incentives for immigration and both the result of the "developing-underdeveloping" rift worldwide.
Whether Salvadoran lower-wage service work or Taiwanese higher-wage software engineering, the Vietnamese small businessperson or the Filipino educator, the approximate 600,000 immigrants in Santa Clara County have deeply enhanced the lives and improved the living standards of all Santa Clara County residents.
The contributions of immigrants to the regional and national economy are so invaluable and critical in areas of work that fulfill human needs of all county residents, that we have highlighted at least one significant contribution from each of the 16 immigrant nationalities presented in KIN. A full 33 pages in Bridging Borders are dedicated to the theoretical, conceptual, and social framework within which the actual, essential, considerable contributions of immigrants are presented in detail.
We hope that you will agree that the background, abilities, and contributions of all immigrants in Santa Clara County have improved and enhanced your life and everyone's life in Santa Clara County. This great pride is the raison d'etre of KIN.
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