Friday Afternoon Club: Immigrants and Upward Mobility

The Kitsap Multicultural Assistance Center will hold a fundraiser at 5:30 p.m. Saturday at Puerto Vallarta, 1599 SE Lund Ave., Port Orchard. The evening includes cocktails, dinner and a keynote speaker. The cost is $50 per person; $500 per table. For information on the availability of tickets, visit the center’s Web site or e-mail Ray Garrido at

The center, located at Hillcrest Assembly Church in East Bremerton at 6750 Highway 303 NE., provides help to immigrants of all nationalities in the form of English as Second Language classes, information on citizenship, children’s services, referrals to social services and start-up business information among other forms of assistance.

Speaking of start-up businesses, I’m going to go out on a limb here, at the risk of sounding like I’m stereotyping, but have you noticed all the landscaping companies with Latino-sounding names? My unscientific guess is that Latino workers, heavily employed in the floral greens industry in Kitsap and Mason counties, have found a foothold to upward mobility that allowed them to start their own companies in a related field.

Speaking of stereotypes, an article in today’s New York Times says a recent analysis of census data defies the commonly held belief that immigrants as a group are largely unskilled workers relegated to low-wage, blue collar jobs.

In major metropolitan areas of the U.S., where 75 percent of the immigration population lives, more immigrants are involved in mostly higher paid, white collar occupations than in lower paid blue collar jobs, according to a U.S. Census data analysis commissioned by the Times, the article by Julia Preston states.

The study, by the nonpartisan Fiscal Policy Institute of New York, covers the past two decades, including 2008 with all its financial turmoil. The analysis included legal and illegal immigrants and naturalized citizens. A key finding of the study is that “cities with thriving immigrant populations — with high-earning and lower-wage workers — tended to be those that prospered the most.” Cities like Atlanta, Denver and Phoenix that attracted a large influx of immigrants, including many lower-paid service and blue collar jobs, benefited economically from the demand for services created by these new residents, according to Rich Jones of the Bell Policy Center, a Colorado-based organization that studies the impact of economic and fiscal policies in that state.

“They are coming with a variety of skills,” Jones said. “They create demand for goods, services and housing that began a dynamic.”

Here’s a list of services provided by the Kitsap Multicultural Center:

• ESL and citizenship classes

• Children’s activities and services

• Education and social services referrals

• Start-up business information

• Health and resource fairs

• Vaccination clinics

• Referrals for medical and legal services

• Swim training program

• YWCA domestic violence resistance advocacy services

• Toys, books, clothes and household items for families

• Annual Christmas dinner for families

• Assistance with other issues as needed

Classes, client assistance, and DSHS intake are provided on Mondays and Tuesdays from noon until 4 p.m. Staff is available to meet with clients on other days by appointment only.
Phone: 360-440-2376

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