Every tax is a pay cut. Every tax cut is a pay raise.
Citizens for Limited Taxation
|This particular individual worked at the Brazilian restaurant directly
across the street from the Framingham police station. Each day, our
police chief Steven Carl probably watched from his second story
office window as this guy arrived at work This is a real tribute
failure of the Framingham police
US immigration laws
The police could arrest the owners of the restaurant for harboring
illegals but they won't.
We should be so proud of the systemic failure of our police department.
This policy is apparently openly supported by Town Meeting and the Board of Selectman.
|Illegal immigrant couple going back to Brazil after 6 years||March 29, 2009|
|Liz Mineo 508-626-3825||Metrowest Daily News|
FRAMINGHAM -- For six years, Fernando Rodrigues lived the life of an illegal immigrant in Framingham: toiling more than 90 hours a week slicing meat at a Brazilian restaurant, staying out of trouble to avoid attention from the police, and getting paid under the table to save as much as possible, all to secure a life in his native Brazil.
Thursday was Rodrigues' last day in his adopted land, and he was beaming. He wouldn't say how much money he saved, but said it is enough to open a business and live a life free of financial worries for the near future. As he walked around downtown, he shook hands with friends and acquaintances.
"I'm leaving," he said to those who didn't know. "I achieved my dream."
Rodrigues, who arrived in Brazil Friday night, is among hundreds of Brazilian immigrants who return home every year after reaching their financial goals in the United States.
But his departure comes at a time when Brazilian flight, a trend noted by immigrant advocates in 2007, doesn't show any signs of slowing down. Between 2007 and 2008, about 15,000 Brazilians left Massachusetts, said Fausto da Rocha of Allston's Brazilian Immigrant Center. In 2009 and 2010, the number could easily double, he said.
Two years ago when the exchange rate between the dollar and Brazil's currency, called the real, worsened, many Brazilians found no incentive to stay. But now the recession and rising unemployment are proving to be the strongest forces driving Brazilians back home.
Immigrants, like many others who work in unskilled jobs, are being hard hit by the economic downturn. A recent report by the Pew Hispanic Center found the unemployment rate for foreign-born Latinos was 8 percent in late 2008. By comparison, the unemployment rate for all people in the labor market was 6.6 percent in the same period.
"With growing unemployment and without immigration reform, people are going to leave in droves," said Rocha. "Undocumented immigrants cannot go without work for three, four months. They don't have unemployment benefits. They prefer to leave."
But some who want to leave cannot afford the $600 ticket home. Fundraisers, or "vaquinhas," as they are called in Portuguese, to buy such tickets are becoming common, said a Brazilian grocery employee in Framingham.
In Milford, Brazilian pastor Samuel Neto knows all too well about the difficulties in finding work. He was laid off from a computer programmer job in December and hasn't been able to find work since.
The lack of jobs is pushing many Brazilians to take the plane home, but many are waiting until the end of the year, he said, hopeful for a new immigration reform by the Obama administration and a cutback on immigration crackdowns.
"It's becoming harder and harder to be here illegally," said Neto. "There seems to be more police efforts to go after illegal immigrants."
In Waltham, Brazilian Renato da Silva, who has a computer services shop, feels the same way.
"Immigration seems to be more active this year compared to last year," he said. "People don't want to get caught for driving without a license, be sent to court, and spend months in jail waiting to be deported. They don't want risks and that's why they're leaving."
Indications are that fewer are coming in. At Centro Bom Samaritano, where Brazilian immigrants can get referrals for jobs, places to rent and medical care, officers have seen few new arrivals, but they have their hands full helping those who have lived here for some time.
Still, the number of referrals has dropped to 10,000 last year from as many as 30,000 in previous years. The center, sponsored by St. Tarcisius Church, recently celebrated its 10th anniversary.
Of the waves returning home, center director Manoel Basilio, said it's a common phenomenon given the transient nature of immigrants.
"Since Brazilian immigration started, there have been always groups of Brazilians who have gone back home," he said. "They come with a goal in mind, and they leave when they achieve their dream."
Such was the case with Rodrigues. He delayed his trip home twice to save more money that could allow him to move up the social ladder in his city of Jaru in Rondonia state, where he worked as a butcher.
In his first years here, he had to work hard to pay off nearly $20,000 to smugglers who helped his wife and him sneak across the border. The last five years, Rodrigues and his wife, who cleaned houses, were able to amass a respectable sum which he'll use to open a business. He hopes he doesn't have to come back.
"With God's help, I'll never come back," he said. "Life was good here, but it was also hard. Being apart from the family is the hardest part."
Still, all the hardships were worthwhile, he said, even the separation from his daughter Kamilly, 6, whom he left when she was a baby. He learned a little English, made a few friends and learned how to be a "churrasqueiro," someone who slices the meat at a Brazilian restaurant. He decided not to own a car or drive while living in Framingham to avoid problems with the police.
Dressed in nice clothes and new sneakers and sporting gold chains around his neck and his wrists, Rodrigues walked around downtown on Wednesday afternoon. He could hardly contain his emotions. He felt conflicted, sad to leave friends behind but happy to be so close to going home.
"There is more happiness in my heart than sadness," he said in his native Portuguese. "I had always dreamed of the moment when I could go back home. That's the dream of every immigrant."
On that afternoon, he sat for the last time at the restaurant where he worked for the past five years. A man approached Rodrigues to bid farewell. After shaking hands, Rodrigues told him, "See you in Brazil."
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