WBEZ | south asians http://www.wbez.org/tags/south-asians Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Study highlights economic barriers for South Asians in Illinois http://www.wbez.org/news/study-highlights-economic-barriers-south-asians-illinois-107485 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/South Asians_130603_oy.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>A new report shows that Illinois&rsquo;s South Asian population is struggling to translate high levels of education into higher incomes. The study by the Chicago-based <a href="http://www.saapri.org/">South Asian American Policy and Research Institute</a> and <a href="http://www.advancingjustice-chicago.org/" target="_blank">Asian Americans Advancing Justice Chicago</a> looks at 2010 census numbers to fill out the picture of one of the state&rsquo;s fastest-growing minorities.</p><p>&ldquo;Although South Asian-Americans and Indian-Americans have the reputation of being highly educated and economically prosperous, that&rsquo;s certainly true for one segment of our population,&rdquo; said Ami Gandhi, Executive Director of SAAPRI. &ldquo;But the data reminds us that overall our community is still facing barriers, as are all communities of color.&rdquo;</p><p>The report finds that Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi and Sri Lankans are more educated than the overall Illinois population, but they have a lower per-capita income. And within some of the South Asian groups, the rate of low income and poverty is sizeable. Forty-seven percent of Pakistani-Americans in the Chicago region fall within those categories.</p><p>&ldquo;Sometimes Indian-Americans and South Asian Americans are depicted as the model minority, who&rsquo;s a good immigrant group to have here in Chicago and in the United States,&rdquo; said Gandhi, &ldquo;and reports like this point out that &lsquo;hey, we&rsquo;re more complex than that.&rsquo; We have many successes in our community, and we celebrate those, but we also have community members in need.&rdquo;</p><p>South Asians made up about 2 percent of Illinois&rsquo;s population in the 2010 census, up 55 percent from a decade before. Gandhi says the growing minority needs to engage more actively in the political process to create solutions for their community.</p><p><br /><em>Odette Yousef is WBEZ&rsquo;s North Side Bureau reporter. Follow her at <a href="http://twitter.com/oyousef" target="_blank">@oyousef</a> and <a href="http://twitter.com/WBEZoutloud" target="_blank">@WBEZoutloud</a>.</em></p></p> Mon, 03 Jun 2013 07:45:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/study-highlights-economic-barriers-south-asians-illinois-107485 Sheriff warns Indian immigrants of scam http://www.wbez.org/news/sheriff-warns-indian-immigrants-scam-107079 <p><p>Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart is <a href="http://www.cookcountysheriff.com/press_page/press_AsianIndianComScam_05_07_2013.html">warning Indian immigrants about a phone scam </a>that&rsquo;s recently targeted several victims in unincorporated Des Plaines. Victims received calls in which they were told they owed money to the Internal Revenue Service or to a collections agency, and that failure to pay would result in arrest or deportation.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;The amounts actually vary from victim to victim in the reports that we&rsquo;ve had, but in some cases it&rsquo;s been in the thousands,&rdquo; said Sophia Ansari, Press Secretary at the Cook County Sheriff&rsquo;s Office. Ansari said the caller often instructed victims to pay with a replenishable debit card.</p><p dir="ltr">The perpetrator spoke to the victims in English, Hindi, Gujarati and other Indian dialects.</p><p dir="ltr">Ansari said anyone who receives a suspicious call from someone claiming to be from the IRS or from a collections agency should record the name and number of the caller, and to contact the agency that the caller purports to represent.</p><p><em>Odette Yousef is WBEZ&rsquo;s North Side Bureau reporter. Follow her at <a href="http://www.twitter.com/oyousef">@oyousef</a>.</em></p></p> Wed, 08 May 2013 13:05:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/sheriff-warns-indian-immigrants-scam-107079 Chicago, Cook County must offer ballots in a new language, but which one? http://www.wbez.org/story/chicago-cook-county-must-offer-ballots-new-language-which-one-94116 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-November/2011-11-16/forOdette.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Election officials in Cook County and the city of Chicago are rushing to comply with the latest elections-related mandate from the U.S. Department of Justice: to provide bilingual assistance to Asian Indians in time for the 2012 election.</p><p>“We need to get moving and get this process rolling,” said Kelly Bateman, Assistant Executive Director of the Chicago Board of Elections.&nbsp;“The election’s March 20, so you go back a good six weeks before the election, if not more,” added Bateman, referring to the Republican primary voting date in Illinois.</p><p>Bateman and her counterparts at the Cook County Clerk’s office have just a few weeks to translate all written materials and publicity pieces for the election. They also need to find bilingual poll workers and interpreters for election day to assist Indian immigrants who are registered voters. This assistance is currently available to Spanish-speaking and Chinese-speaking minorities, which qualify under <a href="http://www.justice.gov/crt/about/vot/sec_203/activ_203.php">Section 203 of the Voting Rights Act</a>.</p><p>The <a href="http://www.census.gov/rdo/pdf/PrescribedFlowFor203Determinations.pdf">federal formula</a> to determine which language groups get bilingual assistance depends on the number of voting age citizens with limited English proficiency, and the portion with less than a fifth-grade education. Until this year, the U.S. Census Bureau considered the data every ten years. Going forward, the determinations will be made every five years, based on data from the <a href="http://www.census.gov/acs/www/">American Community Survey</a>.</p><p>Bateman says her office is well-versed in providing this assistance, but accommodating Indian Americans may present some different challenges. “There could be 50-plus different types of languages or dialects in the Asian Indian language,” said Bateman. “So we need to narrow it down to one language that is recognizable and understandable by the community.”</p><p>The three most common languages spoken for Indians in Cook County are Hindi, Urdu and Gujarati, but there are dozens more, including Tamil, Punjabi, and Telugu, to name a few. And they’re not all united by a common written script, as with Chinese. So Bateman and officials with the election office in Cook County are getting knee-deep into the data to learn which precincts Indian Americans live in and which languages they speak.</p><p>Bateman says even though the written materials will only be translated into one language, poll workers and interpreters can help with others.</p><p>Bateman’s office and the Cook County Clerk’s office were surprised that Indian-Americans were the next group to qualify for language assistance. Based on numbers from the 2000 population survey, they expected Korean to be the next language.</p><p>“People can see that influx of Korean-Americans. If you go to Glenview and Northbrook, and also the Niles area, a lot of Korean businesses are booming in that area,” said Sik Sohn, Executive Director of the Korean American Resource and Cultural Center. “So that’s why I think that we expected that the Korean language would be added.”</p><p>Sohn is happy for his Indian-American counterparts, but he’s disappointed that Korean-Americans did not qualify for bilingual voting assistance. Sohn wants to see the latest data, and says based on that, he might appeal.</p><p>South Asian organizers say language access will overcome an important barrier that many Indian immigrants face when voting. But Chirayu Patel said there’s a bigger obstacle. “I think there was a lack of connection in terms of my voting, how does that affect the issues that I’m facing?”</p><p>Patel registered South Asian voters on Chicago’s far North Side for the 2006 midterm elections. He said many of them cared more about politics in India than what was happening in their congressional district.</p><p>“I think the biggest thing that we did was make that connection in terms of why voting, even if it’s at the local level, why that matters in terms of addressing the issues that you have,” Patel said.</p><p>Patel says it’s great that the feds are giving Indian-Americans a better chance to voice their opinions at the polls. The question is, will they use it?</p></p> Thu, 17 Nov 2011 11:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/chicago-cook-county-must-offer-ballots-new-language-which-one-94116 Asian Indians to gain election help http://www.wbez.org/story/asian-indians-gain-election-help-93829 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-November/2011-11-07/RS4265_Election 2010_2.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Cook County and Chicago election officials are on a tight deadline to meet a new requirement to offer language assistance to Asian Indians before the March primary. The Department of Justice has told the election offices that the minority group has met strict thresholds under <a href="http://www.justice.gov/crt/about/vot/42usc/subch_ib.php#anchor_1973aa-1a">Section 203 of the Voting Rights Act</a>, according to the latest numbers from the American Community Survey.</p><p>The law requires that the offices translate all written election materials, including voter registration forms and ballots, into the language spoken by the minority group. The offices will also have to provide translation of all pre-election publicity, as well as oral assistance through hotlines on election day. The Cook County Clerk’s Office and the Chicago Board of Elections already provide similar assistance for Spanish and Chinese.</p><p>But meeting the requirement for South Asians will be a bigger challenge, because of the diversity of languages spoken by Indian-American immigrants.&nbsp;</p><p>“There could be fifty-plus different languages or dialects in the Asian Indian language,” said Kelly Bateman, Assistant Executive Director of the Chicago Board of Elections. “So we need to narrow it down to one language that is recognizable and understandable by the community.”</p><p>According to the latest data from the <a href="http://www.census.gov/hhes/socdemo/language/data/acs/index.html">American Community Survey</a>, about 21,000 South Asians living in Cook County speak Urdu, about 18,000 speak Gujarati, and another 18,000 speak Hindi. &nbsp;Bateman says Chicago has enlisted a data survey company to identify the precincts where Indian-Americans are concentrated. With the company’s help and through partnerships with local Asian American organizations, the office will determine which language to translate the written materials to. Bateman said it’s possible that oral assistance will be provided in more than one language.</p><p>Bateman said the election office will have to move quickly on determining the language and translating materials. “The election’s March 20,” she said, referring to the Illinois primary election. “So you go back a good six weeks before the election, if not more.”</p><p>According to the <a href="http://www.aaichicago.org/index.php?option=com_content&amp;view=article&amp;id=40&amp;Itemid=188&amp;lang=en">Asian American Institute</a>, the Indian American population in Illinois increased 52 percent between 2000 and 2010, and about one-third of Indian-American voters in Cook County have limited proficiency in English.</p></p> Mon, 07 Nov 2011 22:32:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/asian-indians-gain-election-help-93829 Chicago gets first Asian-American alderman http://www.wbez.org/story/47th-ward/chicago-gets-first-asian-american-alderman <p><div>Asian-Americans say they&rsquo;re proud to see one of their own finally win a seat on Chicago&rsquo;s City Council, and that the electoral success &nbsp;was inevitable because their community is growing at a fast rate.&nbsp;Thirty-year-old Ameya Pawar unexpectedly toppled the 47<sup>th</sup> Ward&rsquo;s political establishment when he won the aldermanic race outright, with close to 51 percent of the vote.&nbsp;He will replace longtime alderman Eugene Schulter, who dropped his candidacy just weeks before the vote.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>Pawar says he will always keep his door open to Asian-American constituents, but that his ethnicity played no role during his campaign. &ldquo;It didn't come up at all,&rdquo; said Pawar, &ldquo;because I think people were generally just interested in why I was running, what my plans were, and how I planned on implementing things.&rdquo; <span>Pawar was born in the U.S.; his parents hail from India. </span></div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>Still, Pawar says if it hadn&rsquo;t been for support from within Chicago&rsquo;s Asian-American community, he could very well have lost. In particular, he credits the <a href="http://www.iado.org/">Indo-American Democratic Organization</a>, a 30-year-old group that promotes political participation within Chicago&rsquo;s Indian American population. &ldquo;They&rsquo;ve been instrumental,&rdquo; said Pawar. &ldquo;I think when they came on board and they endorsed me, it was sort of a tipping point. We got a lot of support right afterwards.&rdquo;</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>Many political aspirants of Asian origin have tried to crack the glass ceiling before Pawar. But this election saw more than any recent Chicago election, says Tuyet Le of the <a href="http://www.aaichicago.org/">Asian-American Institute</a>. Le counted six candidates in aldermanic races throughout the city who claim Asian roots.&nbsp;</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>The latest census results show that while the city&rsquo;s overall population decreased about seven percent between 2000 and 2010, Chicago&rsquo;s Asian-American population increased by 17 percent, making it one of the fastest-growing minority groups in the city. Le said it was just a question of time before that translated into a growth in the number of Asian-Americans seeking political office.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>But many did not expect this breakthrough would happen in, of all places, a far North Side ward that encompasses Ravenswood and Lincoln Square.&nbsp;&ldquo;(Ward) 47 has an Asian population,&rdquo; said C.W. Chan of the Coalition for a Better Chinese American Community, &ldquo;but (it&rsquo;s) not even predominant, or not even having a sizeable number like many, many other wards.&rdquo;&nbsp;According to the Asian-American Institute, the 50<sup>th</sup>, 25<sup>th</sup>, and 11<sup>th</sup> Wards had the highest percentages of Asian-Americans in the 2000 census.</div> <p>Another one-time political aspirant of South Asian descent hoped Pawar&rsquo;s victory is a sign of things to come. Raja Krishnamoorthi galvanized Illinois&rsquo;s Asian-American community when he ran last year for state comptroller. He lost in the Democratic primary, but he says his campaign, and Pawar&rsquo;s big step are signs of the Asian-American community&rsquo;s political maturation.&nbsp;&ldquo;I think that this is a really great indication of increasing political participation by Asian-Americans,&rdquo; said Krishnamoorthi, &ldquo;and I think everyone in Chicago can take joy in that.&rdquo;&nbsp;</p></p> Wed, 23 Feb 2011 23:17:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/47th-ward/chicago-gets-first-asian-american-alderman Bank and borrowers forge new ties http://www.wbez.org/story/banks/bank-and-borrowers-forge-new-ties <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2010-October/2010-10-26/IMG_0758.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>&nbsp;Bank failures have brought a wave of new lenders into many communities. These institutions are larger and more stable than the ones they have replaced, but they don&rsquo;t have the same relationships with the communities they serve. For minority business owners that rely heavily on loans from their small, local banks, this can be a rocky transition. And on Chicago&rsquo;s North Side, one bank&rsquo;s troubles with its South Asian borrowers boiled over into a big enough problem that a U.S. Congresswoman had to intervene.</p><div style="">&nbsp;</div> <div style=""><span style="font-size: 10pt;">Businessman Balvinder Singh was one of the first to voice his problems with United Central Bank.&nbsp;Standing in front of a strip of storefronts that he owns on Clark Street, he pointed out a Chinese restaurant at the corner. &ldquo;That&rsquo;s the one pays my bills,&rdquo; Singh said with a rueful laugh. &ldquo;If my properties are fully rented,&rdquo; said Singh, &ldquo;I don&rsquo;t have a problem to pay my mortgage.&rdquo; </span></div> <div style="">&nbsp;</div> <div style=""><span style="font-size: 10pt;">But Singh&rsquo;s retail strip is far from full; most of the rest of the spaces are empty or occupied by tenants that are behind on rent.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; </span></div> <div style="">&nbsp;</div> <div style=""><span style="font-size: 10pt;">Singh's troubles began last December, when almost all his tenants went out of business or left the property in Chicago's Rogers Park neighborhood. Singh said when he realized this, he immediately went to his lender: United Central Bank. &ldquo;I showed them my plans,&rdquo; said Singh. &ldquo;I told them up to March I will fill up my property and I will start paying you certain amount, and they agree.&rdquo; But Singh says after he filled about 80 percent of the property with tenants, the bank refused to work out a loan modification.&nbsp;</span></div> <div style="">&nbsp;</div> <div style=""><span style="font-size: 10pt;">The next month Singh got foreclosure notices on his three properties in the area, but he also found out that he wasn't the only borrower in trouble with United Central Bank--another North Side businessman, Arshad Javid, was stuck in the same situation. Javid approached Singh with a petition that alleged United Central Bank discriminated against its South Asian borrowers. Together, Singh and Javid got nearly 30 other minority borrowers to sign it.</span></div> <div style="">&nbsp;</div> <div style=""><span style="font-size: 10pt;">United Central Bank&rsquo;s CEO, Luke Lively, denies racial prejudice played any role in lending decisions. &ldquo;It hurt us when we hear those kinds of claims because,one, we've never heard those anywhere else in the 23 (-year) history of the bank,&rdquo; said Lively. &ldquo;If that was the case, that would have been something that would have bubbled up, I'm sure, at some point. It's never been the case.&rdquo;</span></div> <div style="">&nbsp;</div> <div style=""><span style="font-size: 10pt;">Since Texas-based United Central Bank acquired failed Mutual Bank last year, Lively has traveled frequently to the company&rsquo;s Western Avenue location on Chicago's far North Side.&nbsp;Those trips have become particularly important in the wake of the allegations of discrimination.&nbsp;Lively said United Central Bank investigated the claims, but found no written proof, in emails or other records, to substantiate them.</span></div> <div style="">&nbsp;</div> <div style=""><span style="font-size: 10pt;">But Lively does concede the borrowers were treated in a less-than-professional manner. &ldquo;It was more things like -- and this is, to me, this is a terrible term, but it's 'I'm tired of babysitting you, as a borrower,'&rdquo; said Lively. &ldquo;'Babysitting' being a term that we saw in e-mails, something that we could identify from within.&rdquo;&nbsp;</span></div> <div style="">&nbsp;</div> <div style=""><span style="font-size: 10pt;">Lively said the bank fired two loan officers as a result of the investigation. Despite that, a spokesman from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation confirms the agency is investigating a complaint of racial discrimination.</span></div> <div style="">&nbsp;</div> <div style=""><span style="font-size: 10pt;">The petitioners also sought relief from another source: U.S. Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky. Singh had approached Schakowsky early into his troubles, but she declined to intervene on his behalf. Schakowsky said it wasn&rsquo;t until she saw the petition that she understood the urgency of the matter. &ldquo;I was concerned about the neighborhood and I was concerned about a large number of constituents,&rdquo; she said. Schakowsky helped arrange a town hall meeting with the borrowers and Lively. It was there that the bank committed to working with the borrowers to avoid foreclosures.</span></div> <div style="">&nbsp;</div> <div style=""><span style="font-size: 10pt;">But some have questioned Schakowsky's involvement during this election year. Her opponent has filed a <a href="http://www.pollakforcongress.com/2010/10/13/pollak-to-file-expanded-ethics-complaint-against-schakowsky/">complaint </a>with the Office of Congressional Ethics alleging that Schakowsky&rsquo;s intervention was politically motivated. The complaint says that only a few names on the petition are actually targets of United Central Bank foreclosures. And some of those names, like Balivinder Singh, have donated tens of thousands of dollars to Illinois Democrats.</span></div> <div style="">&nbsp;</div> <div style=""><span style="font-size: 10pt;">Schakowsky says she didn't consider campaign contributions when she decided to get involved.&nbsp;&ldquo;I feel completely non-defensive about having intervened,&rdquo; said Schakowsky. &ldquo;I'm proud of it. I think it was a really good thing.&rdquo;&nbsp;</span></div> <div style="">&nbsp;</div> <div style=""><span style="font-size: 10pt;">Many of the signatures on the petition are people who are employed by borrowers. Singh says they signed because they would lose their jobs if the businesses were foreclosed.</span></div> <div style="">&nbsp;</div> <div style=""><span style="font-size: 10pt;">Geoffrey Smith of the Woodstock Institute says it&rsquo;s a good thing the bank and the borrowers there are finally working together. &ldquo;Our experience in talking to community organizations, that's a real concern,&rdquo; said Smith. &ldquo;(That) when a local bank is acquired, especially a community bank is acquired by an out-of-town bank, that it changes the way that the bank interacts with the community.&rdquo;&nbsp;</span></div> <div style="">&nbsp;</div> <div style=""><span style="font-size: 10pt;">Lively has asked the borrowers to form an advisory committee to tell him how the bank is doing with minority borrowers. It&rsquo;s supposed to meet on a regular basis. &ldquo;This is, I think, an opportunity where you can turn something that is really critically negative into something positive by simply not offering words, but by offering actions and community involvement,&rdquo; said Lively. </span></div> <div style="">&nbsp;</div> <div style=""><span style="font-size: 10pt;">The committee has met once already, and Singh attended. Even while looking at his nearly-deserted shopping strip in Rogers Park, Singh says the meetings with United Central Bank have restored some optimism in him. &ldquo;I think things will be alright. If bank works with the people, things will be alright,&rdquo; said Singh. &ldquo;I will work with (United Central Bank), you know. Whatever the way I will have to work, I will work.&rdquo;</span></div></p> Tue, 26 Oct 2010 21:03:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/banks/bank-and-borrowers-forge-new-ties