Fusing Cultures: Part 4

The Missouri Attorney General wants to make sure Hispanics don't get ripped off. "It would be a great a great benefit to many hispanics if we could help them with consumer issues. Because as they come to the country there is a challenge of the language, with the challenge of often times being new to the United States, they are prime targets for being ripped off," said Missouri's Attorney General Jay Nixon. Nixon asked his staff to get two important documents translated: "Know Your Rights" and "Missouri's Landlord and Tenant Law".

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"Often times, folks who have challenges with the English language will sign a document, sign a lease and not really understand fully what there signing or getting into. When they move or leave they have issues involving security deposits and others, that really get to be a problem so landlord tenant has really become an issues for us with Spanish speaking Missourians," said Nixon. The Attorney General asked the Cambio Center in Columbia to translate the booklets.

Domingo Martinez works at the Cambio Center in Columbia. He feels the reasons for immigrating have changed very little in the past 100 years. "When people move from one place to another, and people have always moved, they always do it looking for jobs, or running away from some injustices."

Haydee Caro crossed the border 5 years ago. She along with her mother and sister followed her father to Missouri for a job.Caro says it was hard learning English especially reading it. She wishes she could have got her hands on these consumer guides 5 years ago... It would have made moving to the US easier.

Hywen Pham, a professor at the MU Law School says legal and illegal immigrants have additional rights even if their not American citizens.
"Everyone who is here in the US is entitled to constitutional protections. You know, police can't bet you up, at least they shouldn't be beating you up just because your undocumented."

On Mexican government's website there's a link to document called "Guia Del Migrante Mexicano" or the "Guide to the Mexican Immigrant." It tells Mexican immigrants what rights they have and how to cross the border safely.

"There are some folks who say this is illegal, those who come here should follow the rules like everyone else," said Pham. "And there are some folks who say this is the reality, your not going to stop people from crossing, you should try to minimize the loss of human life and try to bring some of these people above ground."

So meanwhile individual communities are trying to adapt to the new residents.

For example, the Columbia Police Department put together a manual for officers across Missouri to learn Spanish. Columbia Police Chief Randy Bohem says the training will make it easier for officers in field. And ultimately make it easier for Americans newest immigrants moving into Missouri communities.

Reporter: Erica Byfield
Web Producer: Tiffany Nelson
Original Air Date: June 3, 2005

aa Published: June 9, 2005
2005 , KOMU-TV8 and the Missouri School of Journalism. Some information courtesy Associated Press
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