Immigrants face difficulties with U.S. employers

Some are still struggling for their chance at the American Dream.

“We are still in the Stone Age when it comes to negotiations,” said Gabriela Cetrola about the current attempts to give immigrants a fighting chance to succeed in American society.

Cetrola, a licensed social worker, adjunct university professor and fervent Latina immigrant rights supporter, will take time Tuesday to speak in the Union Theatre at noon.

Presenting as part of the Food for Thought Lunchtime Series, Cetrola plans to address her true passion: the hardships that Latina immigrant women face when they come to the United States.

She says that one of the most infuriating problems that Latina immigrants face is that the degrees they earn in other countries are as useless as the paper they are printed on when they arrive stateside.

“These women who have advanced college degrees in Mexico get to the United States and have to take jobs washing dishes or cleaning hotel rooms because they cannot get documentation that shows they had gone through college in another country,” Cetrola said.

The problem isn’t a lack of drive or intelligence, but a lack of any sort of system that translates college credit from abroad over to U.S. standards.

As problematic as having no higher education reciprocity may be, currently Cetrola is striving to achieve even more basic goals.

“We want to take the simple step of just having our dignity in society,” Cetrola said.

Exemplifying one of these simple steps to preserve dignity, Cetrola spoke of the need for immigrants to receive fair treatment in employment.

“The immigrants arrive here and work for three weeks. Then when it comes time to be paid, the bosses don’t give them a paycheck because they know they cannot be fought,” Cetrola said.

Even with support rising from mainstream America, the people speaking out against immigrant rights have become more vocal. At the most recent state legislative session, a bill was being pushed that negated the right of undocumented immigrants to receive driver’s licenses. (Utah is only one of four states to have such a law.) At the urging of a local Spanish radio station, more than 350 Latino protestors showed up at the Capitol and helped squash the bill.

Realizing that they can’t fight the war alone, the Latino community is welcoming outside help. A work-study program has been set up by the College of Social Work at the U to lend a hand.

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Students essentially work for no monetary reward, but are investing plenty of hours to help try to make life better for people new to the community. Students and full-time workers are striving to make it clear to immigrants that someone is watching their back.

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