Matos:“The Economy of Grand Avenue is Driven By Immigrants”

matos02.jpgImmigrants often “live in the shadows,” Kica Matos (pictured) told a gathering of government and not-for-profit leaders. In New Haven, at least, the city government she works for is trying to help them emerge — and contribute to building the economy.

Over melon and muffins at the Graduate Club on Tuesday, Matos, the point person for City Hall’s nationally watched immigration reform, laid out the challenges facing New Haven’s estimated 10,000 to 15,000 undocumented immigrants. Her talk was part of a monthly breakfast discussion series organized by the Greater New Haven Community Loan Fund, and drew about 30 people.

Matos has been on the front lines of the issue. Before putting into place New Haven’s immigrant-friendly municipal ID plan, Matos ran Junta for Progressive Action, the community group working with Latino immigrants in New haven.

Speaking at a podium in the wood-paneled dining room, Matos related many of the challenges that new immigrants face, such as language barriers, low levels of education, illiteracy, difficulty accessing health care, and basic culture shock. She told the story of one immigrant who was confused about the roles of the many uniformed men in the United States. He used to run and hide when he saw a UPS delivery truck, thinking that the brown-uniformed men were members of law enforcement.

Confronted with this constellation of challenges, immigrants are easily susceptible to exploitation. As an example, Matos told of a group of 10 immigrants that had been living in a one bedroom apartment. Their landlord, while charging them a monthly rate of $400 per person, was threatening to shut off their heat. “People with [legal] status wouldn’t put up with these conditions,” said Matos, “and they wouldn’t be subject to them.” She said that the landlord was able to take advantage the tenants because of their fear of being deported.

Undocumented immigrants also face exploitation in the workplace, according to Matos. She talked about a North Haven factory where immigrant workers did not have access to a bathroom and lacked protective equipment. In such situations, immigrants will often avoid going to the authorities. Many immigrants assume that the police in this country are corrupt, explained Matos, since that has been their experience in their countries of origin,

matos03.jpgNew Haven’s immigrant-friendly municipal ID card program came about in response to such stories from immigrants in town. Answering questions from the audience, Matos said that the program, which has issued roughly 3,700 cards since it was implemented in July, had been surprisingly popular. “The numbers are astounding,” she said. “I thought that after the raids, to issue 1,000 cards in a year would be amazing.”

Matos also outlined the contributions that immigrants make to the city’s economy. The most obvious input is to the labor force, but Matos explained that immigrants also contribute significantly to New Haven’s tax base, through paying rent. Matos spoke specifically of Fair Haven. “The economy of Grand Avenue is driven by immigrants,” she said.

The next challenge, according to Matos, is to expand the reach of the ID card program out into the community. She said that the city has started to send out a mobile unit to help to distribute the cards to more people.

Post a Comment

Commenting has closed for this entry


posted by: New Haven Tea Party on October 10, 2007  10:20am

Fact check:
1. Ms. Matos never expected to issue 1,000 cards - it’s always been 10,000. Issuing 3700 cards is hardly astounding - that’s 37%. If she changed her mind in the wake of the ICE raids, she never publicly told anybody. Further, given the hysteria of Ms. Matos and Mayor DeStefano and the verbal grenades launched at the federal government in its wake together with bringing the money changers into the Catholic Church in Fair Haven, that 1,000 figure is patently false.
2. Ms. Matos talked of livng and working exploitation - while shameful - it’s what happens when you are breaking the law and have something to hide.
3. Ms. Matos also has not disclosed how many of these ID card holders have now opened bank accounts with their newly issued IDs. She and other supporters told stories of people being killed, mugged and robbed of “large amounts of cash” because they couldn’t open bank accounts. While the allegation of not being able to have bank accounts was proved false, has anybody from the city or Junta been advising and educating these illegal immigrants that despite their status, they can have a banking relationship? Or was that just part of the sales pitch? 
4. One final note: The city is taking this I.D. program on the road. Quite an unusual move for a city department - designed one would conclude to boost the numbers.

posted by: Charles S. on October 10, 2007  10:53am

Great, so there is an army of illegals just waiting to drain our resources even further.  The problem is not what to do with them but how to deport them.  New Haveners are suffering (the legal tax paying ones).

This is only occurring because they are latinos.  If they were from the middle east the City would report them in a second.  Don’t think some terrorists aren’t hiding behind fake latino identities.  Just waiting to do damage.

BLAME THE DESTEFANO ADMINISTRATION for this, as it is only going to get worse.  Wait for the day an ID card issued person commits a heinous crime - then what?

Food for thought - why aren’t the pakistani’s in New Haven illegal? Because THEY MAKE SURE they do whatever necessary to become legal so they can work.  Why can’t everyone else?

posted by: king james v on October 10, 2007  10:54am

people who are here illegally and not doing a damned thing about making themselves legal - and i mean waiting in lines, paying fees and fines, using all of thier spare time to get it right - can and should stay at the end of new haven’s bread lines.
how about the african american community, legally here for centuries, who have constantly been overlooked by every wave of newcomers, let’s take care of them.  then lets’ help me pay my skyrocketing fuel bill - you know it’s a lot warmer in mexico in the winter.
i am sick and tired of this issue.  so much that any compassion i had a year ago, and i had a lot, is gone, completely gone.
new haven for new haveners.
call me what you’d like, my family comes first, as should yours.

posted by: fairhavener on October 10, 2007  1:02pm

“Many immigrants assume that the police in this country are corrupt, explained Matos, since that has been their experience in their countries of origin”

Well, they shouldn’t experience any “culture shock” over that. Besides, as disgusting as it may be, a lack of bathroom and protective equipment is not a police issue. Get your arguments sorted.

“The economy of Grand Avenue is driven by immigrants,” she said.

That’s a good one. First of all, what immigrants are we talking about now? I thought we were talking about “undocumented” immigrants. It is clear that the term immigrant was used over and over without any adjective, but it is also clear each time who we are talking about. It is absolutely not true that “undocumented” immigrants drive the economy of Grand Avenue. Second of all, the economy of Grand Avenue sucks. There are a few nice restaurants, a couple nice shops, and 95% waste. Chapel, Broadway, Whalley, even Dixwell have an economy. Grand Avenue needs an economy sorely, but it will never happen without a change and Municipal ID cards ain’t the solution.

BTW, I have a lot of illegal friends from all over N and S America. Most of them didn’t bother getting the ID because the others complained about how useless it is. You can open a bank account without it for start. Who is it who really benefits from these ID cards? I know certain people are getting a lot of publicity.

posted by: True New Havener on October 10, 2007  1:27pm

Hmmm.  Fairhavener—strange our experiences are so different.  I see people all over Fair Haven using the Elm City ID: at the drug store, at the library, at the bank.  I don’t doubt that you have friends who don’t want an ID but then you probably have friends who don’t like chicken—pretty irrelevant given the high numbers of people who purchase (a) chicken and (b) the ID.

And as to Grand Avenue—are you nuts?  What other inner city street has the number and diversity of businesses that Grand Avenue has—certainly none of those that you mention.  In the space of 4 blocks, you have: a grocery store, two dry cleaners, two banks, several restaurants, a post office, a shoe store, a laundromat, a couple of bakeries, several clothing stores, a number of markets, a drugstore, several barber shops/beauty salons, a furniture store, an architect, a doctor’s office, a chiropractor, a health clinic, the list goes on.

posted by: WEBbloger 1 on October 10, 2007  1:29pm

“Confronted with this constellation of challenges, immigrants are easily susceptible to exploitation. As an example, Matos told of a group of 10 immigrants that had been living in a one bedroom apartment. Their landlord, while charging them a monthly rate of $400 per person, was threatening to shut off their heat. “People with [legal] status wouldn’t put up with these conditions,” said Matos, “and they wouldn’t be subject to them.” She said that the landlord was able to take advantage the tenants because of their fear of being deported”.

In this particular clip Matos appears to be addressing Illegal Immigrants, it is difficult to fathom this spin, however if true Matos at the very least should have walked two floors and filed a complaint with LCI.. remember them… the department, which recently inspected 10,000 housing units in the city. Seems they missed this one! Secondly, why did not Matos complain to the fair rent commission, another city department just across the atrium? Seemly charging 400/person x 10 = $ 4000.00/mo if true this would be a gross violation of Fair rent statues.

The Moral of the story is that if Matos story is true, and the illegal immigrants are afraid to complain… she should have represented they’re interest… One would think!

I think not, Kica get your story straight.

posted by: fairhavener on October 10, 2007  4:25pm

“how about the african american community, legally here for centuries”

Yeah, no kidding. If I was black I’d be pissed.

True New Havener - You lost me on the (a) chicken (b) the ID thing. Sorry, I don’t get it. But, obviously some people did get an ID (as reported here, but I would hardly call it “high numbers”), so I don’t doubt there are some people who use it.

(You must shop at all the right places to be so lucky to see it in use so much. Maybe you should start documenting your finds to support the claims of how great the ID is.)

As for Grand Ave, your right it is diverse, but it is also a lot of OTHER things. And, the 4 blocks you are speaking of are the same 4 blocks I was referring to (plus Grand Vin across the bridge). You want to do an address by address analysis down Grand Ave across Fair Haven? I bet you I will prove my point.

While most of the businesses you mentioned (that I already said were good in the first place) the markets you refer to are horrible. So are the stores. A couple (2) of the restaurants are good, the (Mexican) bakery is good, especially if you get there early in the day, I haven’t been to the beauty salon or pawn shop yet.

Notice that these 4 blocks are also the 4 blocks farthest from the center of Fair Haven away from the waste. With any luck, the people from the condos on the Q river & antique homes that haven’t been trashed (also on the Q river), East Haveners, Fair Haven Heights residents, will spill over into these 4 blocks more and more and gentrify down Grand Ave and push the waste out.

BTW, the chiropractor’s office has been closed since August 2004. I know because that is my chiropractor who’s office it used to be (he is now in East Haven). Anyway, this leads me to the conclusion that you don’t know jack about these 4 blocks other than driving by. Myself, on the other hand, I live around the corner.

posted by: True New Havener on October 10, 2007  6:20pm

Actually FairHavener—We are talking about different blocks.  You appear to be talking about the 4 blocks from Front to Ferry.  I am talking about the 4 blocks from James to Ferry—what might be called downtown Fair Haven.

By picking your blocks you seem to want to remember a former Fair Haven—I am celebrating the one that is alive today.

And if you are looking for a chiropractor, check out the first floor of the old Blatchley Mansion at the corner of Blatchley and Grand.

Maybe it wasn’t just your chiropractor who moved to East Haven.

If you did not get my chicken turn-of-phrase, try reading it several more times since it was pretty darn easy to understand.

posted by: Wait Didn't we tell you on October 10, 2007  6:53pm

The New Haven Independent writes an article about immigrants—wait 5 minutes—and poof like magic we get all the same nonsense:

Charles S: These immigrants are harboring al qaeda—and DeStefano is to blame.

Fairhavener: Fair Haven used to be great—there were no gangs, drug dealing or abandoned houses in the 1990s—then the undocumented immigrants came, opened stores, renovated houses, and patronized the businesses and the whole place went to hell.

New Haven Tea Party: The priest should be thrown out of St. Rose de Lima because Matthew 21:12 (that thing about the “money changers”) meant that Jesus believed that foreigners were not welcome in his country.  And don’t forget the Parable of the Good Samaritan which says priests should not help the foreigner but stay across the road.

Weblogger 1: Matos can’t be telling the truth because then I would have to believe that undocumented immigrants are exploited and afraid to seek support from government officials.  Now I also want to point out that New Haven city government is a failure—and I have never made that point before.

The New Haven Independent will maintain a healthy comment base from the bizzarro world until such time as there is a new echo chamber available to the New Haven community based in the conservative nether regions of the INTERNETS. 

Of course, this will probably happen right around the time that Rick Elser (who is a pretty nice guy who probably doesn’t share any of these views) gets elected Mayor.  Which may happen right after al qaeda opens an office on Grand Avenue.

posted by: Stephen H on October 10, 2007  8:22pm

“The economy of Grand Avenue is driven by immigrants,”

The crime on Grand Avenue is also partially driven by immigrants!!

For all the citizens and legal folk here you may have a tougher time getting assistance in the coming years as wave of illegals exploit it.

In another words Grandma may have to freeze this winter and eat cat food because all the money she would have gotten has gone to a family of illegals.

This city is Dysfunctional!

posted by: fairhavener on October 10, 2007  11:29pm

OK, here we go starting at James St (I can’t believe I have to do this to prove a point. I list as: Address, owner, whatever is there (sorry about the grammar)):

383 Grand Ave - CORPORATION FOR URBAN HOME OWNERSHIP. Nice name. Basically a project. Drive by anytime and take a look.

394 Grand Ave - YEROZ ZEYNULLAH. Vacant land. Yeah, booming with business.

390 Grand Ave - YEROZ ZEYNULLAH. Vacant land. What was that you say? “Alive today…” what?

388 Grand Ave - YEROZ ZEYNULLAH. Vacant land. Oh it’s alive baby. 

382 Grand Ave - YEROZ ZEYNULLAH. Commercial/residential. Total dump. Horrible pizza downstairs, section 8 upstairs.

374 - 362 Grand Ave - FAIR HAVEN COMMUNITY HEALTH CLINIC INC. Is what it is. Can’t knock health care.

375 Grand Ave - RODRIGUEZ ADALBERTO A. New Haven Market below with low-income apartments above. Yeah, great market. Go ahead and tell me about the groceries you buy there.

369 Grand Ave - BRIDGEHAVEN PROPERTIES LLC. Great combo here: David’s Nails and a package store. Brilliant.

359 Grand Ave - CIMINO ALPHONSE & ROSE. Some vacant store and Cecy’s bakery and deli. Never been there, maybe it is good (NOT the vacant store).

358 Grand Ave - CIMINO ALPHONSE & ROSE. Vacant land. WOW, how strange for an area SOOOOO ALIVE.

352 Grand Ave - FAIR HAVEN COMMUNITY HEALTH CENTER. OK, another health clinic/center, nothing wrong with that.

350 Grand Ave - PETRELIS MARK J. Two family house. Nothing wrong with a two family house, but not really much to brag about when talking about street life and business/economy.

353 Grand Ave - SOLANO CECILIA. Not sure what the heck this is (vacant maybe?). Maybe I need to drive by.

346 Grand Ave - SACCO NICHOLAS & NANCY. Three family house. Again nothing wrong with houses (even low-income), but hardly driving the economy.

347 Grand Ave - REYES WILSON. Commercial/residential, not sure if there is any commercial going on here. Maybe someone else knows? Looks vacant to me.

342 Grand Ave - MCWEENEY FRANK J SR & FRANCES. Single family house. WOW, the diversity. Again, nothing wrong with housing but not much to brag about commercially/economically.

341 Grand Ave - CORTES JANETTE. Zien Grocery is in there (section 8 upstairs?). OMG, the selection is incredible. One of the best groceries in town for WIC and macaroni and cheese - don’t count on finding any fresh fruits, meats and vegetables (FYI, open 7 days).

That concludes block one; now let’s move on to block two (Lloyd St to Blatchely Ave).

337 Grand Ave - LUCERO SANTOS B & SANCHEZ MARTHA J. Vacant Land. No way, get out, Vacant Land? In such a booming area? Are you still “celebrating the one that is alive today”?

338 Grand Ave - PAGAN DAVID. Single family house. Again, nothing wrong with housing but not much to brag about when talking about driving the economy (not very diverse either).

334 Grand Ave - MOLINA EDUARDO R. Oh, another residential, 4 family this time.

328 Grand Ave - ACEVEDO CHRISTOPHER DUFFY. Not sure what is downstairs (looks vacant, there are no signs). Residential upstairs. Oh the diversity.

331 Grand Ave - LLANOS EDUARDO. Single family. Oh my, the economy of Grand Ave is booming.

329 Grand Ave - LLOYD AUDREY. Another 2 family. Geese business is out of control.

326 Grand Ave - NEGRON DANIEL & LYDIA. Mixed use. Daniel’s Nails dowstairs? Section 8 upstairs? Booming.

322 Grand Ave - MIRANDA HANNA. 4 family. The business just keeps coming.

321 Grand Ave - RODRIGUEZ MARECELO. 3 family. More economy it never stops.

317 Grand Ave - QUADRINO ANNA & FRANK A. 4 Family residence. Just keeping the Grand Ave economy booming and diverse.

313 Grand Ave - PATEL BHANUBHAI A. Mixed use. I think this entire place is vacant. There was a spray painted sign upstairs that says “APT FOR RENT” and nothing below but graffitied windows. Looks like a class act business to me.

309 Grand Ave - PENA YOHANNY & JUAN. A “jewelry” store and a “beauty” salon. A great place to start looking good in Fair Haven.

316-306 Grand Ave- TAYLOR SAM, TAYLOR SAM & STANTON. OMG commercial use. A furniture store. People travel far and wide for this stuff.

305 Grand Ave - KEYES WILSON. Porky’s Bar. Oh how I love getting drunk at Porky’s after I get extensions and buy clothes next store. Great crowd at Porky’s. 

That concludes the first half of the 4 block analysis. Come back again for the second half. Anyone up to tallying the results?

posted by: Hope on October 11, 2007  10:03am

Fairhavener—Since you’ve taken the time to catalog the businesses, you might take a bit more time to try to sift out cause, effect and coincidence here.  You are right that Grand Avenue—and most of Fair Haven and New Haven overall—struggles from issues of crime and poverty.  But what evidence can you provide that the presence of undocumented people is driving crime or poverty to the detriment of the neighborhood?  To the contrary—it appears that the influx of immigrants—documented and undocumented alike—supports the lion’s share of recent economic development on Grand—businesses that survive despite the familiar set of woes that has devastated all post-industrial American cities (e.g., Frank’s hardware that closed due to the proliferation of Home Depots). By the way—your catalog stops short of some of the most interesting—and most recent—developments.  What about Supermarqueta Mexicana?  Fresh produce and an amazing butcher.  What about C-Town?  An extraordinary selection of just about every kind of food produced in this hemisphere. 

Maybe these shops aren’t to your taste.  That’s fine.  But just because you personally don’t shop or eat on Grand Avenue doesn’t mean that it is not a vibrant economy that serves many people and provides jobs to many people. I personally never eat at the Wooster Square restaurants (just not my cup of tea), but I’m not advocating to replace them with bookshops or vegetarian restaurants.  I respect that folks from East Haven and the suburbs want to come get a taste of old New Haven.

There’s plenty of space on Grand and in Fair Haven for all of us—Latino, black, white.  I’m just hoping for a coffee shop…

posted by: New Haven Tea Party on October 11, 2007  11:40am

Fairhavener - very interesting. I come through Fair Haven a lot, sometimes due to traffic on the highways, sometimes to visit my favorite sushi place on the river. You are correct that there are some nice places along Grand Avenue…key word is some. There is much to be desired about a lot of the rest of it. An NHI story not too long ago, also noted a driver looking for a particular prostitute and found her near the police substation a block off Grand.

Wait Didn’t We Tell You: I doubt anybody understood what you wrote. Here’s what you wrote to me: “The priest should be thrown out of St. Rose de Lima because Matthew 21:12 (that thing about the “money changers”) meant that Jesus believed that foreigners were not welcome in his country. And don’t forget the Parable of the Good Samaritan which says priests should not help the foreigner but stay across the road.”

I never suggested throwing Fr. Manship out of St. Lima - Jesus didn’t throw the priest out of the temple, the threw the moneychangers out. Perhaps you could spend a little more time in the Word and read more than one verse. That Bible passage also had nothing to do with foreigners - it was that the church is a house of God. Commerce doesn’t belong in it. The church is a place of worship, of redemption and salvation. What was happening at St. Lima was a political event to whip up the masses; to inflame the public legal and not over the ICE raids and it was a rallying point for the city ID cards which are used for commerce. Your satire on the Good Samaritan is not worth commenting on. I suggest you read it in context and learn from it.

posted by: fairhavener on October 11, 2007  5:56pm

Hope - “But what evidence can you provide that the presence of undocumented people is driving crime or poverty to the detriment of the neighborhood?”

First of all, I never claimed that or even implied that. Second, if anything, I probably believe the opposite is true. I have already stated here and in other posts that I have many “undocumented/illegal alien” friends. As my ties and friendship to these people grow and I gain more and more friends through this network, the more I realize (NOT to my surprise) that these people are mostly all good people (99%). And the bad people I have met were not criminals, just a holes. And to make it clear, I am not for or against other Americans coming in to our country. There are pros and there are cons. I am on the fence. (But, I think the ID card is a total waste and a bad idea that is not truly designed to help undocumented workers, but some other people.)

The reason I stopped where I did was because it was 11:30pm. You are right and I never denied it, there are some good places. But, as evident in my last post, most of it is waste. And besides that, sometimes it is where people get beat half to death, or dumped to die after they get stabbed. I bet my bottom dollar these crimes (mostly/99%) are NOT committed by “illegal” immigrants. Read between the lines.

Dear Wait Didn’t we tell you,

First off, welcome to “Bizzarro World”. You must be a friend of Kica’s or somthin? You do realize that most of the posts are sticking to the subject or are debating it in one way or another (regardless of whether you like it or not) and are NOT attacks aimed at people’s character (anonymous or not). What’s the matter with you? Why do you hate little baby jesus in the manger?

(You didn’t even get your facts (or reading comprehension) straight. My supposed position that you so cleverly crafted isn’t even close to what I was writing.)

BTW, If you are soooo smart and we are sooooo stupid shouldn’t it be easy for you to persuade all of us to see it your way (whatever that is) by using your extra super power mind stuff and logic skills rather than resort to making fun of people. With your powers you should be able to crush all of us here in “Bizzarro World ” at once.

Looking forward to your return, but not necessarily in this article because I am going to start posting in new articles, but I might check this one again, I don’t know, I guess if I’m not that busy tomorrow, wait did I just type that out loud?,