Foreign-born citizens on rise

The news: For the fifth consecutive year, protestors marched through Chicago on May Day in support of immigrant rights. Behind the news: Within the span of the past three presidential elections, the number of foreign-born citizens saw a large increase in Cook County. The number climbed 19 percent from 420,739 in 2000 to 501,908 in 2008, according to a Chicago Reporter analysis of census data. A major source of that growth comes from suburban Cook County, where the number of foreign-born citizens increased 37 percent to 269,696 in 2008 from 196,755 in 2000. “In some areas of Chicago and suburban Cook County, foreign-born citizens have reached a critical mass, and they’re past a tipping point,” said Rob Paral, a former senior research associate at the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials and a long-time researcher on immigration issues.

Lower health, care for Latinos

The news: The Illinois General Assembly approved nursing home reforms increasing the amount of time nursing home staff must care for residents from 2.5 to 3.8 hours a day. Behind the news: Nursing homes across Illinois are increasing their standards this summer to combat gross understaffing at facilities where a majority of the residents are Latino. “When you don’t have enough people to do the work, it’s physically exhausting and much more dangerous for both the residents and employees,” said Wendy Meltzer, executive director of the Chicago-based advocacy group Illinois Citizens for Better Care. Advocates like Meltzer pushed for reform in the Illinois Legislature this spring because people living at majority-Latino facilities are not receiving the same level of care as those living in majority-white facilities. According to an analysis by The Chicago Reporter, Latinos check into Illinois nursing homes 5 percent sicker than people who are white, but received 45 percent less time from medical staff.