Daily Blog Round-Up 6/20/07:Immigration

  • The White House Council of Economic Advisors issued a report
    (pdf) today explaining why immigrants (referring to both documented and
    undocumented workers) “not only help fuel the Nation’s economic growth, but
    also have an overall positive effect on the income of native-born workers." The report, which attempts to distinguish the influence of immigration from
    that of other economic forces at work at the same time, found that immigrants complement, not substitute for, natives, and raise
    natives’ productivity and income. Overall, this report demonstrates that all people
    fare better when every individual has a fair chance to fulfill his or her
    dreams. Immigrants provide important
    contributions to communities all over the country.  Studies like these should be spread far and wide to help prevent further
    discrimination against immigrants trying to receive basic services like health care access
    and fair housing. Between 1992 and 2003 nearly 8,500
    complaints were filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)
    on the basis of national-origin discrimination
  • Latina Lista reports on the grass roots actions of the
    Latino community to push for immigration reform. These activities include sending (an astounding) one million
    letters to Congress
    in support of immigration reform, participating in the
    Dreams Across America train, and praying at the National Hispanic Prayer
    . After witnessing the organizing success of groups like grassfire.org in persuading senators to vote against
    the previous immigration bill, it's good to see pro-immigrant rights groups, like these
    Latino groups, taking action.

  • In case you haven't had your daily rueful chuckle, Immigration Equality Blog posts an ironic political cartoon
    about the struggles immigrants will have to go through even with the new
    immigration bill.

  • Over at Huffington
    , Jeffrey Felman of FrameShop writes a thoughtful and educational response to the right-wing frame of immigration that
    has "polluted" the national conversation. Jeffrey explains that in order to have a balanced conversation about immigration, we must encourage people to avoid right-wing keywords that “convince us all to be afraid
    of foreigners", particularly the term "illegal."  To
    avoid falling prey to this racist conversation, one should focus on the ways
    in which we all can learn from immigrants and work for social programs that
    “bring together working people who share the common bond of trying to support
    their families.”

Daily Blog Round-Up 6/18/07

  • Firedoglake blogs about the Employee
    Free Choice
    , a bill which aims to restore workers’ freedom in choosing a union,
    especially establishing stronger penalties for violation of employee rights
    when workers seek to form a union. FDL
    explains that while 60 million workers say they would join a union if they
    could, but many people are intimidated by corporate giants. By stating that this act is a “workplace
    rights issue,” a “human rights issue,” and a “civil rights issue,” FDL frames
    the issue in universal terms that appeals to the broad advantages for
    everyone. The benefits in unionizing
    workers appear in many forms. With union
    workers receiving an average wage 30% higher than the nonunion worker, creating
    greater access to membership will help lessen the growing wage
    inequalities.  Here's hoping this rights-based frame can help push the issue forward.
  • Feminist blogs comments on a piece on Salon.com which compares the rate of obesity in black women to that of white women
    (78% of black women are considered overweight), and essentially opts to blame
    black women for preferring to keep the extra pounds and purposely
    eschew advice to lose weight. Feminist blogs skewers the Salon piece, nothing the complex causes of obesity rates among black women. In 2000, low-income African-American families were 7.3 times
    more likely than poor white families to live in high poverty neighborhoods with
    limited resources
    . In addition, black
    women are more likely to lack adequate health care access. While 11.2% of white Americans were uninsured
    at any point in 2005, 19.5% of African Americans were uninsured and more likely
    to be dependent on public sources of health insurance.
    It's disappointing to see Salon reduce this alarming trend to individual behaviors.  This is not a question of individual responsibility.  It is one aspect of a larger social issue - which requires increased public awareness and collective action to reach a solution.
  • Racial_composition_2Prometheus 6 reports on the alarming disparities in the
    racial composition of the 30% of students who fail to graduate high school. In a recent Education Week report, only half of
    American Indians and black students graduated, compared with more than
    three-quarters of non-Hispanic whites and Asians. The reports uses information from the 2003-04
    school year to estimates the number of graduates in 2007.  Their analysis shows
    that while minority students make up less than half of the total public school
    population, they make up more than half of the nongraduates. In addition, Hispanic youth are four times
    more likely to drop out than are white youth
    (pdf), creating an education gap that limits opportunities for young people of color and widens other disparities - in income and health coverage, for example - later in life.
  • PrisonsSentencing Law and Policy reports on a new article from
    stateline.org about how increasing prices to maintain the overcrowded prisons
    are leading lawmakers to provide different alternatives to prisons. Some of these ideas include an expanded
    program to help prevent offenders from being incarcerated again (like diverting funds from prisons to rehabilitation centers), earlier release
    dates for low-risk inmates and sentencing revisions. State spending on prisons continues to
    increase at an alarming rate to account for the high number of incarcerated
    persons. Between 2004 and 2005, not only
    did the number of incarcerated persons increase, but so did the rate (491 per
    100,000 people in 2005 versus 486 per 100,000 in 2004

Daily Blog Round-Up 6/13/07: Part 2

  • The Washington Post discusses the sub par health care that
    many undocumented workers receive while serving jail time with the U.S.
    Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Lawyers
    are currently investigating numerous claims on behalf of undocumented workers who
    were taken into custody with minor illnesses and released with life-threatening
    infections. The ACLU stated that
    detainees often have poor English skills, don’t know their rights and have no
    access to counsel; another example of how our current system fails to treat both immigrants or those enmeshed in the criminal justice system fairly and humanely.
  • In an update to previous coverage of the 5-4 Supreme
    Court decision in Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire, ACS Blog reports on the House Committee on Education
    and Labor held a hearing today to consider restoring anti-discriminatory
    protections for workers. Leadership
    Conference on Civil Rights’ Wade Henderson stated before the committee that this
    outcome is “fundamentally unfair to victims of pay discrimination” and that the
    outcome “ignores the realities of the workplace.”
  • Huffington Post reports with more information on the Dreams
    Across America
    project (refer to our previous posting): an immigrants’ rights
    group using Web 2.0 to put a human face on immigration and advocated for comprehensive positive reform that expands opportunity for all in America. As
    ImmigrationProf adds, the opposition to legalization is strong, with
    grassfire.org sending 700,000 faxes and emails and making 1 million personal
    contacts with Senators. Groups like
    Dreams Across America, with innovative, online strategies, are necessary to combat these
    opposition organizations that are rallying online.

Where is the Online Organizing for Immigrants Rights?

As we move further from the day to day details of the immigration debate, it's becoming increasingly clear that a savvy campaign among the conservative grassroots organized hundreds of thousands of supporters online to bring down comprehensive reform. 

As an article in the New York Times documented this weekend:

“We had way more response than we could handle,” said Stephen Elliott, president of Grassfire.org,
a conservative Internet group that called for volunteers for a petition
drive and instructed people how to barrage lawmakers with telephone
calls and e-mail.

The group gathered more than 700,000 signatures on petitions
opposing the bill, delivering them this week to senators in Washington
and in their home states.

Organizers described a new Internet-linked national constituency
that emerged among Republicans, much like the one that Democrats
pioneered during the presidential candidacy in 2004 of Howard Dean. But many of these Republicans are enraged at their party leaders, including Mr. Kyl and Senator Trent Lott of Mississippi, who supported the bill, and they feel betrayed by Mr. Bush.

Matt Stoller at MyDD notes that the nativist elements of the Republican Party did a good job organizing online to kill this bill, and sees the potential emergence of another element of a conservative blogosphere in their organizing savvy.  I think that he's right, and thus far the immigrant rights community has not exhibited an coherent online strategy to counter the rise of such a blogosphere.

GrassFire.org's ability to attain hundreds of thousands of signatories to its petition echoes the early days of MoveOn, which itself started as a petition drive, and their online savvy extends beyond gathering signatures.  The organization has also created humorous TV ads in support of a border fence.  They are currently trying to raise $100k to air their spot on TV, and the ad has already been uploaded and viewed almost 50,000 times on YouTube.  This organizing savvy goes far beyond GrassFire.org.  On FaceBook, anti-immigration groups far outnumber those that are in favor of comprehensive reofrm, and the largest group - by far with over 14,000 members - is called "No Amnesty for Illegal Immigrants."  This is just as true in the blogosphere, with anti-immigrant blogs dominating the discourse.

We face an uphill battle, but it's not by any means insurmountable.  There is a nascent progressive blogosphere forming in favor of humane immigration policies, lead thus far by blogs like Immigrants in USA, Immigration Prof, Border Line, Migra Matters, Immigration Equality, DMI Blog, Pro Inmigrant, Immigrants and Politics, Latina Lista, Justice and Journalism, Migration Debate, and Blue Latinos.   As far as I can tell, these groups are still disconnected from the Beltway immigration advocates, and even from the many grassroots immigration groups scattered across the country.  There is little in the way of a coordinated strategy to harness online the many hundreds of thousands of immigrant rights supporters that groups like La Raza command offline.  That needs to change.

A new organization - Dreams Across America - seems to be looking to form a coherent online strategy (including blogs, social networking, and online video) for advocating for humane, comprehensive reform that lives up to our national values, but so far they are a lone voice just getting started. 

Last week, the conservative grassroots successfully organized online to pressure their representatives and kill reform.  It's time for the immigrant rights community to become similarly organized.  The next time an immigration bill comes before Congress, let's be ready with our own online strategy to counteract the conservative narrative and build support across the country and in Congress to achieve comprehensive reform.


Daily Blog Round-Up 6/11/07

We wanted to first give a shoutout to Racialicious, which is fast becoming one of our favorite blogs for their great reporting and abundance of good links to reporting on issues of racial justice.

  • Immigrants in the USA Blog reports on the Board of
    Alderman’s Connecticut decision
    to administer identification cards for undocumented
    workers in New Haven. The cards were issued primarily to allow undocumented workers to open bank accounts, as current habits of carrying
    large sums of money on their person make undocumented workers targets for crime.  The decision to help protect undocumented workers is a positive step taken that underlines the empathy needed by government officials to help
    undocumented workers succeed in society. Too often, their plight is overlooked, but with creative solutions such
    as this one, all people will be given the opportunity to prosper.
  • Racialicious reports on a recent George Washington
    University School of Medicine study
    showing that white children were more likely than children of color to be admitted to a hospital for medical conditions that could be
    treated at home, highlighting yet again that disparities exist not only in access to care, but in the quality of care that one receives based on one's race.
  • NytimesincomeThe New York Times featured an interesting reflection on the
    wealth inequalities and increasing gap between the rich and poor. Counter to many economists’ predictions, the amount of wealth going to the rich and super rich is increasing at an unprecedented rate. According to the Congressional Budget
    Office’s dat
    a, in 2004, while households in the lowest quintile of the country
    were making 2 percent more than they were in 1979, the top quartile had increased their income by
    63%. These figures parallel the State of Opportunity in America study (pdf), which also adds that much of the discrepancies can be explained by race.  White households gained more in real income
    than African-American and Hispanic households between 1974 to 2004.

Daily Blog Round-Up 6/8/07

  • Racialicious reports on the discrepancies in the 2000 U.S.
    , stating that over 700,000 blacks were not counted nationwide. Committees are looking for ways to clear up
    such problems in future census counts, as mistakes skew the representative character of our government. The census has presented a number of problems for communities of color, who are frequently miscounted in a number of ways. As featured on the State of Opportunity website, the 2000 Census counts prison inmates as inhabitants of their prison
    towns, not their home towns. This miscount of the populations of those areas, results in a loss of both resources and equal representation for those communities.  An accurate census is important to
    maintaining a true democracy that suits the people’s needs.
  • Racialicious continues its coverage on the lack of the
    diversity on TV networks
    , especially in television writers. While certain prime-time shows do feature
    minority actors, on the whole, many of these characters are merely supporting
    predominantly white casts. In response
    to the new line-up of shows for the fall, Janet Murguia, president of the
    National Council of La Raza, voiced her dismay: “It seems to me that we're
    losing ground. I'm puzzled. Where there
    has been diversity, there's been success…But with a few exceptions, this is the
    least diverse lineup we've seen in recent years.”  In a study of the Writers Guild of America,
    West showed that white males disproportionately dominate film and TV jobs in Hollywood, and that
    minority writers accounted for fewer than 10% of employed television writers
    between 1999 and 2005. Without proper
    representation of the true diversity in this country, TV networks are
    showcasing a false view of the country, thus contributing to more hostilities
    and stereotypes in race relations.
  • BlogHer reports on the importance of comprehensive sex
    education and access to birth control within the frame of a “basic human right
    and a normal value.” In addition to
    explaining how much support throughout the country exists across gender and
    party lines, BlogHer’s use of language truly exemplifies the type of communication
    strategies advocates need to unite the country. By framing access to birth control as a basic human right, BlogHer
    elevates the reproductive rights struggle to a more universal issue, one to
    which many people can relate. This
    framing is a positive step for advocacy everywhere!
  • Sakaduski Marketing Blog reports on a recent study from the
    Harvard School of Public Health, which grouped people based on race, country of
    residence and a few other community characteristics and compared life expectancy
    rates in each “race country.” These
    researchers found that life expectancy rates differed dramatically between
    these eight “race countries”: Asians, northland low-income rural whites, Middle
    America, low-income whites in Appalachia and the Mississippi valley, Western Native Americans, black Middle America, southern low-income
    rural blacks, and high-risk urban blacks. For example, the gap between the high-risk urban black males and the
    Asian females was nearly 21 years. Differences
    in access to health care and health insurance, as well as the quality of care one receives, are a primary cause such disparities, severely hurting many minority groups. Without equality to health care, these eight Americas will continue to show such huge unfair discrepancies.

Framing Immigration Next Time Around

Yes, the current immigration bill is dead, for the time being, but we'd still like to take a quick look at they way some of our allies have been framing the issue.  There are lessons to be learned that can make us more effective advocates for comprehensive reform next time a bill is introduced.

An article at the Huffington Post by the always thoughtful and incisive Barabara Ehrenreich provides a case in point as to how some tried and true progressive frames might need to be rethought in the case of immigration reform.  Ehrenreich's piece is as witty as usual, and focuses on her typical, economics based argument for progressive reform.  In it, she argues:

The only question is how much we owe our undocumented
immigrant workers. First, those who do not remain to enjoy the benefits
of old age in America will have to be reimbursed for their
contributions to Medicare and Social Security, and here I quote the
website of the San Diego ACLU:

immigrants annually pay an estimated $7 billion more than they take out
into Social Security, and $1.5 billion more into Medicare ... a study
by the National Academy of Sciences also found that tax payments
generated by immigrants outweighed any costs associated with services
used by immigrants.

Second, someone is going to have
to calculate what is owed to "illegals" for wages withheld by
unscrupulous employers: The homeowner who tells his or her domestic
worker that the wage is actually several hundred dollars a month less
than she had been promised, and that the homeowner will be "holding" it
for her. Or the landscaping service that stiffs its undocumented
workers for their labor. Who's the "illegal" here?

Ehrenreich's points (only partially listed here) are dead on, but her framework is divisive, pitting "Americans" against "Illegals."   Her suggestions - that it is we who owe undocumented workers a debt for all that they do - while accurate, is alienating to the very people whose support the immigrants rights community needs to secure in order to achieve positive comprehensive reform.  This us vs. them, transactional (financial) frame implies that indirectly feeds into anti-immigrant ideas of undocumented workers as a burden to society, and  reinforces wedges that anti-immigration groups are attempting to drive between progressive communities, namely African Americans and Immigrants, who share many of the same concerns and problems.

Rather than  employ witty rhetoric that promotes the conservative (transactional) frame, progressives should deploy a frame that acknowledges the positive contributions that immigrants make to our society, draws on the history of America as the land of opportunity, and illustrates how, by helping immigrants find a pathway to citizenship, we can all rise together - economically or otherwise.

Here are some sample messages illustrating what that looks like:

  • We need to move from our broken immigration system to one that is orderly,
    workable, and consistent with our nation’s values.  We can do that by allowing
    immigrants who work, pay taxes, and learn English to earn a pathway to
    citizenship.  Those steps, along with reforms like increased civil rights
    enforcement and sanctions for employers that exploit workers will raise wages
    and expand economic opportunity for everyone.
  • Immigrants are part of the fabric of our
    society—they are our neighbors, our co-workers, our friends.  Reactionary
    policies that force them into the shadows haven’t worked, and are not consistent
    with our values.  Those policies hurt all of us by encouraging exploitation by
    unscrupulous employers and landlords.  We support policies that help immigrants
    contribute and participate fully in our society.
  • Immigrants and African Americans have a
    shared interest in fair working conditions, laws against discrimination, and
    quality schools that prepare our kids for a diverse country and world.  Our
    communities are increasingly coming together to press for those

The current immigration bill may be dead, but before long this issue will rise again.  When it does, let's be prepared to talk about it in a way that builds bridges and helps create a coalition strong enough to push through comprehensive reform that treats immigrants fairly and is consistent with our national values.

Fox News - All Black Congressman Look Alike


Just caught this from TPM TV on YouTube.  Fox News continues to take shoddy journalism to a new level:

Daily Blog Round-Up 6/7/07

  • Miagra Matters makes an important point, noting the core
    values central to the immigration debate, and how historical precedent of
    Reagan’s Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 could help shape new
    laws. Miagra underscores the values that
    current legislation should be building on, including the fairness inherent in strengthening
    workers’ rights and workplace enforcement of labor laws, ending the temporary
    guest worker program, and finding a quota that accurately reflects the
    country’s true labor needs. In political
    discussion, our values are often overlooked and confused in the process of
    getting a bill passed. Immigration
    legislation will affect many people who greatly contribute to this country’s
    initiatives, and we have to continue to respect and uphold the fairness and
    opportunity this country stands for – not divide and exploit people just
    because it’s economically convenient. By
    continuing to support programs in education and child care, this country can
    truly benefit from the diversity and commitment of many different groups of
  • The Pew Research Center reports on their recent public opinion poll on current immigration legislation
    debated in the Senate. Overwhelming,
    across party lines, a majority of the respondents want a path to citizenship
    for currently undocumented workers if they meet certain conditions. However, respondents were somewhat ambivalent
    about the current bill, with a large minority without an opinion. Therefore, to reflect public opinion accurately, our lawmakers need to recognize that most Americans support sensible reform
    with a path to citizenship – and that basic premise shouldn’t be lost in the
    ongoing debate.
  • Rachel’s Tavern reports on the findings of a recent study
    that showed that of men being treated for breast cancer, African American men
    are more likely to die from the disease than white men. The five-year survival rate was approximately
    90% among white men and 66% among African American men. This finding was attributed to lower access
    to standard treatment, which broadcasts a larger problem: the disparities in
    access to health insurance and health services.  The State of Opportunity in America   (pdf)
    found that African Americans, Hispanics and the poor are more likely than white
    non-poor groups to face barriers to having a regular source of health care, and
    the gaps have increased since 2000. Without adequately addressing such issues, these gaps will continue to
    widen and disproportionately hurt certain populations.

Daily Blog Round-Up 6/6/07

  • Racialicious reports on a New York Times article explaining
    the ways in which New York City's composition of “mom and pop” stores would change drastically under the proposed
    immigration bill. Contrary to previous
    systems of sponsorship for extended family members, this new bill places a higher value on education and skilled labor via a points system. Many of these small businesses continue to thrive today as a
    result of these families ability to bring in new workers. As the study notes, much of the reconstruction of New York City after the bankruptcy and
    property losses of the 1970s can be traced to the influx of new immigrants. These immigrants, many who would have been turned away by the provision of the current bill, play a key role in revitalizing American cities like New York.
  • ChartradioA recent Free Press study
    (pdf) reports on the lack of diversity in radio ownership, attributing the dismal
    figures partly to FCC policy and media consolidation. This study is the first
    complete assessment and analysis of female and minority ownership of full-power
    commercial broadcast stations in the U.S since a ruling from the Third U.S. Circuit Court
    of Appeals in 2004 criticized the lack of diversity on radio, television and
    newspapers.  Since that ruling, the FCC has done next to nothing to improve minority ownership. Currently, women own just 6 percent of commercial broadcast radio stations, and
    racial or ethnic minorities own just 7.7% of them. As a media outlet, dependent on the public airwaves, radio should accurately
    represent the composition of the country, and provide all groups an equal voice in our democracy
  • Feminist blogs reports on an American Journal for Public
    Health study
    which found a correlation between routine, subtle racial
    discrimination and development of chronic illness. The study interviewed Asian-Americans across the U. S. about their personal experience with discrimination and their medical histories,
    concluding that stress from the former may cause problems ranging from
    mental health issues to chronic cardiovascular, respiratory and pain-related health
    trouble. Overlooking the negative
    effects of subtle institutional racism causes great harm for the groups in
    question, and prevents positive solutions through social programs. For example, the recent attempts to allow communities to integrate schools in segregated neighborhoods have not garnered as much support as they should because of people's perceptions about the existence of racism.  Without a true understanding of the problems our society still faces, minorities will continue to be disadvantaged.
  • Bloomberg.com reports on the impact of presidential
    candidates’ attitudes on immigration in the upcoming election. With varied reactions from all walks of life,
    this bill faces several amendment suggestions to soothe responses. Particularly of concern to immigrant advocacy
    groups is the lack of emphasis on family over a point system highlighting education and professional. Deepak Bhargava,
    executive director of Center for Community Change, responded that “the
    emotional resonance of the family issue is profound. This point system is not just wrong-headed
    policy, it is deeply offensive to many people who came to this country as
  • In a similar piece, the Gotham Gazette reports on the new
    immigration bills and advocacy groups’ reactions. Many groups in New York expressed dismay over the point
    system, unhappy about a bill that does not stress family reunification. In response, Chung-Wha Hong, executive
    director of the New York Immigration Coalition, said that “the proposed
    bargain…undermines our family-based immigration system.”

Syndicate content