White House Council says US workers benefit from immigration

  • A a newly-released report by the White House Council of Economic Advisers
    says that U.S. native workers benefit from all forms of
    immigration.  According to statesmen.com:

"Immigrants tend to complement (not substitute for) native workers,
raising natives’ productivity and income,” said the report.

Other findings include:
— Immigrants are a critical part of the U.S. workforce and
contribute to productivity growth and technological advancement.
Immigrants make up 15% of all workers and even larger shares of certain
occupations such as construction, food services and health care.
— About 40% of Ph.D. scientists working in the United States are foreign born.
— Many immigrants are entrepreneurs. The Kauffman Foundation’s index
of entrepreneurial activity is nearly 40% higher for immigrants than
for natives. The Kauffman Foundation in Kansas City, Mo., studies and
finances entrepreneurship and innovation.
— Immigrants have lower crime rates than natives. Among men aged 18
to 40, immigrants are much less likely to be incarcerated than natives.

The report states that the word “immigrant” includes both legal and illegal foreign born people.

  • A Kansas Appeals court has ruled that being in the country illegally is not a crime.
    A state judge had previously ruled that Nicholas Martinez was not
    eligible for probation after a drug sentence on the grounds that his
    presence in the US was unlawful.  However, the appeals court has ruled

"While an illegal alien is subject to deportation, that person's
ongoing presence in the United States in and of itself is not a crime,
unless that person had been previously deported and regained illegal
entry into this country."

  • One of the biggest stories of the past week concerns the repercussions of Arizona's new legislation to force employers to verify the social security numbers of all workers within federal databases.  A coalition of civil rights organizations including MALDEF and the ACLU have filed a lawsuit challenging the 'Legal Arizona Workers Act,'  while many conservative bloggers are reporting that illegal immigrants have already begun to flee the state.
  • On the other hand, in New Hampshire, the state legislature is considering a bill that would "prohibit state and local authorities from enforcing federal immigration laws".  However, it is precisely this lack of cohesive federal legislation on immigration that leads states to develop such contradictory laws. And then there is Republican presidential candidate Tom Tancredo, who has suggested that NH legislators should be not only removed from office but prosecuted for enacting such a bill.
  • Another recent gem involves Tom Tancredo yet again, as he stated last week that it is “time the taxpayer gravy train left the New Orleans station,” and that “the mentality that people can wait around indefinitely for the federal
    taxpayer to solve all their worldly problems has got to come to an end.” Obvious objections aside, this is a perfect example of how conservatives use the language of individual responsibility,  the "up-by-the-bootstraps" narrative that tries to paint recipients of federal subsidies as "irresponsible," "lazy," and not deserving of help.  This often-illusory rugged individualism is just one way to frame the argument, however - Americans also ascribe to the core value of community, that we are responsible for each other as well as for ourselves, that our actions and our welfare are interconnected.  We must work to restore the balance between these two narratives so it will be clear to policy-makers that while we are indeed responsible for ourselves, a strong sense of community support is also critical in expanding opportunity for all.
  • One month after obtaining a decision in the Seattle and Kentucky schools cases, the Project on Fair Representation has filed another complaint with the Department of Education against the University of Texas at Austin, which chose in 2005 to reintroduce affirmative in its admissions policies.  The non-profit legal defense fund works to "challenge racial and ethnic classifications and preferences in state and federal courts," in effect seeking normalize existing segregation and lack of access to education for communities of color.
  • There has been a lot of conversation around the blogosphere about Louisiana's Jena 6, a group of young black students that is being prosecuted for attempted murder after getting in a fight with a white student who had allegedly been taunting the group by hanging nooses on a tree, the 'white tree' under which the group chose to sit.  While charges against the students have recently been reduced, one young man may still receive up to 15 years in prison.  This case seems to be the epitome of racial discrimination in our nation's justice system; colorofchange.org says that it reads like it's "straight from the era of Jim Crow." It's not surprising that it hasn't received much mainstream media coverage.
  • Finally, with respect to health care access and gender equality, there is a recent piece in Feministe about New York's Amsterdam Memorial Hospital intending to shave off its women's health program upon a merge with a Catholic hospital.  State Health department officials and area residents are hoping that the local clinic New Dimensions will be able to take over the state-funded contraceptive program, though the clinic does not have the capacity to provide tubal ligations.  Given that the facility already serves close to 15,000 low-income clients, access to women's health services is likely to be greatly diminished in the region.  This is, however, greatly reflective of a larger pattern in reductions in health care for areas in need.  For more information on the way hospital closings and mergers are affecting local communities, see the resources section on our google map.

Countering Anti-Migrant Talking Points

Over at Open Left, Kyle De Baussette schools the Netroots on how to deal with enforcement-based frames  on immigration:

"I am in favor of legal immigration."
"I am not anti-immigrant.  I am anti-illegal immigrant."
"I am for enforcing the law."

migrant advocate has heard these phrases or phrases like these.
They're usually used to justify the atrocities that migrants suffer in
the U.S..  People also use these statements with a smug tone, as if
migrant advocates haven't heard them before.  It's not worth my time to
keep on addressing unimaginative talking points straight from the
mouths of pundits and politicians.  So I'll address them once and for
all here.  Following is a discussion of immigration law and it's

Katrina Two Years Later

AlterNet takes a look at our progress in the Gulf Coast two years after Katrina made landfall and finds that the shockingly inept response from Federal and Local officials continues:

  • Washington set aside $16.7 billion for Community Development Block
    Grants, one of the two biggest sources of rebuilding funds, especially
    for housing. But as of March 2007, only $1 billion -- just 6 percent --
    had been spent, almost all of it in Mississippi. Following bad
    publicity, HUD spent another $3.8 billion on the program between March
    and July, leaving 70 percent of the funds still unused.
  • The
    other major source of rebuilding help was supposed to be FEMA's Public
    Assistance Program. But of the $8.2 billion earmarked, only $3.4
    billion was meant for nonemergency projects like fixing up schools and
  • Louisiana officials recently testified that
    FEMA has also "low-balled" project costs, underestimating the true
    expenses by a factor of four or five. For example, for 11 Louisiana
    rebuilding projects, the lowest bids came to $5.5 million -- but FEMA
    approved only $1.9 million.
  • After the failure of
    federal levees flooded 80 percent of New Orleans, the U.S. Army Corps
    of Engineers received $8.4 billion to restore storm defenses. But as of
    July 2007, less than 20 percent of the funds have been spent, even as
    the Corps admits that levee repair won't be completed until as late as

"Sanctuary Cities"

  • Over at the LA Times, Ron Brownstein is talking about "Sanctuary Cities" and our immigration policy.  It's only in the last two weeks that I've begun to notice the term "Sanctuary Cities" creaping into the public discourse.  The term seems to be the anti-immigrant movements' frame of choice, designed to not only focus on actual immigration laws, but to act as a club for Republican Presidential candidates to beat up Democrats.  The way it is being deployed by folks like Romney and Tancredo, Sanctuary Cities = Progressive Urban Centers = Democrats.  Am I reading too much into that?
  • Progressive Blogger Digby is moonlighting over at The Big Con and opens her new gig with a must read piece about Race and the response to Katrina 2 years ago.
  • If you haven't read it yet, Time Magazine recently profiled some high school students who used FaceBook and MySpace to organize on behalf of their friends, whose parents are undocumented workers facing deportation.
  • The American Immigration Law Foundation has an interesting piece about local ordinances seeking to curb immigration in the face of the Federal Government's failure to pass a comprehensive reform bill:

    Regardless of why anti-immigrant ordinances are metastasizing across
    the country, the ordinances themselves, and the arguments of their
    supporters, are based on false assumptions. Take Culpeper County, where
    champions of the resolution complain that new immigrants aren't
    "assimilating." Missing from this complaint is an understanding of the
    fact that "assimilation" (or integration) occurs over the course of
    generations, not within a few years of a person's life. While most of
    our immigrant forefathers probably achieved at least a basic mastery of
    English after several years in the United States, like Latino
    immigrants now, they certainly did not become linguistically or
    culturally "American" in any meaningful sense within their lifetimes.
    And neither will today's immigrants. But their children and
    grandchildren will, just as we did.

Radio Kill the Immigration Bill

  • Via Think Progress, a new study by the Project for Excellence in Journalism finds that Talk Radio played a significant part in killing Immigration Reform.  In the second quarter, Immigration was the #1 topic on conservative talk radio.

    If media attention translates into political pressure, the argument
    that talk radio helped kill the immigration bill in Congress has some
    support in the data. Thanks to energetic opposition from Rush Limbaugh,
    Sean Hannity, and Michael Savage, immigration
    was the biggest topic, at 16%, on conservative talk radio in the second
    quarter. (Liberal radio hosts were much quieter.) In the media overall
    immigration was the fourth-biggest story of the quarter, tripling its
    level from the first three months of the year.

  • Republic of T alerts us to an interesting project dedicated to ensuring accurate and up to date information on hate crimes in Wikipedia.  For many, Wikipedia is a first-source on topics with which we are unfamiliar.  Terrance's project is an interesting way to influence the debate online.  It's particularly interesting in the flurry of activity we've seen lately by corporations, government agencies, and even news organizations to distort the information on Wikipedia for financial or political gain.
  • Bush is planning to enact strict rules on the SCHIP program that will deny millions of children health care coverage.
  • The Washington Post has an interesting article today on the rift in black churches over gay unions.
  • To the surprise of no one, Republican Presidential candidate Tom Tancredo is exploiting the recent shootings in Newark to drive up anti-immigrant sentiment.
  • Jack and Jill  Politics has an interesting piece asking if Russell Simmons and Diddy can be further drawn into supporting progressive causes.

Robert Putnam Speaks Out On Diversity

  • Over at Open Left, Jennifer Fernandez Ancona interviews Robert Putnam about his new research on social capital, which conservative activists are distorting to support their agenda:

    "We are going to become more diverse, and it's great, with lots of
    long-term benefits," Putnam said. "But in the short term, adjusting to
    diversity is not a simple matter."

    The latter part of his statement is what much of the traditional media
    - egged on by right-wing conservatives who have distorted the findings
    to fit their nativist, anti-immigrant agenda - has focused on. But
    Putnam said there is a lot for progressives to learn from the data.

    The core of the research shows that people who live in more diverse
    neighborhoods tend to "hunker down." It's not the same as conflict,
    Putnam said, but it's a phenomenon of everyone pulling in and trusting
    each other less. It's true for everyone, he said - all racial groups,
    rich and poor, younger people as well as older folks. "It means you
    volunteer less, give to charity less, have fewer friends and are less
    likely to work on community projects," Putnam said. "The only things
    that go up are protests/marches, and TV watching." The statistical
    analysis Putnam and his team conducted did take into account outside
    factors like economics and the different nature of cities and suburbs.
    Through it all, he still found a higher correlation of diversity and
    "hunkering down."

    Which brings Putnam to the progressive opportunity to help nurture
    these increasingly diverse neighborhoods and communities for long-term
    social change.

  • Immigration News Daily has two important stories today.  The first notes that Hazelton, whose anti-immigration ordinances were struck down as unconstitutional, is set to give it another try.  The second notes that Elvira Arellano, the immigrant who had sanctuary in a Chicago church for almost 1 year, was deported to Mexico this weekend when she was arrested outside an LA Church where she was campaigning for immigration reform.
  • Finally, The Progressive State's Network sent out an excellent newsletter on health care disparities today.  The Opportunity Agenda's work on hospital closures in NYC merited a mention.  You can read the whole newsletter here.

Economic Opportunity Hot in the Primary States

The ONE Campaign has conducted a poll of likely Iowa Caucus-goers, and the results are extremely encouraging for those working on issues of economic opportunity and mobility:

More than nine in ten Iowa Democrats (93%) agree it is in keeping
with the country’s values and history of compassion to lead an effort
to solve some of the most serious problems facing the world’s poorest
people. The ONE Poll–Iowa also found that more than eight in ten
Democrats (86%) agree that reducing poverty, treating
preventable diseases and improving education in poor countries will help make the world safer and the United States more secure.

When it comes to addressing these issues, more than eight in ten
Democrats (82%) would be more likely to vote for a candidate who
supports reducing by half the number of the people who live in extreme
global poverty and suffer from hunger.

The poll found that 30% of Iowa caucus-goers favor John Edwards for
president in 2008. Hillary Clinton is favored by 22% of Democrats,
Barack Obama by 18% and Bill Richardson by 13%.

Texans Say No To Border Fence - Hands Across El Rio

  • Marissa Trevino of Latina Lista moonlights at FireDogLake with this excellent post about Texans who oppose the Border Fence and what they're doing about it (some very cool activism, it turns out).
  • The Chicago Tribune profiles Elvira Arellano, who some are calling the immigrant community's Rosa Parks.
  • Time, meanwhile, profiles two immigrant children threatened with deportation, and how their friends - using social networking sites and a little help from the Florida Immigration Coalition - kept them in-country and fighting for passage of the DREAM Act.

A Desegregation Hero

Our Executive Director, Alan Jenkins, has a new article up at Tom Paine in which he recounts a party honoring Judge Robert L. Carter and the implications of the recent Supreme Court cases in two voluntary school integration cases.

Last week I had the privilege of attending a tribute to a genuine American hero. The event honored Judge Robert L. Carter,
a prime architect of the Brown v. Board of Education desegregation
cases, a distinguished jurist, and a constitutional visionary. He
turned 90 this year and marked his 35th year as federal district court
judge sitting in New York City.

The evening's hosts were Theodore Shaw of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Professor Charles Ogletree of Harvard Law School's Charles Hamilton Houston Institute,
and renowned defense attorney Ted Wells. The crowd included a
remarkable assemblage of civil rights lawyers and luminaries, from
prominent figures like Lani Guinier and Derrick Bell to lesser-known
legal stars like Norman Chachkin and Judith Reed who, collectively,
have helped to transform American society through the lens of our
Constitution and laws.

The timing of the event was apt, as it came just weeks after the
Supreme Court's decision in voluntary school integration cases from
Louisville, Ky. and Seattle, Wash. The Court split 4-1-4, with Justice
Anthony M. Kennedy's controlling opinion endorsing affirmative efforts
to promote integration while narrowing the ways in which race may be
considered in doing so.

The New Anti-Immigration Talking Point?

Update: And on cue, Newt Gingrich is already deploying the talking point.

As I'm sure many readers are aware, there was a horrible tragedy in Newark New Jersey this week, where four college students were gunned down.  The perpetrator looks to be an individual who entered the country illegally.  Unfortunately, this tragedy may be the latest talking point in the anti-immigration movement's arsenal. 

Strangely, this reminds me of a fight between Bill O'Reilly and Geraldo Rivera, of all people:

I cringe to say it, but Geraldo is dead right.  There's no causal relationship between the perpetrator's immigration status and the crime committed.  Murder is murder, and immigration status has nothing to do with it. 

How can we counter what will surely be an attempt by anti-immigration advocates to exploit this for their political ends?

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