Immigrants are—and always have been—a vital part of our national community. They are our neighbors, coworkers, and key contributors to our economy and culture. But new Americans often face a range of challenges and hostilities, and addressing these issues is crucial to ensuring opportunity and human rights for all. We therefore need national and local policies that welcome immigrants, while promoting the economic security and mobility of everyone.

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Blog Post Partner News: National Recognition for our Fellows and the Creative Change Network

Add a Peabody and a Knight Cities Challenge Award to the ever-growing list of honors received by members of the Creative Change network!

May 24 2016
Blog Post Partner News: Big Ideas and New Narratives from the Opportunity Agenda Community

Spring has been busy for The Opportunity Agenda’s community. Where you see big ideas and ground-breaking culture, The Opportunity Agenda’s partners and Fellows aren’t hard to find.





Mar 29 2016
Blog Post Building a Better Border Means Relating to Communities

President Obama recently stood in front of the nation and made a historic, and much anticipated, announcement on immigration policy. His executive action will spare millions of mothers, fathers, workers and students from the threat of deportation, and was the result of the work of a mobilized and passionate immigrant rights movement.

Dec 17 2014
Page 5 Tips for Talking About Border Communities

 November 20, 2014

Nov 21 2014
Page Media Analysis and Strategies: News Coverage of the U.S. - Mexico Border (September 2014)

Media Analysis and Strategies: News Coverage of the U.S. - Mexico Border (September 2014)

Download full report: Media Analysis and Strategies: News Coverage of the U.S. - Mexico Border (September 2014) (PDF)

Sep 29 2014
Page Public Opinion Monthly (August 2014)

Unaccompanied Children at the U.S.-Mexico Border:
Public Opinion and Messaging Recommendations

Numerous reports and several children have reported increasing violence in their home countries and a lack of protection against it which spurred them to flee. Upon arrival, some children reunite with family members they have not seen in many years, but their migration is often motivated by violence and other factors, in addition to family separation.

Aug 20 2014
Page Talking About Unaccompanied Refugee Children Fleeing Harm

Talking About Unaccompanied Refugee Children Fleeing Harm

When entering or starting conversations about unaccompanied children coming to the United States to flee harmful situations, it’s important to keep a few of key communications principles in mind. We’ve put together a brief messaging guidance based on both communications research and experience talking about more general immigration issues. 

Jul 14 2014
Blog Post What We Say and What We Do

How We Communicate on Immigration Greatly Influences Our Course of Action 

Central American children (above) seek solace in the U.S.

By Melissa Moore and Julie Fisher-Rowe

Americans of all stripes take pride in our country’s reputation as a place of opportunity, and time and again migrants to the US prove crucial to our country’s economy, social fabric, and future potential. But the values we hold dear and our national rhetoric on immigration have sharply diverged—with dangerous implications for vulnerable children arriving at the border who need real solutions now more than ever.

Jul 3 2014
Page Top Public Opinion Insights To Begin The New Year

Photo courtesy of Flickr/kelly88ros

By Jhanidya Bermeo 

Dec 17 2013
Page Over 30 Key Leaders Hold Civil Disobedience Action on Capitol Hill

Back to Press Releases homepage

Aug 21 2013
Page Los Angeles Immigration Activist Slams Republican Bill That Would Separate Families and Exclude Millions

Back to Press Releases homepage

Los Angeles Immigration Activist Slams Republican Bill That Would Separate Families and Exclude Millions

United We Dream Speaks Out Against "KIDS Act"

Aug 19 2013
Page Sunflower Community Action to Hold Prayer Circle and Press Conference Supporting the "Dream 9" and Exposure of Obama Administration's Harsh Deportation Policy

Back to Press Releases homepage

Sunflower Community Action to Hold Prayer Circle and Press Conference Supporting the "Dream 9" and Exposure of Obama Administration's Harsh Deportation Policy

Local Immigration Group Participates in "Bring Them Home" Effort

Aug 19 2013
Page Birmingham Immigration Activist Condemns Anticipated "KIDS Act"

Back to Press Releases homepage

Aug 19 2013
Page Fourth Circuit Upholds Decision to Block Key Portions of South Carolina Anti-Immigrant Law

Back to Press Releases homepage

Fourth Circuit Upholds Decision to Block Key Portions of South Carolina Anti-Immigrant Law

**Karen Tumlin, Managing Attorney at National Immigration Law Center, Available for Interviews

Aug 19 2013
Page Quick Tips for Talking Immigration Issues

Quick Tips for Talking Immigration Issues 

Download (PDF)

July 2013

Jul 26 2013
Page Media Analysis and Strategies on Immigration

The State of Media Coverage of Immigration in 2012-2013

Apr 10 2013
Blog Post Five Tips for Talking Immigration Issues

So, there’s a lot to talk about. Where do we start? We have ideas

Immigration policy is finally at the center of the national debate. But questions linger about what policy reform will look like, the role enforcement will play, if it will include a guest worker program and so on. And now ICE has announced the release of hundreds of detainees, stirring controversy but also shedding light on who is being held for how long and for how much. So, there’s a lot to talk about. Where do we start? We have ideas.

Mar 1 2013
Page Public Opinion Monthly (February 2013)

Public Opinion and Media Coverage of Immigrant Women

Feb 26 2013
Page Talking Immigration Issues

Read also: A Commonsense Approach

Jan 30 2013
Blog Post Taco Cid Using Ethnic Humor to Diminish People

Image courtesy of

By Laura Cahue

Columbia, SC — Some initially thought there might be a tongue-in-cheek message when the owner of Taco Cid in West Columbia outfitted her employees with offensive T-shirts about undocumented immigrants. Well, there wasn’t. If anything, she seemed to believe that gimmicks will grow her business, noting that the T-shirts are “witty” and for sale.

Jan 25 2013
Blog Post Lost In Translation

A gathering of the North Charleston community to inform them of the latest changes in South Carolina's immigration policy. Photo courtesy of Lydia Cotton

By Lydia Cotton

As a liason to South Carolina’s North Charleston Hispanic community, I assess the needs of the community and do my best to provide resources to meet those needs. One of the dominant questions is about access. Being lost in translation is a consistent issue that comes up in Hispanic homes in my area. Often, I ask these families why communication is such a problem. The answer usually is, “Miss Lydia, they [agencies, government, organizations, churches, businesses] do not understand what I’m saying. They don’t understand my situation.” These are communities that function in Spanish and are doing their best to learn English. The waiting list for English classes is sometimes long and they are not always accessible to those that need them most.

Jan 18 2013
Blog Post Making The Invisible Visible

Photo courtesy of Julio Salgado 

Download Press Release 

“The immigrant youth movement is on point. There’s a commitment for LGBT folks to be represented at every level of our movement,” says Project Coordinator of the Queer Undocumented Immigrant Project (QUIP), a project of the United We Dream Network based in California, Jorge Gutierrez. He speaks of creating a platform where LGBT families are included within the larger immigration policy reform discourse and the need to uplift the stories of undocumented LGBT immigrants in addition to same sex couples where one is a citizen and other is not (also known as bi-national couples) which have received some mainstream media attention.

Dec 17 2012
Page Immigration and Gender Report

Download full report (PDF)
Download Executive Summary (PDF)

Download Press Release (In English

Dec 13 2012
Blog Post South Carolina Decision Underlines Need for Immigration Reform

This article was originally posted at The State 

By Rev. Sandy Jones

The U.S. District Court’s order blocking key provisions of South Carolina’s extreme anti-immigrant law is a step toward what the election confirmed is America’s real aspiration and need: comprehensive federal immigration reform.

Dec 3 2012
Page A Commonsense Approach: Immigration Policy Solutions

A Commonsense Approach: Immigration Policy Solutions 

Read also: Focus on Opportunity: Immigration Policy Solutions (May 2012) 

While many Americans are frustrated with our immigration policies, research and experience show that it’s not enough to focus only on the problems with our current policies. We also need to paint a picture of what the country would look like with workable, commonsense policies in place.

Nov 7 2012
Page Talking Immigration Issues: Three Studies 

Talking Immigration Issues: Narrative, Messaging and Research

To read more, download our report here (PDF)
Read this report from your browser (Scribd)

Read also:

Oct 19 2012
Page Millennials’ Attitudes Toward Immigrants and Immigration Policies

Read this report on your web browser (Scribd) 

Download full report (PDF)

Aug 31 2012
Blog Post A Time to Dream

Photo by AFSC-SENE

This article was originally published by Caravan Magazine

By Amitava Kumar


Rather, what would Jesus do if he were without papers in the United States of America?

I asked myself this question after talking to a young man born in Mexico, with a fuzzy beard and a soft innocence about him. He had told me that his name was Jesus. He caught my attention because he was wearing a blue T-shirt with the following words imprinted in white across the chest: “I AM UN.DOC.U.MENT.ED.”

Aug 31 2012
Blog Post Arizonans Widely Support the DREAM Act In Contrast to Governor Brewer's Stance

Arizona Governor Jan Brewer. Photo by Resolution Copper (Flickr, All Rights Reserved)

Andrew Johnson contributed to this post

On August 16, Arizona’s Governor Jan Brewer signed an executive order to block state benefits, including driver licenses for recipients of Deferred Action--a new federal government program that reflects the goals of the Dream Act to temporarily delay deportation for undocumented immigrants who moved to the U.S. before the age of 16 and are currently 30 years old or younger.

Despite the Governor’s claim that this is what the citizens of Arizona want, nearly three-quarters of Arizonans (73%), regardless of their race, ethnicity and party affiliation support the DREAM Act, which would allow undocumented immigrants who graduate from college or serve in the military to become U.S. citizens (Marist Poll, April 2012).


Aug 17 2012
Page Arizona v. United States: Media Coverage of the Supreme Court Ruling (August 2012)

Words most commonly found in mainstream newspaper media coverage  of the SCOTUS ruling on Arizona vs. United States from June 16 through July 6, 2012
Words most commonly found in mainstream newspaper media coverage
of the SCOTUS ruling on Arizona vs. United States from June 16 through July 6, 2012

Aug 14 2012
Page Arizona v. United States: Media Coverage of the Supreme Oral Argument (May 2012)

Download report here (PDF)

The Opportunity Agenda analyzed mainstream newspaper coverage during the days preceding and following the Supreme Court's oral argument in Arizona v. United States on April 25, a constitutional challenge to Arizona’s anti-immigrant “show me your papers” law SB 1070.

Aug 14 2012
Page Message Guidance: Supreme Court Arizona v U.S. Case


Jun 25 2012
Page Talking Points: Leveraging the Moment - Talking About President Obama's DREAM Announcement

Read also: Americans Have Long Called for Legal Status of "Dreamers:" Public Opinion Round-Up

Jun 19 2012
Blog Post Americans Have Long Called for Legal Status for "Dreamers:" Public Opinion Round-Up

Photo courtesy of Antonio Villaraigosa

President Obama came a step closer to the wishes of the American people when he announced earlier today that his administration will stop deporting undocumented immigrants 30 years old or younger, who came to the U.S. as children. Those immigrants who qualify will also be allowed to apply for a work permit and thus, contribute to society more fully.

Jun 15 2012
Blog Post What You Just Said Hurts My Head


We’re all familiar with the feeling of cognitive dissonance, when suddenly we’re forced to hold two contradicting ideas in our heads. Maybe we’ve just heard unflattering news about someone we respected, or have been presented with facts that challenge a deeply held worldview. As any communications expert will tell you, we tend to deal with this kind of dissonance by simply rejecting the new information as incorrect, unreliable, or purposefully misleading.

May 17 2012
Page Public Opinion and Media Research Briefing

Download: Public Opinion and Media Research Briefing - PowerPoint Presentation 

Apr 23 2012
Page Speaking Out On Arizona’s “Show Me Your Papers” Law

On April 25, 2012, the Supreme Court will hear arguments challenging Arizona’s immigration enforcement law -- commonly known as “SB 1070” -- one of the nation’s harshest anti-immigrant laws. Social justice advocates have a great deal at stake in this case, as it underscores the need for all of our laws to uphold our country’s values, not pander to a narrow agenda that promotes discrimination and threatens all of our basic rights, particularly around equal treatment and racial profiling.

Apr 18 2012
Page Dream of a Nation

The promise of a better tomorrow is a cornerstone of the American Dream. The belief that our children should inherit a world that is safer, cleaner, and more equitable is a bedrock fundamental. Recently, however, that hope has dimmed; an increasing number of Americans are finding only obstacles where there should be opportunities to succeed and thrive.

Mar 21 2012
Blog Post Immigration Blog Round Up, November 7


Photo by ElvertBarnes

Following in the steps of Arizona, Georgia, Utah and Indiana, Alabama has joined the campaign of attrition against undocumented immigrants by implementing a new anti-immigrant law, HB 56.  While the law is similar to its counterparts – Arizona SB 1070 and Georgia HB 87, to name a few- it’s more restrictive. For example, it requires schools to check the immigration status of children and their parents. Since its enactment, the law has ignited fear, panic, and disruptions in the everyday lives of Latino communities, including U.S. citizens.  A significant number of Latino students have not been showing up to school, employees are not reporting to work, and homes have suddenly become uninhabited.

Nov 7 2011
Blog Post Immigration Blog Round Up: October 7


Photo by muymegan

When it comes to our immigration policies, we need workable solutions that uphold our values and move us forward together. Recent misguided legislation in Georgia and Alabama, among other places, does none of that. In fact, anti-immigrant laws are already having a devastating effect on these states’ economies and communities. And the rhetoric emitted by the supporters of such laws just coats the whole enterprise with a malevolent sheen of divisiveness and spite, the last things we need as we face down a wayward economy that’s going to take unity and common sense to make right.

Oct 7 2011
Page Learning from Alabama: Telling Persuadable Audiences Why These Laws Hurt Us All

See our latest blog: Court's Ruling on Anti-Immigrant Law Undermines Our Values

Alabama's new harshest-in-the-nation anti-immigrant law has put that state, and and its flawed immigration policies, in the spotlight. The resulting news coverage has painted a devastating picture of both the intended and unintended consequences of such legislation—on immigrant communities, law enforcement, schools, farmers, construction companies, and many others.

Oct 4 2011
Blog Post Court’s Ruling on Anti-Immigrant Law Undermines Our Values


On September 29, the Federal District Court in Birmingham upheld most of the sections of Alabama’s draconian immigration law in Hispanic Interest Coalition of Alabama, et al. v. Bentley, et. al., and blocked some significant elements of this far-reaching law. The decision made by Judge Sharon Lovelace Blackburn clearly undermines the most fundamental American values of fairness and equality in that state. The law under review is considered by many civil and human rights activists and immigration advocates to be the harshest anti-immigrant law in the country.

Sep 30 2011
Blog Post September 11, 2011


Photo by dennoit

On the tenth anniversary of the September 11 attacks, the time is right to consider how we have changed as a country and how we remain the same.  It is a widely-accepted truism that we were all changed after the terrorist attacks in Washington, DC, New York, and Pennsylvania. However, even though some made use of the fear and heated emotions following the attacks to suppress human and civil rights, our bedrock principles endure, and in fact, flourish.

Sep 9 2011
Blog Post Building Community Through Equitable Access To Financial Services, Part 1: Banking In Immigrant Communities


Photo by The Urban Snapper

I worked for several years as a Sous Chef at a well known Brooklyn restaurant. During the Black Out of 2003, three of the porters (from the Mexican state of Michoacán) stayed well into the night to help clean and put perishables on ice by candle light. Toward the wee hours, as we wrapped up, I offered to write them checks for all their help, but they didn’t have bank accounts. I was new to the city, and balked at how a person could function without a checking account. But they were not alone. Ensuring fair access to financial services for immigrants - including depository banking and loan lending (in particular mortgage lending) - is key not only to our economic recovery, but also to the well-being and stability of all of our communities. Limiting or discouraging access to mainstream banking services hurts all communities regardless of income.

Jun 20 2011
Page Telebriefing: Tracking the Crackdown - June 15, 2011

On June 15, New America Media and The Opportunity Agenda hosted a telephonic news briefing on efforts to amend the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution to deny birthright citizenship to any child born in the United States to parents who are undocumented immigrants. This proposed change specifically targets immigrant women.

Jun 17 2011
Blog Post A Call to End Indefinite Detention


Photo by Mark Fischer

The right to due process under the law is a cornerstone of America’s commitment to freedom and fairness. Protections against unfair imprisonment, mistreatment by law enforcement officials, and indefinite detention—guaranteed by the 5th and 6th amendments of the Constitution—are rights that no one living in the United States would or should be expected to go without.

Jun 7 2011
Page Synopsis: Chamber of Commerce of the United States of America et al. v. Whiting et al. (2011)

Read the synopsis via Scribd.

May 27 2011
Blog Post Immigration Blog Round Up: May 19, 2011


photo by longislandwins

May 19 2011
Page Talking Points: Real Solutions, American Values

Read this talking points memo via Scribd.

May 10 2011
Blog Post Thursday Immigration Blog Round Up


photo by Jason York

Immigration in 2012

President Obama recently announced his intentions to run in the next presidential campaign and immigration will likely be an important issue during the 2012 presidential race.  

May 4 2011
Blog Post Thursday Immigration Blog Round Up


Photo by respres

Apr 13 2011
Blog Post Thursday Immigration Blog Round Up


Photo by Antonio Villaraigosa

Last year, the DREAM Act, which would have aided the children of undocumented immigrants to attend college, enlist in the military, and attain citizenship, died in the Senate, but there has been progress at the state level.

Mar 31 2011
Blog Post Friday’s Bi-Weekly Immigration Round Up


Participants gather at a 2010 immigration rally in Washington, DC
Photo by Franciscan Action Network



In a victory for our basic values, as well as common sense, the state of Arizona showed signs of reversing some of its problematic strategy on immigration by voting down a package of immigration bills on March 17. According to The Arizona Republic, five immigration measures—which challenged citizenship guarantees of the 14th Amendment, proposed to ban undocumented immigrants from state universities, made it illegal for undocumented people to drive in Arizona, required schools to check their students’ legal status, and required hospitals to check their patients’ legal status, to name a few—were rejected.

Mar 25 2011
Page Public Discourse on Immigration in 2010

Read the full report via Scribd.

Immigration in the Public Discourse in 2010 is the fourth public discourse analysis we have completed on the subject of immigrants and immigration reform and illustrates how the discourse has continued to evolve.

Mar 11 2011
Blog Post Bad Ideas Running Aground

Over the last year, right-wing politicians introduced a slew of bills in Congress and multiple states that purported to address the problem of illegal immigration.  The proposals ranged from replicating Arizona’s controversial SB1070—which requires police to question people who “look” undocumented—to altering or reinterpreting the 14th Amendment to deny citizenship to the children of immigrants born in America.  Today, however, the majority of those proposals are running aground, and for good reason.  People around the country are increasingly re

Mar 8 2011
Communications Talking About Proposals to Change the 14th Amendment

On January 5, 2011, a group of state lawmakers and political operatives from Georgia and a few other states unveiled a scheme to attack an important constitutional freedom: the American Citizenship Clause of the 14th Amendment to the Constitution. Passed after the Civil War, the Clause guarantees that children who are born in America are American citizens. But these operatives would eliminate that constitutional guarantee, in a misguided attempt to address immigration.

Jan 30 2011
Research Why We Don't Want ICE in NY State

Our country faces a crisis of mass detentions and deportations that violates our notions of fairness and justice. Through programs such as Secure Commmunities (S-Comm), the Criminal Alien Program, and 287(g), Immigration and Customs Enforcement is colluding with local law enforcement to use the criminal justice system as a dragnet to deport immigrants. Between 1995 and 2009, the number of immigrants thrown into our deportation system increased more than eightfold.

Nov 23 2010
Page Immigration Arts + Culture Resources

With their unique ability to tell emotionally resonant stories and connect with audiences on a deep and human level, artists have the ability to propel social change in ways that traditional organizing, advocacy, and communications strategies alone do not.


Nov 10 2010
Blog Post Biweekly Public Opinion Roundup: Latinos, Politics and the Election

As an emerging demographic group in the United States, and as a growing percentage of the electorate, the political concerns of Latinos – and trends in their voting behavior – need to be well understood and acknowledged by policymakers and elected officials. Historically, Latinos tend to strongly support Democratic candidates, believing that Democrats are more concerned with the issues that are important to this key constituency.

Nov 5 2010
Page Immigration: Arts, Culture & Media 2010 - A Creative Change Report

In fall 2009 The Opportunity Agenda launched an Immigration Arts and Culture Initiative with the goal of fostering arts, culture, and media activities that promote the inclusion, integration, and human rights of immigrants in the United States. The final element of this phase of the work is a research study to identify examples of arts, culture, and media projects that effectively move hearts and minds; break down prejudice; inspire community engagement; and, in the long term, encourage public support for the fair treatment and inclusion of immigrants in American society. A key outcome of the study is the identification of a pipeline of projects that could be brought to scale and/or considered for possible collaboration and support. This study, which was designed around a series of interviews and a survey to elevate best practices and compelling ideas, also includes a series of recommendations.

Sep 9 2010
Blog Post Thursday Immigration Blog Roundup

Highlights of immigration news this week:

• A Washington Post blog takes a look how immigration affects the financial health of Social Security.

Aug 19 2010
Blog Post Injunction Placed on Portions of SB 1070 Reveals Numerous Flaws

Just a day before Senate Bill 1070 was set to become law in Arizona, District Judge Susan Bolton stepped in and made the critical decision to put an injunction, or temporary hold, on the most contentious portions of the bill.

Aug 5 2010
Blog Post A Victory in Arizona

Instead of enforcement-only quick fixes, what we need are real workable solutions that reflect our national commitment to fair and dignified treatment, and that bring our country together.

Jul 29 2010
Blog Post Kicking Up a Storm on Immigration

Farewell World Cup.

You will be sorely missed, although as as European I only have to wait two years instead of four to see my national team, Engalnd, once again spectacularly fail to deliver. Congratulations Spain, and moreover, congratulations to the many immigrants who put in jaw-dropping performances for their adopted countries, despite - in many instances - anti-immigrant rhetoric stirring political waters back home.

Jul 19 2010
Blog Post People Desire Action on Immigration

Some opinions that have been overlooked by the media in the last couple of weeks:

Jul 16 2010
Blog Post Monday's Immigration Roundup

The issue of immigration flooded media outlets last week after the Department of Justice filed a lawsuit in Arizona on Tuesday, challenging the state’s recent immigration law, formally known as Senate Bill 1070.

Jul 12 2010
Blog Post Synopsis of the DOJ's Arguments in United States v. Arizona

On Tuesday, July 6, 2010, the United States filed a lawsuit against the State of Arizona to invalidate, and stop the enforcement of, S.B. 1070 (as amended by H.B. 2162). 

Jul 7 2010
Blog Post Bloomberg, Murdoch and Top CEOs Push for Immigration Reform

Joined by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, media mogul Rupert Murdoch appeared on Fox News recently to discuss his support for immigration reform in America. The two are members of the recently created Partnership for a New American Economy, a coalition of high profile businessmen and politicians advocating for comprehensive immigration reform.

Jul 7 2010
Blog Post Thursday Immigration Blog Roundup: Friday Edition

This week's roundup features reactions to President Obama's Thursday immigration speech and more.

Jul 2 2010
Blog Post Thursday Immigration Blog Roundup

Talk of immigration-related lawsuits filled the news this week, and it all started with a television interview that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton gave overseas in Ecuador.

Jun 24 2010
Blog Post Supreme Court Decision Restores a Sense of Fairness to Criminal Immigration Proceedings

Prior to the Supreme Court's recent decision in Carachuri-Rosendo v. Holder, many legal U.S. residents who had committed minor misdemeanors were unfairly classified as having committed "aggravated felonies" under immigration law, which subjected them to automatic deportation. The Supreme Court took note of the unfair deprivation of due process and took a strong stance in support of human rights when it corrected the deportation requirement for minor drug offenses.

Jun 17 2010
Blog Post Thursday Immigration Blog Roundup

This week's roundup features mayors' reactions to Arizona's immigration law, a Supreme Court ruling on deportation laws, and more...

Jun 17 2010
Blog Post Listening to the Mayors

The U.S. Conference of Mayors passed a resolution condemning Arizona's anti-immigrant law and calling on the Federal government to quickly pass commonsense immigration reform. The resolution criticises the Arizona law as "unconstitutional and un-American," calls for its repeal, and opposes any copycat legislation in other parts of the country.

Jun 15 2010
Blog Post Bi-Weekly Opinion Roundup: High Support for S.B. 1070 is driven by thirst for action not desire for an unjust law

Since the passage of S.B. 1070, Arizona’s new immigration law, polling has consistently shown that a majority of Americans—not just Arizona residents—support the law. An April 28 Gallup poll found 51% of Americans in support of the law, versus 39% opposed, and a May 9 Pew Research Center poll had support among registered Democrats only at 45% (Sources: Gallup, Pew).

Jun 11 2010
Blog Post Immigration Roundup: Dream Act Demonstrations Across the Nation

Three years since the U.S. Senate voted on, and rejected, the DREAM Act in 2007, young activists across the nation are creatively rallying for the Act, with the hope that this year the immigration reform act will pass.

Jun 10 2010
Blog Post Rallies for the DREAM Act Continue Across the Nation

Activists for the immigration reform DREAM Act are preparing a rally tomorrow in Harrisonburg, Virginia that they hope will raise attention and support from Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va. Virginia’s other Democratic senator, Jim Webb, is a known advocate of the Act, and voted in favor of it in 2007.

Jun 8 2010
Blog Post The Safety of U.S.-Mexico Border

A major part of the reasoning for Arizona's alarming new law, S.B. 1070, is a presumed uptick in crime from undocumented immigrants.

Politicians, including a flip-flopping John McCain, have called for border security. McCain himself articulated, "complete the danged fence."

Turns out though, government data shows that the U.S.-Mexico border is quite safe.

Jun 4 2010
Blog Post Spotlight on the U.S.-Mexico Border

While we’re spending our federal funds on policies that threaten both human rights at the border and judicial and prosecutorial safeguards, is there room for us to reaffirm our commitment to human dignity and due process? 

May 26 2010
Blog Post Thursday Immigration Blog Roundup

This week's Immigration Blog Roundup covers the Az bill, federal policy, and more...

May 20 2010
Blog Post Thursday Immigration Blog Roundup

This week's Immigration Blog Roundup covers the nation-wide response to the Arizona immigration bill, policy news, and more...

May 13 2010
Page Video and Pictures from Our Immigration Arts + Culture Events

Photos from the Events

Immigration: Arts, Culture & Media 2010 (New York)

May 12 2010

Page Immigrants in America, A Hollywood Perspective

A panel of Hollywood notables recently took the stage with immigration advocates, at The Paley Center for Media in Los Angeles, to discuss the challenges in telling accurate, compelling immigrant stories in movies and television.

May 12 2010
Blog Post Keeping the Faith

With the massive march on Washington DC and the passage of S.B. 1070 in Arizona, immigrants in general, and a potential immigration reform bill specifically, have taken center stage in the American political debate. But, buried within the political questions is something more fundamental—our values.

May 11 2010
Blog Post Thursday Immigration Blog Roundup

Criticized that the new immigration law would lead to racial profiling, the Arizona state legislature moved to change some of the laws phrasing, as reported by Andrea Nill over at Think Progress' Wonk Room.

May 6 2010
Research Public Opinion Research (Executive Summary) - In Play: African American, Hispanic, and Progressive White Voters on Immigration Reform (2010)

Since its inception, America has been considered a land of opportunity for people around the world. The fabric of our nation is woven by immigrant experiences. However, the current immigration system does not work and is not fair for Americans or immigrants. Most Americans agree that the system is broken and needs to be reformed.

May 5 2010
Blog Post United Against Arizona S.B. 1070

Since its inception, America has been considered a land of opportunity for people around the world. The fabric of our nation is woven by the immigrant experience. And its colorful patchwork is a living witness to America’s success.

This is why Arizona's new immigration law is so wrong. The law is impractical, violates our values, and divides our communities. We need real solutions that embrace fairness, equal treatment, and due process. Our immigration system is broken, but disregarding our values is not the answer to fixing it.

Apr 30 2010
Communications Talking Points: Uniting Our Voices on Arizona S.B. 1070 (2010)

Talking about Arizona’s S.B. 1070, an alarming and incredibly wrong-headed bill, provides immigration advocates with a chance to show the American public the dangerous consequences of anti-immigrant fervor. This is a prime opportunity to unite our voices around the three common themes of the core narrative that immigration advocates from around the country have developed and promoted:

We need workable solutions that uphold our nation’s values and move us forward together.

Apr 29 2010
Blog Post Immigrants in America: A Hollywood Perspective

Over the years Hollywood has produced a vivid record of the immigrant experience in America. Although many movies are controversial on matters of fact, they nonetheless provide a valuable insight into how immigrants are seen and represented in the mainstream.

Apr 22 2010
Blog Post Counting Cultural Diversity

Last Friday, April 16 2010, was the final deadline for Americans to return their census forms. Although final mail participation rates – the percentage of forms mailed back by households excluding those returned by the postal service for being undeliverable – will not be available until early May, they will be eagerly anticipated by the Census Bureau and likely to cause either significant celebration or upset.

Apr 20 2010
Blog Post April 14: The Next Landmark Day For Immigrant Equality


Wednesday April 14 will be a landmark day for ensuring the equality of all voices in the American public sphere.  It is the day that Ugly Betty, the popular ABC series chronicling a young Mexican-American woman’s adventures of beating the odds in the Big Apple, will come to an end after four seasons. That same evening, The Opportunity Agenda will convene artists, advocates, and media makers in New York City for conversation and collaboration on the power of arts, culture, and media activities in promoting the dignity and human rights of immigrants in the United States.  What do these two events have to do with each other and the broader fight for equality in America? Everything.

Apr 12 2010
Research Fact Sheet: Why Immigration Matters to All Americans (2010)

Learn more about immigrants in the United States, where they come from, how they contribute to our society, and the barriers they face.

This fact sheet also outlines the benefits comprehensive immigration reform would have for the United States.

Apr 12 2010
Blog Post Thursday Immigration Blog Roundup

This week's Immigration Blog Roundup covers new developments in policy, research, media, and more...

Apr 8 2010
Blog Post The Story of American Communities

A few staff members from The Opportunity Agenda headed down to the Center for Community Change headquarters at the end of last week, to help prepare for the Reform Immigration for America march.   What we saw, and participated in, was a stirring affirmation of the power of collective action, and a powerful reminder of what participatory democracy means.

Mar 26 2010
Blog Post Marching for America

Last Sunday, as the health care bill was being debated, 200,000 Americans gathered on the National Mall to urge action on another national priority: fixing our broken immigration system.

Speakers included civil rights leaders like Ben Jealous of the NAACP, faith leaders like Cardinal Roger Mahoney of Los Angeles, and labor leaders like Andy Stern of SEIU.  The dais was filled with leaders from the House and Senate.  And the event drew everyday people—families, workers, congregants, and community leaders—from around the country.

Mar 23 2010
Blog Post Thursday Immigration Blog Roundup

This week's Immigration Blog Roundup will cover state and federal updates, new research, and more...

Mar 11 2010
Blog Post Thursday Immigration Blog Roundup

From Reform Immigration for America:

Mar 4 2010
Blog Post Thursday Immigration Blog Roundup

This week's Immigration Blog Roundup will cover new research on the economic impact of immigrants, detention issues, the March for America on March 21st, and more...

Feb 25 2010
Blog Post Thursday Immigration Blog Roundup

This week's Immigration Blog Roundup will cover policy news, new research, and more...

Feb 18 2010
Blog Post Biweekly Public Opinion Roundup: Americans' Agenda for 2010

Americans perception of today's affairs and recent important events, such as the failed terrorist attack on Christmas Day, the President’s State of the Union Address, and the persistent effects of the recession form their agenda for 2010. Although the public's top priorities for the Administration and Congress laid out by recent surveys show that priorities remain similar to last year (jobs and the economy), there have been some notable shifts. These shifts will have an impact on what will gain enough public pressure to get legislation passed in an election year. Let's take a more careful look at how Americans think about the economy, terrorism, health care, and immigration.

Feb 12 2010
Blog Post Thursday Immigration Blog Roundup

This week's blog roundup covers new research on immigration, state and federal policy news, and more...

Feb 10 2010
Blog Post Thursday Immigration Blog Roundup

This week's Immigration Blog Roundup will cover the President's FY2011 budget proposal, new reports on immigration, and more...

Feb 4 2010
Blog Post Fixing the Economy Means Fixing Immigration

During the past week, much has been made of President Obama’s 38-word mention of immigration during his State of the Union address. Understandably, some advocates were disappointed that immigration reform did not get nearly as much air time as the rebuilding the economy – the perception being that this administration will address the latter before the former.

Feb 3 2010
Blog Post Thursday Immigration Blog Roundup

This week's Immigration Blog Roundup includes the State of the Union Address, state news, new research on immigration, and more...

Jan 27 2010
Blog Post New statistical profiles of Immigrants and Hispanics in the U.S. just released

The Pew Hispanic Center just released updated statistical profiles of immigrants (38 million foreign-born residents) and Hispanics (47 million) in the U.S. The profiles include a large spectrum of information such as occupation, industry,  income, poverty, or educational attainment by race and ethnicity in 2008, and how that compares to 2000.

The data is available at

Jan 21 2010
Blog Post Thursday Immigration Blog Roundup

This week's Immigration Blog Roundup includes policy news, new research and media on immigration, and more...

Jan 21 2010
Blog Post Thursday Immigration Blog Roundup

This week's Immigration Blog Roundup will cover key players in immigration reform, policy news, and more...

Jan 7 2010
Blog Post Thursday Immigration Blog Roundup

This week's Immigration Blog Roundup covers comprehensive immigration reform and more.

Dec 17 2009
Blog Post Thursday Immigration Blog Roundup

This week's Immigration Blog Roundup will cover national policy, new research, state news, and more.

Dec 10 2009
Blog Post Nonprofit Technology: Social Network Sites and Immigration Reform

This past summer, The Opportunity Agenda conducted a scan (PDF) to determine the state of immigration advocacy on the social web, looking specifically at the following: blogs that frequently cover politics and reach a mass audience, Twitter, YouTube, and the two largest social networking sites (Facebook and MySpace). This research built on a similar scan we conducted in 2007.

Dec 4 2009
Blog Post Thursday Immigration Blog Roundup

This week's Immigration Blog Roundup will cover new research on immigration and the economy, immigration policy, state news, and more...

Dec 3 2009
Blog Post Thursday Immigration Blog Roundup

This week's Immigration Blog Roundup will cover some policy news, newly released research on immigration and more.

Nov 19 2009
Blog Post Thursday Immigration Blog Roundup

This week's Immigration Blog Roundup will cover health care, immigration reform, and more.

Nov 12 2009
Blog Post Bi-weekly Public Opinion Roundup: Californians on Immigration

For much of this decade, immigration has been an important topic on the public agenda. Nowhere is that more true than in California. The state is home to 9.9 million immigrants, its governor is an immigrant, and it is a border state on the front lines of the debate over immigration reform.

Nov 6 2009
Blog Post Nonprofit Technology: Blogging for Immigration Reform in 2009

This past summer, The Opportunity Agenda conducted a scan (PDF) to determine the state of immigration advocacy on the social web, looking specifically at the following: blogs that frequently cover politics and reach a mass audience, Twitter, YouTube, and the two largest social networking sites (Facebook and MySpace). This research built on a similar scan we conducted in 2007.

Nov 6 2009
Blog Post Thursday Immigration Blog Roundup

This week's immigration blog roundup will cover news on immigration reform, health care, and more.

Nov 5 2009
Blog Post Thursday Immigration Blog Roundup

This week's immigration blog roundup will cover a number of new studies in immigration, some state news, and more.

Oct 29 2009
Blog Post Thursday Immigration Blog Roundup

This week’s immigration blog roundup will cover a new bill aimed at uniting immigrant families, abuses of local police in enforcing federal immigration policy, anti-immigration hate crimes, and more.

Oct 22 2009
Research Media Analysis: Immigration Media and Web 2.0 Scan (2009)

Cover ImageThe Opportunity Agenda conducted media and public opinion analysis on immigration issues to inform advocates’ communications and messaging strategies.

Oct 15 2009
Communications Talking Points: African Americans and Immigration (2009)

This memo lays out recent research with African American audiences and offers ideas about talking with them about immigration reform. However, it should be noted that while there do exist some strategies for talking effectively to African American audiences in particular, the key strategy should be to stay with the overall campaign narrative of workable solutions, values, and moving forward with urgency and leadership.

Oct 1 2009
Blog Post Thursday Immigration Blog Roundup

This week's immigration blog roundup will cover some state news, a short video on immigrants' experiences with the U.S. immigration system, and more.

Immigration officials are considering further increases in citizenship application fees.  The fee is currently over $675, which is a 69% increase.  The hike has led to a drop in applications from 254,000 to 58,000 last year.

Sep 24 2009
Blog Post Thursday Immigration Blog Roundup

This week's immigration blog roundup will cover health care reform and more.

About a quarter of American tech companies are founded by immigrants.  Immigrant entrepreneurs who have contributed to the tech industry include Intel's former CEO, Yahoo's co-founder, and Google's co-founder.  Immigrant-founded firms produced over $50 billion in sales and employ nearly half a million people in 2005.

Sep 17 2009
Blog Post Public Opinion Roundup: Going Back to School

We are already well into September, the President is back in the White House, and Congress is in session. As we are re-engaging in the heated public discourse, it's important to know where public opinion stands today, and how it's shifted, if at all, in the past few months. Below is a rundown of important findings on health care reform and from a pioneering survey of immigrants in the US, which were released during the summer. The focus is primarily on data, which can inform advocates' communications, and strategy.

Sep 17 2009
Blog Post Thursday Immigration Blog Roundup

This week's immigration blog roundup covers some new studies on migration and more.

Several new studies have found that immigrants are choosing to remain in their adopted countries rather than return to their countries of birth.  Despite the economic downturn, immigrants still see the United States as a land of opportunity and are content with their decision to move here. 

Sep 10 2009
Blog Post Thursday Immigration Blog Roundup

This week's immigration blog roundup will cover a number of new studies on immigration issues, some upcoming immigration-related events, and more.

A new survey of low-wage legal immigrant, undocumented immigrant and native-born American workers found that they are consistently paid less than the minimum wage and are not compensated for overtime work.  The study was conducted in New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago.

Sep 3 2009
Blog Post Thursday Immigration Blog Roundup

This week's immigration blog roundup will cover immigrant detention, immigration judges, and more.

Aug 27 2009
Blog Post Busting the Practice of Myth Busting

As mounting evidence shows, the practice of busting myths - lining up facts to disprove an opponent's false assertions - just doesn't work.  Most recently, Sharon Begley takes on the practice in Newsweek, exploring why people believe nutty stories about health care reform or supposed controversies about the president's birth certificate.  She reports that, basically, people want to believe what they want to believe and they predisposed to ignoring any facts that clash with those beliefs.

Aug 26 2009
Blog Post Thursday Immigration Blog Roundup

This week's immigration roundup will cover comprehensive immigration reform, detentions, and more.

Today there will be a meeting at the White House on immigration reform.  You can submit your questions for the Reform Immigration FOR America folks to ask Secretary Janet Napolitano here

Aug 20 2009
Blog Post Thursday Immigration Blog Roundup

This week's immigration roundup will cover the Obama Administration's decision to get immigration measures passed in 2010 instead of this year. 

ImmigrationProf Blog reader Julia Koehler sees the positive in President Obama's putting comprehensive immigration reform on a timeline for 2010.  Arguing that the misinformation tactics around health care reform could also be deployed to derail immigration reform, she writes:

Aug 13 2009
Blog Post Thursday Immigration Blog Roundup

This week's immigration blog roundup discusses new detention center reform, an update on comprehensive immigration reform, blog news and more.

 Comprehensive Immigration Reform

Aug 6 2009
Blog Post Racial Profiling in Immigration Policy: Built into the System by 287(g)

After the arrest of respected African-American scholar Henry Louis Gates Jr., which sparked a renewed debate about racial profiling, we should remember that racial profiling is still a common occurrence appearing in different forms and without media attention. Often, even in clear instances of discrimination, not much is done about racial profiling in America.

Aug 5 2009
Blog Post Thursday Immigration Blog Roundup

This week's immigration blog roundup discusses recent protest over the direction immigration reform is headed under the Obama administration, two new reports on immigrant detention violations, and more.

Comprehensive Immigration Reform

Jul 30 2009
Page Immigration Focus Group Research (2009)

New Message Testing for an Effective Immigration Narrative by Lake Research Partners and The Opportunity Agenda

Jul 27 2009
Blog Post Immigrants Cut From Massachusetts Universal Health Care Plan

In a time of rising economic uncertainty, Massachusetts is moving away from its attempts to provide health care for all. The new state budget eliminates coverage for approximately 30,000 legal immigrants in an attempt to help close a budget deficit.

This is a mistake.

Jul 24 2009
Blog Post Victims of Severe Domestic Violence Eligible for Asylum

The New York Times reported last Wednesday that the Obama administration will support granting asylum for at least some victims of severe domestic violence.  This new position, written in a court filing submitted by the government in a currently pending asylum case, reverses the previous Bush administration stance.

Jul 22 2009
Blog Post Thursday Immigration Blog Roundup

This week's immigration blog roundup discusses a new report by the Council on Foreign Relations, another report detailing the persistence of racial profiling in the United States,the Health Equity and Accountability Act,  the E-Verify System, and more. 

Comprehensive Immigration Reform

Jul 9 2009
Blog Post Thursday Immigration Blog Roundup

This week's immigration blog roundup discusses last week's White House meeting on immigration reform, police chiefs speaking out for reform, a new study about stress on immigration judges, and noteworthy editorials.

Jul 2 2009
Blog Post Thursday Immigration Blog Roundup

This week's immigration blog roundup discusses the White House meeting on immigration reform, the National DREAM Graduation Ceremony, remarks from President of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and a new report on ICE misconduct.

Jun 25 2009
Blog Post Thursday Immigration Blog Roundup 6/18

This week's immigration blog roundup discusses a new report on hate crimes, new research by the Office of Immigration Statistics, a proposed worker identification card, and state news.

Jun 18 2009
Communications Talking Points: A Winning Narrative on Immigration (2009)

This memo offers communications advice on building support for commonsense immigration reform and other policies that integrate immigrants into U.S. society.  It is rooted in both experience and recent research conducted by The Opportunity Agenda and others.

Jun 18 2009
Blog Post Thursday Immigration Blog Roundup

This week’s immigration blog roundup includes a follow up to the Campaign to Reform Immigration for America summit, news about the H-2A guest worker program, the suspension of the Widow Penalty policy, and more.

Jun 11 2009
Blog Post Thursday Immigration Blog Roundup

This week's roundup covers the national Reform Immigration for America Campaign Summit, the United American Families act, a ruling reversal, and state news.

Jun 4 2009
Blog Post Moving Forward Together

This week, thousands of community leaders and hundreds of local organizations are holding events in 40 cities to kick off the Campaign to Reform Immigration for America.  In a national campaign launch event at the National Press Club and Campaign Summit on Wednesday in Washington, DC, they will call for commonsense immigration reform that offers real solutions, upholds our nation’s values, and moves us forward together.
Progressives should join and support this effort, for at least three reasons.

Jun 2 2009
Blog Post Thursday Immigration Blog Roundup

This week's blog rounds up a few immigration-related issues, such as military service, public health and, of course, the Sotomayor nomination.

May 28 2009
Blog Post Thursday Immigration Blog Roundup

This week's roundup includes some census data and new reports. 

Politico reports that President Obama has invited Congressmembers to the White House on June 8th to discuss immigration reform.

May 21 2009
Blog Post The Simpsons: Keeping the Border to Springfield Open

There's no television show more quintessentially American than The Simpsons. During it's twenty year long run, the show has become a mainstay of American life. A prism on our society, The Simpsons has tackled one topical issue after another and despite its superficial appearance as having lax values, many would argue otherwise. The show has even spawned several books about its religious themes.

May 20 2009
Blog Post The Aftermath in Postville

One year after the raid on a meatpacking plant netting 389 undocumented workers in Postville, Iowa, the town is dying. The plant, Agriprocessors has filed for bankruptcy, the town nears bankruptcy, and the population has declined by half.

Once a bustling small town, with two main streets, the town is trying to cope with the loss of hundreds of residents. Town revenue is down and businesses have been hit hard. Most have closed.

May 15 2009
Blog Post Thursday Immigration Blog Roundup

This week's roundup covers some state immigration news and a few book reviews. 

May 14 2009
Blog Post Thursday Immigration Blog Roundup

This week's roundup covers two new polls, more debate on comprehensive immigration reform, and last Friday's May Day marches.

May 7 2009
Blog Post Thursday Immigration Blog Roundup 4/30

This week's roundup covers Friday's May Day happenings and some state news.

Apr 30 2009
Podcast Strategies for Advancing a Pro-Immigrant Message on the Web

The following webinar was presented by The Opportunity Agenda on April 16, 2009.

Apr 20 2009
Communications Talking Points: Talking Immigration and Economics (2009)

When addressing immigration in the current economic climate, it is clear that advocates need to support arguments with facts. It’s equally clear, however, that facts will only go so far. Research shows that people are often most motivated by their values—and if data don’t support their deeply held beliefs, audiences will reject them.  So we need to shape conversations with values, and then support our arguments with the best data available. This memo sets forth some ideas about how to do this when it comes to opportunity and inclusion for immigrants.

Apr 20 2009
Blog Post Thursday Immigration Blog Roundup 4/16/09

This week's blog roundup will cover state news and lots of new studies and reports.

This week's highlight is the announcement from the top two labor federations, AFL-CIO and the Change to Win federation of a framework for comprehensive immigration reform, including support for legalization of undocumented immigrants. 

Apr 16 2009
Communications Talking Points: The State of Opportunity Report (2009)

This memo offers guidance for using the 2009 State of Opportunity in America report, which examines various dimensions of opportunity, including health care, wealth and income, education, and incarceration. While expanding opportunity in America remains a goal of policymakers and advocates alike, this report finds that access to full and equal opportunity is still very much a mixed reality. Our recommendations to address this reality offer concrete ideas for moving us forward together.

Apr 15 2009
Blog Post Thursday Immigration Blog Roundup 4/9/09

This week's roundup covers local election news, the economic crisis, and more actions, as well as a handy flowchart to help you navigate the U.S. immigration system.

Apr 9 2009
Blog Post Thursday Immigration Blog Roundup 4/2/09

This week's blog roundup includes coverage on immigration-related news from a few states, including New Jersey, and some reports reviewing DHS.

The Blue Panel report on integrating immigrants in New Jersey, commissioned by Governor Corzine, is finally out.  Recommendations include:

Apr 2 2009
Research Report: The State of Opportunity Report (2009)

This is the 2009 State of Opportunity report.  Here you may download the final report, the final report with accompanying charts, a synopsis, and each of the indicators individually.

Read more about the report here.


Apr 1 2009
Communications Talking Points: The Role of Immigrants in Economic Recovery (2009)

This memo sets forth themes and ideas on talking about immigration during the current economic downturn.

Mar 31 2009
Blog Post Thursday Immigration Blog Roundup 3/26/09

This week's updates include the economic crisis and immigrants, more on the Family Unity tour, and local immigration news from New Jersey, California, and Alabama.

National News

Amnesty International (AI) released its report on immigrant detention in the United States.  AI's recommendations include:

Mar 26 2009
Blog Post Thursday Immigration Blog Roundup

A few stories being covered by immigration blogs this week:

Standing FIRM reports on the meeting between the President and the Congressional Hispanic Caucus: "The President expressed a continued commitment to reforming immigration and also noted that his administration

Mar 19 2009
Research Report: The State of Opportunity Update (2007)

This is the 2007 update to the State of Opportunity report.  There are two files, the full chart of indicators and a summary.


Mar 15 2009
Communications Talking Points: A Core Narrative for Immigration Advocates (2009)

It’s time to tell a new story about immigration in this country. We propose a flexible, values-based framework that we can use to start a variety of conversations: We need workable solutions that uphold our values and help us move forward together.

Mar 15 2009
Blog Post Thursday Immigration Blog Roundup

Here are a few stories that were covered by blogs this week:

Mar 12 2009
Blog Post Thursday Immigration Blog Roundup

Business Week Online and the New York Times report on the Kauffman Foundation's study on the "flood" of young and highly-educated Indian and Chinese immigrants returning to their countries of origin in light of decreasing job opportunities and increasing immigration backlog in the United States. 

Mar 5 2009
Blog Post Living Our Values

One of the themes President Obama spoke about in his speech the other night was returning to the America we grew up knowing--returning to the America which we believe in.  In addressing the nation, President Obama reminded us that "living our values doesn't make us weaker.  It makes us safer, and it makes us stronger."

Feb 26 2009
Blog Post Thursday Immigration Blog Roundup

This week's post will round up currently available immigration-related resources:


Data collected by the Census Bureau in 2007, summarized by the New York Times and the Center for Immigration Studies

The Department of Homeland Security's new reports on:

Feb 25 2009
Blog Post Thursday Immigration Blog Roundup

In this week's Immigration Blog Roundup, I'll cover the Obama Administration, the economic situation, and a few immigrant profiles. 

Feb 18 2009
Blog Post The Pentagon (Finally) Displays Some Pragmatism

Urgency has a strange way of making people more pragmatic.  In the context of a crisis, outdated prejudices become stumbling blocks and, consequently, not so deeply held.  It’s surprising, then, that it took the Pentagon so long to realize that, at a time when our military is stretched thin in two combat wars, turning applicants away from the armed forces due to immigration status was not a workable solution.

Feb 17 2009
Research Report: State of Opportunity (2006)

SoO2006_0.pngIf the promise of opportunity is a core national commitment, it is essential to measure our success in fulfilling that commitment.  This report assesses the nation’s progress toward protecting and expanding opportunity for all Americans and encourages our policymakers, through bold leadership and innovative policies, to ensure the promise of o

Feb 15 2009
Blog Post Hollywood on Immigration: We're All in it Together

The recently-released trailer for the upcoming film Crossing Over illustrates the power of values-based messaging.

Feb 12 2009
Blog Post Thursday Immigration Blog Roundup

The Immigration Prof Blog points us to the just released report on "Immigrant Integration in Los Angeles: Strategic Directions for Funders".

Feb 12 2009
Blog Post Immigrants' Day of Action

Today in Albany the New York Immigration Coalition (NYIC) held their annual Immigrants' Day of Action. This year their focus was on ensuring access to health care for all. NYIC is working to highlight the devasting impact of the current financial crisis on working families in New York—and particularly on immigrants. According to the NYIC:

Feb 10 2009
Blog Post Thursday Immigration Blog RoundUp

After emerging from a mountain of other projects we've been working on here at The Opportunity Agenda, the Thursday Immigration Blog Round-Up is back.  And there's definitely no shortage of news to pass around regarding immigration this week.

Feb 5 2009
Blog Post The State of Opportunity in America (2009) Released

The Opportunity Agenda is pleased to announce the release of our 2009 State of Opportunity in America report. The report documents America’s progress in protecting opportunity for everyone who lives here, and finds that access to full and equal opportunity is still very much a mixed reality.

Feb 1 2009
Research Public Opinion and Media Analysis: English Language Acquisition Programs and Children of Immigrants (2008)

publicDiscourseImmigration.pngThe report examines public opinion and media coverage of two issues deeply tied to the immigrant experience, English language acquisition and the children of immigrants. The willingness of immigrants to learn English is of great interest to the public, and we have identified some openings to promote pro

Jan 29 2009
Blog Post New Immigration Reports

The Opportunity Agenda has three new immigration reports:
(Click on the titles for access to the entire report.)

Jan 15 2009
Research Media Analysis: Immigration in African American, Latino and Online Media (2007)

This report builds on a 2006 scan of public opinion and media coverage of immigration.  Also contained in this report are three additional analyses of immigration in the public discourse. 

Dec 23 2008
Blog Post H-2A Burnt by Midnight Oil--(TIBR)

This week's Thursday Immigration Blog Round-up focuses on the final actions of  President Bush in his last few weeks of office.  The Immigration Policy Center, as also reported on Farm Worker Justice On-Line, reports a move by the Bush Administration to greatly cut the rules and oversight the protect the rights of guest workers here in the U.S. on the H-2A visa.

Dec 11 2008
Communications Toolkit: Community Values (2008)

commValuesToolkit.pngThis publication contains a balance of historical context, framing advice, resources, practical tools and strategies for moving toward a new political conversation.  

Dec 10 2008
Research Media Analysis: Immigration On-The-Air (2008)

onTheAir.pngThe Opportunity Agenda commissioned a media analysis of broadcast news and talk radio, a gap in our previous scans which focused only on print media.

Nov 15 2008
Research Media Analysis: Immigration Coverage in Chinese-Language Newspapers (2008)

chineseLanguageNewspapers.pngThis report focuses on Chinese print media in the United States.

Nov 1 2008
Blog Post "No-Match" No Fair

Last week the Bush administration announced a renewed push to clamp down on undocumented workers.  Specifically, the rule would ask a federal judge to lift an injunction on the "no-match" rule.

The rule protects businesses from failing to respond to so-called "no match" letters sent out by the Social Security Administration stating that the number provided by an employee does not match the information in their database.  This may indicate the worker is undocumented but many are the result of clerical errors including, for example, women not updating last names after marriage.

Judge Charles R. Breyer last year warned that the plan would have "staggering" and "sever" effects on workers and businesses.  It's reasons such as this that have brought together not just traditional groups working for immigrant rights, such as the ACLU, but also the AFL-CIO, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Particularly amidst the recent sharp economic downturn, business leaders are concerned about the Bush administration's plan.  If this effort to lift the injunction against the "no-match" rule is successful, the government would ask up to 140,000 employers to check the social security numbers of 8.7 million workers.  Businesses must resolve discrepancies within 90 days or fire the workers.

Angela Amador, the Chamber's director of immigration policy is concerned about the costs of complying with this rule.  The Chamber's objections "[have] been about the cost of a badly thought out rule and the cost on legitimate businesses following all the rules and complying with it."

Groups such as the ACLU and the National Immigration Law Center are concerned that the plan would lead to racial profiling, discrimination, and the firing of people based on clerical errors.  They argue the Bush administration should work instead towards fixing the flawed database.

Oct 29 2008
Research Public Opinion: State Policy Makers and Human Rights (2008)

statePolicyMakers.pngThis analysis of the interviews in California and Illinois addresses how fifty policy leaders see human rights issues at the state level.

Oct 15 2008
Research Public Opinion: Meta-Analysis of Immigration Opinion Research (2008)

publicOpinionImmigration.pngThis report synthesizes public opinion research on key immigration issues in the United States at the time of its writing and provides a comprehensive assessment of literature, public opinion, and focus groups on immigration issues in the United States.

Oct 1 2008
Research Media and Public Opinion Analysis: African Americans on Immigration (2007)

This report examines African American public opinion about immigration, and immigration coverage in African American media.

Sep 1 2008
Blog Post Thursday Immigration Blog Round-Up

This week's Thursday Immigration Blog Round-Up is more of an immigration blog reflection. It's in no way because of a shortage of news around the pro-immigrant movement: talk of declining support of leading anti-immigrant on-line voices; talk show radio hosts blasting away at one woman who showed compassion toward immigrants, seeing the value in human dignity rise above her own experience of being victimized by one individual; more reports of government forces flexing its muscle in factories around the country. Rather, brought on by an overdose of C-SPAN the past week, there's been a real call in America this week for real solutions that hopefully can fix the real problems that many in our country face.

Those in the trenches of the pro-imigrant movement know first hand that real solutions are needed to overcome the gross disregard of human life and dignity. Throughout American history, there have been those who take advantage of people newly arrived from foreign lands, struggling to make a new life with dreams of hope and opportunity, only to be greeted with false promises and desception. I saw it years ago while a seminarian for the Diocese of Savannah, where immigrants would labor in the hot onion fields of Georgia all day, only to find that their employer made arrangements to have INS waiting for them when they came to collect their payment for their work. I thought of those onion farmers this past week when reading about the recent raid of a sweat shop in Queens, New York, thinking of the abuses against those working in conditions that most Americans would think came out of a 19th century novel from industrial Britain.

In the growing need to find real solutions that can move our country forward, Gov. Chet Culver of Iowa sites the growing failure in current federal immigration policy in a guest column published this Sunday in the Des Moines Register. He sites the meat packing company involved in the northeast Iowa raids last May as taking advantage of employees' situations, treating them with great neglect, while harkening their actions to those Sinclair Lewis uncovered in The Jungle. You can dig it here.

Gov Culver's column was encouraging, in that it showed that there is leadership in America that still values the dignity of human life and believes that all people are equal, regardless of where they were born. For many, the fields of Iowa are seen as the place where the seeds of America's political future are planted, where the rich soil allows for change to take root.

In calling for real solutions that move us forward together as a nation, we become the wind that scatters the seeds of change throughout our country, from the dry red clay of Georgia, to the rain soaked slopes of the Cascades. Let, then, our action not be silence when we hear of the anti-immigrant movement argue where the hand of justice lay. Justice should always protect the value of life over the value of profit. It might sound idealistic. but, when posting comments on blogs, or writing a letter to our local paper, it's that seed of idealism in each of us where our values grow.

Aug 29 2008
Research Media Analysis: Immigration in Spanish Speaking and Hispanic Media (2007)

This report analyzes Spanish speaking and Hispanic media coverage of immigration issues.

Aug 15 2008
Blog Post Thursday Immigration Roundup
  • Congress has passed a few bills targeting immigration: E-Verify, a voluntary government program for employers to verify whether or not employees are legally able to work, was re-authorized by the House for only five years.  This suggests that the House feels E-Verify may be a flawed system.  The House Immigration Subcommittee passed a bill recapturing employment and family-based immigrant visas that had not been allocated under existing ceilings due to bureaucratic inefficiencies. It also passed a bill that could make it easier for military personnel and their families to be naturalized.
  • ICE conducted its latest raids in Lowell, MA in the form of home arrests with warrants. Targets were green card holders with criminal records. Sweeps have been going on throughout the country under various types of programs, such as Operation Community Shield and Fugitive operations teams.
  • The Center for Immigration Studies, "an independent research institute which examines the impact of immigration on the United States," published a report documenting the impact of immigration on global CO2 emissions. The report is titled "Immigration to the United States and World-Wide Greenhouse Gas Emissions." According to the study, immigration to the US significantly increases global CO2 emissions in that immigrants move from a lower-polluting region of the world to a higher-polluting country.  While the estimated CO2 emissions of the average immigrant are 18% lower than those of native-born Americans, their emissions are estimated to be four times what they would be in their home countries.
  • The New York Times published a story responding to the release of the legal blueprint in the Postville hearings.  The blueprint, made available online by the ACLU, is a 117 page compilation of scripts that laid out step by step how the hearings should proceed.  While these documents were not binding and were framed as providing assistance to defense lawyers, many critics argue that the scripts indicate that the court endorsed the prosecutors' push to secure guilty pleas before the hearings even began. The scripts went so far as to include a sample statement the judge could make after accepting a guilty plea.  According to Lucas Guttentag, director of the Immigrants' Rights Project of the A.C.L.U, "this was the Postville prosecution guilty-plea machine. The entire process seemed to presume and be designed for fast-track guilty pleas."
  • The Times also covered the story of Hiu Lui Ng, a 34 year old immigrant who died in US custody after being systematically denied medical care in the previous months.  Mr. Ng had overstayed a visa years earlier and had been sent a letter ordering him to appear in court.  This letter was mistakenly sent to a nonexistent address and due to his inevitable failure to appear in court, ICE arrested him last summer when he went to immigration headquarters in Manhattan to apply for a green card.  Since then he has been held in various jails in three New England states.  In April Mr. Ng began to complain of debilitating back pain, however these complaints were written off as "faking it" and it was not until a judge order he be taken to the hospital in early August that he received medical attention.  This exam revealed that his spine was fractured and he had terminal cancer that had been undiagnosed and untreated for months.  He died in the custody of ICE five days after arriving at the hospital. Mr. Ng's case is not isolated, it is situated in a series of cases that have "drawn Congressional scrutiny to complaints of inadequate medical care, human rights violations, and a lack of oversight in immigration detention." Mr. Ng's case and others call for real solutions to a very real problem. Presently before the House Judiciary Committee is legislation to set mandatory standards for care in immigartion detention.
Aug 14 2008
Blog Post Thursday Immigration Blog Roundup

•    An article titled “Immigrants Facing Deportation by U.S. Hospitals” appeared in the magazine section of The New York Times on Sunday.  By telling the story of Luis Alberto Jiménez, it documents the disastrous consequences that are the result of inherent failures in the American immigration and health care systems. Below is an excerpt from the article:

Many American hospitals are taking it upon themselves to repatriate seriously injured or ill immigrants because they cannot find nursing homes willing to accept them without insurance. Medicaid does not cover long-term care for illegal immigrants, or for newly arrived legal immigrants, creating a quandary for hospitals, which are obligated by federal regulation to arrange post-hospital care for patients who need it.

American immigration authorities play no role in these private repatriations, carried out by ambulance, air ambulance and commercial plane. Most hospitals say that they do not conduct cross-border transfers until patients are medically stable and that they arrange to deliver them into a physician’s care in their homeland. But the hospitals are operating in a void, without governmental assistance or oversight, leaving ample room for legal and ethical transgressions on both sides of the border.

•    Various ICE policies have been scrutinized in a number of news articles this week.  A DMI Blog posting discusses the ICE policy of neglecting to inform local police of its decision to conduct a raid in an area.  This ICE policy is carried out completely inconsistently – sometimes ICE notifies local law enforcement, sometimes it does not.  ICE conducted its recent raid in Sante Fe, New Mexico (where it took 30 undocumented immigrants into custody) without notifying Sante Fe Mayor Cross beforehand.  According to the posting, Cross was completely opposed to the raid.  He said:

“We know what the right thing to do is. We have political leadership that wants to keep us from doing [the right thing] because the division works for them. But it doesn’t work for us. And most people know that.”

ICE's notification policy is not its only inconsistent policy.  According to the Associated Press, ICE's distribution of border patrol agents is a completely political process.  The article says that many people have suggested that ICE rewards friendly Congressmen with more border patrol agents in their district:

The 60-mile San Diego sector is at the southern end of a county with roughly 3 million people…

But the sector is already heavily reinforced: Two-thirds of the border is blocked by fences or vehicle barriers. The most populous part of the boundary has nearly 10 miles of double-layer fences with stadium lights…

San Diego is represented by Rep. Duncan Hunter, a Republican who has been among the most outspoken proponents of increased border security and fences.

The Huffington Post has also criticized ICE for supporting the discredited Center for Immigration Studies report that says border patrol has been the main reason immigration to the U.S. has fallen.  Many researchers have shown that the failing economy is the main reason immigration has been decreasing:

The US needs a practical, fair, and reasonable solution to immigration that includes smart enforcement measures. Political theater and gimmicks won't constrict the supply or demand for immigrant labor.

In addition, The Sanctuary is reporting that the ACLU has obtained a copy of the manual that the government distributes to attorneys who defend those who are arrested in immigration raids: 

The manual contains prepackaged scripts for plea and sentencing hearings as well as documents providing for guilty pleas and waivers of rights to be used by both the judges and attorneys in expediting procedures as quickly as possible with little regard for due process.

The ACLU has made the manual publicly available.

•    Postville update: Standing FIRM has linked to a Chicago Tribune story on the allegations of child labor law violations at the Agriprocessors plant.  The government has finally begun cracking down on the company for the horrific abuse of its employees:

State officials say the types of child labor violations at the plant included minors working in prohibited occupations, exceeding allowable hours for youth to work, failure to obtain work permits, exposure to hazardous chemicals and working with prohibited tools.

•    The National Center for Lesbian Rights has become involved in a case involving a gay HIV-positive Pakistani man who is seeking asylum in the U.S. on the grounds that he will be persecuted if he returns to his country of origin.  The Center filed an amicus brief in support of the plaintiff to the Board of Immigration Appeals:

Under Pakistani law, being gay is punishable by death and LGBT people are forced to live in secrecy and constant fear of exposure. The Immigration Judge ignored the serious risk of persecution that S.K. faces and denied his application for asylum.

•    ABC News has called attention to a recently released report on the human rights abuses that immigrants are subject to at detention centers run by private companies.  The report, conducted by the human rights group OneAmerica and the Seattle University School of Law, concludes that people held at these detention facilities, specifically one that GEO Group, Inc. runs, are routinely harassed, verbally and physically abused and subjected to poor to non-existent health care.

This is not the first time GEO has been accused of violating the rights of inmates in its care.  In 2000, when the company was known as Wackenhut Corrections Corporation, the U.S. Department of Justice sued them over "excessive abuse and neglect" of inmates at the Jena Juvenile Justice Center in Jena, Louisiana.

Aug 7 2008
Blog Post Thursday Immigration Blog Roundup

•    Department of Homeland Security officials have come out in support of a Center for Immigration Studies report that claims that border control measures are the cause of a decrease in immigration to the U.S.  However, the Center for Comparative Immigration Studies at University of California, San Diego has rebutted those claims and determined that the border patrol apprehends fewer than half of the undocumented immigrants that come into the country through the Mexico/U.S. border.  According to The Huffington Post, the Center for Immigration Studies (an anti-immigrant advocacy group) and the Department of Homeland Security failed to consider reasons other than border control measures that explain why immigration to the U.S. would naturally decline:

When citing the decrease in both apprehensions at the border and remittances sent by workers in the United States to family members in Mexico, Chertoff also failed to consider the fact that undocumented immigration naturally decreases when the U.S. economy is in recession. [Director of the Center for Comparative Immigration Studies Dr. Wayne] Cornelius' report shows that undocumented migration clearly responds to changing U.S. economic conditions, with significant decreases during economic downturns such as the one we are in now.

Moreover, Chertoff’s border control measures are completely inconsistent with the fundamentally positive effect immigration has on American communities.  Providing opportunity for immigrants has been a core value in the U.S. since its founding.  To see more immigration myths dispelled, read The Opportunity Agenda fact sheet, Immigrants and Opportunity.

•    In one of last month’s blog roundups on The State of Opportunity, a story about a sheriff in Maricopa County, Arizona appeared.  That same sheriff, Sheriff Joe Arpaio, is in the news once again.  An editorial in The Washington Post discusses how  “Sheriff Joe” and his officers have been continuing the “policing strategy” of locking up all Hispanic people they encounter, regardless of if they have any evidence that they are undocumented immigrants or have committed any crime.  According to Arizona Central, Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon has had to resort to calling for a media mobilization against Arpaio:

"He (Arpaio) has become the false messiah," Gordon said. "But when the light is shined on him, people will see that he isn't helping to fight illegal immigration and he's just making the situation worse. You've got an individual with a badge and a gun who's breaking the law and abusing his authority."

We need real solutions, ones that are brought about by comprehensive immigration reform and promote opportunity for all, not a gross miscarriage of justice carried out by a rogue officer like Arpaio.

•    Thankfully, not all police officers feel the same way Arpaio does - George Gascón, a former assistant chief in the Los Angeles Police Department, has written this op-ed for The New York Times.  In it he argues that using local police officers as a means to enforce federal immigration policy will ultimately lead to the public, particularly in communities of color, distrusting the police department:

Here in Arizona, a wedge is being driven between the local police and some immigrant groups. Some law enforcement agencies are wasting limited resources in operations to appease the public’s thirst for action against illegal immigration regardless of the legal or social consequences…

If we become a nation in which the local police are the default enforcers of a failing federal immigration policy, the years of trust that police departments have built up in immigrant communities will vanish. Some minority groups may once again view police officers as armed instruments of government oppression.

•    The effects from the ICE raid in Postville are still being felt, reminding us just how detrimental this raid was to the Iowa community and America as a whole.  The Des Moines Register is reporting that the new employees at the Agriprocessors plant have had a significant, negative effect on the local community:

The impact is evident: New laborers are changing Postville. The Agriprocessors Inc. meatpacking plant, the site of the immigration raid, once employed men and women with families. Now, its workers are mostly young, single people with no stake in the community and nothing to lose…

The rise in crime has strained Postville's tiny police department. One night in June, the calls were so numerous that police asked the local bar to close early.

A protest rally also took place in Postville last weekend – it was documented in a video, which is now available on YouTube.

Jul 31 2008
Blog Post Thursday Immigration Blog Roundup

•    On Tuesday, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg signed a ground breaking executive order requiring all city agencies to provide language assistance services for people who speak Spanish, Chinese, Russian, Korean, Italian or French Creole.  According to The New York Times, this is the first time that all New York City agencies will be forced to follow the same standard in providing translation and language interpretation services to people who do not speak English:

Immigrant advocates and city officials say it is the most comprehensive order of its kind in the country. The mayor refused to be specific about how much the services will cost, saying only that it was a “relatively small” amount given the size of the city’s budget. He added: “This executive order will make our city more accessible, while helping us become the most inclusive municipal government in the nation.”

The Opportunity Agenda fact sheet Immigration Reform: Promoting Opportunity for All details the need for immigrants to have access to language assistance services in order to achieve their full potential. In providing immigrant groups with this access, Mayor Bloomberg has taken the entire city forward and empowered communities throughout New York.

•     Politicians have also been busy down in Washington, D.C. working to provide language assistance for immigrant families across the United States.  At noon today, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton and Congressman Mike Honda are introducing the “Strengthening Communities through Education and Integration Act of 2008.” In addition to providing English language literacy and civics education to immigrant families who are in the process of becoming citizens, the bill:

will help immigrant communities become a more integral part of the American fabric and maximize their social and economic contributions.

Legislation like this is crucial to aiding immigrants on their way to becoming U.S. citizens, and is a necessary part of treating immigrants like full and equal members of our community.

•    The aftermath of the ICE raids in Postville, Houston, and most recently Rhode Island, is still being felt in communities across America.  However, a Washington Post article describes how it is not only workers and their families feeling this strife – now, it is employers as well:

The crackdown's relatively high costs and limited results are also fueling criticism. In an economy with more than 6 million companies and 8 million unauthorized workers, the corporate enforcement effort is still dwarfed by the high-profile raids that have sentenced thousands of illegal immigrants to prison time and deportation.

•    A story in the MetroWest Daily News calls attention to a local organization in Massachusetts, the MetroWest Immigrant Worker Center, that is defending the rights of immigrant workers in the U.S.  Immigrant workers are routinely subject to labor law violations, including the denial of compensation and overtime, as well as unnecessary injuries on job sites.  In addition, the article points out that all immigrants, including undocumented ones, have worker rights:

Contrary to what many people think, illegal workers have rights. Although in the country illegally, those who work are entitled to be paid for their labor and overtime. If they are injured on the job, they are eligible for workers' compensation coverage, said [Diego] Low, [director of the MetroWest Immigrant Worker Center] who has been advocating for immigrant workers' rights for the last 25 years.

•    A DMI Blog posting points to an extremely upsetting Associated Press report of a beating in a Pennsylvania town that left a 25 year old Mexican immigrant named Luis Ramirez dead.   

Hate crime or not, the killing has exposed long-simmering tensions in Shenandoah, a blue-collar town of 5,000 about 80 miles northwest of Philadelphia that has a growing number of Hispanic residents drawn by jobs in factories and farm fields.

Jul 24 2008
Blog Post Thursday Immigration Blog Roundup

•    “The Shame of Postville, Iowa,” an editorial in Sunday’s New York Times, calls attention to an essay written by Erik Camayd-Freixas.  Mr. Camayd-Freixas is a professor and court interpreter who witnessed the aftermath of last month’s ICE raid on the Postville community.  He was disgusted when he saw the injustice in the legal system that the workers were subjected to; instead of being deported immediately, over 260 workers were charged with serious identity fraud crimes and sentenced to 6 months in prison:

What is worse, Dr. Camayd-Freixas wrote, is that the system was clearly rigged for the wholesale imposition of mass guilt. He said the court-appointed lawyers had little time in the raids’ hectic aftermath to meet with the workers, many of whom ended up waiving their rights and seemed not to understand the complicated charges against them.

The editorial also added:

No one is denying that the workers were on the wrong side of the law. But there is a profound difference between stealing people’s identities to rob them of money and property, and using false papers to merely get a job. It is a distinction that the Bush administration, goaded by immigration extremists, has willfully ignored. Deporting unauthorized workers is one thing; sending desperate breadwinners to prison, and their families deeper into poverty, is another.

•    Following the allegations of Guantanamo Bay-like treatment at ICE facilities, the Seattle Times has an article detailing numerous stories of abuse at an ICE facility in Tacoma, Washington.  The stories are part of a 65-page Seattle University Law School report titled "Voices From Detention".  Detainees claim that they are routinely subjected to physical and verbal abuse, strip searches and manipulation:

The report's authors said conditions are consistent with those at detention centers across the country. They are calling on Congress to pass laws that protect the rights of detainees…

Detainees in the study say they were pressured to sign documents or asked to sign paperwork they didn't understand, a practice their attorneys say often leads to their unwitting deportation…

The report said one woman, after an attorney's visit, was strip-searched and told to open her legs while a female guard peeped into her private parts.

To learn more about detainee treatment at ICE facilities, see this posting on The State of Opportunity.

•    Even after weeks of people discussing the horrific effects of the Postville and Houston raids, ICE has done it again – according to The Providence Journal, ICE agents arrested dozens of maintenance workers in a raid of Rhode Island court houses on Tuesday:

The raid led to
a noisy demonstration by at least 100 people outside the Immigration
and Customs Enforcement office at 200 Dyer St. last night. Police
officers arrived as the crowd grew; at one point the police pushed a
line of demonstrators across the parking lot.

For a full summary of the stories on the Rhode Island ICE raid, go to the Citizen Orange Pro-Migrant Sanctuary Sphere posting.

•    The New York Times is also reporting that many immigrants in New York City, most of them Latino, face being disenfranchised in the November election because the federal government is taking so long to fully process their citizenship applications:

At stake are the applications of at least 55,000 people in the New York City area who have been waiting at least six months — and as long as four years — for their documents to be processed, the lawyers said.

Jul 17 2008
Blog Post Thursday Immigration Blog Roundup

•    Detention Watch Network has created a new interactive map that is now accessible on their website.  The map is a comprehensive tracking system that allows users to view the locations of detention centers, community organizations, ICE offices and immigration courts across the United States.

•    A T Don Hutto Blog posting discusses the recent American Immigration Lawyers Association position paper on alternatives to detention for immigrants.  The paper, which argues that the Department of Homeland Security should shift its focus from raids and electronic monitoring of immigrant populations to community-based, non-restrictive measures, can be accessed here.

•    Some updates on recent ICE raids: a posting on Standing FIRM links to a New York Times report that two Agriprocessor employers have been arrested.  Their arrests were connected to last month’s ICE raid in Postville, Iowa; they were the first non “rank and file” workers to be targeted. Scott Frotman, a spokesman for the United Food and Commercial Workers Union, pointed out that the arrest of these supervisors does not show the full extent of the company’s violations of workers rights:

What about the allegations of worker abuse? Does anyone really believe that these low-level supervisors acted alone without the knowledge, or even the direction, of the Rubashkins and other senior management?

In addition, the same Times story is reporting that last week five senior managers at Action Rags USA were arrested.  Their arrests are connected to the ICE raid on the Houston Plant in late June. 

•    In response to these recent government crackdowns on employers of illegal immigrants, business owners have begun to speak out in opposition to tough anti-immigration measures.  A July 6 article that appeared in the New York Times claims that employers have begun fighting the government policies in state and local courts:

Business groups have resisted measures that would revoke the licenses of employers of illegal immigrants. They are proposing alternatives that would revise federal rules for verifying the identity documents of new hires and would expand programs to bring legal immigrant laborers.

•    A story that appeared in Sunday’s San Francisco Chronicle discusses the positive results of the city’s 1989 immigration sanctuary law.  The law bars local officials, including police officers, from questioning residents about their immigration status.  The Chronicle also points out that San Francisco is not alone in enacting sanctuary measures:

San Francisco is among scores of cities in California and around the country with sanctuary laws, according to the National Immigration Law Center. Several states also have such policies.

A recent posting on The State of Opportunity also called attention to a California superior court decision upholding the Los Angeles Police Department’s of neither arresting people based on their immigration status nor asking about one’s immigration status during interviews. 

Jul 10 2008
Blog Post A Business Voice for Immigration Reform

On Sunday, the New York Times reported on employer opposition to immigration raids and other measures punishing the hiring of undocumented immigrants.  According to the Times, "business groups have resisted measures that would revoke the licenses
of employers of illegal immigrants. They are proposing alternatives
that would revise federal rules for verifying the identity documents of
new hires and would expand programs to bring legal immigrant laborers."

This is a potentially positive development, as business leaders are well placed to make the argument for real solutions to the immigration challenge that uphold our nation's ideals and move us forward together.  In particular, they speak to the contribution of undocumented immigrants to our economy and the need for commonsense approaches rather than vindictive, unworkable ones.  And they have the ear of politicians of both parties.

It's essential, though, that we complement business voices with those of faith leaders, civic leaders, immigrant leaders, and others committed to the protection of human rights in the workplace, communities, and beyond.  Failing to do so could result in an immigration "fix" that serves business interests and provides cheap labor, but fails to protect workers' rights and depresses wages for all.

We should welcome the voices of business leaders, while making sure that we tell the whole story to the American people.

Jul 8 2008
Blog Post Thursday Immigration Blog Roundup

•     The Kentucky Post has reported on the status of the case where the federal government prosecuted a landlord for renting apartments to illegal immigrants.  The jury found in favor of the defendant, whom the Puerto Rican Legal Defense Fund represented, and agreed with his argument that he did not intentionally harbor undocumented immigrants.  Immigration News Daily also reported on the case and claimed: 

The case is thought to be the first time that the government has prosecuted a landlord merely for renting to illegal immigrants.

•    The DMI Blog posting titled, “Immigration Raids Tend to Spare Employers,” questions why employers are so rarely arrested during ICE raids:

Even though Department of Homeland Security talks big about cracking down on employers who hire undocumented immigrants, federal officials explain that is easier to prove that an immigrant is here illegally than it is to build a case against the employer.

According to ICE, that it is tougher to build a criminal case proving that an employer knowingly hired an undocumented than to prove that an immigrant is here illegally.

The ICE policy of not arresting employers is somewhat ironic in the context of many federal government methods of enforcing immigration laws, and represents a striking contrast to the government's decision to prosecute the landlord in Kentucky.

•    In the past weeks, there have been a number of YouTube videos showing the effects of the ICE raid on Postville, Iowa.  One video, shown in a New American Media posting, depicts the struggles that families in the community are having in the aftermath of the raid. 

•    Standing FIRM has posted a video clip  of a story on the June 28 protest in Houston, Texas.  The protest was a response to the recent ICE raid on a plant called Action Rags USA.  Another Standing FIRM posting offers numerous details about the raid:

…agents arrested 166 of the 186 employees. ICE released 73 people who had medical problems or were sole care providers. Another 20 were released by cause they either were here legally or were born here... [Of] the remain[ing] 73 who are detained, 70 of them are women, so only 3 of them are men.

•    Citizen Orange has posted a hilarious YouTube video, courtesy of "Capitol Hill Gangsta."  Capital Hill Gangsta (aka Ray William Johnson, a college student in New York and YouTube video commentator) uses the video to dispel a number of myths about immigrants in the United States.

•    According to Monday's New York Sun, New York City Mayor Bloomberg has reinforced his pro-immigration stance by claiming that America is "committing mass suicide" by restricting immigration into the country.  According to The Sun, Bloomberg said:

There are people around the world who want to come and create here and
add jobs and excitement and innovation, and we're keeping them in
Canada and in Europe and Asia and not letting them here...

Jul 3 2008
Blog Post Thursday Immigration Blog Roundup

•    Last week, The Opportunity Agenda's Immigration Blog Roundup linked to an Of América posting about the Guantanamo-like treatment of individuals held at ICE detention facilities.  The latest Breakthrough video titled “Death by Detention” documents individuals’ stories of their horrific experiences at these facilities.  The video has been posted on numerous pro-migrant blogs, including Standing FIRM.

•    Immigration News Daily has posted an editorial titled “No Getting Around the Wall.”  The editorial, which originally appeared in La Opinión, condemns the Supreme Court for refusing to hear a challenge to the Department of Homeland Security decision to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.  Numerous Arizona environmental organizations have claimed that the DHS ignored 36 environmental protection laws in deciding to construct the wall:

Once again, as in the case of the "mismatch letters" and other similar actions, the Bush Administration is trying to improvise an immigration policy without taking into account the consequences triggered, the rights violated, or the injustices committed.

Building a wall along the border is bad policy. As long as it continues, the courts have the responsibility to stop the abuse of authority that stems from its implementation.

•    Wednesday’s Immigration Equality Blog posting calls attention to a USA Today story describing how U.S. citizens are suing the DHS after they were detained and interrogated by ICE workers.  The plaintiffs in the suit claim that they were subject to racial profiling and that ICE officials violated workers rights in the process of detaining people.  One immigrant worker, Jesus Garcia, was thrown in jail because of the ICE agents’ “mistake”:

ICE agents went to Jesus Garcia's home on April 16 in conjunction with a raid on a nearby Pilgrim's Pride poultry processing plant, where he worked marinating chicken meat. Garcia, from Mexico, has been a legal permanent resident for a year and a half. When about 10 ICE agents and local sheriff's deputies knocked on his door, they told him he was using the wrong Social Security number, says his wife, Olivia Garcia, a U.S. citizen.

Though Garcia showed the agents his green card, they handcuffed him and jailed him. He was released a day and a half later after agents told him he wasn't the person they wanted, he says. He had spent the night in jail. "He said it was pretty bad," Olivia says. "People were crying and screaming."

•    A story that appeared in Medical News Today and was initially reported by the Ventura County Star examines California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s decision to save $87 million in the state’s Medicaid program (“Medi-Cal”) by cutting funding for health care services to approximately 91,000 immigrants each month:

Immigration advocates say the cuts would prevent patients from obtaining preventive care, thus increasing emergency department visits and costs. State Assembly and Senate budget committees have voted against the proposals and other Medi-Cal changes, but state officials say they will continue to push for the cuts.

Jun 26 2008
Blog Post Supreme Court Decision Offers Mixed Results for Immigration Reform

In a victory for immigrants’ rights, the Supreme Court handed down a decision allowing immigrants to file motions without fear of being deported for not voluntarily departing within a specific time period.  The case, Dada v. Mukasey addressed two conflicting sections of the Immigration and Nationality Act.  Section 1229c allows judges to grant immigrants who are told to deport the country permission to leave voluntarily within a specific period of time.  However, Section 1229a allows individuals to challenge a deportation order (in the event of any changed circumstances) but requires them to remain in the country while legal motions are pending.

The petitioner, Samson T. Dada, an immigrant from Nigeria, was married to an American citizen in 1999.  However, without adequate proof of marriage, the Department of Homeland Security alleged that he had overstayed his temporary immigrant visa and ordered his deportation.  An Immigration Judge granted Dada’s request to voluntarily leave the country within 30 days, a decision that the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) affirmed.  However, two days before he was supposed to leave, Dada found conclusive proof of his marriage, withdrew his request for voluntary departure and filed a motion to reopen his removal proceedings.  The BIA denied his request, claiming that Dada had failed to depart the U.S. within the allotted time period (while ignoring Dada’s withdrawal of his request to voluntarily leave).  The Fifth Circuit affirmed the BIA’s decision.

Jun 24 2008
Blog Post 60th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Yesterday was the 60th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, a ground-breaking document initiated and championed by the United States and Eleanor Roosevelt.  Frank Knaack of the ACLU Human Rights Program writes about the significance of the Universal Declaration in the United States and where we are today in fulfilling the promise of "the foundation of the modern human rights system":

The UDHR laid the foundation for a system of rights which are
universal, indivisible, and interdependent. The UDHR does not
differentiate between civil and political rights on one side and
economic, social, and cultural rights on the other. It realizes that in
order to properly enjoy one set of rights, you must also be able to
enjoy the other. As is often noted, one cannot properly exercise their
right to vote, think, or live if they have no food, housing, or basic
health services. It is from these principles that the modern human
rights treaty system (international human rights law) was born.


While much of the focus on the human rights record of the U.S.
government is in the context of foreign policy and the so called “war
on terror,” including the rendition, torture, and indefinite detention
of foreign nationals, and vis-à-vis its high rhetoric on spreading
freedom and democracy throughout the globe, it is of equal importance
to look at the state of human rights at home. From the government’s
inadequate response in the wake of hurricanes  Katrina and Rita;
to pervasive discrimination against racial minorities in the areas of
education, housing, and criminal justice, including death penalty; to
imposing life sentences without the possibility of parole on juveniles;
to abhorrent conditions in immigration detention facilities, it is
clear that the U.S. government has failed to abide by its international

While the struggle for universal human rights is far from over,
there has been great improvement in the fight to bring human rights
home. More and more non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and
individual activists in the U.S. are utilizing the human rights
framework in the domestic advocacy and litigation. At the latest
session of the U.N. Committee on the Elimination of Racial  Discrimination
(the treaty body that monitors state compliance with the Convention on
the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination), there were more
than 120 representatives from U.S.-based nongovernmental organizations
(NGOs) in Geneva, Switzerland, who briefed the Committee members and
provided additional information to counter the misrepresentations and
omissions of the official U.S. government report on the state of racial
discrimination in the U.S. This information, in turn, led the Committee
to conclude that the U.S. should make sweeping reforms to policies
affecting racial and ethnic minorities, women, indigenous people, and
immigrants. The Committee’s recommendations garnered domestic and
international media attention, and were followed by a three week
official visit to the U.S. by the U.N.  Special Rapporteur on Racism.
This visit by the Special Rapporteur further opened up opportunities
for domestic NGOs to utilize the international human rights framework,
as was evidenced by the successful public education and media outreach
campaigns conducted by local NGOs throughout the US during this visit.
As this shows, human rights advocacy has become an effective tool for
social justice advocates in the U.S. to use to press for change and
enhance the protection of basic human rights.

The Opportunity Agenda is dedicated to bringing human rights home.  We are proud to work with coalitions such as the U.S. Human Rights Network and the Human Right to Health Capacity Building Collaborative to build the national, state, and local will to make human rights a real and effective tool for realizing American opportunity.

U.S. Human Rights Reports and Tools from The Opportunity Agenda:

Jun 19 2008
Blog Post Thursday Immigration Blog Roundup

•    Alan Jenkins, Executive Director of The Opportunity Agenda, has written an op-ed for  The piece, titled “Challenge and Community in the Heartland,” discusses the horrific effects of the recent immigration raid on the community of Postville, Iowa:

After the Postville raid, half of the local school system’s 600 students were absent. Many businesses were shuttered and churches left empty. And many families and friends were separated. But, unlike this month’s terrible storms and twisters, the Postville raid could have happened differently, or not at all.

The raid is an example of the U.S. government officials using quick, destructive tactics to shift attention away from the fact that the federal legislature has been incapable of passing meaningful immigration reform.  Moreover, the government did not arrest any of the managers from Agriprocessors, the company that was responsible for the Postville plant, even though the Iowa Department of Labor found numerous workplace safety violations there:

A federal enforcement strategy concerned with public safety and accountability would have focused on these alleged practices which, if true, pose a real threat to economic opportunity within the state. And it would fix our broken immigration system so that immigrant workers can be realistically and fairly held accountable.

•    The Night of 1000 Conversations
is taking place tonight, June 19.  The event consists of thousands of
individuals across the U.S. getting together in their local communities
and discussing the detrimental effects of the anti-immigration actions
of the Department of Homeland Security.

•    A June 19 article that appeared in The Washington Post details how a local sheriff in Maricopa County, Arizona dispatched his deputies into predominantly Hispanic communities and told them to arrest anyone who could not immediately prove he or she was a legal U.S. resident.  Mary Rose Wilcox, a local supervisor and longtime Hispanic activist said:

All he is doing is going after everybody with a brown face.  There's no doubt in my mind that this is racial profiling. None.

The inability of the federal government to enact meaningful immigration reform has forced state and local governments to address the issue.  According to the Post article, more than 240 immigration reform measures have been passed in the last year.  However, the inaction of the federal government has also allowed anti-immigrant officials like the Maricopa County sheriff to enact their own extremist policies of racial profiling without any regulation from political leaders.

To learn more about the importance of protecting immigrants’ rights, take a look at The Opportunity Agenda fact sheet, Immigrants and Opportunity.

•    A posting on Of América addresses the increasingly cruel treatment of immigrants held at Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention facilities.  The treatment of people detained at these facilities is being compared to the treatment of people detained at the U.S. military base in Guantanamo Bay:

In the case of both the military and immigrant detention facilities, says [Amrit] Singh, [staff attorney at the ACLU,] the Bush Administration has used national security imperatives to deny many of the Freedom of Information Act requests she and her colleagues have filed in their efforts to find out things like how people are being treated in detention, under what conditions did detainees die and what kind of medical treatment they are receiving.

Jun 19 2008
Blog Post Thursday Immigration Blog Roundup

•    The Washington Post is reporting that a recent audit of the FBI system for checking the names of immigrant applicants found significant problems with the Bureau’s process, claiming that it has “serious deficiencies.”  According to the Post:

The bureau's name checks have fallen victim to "outdated and inefficient technology" as well as inadequately trained employees, according to a report issued yesterday by the Justice Department inspector general.

•    Standing FIRM recently posted a YouTube Video documenting the effects of last month’s raid on an immigrant community in Postville, Iowa.  Many local residents are interviewed.

•    A posting on DREAM ACT
discusses a number of stories of young immigrant students, including
one valedictorian, who were recently deported.  According to the the
blog, passage of the federal Dream Act, which died in Congress last
year, would have allowed them to graduate and remain in the country.   

•    A June 11 New York Times Editorial
claims the U.S. government has failed in its responsibility to ensure
that its immigrant detention facilities are safe and secure.  The
editorial argues:

The government should be rushing to
improve the oversight and care in its sprawling detention system to
protect all detainees. Instead, the official reaction has been slow and
defensive, promised improvements are piecemeal, and criticism of the
system is making immigration hard-liners indignant.

•    According to ImmigrantProf Blog,
Professor Margo Schlanger is creating a database of original court
documents in civil rights cases.  The database, named Civil Rights
Litigation Clearing House, has a category for immigration cases.  The
information is all publicly available and can be accessed here.

Jun 12 2008
Blog Post A Chance to Tell A New Story

The national print media are starting to report on the divisive, counterproductive effects of immigration raids and punitive local ordinances.

Jun 10 2008
Blog Post Behind the Curtain

The recent article about the immigration debate on-line, published earlier this week in Chicago Tribune, sent a jolt of fear down my spine when reading through the comments section of the article.

The piece, which is about how the pro-immigration movement has moved onto the Web--thanks in part to bloggers like The Unapologetic Mexican, previously sited in this blog--unfurls the span between reason and insanity, community and disunity.

There's no question that the anonymity of the web affords people the chance to make bold statements they normally would not make in person. This, in some ways, is a positive tool for communicating, allowing people to speak with complete openness. However, far too often, the comments sections posted at the end of articles is a scary reminder that racism and bigotry are not dead in this country. I recently heard one pro-immigrant American compare the web's hate speech, common on blogs and cloaked by anonymity, to that of old racist groups that would hide their true identity in the South.

Myself, having spent much of my childhood in the Deep South, I can see this powerful image transcending itself into the modern blogosphere. The rhetoric used is fiery , indeed, the kind of words that rouse anger in the reader and fuel one heated debate. It's hard for me to think that some comments intend to persuade, since often they are so outlandish that any application of reason is like applying sunscreen to the sun.

What needs to be stressed is that these comments are never the voice of a "people," but rather the voice of a few die-hard opponents playing wizard behind the curtain. The only difference is that they don't want to send anyone back to Kansas, but rather send them somewhere very, very far away.

The road to opportunity, call it the Yellow Brick Road, wasn't traveled alone. It took the help of everyone in that clustered community of outcasts to show each other that success was within the reach of everyone. No one was excluded on their journey, especially for a young girl and her dog who traveled from a far-away land.

Jun 5 2008
Blog Post Thursday Immigration Blog Roundup

•    Yesterday’s Chicago Tribune article that describes the ongoing battle between pro-migrant and anti-migrant bloggers mentions The Opportunity Agenda’s report, Immigration in the Public Discourse: 2006-2007.  The article also specifically refers to two pro-migrant bloggers, The Unapologetic Mexican and Citizen Orange.

•    Migration Policy Institute recently published an article on female immigrants detained in Mexico.  The article details Mexico’s restrictive migration policies, the harshest of which applies to individuals attempting to enter the U.S.  Below is a clip from the article, which can be accessed at Standing FIRM:

This article analyzes the situation of women migrants held in detention centers in Mexico. It explains the detention system's structure and some of the recurring problems, highlighting the latter with information from women interviewed in the Mexico City Detention Center.

•    Tuesday’s New York Times Editorial  discusses the real repercussions of the U.S. government’s war on illegal immigration:

This is not about forcing people to go home and come back the right way. Ellis Island is closed. Legal paths are clogged or do not exist. Some backlogs are so long that they are measured in decades or generations. A bill to fix the system died a year ago this month. The current strategy, dreamed up by restrictionists and embraced by Republicans and some Democrats, is to force millions into fear and poverty.   

•    A May 30 post on Migra Matters titled “ICE: Keeping America safe from High School Valedictorians” tells a story of a young man from Fresno who was recently deported.  The blogger goes on to say:

This is just another case, in a long list, for why the failure of Congress to pass the DREAM Act was so important. This young man should have been heading off to college this fall to further his already successful academic career … instead he'll be shipped off to a country he doesn't even know and an uncertain future.

On another note:

•    Jack and Jill Politics  has an amusing summary of the past Democratic primary season.  Highlights of the blog posting include “The Michigan Fake Primary” and " Oh @*#&! He MIGHT ACTUALLY WIN!"

Jun 5 2008
Video Video: Two New Yorkers

 A third-generation Italian-American and first-generation Chinese immigrant talk about health care and a living wage.

Jun 1 2008
Blog Post Immigration Raid Nets Tenth of Local Population

The Washington Post reported on the largest raid on illegal workers by the Bush administration to date.

One week ago, helicopters, buses, and vans filled with hundreds of agents surrounded the small town of Postville, Iowa to conduct a raid on an Agriprocessors plant, the largest employer in the northeast of the state.

Postville, whose motto is "Hometown to the World," saw 10 percent of its population incarcerated.  Those arrested, totaling 389, were 290 Guatemalans, 93 Mexicans, 4 Ukrainians, and 2 Israelis.  The day after, Tuesday, 600 students were absent because their parents were arrested or in hiding.

Local school superintendent, David Strudthoff, described the event as "a natural disaster -- only this one manmade."  He went on to complain that employers are not targeted.  "They don't put CEOs in jail."

Democratic Congressman Bruce Braley echoed this argument, complaining that the Bush administration was lax in its enforcement efforts against corporations that commit immigration violations.  "Until we enforce our immigration laws equally against both employers and employees who break the law, we will continue to have a problem."

No officials at Agriprocessors have yet been charged.

May 19 2008
Blog Post Most Connecticut Residents Agree That Undocumented Immigrants Should Have a Path to Citizenship

A Quinnipiac Poll released today shows that a plurality, and almost majority, of Connecticut residents believe that undocumented immigrants should be offered a chance to apply for citizenship, preferring this policy option over either deportation or offering temporary worker status by a rate of 2-to-1.

The poll asked, among many other questions ranging from opinions on the current presidential candidates to the state of the economy:

38. What do you think should happen to most illegal immigrants working in the United States - Should they be offered a chance to apply for citizenship, OR Should they be allowed to stay as temporary workers, OR Should they be deported to the country they came from?

47% of all respondents selected "citizenship," while only 27% and 22% selected "temporary workers" and "deported," respectively.  51% of all women and 59% of all African American residents agreed that a path to citizenship was the sound solution to addressing the status issue of undocumented immigrants.

These Connecticut residents are recognizing the importance of community, the American value of expanding opportunity for all members of our society and extending to newcomers both the rights and responsibilities that tie us together, as embodied in our national motto, E Pluribus Unum, "from many, one."  Connecticuters (yes, that's what someone from Connecticut is called; either that, or "Yankee," as of King Arthur's Court) also hold strong the fundamental American value of mobility, the central concept of the American Dream which states that the economic, educational, and personal achievement should not be limited or determined by the circumstances of a person's birth.

Mar 27 2008
Communications Talking Points: Immigration Integration (2008)

These talking points offer communications advice to policymakers, scholars, advocates and others seeking to promote immigrant integration policies at the state or local level. 

Mar 20 2008
Blog Post Lakota Secede from the US, Claiming Human Rights Violations
  • The Unapologetic Mexican has posted on the decision of the Lakota to secede from the United States. The Lakota Nation, which includes portions of Nebraska, South Dakota, North Dakota, Montana and Wyoming, has informed the State Department that it is withdrawing from all thirty-three treaties it has signed with the federal government, which it claims the US has not honored.  According to an article on The Raw Story:

Oppression at the hands of the US government has taken its toll on
the Lakota, whose men have one of the shortest life expectancies --
less than 44 years -- in the world.

Lakota teen suicides are 150 percent above the norm for the United
States; infant mortality is five times higher than the US average; and
unemployment is rife, according to the Lakota freedom movement's

The Lakota were active leaders in the process of the UN's adoption of a declaration on the rights of indigenous people this past September.

  • Yesterday's protests outside New Orleans city hall saw residents
    attacked by the police with pepper spray -- and the council voted
    unanimously to demolish 4500 affordable housing units in spite of
    public opinion to the contrary.  Feministe and Too Sense have both reported on the day's events.
  • A family in California made a recent decision to take their seventeen-year-old daughter off of life support after CIGNA health insurance refused to pay for a liver transplant, claiming it was an experimental procedure.  A protest outside of CIGNA's office caused the insurance company to relent at the last minute, but the window of opportunity had already passed for Natalee Sarkisian and her health deteriorated further, impelling her family to let go.  Stories like Natalee's illustrate how imperative it is that we replace our broken health care system with an equitable system that will support the community rather than capital gain.
  • Tennessee Guerilla Women also linked to a story about a young Icelandic woman who was detained and imprisoned while entering the US on a recent vacation with friends.  Immigration agents claimed that Eva Ósk Arnardóttir had overstayed a visa by three weeks on her last visit to the US in 1995. Agents detained and then imprisoned her without sleep or food, denied her contact with the outside world, and shuttled her around chained up in public before finally sending her back to Iceland.

To begin with, because of the recent increase in border security, he
will not be able to land anywhere in the U.S. unless he would comply
with the Department of Homeland Security rule on advance passenger
manifests for flying private airplanes (and sleighs) (72 FR 53394,
9/18/07). Next, he will have to declare the value of all the gifts that
he is giving to the kids on the "nice list." That is in addition to the
strict search and X-ray of the bags in which he is carrying the gifts.
Because of the holidays, it may take U.S. Customs and Border Protection
a while to do all of this, so he can expect a few days before getting
the gifts back to be able to deliver them. Santa will have to obtain a
visa before entry into the U.S. Because we do not have a consular post
at the North Pole, he will have to go to a third country post for his
visa. He will have to have a valid passport before he can apply for a
visa. At the consulate he will be fingerprinted and photographed. Then
he will need to go through a security background check, which may take
a long time, sometimes up to a few years, to clear.

Dec 21 2007
Blog Post A Debate on Housing, Live from the New Orleans City Council
  • Louisiana news station WDSU is offering a live video feed from the New Orleans City Council meeting on the impending demolition of public housing.  In addition to those speaking at the meeting, hundreds of people are standing outside City Hall in protest of the lack of affordable housing in the region since the destruction caused by Hurricane Katrina two years ago. Present-day inequities in New Orleans are often framed with respect to human rights; the demand for affordable housing is just one aspect of ensuring that residents have the social and economic security needed to provide for their families with dignity.
  • Bloggernista has reported that Congress has lifted a nine-year ban on using public funding to support needle exchange programs in Washington, DC.  Despite the fact that syringe exchange programs have proven effective in reducing the spread of HIV/AIDS, this ban had held firm while the capital city has the developed the highest rate of HIV infection in the nation, a true modern epidemic noted for its immense racial disparities.
  • The Real Cost of Prisons Weblog reposted an Associated Press article entitled 'State supreme court rules counties are liable for inmates' care,' including conditions that existed prior to imprisonment. It's great to see a court ruling in favor of the responsibility of the community to provide a basis level of health care for those in custody without other options -- this is a good step towards the recognition that all Americans deserve access to health care.

Justices voted 8-0 on Tuesday in favor of HCA Health Services of
Oklahoma, the parent company of OU Medical Center. The hospital sued
Oklahoma County commissioners and Sheriff John Whetsel over $2.2
million in medical payments for treating prisoners in the jail from
February 2003 through September 2006.

The county's argument was that much of the expense was to treat
conditions that predated the prisoners' arrests, Justice Marian Opala
wrote in the court opinion.

  • The DMI Blog analyzed a recent New York Times editorial on Arizona's new law intended to crack down on undocumented immigrants, offering praise for what it refers to as an 'example of smart immigration policy.' Author Suman Raghunathan expounds:

I am, in fact, waxing poetic on a stellar editorial in yesterday’s  Times.  This gem of a piece outlines in plain, centrist-liberal-speak why
going after employers who employ undocumented immigrants instead of
enforcing existing labor law makes for poor immigration policy.

What’s more, Arizona’s law (and believe me, there are many more in
the works across the country) will do nothing to address our nation’s
desperate need for smart and fair policies that welcome immigrant
contributions into our economy. Worse yet, it does nothing to bring
undocumented workers out of the shadows with a legalization program to
level the playing field on wages and labor conditions for all workers –
documented and undocumented, green card holders and US citizens.

Meanwhile, the Presidential election campaigns continue to work themselves into a fevered state, trying to say as little as possible on immigration policy (pick a party, any party) while sounding tough on undocumented immigrants (again, pick a punching bag, any punching bag). 

Here’s to hoping those high-falutin’ political operatives take a page from the Times’ editorial board’s playbook when they think about immigration. 

Dec 20 2007
Blog Post Speaking English: A Benefit, Not a Mandate
  • Immigration News Daily has posted a couple articles related to
    the US as an English-speaking country. In Philadelphia, a well-known
    cheese steak restaurant is under review by the city's human rights
    commission for a sign that says "This is America - when ordering, please speak English." City officials are alleging that the sign violates the ban on national origin discrimination. On the other end, the blog has reported on an opinion in Newsday which argues that Immigrants would thrive with more English classes.
    The piece talks about the shortage of English classes on Long Island
    while also explaining how poor language skills have prevented
    immigrants from continuing to work in their previous professional

Plenty of anecdotal evidence shows that these programs work. Two years
ago, for example, a Peruvian-born former computer programmer was stuck
on the assembly line at Love and Quiches Desserts, a Freeport-based
manufacturer. After he completed Freeport Adult Education's ESOL
program, he was promoted to supervisor.

In the Long Beach
school district, several women from Central America who were dentists
in their home countries but worked in dead-end jobs here boosted their
English and found jobs as dental hygienists.

Author Tara Colton makes a case for government investment in the
productivity of immigrants via language classes, noting that this
strategy enjoys bipartisan support:

This is a crucial problem, because the more fluent immigrants are in
English, the more they can contribute positively to society. This is a
point that all sides of the immigration debate agree on. Making this
improvement in the lives of millions of people living and working here
has got to be as vital as deciding whether to punish them for how they

For business and government, it's also a matter of economic
development. Boosting workers' English skills improves productivity,
reduces turnover and helps growth.

  • Immigration Orange posted about the 'widow penalty' which ends the permanent residency process for immigrants whose citizen spouse dies within two years of marriage. The blog recommends contacting your public officials in order to end this "obscure interpretation of the
    Immigration and Nationality Act (INA)," examples of which are quoted in the post:

Marlin Coats didn't hesitate to jump in the
water to try to save two drowning teens caught in a riptide at San Francisco Beach Park.
He lost his life that Mother's Day in 2006, but because of his heroism those
two teenagers survived.  So why is the U.S. now responding to Coats'
ultimate sacrifice by deporting his wife Jacqueline Coats?

U.S. Army contractor Todd Engstrom of Illinois gave his life for his country when he was killed in Iraq, and now the federal
government is telling his wife Diana she too must go.
And so must Dahianna Heard of Florida,
whose husband Jeffrey Heard was shot in the head by insurgents
in Iraq.
What will happen to their children?

  • The 'Just News' blog reposted an article from the Omaha World-Herald about a family divided by US immigration policy. Joe Wood of Nebraska had decided it was time to 'do the right thing' and legalize his wife Laura Roldan's immigration status, so he, Roldan and their two daughters traveled to a US Consulate in Mexico to begin the process.  However, Roldan has been accused of fraud for giving a false name upon her entry in 2001, and barred from ever returning to the US.
  • Last up, it has recently come to the ImmigrationProf
    blog's attention that all four grandparents of Republican Presidential
    Candidate Tom Tancredo were immigrants from Italy. Author KJ links to a
    great article in Reason Magazine about the discrimination faced by Italian immigrants in the early 20th Century, along with how, in two generations, the American Dream has brought Tancredo to a place where he has internalized the same distaste for foreigners.
Dec 18 2007
Blog Post From Homeless to Harvard
  • The Angry Asian Man blog has posted a series of inspiring articles about
    a woman who is working towards a degree from Harvard University. Kimberly S.M. Woo is a single mother who was once a homeless drug addict. In the process of turning her life around she sought an education as a means of escaping poverty and creating a better life for her five-year-old daughter. Woo is a stellar example of the power of redemption as well as our potential for social mobility. Like thousands of Americans, Woo was given a second chance and has excelled; after a year working for Americorp she attended a community college in Boston for her Associate's Degree, where she earned a 4.0 GPA before transferring to Harvard.
  • This weekend saw a couple interesting articles about the politics behind skiing. Immigration News Daily has written about an Aspen Ski resort's efforts to find workers:

The Aspen Skiing Co.'s quest to find enough workers this winter led
recruiters to Puerto Rico, among other places. The company hired about
20 workers from the Caribbean island this fall to work in various
positions at its two lodging properties, The Little Nell hotel and
Snowmass Lodge and Club, according to Skico spokesman Jeff Hanle. The
Skico was forced to get creative this year when there was a snafu at
the national level with the H-2B visa program for temporary guest
workers. An exemption to the program expired Sept. 30, after Congress
failed to address comprehensive immigration reform.

And the Immigrants in USA blog did a feature called Niños on the slopes about a new Park City, Utah programs to provide local Latino children with access to the sport:

The Niños program, sponsored by St. Mary's Catholic Church, exists to
bridge the cultural divide between, generally speaking, the affluent
whites of Park City and the Latino immigrants who work in the posh
community's service industry.

"Here, in this town, skiing is
the great equalizer," explained the Rev. Bob Bussen, known as "Father
Bob," who tears down the mountain wearing his clerical collar. "If you
can ski, you're as good as anyone."

  • The All About Race blog has reported on an upsetting development in the Jena 6 case. It seems that the plea bargain the Mychal Bell accepted also included a promise to testify against the other five students facing charges:

With Bell being placed in the position of serving as the
star witness against the other teens, they are more likely to be
convicted if they refuse to follow Bell’s example and cop a plea. This
is the underbelly of an unfair judicial system. Upon entering his
guilty plea, Bell admitted that he hit the White student, knocking him
unconscious, and joining others in kicking him after he fell to the
floor. Therefore, the D.A. will be using the most culpable of the six
teens to obtain convictions against those who were less involved.
That’s the way the judicial system works – or doesn’t work.

  • The Happening Here blog has posted about a nurses' strike at St. Luke's Hospital in San Francisco's Mission District. We've previously mentioned
    the hospital's plans to close down in order to shift its services to a
    more affluent neighborhood.  The hospital has refused for months to
    negotiate a contract with the nurses union, who began striking last
  • Lastly, the Inteligenta Indiĝena Indigenismo Novaĵoservo blog has advised us of a Washington Post article stating that the federal government has paid $1.3 billion in farm subsidies since 2000 to people who do not farm. While our government policies are never devoid of irony, these subsidies are a particularly painful instance of unequal treatment given the "go-it-alone" narrative of individualism that conservatives use to justify cutting back on social services. In reality, however, great societies are built by investing in the well-being of the community, which was understood well by the authors of the New Deal legislation, the GI bill and the HeadStart program.


Dec 17 2007
Communications Sample Op-ed: Community Values - Des Moines Register (2007)

This Op-ed is an example of harnessing a media opportunity, in this case the Iowa caucuses, to frame a message.


Dec 15 2007
Blog Post New Jersey Set to Abolish the Death Penalty
  • The Sentencing Law and Policy blog has reported that the New Jersey legislature has voted to outlaw the death penalty in the
    state. The governor has already indicated his support for the measure, so it will likely be signed into law soon. New Jersey will be the first state in more than 40 years
    to abolish capital punishment. While human rights law has called for a ban on the death penalty under certain circumstances (concerning juvenile offenders, for example), the UN has yet to impose a blanket ban. However, the practice is frowned upon internationally -- it is mandated that all nations seeking to join the European Union or the Council of Europe either abolish capital punishment or institute an official moratorium on executions.
  • RaceWire has provided us with another update on the struggle to preserve affordable housing in New Orleans, quoting an AP article:

Protesters wielding bullhorns and shouting “housing is a human right”
stopped demolition at a massive public housing complex Wednesday in
this hurricane-ravaged city in dire need of homes for the poor.

More than 30 protesters blocked an excavator from entering the
fenced-off area of the B.W. Cooper complex. It was the first of what
likely will be many standoffs between protesters and demolition crews
that are tearing down hundreds of barracks-style buildings so they can
be replaced with mixed-income neighborhoods.

  • The ImmigrationProf Blog has posted about the recent case of a security officer at a New Mexico high school who has been dismissed for reporting a pregnant 18-year-old student to immigration authorities. The Roswell school district has a policy preventing school officials from concerning themselves with the immigration status of their students. However, officer Charlie Corn decided to take matters into his own hands when he realized that Karina Acosta was unable to produce a driver's license. Acosta has been deported to Mexico in her final year of school, denying her the opportunity to complete her education.
  • The Latina Lista blog has covered another story about New Mexico, a recent raid of the Proper Foods, Inc tamale plant.  This raid was exceptional in some ways:

What's pleasantly surprising is that for the first time that we've
heard, ICE made sure that all the 21 undocumented immigrants
apprehended, as they shuffled out of the kitchens from making the
tamales that will be sold by the dozens for Christmas dinners, received
their full paychecks before being bused off for deportation.

However, the piece goes on to request an end to work-site raids this year, in the spirit of compassion, good will, and community, a set of values that seem closer to our hearts and minds during the winter holidays:

Because it is the Holiday season, the last thing ICE wants to be
caricatured as is the "Grinch Who Stole Christmas." Maybe that explains
the sudden change of heart in advocating for these workers' wages.

Yet, with only 12 days left before Christmas, there is one thing
more that the Department of Homeland Security can do to exemplify that
it is in the "Spirit of the Season" — declare a moratorium on further
raids and deportations for the month of December.

For every adult taken into custody and deported, who knows how many children are left behind?

Critics yell that these parents should take their children with them
but if there is no home to go back to, no relatives who can take you
in, no money to rent someplace, no clothes other than what's on your
back, then what kind of parent would rip their children from the
comforts, no matter how meager, of their lives here to take them where
they literally will have nothing?

To separate parents from their children, especially at
Christmastime, is perhaps more cruel than any kind of trauma, aside
from sexual and physical abuse, afflicted on a child.

We hope Operation Tamale is the last work-site raid for 2007.

Dec 14 2007
Blog Post President Bush Vetoes SCHIP, Again
  • The Huffington Post has linked to an article noting that President Bush has used the seventh veto of his administration in order to reject the revised version of a bill seeking to expand health insurance coverage for children.
  • Meanwhile, the New York state assembly is considering a plan to extend health care to all New Yorkers. The DMI Blog summarizes the proposed legislation:

In New York State, Child Health Plus and Family Health Plus
are pretty good programs. They allow participants to choose from a
variety of managed care plans that contract with the state to provide
coverage. Families making up to 150 percent of the poverty line pay no
premiums and there are no deductibles and few co-payments. Despite the
fact that people enrolled in these programs tend to be less healthy
than those enrolled in commercial plans, the premiums the state pays
are much lower and have remained virtually flat even as the cost of
private insurance has skyrocketed.

So why don’t we open these successful state program to every New Yorker, regardless of income?

That simple idea is the basis of New York Health Plus, a new universal health care proposal from Dick Gottfried, Chair of the NYS Assembly Health Committee.

Under Gottfried’s plan, any New Yorker could get free health
coverage from the state, and have their pick of the plans contracting
with the state. Everyone would also be free to opt out and keep paying
for their own private health care coverage. Businesses would no longer
have the burden of employee health care costs. The more than 2 million
uninsured New Yorkers would face no barriers to coverage. Gottfried
also argues that plans under New York Health Plus would have incentives
to offer higher quality care more preventive services, providing a
better choice for New Yorkers who already have insurance too.

  • The ImmigrationProf Blog has posted a piece entitled 'Another Slavery Report: Yawn?' which begins: "We have reported so much on slavery lately (here and here) that  we may have to give up on such reports as newsworthy." However, the Naples Daily News has just reported that a Florida family has been charged with forcibly holding 15 undocumented workers on their property and charging them for basic needs such as food and showers.  That these cases are increasingly reported on is further indication of the need for comprehensive immigration reform. Our broken immigration system is fostering abusive work situations that contradict the values of mobility, equality and security for which our nation stands.
  • The 'Just News' blog has posted another article on the University of Texas Law School Immigration Clinic. Advocates from the clinic have just filed complaints with the Office of Civil Rights and
    Civil Liberties at the Department of Homeland Security as well as the Texas
    Department of Protective Services in the case of an eight-year-old girl held at nearby Hutto detention center who was separated from her pregnant mother for four days. While keeping immigrant children in detention centers is a human rights violation in and of itself, removing the child from her mother went against ICE guildelines, according to the Houston Chronicle:

"ICE officials have previously said detaining families at the facility
is meant to help "children remain with parents, their best caregivers"
while they are processed for deportation. They also told the Texas
Department of Family and Protective Services that parents would be at
the facility with their children and would be responsible for their
care, so state regulation wasn't needed."


Dec 13 2007
Blog Post Housing is a Human Right
  • The Facing South blog has provided us with an update on the impending demolition of public housing developments in New Orleans. According to Monday's Times-Picayune, a city committee has refused to approve the demolition of
    one of the four public housing complexes slated for destruction by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The matter will now go before the city council. At Monday's meeting, protesters were seen holding banners that said "Housing is a human
  • Prometheus 6 has also posted a wealth of information on the housing crisis in New Orleans. As the public housing battle rages on, bloggers are referring to a 2005 Washington Post article which reported that Representative Baker of Baton Rouge was overhead saying "We finally cleaned up public housing in New Orleans. We couldn't do it, but God did." Additionally, there's a new video out on YouTube which does a great job of illustrating the housing conflict:

  • Jack and Jill Politics also mentions that the organization Color of Change (known for their work with the Jena 6) has posted an online petition to support a Senate bill that would reopen housing in New Orleans, guarantee a right to return for public housing residents, and provide housing assistance to renters. Curiously, Louisiana Senator Vitter is responsible for blocking this bill.
  • The ImmigrationProf Blog posted a great article on the work that the University of Texas Immigration Law Clinic is doing to improve conditions for children living in the Hutto immigrant detention center.  Other than last week's holiday toy drive, the clinic has filed a series of lawsuits to ensure that children are housed in "the least restrictive conditions possible" and that the facilities meet certain basic standards in their care and treatment.
  • And in today's pop culture news, from the LA Times blogs, a popular character in children's books will be featured in a new television series that will also educate kids about immigration issues:

After a three-decade-long hiatus, Paddington Bear
will return to children's lit only to find he's not as welcome as he
was in 1958. In a new set of stories by 81-year-old Paddington creator
Michael Bond, the refugee bear will face questioning by British
immigration authorities. But Bond promises that all will turn out well
in the end for Paddington who is, of course, a model immigrant,
regardless of his legal status.

Dec 12 2007
Blog Post Americans Care Deeply About Human Rights

Today is International Human Rights Day, celebrated across the
world to mark the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
by the United Nations in 1948. While the topic of human rights is
frequently in the news, mainstream media coverage of human rights
invariably describes violations in faraway lands: censorship in China,
repression in Myanmar. Social injustice in our country, when it enters
the public discourse, is almost never discussed in terms of fundamental
human rights.

But a new national poll conducted by The Opportunity Agenda and
sponsored by The Nation reveals that Americans care deeply about human
rights here at home. They see human rights as crucial to who we are as
a country, and they worry that we are not living up to those principles
in our national policies and practices.

  • The Real Cost of Prisons Weblog wrote about yesterday's Supreme Court decision on crack sentencing. The ruling, which is a victory for criminal and racial justice, allows for judges to use their discretion in imposing shorter prison sentences than the previously mandatory five-year minimum. The Our Rights, Our Future blog explains how the sentencing guidelines on crack have targeted black communities:

"The crack cocaine and powdered cocaine disparity is outrageous: the law
sets a mandatory minimum five-year prison sentence for trafficking in 5
grams of crack cocaine or 100 times as much cocaine powder.  The effect
on communities of color is disastrous because 85 percent of those
punished for crack crimes in federal court are African American."

  • Finally, in immigration news, the Texas border town of Laredo will be setting up its annual rest stop for migrants going to Mexico for the holidays.  According to a Star-Telegram article, this year's assistance is especially important given changes in federal regulations on January 31st which will require all Americans re-entering the country to carry proof of citizenship.

"Every year, roughly 90,000 immigrants pass through Laredo on their way
home for the holidays, some coming from as far as the Midwest or
California. For the last 10 years, the city convention and visitor's
bureau has opened a rest stop with the Mexican General Consulate to
help travelers ensure they have the right documents and to help check
goods headed to Mexico to quicken entry at the border port."

Dec 11 2007
Blog Post Today is Human Rights Day
  • Human Rights Day commemorates the adoption and proclamation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights on December 10, 1948.  This year, a number of human rights organizations in the US have chosen today's date to launch their "shadow reports" intended to supplement the United States' report on International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, or CERD.
  • The ImmigrationProf Blog has posted about two newly-released reports. The first, by Human Rights Watch, details the Department of Homeland Security's " inadequate care and treatment of immigrant detainees with HIV/AIDS." The second, by the ACLU and other San Diego-based organizations, reveals "patterns of neglect and instances of abuse of some of the
    area's most vulnerable populations--especially Latino immigrants and
    the indigent--in the rescue and relief efforts" during and after last month's wildfires.
  • Other immigration blogs have shared a series of news articles about families being torn apart as a result of recent immigration crackdowns. Immigration News Daily posted on fears in an Oklahoma town in which the number of Latino children attending school is decreasing after the implementation of harsh new legislation targeting those transporting undocumented immigrants.  And the 'Just News' blog reposted a Dallas Morning News article about one Texas family's struggle to stay together and to provide stability and security their young children:

"Mirian Villalobos had plenty going for her. The 25-year-old had a
dimpled son, a handsome husband, a new house, and a happy suspicion she
was pregnant again.

Then, it unraveled.

a balmy Sept. 6 in Wilmer, outside Dallas, she was pulled over by the
police as she rode on the back of a motorcycle driven by her husband,
30-year-old Juan Espinoza. She was stopped for not wearing a helmet,
but a routine check of her record found an arrest warrant. She'd been
ordered to report for deportation in 2002.

Caught in the middle:
an infant named Kevin Isaac, born a U.S. citizen with a father in the
U.S. legally and a mother in the U.S. illegally. Ms. Villalobos was

Unable to bear the separation from her son, now 9 months old, she returned to the U.S. in November and was detained in Arizona.

On Thursday she was deported again to Honduras – without seeing her young son and now six months pregnant, her husband says.

story is one echoing through many families with mixed immigration
status, as a crackdown on illegal immigrants cleaves communities."

  • The DMI Blog has written about a man slated for the death penalty in Alabama.  While Tommy Arthur's execution has been postponed while the Supreme Court considers the constitutionality of lethal injection, Arthur insists that is innocent of the murder for which he has been convicted and already served twenty-five years in prison.  Alabama's governor Bob Riley, however, has refused to grant DNA testing in the case in spite of the presence of biological evidence that would confirm or disprove guilt. The Innocence Project has set up an email feature on their website to advise Governor Riley that it is absolutely critical to know the truth before condemning someone to death.
Dec 10 2007
Blog Post The US Promises to Rehabilitate Prisoners, but Continues to Confine Them at Higher Rates
  • The Real Cost of Prisons Weblog has posted a New York Times article stating that nearly "one in every 31 adults in the United States was in prison, in jail or
    on supervised release at the end of last year."  The article continues with the findings of a new Department of Justice report:

An estimated 2.38 million people were incarcerated in state and federal
facilities, an increase of 2.8 percent over 2005, while a record 5
million people were on parole or probation, an increase of 1.8 percent.
Immigration detention facilities had the greatest growth rate last
year. The number of people held in Immigration and Customs Enforcement
detention facilities grew 43 percent, to 14,482 from 10,104.

The data reflect deep racial disparities in the nation’s correctional
institutions, with a record 905,600 African-American inmates in prisons
and state and local jails. In several states, incarceration rates for
blacks were more than 10 times the rate of whites. In Iowa, for
example, blacks were imprisoned at 13.6 times the rate of whites,
according to an analysis of the data by the Sentencing Project, a
research and advocacy group.

These statistics of mass incarceration and racial disparities highlight the fact that our government policies are failing to offer a second chance to citizens and immigrants alike.  Instead of spending millions of dollars to confine millions of people, we should invest in their personal development. In human
rights law, the International Covenant on Civil and Political
provides that “the penitentiary system shall comprise
treatment of prisoners the essential aim of which shall be their
reformation and social rehabilitation” -- and the United States has pledged to uphold the values in this United Nations treaty.

  • Over at The Huffington Post, Mike Garibaldi Frick has posted an interview with street artist and free speech activist Robert Lederman.  Lederman "was arrested over 40 times by the Rudy Giuliani administration for
    exercising his free speech and sued the city of New York to strike down
    permit requirements for artists in public spaces." The post discusses the way government restrictions on public spaces interfere with our constitutional rights -- and human rights -- to self-expression, a cornerstone of our democracy.

Though American democracy promotes "freedom of expression," regular
citizens are effectively blocked from creative and free speech public
space uses unless they have considerable financial or political

Opposition groups, nascent movements, students, artists and all
citizens need safe, free public space in which to communicate and
develop. Planned events, spontaneous gatherings and ongoing meeting
places that are autonomous from entrenched government and corporate
interests are vital to a free public speech. The health and well-being
of a true democracy requires free access to open public forums.

The post also includes a YouTube video of the interview with Lederman:

The Democratic Party finally released what appears to be their official strategy/talking points intended to counter the Republican immigration wedge.

The strategy in essence revolves around a few key concepts:

  • The Republicans are using the immigration issue for political gain
  • The Republicans had plenty of time to fix immigration and didn't
  • The Republicans have been unable to secure the border
  • The Republicans are using fear and bigotry to scapegoat immigrants
  • The scapegoating isn't working

Of course there's one glaring omission in this strategy …. there isn't any sort of a alternative plan proposed.

is there a word about what in fact the Democrats are going to do about
immigration. Not even the usual vague call for "comprehensive reform
that secures our border while providing a path to citizenship to
undocumented immigrants." And you can just forget about specifics.

In the absence of this vision, Migra Matters proposes its own strategies:

There have to be other, more complex, and comprehensive ways of controlling immigration:

  • Things like adjusting free trade agreements so they don't foster poverty in sender nations.
  • Things
    like working with foreign governments in sender nations to ensure that
    they not only respect human rights, but worker rights and economic

  • Things like examining and reforming our
    immigration codes to make them more practical, fair, and reflective of
    economic realities.

  • Things like fixing our immigration
    bureaucracy so it can efficiently and humanely process the flow of
    immigrants in a timely and effective manner.

And these are but just a few of the things that should be talked about. There are many, many more.


Dec 7 2007
Blog Post Defending the Human Rights of Immigrants
  • The ImmigrationProf Blog has written about a new coalition of lawyers from big firms who will work to defend the constitutional rights -- or human rights -- of all people:

According to,
dozens of attorneys from powerful law firms have united to create a
task force that will come to the aid of undocumented immigrants. 60
attorneys from 14 law firms have said they will face the government
head-on -- challenging the legality of Immigration and Customs
Enforcement (ICE) raids. The list of law firms includes Dechert LLP, Wilson Sonsini, Skadden-Arps and Orrick, Herrington & Suttcliffe.
The legal plan called for the lawyers to vigorously defend the
constitutional rights of all people, including undocumented immigrants.
Andrew Thomases said Dechert LLP, which represents Yahoo, and the other
law firms would represent undocumented immigrants for free.

Mark Silverman is with the Immigrant Legal
Resource Center in San Francisco, which is working with the attorneys
involved in the task force. "We are not trying to make ICE's job
difficult," Silverman said. "We just want ICE to do their job by
conforming to the U.S. Constitution."

  • Similarly, the 'Just News' blog has shared a New York Times article about a new plan by the Manhattan District Attorney's office to create an 'Immigrant Affairs' program to "encourage immigrants who are crime victims or are aware of illegal
    activity to come forward without fear of arrest and deportation."
  • Latina Lista has blogged about a toy drive underway to provide some holiday cheer for the children living in the ICE detention center in Hutto, Texas. Students from the University of Texas Immigration Law clinic have organized the drive and will be delivering the toys this coming Saturday.

"We are hearing from three people affected by the ban:

  • Augustin Dussault, a Canadian barred from entering the country even to visit his husband in the hospital;
  • Lillian Mworeko, a Ugandan AIDS professional who cannot visit the US for training or conferences; and
  • Bernard Cazaban, a Frenchman who was kicked out of the US 15 years ago on the eve of getting his green card.

We will also be joined by Susannah Sirkin from Physicians for Human Rights, as well as our own Victoria Neilson.

  • The first thing that strikes you about the
    press conference is that we had to hold it by telephone, since the
    people most affected by the ban can’t be here, by definition.
    Susannah points out what a waste it is for the US to lead in global
    AIDS funding while continuing to perpetuate AIDS stigma. 'There is
    absolutely no public health interest served by imposing travel
    restrictions on people with HIV/AIDS . . . It cannot be transmitted by
    casual contact.' What year is it that we have to continue to point that
    out? These policies fuel the stigma that discourages people from
    seeking treatment . . .'
  • David and Augustin, the American/Canadian couple who now live in
    Canada because they cannot live together in the U.S., make the point
    that people from countries with national health insurance cannot by
    definition prove they have 'private health insurance,' which the new
    regs require."
Dec 6 2007
Blog Post Undocumented Immigrant Honored in Arizona
  • Latina Lista wrote about yesterday's ceremony in Arizona to honor Manuel Jesus Cordova Soberanes, the man who saved the eight-year-old boy who spent a night in the desert after his mother died in a car accident. Given that Cordova gave up his opportunity to find work in order to ensure the boy's safety, "U.S. Rep. Raul Grijalva, D-Ariz. wants to reward Manuel for his
    selfless act of kindness with a special visa that would allow him to
    come to work in the US."  Grijalva's aide Ruben Reyes admitted the chances of having a such visa issued are slim, but spoke of the importance of recognizing Cordova's generosity:

"We think he actually brings another tone into the
discussion of immigration. Unfortunately the discussion of immigration
is (mostly) negative but with his acts of heroism it counters so many
of the other negative aspects," Reyes said. "It brings a face of
dignity, humanity and a bond that the two countries can share and he's
a shining example of that."


There is no doubt Manuel is that and so much more when you compare
him to the critics of illegal immigrants in this country whose rhetoric
is violent and hate-filled.

Yet, if Rep. Grijalva really wanted to help Manuel, why not award
the man enough money to help him do something constructive in his
hometown so that he doesn't have to leave his own children again?

Grijalva already knows the chances for a special visa are next to
nil for passage. So, basically the Congressman is dangling another
false hope in front of Manuel to give the appearance of helping him
when in reality, he's not.

And in the end, Manuel will still have disappointment and poverty — along with, a certificate of heroism.

  • The Inteligenta Indiĝena Indigenismo Novaĵoservo blog reposted a New York Times article on 'Brazilians Giving Up Their American Dream.'  Hundreds of middle-class Brazilians who had immigrated to the US years ago in search of social and economic security are now choosing to return to Brazil.  For undocumented Brazilians, life has become too difficult to justify the risk of staying, when they are unable to obtain driver's licenses and there is no comprehensive immigration reform in sight.  As the American dollar loses value and Brazil's economy is booming, it seems only logical to follow the job opportunities back to the Southern hemisphere.
  • Too Sense has given us an update on the Jena Six case: While it looks like the six students will all be accepting plea bargain agreements, the victim of the beating has just brought suit against "the adults accused of beating him, the families of the juveniles
    allegedly involved and the board of the school where the attack
  • Prometheus 6 linked to a Birmingham News article about the local school district's decision to acquire and distribute 15,000 of the new $200 XO laptops which were created to increase computer access in the developing world. According to they city's mayor Larry Langford, "We live in a digital age, so it is important that all our children
    have equal access to technology and are able to integrate it into all
    aspects of their lives...we are proud that Birmingham
    is on its way to eliminating the so-called 'digital divide' and to
    ensuring that our children have state-of-the-art tools for education." While the laptops are available for purchase in the US (for every laptop bought, another goes to a child in a developing country), this is the first reported large-scale purchase for use within the country -- and one which highlights inequalities in access to technology within our nation.
  • The Huffington Post has reported on today's Supreme Court hearing on "whether the detainees at Guantánamo have habeas corpus rights - a
    cornerstone of civilization and a principle established 800 years ago
    in England, giving prisoners the right to challenge the basis of their
    detention in court."  The ACSBlog is also covering the case, which is a matter concerning basic human rights in America.
Dec 5 2007
Blog Post Birth of a Movement

"The forum was revolutionary in at least two ways. First, it was
organized not isolated issues, but around shared values and a
progressive vision. And second, it featured real people—grassroots
leaders from around the country—sharing their stories and asking the
candidates pointed questions.

The grassroots leaders who took the stage voiced again and again the
ideas that embody Community Values—that "we are all in this together,"
that "we are all connected" and "share responsibility for each other,"
that we "love our neighbors as we love ourselves," and that it's time
to reject the "politics of isolation" and embrace the "politics of

But it was their diverse and compelling personal stories that brought that message home in vivid color."

"Poor and working people in New Orleans and across the globe are living
on property that has become valuable for corporations. Accommodating
governments are pushing the poor away and turning public property to
private. HUD is giving private developers hundreds of millions of
public dollars, scores of acres of valuable land, and thousands of
public apartments. Happy holidays for them for sure.

For the
poor, the holidays are scheduled to bring bulldozers. The demolition is
poised to start in New Orleans any day now. Attempts at demolition will
be met with just resistance. Whether that resistance is successful or
not will determine not only the future of the working poor in New
Orleans, but of working poor communities nationally and globally. If
the US government is allowed to demolish thousands of much-needed
affordable apartments of Katrina victims, what chance do others have?"

  • Rather than stand trial, Mychal Bell of the Jena Six has elected plead guilty to a juvenile charge of second-degree battery.  Skeptical Brotha
    has explained that Bell will serve eight more months in prison, as the
    eighteen month sentence will honor the ten months he has already spent
    in jail.
  • The last couple days have seen a few stories on human trafficking in the US.  Angry Asian Man has reported on a trafficking ring just busted in Vermont, and the New York Times has written about a newly-surfaced case of modern-day slavery on Long Island.
  • Finally, a number of immigration blogs have commented on the upcoming reality TV-show called "Who Wants to Marry a US Citizen."  With a new take on reality television, programming which blends contemporary political issues with the classic dating series, the show "aims to show love knows no borders. Besides, that is what America is about: a multi-cultural nation."  The Unapologetic Mexican has cited our 'national obsession with immigration' as pointing to the need for comprehensive reform of immigration policies.
Dec 4 2007
Blog Post Heartland Forum Highlights Support for Community Values
  • As mentioned previously, this Saturday saw the Heartland Presidential Forum in Des Moines, Iowa, an opportunity to talk with candidates about 'real issues facing real people in our communities' with attention to our values and policies of interconnection. You can watch a webcast of the forum on the Center for Community Change's Movement Vision Lab blog. Additionally, The Huffington Post linked to a Des Moines Register article on the event, and Adam Bink over at Open Left liveblogged summaries of statements made by each of the participating candidates: Clinton, Obama, Edwards, Dodd, and Kucinich.
  • The Real Cost of Prisons Weblog has reposted a Texas Observer article about the challenges faced in the expansion of drug courts in Texas.  While courts geared towards rehabilitation and redemption (rather than simply inflicting prison time) are much more effective than traditional courts in helping people overcome addiction, court practices vary widely according to the judge on the stand.

"Bennett and Leon Grizzard are the two judges who oversee Travis County's drug diversion court. They steer addicts into a court-supervised treatment program instead of prison. In the past decade, drug courts like the one in Travis County have successfully handled nonviolent defendants with drug and alcohol addictions—if success is defined as increasing public safety at the least cost to the taxpayer. People who complete drug-court programs rarely tumble back into substance abuse. According to four drug-court judges surveyed, about 10 percent of program graduates commit new crimes—a recidivism rate roughly one-fifth that of traditional probation routines. That means drug courts can ease the strain on overcrowded prisons and save taxpayer money. A study of the Dallas drug court by Southern Methodist University showed that every government dollar spent on diversion courts saved taxpayers more than $9.

Though criminal justice reform groups have advocated drug courts for years, Texas until recently lagged behind the rest of the country.


But as drug courts become more widespread, it appears that—like the narcotics they were created to fight—the courts can be abused. State and federal governments have instituted few regulations and set up no oversight. Judges have wide latitude to decide people's fates. In the hands of the right judges, the drug court model performs marvelously. Other judges appear to have trouble reconciling their punitive role with this new therapeutic one. The U.S. Department of Justice designed a set of guidelines and best practices—but they're the criminal justice equivalent of blueprints without building codes. The guidelines suggest that judges receive ongoing training and partner with treatment programs and community groups.

Because drug courts grow mostly from the local level, there is little standardization. Texas law broadly defines a drug court, but places hardly any restrictions on what judges can do. There is no oversight specifically for the drug courts. A recent case in Houston demonstrates the potential risks behind the courts' expansion. Judge K. Michael Mayes of Montgomery County is facing a federal lawsuit by a defendant who claims his treatment in Mayes' drug court was arbitrary and violated his rights to due process."

  • Firedoglake has written a post on a bill under consideration in the Senate known as the Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act.  This Democratically-authored legislation, which has already passed the House by a large margin, has many progressives questioning its vague definition of 'ideologically-based violence,' arguing that this law would be a step towards a fascist state in which citizens can by prosecuted for 'thought crimes.' We must remember that democracy in America is dependent upon our ability to raise our voices, on our rights to free speech and fair elections.  Any law that seeks to contradict our capacity to participate fully in our communities is a violation of our human rights.
  • In a related story, the Latina Lista blog has been the subject of a recent spam attack, bad enough that the site's commenting feature has temporarily been disabled.  Offering "Anything and Everything from a Latina Perspective," the blog often discusses issues of immigration, American history and culture.
Dec 3 2007
Communications Media Coverage: Heartland Presidential Forum - Campaign for Community Values (2007)

Held December 2, 2007 in Des Moines, IA, the Heartland Presidential Forum kicked off the Campaign for Community Values.  The resulting press coverage included a values dimension otherwise missing in much of the caucus coverage.


Dec 1 2007
Blog Post Framing the Immigration Debate
  • The ImmigrationProf Blog has revisited a 2006 essay by George Lakoff and Sam Ferguson about the language we use when discussing immigration.  Here's the abstract on the Rockridge Institute's website:

"Framing is at the center of the recent immigration debate. Simply
framing it as about “immigration” has shaped its politics, defining
what count as “problems” and constraining the debate to a narrow set of
issues. The language is telling. The linguistic framing is remarkable:
frames for illegal immigrant, illegal alien, illegals, undocumented
workers, undocumented immigrants, guest workers, temporary workers,
amnesty, and border security. These linguistic expressions are anything
but neutral. Each framing defines the problem in its own way, and hence
constrains the solutions needed to address that problem. The purpose of
this paper is twofold. First, we will analyze the framing used in the
public debate. Second, we suggest some alternative framing to highlight
important concerns left out of the current debate. Our point is to show
that the relevant issues go far beyond what is being discussed, and
that acceptance of the current framing impoverishes the discussion."

  • In other immigration news, Burger King is under fire for its refusal to join McDonald's and Taco Bell in an agreement to pay historically-underpaid migrant workers in Florida an extra penny per pound of tomatoes picked. Also, a federal court in Canada ruled in favor of a lawsuit challenging the Safe Third Country Agreement, which had designated the US as a
    "safe third country" for asylum-seekers, meaning "if they make it to the
    U.S. before entering Canada can be returned there."  The court found that "the United States fails to comply with Convention on Torture or Article 33
    of the Refugee Convention and [therefore] the U.S./Canada safe third country
    agreement was flawed as there was no ongoing meaningful review mechanism."
  • The DMI Blog points to this week's New York Times coverage of the successes of a re-entry program in Brooklyn which offers counseling, drug testing, and work and training programs to former inmates.  Re-entry programs not only support the value of redemption, or the right to a second chance, but they are also effective in helping people reintegrate into the community and remain there.  According to a recent study of the comAlert program,

"ComAlert graduates are less likely be
re-arrested after leaving prison and much more likely to be employed
than either program dropouts or members of the control group.
Participants who complete the Doe Fund work-training component do even
better. They have an employment rate of about 90 percent, somewhat
higher than the ComAlert graduates generally and several times higher
than the control group."

  • Finally, Jack and Jill Politics offers further analysis of inequities in Wednesday's CNN/YouTube Republican debate, as compared with its Democratic counterpart:

Of 34 total questions aired, 24 were from white men (including 2 cartoon versions) in the GOP debate.
That's 71%. For the Dem debate, counting was a little more challenging
since one video aired combined video submissions from several people.
Still I'd estimate 22 of 38 questions aired were from white men (I did
not count the snowman as white because snow does not have an ethnicity)
or 58%.

Further, there were 8 questions shown that featured African-Americans during the Democratic debate and a measly 2 in the GOP debate. Hmm.

Also, strikingly -- astonishingly, no questions whatsoever during the GOP debate on:

Healthcare in America
Climate Change or Environment
Iraq Troop Withdrawal
Afghanistan and Pakistan -- Resurgence of the Taliban
Racial Profiling
Voting Machines and Voting Rights
The Failure to Capture Osama bin Laden

Nov 30 2007
Blog Post We Need Immigration Reform, Not Immigration Raids
  • The Real Cost of Prisons Weblog reposted a New York Times article entitled 'Immigrant Workers Caught in Net Cast for Gangs.'
    A night-time raid of residences in Greenport, New York in September was
    aimed at targeting gang members, but of the eleven arrests, only one
    man was 'suspected' of gang affiliation. Local residents have
    complained about the injustice of needlessly tearing families apart:

“This is un-American,” said Ms. Finne, 41, a Greenport native, echoing
other citizens who condemned the home raids in public meetings and
letters to The Suffolk Times, a weekly newspaper. “We need to do
something about immigration, but not this.”

  • Immigration News Daily and the ImmigrationProf Blog both reported on the appeals court dismissal of a lawsuit against Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) brought by some of the 361 noncitizens arrested on immigration charges during the New Beford, Massachusetts raid. While the First Circuit court "affirmed the dismissal based on lack of subject matter
    jurisdiction based on provisions of the REAL ID Act...[it] expressed hope that ICE would learn from the case and employ
    less 'ham-handed ways' in enforcing the law in the future."
  • In a similar case, Immigration News Daily also posted a news story about a Brazilian woman who was held in jail while her two-month-old baby continued to cry and refuse baby formula in lieu of breastfeeding.  While deportation proceedings will likely continue due to the woman's expired visa, this month's new ICE guidelines on nursing mothers have ensured that
    Danielle Souza Ferreira has been released and reunited with her children for the time being.
  • The ImmigrationProf Blog wrote about an article in yesterday's Los Angeles Times which stated that "undocumented immigrants from Mexico and other Latin American countries
    are 50% less likely than U.S.-born Latinos to use hospital emergency
    rooms in California, according to a study published Monday in the
    journal Archives of Internal Medicine." While everyone has a right to medical care without regard to immigration or citizenship status, this report does provides counter-evidence to the claim that undocumented immigrants are responsible for draining our health care system.
  • The HealthLawProf Blog highlighted another New York Times article "charmingly" titled 'In Hospice Care, Longer Lives Mean Money Lost.'  The story discusses the irony that the financial success of the hospice industry depends on the timely demise of its clientele.  We should review government policies that are discouraging to those providing crucial care for the elderly and the sick in our communities.

Hundreds of hospice
providers across the country are facing the catastrophic financial
consequence of what would otherwise seem a positive development: their
patients are living longer than expected.

Over the last eight years, the refusal of patients to die according
to actuarial schedules has led the federal government to demand that
hospices exceeding reimbursement limits repay hundreds of millions of
dollars to Medicare.

Nov 28 2007
Blog Post The Katrina of Public Health
  • The Huffington Post published an opinion piece yesterday on health equity entitled The Katrina of Public Health. Author Jayne Lyn Stahl begins:

Some alarming, awe-inspiring, news today out of Washington, D.C., and
no, it's not Trent Lott's resignation. The results of a study, the
first of its kind, of HIV cases in the nation's capital are out, and
they show that AIDS has reached "epidemic" proportions in D.C. (WaPo)

In the five-year test period in question, ending in 2006, while
African-Americans comprise roughly 60 percent of the city's population,
they account for more than 80 percent of the more than 3,000 HIV cases
that have been identified. Ninety percent of women residents who tested
positive for the disease are African-American. And, nearly 40 percent
of reported cases were among heterosexuals showing, in the words of a
District administrator, that "HIV is everybody's disease" in D.C.

The presence of an epidemic of this magnitude so close to 1600
Pennsylvania Avenue can't help but make one wonder if federal policy,
or non-policy is at the nucleus of this health catastrophe. Yet, where
is the public outrage that a campaign of misinformation,
disinformation, or information/education blockade should claim the same
demographic casualties as that of Hurricane Katrina.

Stahl continues to cite the government policies that have contributed to DC's epidemic, public health negligence compounded by the absence of needle exchange programs in the area:

On this administration's watch, more than $100 million in grants have
been allocated for abstinence-only education programs. The president
pressured the Center for Disease Control and Prevention to eliminate,
from its Web site, anything that might promote the efficacy of using
condoms to prevent STDs, and AIDS. Roughly 90 percent of the $15
billion set aside for fighting HIV globally has been made available to
domestic groups for use in their ongoing worldwide campaign to promote
abstinence, and to discourage the use of condoms in the fight against

  • The Republic of T has highlighted a recent decision by Florida's Palm Beach Community College to provide health insurance coverage for employees' pets but not their domestic partners.  With the rationale that “Your pet is a member of your family — his quality of life is important to you,” the college trustees have provided employees with a 5 percent discount and
    group rates on a range of health insurance plans for their pets, covering "wellness care, vaccinations, X-rays,
    surgery and hospitalization (although pre-existing conditions may not
    be covered)." Yet in August the college opted not to extend the same affordable benefits to same-sex partners of their employees, despite the fact that it would not have cost them anything to do so.
  • Immigration News Daily discussed a new trend in which foreign consulates have begun providing health care services for immigrants in the US without medical insurance. Both the Salvador and Mexican consulates in Washington, DC are offering medical services, and are expanding the health programming around the country in collaboration with the Hispanic Institute for Blindness Prevention.
  • Immigration News Daily has also reported on a new initiative by Latino organizations in the US to register one million new Latino voters before the 2008 elections.  The coalition is hoping that current affairs such as the health care, education, the Iraq war and immigration will drive many voters to the polls for the first time.
  • Latina Lista has posted about Mexican TV network Azteca America's decision to produce and include English classes in its US programming.  The Spanish-language network does not intend to imply support for an English-only America but to recognize the benefits of a multilingual society. According to Luis J. Echarte, chairman of Fundación Azteca America and the Azteca America network:

Spanish-language television is often a first-stop and
point-of-reference for information for recently arrived immigrants. Our
community looks to us for guidance on immigration, legal changes, and
natural disasters, to name a few examples.

There’s no doubt that our community can better assimilate
themselves and increase their economic and political power with
increased linguistic skills.

Nov 27 2007
Blog Post UN Declares Tasering a Form of Torture
  • Following a series of related deaths in North America, Jane Hamsher of Firedoglake has advised us that the United Nations has declared tasering to be a form of torture.  Portugal has been urged to forgo use of its newly purchased tasers as the intense pain they inflict is in violation of the UN Convention Against Torture. We hope that this statement will encourage universal reconsideration of taser usage.
  • The 'Just News' blog has cited a New York Times article reporting that the Bush administration has elected to revise its controversial 'no-match' policy on verifying the identities of American workers.  Given that the new rules were suspended indefinitely by a federal judge in San Francisco, for their potential undue harm to citizens whose records are incorrect in the social security database, Bush and Homeland Security are working to issue new standards that will not provoke legal challenges.  In the meantime, Homeland Security has begun training firemen to search for 'hostility to Americans' while fighting housefires.
  • With respect to last week's celebration of Thanksgiving, a number of
    blogs questioned the historical construction of the holiday. Latina Lista
    notes that the Spanish had a feast with the Timucua Indians in Florida
    fifty-six years before the arrival of the Pilgrims.  The Native American Netroots blog argues that the holiday has more to do with violence than cooperation.  And Rachel's Tavern posted a piece on alternative ways of teaching children about the Thanksgiving story.
  • Finally, the ImmigrationProf blog tells the story of an undocumented man who came to the aid of a 9-year-old boy who was the lone survivor of a car accident in the Arizona desert on Thanksgiving day.  According to a local sheriff:

"He stayed with [the boy], told him that everything was going
to be all right." As temperatures dropped, he gave him a
jacket, built a bonfire and stayed with him until about 8 a.m. Friday,
when a group of hunters passed by and called authorities.

After the boy was rescued by local authorities, 26-year-old Jesus Manuel Cordova was taken into custody by the border patrol.  In a related article, the same blog notes that Hispanic journalists are urging the media to stop talking about immigration in a way that dehumanizes undocumented immigrants.  As Cordova's story shows, undocumented immigrants cannot simply be written off as criminals. Rather, they are also compassionate, generous and helpful people who are willing to make sacrifices in order to protect those in need.

Nov 26 2007
Blog Post US Military Asking Wounded Soldiers to Return Signing Bonuses
  • Mirror on America reports that the US military has been asking soldiers wounded in combat to return the signing bonuses they received upon joining the armed forces. As the military is exhausting those Americans who are willing to sign up for duty, it has begun offering up to $30,000 in signing bonuses which it has then asked to be refunded when soldiers who have lost limbs, hearing or eyesight are no longer able to serve out their commitments.  In the case where America's foreign policies are proving responsible for the destruction of its own citizens, our country should honor and respect these sacrifices with additional support from the community, not less.
  • Ezekiel Edwards at the DMI Blog has written about a client and personal friend who was able to triumph over a drug and alcohol addiction that had brought her into contact with the criminal justice system.  Edwards uses her example to illustrate the difficulties people face when they are trying to make a new start:

It took her a number of months to find any sort of work. The road to
employment is difficult enough as a poor African-American woman with
little formal education, currently taking GED classes, but with a
criminal record, it becomes outright impassable. She finally found a
part-time job working four hours a day, five days a week, at $9 an
hour. She arrived 20 minutes early every day. After six weeks, she was
fired without explanation. Now she is looking for work again.

She cannot afford her rent, and is looking for public housing, but,
again, her criminal record (all for nonviolent offenses) limits her
options. She is trying to do the right thing, trying to become
gainfully employed, trying to further her education, trying to find
affordable housing, trying to spend time with her daughter, and, most
of all, trying not to drown herself in the bottle by remaining in her
program, but society is not making it easy, or even somewhere in
between easy and frighteningly difficult, to move forward. Even after
all she has gone through, there is no relief in sight.

  • The Pro Inmigrant blog has posted about a new coalition between the American Jewish Committee and a group of Mexican-American advocates to fight discrimination and demand comprehensive immigration reform in the US. Working with the idea that Jewish Americans who have successfully assimilated can and should help today's immigrant populations, the AJC just co-sponsored a three-day workshop with Mexico's Institute for Mexicans Abroad. According to Mexican Ambassador Arturo Sarukhán, whose grandfather came to Mexico from Armenia,

"Now, more than ever, we must underscore a self-evident truth:
Migrants are not a threat to the security of the US...They are important actors in
the fabric of what makes America great."

  • Along this same theme, the ImmigrationProf Blog has linked to a new report by UC Davis economist Giovanni Peri which found that "high immigration
    cities experienced higher wage and housing price growth. Immigration
    had a positive productivity effect on natives overall, but important
    distributional effects. Highly educated natives enjoyed the largest benefits while the less educated did not gain (but did not lose much either)."
  • The 'Just News' blog quotes an AP article discussing the fact that a serious backlog in the processing of citizenship applications may prevent thousands of residents from voting in the 2008 presidential elections. Hopefully this media attention will encourage immigration authorities to expedite the process so that all Americans will have a voice in electing our national leaders.
Nov 21 2007
Blog Post A Real Values Debate
  • Alan Jenkins' newest piece is live on Entitled 'A Real Values Debate,' the opinion begins:

"Progressives have long been criticized for talking issues and
constituencies at the expense of vision and values. Linguist George
Lakoff has argued for years that progressives have ceded the moral high
ground to their detriment. And Thomas Frank has documented how
conservatives tell a larger story that connects with working people at
a values level, even while undermining their economic interests.

That critique has never been fully accurate. The continuing human
rights movements led by people of color, women, gay people, and
immigrants have always been rooted in the values of freedom, equality,
dignity and opportunity. As Van Jones of the Ella Baker Center for
Human Rights has said, "there's a reason why Martin Luther King Jr.'s
greatest speech was not called 'I have a complaint.'" The modern
environmental movement, too, speaks not only of our individual
interests but also of our moral responsibility as stewards of the earth
and its inhabitants.

But it is also true that progressive political discourse has
increasingly moved away from a discussion of shared national values and
toward a patchwork of issues and narrow policy fixes. That dynamic has
certainly played out this presidential election season, with last
month's "Values Voters Summit" priming candidates' commitment to
conservative values while progressives largely haggled over the details
of policy proposals.

But that's about to change. On December 1, a coalition of Iowa social justice groups will host the Heartland Presidential Forum: Community Values in Action,
in Des Moines, Iowa. Just four weeks before the Iowa caucuses, it will
be a presidential forum focused not on specific issues, but on
progressive vision and values."

  • The Inteligenta Indiĝena Indigenismo Novaĵoservo blog has reposted a Crooks and Liars piece about a Washington state assisted living facility that is evicting its residents that are on Medicaid.  Unlike other states, Washington does not have a law to protect its vulnerable senior citizens against such decisions by profit-minded nursing home corporations.
  • Prometheus 6 has posted about a New York Times article on the increasing presence of international medical crews providing health services in the US to the 47 million people without medical insurance, or 15 percent of the American population. One such service known as Remote Area Medical, or RAM, works most often in "Guyana,  India,  Tanzania  and Haiti," but has been noted for their expeditions in rural Virginia, where members of the community have begun lining up at 3am in order to be seen by medical workers.
  • In election news, Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama is proposing a plan to make community colleges free of cost for American high school graduates, a move that would greatly increase opportunities for many of our young people.  Meanwhile, Republican presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani has indicated his support for a 'virtual' border fence run by high tech surveillance, a policy which would not address the need for more comprehensive reform of our immigration and trade policies.

"Human rights are defined, most notably in the U.S. Bill of Rights. They

are defined because the Founding Fathers realized that if they were

not defined, they would be more likely to be abrogated or lost

entirely. The Founding Fathers understood the temptation on the part

of governments to give and remove human rights arbitrarily, because

they had experienced such things before the Revolutionary War -- in the

Stamp Act, in the quartering of British soldiers on American

households, and in illegal searches and seizures, in no taxation

without representation. They recognized that although British Law

customarily acknowledged various human rights, it was essential to

name, codify, and write them down to make it less likely that they

could be taken away."

Nov 20 2007
Blog Post Congress Approves of Giving a Second Chance, While New York Reviews Disenfranchisement Policies
  • The Real Cost of Prisons Weblog has posted about last week's House vote on the Second Chance Act, legislation that aims to address the needs of individuals reintegrating into the community after time spent in prison. The bill passed the House with overwhelming bipartisan support in a vote of 347-62, and it is expected that the Senate will consider the same legislation before the end of the year.  Based in the spirit of redemption, the idea that we all deserve the support we need to make a new start,

"H.R. 1593 would provide grants to States and local areas to create or
strengthen the systems that help adults and youth transition into the
community when they are released from incarceration by providing drug
addiction and mental health treatment services, job training and
education opportunities, housing and other necessary services."

  • The same blog also covered a recent report by the Brennan Center on felony disenfranchisment in New York state which found that "87% of those currently disenfranchised in New York are Latino and African American."  The state's sentencing structure is currently under review for its early Nineteenth Century laws that still effectively deny the right to vote to people of color.
  • Also, a successful doctor and his entrepreneur wife are facing sudden deportation proceedings in Pennsylvania after a small error was found in the documents they used to apply for American citizenship. Although Pedro and Salvacion Servano have been in the US legally for twenty-five years, and have come to embody the American Dream in their family life and contributions to their community, they are currently fighting to appeal the mandate that they report to ICE the day after Thanksgiving in order to initiate deportation proceedings to the Philippines.
  • Finally, the Immigrants in USA Blog featured two articles on the value of a multilingual society. wrote about the tensions involved when a California school district announced its intentions to provide bilingual education to all students, and published an opinion piece on the value of learning English but not losing the language of one's cultural heritage. Given that "many folks pay thousands of dollars to acquire a second language," linguistic diversity is an undeniable advantage to our community and our economy in an increasingly interconnected world.
Nov 19 2007
Blog Post Media Allowed in on Mychal Bell's Trial
  • Too Sense has given us a heads-up on the fact that although juvenile trials are generally closed to the media, the judge in Jena Six member Mychal Bell's case has agreed to grant courtroom access to a number of newspapers and television stations.  Many people are hopeful that the media presence in Louisiana will help ensure a fair and just trial, as the justice system will be accountable to millions of viewers across the country.
  • Earlier this week, the Los Angeles Police Department announced a plan to 'map' Muslim communities around the city with the objective of identifying terrorists. After strong critism from Muslim groups and civil rights activists, the LAPD has gone back on its decision in favor of more 'community outreach.' The Real Cost of Prisons Weblog has copied an LA Times article on the most recent decision.

"Has the debate over race become a melodrama? A bad television soap
opera? A theatrical stage play with complex issues boiled down to a
script? Entertaining words thrown around simply to satisfy the 24-hour
news cycle, the blogosphere?

Are we doomed to debate racism over and over — stuck in purgatory, a
cycle of skirmishes, of shock and awe, with nothing gained, nothing

Or is there a way to change the ritual, to go deeper into our national consciousness and get off this merry-go-round?"

  • The Unapologetic Mexican reported on the 'No Borders Camp' that had recently been set up on Mexicali/Calexico border crossing.  While the protesters were attacked by the border patrol, blogger Nezua says of the 'Cross-Border Kissing Booth' that "meeting antagonism and violence and hostility with a sense of humor and
    love is probably the most satisfying way to engage negativity and
    destructive energy." The IndyBay article he quotes also goes into a discussion of border enforcement, arguing that the border patrol created a "sustained level of violence which tears apart communities, families, neighborhoods, and peoples lives."
  • Finally, the ProInmigrant blog has done a post on the delay in processing the acceptance of Iraqi refuguees currently living in Syria.  While the US has pledged to accept 12,000 Iraqi refugees within the year, only 450 were let in last month, due to slowdowns in the requisite security clearances.  In total there are 140,000 Iraqi refugees in Syria awaiting resettlement. The blog notes, "The Bush administration has conceded a moral obligation to assist Iraqi refugees, but the slow pace of admissions has sparked criticism from refugee advocates and lawmakers."
Nov 16 2007
Blog Post Spitzer Drops Plan to Provide Drivers Licenses to Undocumented Immigrants Nov 15 2007
Blog Post 'Reckless Optimism': People Really Are Able to Turn Their Lives Around
  • The Real Cost of Prisons Weblog has reposted an interesting New York Times article
    on an innovative program providing prenatal care for homeless women in
    San Francisco. With nineteen years as a non-profit agency, and a staff
    of fifty-three people, half of whom have been homeless in the past, the
    program is a model of the core value of redemption, or the idea that we all deserve the support needed for a new start:

"The Homeless Prenatal Program has evolved from its original mission
of helping destitute women give birth to and then keep healthy babies
to become a resource dedicated to stabilizing entire families. It
offers what this particular woman excitedly described here as 'a
plethora of services' for mental health, housing and substance abuse
problems. It combines those with an array of alternative health
approaches not usually available to the poor, like yoga, massage and
chiropractic treatments.

'People call me a reckless optimist, and you have to be to do this
kind of work,' said Martha Ryan, founder and executive director of the
Homeless Prenatal Program. 'But I see enough success. I see people
really able to turn their lives around, and I see their children be
able to move forward and have a different life.'”

  • The Huffington Post has a great piece up by Sally Kohn of the Movement Vision Lab on the writers' strike. Speaking of the absence of the community frame in television or film media, Kohn praises the writers for joining together but contributes a larger cultural analysis of what has shaped our values of individualism:

"If you turn on your TV today or sit for a matinee at your local
cineplex, you'd wonder whether it's an entirely different crop of folks
holding the pens behind the scenes. After all, much of the shows and
movies they write promote extreme greed, competition and the notion
that we have to pull ourselves up from our individual bootstraps ---
NOT that we're all in it together, in solidarity. While most of us in
real life, like the striking writers, have learned that we can't
succeed without the help of others around us, most reality TV shows from American Idol to Survivor tell us that the only way to the top is fierce competition against one another.  Meanwhile shows like Desperate Housewives
tell us that selfishness is good and there's no such thing as too much
greed and status --- mind you, the same greed that is keeping the
Hollywood execs from sharing the wealth with writers. And in countless
movies, writers resort to racist and homophobic 'humor' that helps
further divide our country rather than unite us together."

  • The DMI Blog has written about the Coalition to Raise the Minimum Standards at New York City Jails, a multi-organizational campaign that achieved a number of victories this year as "the Board of Corrections (BOC) proposed a number of changes to the
    Minimum Standards for New York City Correctional Facilities" which cover rules and regulations for city jails. Author Ezekiel Edwards reports that while the BOC was not swayed on every issue of importance to prisoners and their families, significant progress was made in preserving and improving conditions of incarceration: "As a result of the Coalition's relentless efforts, the BOC voted
    against the 'overcrowding' policy, against putting those in need of
    protection in 23-hour solitary confinement, and against reducing
    Spanish translation services." 

  • Feministe has a new post entitled 'Housing is a Human Right' which provides information on upcoming protests against the fact that all public housing units in New Orleans are slated for demolition after a recent federal court ruling. The Facing South blog has also posted about the controvery over the formaldehyde-laced trailers provided as temporary housing -- while Gulf Area families have been living in the trailers, FEMA has cautioned its own employees against entering them.
  • Finally, Latina Lista has reported on a DailyKos post by the author of the Migra Matters blog called 'A progressive plan for immigration reform,' referring to the resource as "the most insightful, certainly most thorough and step-by-step approach into fully understanding the immigration issue." Given his opinion that immigration is the new topic du jour, author Duke1676 prefaces his summary with "I figured it might be a good time post up a diary that sums up
    everything I've learned in my past three years here posting on
    immigration issues." With some 454 comments by readers, it's worth a read.
Nov 13 2007
Blog Post WITNESS Launches 'The Hub' For Human Rights Media
  • In exciting new media news, human rights organization WITNESS has just launched The Hub, a global platform for human rights media and action or "a YouTube for human rights."  According to the website:

"The Hub is a grassroots-driven, participatory media website that
enables anyone anywhere in the world with access to the internet to
upload, share, discuss and take action around human rights-related
media and resources. Through the Hub, organizations, networks and
groups around the world are able to bring their human rights stories
and campaigns to global attention.

The Hub has three main areas: See It – where you can view and interact with human rights media uploaded by the Hub community; Share It – where you can create and join groups or discussions that coincide with your interests or expertise; and Take Action – where you can get involved to make a difference,  and activate other users around your campaigns and events.

The Hub is a project of WITNESS.
WITNESS uses video and online technologies to open the eyes of the
world to human rights violations. We empower people to transform
personal stories of abuse into powerful tools for justice, promoting
public engagement and policy change."

  • Another favorite bit of news this week is that the FBI has apparently been tracking sales of Middle Eastern food in San Francisco grocery stores in hopes that it will lead to terrorist communities. So far there have been no reports of falafel consumption leading to arrests.
  • Immigration News Daily has written about a study just released by the University of Florida which claims that news laws intended to crack down on undocumented immigrants are actually having the opposite effect.  Based on interviews with a community of Brazilian immigrants, the report has concluded that "restrictions to keep illegal immigrants from entering the United States
    are having the perverse effect of encouraging those who are already
    here to stay by any means necessary." It is time for the US to abandon these policies of isolation in order to engage in comprehensive immigration reform that will create a fair and just system to provide everyone in America the opportunities needed to achieve their full potential.
  • The 'Just News' and ImmigrationProf blogs both touched upon a case in Arizona in which an undocumented high school student was found in posession of marijuana, his school called the cops who then called the border patrol, and the student's entire family was deported.  After significant protest by fellow students, "the Tucson police has changed its policy: no longer will they call the
    Border Patrol to schools or churches, though they will share
    information." In addition, immigration law  professor Kevin Johnson discusses official agency policies surrounding arrests at school:

"The Border Patrol has a policy saying that Border Patrol agents, who
work for U.S. Customs and Border Protection, must have written approval
from a supervisor before conducting any enforcement-related activity at
schools or places of worship. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement—which falls under a different
branch of the U.S. Homeland Security Department than Border Patrol—has
a policy that 'arresting fugitives at schools, hospitals, or places of
worship is strongly discouraged, unless the alien poses an immediate
threat to national security or the community.'"

It's reassuring that the Tucson community has been able to bring about the procedural changes they felt were necessary to ensure that their schools will be a safe and secure learning environment.

  • Bloggernista posted about yesterday's vote on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), which passed the House by a vote of 235-184.  While this vote is important and historic for its extension of fair workplace practices to lesbian, gay, and bisexual communities, Pam's House Blend guest author Autumn Sandeen has declared that she is "not celebrating" given the bill's failure to include 'real or perceived gender identity' in the list of protected identities.
Nov 8 2007
Blog Post Writers Guild Fighting for Fair Pay While TV Networks Threaten To Cut Jobs
  • There has been a lot of discussion on The Huffington Post about the Writers Guild of America strike that started on Monday, as TV networks and screenwriters failed to reach an agreement before the end of their previous contract. Union members are essentially demanding that networks begin to distribute profits from new media airings of their work, but have made little headway in negotiations on the issue. In a move that will endanger the financial security of many Americans, some networks are now threatening large-scale firings of their employees. According to an opinion in the LA Times:

"A day after Hollywood's writers went out on strike, the major studios
are hitting back with plans to suspend scores of long-term deals with
television production companies, jeopardizing the jobs of hundreds of
rank-and-file employees whose names never appear in the credits.

Assistants, development executives and production managers will soon be
out of work, joining their better-paid bosses who opted to sacrifice
paychecks as members of the Writers Guild of America. At some studios,
the first wave of letters are going out today, hitting writer-producers
whose companies don't currently have shows in production."

  • Migra Matters has done an interesting post on the results of yesterday's election in Virginia, where the Republican party had chosen to make an immigration crackdown its biggest campaign selling point.  Curiously, the Democrats appear to have gained control of the state Senate, leading the author to advise us with respect to upcoming national elections: "If the Republicans were looking at immigrant-bashing as a silver bullet
    to stem the national tide against them, surely tonight's results in
    Virginia will should give them second thoughts."
  • The House of Representatives has begun debate on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), a measure to extend federal workplace protections to those targeted for their sexual orientation.  Pam's House Blend discusses the fact that a coalition of civil and gay rights organizations announced their support yesterday for the current version of the bill which does not include the same protections for transgender individuals, thus leaving the LGBT community divided.
  • The Sentencing Law and Policy blog featured an editorial in today's New York Times about the Second Chance Act, a bill which has had bipartisan support in Congress since 2004 but has yet to move through the legislature. The Times describes the need for the government policies to support redemption, or the idea that we all deserve a second chance:

"If past patterns hold true, more than half of
the 650,000 prisoners released this year will be back behind bars by
2010. With the prison population exploding and the price of
incarceration now topping $60 billion a year, states are rightly
focusing on ways to reduce recidivism. Congress can give these efforts
a boost by passing the Second Chance Act, which would provide crucial
help to people who have paid their debts to society....

The Second Chance Act would add to what the country knows about the
re-entry process by establishing a federal re-entry task force, along
with a national resource center to collect and disseminate information
about proven programs....  The programs necessary to help former
prisoners find a place in society do not exist in most communities.
The Second Chance Act would help to create those programs by providing
money, training, technical assistance — and a Congressional stamp of

  • Last up, blogger Sudy is working on a video project to "feature, support, and highlight the work done by feminists of color."  She's included a preview of the video on her site which has been cross-posted by Vox et Machina.

Nov 7 2007
Blog Post Crackdown Policies Are Destroying Immigrant Families and Solidarity in Our Communities
  • We've previously mentioned Oklahoma's new law which targets American citizens for 'transporting' undocumented immigrants. BlogHer reported Saturday on further implications of the law, arguing that assisting a woman in labor or the victims of a car accident in getting to the emergency room could be grounds for a felony charge. While it is highly likely that the constitutionality of this legislation will be challenged, it definitely lies contrary to the core value of community, that we are all responsible for each other's well-being and that our successes and fates are linked.
  • The 'Just News' blog posted about an LA Times article stating the US has reached an all-time high in the number of immigration detainees it is holding in prison: more than 30,000 people, over 4,000 in the state of California alone.  A similar statistic reveals that "the immigration agency's budget for bed space skyrocketed to $945 million last year, up from $641 million in fiscal year 2005." Although the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) denies that overcrowding is a problem, immigrants and advocates argue that facilities and short-staffed and detainees are not given proper medical care.
  • Both Citizen Orange and Latina Lista have told the story of a man who spent five months in a detention facility only to see his health deteriorate to a critical point.  Ricardo Gomez Garcia and his wife Juana left their four children in Guatemala years ago in order to come to the US in search of work to support their family.  While here Juana gave birth to their youngest child, who at the age of four has been diagnosed with autism and requires specialized care. Earlier this year, Gomez was arrested in the New Bedford immigration raid and held in an immigration prison before being deported.  Sick but desperate with worry over his wife and young son, Gomez managed to return to New Bedford, only to die later that night.  Juana, his wife of twenty years, is now seeking community support in order send Gomez's body back to Guatemala.
  • Finally, the Alas! and reappropriate blogs have written about US Border Patrol Agent Ephraim Cruz, who is being fired from his post for talking and complaining openly about inhumane conditions in the immigrant detention center where he worked.  Cruz has said that he observed countless "…violations of policies, training, state laws, fire and health codes,
    and illegal aliens’ civil and human rights within [the Douglas,
    Arizona] 'processing facility'." The blogs are also offering readers the chance to contribute to Cruz's search for affordable legal representation so he can defend himself against unfair termination of employment.
Nov 6 2007
Blog Post ICE Detention Center Employed Undocumented Immigrants
Nov 2 2007
Communications Talking Points: Immigration, Driver's Licenses (2007)

Originally written in November 2007, these are talking points for discussing New York’s (then) drivers’ license proposal.

Nov 1 2007
Blog Post Checks and Balances Preserve Our Democracy
  • Both Prometheus 6 and the ACS Blog have highlighted a recent Washington Post article that speaks of the president's intention to use executive orders as much as possible to single-handedly make government policy because he feels that the Democrat-controlled Congress is not getting anything done.  Bush is disappointed by the delay in confirming Mukasey as head of the Department of Justice, a nomination stalled by differing ideas as to what qualifies as the human right to freedom from torture.
  • In Oklahoma, a federal judge has declined the request of a coalition of immigrants rights advocates to block the enforcement of a new state immigration law.  According to Immigration News Daily, the law "will bar illegal immigrants from obtaining jobs or state assistance and make it a felony to harbor or transport illegal aliens." Once convicted of a felony, Americans lose their right to vote, making this issue just as much about preserving the voice of democracy as about immigration per se.

"Children experienced the emotional trauma of their parents' sudden
absence, often personalizing the cause of the separation and feeling
abandoned or fearful that their parents could be abruptly taken away
from them.

Mental health experts noted that children's and parents' fears and
the events surrounding the raids led to depression, post-traumatic
stress disorder, separation anxiety, and suicidal thoughts in children."

In Grand Island, Nebraska, 17% of children affected experienced the loss of both parents in the raids.  Author Treviño says of ICE's lack of a standard to protect children from abandonment, "It's a fine line between being sensitive to children's well-being and
enforcing the law. But that is what marks the difference between great
nations and...countries that let fear and intimidation rule
instead of compassion and common sense."

  • The HealthLawProf Blog has cited a new report by the Economic Policy Institute which concluded that "the number of Americans lacking health insurance rose by nearly 8.6 million to 47 million from 2000 to 2006."  The study goes on to analyze the demographics and causes of the changes, finding widespread losses in coverage due to employers no longer offering insurance to their workers.  It's time we start taking these numbers seriously and work to fix our broken health care system with consideration for how best to benefit the community as a whole.
  • In today's hopeful news, Rachel's Tavern notes that Genarlow Wilson has told reporters after his release from prison that he wants to go to college to study sociology. Wilson had been given a 10-year sentence for committing a consensual sex act with a fellow teenager; his recent release was due to a redemptive Georgia Supreme Court ruling that decided his sentence was cruel and unusual punishment.  A free man, Wilson has received several offers to fund his college education, and he holds the conviction that "This situation, what I had to endure, has a lot to do with sociology.”
Nov 1 2007
Blog Post Crime is Not an Isolated Action, in New Orleans and Beyond
  • Bill Quigley at the Black Agenda Report has written a piece on the apparent meltdown of the criminal justice system in New Orleans, where violent crime rates are hovering at seven times the national average. Quigley speaks of the integral relationship between socioeconomic security and crime rates:

"Crime is not an isolated action. It is impossible to fix the crime problem if
the rest of the institutions that people rely on remain deeply broken....Only when the criminal justice system is supported by a
good public education available to all children, sufficient affordable housing
for families, accessible healthcare (especially mental healthcare), and jobs
that pay living wages, can the community expect the crime rate to go down."

  • The Real Cost of Prisons Weblog has highlighted a community in Western Massachusetts in which those without the financial means to post a few hundred dollars in bail are held for months before their trials. While eighty-five percent of women being held have substance abuse problems, and many have families to care for, the county has opted to spend thousands of dollars each month to keep women in newly-constructed jails rather than offer treatment programs that would offer inmates a chance at rehabilitation and redemption. Author Lois Ahrens notes that "holding women and men who are too poor to make bail results in
    devastating consequences: more jail building, greater impoverishment of
    the poor, and continued criminalization of addiction and mental illness."
  • Jack and Jill Politics has alerted us to the fact that the Bush administration is working with the Senate to discontinue federal downpayment assistance for first-time homebuyers. Some striking statistics from the post: "From 2000 through 2006, more than 650,000 buyers got their down payments through nonprofits" working with this program, and "the move to get rid of downpayment assistance programs will bar
    approximately 40% of African-American homebuyers from utilizing Federal
    Housing Administration insured loans. Also affected are potentially 30%
    of Latinos."
  • We'd previously noted that the California wildfires had resulted in undocumented immigrants turning themselves in to the border patrol because they feared for their safety. A number of blogs, however, have exposed other effects of the fires on immigrant communities. The Black Agenda Report has discussed raids of the displaced people at Qualcomm stadium as well as farmers not permitting their workers to evacuate. IntraPolitics talks about how the San Diego Sheriff's department is checking for ID among people returning to their homes, and continues to the draw further comparisons between the wildfires and New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina:

"The policies undertaken by law enforcement and developers in these
regions of natural disasters, in my opinion, is part of a general
scheme to displace the poor and minority property owners and renters.
The backlash against social programs designed to help people obtain
affordable housing, combined with the expected pitfalls of subprime
mortgage lending, have placed us in a crisis of vulnerable populations
losing the small allowances of economic power and self-determination
they've had."

  • 'Just News Blog' and the ImmigrationProf Blog have covered the story of 'a new low' in immigration raids: harassing a Latino community on their way to and from church services. Local law enforcement officials have been setting up roadblocks along two streets in Mount Olive, North Carolina in order to request documentation of churchgoers, many of whom are employed at the Butterball slaughterhouse two miles away.
  • Finally, in honor of the holiday, Racialicious has a very interesting post up entitled 'Reasons I Hate Halloween,' which discusses the prevalence of costumes that "reinforce the eroticized and/or dangerous stereotypes associated with Muslim and Middle Eastern men and women." Author Fatemeh Fakhraie provides a variety of examples to support her discomfort with the use of these stereotypes as 'dress-up' options.
Oct 31 2007
Blog Post Human Rights and New Media in America
  • The ImmigrationProf Blog has written a post featuring the new Guantánamo Testimonials Project,
    a project of
    the University of California, Davis Center for the Study of Human
    Rights in the Americas (CSHRA). The goal of the project is to collect and make available testimonies
    of detainees' experiences at Guantánamo and includes statements by "prisoners, FBI Agents, interrogators, prosecution
    and defense lawyers, military physicians, a chaplain, a marine, a CIA
    asset, and others. "
  • Yesterday saw an article in The Huffington Post entitled Dangerous Toys are a Human Rights Issue.  Author David Nassar discusses the connections between this controversial issue and a lack of protections for workers:

"These dangerous toys aren't putting just our children at risk:
they also endanger the lives of the factory workers who make them.

same forces that make manufacturers cut corners on paint and plastic
also make manufacturers cut corners on labor costs. Working long hours
in appalling conditions - often with toxic chemicals and no protection
- laborers in China bear the true cost of America's low price toys.
Stores like Wal-Mart demand bottom dollar costs, but the costs come
back not only to us and our children, but to entire communities
overseas. Today's news stories regarding children making clothing for
the Gap, Inc. in India's factories are another harsh reminder of that

Last week's Congressional hearing on toy safety and working
conditions in China's factories highlighted the fact that without
ensuring the safety of employees in supplier factories, it is
challenging at best to ensure the safety of the products that come out
of those factories and ultimately the safety of our children."

  • Regarding education policy, the last few days have seen discussion of high schools functioning as 'dropout factories' (with one in ten American high schools seeing less than 60% of their original class finishing school) and the importance of the federal Head Start preschool program in increasing graduation rates (while also cutting crime rates). Others have discussed new legislation to help control college costs for American youth, while high-achieving immigrants in favor of the DREAM Act have expressed worries such as "I always worried that immigration (officers) would come if I didn't excel." It is important to continue these dialogues concerning the human rights issues of where we as a nation can do better in ensuring that our young people have the opportunities they need to achieve their full potential.
  • Finally, the DMI Blog has posted on an innovative new media project of the Drum Major Institute for Public Policy, their just-launched website
    The website is meant to function as "a dynamic site that will update
    throughout the year as members of
    Congress vote on legislation of significance to the current and
    aspiring middle class." Speaking of its democratizing role of holding politicians accountable to the voice of their constituents by reporting on legislation in an interactive fashion, the site

"For each bill, we begin with a brief description of the legislation,
information about its status in the legislative process, and an
analysis of its impact on the middle class. But also
provides more extensive context: you’ll find informative online video
about each piece of legislation, quotations from experts speaking out
on the issue, and hard-hitting numbers from DMI’s Injustice Index. We
look beyond the bill to what more could be done to address the issues
as stake. And we provide links to further resources.

We also provide information on how each member of the U.S. Senate
and House of Representatives voted on the legislation. You can look at
how every member voted on a particular bill, or how your own
representative voted. You can search for legislation by issue area or
keyword and look for legislators by name, state, or entering your zip
code. And you can check out the grades we assign each member of
Congress based on their votes."

Oct 30 2007
Blog Post Spitzer Reaches Agreement with Federal Government on Licenses for Immigrants
  • After announcing his intention to provide driver's licenses without respect to immigration status, New York's Governor Spitzer reached an agreement with the Department of Homeland Security to offer a tiered licensing system that will exclude licenses for undocumented immigrants from operating within the confines of the Real ID Act intended to curb terrorism, essentially ensuring that the licenses can not be used for official purposes such as identification at the airport. Angry that Spitzer's reversed decision will "push immigrants further into the shadows," a coalition of immigrants rights advocates held a protest yesterday outside the governor's New York City office.
  • Consideration of the DREAM Act in Congress seems to have had some unintended consequences on an immigrant family: Angry Asian Man reports on the recent arrest of the family of Vietnamese college graduate Tam Tran.  Tran had testified before a House subcommittee in May, urging representatives to support a path to citizenship for immigrant students, and was quoted by USA Today earlier this month.  Three days later, her parents and brother were arrested and charged "with being fugitives from
    justice, even though the Trans have been reporting to immigration
    officials annually to obtain work permits." It's unfortunate that Tran's family is paying the price for her having spoken for what she believed in, that our nation can do a better job supporting the potential of all its young people.
  • Also related to legislation introduced by Illinois Senator Dick Durbin, Culture Kitchen notifies us of the pending Child Soldier Prevention Act, a measure to end military and other support to nations that employ children in their armed forces. According to Ishmael Beah who spoke at the University of Buffalo, "9 of the 20 countries with known child soldiers in combat have received military aid from the United States." Beah's newest work, A Long Way Gone: Memoirs Of A Boy Soldier explores the prevalent issue of child soldiers which runs contrary to basic human rights doctrines such as the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child that decrees a secure and peaceful existence for all children.
  • The DMI Blog has written about a new program to increase graduation rates, in which high school students take college courses while finishing high school. A recent report by the  Community College Research Center (CCRC) concludes that "Students who participate in dual enrollment – or those who take
    college courses for credit while still in high school – are nearly 10
    percent more likely to pursue a bachelor’s degree." A New York Times article about the report notes that “the study…also found that low-income students benefited more from such programs than other students did” and that New York state is planning to implement the dual enrollment program. Author Maureen Lane is hopeful that implementation of the program will provide "an
    opportunity to break barriers to college for poor and low-income
  • Marian's Blog has highlighted an upcoming documentary by Martin Luther King III entitled "Poverty in America." Airing on American Life TV on November 14-15th, the documentary provides King a method of asserting his belief that "We can build a society where everyone gets a fair chance
    to succeed, despite the circumstances of their birth. That's what my
    father fought for, and that's what I'll fight for."
Oct 29 2007
Blog Post The Whole Story on Race

Opportunity in America is a two-way street. Each of us has a
responsibility to do our best, pursuing whatever pathways to success
are available to us. And our society has a responsibility to keep those
pathways open and accessible to everyone, irrespective of race, gender,
or other aspects of what we look like or where we come from.

That balance of personal responsibility and self-help on one hand,
while demanding fairness and equity on the other, has always been
crucial to the African-American quest for opportunity. That's why
Malcolm X and the Million Man March continue to occupy such important
places in the black consciousness, and why civil rights organizations
like the NAACP and the National Urban League continue to promote educational and self-help programs along with advocacy and anti-discrimination efforts.

Given that reality, it's disappointing that the media coverage of Bill Cosby and Alvin Poussaint's new book, Come on, People: On the Path from Victims to Victors, seems to be telling only half the story when it comes to the state of black America.

  • There has been a good amount of discussion in the past couple weeks about the election of Piyush "Bobby" Jindal as the next governor of Louisiana, as Jindal is not only the first governor of color since Reconstruction but is the child of Indian Immigrants.  While blogs such as RaceWire have asked valid questions about Jindal's politics, arguing that his policies are culturally self-effacing and will prove damaging to people of color, other immigration blogs such as the Immigrants in USA Blog have praised Jindal's election as a sign of progress in the process of accepting and integrating immigrants into our communities, as well as demonstrating the opportunities for success in our country. Jindal is quoted by ABC News as saying: "My mom and dad came to this country in pursuit of the American dream.
    And guess what happened. They found the American dream to be alive and
    well right here in Louisiana."
  • The Border Line and LA Times report that presidential candidate Bill Richardson recently spoke on the need to change our policies towards Latin America. As a Latino and former ambassador the the UN, Richardson advocated for both improved diplomatic relations and comprehensive immigration reform that will allow for a pathway to citizenship in order to enable the same sort of mobility that provided Bobby Jindal to opportunity to assume the Louisiana governorship.  Along the same topic, Migra Matters has just published a piece on the need to examine how our trade policies such as NAFTA are driving the very migration into the United States that many Americans are fighting.
Oct 26 2007
Blog Post As Americans, We Value Supporting the Vulnerable in our Communities
  • Yesterday saw the Senate's failure to pass the DREAM Act, thus ending further attempts to pass the legislation this year.  In an era in which college costs are rising at twice the rate of inflation, undocumented students who have grown up in this country are left without the means to finance their educations or gain the legal work status that would enable them to achieve their potential or productivity. The bill was sponsored by Senator Durbin, who described the youth in question as
    "'without a country'...though the U.S. is the only home these children
    know, it is an uncertain future that the government has condemned these
    students to live." Suman Raghunathan at the DMI Blog has just written about Smart Public Policies on Immigration, concluding:

"It’s becoming increasingly clear to me that local communities are going
to have to develop their own practical approaches to immigration policy
and make sure they trickle up to the feds, who remain more obsessed
with border fencing than with figuring out how to see immigrants
(particularly undocumented ones) as important economic contributors and
vital parts of our community."

  • Congress also voted to confirm nominee Leslie Southwick as a federal judge in the fifth circuit.  A good number of bloggers have expressed disappointment over his confirmation, including Pam's House Blend and Firedoglake, and the ACSBlog linked to a New York Times article on the vote.  Many progressives had called upon Southwick's history of homophobic and even racist rulings to argue that he will be biased and unfair in a region of the United States that has a strong history of structural inequality.

  • President Bush stated yesterday that he has every intention of vetoing the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), regardless of whether or not it includes the protections for transgender individuals that are under consideration in Congress.  The legislation is intended to ensure that no Americans are unfairly targeted or dismissed in the workplace on grounds of their sexual orientation and gender identity.  Such an act by Bush would further contribute to a lack of security among the LGBT community as it remains unable to access basic and equal workplace protections.
  • People are starting to organize in order to help those displaced by the Southern California wildfires. BlogHer, Ezra Klein, Firedoglake, and the Angry Asian Man have all posted information on how Americans can support the members of our community whose livelihood and homes are at risk.
Oct 25 2007
Blog Post DREAM Act Vote Today in Senate
  • The DREAM Act legislation which would provide undocumented students the means to stay in the country legally if they attend college or join the military is up for a vote today in the Senate. The Border Line reports that it remains unclear if enough Senators will come out in support of the bill, measure which would provide many students who arrived in the US legally as young children with access to federal funding for continue their education in hope of giving back to their communities.
  • As the wildfires continue to rage in Southern California, Immigration News Daily has posted that about fifty undocumented immigrants have turned themselves into border patrol agents out of fear for their safety. Various bloggers such as Prometheus 6 are starting to draw comparisons between the immense devastation of the wildfires and that of Hurricane Katrina, and how the socio-economic status of the displaced populations has affected the care and attention each received.
  • RaceWire has done a piece about Blackwater's new bid to get involved with security on the US-Mexico border.  Author Seth Wessler explains how problematic this situation would be, despite apparent bipartisan support in Congress:

"Given Blackwater’s 'shoot first' policy, enacted with bloody clarity in Iraq and on the streets of New Orleans after Katrina,
the plans to expand to the border region do not bode well. With
vigilante groups like the Minutemen already taking their racist,
nationalist stance to the front lines, guns in hand, the addition of
Blackwater to the scene would only mean more dead immigrants with less

In a political climate where the rhetoric on immigration employs the
lexicon of war, the possibility of Blackwater’s entry into the border
security scene seems to fit the frame. As if it were not enough that
the United States is building a wall along
the border and the the total number of deportations has increased by
over 400% in the past ten years, the border itself may be handed over
to private firms whose interests could not be less in line with the
common good."

  • The Unapologetic Mexican has joined the ranks of those reporting on a coalition of major newspapers and television networks who are petitioning to gain access to Jena Six member Mychal Bell's sealed criminal trial.  Bell's lawyer seems to agree that the media presence may help temper further questionable rulings by District Attorney Reed Walters, and that the case has been publicized enough to date that Americans have a right to know what is going on.
  • The Republic of T is spreading the news about the just-announced date of next July's 'Blogging While Brown' conference.  In a blogosphere in which people of color remain the minority, it is tremendously important for bloggers of color to organize themselves in order to maximize potential to publicize issues of import such as the Jena Six case.
  • Feministing posts that Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg spoke this past weekend about the Roe v. Wade abortion ruling, about how she doesn't forsee the ruling being overturned in the next few years.  She added, however, that if it were overturned, abortion would always be available to 'women of means' who could afford to travel to other states, but "would have a devastating impact on poor women."
Oct 24 2007
Blog Post Race and Human Rights in Pop Culture
  • There have been a series of posts about costume options as Halloween approaches -- according to the Angry Asian Man, you can even be your favorite Asian stereotype, from a 'sexy giesha' to 'oriental delight.'  The (misspelled?) geisha costume is even described as 'accented with spicy oriental designs and a fancyfan.' While respect for cultural diversity is critical in ensuring the strength of our communities, the advertising around these costumes is based in prolonging not only an image of the submissive female but feeding unfavorable generalizations based on race.
  • The Consumerist has advised us that popular grocery store chain Trader Joe's has decided to cave to consumer pressure and ban all single-ingredient products originating in China. The post states, "Though the announcement - the first of its kind among major retailers -
    will not make consumers any safer, it is the most pernicious indication
    yet of consumers skepticism towards foreign goods."
  • There are two movies coming out of note to the human rights community, both to do with the cultureand techniques of detention after 9/11.  There has been a lot of buzz about Rendition, a film concerning the American practice of extraordinary rendition, or removing terrorism suspects to foreign soil to allow for 'enhanced interrogation' practices or torture.  On the humorous end, spring 2008 will see the release of Harold and Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay.
  • Television network CW has just started a new series called Aliens in America, which tells the story of a Wisconsin family that decides to host an exchange student from Pakistan. The Louisville Courier-Journal says of the new series:

"Aliens in America" isn't preachy, and there are no overt references in
the opener to bigotry and discrimination, but the subtle undertows are
always present. The show is a fresh and new approach to
touchy topics, but it's done more for laughs than sermonizing....The comedy isn't really about Raja at all. It's about us. "Aliens in America" uses a funhouse mirror
to reflect the way too many of us see someone who doesn't look, dress
or pray like us, and it does it in an amusing and maybe even thoughtful

  • Finally, Racialicious is helping to sponsor a cool new media initiative known as 10Questions, in which people are encouraged to create, submit and vote on video questions, ten of which will be presented to the presidential candidates for their responses.  Also in the veign of playing  out racial stereotypes, a recent video was posted with the question "Should we ban American Indian Mascots?" Feel free to go throw in your two cents with a comment!
Oct 23 2007
Blog Post Congress Fails to Override SCHIP Veto
  • A multitude of bloggers remarked on the SCHIP re-vote in which Congress was unable to override President Bush's veto on the expansion of children's health care.  In the wake of this struggle, framing expert George Lakoff has stepped with another piece on how progressives can frame the health care issue, called 'Don't Think of a Sick Child,' summarized by Open Left.
  • Also on the issue of health care, Bloggernista has alerted us to the notable absence of discussion among presidential candidates of their policies on HIV/AIDS. The post cites GMHC's Robert Bank as saying that, “It is unconscionable that the United States, which has all the
    necessary resources to end the AIDS epidemic, does not have a
    comprehensive plan to stop AIDS deaths, reduce infections, and get
    people the medical care that they need.”  Accordingly, there are two new campaigns to increase the visibility of this issue in presidential campaigns: AIDSVote and National AIDS Strategy.
  • With respect to the media, Alas!
    blog reports on a lawsuit filed in Portland, Oregon, by a man who was
    tasered by police for videotaping a raid of his neighbor's house.
    According to one of the cops, Waterhouse "refused to drop the camera
    which could be used as a weapon.”  While it is reassuring to know that
    law enforcement officials have tremendous respect for the power of the
    media, this sort of unjustified force will do nothing to promote
    cohesion and democracy in our communities.
  • News on immigration policy is a mix as usual.  On one end of the spectrum, North Carolina is assuming a new role as the leading state in a new program that will enable local corrections officers to search and verify the immigration status of everyone in jail. 
  • The Immigration Policy Center has just released a report entitled 'Wasted Talent and Broken Dreams: The Lost Potential of Undocumented Students,' demonstrating the need for a DREAM Act to allow all students in the US the opportunity to get a higher education. 
  • The ImmigrationProf Blog notes that US Appeals Court Judge Harry Pregerson is challenging sixty deportation orders on grounds that ordering a noncitizen parent out of the country also forces unlawful deportation of his or her US citizen child.  This is a tough issue, but such a move would unfairly curtail options for the children deported. 
  • In public opinion, Happening Here? published the results of a new CNN poll which states that only 30% of Americans think all undocumented immigrants should be deported.  This figure is promising and hopefully lawmakers will take it into account before enacting future 'crackdown' policies. If America is to fulfill its promise of opportunity, we must implement an integration strategy that welcomes immigrants and gives newcomers and their families an equal chance to fully contribute to and participate in society.
Oct 22 2007
Blog Post Life in a Diverse America

"National faith, civil rights and labor leaders today unveiled a
campaign to counter the growing anti-immigrant movement in the U.S. by
uplifting the voices of everyday Americans who have grown weary of the
division created by anti-immigrant politics. The campaign presents one
of the few organized alternatives for those Americans who may find
themselves conflicted on immigration and immigration reform, but are
thoroughly at odds with the tenor and ideological background of the
anti-immigrant movement.“

The campaign website states that:

"Campaign for a United America is made up of
Americans from all walks of life who are standing up to defend our
nation’s historic commitment to unity, equality and opportunity. We’re
working to promote a dialogue that respects the contributions of all
community members including our immigrant friends and neighbors and
explores a sensible, humane, and compassionate approach to life
together in a diverse America."

We look forward to watching this media work as it unfolds and tells stories of real people in two opposing camps, 'Voices for a United America' and 'Voices of Intolerance.'

  • Immigration Equality posted that the San Pedro immigration detention facility where Victoria Arrellano died has lost its government accreditation.  Whether or not this means the facility will be shut down is unclear.  The organization notes, "Our fear is that DHS is treating the symptom and not the problem" of an immigration system which is built to hold people in inhumane living conditions for indefinite periods of time.  The entire way we approach immigration needs to be restructured with respect for the human right of mobility, the idea that we should all have the capacity to cross borders or social class lines in our drive for great opportunities.
  • As the SCHIP legislation vetoed by President Bush goes back to Congress for another vote today, Firedoglake has written that three members of the House have already announced a change in opinion in favor of expanding funding for children's health care.  Two more votes are needed to pass the bill that will provide health insurance for ten million American children whose families live closest to the poverty line.
  • In affirmative action news, the Mirror on America blog has reported that, in November 2008, five more states will be considering measures to ban the use of racial, ethnic, or gender preferences by public colleges and other state and local agencies.  Well-known affirmative action critic Ward Connerly has pushed for referenda in Arizona, Colorado, Missouri, Nebraska, and Oklahoma, in which voters will voice their opinion on policies meant to level the playing field for minorities.  Given that all five states have populations that are more than three-quarters white and lack large-scale minority advocacy groups, the approval of such bans seems likely.
Oct 18 2007
Blog Post Protecting Children in Jena, Prison, School, and the Gulf Zone
  • As an update on the Jena Six case, the US Attorney for the Western District of Louisiana said at yesterday's House Judiciary Committee hearing that the hanging of a noose does indeed qualify as a hate crime, and that had the white boys responsible been of age, they would have been tried accordingly.  The Chicago Tribune noted the Congressional Black Caucus pushed the issue that "it is illegal under the guarantees of our Constitution and our laws to
    have one standard of justice for white citizens and another harsher one
    for African- American citizens." Officials from the Justice promised that a serious investigation is underway in Jena.
  • The Sentencing Law and Policy blog and the The New York Times reported yesterday on juveniles in prison serving life sentences, some of whom were thirteen or fourteen when their crime was committed.  America is the only country in the world that assigns life sentences for underage crimes (a policy prohibited by the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child), and only in 2005 did we discontinue the use of the death penalty for juveniles.  We ought to examine these policies with reflection on the human right of redemption, that we all deserve a second chance to change our behavior.
  • Migra Matters published an entertaining piece yesterday discussing Republican presidential candidate Tom Tancredo's proposal that DNA testing be a routine part of the immigration process, in order to prove that people that claim to be related actually are blood kin.
  • The happening-here? blog wrote about a recent poll by San Jose State University that showed that the majority of Californians (59%) are in favor of a path to legal residency for undocumented immigrants.  Presented with this data, author janinsanfran asks progressives "How to do we make the majority audible and effectual?" 
  • Also in California, the Governor Schwarzenegger has just signed a bill that will increase access to information about colleges, and the ways students can prepare themselves for higher education.  According to RaceWire, "the law could be used by community based education groups as leverage
    to secure more resources for counseling and other support services."  More clarity on the college application process should help increase options for California's students.
  • With one day to go until the SCHIP re-vote, the Bush administration has also refused to renew funding
    for the mental health of children in the New Orleans area, despite data
    that indicates that they among the most traumatized in the country.  As
    a result of a screening by the Louisiana Rural Trauma Services Center, part of the state university of children displaced by Hurricane Katrina and returning to the area, "31 percent reported clinically significant symptoms of depression and post-traumatic stress disorder."  This comes in spite of a health department directive to give high priority to services for hurricane victims.  Such individualist policies can only be more devastating to the Gulf community.
Oct 17 2007
Blog Post Immigration Increases Opportunity For All
  • In the wake of the California DREAM Act veto, a couple interesting stories have come to light concerning higher education.  The first involves a scholarship fund set up by Catalino Tapia, a gardener who settled in Redwood City after immigrating from Mexico.  Tapia was so proud to see his son attend law school that he formed a non-profit organization with other gardeners that gave away nine $1500 scholarships last year.  Tapia proves he understands the importance of community values: “I believe the education of our young people isn't just the responsibility of their parents, especially in the Latino community where some parents work two or three jobs…It's our obligation as community leaders, because young people sometimes wander without guidance."
  • Second, a student at Texas A&M University who came to the US on a visa when he was five years old has been ordered to leave the country – but the immigration authorities are going to let him finish his engineering degree in December before deporting him to Guatemala. Having signed a form that made them ineligible for citizenship, the family is all facing deportation – although the mother has also been granted an extension so their one US citizen daughter can finish the school year.  While it is upsetting to see a family’s chance at citizenship get hung up on a technicality, it is reassuring to see that ICE is taking their educational status and options into account for the time being.
  • With respect to the impending construction of a fence along the US-Mexico border, the Pro Inmigrant blog has noted that Homeland Security Secretary Chertoff may decide to use his power to trump a recent federal court ruling halting the building process in Arizona. Latina Lista reports, however, that some communities in Texas may be able to call upon Spanish colonial law to avoid ceding the land demanded by the Homeland Security department. In the town of Granjeno alone, plans dictate that the fence would cut through properties owned by 34 families, demonstrating that the fence would have a negative impact on Americans as well, in addition to its environmental impact and general inability to fix an immigration system already broken and unfair.
  • In another milestone in the ongoing battle over immigration policy, Migra Matters has featured a recent report by the University or Arizona confirming the economic benefits of all kinds of immigration.  The author summarizes the study: “We can now add Arizona to the long list of states in which recent studies prove that the current influx of immigrants, both legal and undocumented, have contributed far more in taxes than they receive in government services.”  As a nation, we’ve found much strength not only in the vibrant workforce that immigration has enabled but also in the richness and diversity of our community. Future federal and state policies should reflect our support and gratitude for the benefits that immigration brings us all.
Oct 16 2007
Blog Post California dashes DREAMs yet again
  • There has recently been commentary that the state of California's immigration policies are all over the place - just last week the governor signed an anti-discrimination law to protect landlords and tenants.  It's fresh news, however, that Schwarzenegger has vetoed the California DREAM Act for the second time, a measure which would have increased access for undocumented students to get a college education.  In the same swoop, the governor also vetoed gay marriage in California for the second time, while signing the California Student Civil Rights Act to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity in schools.
  • There has been much talk on the recent trial of a nurse and several guards from a Florida boot camp for adolescents who beat a 14-year-old black boy who claimed he was too tired to exercise and then died the following day; their acquittal on murder charges has fed recent discussions on the nature of these youth boot camps where at-risk children are regularly neglected and abused.  Forcing troubled youth to undergo starvation can only add to their sense of social abandonment and will not work to increase opportunities available to them to succeed.
  • The Facing South blog has published commentary on last Friday's New York Times piece on the impact of immigration raids on the Smithfield Foods' North Carolina slaughterhouse.  Asking the question "Who Benefits?," author Chris Kromm concludes that businesses suffer from a lack of a stable workforce, and that, "Immigration raids do nothing to improve this situation for workers. In
    reality, the costly raids end up separating families and tearing up
    communities -- all for a short-term solution to the long-term problem
    of immigration reform."  Especially because raids are failing to solve our broken immigration system, we need to start approaching the issue of immigration policy reform with consideration for what is best for the community at large.
  • Ending on a lighter note, the Immigrants in USA blog has posted on a Boston Globe article highlighting various Massachusetts employers that are offering English classes for their workers, catering to a high demand for the service.  This is a great example of the way businesses can effectively invest in their workforce and the community as a whole, as increasing communications skills will have ramifications across the board for marginalized populations.
Oct 15 2007
Blog Post Mychal Bell Back in Jail
  • In recent news, Mychal Bell of the Jena Six is back in jail, as a Louisiana judge has decided that he violated his probation from an earlier drug offense that was not tried.  Prometheus 6 and Too Sense have both weighed in on this seemingly continual obstruction of justice.  While Bell is now in juvenile prison, as opposed to a penitentiary for adults, the punishment he's been forced to endure remains out of sync with the crimes committed, highlighting the racism that still pervades our justice system.  We hope as his case goes forward that future decisions about his fate are grounded in the American ideals of equality and redemption, that we all deserve a second chance.
  • Big news today is that the Nobel peace prize has been awarded to former Vice President Al Gore along with the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.  Pam's House Blend has a post up which discusses the fact that global warming is "more than an environmental issue - it is a question of war and peace." From Africa to Alaska, communities that have based their security upon access to dwindling natural resources are at risk of political and economic instability.
  • The mailing of the Bush administration's 141,000 "no-match" letters
    aimed at targeting workers with proper documentation was stalled yet
    again by a preliminary injunction by a federal judge in San Francisco.
    Migra Matters reports that judge Breyer
    expressed "'serious concerns' over the legality of the Bush
    proposal that would force employers to fire an estimated 1.5 million
    employees whose Social Security records contain discrepancies." The
    letters will be held until the hearing of a lawsuit brought against the
    new requirements.
  • According to the Pro Inmigrant Blog, California has just enacted a law barring landlords from inquiring about tenants' immigration status. Nancy Ahlswede, executive director of the Apartment Association, California Southern Cities, praised the legislation for its attention to "huge anti-discrimination obligations" placed upon landlords by federal housing laws.  Similar to the pending "no match" lawsuit on employment, this law is a great example of a community coming together to voice their support for fair treatment in housing practices along with a progressive approach to the integration of immigrants into our society.
Oct 12 2007
Blog Post Equality in Immigration, Schools, and the Workplace
  • One piece of not-so-good news and then we're on to a happier day: The 'Just News' Blog and the LA Times report that a lawsuit has been filed by the ACLU to "stop immigration authorities from forcibly drugging deportees in
    order to send them back to their home countries on commercial airlines."  It seems this process may be quite widespread, as at least fifty-two people are known to have been drugged over a period of seven months, the majority of which had never shown any signs of psychiatric illness. ACLU attorney Ahilan T. Arulanantham aptly sums up the situation: "It's both medically
    inappropriate and shocking that the government believes it can treat
    immigrants like animals and shoot them up with powerful anti-psychotic
    drugs that can be fatal -- without a doctor's examination or court
    oversight." This type of practice does not support the equality and mobility that our country values; hopefully the lawsuit and media attention will bring an end to these stories of human rights denied.
  • Next, The Border Line and The New York Times have reported on a school district in Union City, New Jersey using iPods in class to help students with limited English proficiency learn to sing along to English-language music, working on their grammar and vocabulary in the process. This innovative style of teaching has been accelarating the students' move out of bilingual classes. NYU sociology professor Pedro Noguera agrees: “You
    know the No. 1 complaint about school is that it’s boring because the
    traditional way it’s taught relies on passive learning....It’s not interactive enough.”  It's great to see new media being used as an educational tool; while there is much value in cultural and linguistic diversity in our community, improved English skills will undeniably advance options for higher education and eventually work among our youth.
  • The ACSBlog reported on yesterday's Supreme Court decision that upheld the ability of parents of children with disabilities to be reimbursed for private school tuition even if their child never received public special education services.  When public schools do not offer appropriate programming for children with disabilities, children with special needs should have the opportunity to go elsewhere rather than first being forced to struggle in a public school setting.
  • Wrapping up, today is 'National Coming Out Day.'  The Human Rights Campaign has been promoting the event with a YouTube video contest, and Pam's House Blend has posted a video of her own along with notes on how to get involved in working for equal rights or even how to "come out" as a straight ally.  Bloggernista is doing a series of posts today on LGBT people of color and their coming out experiences. These discussions are particularly important this fall as Congress is considering the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), a bill to extend fair workplace protections to LBGT Americans.  Government policies that safeguard employment are critical to upholding the shared value of security, that all people must have access to the means to provide for their own basic needs and those of their family.
Oct 11 2007
Blog Post Columbus Day Protests Highlight Human Rights in America

"What if America launched a new New Deal and no one noticed? And what
if, instead of lifting the unemployed out of poverty, this
multibillion-dollar project steadily drove poor communities further and
further out of the American mainstream?

That's how America should think about its growing prison system,
some leading social scientists are saying, in research that suggests
prisons have a far deeper impact on the nation than simply punishing

These posts are definitely worth a read with attention to the way that our prison system values retribution over redemption, the idea that those who falter in their efforts or break societal rules warrant the chance for reconciliation, rehabilitation, and a new start.

  • Tennessee Guerilla Women posted a story about 2600 members of the Minnesota National Guard who just returned from 22 months of duty in Iraq to find that they were deployed one day short of the 730 days required to receive the college education benefits outlined in the GI Bill.  To knowingly deny veterans the chance to go to college is a disrespectful statement that in spite of government promises and their personal sacrifices, the soldiers must 'go it alone' and support themselves through school.  This myth that we should all 'pull ourselves up by the bootstraps' is contrary to our nation's long-held belief that our success as a country depends on the success of all, that we should be striving for the common good.  The policies of our government should be based in community values rather than punitive individualism.
  • An interesting post on the Immigrants in USA Blog discusses the way lack of transportation negatively affects immigrant populations.  Based on an article published in Alabama's News Courier about a lecture by sociology professor Stephanie Bohon, the piece discusses how transportation barriers "prevent [immigrants] from learning the language, learning about job or housing opportunities and having access to services."  If undocumented individuals are unable to obtain drivers licenses and there is no public transport available in their area, they are left dependent on expensive taxi fares and may choose to forgo outings such as taking their child for necessary vaccinations.
  • After recent crackdowns on the mobility of immigrant workers, a shortage of farm workers has left farmers threatening to leave fruit and vegetable rotting in their fields.  As a result, the Bush administration is quietly working to rewrite federal regulations on foreign labor.  This is a perfect example of how reactionary, anti-immigrant policies have not only failed to fix the problem but are making things worse for the American economy.  Immigration replenishes our country's workers, communities, and traditions.  Immigrants are central to our productivity and success, and help ensure that the US continues to be a land of wealth and opportunity.
  • Finally, Future Majority alerts us to a new campaign to get young Latinos to vote called Vota Por Tu Futuro (Vote 4 UR Future). A media campaign based on PSAs and in-show
    ads, Vote 4 UR Future is a partnership between the youth-focused TV channel Telemundo, mun2 and a coalition of political organizations such as Rock the Vote, the US
    Hispanic Leadership Institute, and Democracia USA. Thie campaign is a great step towards ensuring that the growing Latino population has a voice in electing our public officials.
Oct 9 2007
Blog Post On Being a Kid: Health Care, Photo-Ops, and Video Games
  • Latina Lista just wrote a piece entitled "It's Been a Bad Week to Be an Immigrant Child in the U.S.A.," citing the recent upsets of the SCHIP veto plus the shelving of the DREAM Act and the Immigrant Children's Health Improvement Act (ICHIA).  Additionally, Irving, Texas has seen about 90 immigrant children pulled out of school in the past month, while the nearby city council of Farmers Branch has demanded that the school district provide it with the names and addresses of all enrolled students, a move of which many are suspicious.  The post then ties all these are happenings together with a great use of the opportunity frame: "As a country, we can't afford to abandon any child. Why? Because there's potential in their destiny, and that's worth caring about every time."  Every child deserves the chance to succeed, and this requires that the child have a basic level of good health, education, and security.
  • Unfortunately, the examples of the neglect of a child's potential don't stop there.  A recent study by the University of Maryland reveals that families caring for foster children receive "far less than what middle-income families spend to raise their children."  At its core, foster care is a progressive societal mechanism meant to provide greater opportunities for children that are at risk. With 500,000 children in foster care nationwide, a lack of financial resources for foster families will certainly curtail the options of many.
  • Back to the SCHIP debate, another video has been released, this one by the Campaign for America's Future. Posted on YouTube as "Kids Warn Conservatives: No More Photo Ops," the footage urges Congress to override Bush's veto by questioning the use of children as a media tactic without regard to their well-being.  Looking at the comments on the YouTube page, it seems like many are in favor of the attack ad format of the video, which is framed as a cute and cheeky threat to politicians. Others question the heavy-handed use of the actor in the video, wondering how this use of a child in public media is different from that of politicians.  What do we think about this?  Is the video effective way to frame the argument for increased health coverage?
  • Briefly, a middle school in South Carolina has been in the news for its
    assignment to students to re-imagine plantation life, to the point of
    rationalizing and romanticizing slavery.  Too Sense's post "They Were Just Trying To Show Both Sides Of The Debate" is entertaining and insightful, as author dnA expresses concern for the black kids attending the school.
  • Iced_4
    On the other side of the educational spectrum, we're eagerly awaiting next month's release of ICED! I Can End Deportation, a downloadable video game being developed by Breakthrough, an organization that works in the US and India to build human rights culture through new media.  After presenting the project at the Games for Change conference, Breakthrough has received a surprising amount of mainstream media attention. Executive Director Mallika Dutt was even interviewed on Fox News about the game, whose name is a play on the Immigration and Customs Enforcement. ICED! has been designed as a fun educational tool to illustrate the human rights violations inherent in immigration policies introduced in 1996.  Players get to role-play the experiences of five characters, each based on true case studies such as a student on a temporary visa or a permanent resident, and they make a series of moral choices which may bring them into contact with immigration agents seeking to arrest them.  There are also periodic myth/fact questions built into the game about immigration laws, which if answered correctly affect a player's score, level of risk, freedom, or health. If a player makes the wrong decisions they land in a detention center, where they endure inhumane living conditions and separation from their families as they await a random outcome.  Like the well-known Darfur is Dying, the detention process is anything but a game for thousands of people. But here's hoping that ICED! will be able to increase public awareness of deportation as a critical human rights issue, such that Americans begin to push harder for fair and equitable reform.
Oct 5 2007
Blog Post On Immigration and SCHIP
  • Immigration Equality notified us of today's hearing in the House Immigration Subcommittee on health conditions in ICE detention centers.  Following recent deaths in the centers, the organization spoke and asked questions about the treatment of HIV-positive and LGBT detainees, who are often held without medicine and other necessary support by prison corporations who have no accountability for the lives of the detained.
  • An Arizona Appeals Court has ruled that it is legal to hold immigrants without bail.  At issue was Arizona's new Proposition 100, which mandates that undocumented immigrants charged with felonies are not eligible for bail.  Despite the contention that the measure denies the constitutional right of due process to those immigrants being held, the court upheld the legislation, arguing that its intention is to ensure that defendents are present for their trials.
  • Immigration raids are intensifying to the point that 1327 people were apprehended in Los Angeles in the past two weeks.  Although the ICE agents were on a hunt for immigrants with criminal records or those who had been previously deported, 146 of the arrests were "collateral" in that people were encountered in the process of the raids who were not able to prove their legal status.
  • CNN has just reported on a sailor in the US Navy whose wife is facing deportation proceedings.  Eduardo Gonzalez's story is a wrenching one, another narrative of families torn apart, even families who have made significant personal sacrifices for the good of our country. Latina Lista has written a great post questioning the "experts" that CNN has interviewed in their article.  Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies, is quoted by CNN as saying:

"What you're talking about is amnesty for illegal immigrants who have a relative in the armed forces, and that's just outrageous," he said. "What we're talking about here is letting lawbreakers get away with their actions just because they have a relative in the military. ... There's no justification for that kind of policy."

Author Treviño complains that the CNN article is "a perfect vehicle for Krikorian to deliver to a wide audience his brand of immigration reform," continuing,

For CNN and other news media, there must be more vigilance exercised in using and quoting sources when writing articles about featuring immigration issues. The use of Krikorian as an "expert" and others like him, just because they may be associated with an organization with the term "immigration" in its title, misleads the public into thinking that what is being presented are factual statements devoid of influence.

Unfortunately, the average public who are busy with their lives and don't take the time to really analyze what they read or hear, absorb the information — and repeat it. The overriding fallacy that exists among people is that if it is printed or broadcast, a story must be true.

This is a great illustration of the need to examine mainstream (and all) media for bias and the frames at use. Because many Americans don't consume the news media with a critical lens, it is crucial that we continue to counter Krikorian's depiction of disrespect for an ever-changing body of law, along with unfair access to what he views as limited resources, essentially the privileges that many Americans have been granted.  We can change the terms of the immigration debate to reflect the human right to mobility, migration in order to maximize our potential, be it geographic or related to social class.  We're all familiar with the 'rags to riches' paradigm; it's one our most prized American narratives.  Like Gonzalez and his wife and son, many immigrants have risked coming to US because they hope to succeed.

And, finally, there has been a ton of impassioned discussion about President Bush's veto of the SCHIP legislation on funding for children's health care.  Here's a selection:

Oct 4 2007
Blog Post Bush Vetoes, Spitzer Sues over Children's Health
  • This just in: President Bush has indeed vetoed the SCHIP legislation that recently passed through Congress seeking to expand funding for children's health care.  While the Senate had passed the bill with enough of a margin to override a veto, the House fell short. Representatives will be reconsidering their votes as our nation continutes to reflect on the values of individualism or community support. These values have tangible effects on the health of millions of children.
  • Yesterday, New York's Governor Eliot Sptizer announced that he is filing suit against the Bush administration over its new eligibility rules for children insured through the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP).  The new guidelines refuse federal funding for states to insure children whose parents earn more than 250% of the povery line, which will force some states to cancel the enrollment of children already in the program. A number of states are on board with Spitzer, including New Hampshire, and New Jersey has filed a similar suit. Spitzer has posted his argument on the Huffington Post, saying of Bush's casual commentary that everyone has access to health care in the emergency room that "this politics of 'not my problem'...has led to the health crisis we have today."
  • Also on the SCHIP debate, Families USA has just released a new ad campaign entitled "Bush vs. Kids," showing a series of children talking about how nice and sweet they think the president is, overlayed with text about how Bush is doing his best to cut health care for 10 million children.

  • Supreme Court justice Clarence Thomas has gotten a lot of media attention lately, between the launch of his new memoir and an interview on CBS '60 Minutes.'  The only African American member of the Supreme Court, Thomas has been controversial for his opposition to affirmative action policies and other progressive social reforms as well as his alleged sexual harassment of former employee Anita Hill.  Blogger Keith Boykin refers to Thomas as the "most dangerous black man in America," not dangerous to white America but to African Americans for his "record of disregard for the poor and minorities."
  • A federal judge in San Francisco again extended the ban against the mailing of the "no-match" letters by the Social Security administration.  President Bush and the Department of Homeland Security have mandated that employers receiving the 141,000 letters about discrencies in 8.7 million worker records sort out the mismatches within 90 days, fire their employees, or risk prosecution for knowingly hiring undocumented workers. The judge has indicated that he is disinclined to allow the letters to be sent, arguing that known inaccuracies in the federal database would cause irreparable harm to American businesses and to workers.
  • As the 2010 census approaches, people are beginning to discuss its effects on and the effects of undocumented immigrants.  On one hand, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has stated that it has no intention of discontinuing raids during the census in the interest of obtaining more accurate records.  More recently, the there has been talk on the issue of whether or not to include undocumented workers in the count as it affects the reallotment of representation in the US House of Representatives.  Different states would gain or lose a voice in each case, although the means of defining how many are undocumented will likely be challenging given immigrants' general fear and distrust of government officials.
  • Lastly, Culture Kitchen has published a thought-provoking piece entitled Why I Hate Hispanic Heritage Month, which is celebrated from September 15th through October 15th. Latina blogger Liza outlines her dislike of the word 'hispanic' and the way it leads people to make unfounded assumptions about the history, culture and linguistic background of Latin Americans.
Oct 3 2007
Blog Post Webcasts of Clinton Global Initiative Talk of the Need to Increase Opportunity
  • This Friday saw the end of the Clinton Global Initiative Annual Conference in New York.  The CGI is "a non-partisan catalyst for action bringing together a community of global leaders to devise and implement innovative solutions to some of the world’s most pressing challenges," from issues of education and health to global warming. Webcasts of the event have been have been posted on the site, and Blogher has published a number of posts about the meeting, the most recent of which discussed the importance of maternal health and education.  Here's a striking example of the discussion from the event:

"Gene Sperling talked about education being the silent crisis because there is no moment when the CNN camera captures a kid dying from lack of education. Every year of education for a mother increases the chance of her child living by 10%. When a woman has five years of education, her children are 50% more likely to see their fifth birthday."

Also debuted at the conference was YouTube's new video-sharing site for non-profit organizations.

  • Another exciting new media creation is the interactive web timeline on the America at a Crossroads site.  The timeline is related to the PBS series meant to explore "the challenges confronting the post-9/11 world — including the war on terrorism; the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan; the experience of American troops serving abroad; the struggle for balance within the Muslim world; and global perspectives on America’s role overseas." There are four separate timelines that correspond to a world map and offer pop-ups of information on key historical events.  A similar example of the capacity of an interactive timeline is found on the Reclaim Civil Rights website, which even has video embedded in the presentation.
  • The US Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) announced last week the launch of a new photo-database meant to enhance the E-Verify system for matching names and social security numbers of foreign workers in the US. 
  • Various blogs have commented recently on the new citizenship exam going into effect a year from today. The New York Times published an article discussing changes in the test, which has been criticized as abstract, irrelevant, lacking in any information about Latin Americans, and demanding a level of knowledge of American history and politics well above that of the average citizen. The ImmigrationProf Blog questions how this test relates to the literacy tests for the native-born voting population that were outlawed in the 1960s.
  • Finally, in other current events, 17-year-old Jena Six member Mychal Bell was released from prison last week on $45,000 bail.  In an unexpected display of generosity from the community, bail was posted by Dr. Stephen Ayers of Lake Charles, Louisiana, who offered his support upon hearing about the case because he felt that the District Attorney's treatment of Bell was innapropriately harsh.
Oct 1 2007
Blog Post Happenings in Media
  • The Health Care Blog has run a series of posts about the Health 2.0 conference on September 20 in San Francisco.  Meant to empower consumers to take charge of their health decisions through new technology, the convention focused on the capacity of tools such as social networking sites, blogs, specialized medical search engines and video sharing sites to transform access to health care.
  • Racialicious and New Demographic have released the newest podcast in their 'Addicted to Race' series, themed on the 'New Yellow Peril.' The podcast discusses the recent increase in anti-Chinese narratives in the news.  Comments on the podcast are welcome.

"Between the lead paint toy scare, the tainted pet food scare, and the general rise of China’s economic and military might, all the anti-Chinese sentiments we’ve been hearing lately sound awfully similar to the anti-Chinese sentiments at the turn of the century."

  • Another great usage of Web 2.0 is the ImmigrationProf Blog's 'Immigrant of the Day' series.  In a corner of blogosphere focused largely on individual episodes of violence and legislative battles, it is refreshing to get a regular dosage of success stories which help remind us that people immigrate to the US in search of increased opportunity.  Recent features include Madeleine May Kunin, the Swiss-born ambassador and former governor of Vermont, and comedic musician William Hung from Hong Kong.
  • The Huffington Post highlights a MediaWeek article which reports that most political candidates are slow to adopt paid advertising on the internet, choosing instead to stick to traditional media such as television.  Despite a willingness to engage in social networking sites such as Facebook and Myspace and a well-defined focus on online fundraising, "most candidates were planning to spend roughly one percent of their total media budgets online, versus the seven percent that most mainstream brands typically spend on the medium."
  • Finally, our video 'What Do Human Rights Mean to You?' has been posted on the From Poverty of Opportunity Campaign blog presented by the Heartland Alliance for Human Rights and Human Needs.  The Campaign works to reduce poverty in the state of Illinois by using the framework of human rights to organize communities, advocates and policy leaders into creating social change.
Sep 27 2007
Blog Post 'Sanctuary' Challenged in Illinois, While Senate Considers FEC Nominee
  • In the ongoing dilemma surrounding 'sanctuary cities', the Department of Homeland Security is now suing the state of Illinois over a new state law that bans employers from using the Social Security administration's no-match database until the agency can certify that it is 99% accurate.  The Bush administration contends that the state law preempts the new federal law meant to increase pressure on undocumented workers.
  • Regarding the progress of SCHIP reauthorization, the bill has passed in the House, but without the margin necessary to override a veto by President Bush.  It will next move on to the Senate for consideration.  Blogger Lane Hudson on the Huffington Post has referred to SCHIP legislation as a "defining issue that neither side can afford to lose." If the program is not reauthorized, 6 million children already enrolled will lose health insurance coverage.
  • Facing South reports that the Supreme Court has announced that they will consider a case on the constitutionality of lethal injection in Tennessee.  The ruling could problematize the 'three-drug cocktail' that thirty-seven US states use to administer the death penalty, on grounds that improper administration of anaesthesia could result in an excruciatingly painful death. We hope that the Supreme Court considers the American value of redemption in their analysis of the process of lethal injection. If nothing else, it is helpful to reiterate judicial support for the constitutional ban against 'cruel and unusual punishment.'
  • An appeals court also ruled yesterday to overturn a lower ruling which prevented holding military trials for detainees held at Guantanamo Bay.  According to the New York Times, "the ruling allows military prosecutors to address a legal flaw that had ground the prosecutions to a halt."  There are some 340 detainees waiting an indefinite period to exercise their right to a fair trial.
  • Finally, big news today is the Senate committee hearing on the confirmation of Hans Von Spakovsky, who has been nominated as chair of the Federal Election Commission (FEC).  A coalition of civil rights groups such as Think Progress are vehemently opposed to the nominee, is said to have “used every opportunity he had over four years in the Justice Department to make it difficult for voters — poor, minority and Democratic — to go to the polls.” We trust that the committee will remember how important it is that all American voters have a voice in electing our governing officials.
Sep 26 2007
Blog Post The Battle Over SCHIP Continues
  • There has been a lot of heated discussion in blogs such as Ezra Klein and the HealthLawProf about the State Children's Health Insurance Plan, or SCHIP.  Congress is working to reauthorize the program before it expires on September 30, and after much deliberation the Senate and House have finally agreed upon a bill.  President Bush has been threatening to veto the program, however, on grounds that he thinks people will choose to be dependent on government assistance rather than obtain private insurance.  Bush's self-sufficiency frame provides us with the opposite of the progressive "it takes a village" mentality, wherein it is our task as a nation to care for the weaker members of our community. Many progressives are also questioning an imbalance of priorities which leads us to invest much more in weaponry than in the health of America's children.
  • In an astounding case of irrational and excessive force by Customs and Border agents, preeminent musicologist Nalini Ghuman was denied entry to the US last year on her way back to California, where she is a university professor at Mills College in Oakland.  A British citizen of Welsh and Indian parents with a PhD from the University of California at Berkeley, Ghuman had her passport and valid visa torn up and has not been allowed to return since.  According to Ivan Katz:

Matters are made even worse -- if possible -- by the inadequate response of the United States government to the appalling treatment of Professor Ghuman. University professors and presidents can get no answer. Senators can get no answer. Our own embassy in London cannot get answers. National security, don't you know. The embassy in London seems to have concluded that this mess was the result of "mistaken identity" but no one in Washington will 'fess up to the error', and until that happens "nothing can be done."

The appalling treatment of Professor Ghuman takes the immigration debate well above questions of legality.  The border agents should be investigated thoroughly for denying Ghuman the opportunity to return to her job based solely upon their xenophobic impression of a person of color. And we should all examine the ways in which our society continues to discriminate against groups of people based on false prejudice. 

  • As two further examples of racial discrimination, the DMI Blog wrote about a study just released that indicates that white convicts are just as likely to be hired as blacks without criminal records.  That's a pretty alarming summary. Second, the Huffington Post cites a study which shows that black students in New Jersey are 60 times more likely to be expelled for behavioral issues than white students, while in Minnesota, black students are six times more likely than white students to be suspended for the same.  While it may seem that isolated episodes of unfair hiring or punishment (or any scuffle at the border) may not be so tied in with the big picture of racial (in)equality, that is just not the case.  In human rights discourse, however, we all deserve health care, we all deserve gainful employment, and we all deserve schooling and justice. Any barriers to the success of all should be broken down.
Sep 25 2007
Blog Post More Violence, Post-Jena March
  • Despite repeated claims among residents of Jena, Louisiana that the unjust prosecution of the six boys is "not about racism," there have been various ugly repurcussions of the well-publicized rally.  More nooses have been found hanging in Alexandria, Louisiana and in North Carolina, and a Neo-Nazi group has published the addresses and telephone numbers of the Jena Six families on its website in case anyone wishes to "deliver justice."  Among progressive bloggers, reactions seem to be a mix of speechlessness and cynicism.
  • Along the veign of thought that anti-immigrant sentiment is also very much linked to racism, a lawsuit was filed last week alledging that the Immigrations and Customs Enforcement raids in the New York area have unfairly singled out Hispanics, violating the Fourth Amendment protections against unwarranted searches. A number of US citizens of Latin American descent have had their homes raided in the middle of the night by agents hunting for undocumented individuals.
  • In the realm of policy changes, New York State has been informed by the federal government that chemotherapy will no longer be defined as 'emergency medical care,' thus preventing immigrants without documentation from receiving cancer treatment previously funded by the government.  On the other hand, however, New York's Governor Spitzer has announced that the state DMV will begin issuing driver's licenses without regard to immigration status.
  • Finally, the Center for American Progress has recently featured a report entitled Know Your Sources: The Mainstream Press Keeps Finding Wacky Immigration “Experts.” Author Henry Fernandez offers an illustration of the mainstream media's regular failure to investigate the background of the 'immigration experts' they cite, finding that many have strong ties to well-funded white supremacist groups. Similar to the theme of preserving justice in the Louisiana court system, it is so important to understand that the issue of immigration is not one that can be fixed in a stand-alone manner. Rather, it is only one piece of a larger picture of established racial, economic, and political inequalities which deny many people the opportunities they need to be prosperous.
Sep 24 2007
Blog Post Thousands Rally for Jena Six Day of Action

The biggest news of the day is that thousands of people have descended upon small-town Jena, Louisiana, to show their support for the group of six black high school students who have been victimized by racial injustice after beating up a white boy that taunted them with nooses.  Today's rally has caught a good deal of mainstream media attention, with a Canadian paper even referring to the event as "one of the biggest protests since the 60s."  For some video footage of the event, see CNN or the NAACP webcast at 4pm Central Time.

17-year-old Mychal Bell is unfortunately still in prison, this time because the prosecutors decided it was 'premature' to let him out after the charges against him were vacated. The judge then refused to set a date to hear the motion to release him, at very least to a juvenile facility.  The rest of the students are awaiting trial.

We sincerely hope that today's march and the corresponding events around the country will help establish that equality involves much more than suspending white students from school while sending black students to prison.

And now, a quick run-down of some immigration happenings.  It's been a high-energy couple days in this arena, too.

  • U.S. Courts are continuing to strike down local ordinances aimed at persecuting undocumented immigrants, providing a formidable obstacle to crackdowns nationwide.
  • The city of San Francisco is considering issuing its own identification cards for all adults.  These cards would enable immigrants to gain access to public services such as health care and libraries.  San Francisco law forbids the use of city funds to report undocumented individuals to Customs Enforcement.
  • The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services is proposing that greencards should no longer be issued without expiration dates, but should be renewed periodically. This not a popular position among some Democrats in Congress.
  • After recent raids in schools, various school districts with high populations of immigrants are brainstorming new ways to protect the privacy of their students.  In New Mexico, some school personnel have been told to deny entry to immigration officials seeking to seize students.
  • The Human Rights Weblog has just done a feature article on Ray Ibarra, an activist who is pushing the frame of the human right to stay alive, or more specifically that no one should be dying on the U.S.-Mexico border.  Hundreds have died to this point while trying to cross, and aiding those who are most vulnerable is illegal.
Sep 20 2007
Blog Post Jena Six Update and Other Ruminations on Justice
  • As an update on the Jena Six, Vox ex Machina reports that Mychal Bell remains in a Louisiana jail after having his conviction overturned because the judge and prosecutor did not show for his bail hearing yesterday.  Given that the black blogosphere has driven the case to be high-profile enough that the New York Times has finally reported on it, it's suprising that the legal officials in question would risk demonstrating their public disregard for Bell's fate.  Also noteworthy are various protests happening tomorrow around the country in support of the six students.
  • Curiously, Sentencing Law and Policy wrote today on an article in Mississippi's Clarion-Ledger about the need for prison reform in the state, as prisons are both more crowded and more costly than ever.  What's interesting is that the people currently pushing for reform are not prisoners' rights advocates but those working to keep prisons cost-effective and efficient.
  • notes that legislation has just been introduced in Congress that would not only punish 'sanctuary cities' by denying Homeland Security funding but would make being in the country without proper documentation a felony.  'Cause we could really use 12 million more prisoners.  Really makes one wonder what the prison corporation lobby looks like. Imprisonment of immigrants is a violation of the human right of mobility. To attempt to do this on such a grand scale would be unthinkable.
  • Another piece of legislation that just failed to make its way through Congress involved voting representation for the District of Columbia. I'm always a bit shocked to see the 'Taxation Without Representation' DC license plates; shouldn't we have figured this out by now, given the revolutionary zeal to rectify this back in 1776? Chris Bowers elaborates on the racial injustice implicit in the decision:

"If Republicans are ever mesmerized as to why they do so poorly with the African-American vote, here is a prime example. An all-Republican minority of 42 just filibustered to prevent a overwhelmingly poor, African-American city from having representation in the United States Congress. Apart from FEMA's response to Katrina, could they make it any clearer that they do not stand up for African-Americans? Denying D.C. voting rights is a blatant, racist, right-wing attempt to cling to power. It is undemocratic and un-American for Republicans to block this bill."

Continuing to deny Washington's political voice based on discrimination or self-interest can only prove devastating to the capitol city and to our nation as a whole. It will not help instill confidence in our leadership.

  • Let's wrap things up with some better news, however, in the health realm: Walmart has been listening to criticism of its health insurance plan, and is making some changes.  The Huffington Post highlighted a New York Times article which says that America's largest employer is lowering premiums and prescription drug copays to make its health insurance more accessible to workers. Improved health coverage for millions of Americans is undeniably a step in the right direction.
Sep 19 2007
Blog Post Ninth Circuit Judge Bea Tells His Immigration Story
  • While he was in college, Appeals Court judge Carlos T. Bea was nearly deported over a technical violation of US immigration law. He was, however, given the opportunity to stay in the US, and is now a member of the federal circuit that handles half of today's appeals in immigration cases. The ImmigrationProf Blog highlights his inspiring story and proposal  to reform the immigration appeals process.
  • Another great example of the pro-migrant blogosphere having an impact in the new media realm can be seen in this video produced by The Unapologetic Mexican. Entitled 'Ben Harper's Oppression; A Xicano Interpretation' the video has gotten a significant amount of views in a social networking/media community largely dominated by anti-immigrant sentiment.


  • In Riverside, New Jersey, the town council voted last night to repeal an ordinance intended to punish landlords and employers renting to or hiring individuals without documentation.  The ACLU commended the town board for dismissing legislation that would have "fueled xenophobia and discrimination."
  • Prometheus 6 has pointed us at an article in Medical News Today about waiting times for health care in the US. People seeking medical attention are waiting an average of 70 days for appointments, while some who have diagnosed with cancer are waiting "more than a month" to be seen by providers.  These statistics fail to account for the longer waiting times of the uninsured, roughly 44 million Americans, or those who delay care because of expenses.  The article continues by comparing our health care system with that of Canada, where there is no wait for emergency surgeries and no one is denied care based on finances.
  • Finally, Jack and Jill Politics wrote a a blog entry today entitled The Media Loves Stories About Race, As Long As They Fit A Certain Narrative. In other words, the 'Jena Six' get little attention, police brutality gets little attention, but OJ Simpson's newest arrest gets lots of media time.  The author says:

"The real appeal of the O.J. story is that it restores a comfortable narrative for America, where the bad guys and the good guys are marked by the color of their skin. As the media is inundated with stories about our dysfunctional and racist criminal justice system like those of The Jena Six, Kenneth Foster, Troy Davis and Genarlow Wilson, the O.J. story offers an opportunity to return to a more simplistic understanding of race and criminality."

That's a sad but insightful analysis, and one which definitely deserves more consideration on our part.

Sep 18 2007
Blog Post Tearing Immigrant Children Out of School, While Congress Returns to Immigration Issues
  • Just News and the El Paso Times have reported on a September 10 Border Patrol raid of a public school district in Otero County, New Mexico.  Eleven children were seized and subsequently deported to Mexico with their parents.  In response, many local families are choosing to keep their children from attending classes.  In Oklahoma, supporters of the tough new anti-immigrant legislation have said that reports of Latino/a children leaving school mean that the "law is working."  We started writing about the effects of immigration raids on schools last week, but just to recap: Schools should be safe places, and every child should have access to an education.  One can only imagine the terror that elementary school children face upon seeing their friends pulled out class by border agents - and preventing children from attending school is nothing but detrimental to their futures.
  • According to the Immigration Prof blog and the LA Times, Democratic Senators are gearing up to reintroduce the DREAM Act in Congress as well as new legislation to protect agricultural workers.  Although comprehensive immigration reform was not achieved over the past few months, these remain important issues that we would do well to define in a way that maximizes the potential of all, from seeking an education to one's capacity to labor.
  • It is also reported that Hispanic-owned businesses are feeling the squeeze of uncertainy produced by recent immigration raids.  The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has written about a noticeable slowdown in spending among the Latin American community in Georgia. Local shops, restaurants, and car dealerships that cater to immigrant populations are suffering significant losses as many residents are choosing to save money.  In 2006, Latino/as spent $12.4 billion in Georgia, but sales are down 30-40% after the enactment of tougher legislation against undocumented individuals.
  • A wealth of blogs also reported on Friday's 'Jena 6' development, the overturning of Mychal Bell's conviction.  Bell was only 16 at the time of the schoolyard beating, but was tried as an adult which, according to the Associated Press, could have brought a sentence of 15 years in prison. It is still unclear whether Bell will be released or brought up on different charges, but the remaining five students are still awaiting trials in a case that has inflamed public opinion for its illustration of the racial inequalities that still permeate our justice system.
  • Also, Prometheus 6 has posted about the controversial re-zoning of the school district in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. After the new zoning plan effectively sent black students to low-performing schools, parents are contesting the decision to 'resegregate,' calling upon the 'No Child Left Behind' legislation on education, which gives students the right to move out of schools that are failing.

“We’re talking about moving children from good schools into low-performing ones, and that’s illegal,” said Kendra Williams, a hospital receptionist, whose two children were rezoned. “And it’s all about race. It’s as clear as daylight.”

As with the school raids above, and the Jena 6, all children deserve equal access to a quality education, to a secure environment, and, when things go wrong, to fair courts that will remedy injustice.

Sep 17 2007
Blog Post Immigration Crackdown Affects School Children, DREAM Act Passes CA Assembly
  • Both the Immigration Prof Blog and Immigration Equality wrote about an article in yesterday's Cincinnati Enquirer that talked about how a local immigration raid caused somewhat of a crisis on the first day of school.  In a district that is 65% Latin American, teachers were worried that some of the elementary school students would not have parents waiting to pick them up at the of the day - and sure enough, a number of students were collected by parents in cars that were packed to go, and did not attend classes for the subsequent few days, at least.  Immigration News Daily also posted an entry on 'Hispanic students leaving Tulsa area schools' in a similar exodus before the enactment of new legislation meant to target undocument individuals.  The effects these raids and laws are having on immigrant children is truly regrettable - every child, regardless of citizenship, should have the opportunity to get a solid education. We should make it our task as a nation to ensure that all children have the security they need to attend school, rather than continue to legislate against their stability.
  • On the same theme, the California DREAM Act (SB 1) passed in the state assembly and is awaiting the governor's signature. If enacted, the bill will allow undocumented students to
    qualify for entitlement Cal Grants, institutional aid and various private
    scholarships in order to fund their college education. There is a petition you can sign to encourage Governor Schwarzenegger to sign the bill into law.
  • According to Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) head Julie Myers, it would require at least $94 billion to deport all of the 12 million undocumented immigrations estimated to be in the US at this time.  However, this "estimate does not include the cost of 'all the things that the Border Patrol has
    done,' other administrative security measures...the cost of
    finding illegal immigrants, nor court costs."  Seems a pretty astounding sum that could do a serious amount of good elsewhere, not to mention the constant raids and social insecurity the task would perpetuate.
  • The Huffington Post cited a USA Today article about the majority of the Republic presidential candidates having declined to appear at yet another debate, one which was to be hosted by PBS at a historically black university in Baltimore, Maryland.  After a similar Republic refusal of the Univision debate, moderator Travis Smiley has denounced the candidates, asserting that "No one should be elected president of this country in 2008 if they think that along the way they can ignore people of color."
  • The SuperSpade blog alerted readers to an article in the LA Times about a recent report by the Federal Reserve which noted that in 2006, minority borrowers received a greater percentage of higher interest rate mortgages than they had the previous year.  The gap in interest rates itself is sizeable, with 52.8% of African Americans receiving high-interest loans and 25.7% of whites receiving the same.  As SuperSpade says, "This is yet
    another piece

    of rebuttal material to the 'Race no longer matters' crowd."
  • Media Matters recently released a study called Black and White and Re(a)d
    All Over: The Conservative Advantage in Syndicated Op-ed Columns.
      However, the Latina Lista blog brought our attention to another facet of this research:

"What was disappointing to see was that from the long drop-down list of
syndicated columnists only 10 were Latino/a. Of those 10 only 2 — Ruben
Navarrette and Kathryn Jean Lopez appeared in over 100 newspapers

The others ranged from being in as little as 4 newspapers to 28.

Why does this matter? Well, like the report says:

Syndicated newspaper columnists have a unique ability to influence
public opinion and the national debate. And whether examining only the top
columnists or the entire group, large papers or small, the data presented in
this report make clear that conservative syndicated columnists enjoy a clear
advantage over their progressive counterparts.

In fact among the most successful Latino columnists (in that they appear in
more newspapers than the rest), all 3 of them are conservative, and what's
interesting to note - the only conservatives of the bunch."

And publisher/author Marisa Treviño concludes with a great analysis of the role of the media in a multicultural, democratic society:

"What this study shows is that newspapers, even those that publish mainly
progressive columnists, aren't giving voice to the Latino perspective.

And if this is the case, it's no wonder that the anti-Hispanic, undocumented
immigrant rhetoric is as rampant as it is across this country.

Without showcasing a balance of opinion, how can newspapers claim to play a
role in keeping our democracy alive when they're practicing the most fundamental
breach of that trust?"

That's a very good question.  Thoughts?

Sep 14 2007
Blog Post Immigrants Boycott Western Union
  • First off, a coalition of more than 150 immigrants rights groups are advocating a boycott of Western Union for charging exorbitant fees and using innapropriate exchange rates for its wire transfers abroad.  Organizers also assert that the company reinvests very little in the immigrant communities it serves despite profits of over $1 billion per year.
  • As in the Colbert video below, the Immigrants and Politics Blog has recapped a September 5 New York Times article about farmers relocating their business to Mexico given the difficulties of finding labor within the US. Given recent crackdowns on the mobility and capacity of the migrant workforce, many US companies are struggling to find workers, and farmers often experience labor shortages during harvest time.  In response, the profiled farmer has chosen to "southsource" to Mexico.  This type of action could very well have long-term negative effects on the American economy.
  • Another story that was all over the blogosphere yesterday was that of the 20-year-old black woman in West Virginia who was abducted and held hostage while forced to suffer intense physical and sexual abuse.  Although her six white captors have been arrested and charged with a total of 108 counts of criminal conduct, federal prosecutors have decided not to consider this a hate crime despite the fact that the six alledgedly referred to the woman as a "nigger."  This decision has been quite controversial given the brutality of the incident and the fact that hate crimes laws are in effect to mandate a heavier sentence for acts motivated by exactly this sort of unthinkable discrimination.
  • Additionally, a study has been released by the Medicare Rights Center which demonstrates that "low-income people enrolled in Medicare private fee-for-service plans pay more for their health care in some counties than people enrolled in the same plans in neighboring, more affluent counties." It hardly seems fair to inflate costs for those who can barely afford to pay for medical services, or smart to force the government to subsidize medical bills at a higher rate.  Perhaps the report will force us to rethink that one.
Sep 13 2007
Blog Post Southsourcing: Immigration Issues Solved

The ever-brilliant (and accidental framing expert) Stephen Colbert solves the immigration issues in one fell swoop in last night's edition of "The Word:"

Sep 13 2007
Blog Post Immigrants dying of terror on September 11
  • Our friends at Immigration Orange have written a very powerful post featuring the stories of two undocumented Brazilian men who have recently died while in detention.  25-year-old Maxsuel Medeiros died of a heart attack yesterday after being held by Massachusetts Police for a traffic incident.  And last month, the following occurred, also in Boston:

"Edmar Araujo, who is epileptic, died from a seizure after he was pulled over for a routine traffic stop.  Needless to say, psychological or physical stress is what causes a seizure.
Worst of all, his sister claims to have tried to bring his epilepsy
medicine to the local police that picked him up, but that information
was not used to save his life.  It's been over a month and we still
don't have answers as to whether or not Araujo's death could have been
prevented, and who is to blame."

That anyone should be living in this kind of extreme fear within the US is just devastating.  But to deny medical care to those being held is a tremendous violation of human rights and one which should weigh heavily on our national conscience.

  • Just News
    included a piece about a lawsuit just filed by the United Food and
    Commercial Workers International Union that seeks to collect damages as well as to put an end to a series of six
    raids of Swift & Co. meatpacking plants by Immigration and Customs
    Enforcement (ICE).  The union claims that "agents unlawfully detained
    workers and violated their constitutional rights," threatening even US
    citizens.  This sort of blanket crackdown on American workers can only lead to more violations of our rights.

  • Firedoglake
    has covered the "Hands Across El Rio" protest which lasted for sixteen
    days across the Texas border.  The protest was organized to show community
    opposition to the construction of a wall along the Mexican border, and included
    the display of a human chain which stretched the length of the river.
  • Both Racialicious and Resist Racism have noted the resurgence of noose imagery in the media and in public happenings.  Even a recent MSNBC Sports headline implies a lynching.  That's not just a bit distasteful, especially given current events.


  • Just News also mentions a study released in the LA Times which reveals that blacks have "borne the brunt" of Hurricane Katrina, as New Orleans' black population fell 57 percent a year after Hurricane Katrina while the white population only declined 36 percent. There is also a noticeable pattern in where blacks and whites have tended to resettle, with the former choosing to locate themselves in poorer, urban areas.
  • Finally, Afro-Netizen has posted about new data on racial segregation in nursing homes in the US.  Interestingly, facilities in the South have been found to be more integrated than those in the Midwest, but where segregation exists, differences in the quality of care are also evident.
Sep 12 2007
Blog Post Financial Aid for Undocumented Students in Arizona

Let's start the week off with a couple things done well.

  • The University of Arizona has created a scholarship fund for undocumented immigrant students who have graduated from Arizona high schools.  The $1.8 million fund has helped approximately 150-200 students manage the costs of the higher out-of-state tuition mandated by the state's new Proposition 300.  We commend the university for its commitment to increasing access to education for groups with limited options.
  • Racewire put up an excellent post last Friday headlining the story of a man being deported to Mexico after his son died fighting in Iraq. Given that 33,449 non-citizens have served in the American armed forces, this is not an uncommon occurrence, albeit a disrespectful one. Many immigrants join the military with hopes of increasing opportunity for themselves and their families. As such it is particularly upsetting to see that this family is being denied the ability to stay together after the trauma of losing their son to the war.
  • Also mentioned in the above post is a statement by the Social Security administration that they may not be able to distribute everyone's checks this month due to a backlog.  They have blamed this backup on a federal judge's temporary bar on the agency sending out the 141,000 "no match" letters they have prepared to advise employers of discrepancies in the social security records of their workers. It seems a dirty media scare tactic to imply that someone's grandma might not be able to eat this month because of a struggle over new measures to identify undocumented workers.
  • Immigration Equality has put up a couple blog posts about Victoria Arrelano,
    a 23-year-old transgender woman who recently died in an immigrant
    detention center because she was denied her HIV medications.  In a rare
    display of community support, 55 of her fellow detainees filed a
    petition to get her health care and even chanted 'hospital!' until she
    got some medical attention.
  • Also in the blogs was Sunday night's Spanish language debate for Democratic presidential candidates, a discussion heavily weighted towards candidates' views on immigration policies. Although Spanish-language TV network Univision has received a good deal of criticism over the way the debate was run, this particular debate drew 49% more 25-54 year-old viewers than the English-language debates have so far.  On the other end, all Republican candidates except for McCain have declined to participate in a Spanish-language debate.
  • In uglier news, there has been another noose-sighting at the University of Maryland campus at College Park, hung from a tree outside the black cultural studies center.  Investigations are underway but many are assuming there to be some linkage between this incident and the 'Jena 6' convictions pending in Louisiana.
  • has posted about a newly-released article that found that the black/white racial gap in life expectancy has narrowed.  That the gap exists at all is a flag of social inequality, but the study would indicate that, on a national level, we're on the right path.
  • Finally, Ezra Klein has a recent piece about increasing health insurance premiums, which have gone up 87% since 2000.  In a discussion of implications of rising costs on employer-controlled and individual medical insurance (basically, less people are choosing to insure themselves), Klein notes that "between 8 and 18 percent of applicants are denied health coverage outright due to preexisting conditions," and entitles his post "I'll Take Medicare, Thanks."  Seems a rational choice, all things considered.
Sep 11 2007
Blog Post Possible class-action lawsuit over May 1 LA police violence
  • Yesterday, 164 more claims were filed against the City of Los Angeles to do with injuries or emotional damage caused by the violent police breakup of the May 1 immigration rally in MacArthur Park. In total, 10 lawsuits have been filed over the incident and 258 legal claims have been submitted; civil rights attorneys have begun expressing interest in pursuing a class-action lawsuit against the city.

The term 'sanctuary cities' has also been thrown around blogs and the news this week, largely connected with Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff's threat to withhold government funding from cities that refuse to comply with its Basic Pilot program to require employers to verify the work authorization of their employees.  As is happening in Arizona, this program is being contested on a national level by a coalition of civil rights organizations such as the ACLU on grounds that it "will threaten jobs of U.S. citizens and other legally authorized
workers simply because of errors in the government's inaccurate social
security earnings databases."

There was a very informative piece posted yesterday about conditions in the prisons and detention centers of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE.  Apparently three people have died in detention in the last six weeks, including one pregnant woman, as detainees are regularly denied medical care.  Hundreds have also suffered from food poisoning, at two different sites.  Despite regular violations of their human rights, immigrants and asylees held there have little recourse.  And even though the ICE system is the second largest jailer in the world, there are few regulations and little accountability placed upon them.  This is the sort of situation where a little legislation could go a long way in protecting the members of our community that have been silenced.

Prometheus6 and rikyrah both cited a NY Times article yesterday to do with a mentally-retarded black man in Mississippi who is actually being retried for rape after DNA evidence indicated that he is not guilty.  Given that he's already spent 15 years in prison, this overt racial discrimination and obstruction of justice is pretty hard to swallow.

Finally, there is a good deal of discussion in Congress at the moment about the reauthorization of SCHIP, the State Children's Health Insurance program, which was designed in 1997 to provide health care for children whose families weren't eligible for Medicare but who are still unable to afford private insurance.  The legislation must be reauthorized by September 30 if the program is to continue, but there is tremendous contention regarding how and how much to fund the program.  President Bush is even promising to veto legislation on grounds that increased access to SCHIP will encourage people to enroll rather than work to insure themselves privately - again, here is another example of the "go-it-alone" narrative that has been so useful in eroding our sense of responsibility to the greater community.

Sep 7 2007
Blog Post 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

Aug 27 2007
Blog Post "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.

Aug 22 2007
Blog Post 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.
Aug 21 2007
Blog Post 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?

Aug 15 2007
Blog Post Blogosphere Diversity and the Effectiveness of Internet Action

Blogosphere Diversity remains the topic du jour this Monday (unless you want to talk about the upcoming Rove resignation), though there are a number of other important posts to read as well:

  • Angry Black Woman ponders the effectiveness of blogging as a way to help eliminate racism.  Is blogging so much talk, or is it another form of doing
  • At ColorLines, Daisy Hernandez asks if you can iChat your way to Social Change, in an excellent piece about media consumption habits and activism among people of color.
  • The Field Negro weighs in on this issue as well, with a lot of more about diversity in the blogosphere and the larger conversation that is (at times very indelicately) taking place.
  • Linda Seger at Huffington Post adds gender discrimination into the mix.
  • JaninSanFran wrrites about the danger of anecdotes in media reporting - an interesting piece on how personal stories can frame or misframe an issue.
  • Jack and Jill Politics has an excellent post about health care equity and access vs. quality of care.
  • Finally, Facing South continues its coverage of the Jena 6.
Aug 13 2007
Blog Post America Needs Immigrants

Our friends at the New York Immigration Coalition have a video up on YouTube about why Immigrants are important to America:

Aug 11 2007
Blog Post Alien Absconders and the Downside of Diversity

Two thoroughly ridiculous, yet important, pieces to check out today:

  • The New York Times reports on plans by President Bush to crack-down on undocumented workers.  It's yet another consequence of the failure to pass comprehensive reform - we're now stuck with piecemeal "solutions" that often reflect the desire to punish immigrants without offering any real, workable solutions to our broken immigration system.  On the language tip, I hope that the Right makes a habit of switching from their typical "illegal alien" to John Cornyn's neologism: "alien absconder," which sound both non threatening and highly ridiculous.  I'd laugh if the consequences weren't so high for so many.
  • In another story thoroughly deserving of some serious pushback from progressives, Robert Putnam, famous for his description of "the decline of social capital" in his book Bowling Alone, has released the results of a new study, and the findings are likely to result in an unfortunate PR boon to conservatives. In the study, Putnam describes what he calls "the downside of diversity."  Shorter version: mixed race communities have lower social capital.  People vote less, trust their neighbors less, etc.  The conservative response will be simple: "We told you so." (Putnam is already getting accolades from the likes of David Duke).

    Here's the thing - the findings aren't quite so easily interpreted.  Here's why:

    • Even if true, diversity is still offers it's own positive values (which Putnam does mention).  The findings only underscore the need for us to work harder to overcome our prejudices and erase the negative aspects that are in fact to be expected in a country still struggling with race.
    • The findings  essentially boil down to this - stable neigborhoods (dominated by one race/ethnic group) have tighter social bonds while neighborhoods in transition don't.  That's not surprising, and when the neighborhoods stabilize again (one hopes in a diverse mix), social capital will again rise.
    • Putnam is only sampling Americans, who have a long history of racial tension.  These findings may not hold in other places with less divisive racial history.
Aug 10 2007
Blog Post I'm Not Racist, But You Probably Are

A few quick hits from around the blogosphere today:

  • Race and Media reports on some new Zogby polling data about American's racial prejudices.  Apparently we tend to think that we're not racist, but those other folks over there probably are:

The “Report Card on American Prejudice” is described as part of a
wide-ranging effort by the Game Show Network, sponsors of the poll and
of a new television show, “Without Prejudice,” to spur a national dialogue on intolerance and bigotry.

The poll showed: While 67 percent of respondents claimed to have no
preference themselves between a white, black or Arab clerk in a
convenience store, 71 percent said, “most Americans” would seek out the
white clerk. Just 1 percent said Americans’ first choice would be to
approach a black clerk, while less than 0.5 percent said the same for
an Arab clerk.

And yet, 55 percent of respondents said race relations have improved over the past 10 years.

  • Looks like health insurers are getting ready to exploit undocumented immigrants under the guise of providing health services (aka tapping an underutilized market).  In some respects this could be a good thing, but the potential for exploitation is really high - particularly when you factor in language difficulties and a general unfamiliarity with the American health care system.  On the other hand, could this also be a potential ally in future immigration battles?  If SEIU can team up with WalMart, anything is possible.  Or am I being naive?
  • The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act passed in the House of Representatives.  The bill will "return the industry to the longstanding “paycheck accrual” rule, and
    allow a pay discrimination action to accrue every time the employee
    receives a paycheck that is affected by a discriminatory action."  A similar bill is now in the Senate.
Aug 9 2007
Blog Post NY Times Magazine Outlines New Playing Field for Immigration Battle

The New York Times Magazine cover story this week outlines what's to come in the battle for immigrant's rights now that comprehensive reform has failed in Congress and Democratic leaders are predicting at least 6 years before the fight is taken up again at the national legislative level.

It’s in places like Carpentersville where we may be witnessing the
opening of a deep and profound fissure in the American landscape. Over
the past two years, more than 40 local and state governments have
passed ordinances and legislation aimed at making life miserable for
illegal immigrants in the hope that they’ll have no choice but to
return to their countries of origin. Deportation by attrition, some
call it. One of the first ordinances was passed in Hazleton, Pa., and
was meant to bar illegal immigrants from living and working there. It
served as a model for many local officials across the country,
including Sigwalt and Humpfer. On July 26, a federal judge struck down
Hazleton’s ordinance, but the town’s mayor, Lou Barletta, plans to
appeal the decision. “This battle is far from over,” he declared the
day of the ruling. States and towns have looked for other ways to crack
down on illegal immigrants. Last month, Prince William County in
northern Virginia passed a resolution trying to curb illegal
immigrants’ access to public services. Waukegan, another Illinois
town, has voted to apply for a federal program that would allow its
police to begin deportation charges against those who are here
illegally. A week after the Senate failed to pass comprehensive immigration
reform, Arizona’s governor, Janet Napolitano, signed into law an act
penalizing businesses that knowingly hire undocumented immigrants. “One
of the practical effects of this failure” to enact national immigration
reform, Napolitano wrote to the Congressional leadership, “is that
Arizona, and states across the nation, must now continue to address
this escalating problem on their own.” Admittedly, the
constitutionality of many of these new laws is still in question, and
some of the state bills and local ordinances simply duplicate what’s
already in force nationally. But with Congress’s inability to reach an
agreement on an immigration bill, the debate will continue among local
officials like those in Carpentersville, where the wrangling often
seems less about illegal immigration than it does about whether new
immigrants are assimilating quickly enough, if at all. In
Carpentersville, the rancor has turned neighbor against neighbor. Once
you scrape away the acid rhetoric, though, there’s much people actually
agree on — but given the ugliness of the taunts and assertions, it’s
unlikely that will ever emerge.

This is now a local fight - with battles being fought at the city and county level.  We've already won some battles on this front, but there will be more.  This is now a street fight. It's unfortunate because it means there is less of a possibility to actually solve the problems we face and safeguard the human rights of millions of Americans and undocumented workers.  But it's also an opportunity to build our grassroots network and get stronger for when the fight goes national once again.

Aug 6 2007
Blog Post Conflict or Community?

Check out Alan's latest piece over at Tom Paine.  This week Alan discusses immigration and the Hazelton ruling we reported on yesterday:

With the failure of Congress and the president to pass
immigration reform this year, states, cities and towns around the
country are moving forward with their own policies to address the
issue. Some, like the city of New Haven, Conn., and the state of
Illinois are attempting to integrate immigrants—including undocumented
immigrants—into their communities in the absence of federal solutions.
Others, like Hazelton, Pa., and Prince William County, Va., are
adopting policies that punish undocumented immigrants and, with them,
many citizens, families, small businesses and whole communities.

The better course, by far, is integrating new immigrants in ways that move everyone in the community forward.

On July 26, a federal court struck down
anti-immigrant ordinances in Hazelton as unconstitutional. The voided
provisions would, among other things, have required tenants to register
with City Hall and fined landlords who rent to people without verifying
their immigration status. The federal district court held that the
ordinances would have violated due process and are preempted by federal
immigration laws.

Prince William County
recently passed a similar ordinance that would bar undocumented
immigrants from public facilities and services like clinics, libraries
and schools, and have police inquire about the immigration status of
people whom they stop. The American Civil Liberties Union reports that 40 similar ordinances have passed in cities and towns around the country.

Read More.

Jul 31 2007
Blog Post Remaining prejudice affects medical care
  • cites a new study of trainee doctors in Boston which shows how one’s overt and implicit prejudice can affect treatment in ER patients.  The study combined a 20-minute computer survey designed to detect prejudice with a hypothetical question of treatment for a 50-year-old man with heart pain, either black or white. The Boston Globe reports that as doctors’ unconscious biases against blacks increased, they were less likely to give the black patient a life-saving clot-busting treatment.  This study provides yet another example showing that equal access to health care does not necessarily mean equal treatment.  Not only are African Americans disproportionately unlikely to have health insurance, the care they are given is often of a lesser standard. 
  • Continuing the trend of educational games about immigration, the Hashmi Law Firm (located in Des Moines, Iowa) created a game intended to depict the daily life struggles of immigrants living in a broken immigration system (Thanks, ImmigrationProf Blog!).  Played last Saturday, July 21, 2007, “Find a Legal Way to Immigrate” allowed players to draw cards of actual scenarios based on current laws and the resulting challenges.  The general public was invited, and The Des Moines Register reports that about 40 people watched or participated.  As an immigrants’ rights attorney, Hashmi maintains that her objective in creating this game was purely education: “to show how difficult the process is.”
  • Think Progress reports on the new smear campaign against Michael Moore’s movie, Sicko.  Financed by pharmaceutical and hospital companies, “Health Care America” staged a conference call, distributed a “fake news video” about Sicko and making ads that say “In America you wait in line to see a movie. In government-run healthcare systems, you wait to see a doctor.”  These projects attempt to show “what Michael Moore left out of his movie."
Jul 25 2007
Blog Post 1.6 million immigrants separated from families: Human Rights Watch new report
  • Human
    Rights Watch
    recently published a new report, “Forced Apart: Families Separated
    and Immigrants Harmed by United States Deportation Policy”
    ImmigrationProf Blog
    !). The report
    tracks immigrants’ deportation information between 1997 and 2005 (the most
    recent year for which data are publicly available). Based on the 2000 US Census, Human Rights Watch estimates that
    approximately 1.6 million spouses and children living in the US were separated
    from their families because of these deportations. The report calls on the government for
    comprehensive immigration reform as a solution to prevent these deportations and the negative impact they have on the families of immigrants. Everyone deserves basic
    human rights, and this report highlights many of the ways in which the rights of undocumented workers
    have been violated
  • Latina
    reports on how Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s decision to pull the
    entire Defense Authorization Bill will have a negative impact on the children of immigrants.  As we reported earlier, elements of the DREAM Act had been added to the DoD Reauthorization as an amendment, and these provisions will no longer get an up or down vote in the Senate.  It is another defeat for even a small attempt at achieving humane immigration reforms.
  • AMERICABlog reports on Bush’s refusal to renew SCHIP (State
    Children’s Health Insurance Program), because “expanding the program would
    enlarge the role of the federal government at the expense of private
    insurance.”  This viewpoint reflects
    many flaws in the current administration's thinking about government: whatever the conservative base thinks, the role of government in health care
    access is not inherently negative. In
    fact, making the government more accountable for the problems in health care
    access and discrepancies in quality would improve the dismal state of health care in America.  More efficient and accountable government involvement can be represent a positive step forward for the millions of children who lack health care, particularly in a program as successful and beloved as SCHIP.

For your entertainment, two videos on immigration:

  • As posted by Immigration Equality,
    Bill O’Reilly mouths off to Immigration Equality Executive Director Rachel Tiven
    on the issues of immigration and opportunity. Tiven argues for the right for members of gay and lesbian couples to
    sponsor their partners who are citizens of foreign countries, just as straight couples do.
  • Struggle Within posts a music video as a response to the
    Supreme Court schools’ decision, explaining the inequalities people of color
    face when the government hinders their educational rights.
Jul 19 2007
Blog Post Without Prejudice: Entirely too much prejudice?
  • Racialicious reports on a new game, “Without Prejudice”, in which five
    judges must decide which contestant deserves a $25,000 prize. Hosted by psychotherapist Robi Ludwig and
    working with partners like GLAAD and National Council of La Raza, “Without
    Prejudice” asks the five contestants to be honest about their lives and the
    judges must narrow down these contestants based on any reason. The show hope to teach viewers about prejudice, and the affiliated website features a number of educational resources on the subject.  There are also discussion guides for starting
    conversations about prejudice. After the
    pilot episode premiered last night, The New York Times reports that the show is
    anything but “without prejudice": each participant seems to have his own biases
    that are hard to miss. Check it out for
    yourself on Tuesdays on the GSN.

  • The New York Times profiles younger members of the New York immigrant community, as well as its support of the DREAM Act. Many of these
    children of undocumented workers are legal citizens, born in the US.  Not all are registered to vote, but they could be a powerful voice on behalf of their parents in the U.S. and local politics. Some groups are trying to gather support there for
    the DREAM Act, a provision of which has been added as
    an amendment to the Department of Defense authorization bill (thanks,
    ImmigrationProf Blog!). In this
    amendment, undocumented residents of military age who arrived in the US before age 16 and could immediately enter a
    path to citizenship if they serve at least two years in the armed forces.  The Boston Globe has an update of the bill's progress.

  • In a review of over 100 studies, The Boston Globe reports that black women are less healthy because of the pressures of racial discrimination (thanks, RaceWire!).  In one study, black women who indicated that
    racism was a source of stress in their lives developed more plaque in their
    carotid arteries – an early sign of heart disease – than black women who
    didn’t. These studies could reshape
    racism as a public health problem. These
    findings come at a time of severe racial disparities in American health care. African Americans face a higher risk than any
    other racial group of dying from heart disease, diabetes, stroke, and
    hypertension. These health disparities
    are exacerbated by lack of access to quality health care and health
    insurance. Higher poverty rates and
    lower wages also hinder progress in equality. Check out our fact sheet about African Americans and Opportunity.

  • DMI Blog reports on Rinku Sen’s reflection on the possible
    unity between immigrants and US.-born Blacks, Latinos, Asians and American
    Indians. She looks at the origin of the
    term “people of color”, and how it has affected identity in political
    action. In her experiences
    as an advocate working in partnership with multiracial organizations, she felt it necessary to “expand [her] identity
    in a way that tied [her] to Black people as part of their rebellion.” Sen confronts the impact the term has on our immigration debate, and asks whether immigrants fall under the definition of
    “people of color.” At the end of the day,
    she acknowledges that she cannot decide this question, but expresses that a
    positive immigrant policy will include dialogue on race and color as well as
    nationality and class.

    Our view: The best way to achieve fair legislature and rights for
    immigrants is to understand the common struggles we all face in achieving
    equality. “People of color” everywhere
    want the same basic rights – better education, living conditions, wages, and
    health care – and the only way to achieve anything is to recognize this common
    struggle. We’re all in this together,
    and achieving opportunity for one group will be best fought with many partners.

Jul 18 2007
Blog Post Does socioeconomic balancing also integrate schools?
  • Prometheus 6 links to a New York Times article
    about the
    success (or lack thereof) in using socioeconomic status as an indirect
    method to integrate public schools. School officials in the San
    Francisco public schools have found that the district is actually
    resegregating by using the type of plan many districts may try in light
    of the
    recent Supreme Court ruling. As many as
    40 districts around the country are already trying these plans. The
    article compares successes in many of
    these districts across the country.  After realizing the failure of
    using income to integrate schools,
    David Campos, the general counsel to the school district, is looking
    for loopholes through Justice Kennedy's statement if methods not based
    on race fail. For
    more updates on the status of the country’s integration attempts, check out the
    NAACP Legal Defense Fund page, as well as The Opportunity Agenda’s talking points.
  • Immigrants in the USA Blog posts a column from The
    Bakersfield Californian
    with a different perspective on the DREAM Act, a
    legislative bill which would provide a pathway to citizenship for undocumented
    immigrant students, thus making them eligible to receive in-state financial aid
    from colleges.  Author Leonel Martinez
    argues that children should not be punished for their parents’ decision to immigrate.
  • Many immigrants are from poor
    families, and, he believes, should have access to college, which could make
    them greater contributors to society. The
    controversy over this act mirrors the “hysteria” thirty years ago in the
    controversy surrounding the Plyler v. Doe Supreme Court decision. In this ruling, the Supreme
    Court declared unconstitutional a Texas statute which charged certain families $1000 per year for school tuition,
    effectively preventing undocumented children from attending school. This article offers
    background on the case, comparing that situation to the atmosphere around
    immigration decisions today.
  • Ezra Klein writes about the hypocrisy in our criminal “justice”
    system by pointing out that while incarceration does separate dangerous individuals
    from society, in separating the millions of non-violent offenders, the system
    only reinforces their identity as criminals, and renders them unfit for many
    jobs. Klein cites economic studies which
    show that prison makes many inmates more violent. As incarceration rates in America skyrocket, more attention needs to be focused on rehabilitation –
    preparing inmates for society.  For more
    information about criminal justice, check out our fact

  • Immigration Equality Blog reports on another downloadable
    video game
    attempting to teach players about a societal issue: “ICED! I Can End
    Deportation!” Recently featured in the
    LA Times This 3D game teaches players about the unjust nature of U.S. immigration policy by following the day-to-day life of an immigrant teen as
    he/she encounters obstacles like being chased by immigration officers and
    answering myth & fact quizzes about current immigration policies. The point of the game is to avoid detention,
    which separates one from his/her family and forces unjust conditions. Check out
    our previous coverage of Games for Change.

  • In the Huffington Post, David Sirota responds to New York
    Governor Eliot Spitzer’s plan
    to expand health coverage to nearly three million
    more residents in an attempt to ultimately provide universal health
    insurance. While expanding access to a
    greater population is a good first step, it fails to ensure that all insured people are getting the same quality of care.  Access is a problem, but so are racial disparities in quality of care, and
    comprehensive health care reform needs to address these equity issues to ensure that the vulnerable populations aren’t left
    behind.  Check out for an example of quality care and access.

Jul 16 2007
Blog Post Author of "The Political Brain" Reframes Immigration

Drew Westen, author of The Political Brain: The Role of Emotion in Deciding Political Affairs, has a piece in AlterNet explaining how - like President Johnson did for Civil Rights in 1965 - progressives could have reframed the  immigration debate:

Throughout the debate on immigration, polls have shown that most
Americans are not the raging xenophobes leaders on both sides of the
aisle feared and many on the right courted and ignited. Most Americans
just want an alternative story to "amnesty for dark-skinned lawbreakers
who steal our jobs and want to say the Pledge of Allegiance in
Spanish." They want a narrative that has the ring of truth -- but
comprehensive truth about comprehensive reform.

To be compelling,
and to defuse the morality tale on immigration of the right and
righteous, our story needs to begin with the most important truth, for
which we needed no reminder this week from London and Glasgow, that the
protection of our borders and safety is the first task of government.
It then needs to steal the thunder from the right that readily
reverberates through the middle by adding to the incantation, "If
they're going to live in our country, they need to learn to speak our
language," the simple, progressive, and quintessentially American
phrase, "because if they don't, their children will never know the
American Dream, and we will have done nothing for them but to relegate
them to second-class citizenship."

Jul 12 2007
Blog Post Immigrants have lower crime rates


Immigration Prof Blog reports on a new study from the National Bureau of Economic Research disproving the myth that immigrants have higher crime rates.  The study found that immigrants have much lower incarceration rates than the native border: one-fifth the rate of natives.  Evidence also shows that deportation does not drive the results.  In investigating the reasons, the authors espouse that the process of migration selects individuals who are less likely to commit crimes and are more responsive to response to deterrent effects than the average native-born.

Jul 12 2007
Blog Post Repercussions in States' Immigration Bills/June Report Card for New Orleans
  • As the immigration debate moves from a Federal to a
    states-based forum, different outlets are investigating the impact of various state-level bills. ‘Just News’ blog
    reports on the effects of new legislature in Arizona and Georgia. An article from the Arizona Republic
    interviews undocumented immigrants after the governor signed a bill recognized
    as the “toughest of its kind in the country” which could put companies out of
    business for hiring them. Many
    immigrants are considering migrating to another state, leaving behind labor
    shortages and housing market problems. An article on describes the effects of Georgia’s new
    immigration law which force state and local government agencies to verify the
    legal residency of benefit employees.  It’s
    too soon to tell what such migration will do to these states enacting harsher
    laws. What is clear is that when the Federal government avoids creating a definite nation-wide policy, the differences in states' laws will likely cause many unforeseen problems in the economy.
  • The Center for Social Inclusion released their monthly “New
    Orleans Recovery Report Card” for June
    (pdf), an advocacy tool for monitoring
    rebuilding progress, assigns a grade for the 13 New Orleans planning districts
    based on performance in five categories: economy, utilities, health, housing,
    and public education. June’s report card continues the trend with not much improvement, especially in the categories of
    health and public education, both of which receiving grades of “F” overall.

                    Other details include:

    • As of this Report Card, 33% of childcare facilities have reopened in New Orleans, with six new childcare facilities reopening in June. The Lower 9th Ward, Venetian Islands, and New Aurora/English Turn still have no child care.
    • A report by PolicyLink, a national research and action institute, shows
      the Gulf Opportunity Zone Rental Housing Restoration Program, a $2 billion
      piece of the failed Road Home Program, will only replace 40% of the 82,000
      rental units damaged or destroyed in the 2005 hurricane season.
    • In a long-awaited flood-risk assessment for New Orleans, the federal government said the
      City is better prepared than before Katrina, but would still face severe
      flooding in the case of a 100-year storm or a major hurricane. Katrina was a
      400-year storm.


                    Check out

Jul 5 2007
Blog Post Disproportionate access to people of color: Education, Trials, Immigration
  • Feminist blogs offers a great
    commentary on the Supreme Court ruling about desegregation in public
    schools. In using The New York Times
    , the blog notes that while the nation is getting more diverse, schools
    are getting even more segregated. For
    example, in 2002 and 2003, 73% of African-American children were in schools
    that enrolled over 50% children of color, and nearly two of every five
    African-American students attended schools that were over 90% minority. Justice Breyer’s dissent points out the
    increase in segregation since the 1970s, and explains the importance in
    counter-acting this trend. In
    interpreting school districts’ decisions, it is important to realize that one
    cannot simply make the argument that laws should be colorblind.  Schools are still segregated largely because of neighborhood segregation that began when certain groups were legally excluded from certain neighborhoods, and contained to others.  When such segregation wasn't written into the law, it was often enforced by banks, real estate agents and landlords.  Further, people of color are disproportionately
    affected by poverty, job discrimination, and health care access
    .  Education is a critical component to improving everyone's access to opportunity.
  • DMI Blog emphasizes the sheer
    growth and volume of the prison population, citing last week’s prison and jail
    population statistics from the U.S. government.
      The increasing trends only
    highlight the racial disparities: almost 5% of all African American men are imprisoned,
    compared to 1% of white men, and 11% of all African American men between the ages of 24 and 35
    are behind bars. Describing this issue
    as a “human rights problem”, DMI Blog explains that prison reform needs to
    focus not only on prison upkeep but on unfair sentencing practices. Huffington Post reiterates this sentiment
    with a blog about the racial discrepancies between those who use drugs and those who are
    punished for it. Earl Ofari Hutchinson
    states that while many survey results find that whites are much more likely to
    use drugs than African Americans (or use them at least at equal rates), more than 70 % of those
    prosecuted in federal courts for drug possession and sale and given mandatory
    sentences are African American. Due to these
    unfair proceedings, the media’s representation of the drug
    problem is skewed and not realistic. Describing one solution, Jack
    and Jill Politics
    highlights an editorial in The New York Times about the
    Second Chance Act, which would provide for community and state-based
    rehabilitation programs to prevent first-time offenders from committing more
    crimes after released from prison. Jack
    and Jill Politics note the disparities in drug usage and punishment, citing
    that more than 60% of people in prison are racial and ethnic minorities.

  • Huffington Post argues that most economic problems that opponents of immigrants' rights blame on an influx of cheap labor would actually still exist with or without immigrants. The widening gap between the rich and the
    poor is a structural shift, and well documented in the last few decades. For example, income in the U.S. grew
    nearly twelve times more rapidly among the top 1% than the bottom 90% between
    2003 and 2004—consistent with trends since the early 1980s
    . These trends should motivate workers to come together to demand a fairer shake, not turn on each other. Continuing a
    unity approach in immigrants’ rights discussion, Intelligentaidigena
    explains the similarities between the struggles of the Native
    Americans and immigrants, especially their alienation and oppression,
    citing remarks from the ongoing U.S. Social Forum in Atlanta.  Along the same vein, the Leadership Conference on Civil Right, the
    Coalition for Comprehensive Immigration Reform and The Opportunity Agenda
    worked to create an ad showcasing the common struggles
    between African Americans and immigrants. The piece recognizes the profound job and wage crisis in the
    African American community, but, similar to the Huffington Post’s argument,
    this struggle has less to do with immigrants and more to do with governments
    failing to ensure living wages, quality education, and adequate civil rights
    protection. By seeking shared solutions,
    African Americans, among all groups, have a lot to gain. Immigration reform seeks to improve working
    and living conditions for all people in the United States.

Jul 5 2007
Blog Post From commercials to detention reform: Immigration from All Sides
  • DMI Blog reports on a new support
    campaign for immigration, Long Island WINS, seeking to elucidate the shared
    interests of immigrants and middle class Long Islanders. Last week, they launched a multitude of
    intriguing T.V. commercials explaining the economic and cultural contributions
    immigrants make to the island.  These ads
    highlight the important message that immigrants only want what everyone in the
    country wants: the opportunity to pursue the American Dream and participate
    fully in our society. Immigrants
    revitalize communities like these Long Island ones by reviving commerce and provided needed products, in addition to tax and
    net contributions. For example,
    immigrants in California gave an estimated $4.5 billion in state taxes and an additional $30 billion in federal taxes in 1999-2000.
  • Immigrants in the USA Blog
    emphasizes a main idea of the Long Island WINS campaign: everyone benefits from
    working together. This Democrat & Chronicle story highlights
    the triumphs of the Rochester City School District in graduating many seniors who struggled
    with language barriers and cultural disparities. The school helps the students in the
    63-language population by providing resources like teachers with specialized
    language skills and connecting parents with community agencies. These success stories demonstrate the
    importance of providing immigrants with an adequate integration strategy.  Funding for adult basic education and English
    classes has not kept pace with the growing demand
    , and such resources are vital
    to proper integration.
  • ‘Just News’
    reports on a New York Times article continuing this conversation about the high
    rate of immigrants dying in custody after being detained. Because no government body is charged with documenting deaths in immigrant detention, the details and extent of the
    sub par conditions are hard to find. Latina Lista references the same article in explaining how immigrant
    detention is the fastest growing form of incarceration in the United States.  For example, over 27,000 immigrants are
    detained on any given day in almost 200 prison-like facilities all over the
  • Happening-here blog explains some effective ways to counter anti-immigration ways to frame an argument. The blog proposed fighting for a human
    security state (where the government fights for our freedom rather than
    constricting our rights), working toward all forms of racial equity, and
    encouraging globalization in understanding the ways in which we can all provide
    important resources for each other. An
    important facet of the immigration struggle is highlighting the ways in which
    all groups can benefit from fair immigrant rights. For more information about this shared
    interest, check out this article.

Jun 27 2007
Blog Post How do video games perpetuate racial stereotypes?
  • Racialicious questions the effects racial stereotypes have
    when perpetuated in pop culture, like popular video games like Grand Theft Auto. Responding to Deadline Games CEO Chris
    Motte’s post on GameDaily Biz, a site and blog dedicated to the video game
    industry, Racialicious discusses the flood of games that use both sexist and
    racist messages as part of the plot. Few
    video games include African American, Asian American, or Latino main characters
    without employing numerous stereotypes as part of their image. Not just demeaning, but such portrayals
    reinforce the idea that stereotypes are valid and appropriate. When popular culture reflects an inaccurate
    lens, advocates for social change will have to cross that many more obstacles
    for equality. If people start believing
    stereotypes about certain race or gender groups, there will be fewer public
    movements to help truly disadvantaged parties.
  • Ezra Klein points to an interactive game by The New York Times called Points of Entry, in which players learn
    about the proposed point system in the Immigration Bill firsthand.  The game allows players to change key education and employment history
    details in an effort to boost one immigrant’s point total higher than another. The game is one of many in a growing trend
    to use interactive online games to educate audiences and motivate them to advance social change. In Darfur is Dying, players choose a
    Darfurian to try to either forage for water, trying to avoid getting captured,
    or support a camp for seven days with the imminent threat of an attack. Games for Change is an organization which
    provides “support, visibility and shared resources to organizations and
    individuals using digital games for social change.
  • As a social worker coordinating anti-hate crime programs,
    Marshall Wong uses his family’s immigration struggles to drive his work. In this Dreams Across America video, Marshall explains the
    xenophobia his parents and grandparents received, and the ways in which they
    fought back.
Jun 22 2007
Blog Post Daily Blog Round-Up 6/22/07
  • Facing
    reports on the People’s Freedom Caravan, a regional group leaving New Mexico on June 25 with plans to travel to New Orleans to build solidarity with grassroots groups and
    highlight the government’s unfair treatment of survivors of
    Hurricane Katrina. This event is a
    precursor to the U.S. Social Forum in Atlanta next week. The organizers explain that
    “Post-Katrina life in New Orleans has shown that
    there is no real recovery of the Gulf Coast, but only a massive
    privatization scheme that takes away our homes, communities, and human
    rights.” Bringing public attention to
    this devastated region is the only way to promote action in an area where after
    a year, only 18% of the public schools had reopened and 60% of the homes had
    electricity service
    . For more
    information, check out previous postings, Katrina "report cards", and fact sheets.
  • Prometheus
    is also blogging New Orleans, focusing on the Army Corps of Engineers recent report on many neighborhoods in New Orleans' extreme
    vulnerability to future storms. Large
    areas of the city would still be flooded in the event of a major storm, and the progress is
    slower than expected. Residents can
    study the city on a new website on a block-by-block basis for different kinds
    of storms.

  • Immigration Equality Blog reports on
    a recent Migration Policy Institute report (pdf) about the results of a Senate bill
    proposal and how it affects family members trying to immigrate. The
    report highlights the change from a system that “allocates about two-thirds of
    permanent visas to family members and less than one-fifth to employment-based
    immigrants, to a system that eventually allocates perhaps less that half of all
    visas to family members and about two-fifths to points-based immigrants.” The report also shows the current age and
    education demographics of the immigrants in 2005, and extrapolates how the new
    policy would effect immigration.

  • Yolanda Ochoa tells another touching immigration story as part of the Dreams Across America videos. After immigrating, Yolanda went back to school to learn English and study to start her career as a nursing assistant.  Her dream is to eliminate all children witnessing their parents being deported, and is committed to immigration reform.
Jun 22 2007
Blog Post Daily Blog Round-Up 6/20/07: Part 2
  • Firedoglake reports on Dreams Across America train which we've posted about before here and
    . The Dreams Across America train
    represents the melting pot of cultures America holds. Over the next week or so, we're going to feature some of our favorite "Dreamers" and exhibit their videos here on our site.  Our first featured dreamer is Yun Sook Kim Navarre,
    born in South Korea but
    adopted by a Detroit family. Yun Sook recognizes the strength of America's diversity and discusses her desire for better rights and less discrimination for her young daughter.
  • Pro Inmigrant reports on the controversial usage of the word
    “amnesty” for the immigration legislation, claiming that opponents of the bill
    use the word like a weapon. Pro
    Inmigrant points out the fallacy of calling this program “amnesty,” and urges
    all politicians to focus on a better compromise – and better wording.  We suggest "Pathway to Citizenship".
  • Racialicious reports on the Center for Migrant Rights, a
    small non-profit based in Mexico, and its efforts to educate Mexican workers about US labor laws, government agencies and
    previous civil rights struggles. Providing free legal aid to guest workers seeking compensation for
    injuries or missed pay, the Center started these workshops as a preventive
    effort in Mexico, as many workers in America are hard to reach because of fear of authorities. Many guest workers do not know the extent of
    their rights in the workforce, and much legislation aims at taking away rights
    they deserve. Among others, the 1996
    Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act
    barred many
    documented and undocumented immigrants from basic federal programs that provide
    economic security.
  • The Connecticut newspaper,
    The Advocate, reports on the lack of progress in racially integrating Hartford and suburban
    schools. A review conducted by
    researchers at Trinity College shows that magnet schools have not attracted as
    many white suburban children into the city, resulting in only 9 percent of
    Hartford’s students (primarily black and Hispanic) attend schools that have
    enough white students to qualify as “racially integrated.” Following approval by the court and General
    Assembly, the state plans to spend millions of dollars over the next five years
    to subsidize programs that would foster immigration, like magnet and charter
    schools. This review is timely in light
    of the Supreme Court decision on school integration cases in Louisville and Seattle expected
    any day. Nationwide, the NAACP (pdf) found that nearly
    three-quarters of black and Latino students attend predominantly minority
    schools, and most white students attend schools where only one out of five
    students are from different racial groups. Without proper community programs, the already increasing levels of
    segregation will continue to rise, creating more barriers between us and failing to prepare our children to work in an increasingly diverse workforce and world.
Jun 20 2007
Blog Post 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 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.”

Jun 20 2007
Blog Post 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 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.
Jun 13 2007
Blog Post 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,
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.'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  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.


Jun 13 2007
Blog Post 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.
Jun 11 2007
Blog Post 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.

Jun 8 2007
Blog Post 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.
Jun 8 2007
Blog Post 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.
  • 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.”
Jun 6 2007
Blog Post Daily Blog Round-Up 6/5/07
  • Ezra Klein reports on a few different immigration issues,
    including the results from the recent Washington Post poll indicating a clear
    majority in favor of a few aspects of the immigration bill debated in Congress
    right now on both sides of the aisle. Klein debates the point that guest workers would harm
    American workers, stating that there would only be small downward effects on
    native wages, if any. Klein has a point, but for those looking to build support for comprehensive reform, it is more important to think
    of native workers and immigrants as a united force, sharing many common
    aspirations for their families. By
    stratifying the types of jobs each group can and “should” do, the greater
    purpose of becoming a community is left behind in favor of pointing
  • Migra Matters
    continues the discussion on immigration by explaining the current state of
    affairs in Congress, stating that it appears as though the bill will not be
    struck down. For those looking for a good breakdown, Miagra Matters
    highlights the 14 current amendments proposed and how they would affect the final legislation.
  • The Real Cost of Prisons Weblog cites a New York Times
    about racial bias that occurs in jury selection. While it is illegal to turn away
    a possible juror based only on race, many lawyers use other excuses to reject
    black jurors. In a report of 390 felony
    jury trials from 1994 to 2002, the district attorney’s office turned away three
    times as many eligible black jurors as white ones. In these cases, while the racism is not
    explicit, the institutional racism still exists, but to a less obvious
    degree. This kind of racism results in a
    lack of public commitment to address social policies for equality, and
    obfuscates this important problem
  • Racialicious references an ABC News article arguing that
    children’s school settings impact their own racial exclusion. The report referenced a study of students of
    different ethnic and racial backgrounds and found that children with friends
    from different background were much more likely to say it is wrong to exclude
    someone because of their own race. In
    addition, in a follow-up analysis of white students, children in “mixed
    ethnicity” schools were much less likely to use racial stereotypes about
    children with different backgrounds. The
    study corroborated the explanations of the many Amicus briefs
    submitted in support of the school integration cases for the Supreme Court
    rulings in Seattle and Louisville, which can be found on the NAACP Legal Defense Fund website. These Amicus briefs consist of arguments from a plethora of
    organizations explaining why exclusion and school segregation is harmful for
    children, with arguments from such institutions such as the American
    Psychological Association, Anti-Defamation League, Historians, and the LA
    School District. The detrimental effects
    of segregation on school-aged children has been well-documented, and only with
    the Supreme Court’s decision to let the communities deal with integrating their
    districts themselves can we truly move toward equality.
Jun 6 2007
Blog Post Daily Blog Round-up: 5/31/07
  • Racialicious
    reports on the current lack of minority representation on TV shows,
    especially in light of the recent Emmy nominations.  The achievements of people of color on TV have rarely been recognized by the Emmys (seven winners since 1986), and there continues to be only a
    marginal percentage of actors, writers, and senior-level producers in
    the TV industry.    TV coverage may not seem like
    the most important racial injustice to fight, yet
    seeing one’s own group represented in mainstream America (or not) can have a profound impact on how we view race in America.  When certain groups are rarely depicted in
    prominent TV shows and popular culture, the producers are sending a
    message of how America should look, ignoring the diversity that
    strengthens this country.  This imbalance in media  is even more apparent on major cable and network news.  Media Matters
    conducted a study calculating the ethnicities of the guests on four
    prominent Sunday talk shows.  Not surprisingly, they found a major bias in favor of white guests
    versus any other minority constituency analyzed.  What does that say about whose opinion counts as an authority in our society?
  • Racialicious
    also reports on the wave in lawsuits filed around the country by
    low-paid workers, especially immigrants in large cosmopolitan cities
    like New York City.  These successes exemplify the potential gains of
    immigrants and other low-wage workers when united.  While some may try to pit immigrants against African Americans and low wage workers, by joining forces to tackle our common problems, we can make greater headway and all rise together.
  • The Real Cost of Prisons Weblog
    reports on the problems of the criminal justice system, using the
    situation in Massachusetts where having a Criminal Offender Record
    Information file can limit one’s occupational opportunities, housing
    offers and loan grants, even if the charges were later dropped or the
    person was found not guilty.  Even when modernizing the criminal
    justice system, governments need to consider the implications of a
    criminal record and provide educational and vocational resources to
    give the person the opportunity to change.
May 31 2007
Blog Post Daily Blog Round-up
  • ACS blog reports on the 5-4 majority decision in Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber, a case involving sex discrimination in the workplace.  While the gender wage gap has narrowed in the last 30 years, this decision only makes further advances more difficult.  The State of Opportunity in America (pdf) cites that in 2003, a women’s average wage was still only 81% of a man’s average wage.  By continuing to put such roadblocks in the path of possible equal opportunity employers, women and minority groups will have a much harder time fighting for equality in the workforce.
  • Prometheus 6 reports on Color of Change’s continuous efforts to unite the rising black blogosphere and the progressive netroots to combat the Congressional Black Caucus’s democratic debates on Fox News.  Color of Change is pioneering new forms of online activism for racial justice advocates.  Show your support by checking out their site.
  • DMI reports on senators' reactions to the recent immigration proposal (The Secure Borders, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Reform Act (pdf)) and to the NY Times/CBS poll showing a strong majority of American support for providing a path to citizenship for undocumented workers.  DMI discusses the senators' apparent disconnect with this majority, detailing two different amendments to the bill (introduced by Senators Vitter and Coleman), which would have created roadblocks to a compassionate pathway to citizenship that recognizes the contributions immigrants make to our country. 
May 30 2007
Blog Post Struggling to Get From Many to One

Alan's Jenkin's latest piece at Tom Paine is live:

Over 100 million people of color now live in the United States, the U.S. Census Bureau reported
last week, one-third of our population and a new milestone in our
nation’s diversity. Two important decisions currently facing our
federal government will help determine whether that diversity continues
to be one of America’s great strengths or is met with division and

Any day now, the U.S. Supreme Court is expected to decide whether
voluntary school integration efforts by the communities of Louisville,
Kentucky and Seattle, Washington violate the Constitution. At the same
time, Congress is debating immigration reform legislation that will
determine how we treat the estimated 12 million undocumented immigrants
in America, as well as future generations of legal immigrants. In each
case, government leaders should choose a future in which we move
forward together toward community and shared prosperity.

Read More.

May 22 2007
Blog Post Opportunity in Images: Take Two

Earlier this year, we teamed up with students in the Masters in Media Studies program at the New School University here in New York.  As part of a media production class, we became the "client" and the students became graphic designers, tasked with creating images representing the core values of community, equality, and human rights apply to one of three initiatives: Immigration reform, health care equity, and the 2008 election.

Here's a sample of some of the great work they produced.  These images are creative commons licensed (Attribution), and the name of the designer can be found in the description.  We encourage everyone to Remix and Reuse them in your own work.  You can find the full set of images here.

Fernanda-OAGraphic-Larger OA_Buttons_2008Elections_ OA1 OA_Healthcare_1_notext_Braudaway

This is the second time we've worked with students at the New School on creating images illustrative of our Opportunity FrameYou can find past work here.

May 14 2007
Blog Post Building Bridges Between Immigrants and African Americans

Our Executive Director, Alan Jenkins, has another post up on Tom Paine:

When immigrants took to the streets last year to
protest a punitive anti-immigrant bill in the House of Representatives
and to seek a pathway to citizenship, the public conversation focused
in part on the relationship between African Americans and immigrants.
And much of that conversation was framed in terms of competition and

That framing was no accident. The mainstream media have fixated on potential points of black/immigrant tension, looking for a conflict storyline.
And that storyline has been amply fed by conservative anti-immigrant
groups intent on driving a wedge between the two communities. The website for Team America, founded by Tom Tancredo, R-Colo., and chaired by Bay Buchanan declares.

You can read Alan's call for a new vocabulary that builds bridges between these two communities here.

Feb 21 2007
Blog Post Remembering Japanese Internment

Sixty-five years ago today, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, authorizing the wartime removal and incarceration of over 110,000 Japanese Americans.  This single act has had endless ramifications on the lives of Japanese-Americans and is undeniably one of the worst chapters in American history.

In the decades leading up to World War II, there was a good deal of institutionalized discrimination against Japanese people in the United States. Japanese immigrants could not legally naturalize.  Children born in the US were granted citizenship, but immigrants themselves were unable to become citizens. Further, the ability of Japanese immigrants (non-citizens) to own property in the US was revoked entirely.  It had been legal, previously.

When the Japanese military forces attacked Pearl Harbor in Hawaii on December 7, 1941, pandemonium and fear broke loose.  American media coverage painted the Japanese to be a threat of unprecedented scale, quoting blatantly racist remarks by military leaders such as the assertion that the Japanese were going to 'overtake' the West Coast with help from the local Japanese population. The US was also at war with Germany and Italy, but somehow only the Japanese were thought to be a danger to national security.

On February 19, 1942, FDR ordered that everyone of Japanese descent living on the West Coast be 'evacuated.' These 110,000 people were given a certain number of days to liquidate their possessions, which essentially meant selling everything they owned, land included, to their non-Japanese neighbors for dirt-cheap prices.  Once transferred to the camps, many families occupied what were formerly horse stables, a frightening gauge of the dehumanization to which they were subjected.

When the camps were finally closed in 1944, evacuees were sent home with three items: train fare, $25 each, and a pamphlet advising them on how to readjust to society. Many families have never recovered the economic gains they had made before the war. Much of what they had put into storage before heading to the camps was long gone. There were a good number of college-educated Japanese professionals in the camps, who had an extraordinarily difficult time finding employment after their stays in the camps. Similarly, Japanese students struggled to be admitted to universities.  Many went eastward for greater opportunities

While the US government made an official apology for its actions in the 1980s, its attempts at reparations have been insufficient compared to the damage done to so many of its own citizens and their families.

While it is true that no one was tortured or killed in the 'internment camps' (not to be confused with 'concentration camps'), it’s worth a look at the Universal Declaration of Human Rights with this situation in mind. While the UDHR was adopted in 1948, after the camps opened and closed, it has become a standard reference point for assessing human rights violations – and it provides a clear illustration of how many basic human rights were violated by the incarceration order.

For further resources, see NAATA’s educational website.

Feb 20 2007
Communications Talking Points: Comprehensive Immigration Reform (2007)

This memo contains some suggestions on overall themes and some additional tools the immigrant rights movement has developed.

Feb 15 2007
Blog Post Framing Immigration in the New York Times

The Gray Lady is running an article on immigrants today that contrasts starkly with most media reporting of the issue, and offers us a chance to see what well-framed media coverage of the immigration debate might actually look like.

Immigrant Entrepreneurs Shape a New Economy

The article focuses on the challenges that many immigrant entrepreneurs face - competition from other immigrants, byzantine city regulations, language barriers, and lack of access to connections and infrastructure that help small businesses grow - yet the message is very much one of the positive impact that immigrants have on our cities:

“Immigrants have been the entrepreneurial spark plugs of cities from
New York to Los Angeles,” said Jonathan Bowles, the director of the
Center for an Urban Future, a private, nonprofit research organization
that has studied the dynamics of immigrant businesses that turned
decaying neighborhoods into vibrant commercial hubs in recent decades.
“These are precious and important economic generators for New York
City, and there’s a risk that we might lose them over the next decade.”

In this story, immigrants are the drivers and revivers of urban economies.  They are net positives for society as a whole.

To be sure, there are faults with the framing in this article.  By focusing on these successful immigrants who have bootstrapped themselves to success - despite many barriers - it reinforces the idea of the immigrant "striver," and promotes a conservative frame of individual responsibility ("If these immigrants can succeed, it must mean that those who don't aren't really trying to help themselves").

Never the less, it is a piece that highlights the value that immigrants bring to our society, and frames them in a positive light.  A good piece to think about as we work towards moving public opinion on the issue of comprehensive immigration reform.

Feb 6 2007
Blog Post State of Opportunity; State of the Union

Last night President Bush delivered his 6th State of the Union Address.  Thanks to a terrific interactive tool put out by the New York Times, we're able to determine that Bush mentioned opportunity 8 times in his speech - more than in any other State of the Union address he has delivered thus far.  In almost each instance, he referenced the need to spread hope and opportunity and build a brighter future for our country. 

It's wonderful to hear the President promote the value of opportunity
when addressing the nation, but unfortunately, opportunity has been on the decline since President Bush last ascended the podium to address the nation; and the President's proposed policies - centered less around expanding opportunity so much as promoting individual responsibility - will do little to increase opportunity for those most in need in our country.

Last year, just after the President's 2006 Address (in which one of the only references to opportunity came coupled with a broken promise to rebuild New Orleans - curiously absent from last night's speech), The Opportunity Agenda released a report - The State of Opportunity in America.  In this report, we measured America's progress in expanding opportunity along a variety of indicators and issues.  Our findings were not encouraging.

Next month, we'll release an update to the State of Opportunity Report.  For now, here's a sample of our findings:

  • A lower proportion of young adults earned high school degrees;
  • The number and rate of incarcerated people has increased, to 2.2 million today, consistent with a three-decade trend;
  • The wealth and income gap increased again, following a trend of growing economic inequality;
  • The gender poverty gap increased between 2004 and 2005, as a larger percentage of women fell into poverty in this period;
  • The number of Americans lacking health insurance increased from 45.3 million in 2004 to 46.6 million in 2005.

We'll have more in a few weeks.  Stay tuned.

In the meantime, you can fact-check the President's statements and policy proposals through this tool created by Think Progress.

We also recommend you check out the SOTU review offered by our friends at the Drum Major Institute.

What did you think of the President's address and his newfound commitment to spreading opportunity?

Jan 24 2007
Research Brochure: About The Opportunity Agenda (2008)

Read about The Opportunity Agenda in our new brochure.


Jan 20 2007
Blog Post God Grew Tired of Us

Next time you head to the movies you must check the powerful and inspiring film, God Grew Tired Of Us.   It will be released in NYC and around the country this week.  It explores American opportunity through a unique lens, following the lives of Sudanese refugees from the war in Southern Sudan to resettlement in the United States.  It highlights how these men try to retain their culture while seizing opportunity in America -- earning a living, going to school, and providing for families back home.  It investigates American culture and the American dream, and explores the pros and cons of life in the Unites States.   

Here’s a trailer for the movie:  and a summary from the website:  “Winner of both the Grand Jury Prize and the Audience Award at the 2006 Sundance Film Festival, GOD GREW TIRED OF US explores the indomitable spirit of three “Lost Boys” from the Sudan who leave their homeland, triumph over seemingly insurmountable adversities and move to America, where they build active and fulfilling new lives but remain deeply committed to helping the friends and family they have left behind.  Orphaned by a tumultuous civil war and traveling barefoot across the sub-Saharan desert, John Bul Dau, Daniel Abol Pach and Panther Blor were among the 25,000 “Lost Boys” (ages 3 to 13) who fled villages, formed surrogate families and sought refuge from famine, disease, wild animals and attacks from rebel soldiers. Named by a journalist after Peter Pan’s posse of orphans who protected and provided for each other, the “Lost Boys” traveled together for five years and against all odds crossed into the UN’s refugee camp in Kakuma, Kenya. A journey’s end for some, it was only the beginning for John, Daniel and Panther, who along with 3800 other young survivors, were selected to re-settle in the United States.”

For another interesting take on opportunity (and the barriers to it) in America and the Lost Boys, the book What is the What by David Eggers is a must read.  It is based on the life of Valentino Achak Deng, and at 400+ pages, the book provides a nuanced account of the history of the Lost Boys and life after resettlement in America.

Finally, if you’d like to learn more about the conflict in Sudan and join efforts to help out, The International Crisis Group website has a short list of recommendations, including writing to your elected representatives and writing to media urging more coverage of the situation.

Jan 8 2007
Blog Post New Voices Fellowship

Since I know that many of the people reading this site work in the nonprofit sector, I thought I'd pass on this fellowship opportunity.  If you are working in the Gulf Coast, it's a great opportunity to increase your organization's operating capacity and find funding for your work around Hurricane Katrina:



The New Voices
Gulf Coast Transformation Fellowship is a response to the harm and displacement
caused by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.  Eligible nonprofit organizations
will be those located in Alabama, Louisiana, or Mississippi; in three
cities with large numbers of displaced residents (Atlanta, Dallas, or
Houston); or in the Gulf Coast regions of Florida or Texas.  The
New Voices funding will address needs, solve problems, and defend human
rights in six sponsored program areas:  Human Rights, HIV/AIDS,
Immigrant Rights, Racial Justice, Reproductive Rights, and Women’s

This grant
opportunity is an initiative of the New Voices National Fellowship,
a program administered by the Academy for Educational Development and
made possible with support from the Ford Foundation.  New Voices
is a national grantmaking initiative focused on leadership development,
nonprofit strengthening, and empowering talented individuals from diverse
backgrounds.  The fellowship enables diverse candidates with compelling
backgrounds or interests to launch a career in social justice, even
as it supports small nonprofits in staffing up for innovative, impactful
human rights work.  A unique aspect of the program is that the
host nonprofit and its proposed Fellow apply jointly for the grant.

that conduct policy research and analysis, policy advocacy, litigation,
community organizing, popular education, leadership development, and
demonstration projects with a systems change approach and an evaluation
component are eligible. Organizations that propose to provide only direct
services to individuals are not eligible.

For a complete
overview, please visit the New Voices web site,

For additional
information or feedback, please contact New Voices staff by phone at
202-884-8051, email us at Complete grant applications are due
on Monday, February 5, 2007. 

Jan 2 2007
Blog Post Go After The System, Not The Individuals

So I read about the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) raids conducted at six meat plants in six states. (NYT, LATimes, WaPo) The idea of an immigrant round-up is disturbing in itself, but I was struck by the justification for these raids: workers at these plants had allegedly stolen identities of US citizens in order to work there, and thus they need to be deported. Really?? ICE is on a witch hunt for identity thieves in immigrants' clothing?

Going after workers themselves hardly seems like the way to change a system that basically promotes ID Theft. Many of the workers at the plants were suspected to be undocumented, and using falsified documents to work here in the States. I think it is wrong to pretend to be someone else. It is also wrong for companies to hire these workers in the first place. Companies across the country know that only the weakest of efforts are required to stay off the hook for hiring undocumented workers. A program called Basic Pilot verifies documents presented by a potential employee. And then it's over for the employer--they did not knowingly hire an undocumented immigrant once the program gives a green light. The fact is that the program shields employers by not . They can hire cheap labor and exploit workers, then when the feds come-a-knockin' the company shows that they used Basic Pilot. That makes the company free and go and replenish the labor force with new undocumented workers. Let's note that the company that owns the plants has not been charged. I guess that means it's looking to hire, if anyone is interested.

Deporting these individuals will probably have little effect on the future hiring of undocumented workers. Maybe the people who are actually stealing and selling other people's Social Security numbers should be targeted. Maybe the corporations so desperate to increase quarterly profits they prey on immigrants to cut labor costs should be targeted. Not only do the raids seem futile in terms of preventing future undocumented workers from being hired, it's also separating families and destabilizing communities. I think ICE was way off target with this one. There are better ways to prevent Identity Theft, and they don't include thinly veiled attacks on immigrants.

Many of us are looking for a way to reform the system by which new Americans can arrive and succeed here. There was a real outcry for progress last spring and summer. Yes, we want to keep offering the American Dream. Well, we're not really offering the Dream if we criminalize the very desire to achieve it. Rather than making systematic changes in labor and immigration policy, our federal government chose to turn a dear ear to our outcry, and go after individuals. In the near future, I hope to celebrate positive immigration reform. And I hope we realize that the path to citizenship cannot be paved with ICE raids.

Dec 13 2006
Blog Post The Opportunity Mandate

I just want to add one thought to the great piece that our executive director currently has posted at (which you should all go read). 

Alan makes the point that this election wasn't just about Iraq, but about the economy broadly defined as the opportunity for every American to get their shot at the American Dream:

Voters have clearly shown a yearning for a new domestic agenda. This
time, it’s not just the economy on voters’ minds, but something deeper
and more profoundly American: opportunity.

While the economy, narrowly defined,
may be relatively healthy, more and more Americans see our national
promise of opportunity—the idea that everyone in our country should
have a fair chance to achieve his or her full potential—moving farther
out of reach.

A recent CNN poll found
that 54 percent of Americans feel “the American dream has become
impossible for most people to achieve.” And 55 percent say they’re
dissatisfied with “current opportunities for the next generation to
live better than their parents.” A poll of American workers commissioned by Change to Win found that 81 percent believe “no matter what you hear about the economy, working families are falling behind.”

This rising sentiment is not only about economic conditions, but
also about national values like fair treatment, a voice in decisions
that affect us, a chance to start over after misfortune, and a sense of
shared responsibility for each other.

I think this is right, and just wanted to point out that it was also the main message in some of the Democrats more surprising pick-ups this November.  Jim Webb, who beat out George Allen, just published an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal calling for fairness in the economy.  Here's some excerpts:

This ever-widening divide is too often ignored or downplayed by its beneficiaries. A sense of entitlement has set in among elites, bordering on hubris. When I raised this issue with corporate leaders during the recent political campaign, I was met repeatedly with denials, and, from some, an overt lack of concern for those who are falling behind. A troubling arrogance is in the air among the nation's most fortunate. Some shrug off large-scale economic and social dislocations as the inevitable byproducts of the "rough road of capitalism." Others claim that it's the fault of the worker or the public education system, that the average American is simply not up to the international challenge, that our education system fails us, or that our workers have become spoiled by old notions of corporate paternalism.


Most Americans reject such notions. But the true challenge is for everyone to understand that the current economic divisions in society are harmful to our future. It should be the first order of business for the new Congress to begin addressing these divisions, and to work to bring true fairness back to economic life. Workers already understand this, as they see stagnant wages and disappearing jobs.


With this new Congress, and heading into an important presidential election in 2008, American workers have a chance to be heard in ways that have eluded them for more than a decade. Nothing is more important for the health of our society than to grant them the validity of their concerns. And our government leaders have no greater duty than to confront the growing unfairness in this age of globalization.

Hopefully Webb is right - and his colleagues take his concerns seriously.  The American people voted for change. They voted for a restoration of opportunity and the American Dream.  It's the responsibility of our newly elected leaders to make that happen.

Nov 22 2006
Blog Post Blog Wisdom: The War on Immigration

On the heels of the election, there are a slew of blogs and news articles about immigration.  Here's a quick roundup of what people are saying about what will surely be one of the most talked about issues during the next congress/presidential cycle.

Starting off with the dead tree media, The New York Times runs a piece today about a slew of anti-immigrant laws being proposed in Texas.

That is probably giving heartburn to the RNC, as bloggers at MyDD are talking about GOP pollster and framing guru Frank Luntz's belief that anti-immigration messages cost Republicans the election.  Jonathan Singer backs this up with a post noting that Democrats saw huge gains from hispanic voters.

Both Amy Taylor at DMI Blog and Stef Cannon from Working Life note growing alliances between the labor movement and immigrants groups - creating a potentially powerful coalition and voice for comprehensive immigration reform. 

Here at The Opportunity Agenda, we've laid out a similar case, calling for stronger ties between African Americans and immigrants to create a powerful voice for economic, health, and civil rights policies that will lift up all Americans.

Jack and Jill Politics takes a look at the issue from the reverse angle with a blog about the differing rationales for Mel Martinez or Michael Steele to replace Ken Mehlman at the RNC. 

That's all for today.  What are you reading about?

Nov 16 2006
Blog Post 21st Century Poll Taxes and Better Fences: Today in the News

The Washington Post reports on an important - if temporary - victory protecting the voices and rights voters.  Yesterday a Georgia judge overturned a controversial law that would have required voters to provide government-issued photo identification before being allowed to vote.  In his ruling, the judge stated that the law placed too great a burden on the citizens of Georgia.  Others have not been so kind in their wording:

Sep 20 2006
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