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Weekly Update on Immigration: Yes We Can! Pass Comprehensive Immigration Reform in 2009
I. Signs That Immigration Reform is On Track - Last week I previewed the meeting held between President Barack Obama and the Congressional Hispanic Caucus on Immigration, Simon provided NDN's Backgrounder on the issue, and Andres recapped for us what occured during the meeting and afterwards at a townhall meeting in Costa Mesa. The CHC meeting was declared an important step forward for immigration reform by those who participated. Immigration reform was the sole issue discussed, which demonstrates the level of importance this issue holds for Hispanics, as well as the commitment on the part of Members of Congress and the President to pass reform. Dan summarized the coverage of these steps towards movement on CIR, and NDN's thoughts on the same:
1. The San Francisco Chronicle:
After the hour-long meeting, the Latino leaders pronounced themselves pleased, saying they had gotten the president's pledge that he would move forward with a plan for "comprehensive immigration reform" this year. Caucus chair Nydia Velazquez of New York had this to say: "The President made clear to us that he is a man of his word. He clearly understands the consequences of a broken immigration system. We believe that under his leadership we can finally provide some dignity to the thousands of families that are living in the shadows and in fear."
Pro-immigrant Democratic strategists were also calling the confab a success. "It's an exciting day," said Simon Rosenberg of NDN. And given the magnitude of Obama's other legislative challenges, he predicted: "The White House is going to realize that passing comprehensive immigration reform is one of the easier things he can do this year."
2. Major Mexican Publication, El Excelsior: "Immigration Reform Takes on Greater Importance." This piece reports that President Obama has set immigration reform as a "national priority," and quotes Simon's political outlook on issue (translation): Democrats promised passage of CIR this year, and it is an issue that could help them secure the electoral gains achieved in 2008 among Hispanics, while Republicans need this issue to sue for peace with the Hispanic community; "oppose CIR this year, and watch your chance to win national elections again evaporate for a generation or more," said Simon.
As Andres pointed out, the President continued to outline his position at a townhall in Costa Mesa:
"We are a nation of immigrants, number one. Number two, we do have to have control of our borders. Number three, that people who have been here for a long time and put down roots here have to have some mechanism over time to get out of the shadows, because if they stay in the shadows, in the underground economy, then they are oftentimes pitted against American workers. Since they can't join a union, they can't complain about minimum wages, et cetera, they end up being abused, and that depresses the wages of everybody, all Americans."
Importantly, the President also announced that he will be visiting Mexico to discuss this and other issues with President Calderon.
As President Obama puts Immigration Reform back on the agenda, a realization suddently hits folks: maybe our biggest menace is not immigration? Maybe illegal immigrants aren't our worst nightmare? As articulated in this op-ed by Lawrence Downes.
II. Immigration and Public Opinion - As Kos discussed a recent statement by Congressman Steve King - "the overwhelming majority of Americans who support enforcement of our immigration laws, border security and no amnesty for illegal immigrants" - he lays out all the evidence, including NDN polling, that disproves such a statement, and reiterates: Immigration Bashing Isn't the American Mainstream.
III. Would You Stop a Hate Crime In Progress? - This hidden camera experiment found that most would NOT intervene. What would you do?
IV. In Case You Missed It - Sheriff Arpaio appeared on Al Punto yesterday - the Univision Sunday morning political program. On the recent DOJ investigation and Congressional hearings to investigate his methods, he does not fear criticism. He feels Chairman Conyers, "...only reads the New York Times editorials..." and doesn't know what it's like to be sheriff. When challenged by Jorge Ramos on the increase in crime in Maricopa County despite his "tough" enforcement efforts, and the increasing number of pending criminal cases, he argues crime has actually dropped, and that he has support of Hispanics in Arizona.