Weekly Update on Immigration

"Prison" for immigrants? - A note in Dubois, Pennsylvania's Courier Express discusses expansion plans for a privately run "federal prison for illegal immigrants." According to the story, the prison is under contract with the Federal Bureau of Prisons. My first question is: why are any immigrants going to prisons as opposed to detention centers? Or is this a case of criminals who are serving sentences and are found to be in the country illegally? I feel like important details were left out of the story, but if non-criminal aliens are somehow being held in prisons then we have a major issue.

The Impact of the 2008 Elections on Immigration, continued: 1. "Firewall" wins -Saxby Chambliss (R) won the runoff election in Georgia against Jim Martin (D) for the Senate. The runoff was widely covered by Time and Chambliss was even on Halperin's "Five Most Important People in American Politics Right Now Who Aren't Barack Obama." In addition to the political considerations, a win by Jim Martin would have meant a key vote in the Senate for immigration reform. Now Chambliss and the Republican party are touting this "big win."  This seat would have meant a huge win for Democrats, but it's important that Democrats put up such a fight in Georgia.  Vehemently anti-immigrant and anti-reform Saxby Chambliss and Jim Martin couldn't have more different views on immigration and in their approach to governing - Chambliss has been politicking, selling himself as a "firewall to prevent Democratic excess," while Jim Martin had presented himself as the man who would provide a "bridge" to the change promised by President-elect Barack Obama, and that change includes immigration reform.

2. Reality sets in, in VA - Per a piece by Anita Kumar in the Washington Post, the Virginia Panel on Immigration is changing its ways, from the hard-line stance to more productive and realistic proposals. After seeing the hard-line anti-immigrant Republican candidates lose congressional elections all over the state, the members of this commission have apparently realized that the anti-immigrant positions they formerly took to score what they considered to be political points just don't work. The panel has shifted its focus from fighting illegal immigration to working with the ever-growing population of immigrants. Delegate Todd Gilbert (R-Shenandoah), who served on the commission and is staunchly anti-illegal immigration, noted "I can't totally disagree that some people are leery of the issue, because maybe it wasn't the wedge issue that some thought it would be," Gilbert said. The new recommendations provided by the panel to Gov. Tim Kaine include shortening the Medicaid residency requirements for certain qualified immigrants, offering in-state tuition to immigrants who meet specific criteria and creating an immigration assistance office. The commission also proposed increasing the number of English classes and creating a plan to address the needs of foreign-born residents and urged the federal government to compile more complete immigration statistics, increase the number of visas for foreign workers and pass comprehensive immigration legislation.

A Post op-ed also discusses the significance of this change in tone in Virginia in more detail: "....reform is as needed as ever. Only the federal government can get the job done, and the political climate may be more favorable than last time around." Of the 12 million illegal immigrants estimated to be in the United States, 250,000 to 300,000 live in Virginia, according to the Pew Hispanic Center in Washington. The U.S. Census Bureau says an additional 440,000 people in Virginia are not U.S. citizens but are in the state legally.

3. More Immigration Losers - The Wall Street Journal remarks: the GOP hardliners have to face the reality that immigration reform is not unpopular. This Opinion piece notes Virgil Goode's loss to Tom Perreillo - which became official this week. For the second straight election, incumbent Republicans who attempted to turn illegal immigration into a wedge issue lost their election. Anti-immigration hardliners Randy Graf, John Hostettler and J.D. Hayworth were among the Republicans who lost in 2006. In addition to Goode, joining them this year were GOP Representatives Thelma Drake (Virginia), Tom Feeney (Florida), Ric Keller (Florida)and Robin Hayes (North Carolina) - all Members of a House anti-immigration caucus that focuses on demonizing the undocumented and advocating for things like mass deportation and denying citizenship to U.S. born children of undocumented persons.

4. GOP Immigration Strategy Goes Down in Flames - El Paso newspaper citing the most recent poll conducted by America's Voice and Lake Research.

5. Jeb Bush Readies to Woo Hispanics- In an interview, most importantly, Bush said his party must embrace the nation's changing demographics:

"We can't ignore large segments of our population and expect to win," Bush said. "We can't be the ‘old white-guy' party. It's just not going to work, the demographics go against us in that regard...". "Among Hispanic voters, I think we need to change the tone of the conversation as it relates to immigration. In Florida, we've not participated much in the chest pounding and the yelling and the screaming. I mean, it just drives me nuts when there are substantive policy differences that we can show mutual respect on, but the tone needs to change. And I think we need to recruit more candidates who share our values in the Hispanic community. In Florida we've done that."

This provides a window into the strategy Jeb will use if he runs for Senate.

Intelligence Report: Anti-immigration Leader at Heart of White Nationalist Scene for Decades - This report just released by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) details more precisely what SPLC has been reporting for some time: John Tanton, the architect of the modern anti-immigration movement and founder of the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) has been at the heart of the white nationalist scene for decades, working with racist intellectuals, Klan lawyers and even Holocaust deniers.  Speaking of which, the "think tank" of the hate network funded by Mr. Tanton, Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) appears in this article on alleged "Green Card Marriage Fraud." While there is little data to substantiate the alleged incidence of fraud in marriages between one U.S. citizen and one non-citizen, even one case of fraud is unfortunate. In this regard, we thank CIS for furthering our argument for CIR - so long as the immigration system is broken and so long as there are insufficient legal channels for those currently living in the United States, or those wanting to come here, people will continue to find ways outside of the system to come here. So let's get a law passed that provides for a realistic number of visas, a speedier green-card process through employment and family, and additional realistic legal channels for permanent residence.

Outlook on Napolitano- A New York Times Editorial on the role Gov. Napolitano could play in achieving Comprehensive Immigration Reform as DHS Secretary. This op-ed makes many of the arguments NDN has posited on the inadequacy of "enforcement-only", and makes a compelling argument for the urgency of CIR:

How badly have [enforcement-only] efforts failed? Since Congress passed the Secure Fence Act of 2006, instead of comprehensive reform, 32 tunnels have been discovered under Arizona's border with Mexico, according to research by The Arizona Republic's Sean Holstege. That's more than all tunnels previously found in Arizona. Drug cartels finance tunnels, but transporting people into the country illegally has become so lucrative that drug smugglers increasingly are mixing their cargo. If the U.S. had a process to legally bring in needed foreign workers and legalize the current undocumented population, the reduction in the Border Patrol's workload would allow border law enforcement to focus on drug smuggling. There's reason to hope the new Congress will act on that simple reality.

The Immigration Crystal Ball - NPR is doing a great job focusing on border and immigration issues, Jennifer Ludden explores how enforcement priorities may change under President Obama and why "Immigration Experts Expect Fewer Workplace Raids." There's also a great deal of debate over whether immigration reform will happen, and when: 1) an interesting blog by Roberto Lovato, 2) A Dallas Morning News post by William McKenzie posits "Why Immigration May Go Forward," while a John Riley article in Dallas Morning News argues that immigration reform "Takes backseat to the economy."

No one really knows, all we can do is educate and advocate. The bottom line is that President-Elect Obama has demonstrated a commitment to immigration reform - he has spoken about this issue as a priority, and here's how he'll go about it.

The Economy and Immigration - And why should immigration and the economy be considered separate priorities, exclusive of each other? At NDN we've discussed why there is opportunity for immigration reform to form part of a new plan for the economy. In a post this week, Jeff Cornwall of Belmont University also posits that immigration may be part of the answer to give the economy an entrepreneurial boost:

Most studies find that immigrants are more likely to be entrepreneurs or self-employed than the population as a whole. The Philadelphia Business Journal reports on yet another study that adds more support....Current policy makes it difficult for entrepreneurs to enter the U.S. legally.

In a different post, Jaya Ramji-Nogales writes about one of the effects of the economic downturn on immigrants:

The "Lou Dobbs" effect; as xenophobic vitriol and resulting anti-immigrant sentiment has increased, so has violence against immigrants or those who appear to be immigrants. Add that to an economy in free-fall, and the result may be highly combustible.

Number of Undocumented Immigrants Continues to Fall - According the Center for International Trade of University of Texas at San Antonio, 1.3 million, or 11% of undocumented immigrants have returned to their home country this year. A right wing website similarly reports a dramatic decline, the difference is in the causes to which the decline is attributed. The UT study correctly attributes the decline to the economic crisis and a decrease in the supply of jobs, combined with increased raids and workplace enforcement. The nativist website draws a very incorrect and very dangerous conclusion: that "illegal immigrants" started heading home "immediately" after the failed attempt at CIR in the Senate in Summer of 2007, which is completely false. The first evidence of undocumenteds leaving began earlier this year, during late summer and Fall of 2008, in response to the economic crisis, as opposed to a bill in Congress. As we move forward, and as President Obama works with Congress to pass immigration reform, we have to be very careful to fight back against that 10% of people in the U.S. who will be spreading misinformation such as this.

Immigration Changing Course, A Story that Needs Telling - The Miami Herald has begun a series on the course of immigration, "It's an important story for a country built on immigration and yet often ambivalent about its impacts. Over a generation, new arrivals from Mexico, the Caribbean and throughout Latin America have reshaped this country. Nowhere is that more the case than in South Florida, where millions of legal immigrants and nearly one tenth of the estimated 12 million illegal immigrants in the United States have settled."

Hate Crimes Changing Political Climate - On Tuesday, activists called for investigation of Suffolk hate crime statistics. This is the beginning of what we hope to be an ongoing PR campaign to encourage victims to report hate crimes, and to encourage law enforcement to crack down on such criminal activity.

El Universal reports an increase in remittances to Mexico over the last month, with immigrants taking advantage of the recent devaluation of the peso. Remittances rose 13% compared to October of 2007, coming to a total of about $2.4 billion. This is the first rise in remittances after 14 months of a consecutive decline. Even though they rose from last October, remittances are still less than they were in January of this year. And the AP reports on Philadephia's growing immigrant community.

Among President Bush's Biggest Disappointments: The Failure to Pass Comprehensive Immigration Reform

In an interview with ABC News, looking back on his presidency, George W. Bush said that one of his biggest disappointments was the failure to pass a comprehensive bill on immigration reform, and regrets the tone taken by many in his party on this issue:

"I firmly believe that the immigration debate really didn't show the
true nature of America as a welcoming society," he said. "I fully
understand we need to enforce law and enforce borders. But the debate
took on a tone that undermined the true greatness of America, which is
that we welcome people who want to work hard and support their

Reinforcing Obama's Millennial Army

President-elect Barack Obama’s remarkable showing among Millennials (voters 18-26 years old), who supported him by a more than 2:1 margin, was a direct byproduct of his groundbreaking effort to utilize online communication tools to mobilize these core supporters. The Obama campaign took full advantage of the ability and willingness of Millennials to self-organize on behalf of the campaign and its voter turnout efforts. Now, like proud parents unsure of how to handle the success of a child who has just graduated, the former candidate and his incoming administration must decide how to maintain their new offspring’s enthusiasm while ensuring that it channels its energies into the most productive activities. The answer to this challenge can be found by leveraging both the spirit of service that is so much a part of the Millennial Generation's lifestyle and the ability of Millennials to self-organize using social network technologies.

According to Harvard University’s Institute of Politics, almost 60 percent of Millennials are “personally interested in engaging in some form of public service to help the country.” The ethos of service among Millennials is strongly supported regardless of gender or party affiliation. While many of those surveyed see public service as working for government, or even running for office, there is no reason to channel the generation’s enthusiasm solely into these more politically oriented activities. Instead, the incoming Obama Administration should create an entity to help Millennials find ways to rebuild all of America’s civic institutions.

Just as the Obama campaign's Web site, MyBarackObama.com, was not an ordinary political Web site, this “Sprit of Service,” social network should not be an attempt simply to replicate e-mail lobbying efforts like those of MoveOn.org. That kind of activity can be turned over to an Obama-friendly DNC, which is already salivating at the prospect of inheriting the campaign’s estimated 13 million e-mail addresses. Instead, the new site should attempt to guide its “friends” without asserting direct control over their decisions. As Republican online campaign consultant Mike Turk pointed out to the almost totally deaf ears of his party’s leadership last year, “What makes you successful online is not how many e-mails you can amass, but the quality of the people on the list. [Letting them interact] is the free pizza, Cokes and music with which you feed your volunteers.”

We already see evidence that the net-savvy Obama operatives get this distinction. At the official Web site of the transition, change.gov, visitors are invited to join discussions on critical policy issues, such as health care reform, in the “hope it will allow you to form communities around these issues.” As the 2008 presidential campaign demonstrated, Millennials have enough energy and technological ability to run with this ball once it is handed to them. Millennials are members of a “civic” generation, one that believes, among other things, that their personal involvement will make government work again, reinforce and extend the power of the Democratic Party, improve the education of their siblings, and help their local community successfully cope with difficult times. What change.gov, or its successor, can give Millennials is information on how to get involved, a place to share ideas, and a chance to link to others with similar interests and energy.

The key will be to port this community-building online activity into the post-Inaugural world in a way that gives it a connection to the President without, at the same time, drowning it in bureaucratic rules or short term political priorities. Although government will ultimately benefit from the volunteer activities generated by this site, the perverse impact of provisions of the Paperwork Reduction Act and Freedom of Information laws on dealing with volunteers suggest that the site cannot be housed inside government--even as part of the official national service "Corps." Even though those who are attracted to the site are likely to become more closely identified with the Democratic Party, it cannot be housed at the DNC, which would inevitably succumb to the temptation to overly politicize the site.

Instead a non-profit organization, devoted to the cause of harnessing the Millennial Generation's interest in civic engagement, should establish the site with an advisory board of directors made up of “friends of Obama” and an operational staff drawn from the online experts of his campaign. Properly funded, organized and structured, this “Spirit of Service” will enable Millennials to satisfy their desire to rebuild the country's civic institutions and restore America's national pride, while at the same time advancing the policy and political goals of the Obama Administration.

NDN Fellows Morley Winograd and Michael D. Hais are fellows of NDN and the New Policy Institute and co-authors of Millennial Makeover: MySpace, YouTube, and the Future of American Politics (Rutgers University Press: 2008), named by the New York Times as one of the 10 best books of 2008.

Virginia and the New Coalition

Today's Post has an excellent analysis of Virginia's changing electoral landscape, detailing Democratic gains with Hispanics, African-Americans, young people and upper income and more educated voters.  The story of what happened in Virginia in 2008 mirrors what happened across the nation, and makes very clear the national GOP's problems are structural as well as temporal - they simply are not building a Party and a Coalition suited to the demographic realities of 21st century America.  

An excerpt:

The party's gains rest heavily upon the state's changing demographics and were amplified this year by deep enthusiasm for the Democratic presidential and senatorial candidates, coupled with a broadly successful turnout operation.

In Northern Virginia's outer suburbs, a growing number of nonwhite residents, particularly Hispanics, are diminishing what had long been a big source of votes for Republican candidates. Loudoun, Prince William and Stafford counties and Manassas and Manassas Park have all experienced double-digit increases in the percentage of nonwhite residents since 2000. And in each of those locations, Democrats' share of the vote increased proportionally.

The nonwhite population of Prince William, for example, has grown by 13 percentage points since 2000. President-elect Barack Obama carried the county with almost 58 percent of the vote -- 13 points better than former vice president Al Gore did in the 2000 presidential race.

Loudoun experienced a 12-point gain in the minority population since 2000, and Obama did 13 percentage points better than Gore did in 2000. Obama did 10 points better than Gore in Stafford, which saw a 10 percent increase in the minority population since 2000.

This shift, matched with historical Democratic strength in the inner suburbs, makes Northern Virginia a huge source of votes for Democrats. The region's size, compared with the rest of the state, threatens Republicans' ability to win statewide if Democrats can continue to get their voters to the poll, demographers and political scientists suggest.

"The transformation in Northern Virginia has been rapid and dramatic, and Obama came out of Northern Virginia with a margin of [213,000] votes, and that is very hard to overcome," said Ken Billingsley, director of demographics and information for the Northern Virginia Regional Commission. "In Prince William, the change has already occurred, and I am not the least bit surprised that Stafford, Spotsylvania and Fredericksburg are moving in that direction."


According to exit polls, Hispanics made up 5 percent of the statewide electorate this year, almost matching their overall share of the population. Hispanics in Virginia favored Obama over Arizona Sen. John McCain, the GOP nominee, by an almost 2 to 1 margin. If Republicans hope to recover from their losses in time for the 2009 races for governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general and the House of Delegates, their candidates will have to find a way to overwhelmingly win the white vote and make inroads with blacks and Hispanics.

"I, as a Southerner, understand that for the Republican Party to win presidential elections in the future we can no longer be the party of the deep South and Prairie Midwest," said Trey Walker, a South Carolina native who oversaw McCain's Virginia campaign. "If we don't start appealing to [minorities], we are going to continue to lose." (bold added for emphasis). 

Whether the Republican Party can start to speak effectively to the multi-racial America of the 21st century will be one of the most important questions in American politics in the coming years.  I think this job will be much harder than many understand for the foundation of the modern GOP - and the key to their success in recent decades - has been the exploitation of racial grievence.   Willie Horton, welfare queens, tax and spend, deporting undocumenteds - it has all been about exploiting white fears of the racial other in American life.  As I wrote earlier this year in an essay, On Obama, Race and the End of the Southern Strategy, demographic changes in America were making this type of politics a 20th anachronism whether Barack Obama became President or not.  With him as leader, there will also now be a moral challenge to this core play in the GOP playbook - for how will this society, this culture, allow the dog-whistle, wink and nod racial politics of the Southern Strategy era with a bi-racial man as President?  

While you will hear many Republicans echo Mr. Walker above, and call for their Party to get right with America's emerging demographic realities, I don't know if they understand how fundamental a rethink this is going to require.  Just three years ago the GOP House passed a bill calling for the arrest and deportation of 5 percent of the American work force - 10-12 million people, 10-12 million largely Hispanic people.  How they move from this politics of Nixon to a politics more fitting of Lincoln is going to be a transformation remarkable to behold - and almost unimaginable today. 

Holiday Bloggery & Offering of Thanks

This forum will be going dark tomorrow, and will be running until Monday on a schedule that permits the editors to give adequate thanks and consume adequate quantities of flightless fowl.

To show our thanks and appreciation for you, dear reader, I offer a pair of videos meant to inspire neither thought nor reflection-- only hilarity. Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday Buzz: "The Wired Whitehouse," Millennials' and Hispanics' Growing Electoral Clout, and More

In tandem with our enlightening event last week on the New Politics of the Obama Age, NDN also appeared in several stories over the past several days talking about how Obama is using technology to reinvent the presidency, including a front-page story on MSNBC, as well as stories in the Santa Cruz Sentinel, Future Majority, News24, and Fox. The MSNBC article, which also embedded Simon's recent video blog on how Obama will Reinvent the Presidency and quoted our Obama Age forum panelist Scott Goodstein, began like this:

After a historic presidential election, the tech-savvy campaigners who helped put Barack Obama in the White House say the nation is in for an equally historic four years of tech-savvy governance.

The way the Obama campaign used blogs, texting, social networking and other Web 2.0 tools to win this month's election is just "the tip of the iceberg," said Simon Rosenberg, president and founder of the political advocacy group NDN.

Rob was quoted on subjects ranging from the proposed auto industry bailout to the impending economic stimulus in the Telegraph, CNN Money, The Age, the Daily Mail, and the Independent. From the Independent article:

Robert Shapiro, an economic adviser to Barack Obama's campaign and former US under-secretary of commerce for economic affairs, was particularly helpful to the Prime Minister. When Nick Robinson, the BBC's political editor, asked him what was the risk of a big stimulus package, he said there was "no risk, there is a cost – but there is a very large risk if we choose not to do it".

Our work  on building a durable 21st century majority coalition also made its way into the media narrative this week, with New York Magazine wondering, "Can Obama Hang On to His Youth Coalition?" and Crooks and Liars asking, "The Latino Vote: Can Democrats Lock It Up for a Generation?" Morley and Mike's work on Millennials also got play from DailyKos and the Jackson Free Press; NDN's work on immigration and Hispanic issues was featured in the Guardian, the Chicago Tribune, the Denver Post, the Reporter, Hispanic Trending, the Latino Journal, and Immigration Daily.

From the New York Magazine article:

this particular generation of young people are aligned with Obama on social issues. As a group, the "Millennial Generation" — those who will make up the under-30 crowd in the next several elections — are reliably more liberal on issues like gay marriage and stem-cell research than any other generation — and that's not likely to change, said Michael D. Hais and Morley Winograd, authors of Millennial Makeover: MySpace, YouTube and the Future of American Politics. They predict that young people will continue to vote Democratic, catalyzing a "political realignment" in this country that will play out in the next thirty years.

And from the Denver Post article, "Texas as a Swing State?":

Democratic strategist Simon Rosenberg, a veteran of the Clinton administration, said that Republicans have alienated Latinos largely because of the immigration issue. Rosenberg is the founder and president of NDN, a Democratic think tank that studies immigration and other issues.

He said that Republican rhetoric surrounding recent immigration bills in Congress offended all Hispanics. A major measure that would have given illegal immigrants a path to citizenship failed last year after a revolt from conservatives, who denounced it as an amnesty for lawbreakers.

"If they do that again, it’s going to be catastrophic for the Republican Party," he said.

Rosenberg said that Texas could become a swing state as early as 2012 depending on the level of Latino participation and whether the Democratic Party will continue to make investments in the community.

Finally, Simon's recent essay, The Long Road Back, was featured on DailyKos in Kos's Midday Open Thread, and our report on computer training for American workers was featured in Progressive States.

NDN to Host a Forum on Latin America and the Current Economic Crisis

NDN is proud to host the Honorable Luis Alberto Moreno, President of the Inter-American Development Bank and former Ambassador of Colombia to the United States, to discuss "The Current Economic Crisis and Its Impact on Latin America." This briefing will take place on Thursday, December 11, at 3 p.m. at NDN, 729 15th St., NW, 1st Floor.

Please RSVP as soon as possible. The event is open, but space is limited. Refreshments will be served. Please visit our Web site to view past events with the Ambassadors of Mexico, Colombia, Ecuador, and the Vice President of Panama.

More Amazing Numbers from Obama's Online Operations

Earlier today, we noted that President-elect Obama had gathered one million subscribers to his mobile service by the end of the campaign. In an excellent piece in the Washington Post, Jose Antonio Vargas reports some more amazing figures that show concretely just how effective the Obama team's tech-saavy approach really was. From the article:

3 million donors made a total of 6.5 million donations online adding up to more than $500 million. Of those 6.5 million donations, 6 million were in increments of $100 or less. The average online donation was $80, and the average Obama donor gave more than once...

...In September, his single biggest month of fundraising, Obama amassed more than 65 percent of his record-shattering haul -- $100 million of the $150 million -- from online donations, aides said.

...Obama's e-mail list contains upwards of 13 million addresses...Four years ago, Sen. John F. Kerry had 3 million e-addresses on his list; former Vermont governor Howard Dean had 600,000.

...On MyBarackObama.com, or MyBO, Obama's own socnet, 2 million profiles were created. In addition, 200,000 offline events were planned, about 400,000 blog posts were written and more than 35,000 volunteer groups were created...On their own MyBO fundraising pages, 70,000 people raised $30 million...Obama has 5 million supporters in other socnets. He maintained a profile in more than 15 online communities, including BlackPlanet, a MySpace for African Americans, and Eons, a Facebook for baby boomers.

Before this election, there were many people who saw these new tools as gimmicky and essentially unimportant; skeptics pointed to examples like the ultimate failure of the Dean campaign as proof that the internet could not win elections.

Those skeptics may be reconsidering that position right about now. 

Weekly Immigration Update

Updates from our last report on the Elections and Immigration: Georgia's Senate Race just two weeks away - The runoff election will take place on December 2 and early the voting period began on Monday in many of the state's counties. Saxby Chambliss and Rep. Jim Martin - the Democratic challenger - are battling voter fatigue, they have to persuade supporters to come out again to vote. A Democratic win in Georgia would be yet another severe blow to the GOP in a state considered a stronghold for them. For immigration advocates, a win by pro-CIR Jim Martin would mean another win for those of us working for immigration reform.

Begich Defeats Convicted Sen. Ted Stevens in Alaska - Senator-elect Begich (D) defeated Stevens by 3,724 votes, a margin of more than 1 percentage point, putting Democrats closer to the 60 seat mark in the Senate. While Stevens has conceded this election, in Minnesota the candidates are still fighting in out. Election officials began a recount yesterday in the race between Republican Sen. Norm Coleman and Democrat Al Franken. So far Coleman leads Franken by 216 votes out of 2.9 million cast.

Obama picks scholars to develop immigration plan - Alexander Aleinikoff, Dean of the Georgetown University Law Center, and Mariano Florentino Cuellar, professor at Stanford Law School will lead the policy working group designated for immigration. Click here to read some articles by Dean Aleinikoff, and here to read more about Florentino Cuellar. In addition, it's looking more and more like Gov. Janet Napolitano will take on the important position of DHS Secretary. In the meantime, Julie Myers is officially no longer at ICE, and John Torres will take the helm through the end of this administration. And according to Adfero Group, these are the 10 most important jobs to be filled at ICE.

New Bedford Factory Targeted in Raid to pay $850,000 in overtime - The owners of the factory settled a class action lawsuit this week, agreeing to pay 764 current and former workers $850,000 owed in overtime.

The Texas GOP just doesn't get it - the Texas State Legislature will see several bills related to illegal immigration this session - "Advocates for a crackdown on illegal immigrants, apparently undaunted by their failures in the last Legislature, have filed a slew of bills for the upcoming session that are even stronger in tone and approach." The GOP is allegedly panicked about their lack of support among Hispanics, but Texas Republican legislators don't seem to get it. The bills go beyond the usual, one is for English-only, another would require public schools to check the citizenship of their students. Another would require illegal immigrants to be banished to self-described "sanctuary cities." Author Leo Berman, R-Tyler said, "The federal government is requiring us to give free education and health care to illegals," Mr. Berman said. "It's the largest unfunded mandate in the history of our nation." Another bill filed for the 2009 session allows police to check people's immigration status under "reasonable suspicion" that they might be illegal immigrants - really. Another refuses birth certificates to children born in the U.S. to parents who are here illegally.

On the flip side, a bill by Rep. Roberto Alonzo, D-Dallas, prohibits cities from restricting landlords on who can rent homes from them - a direct criticism of Farmers Branch's efforts to keep illegal immigrants from renting homes there. Another bill would create a task force to fight human trafficking. "The reality is that these problems can only be solved in Washington, D.C.," said Rep. Rafael Anchía, D-Dallas. "Even if every immigration-related bill passed in the Texas House, it would be wholly ineffective at dealing with the larger issue of how we align our immigration policy with the needs of our labor force. And that's what's driving illegal immigration." I wholeheartedly agree - and so far I've heard many doubts as to whether immigration reform will even be addressed by the 111th Congress.

Will Reform Happen in 2009? - Well, Congress should do so - after the 2006 midterm elections two years ago, congressional job approval was 26%. In this week's Gallup poll, Congressional approval is now at at 19%, with a 74% disapproval rating. Polling data consistently shows that immigration is not the third rail of politics - it's not that people are against reform, if you take the time to ask, people are against the broken immigration system and they want it fixed. Two-thirds of all voters support a comprehensive approach to immigration reform. Patience is not a virtue when it comes to immigration reform - how much longer can we wait? Obama is facing pressure from immigration advocates and from voters, particularly mixed-status families, to pass reform. Many articles posit that Latinos "may" question Obama on immigration - I disagree, Latinos will question Obama on immigration.

As reported by La Jornada, "the Latino vote is not a blank check...it represents the aspiration for change, social and economic justice for Latinos." Hopefully President Obama will work with Congress to fix our very broken immigration system, and fight against the few who confuse reform for "open borders." The Americas Policy Program attempted to explain how the two camps are "retrenching" on the issue of immigration reform, but their explanation merits comment - their article argues that opponents of reform argue that CIR can't happen during a time of economic downturn for fear "we'll lose jobs." The unemployment rate has increased for many reasons that have nothing to do with immigration policy.  All data demonstrates that undocumented immigrants perform jobs that Americans don't want, and by legalizing those without papers, we would be bringing them out of the shadows and improving wages for all, thus increasing wages across the board and fostering a more productive consumer base. The economic crisis is no argument against reform, if anything, CIR can be used as a tool to help improve the economy. The article says proponents of reform are arguing that the new administration "owes" the Hispanic/Latino electorate, i.e., they should pass it because we want it. Not really - while the Democratic party can certainly expect a backlash at the polls for not fixing the broken immigration system, it will come not only from Latinos, but from all the voters who currently feel Congress has not delivered solutions. Yes, Hispanic voters will be watching to see whether Obama "keeps all his promises," and you can bet he won't feel the love next time at the polls if he does not, but CIR shouldn't pass just because Latinos want it, it should be passed because from a policy and a political standpoint, the right and the best thing to do is to pass it in 2009.

Instances of Mistreatment of Children under CPB and ICE custody - A study released by the Center for Public Policy Priorities (CPPP) found that more than 43,000 undocumented, unaccompanied children have been mistreated while in custody and denied access to representation by Customs and Border Protection (Border Patrol) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and then transported home unsafely. The story was also reported by Latin American press, with reports of children being caged, neglected, and denied medical care.

Decorated immigration agent arrested on crystal meth charges.

Read the signs - A CQ article from this week makes some good points, but slightly misread the polling data from Lake Research, saying the issue of immigration has "cooled" - hardly. As Hispanics are being attacked and ostracized throughout the country, a more accurate point in the story that should be highlighted: "Hispanics could blame Democrats for immigration inertia, or feel that implicit campaign pledges weren't honored." A post-election poll by Lake Research Partners for America's Voice found that Hispanics turned their backs on the GOP - even though President Bush and Sen. John McCain , R-Ariz., both favored comprehensive legislation - because of perceptions that Republicans blocked the immigration overhaul in 2007 and used inflammatory rhetoric in the process. And Hispanics will only continue to determine candidates' political fate based on this important issue, as Robert Paral and Associates have reported - the 2008 election results demonstrate that, "even in states where the Hispanic community is relatively small, they can tip those states, they can be kingmakers if the other groups are evenly balanced." Paral expects the Hispanic vote to be the pivotal swing in future elections too, as more Hispanics register to vote, not only in traditional immigrant-receiving states, but also in states with fewer immigrants, such as New Hampshire, Connecticut, Oregon and Pennsylvania.

E-Verify not Ready for Prime Time - According to the ITAA, the final rule published this week requiring federal contractors and subcontractors to screen workers and new hires through the E-Verify system each year will put significant new burdens on those employers at least in the short term.

Immigration authorities need to release the guidelines they use in deciding 'stipulated removal' cases - In the last few years, the number of illegal immigrants in detention who waived their right to plead their case to remain in the United States has shot up from 5,500 in 2004 to 35,000 this year. In all, nearly 100,000 people have agreed to leave the country under "stipulated removal." Not surprisingly, troubling reports have surfaced of immigrants who say they were encouraged to self-deport without knowing that they had valid legal claims to remain in the U.S. and to have a hearing before a judge. Immigrants' rights groups are suing the Department of Homeland Security and other federal agencies, demanding they divulge their procedures for informing detainees of their rights. The department, which has made only half-hearted attempts to comply, should be made to do so.

Querétaro, Mexico gets appropriation for immigrants - The lower chamber of the Mexican Congress approved 704 million pesos to support immigrants returning to 10 states of the country, 50 million of this sum will go to the state of Querétaro.

Oberlin, OH considering becoming sanctuary city.

UN Trade Chief sees up to 6 percent drop in migrant remittances in 2009 - Migrant remittances, a vital source of income for poor countries, could decline by up to 6 percent next year due to worsening economic conditions around the world, the U.N.'s trade chief said last Friday.

Words Have Consequences - Click to read our coverage of hate crimes. Most recently, the death of Ecuadorian immigrant, Marcelo Lucero.

Thursday New Tools Feature: The New Mass Media

As Tim Chambers mentioned at our great forum today on the New Politics of the Obama Age, NDN has partnered with Dewey Digital and Divinity Metrics to produce a white paper on Web video and the 2008 presidential election. Divinity Metrics collected an amazing amount of data over more than 400 days of the election cycle, from more than 150 different online media services and platforms, and this data allows us to take an in-depth look at how specific events during the election played out in the Web world.

For now, as a preview, I'd like to offer a few key numbers from the report:

  • The Obama campaign produced 2,000 official Web videos over the course of the election, compared to 376 from the McCain campaign.
  • There were 123,000 non-Campaign Obama videos, compared to less than 70,000 for McCain.
  • Videos about Obama received over 1 billion views over the course of the election, compared to 613 million for McCain.

There are several things to take away from these numbers, but I think perhaps the most important is this: With a combined 1.6 billion views between just the Obama and McCain videos this election cycle (approximately 2 billion with all the presidential campaigns included), Web video is no longer an emergent medium. It now falls, definitively, under the heading of "mass media." And it's not just a question of reach, either; because Web video does not come through a middle-man, and is often sent to the viewer by family or friends, it can have a strong, direct impact that is hard for other media to match. 

As NDN and our affiliate, the New Politics Institute, have been saying for some time, Web video has very quickly become an essential component of successful political campaigns, and is now becoming a powerful tool for governing as well (see my recent post about President-elect Obama's first weekly YouTube address). To learn more about how Web video has permanently altered the political landscape, and for tips on how to use it effectively, check out our New Politics Institute paper, Reimagine Video, and be sure to stay tuned for our upcoming white paper!

Syndicate content