NDN, a progressive think tank and advocacy organization, today issued the following statement in support of The STRIVE (Security Through Regularized Immigration and a Vibrant Economy) Act of 2007, which was introduced this morning.
Joe Garcia, Director of NDN's Hispanic Strategy Center said, “The introduction of the STRIVE Act of 2007 is a significant step towards passing comprehensive immigration reform this year, and NDN strongly endorses it. We applaud the continued leadership of Congressman Luis Gutierrez on this important issue.
We look forward to working with Congressman Gutierrez, Senator Edward Kennedy, and their bipartisan allies in Congress like Congressman Jeff Flake and Senator John McCain; the White House; and other immigration reform coalition members to pass the STRIVE Act in this Congress.
NDN has championed comprehensive immigration reform since 2005. We believe it is the best solution to one of the great governing challenges of our time: reforming our broken immigration system. This support places NDN in a remarkable and diverse coalition that includes labor, business, religious and immigration groups."
For more information about NDN’s work on comprehensive immigration reform, please refer to the following links:
I spent a little time this morning looking at the 2006 census numbers that were just released, and they were, dare I say it, pretty exciting. Exciting, because they strongly support the demographics arguments NDN has been making, by showing that the fastest growing states are by and large concentrated in the Southwest and have the highest percentage of Hispanics relative to total population. Three important conclusions:
The two fastest growing states between July 2000 and July 2006 were Nevada and Arizona, fourth and fifth respectively in Hispanics as a percentage of population. Nevada's population increased by 24.9% and Arizona's by 20.2%. That compares to a national average of 4.7% population growth.
The seven states with the highest percentage of Hispanics relative to total population (New Mexico, California, Texas, Arizona, Nevada, Colorado and Florida) make up seven of the top fifteen fastest growing states and five of the top eight.
Those seven states, mentioned above, grew by an average of 13.8% between July 2000 and July 2006. The average growth for the rest of the country over the same period was 4.7%. That means that these states, where Hispanics comprise 16.8% to 42.1% of the population, are growing three times as fast as the rest of the country.
Yesterday, Senator Bob Menendez gave a response to the President's trip to Latin America. As the Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on International Development, the Senator highlighted his ideas on how the US can engage Latin America with an increase in funding development programs. Specifically, he detailed his Social Investment and Economic Development Fund for the Americas. You can read more in the press release here.
This Washington Posteditorial gives us yet another example of how the immigration system needs to be fixed. This time the focus is on a raid in New Bedford, MA, where about 360 illegal immigrants, many of whom worked in sweatshop-like conditions, were arrested. The last paragraph says it all:
Cruel, self-defeating and illogical, the New Bedford raid is an inelegant example of how badly this country needs a clear-eyed immigration policy, one that provides not only for tough enforcement but also humane protections and a path to citizenship for immigrants who have put down roots and contributed to the national economy. The current regimen is a blight -- on immigrants who need the work, on employers who need the labor, and on a nation whose ideals of fair play and image as a welcoming and caring place are seriously at risk.
Throughout his tour of Latin America President Bush said, again and again, it was time to move forward on immigration reform here in the U.S. It is long past time for the President to do more than say the words. He has to get to work and bring his unwilling Party along. As our recent event with Senators Reid, Kennedy, Menendez and Salazar, and House Members Zofgren, Gutierrez and Becerra showed, Democrats are ready to go. The question is will the Republicans and the President show.
As the Washington Post opines this morning, we are long past time for action:
THE HYPOCRISY of U.S. immigration law was on lurid display last week in a raid on a defense contractor in New England. Accompanied by dogs and a helicopter swooping overhead, hundreds of Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents charged into Michael Bianco Inc., a leather-goods factory in New Bedford, Mass., that makes backpacks, ammunition pouches and other gear for GIs.
When the dust settled, the agents had arrested some 360 illegal immigrant employees at the plant, many of them women from Guatemala and other Central American nations. The workers had toiled in sweatshop conditions that allegedly included draconian restrictions on bathroom breaks, toilet paper supply, and snacking and talking at their workstations. They were seized, handcuffed, questioned and, in about 200 cases, whisked away to detention centers in New Mexico and Texas without regard to their roots in the community, their spouses or their children, including American-born children who are U.S. citizens.
Amid the pandemonium, families and communities were split, and children were left with babysitters, relatives, siblings or other families. Immigration and Customs Enforcement insisted it had released about 60 of the immigrants -- including nursing mothers and sole or primary caregivers for young children -- for "humanitarian" reasons. But reports of confusion and mistakes were common, and state officials said scores of children were separated from their parents. In one case, doctors treated an 8-month-old baby, Keylyn Zusana Lopez Ayala, for pneumonia and possible dehydration after her mother was detained and unable to breast-feed her. Keylyn is an American citizen. Three days after the raid, a federal judge was sufficiently concerned that he barred immigration officials from transporting any more detainees out of state. The raid, said Massachusetts Gov. Deval L. Patrick (D), "reflects, for me, not what this country is about."
Here is the latest Pew Study - that just went public today - on Latino’s online…. A key quote:
“Mexicans, the largest national origin group in the U.S. Latino population, are among the least likely to go online: 52% of Latinos of Mexican descent uses the internet. Even when age, income, language, generation, or nativity is held constant, being Mexican is associated with a decreased likelihood of going online.
Some Latinos who do not use the internet are connecting to the communications revolution in a different way – via cell phone. Fully 59% of Latino adults have a cell phone and 49% of Latino cell phone users send and receive text messages on their phone. “
During his trip to Latin America, President Bush referred to the hard work of Mariano Can, an indigenous farmer in the Guatemalan highlands who built a thriving business made possible by a loan backed by the U.S., saying: "You have proven that if given a chance, you and hundreds of others can succeed, and that's what we want."
His comments aren't surprising. They really never are, because the President has continuously been a strong (at least in terms of what his position allows) advocate for comprehensive immigration reform. Yet these comments were directed towards a people whose continent needs, for so many reasons, to believe the words of the President of the United States. And they couldn't have come at a more important time for a President who needs to be believed.
After all, speaking to Congress versus speaking to leaders and citizens of Latin American countries about immigration reform seems somewhat different. The level of understanding is somewhat different, especially when the President of Mexico told President Bush that he has relatives who have probably handled the food he eats.
So the President returns from Latin America. He has, as always, said some very compassionate things about the idea of immigration, what it means and what its realities are. He returns from a place where he found inspiration to do the right thing everywhere he looked. But now he has to deliver. He has as many of the pieces in place that he could ask for. The rest he'll have to fight for.
The time is ripe for meetings with Senate Majority Leader Reid, Senator Kennedy and Speaker Pelosi. The time is also ripe to step up his lobbying efforts if he is going to hit his unofficial deadline of August for an immigration overhaul to get through Congress.
We've seen the word legacy attached to immigration reform so many times. We know the President wants to get this done and we've seen what he'll do to get what he wants. If he goes to work to pass comprehensive immigration reform, he will at least be able to add that to his compassionate conservative resume.
We want to believe in that compassion, Mr. President; and so do our neighbors to the South.
The New York Times has a very interesting article on the comments made by Cabinet Secretaries Gutierrez and Chertoff, who testified yesterday before the Senate Judiciary Committee on immigration legislation. Their comments on offering temporary legal status instead of citizenship to illegal immigrants was particularly interesting, as it seemed to represent a shift in thinking on behalf of the White House. As the article points out:
The citizenship measure has been derided by conservatives as amnesty and hailed by some Democrats, Republicans and immigrant advocates as a provision that will encourage millions of illegal immigrants to come forward. In August, President Bush suggested that he supported such proposals, saying they sounded like “a reasonable way to treat people with respect.”
But on Wednesday, Mr. Gutierrez and Mr. Chertoff declined to endorse the measure. Mr. Gutierrez said many illegal immigrants might prefer working here for several years and returning home.
It was unclear whether the officials were simply trying to ease conservative concerns about the citizenship question or whether Mr. Bush had actually shifted his position. Scott Stanzel, a White House spokesman, said Mr. Bush still supported a path to citizenship that would include payments of fines back taxes and a requirement to learn English, among other things. But it seemed unlikely that the two cabinet secretaries would make such remarks without first consulting the White House.
We'd like to hear your thoughts on this one, so please comment below. As always, for more on NDN's work on immigration reform, check our website.
According to the San Jose Mercury News, Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren said that she would work to pass comprehensive immigration reform legislation by the end of the year. At the town hall meeting designed to address the recent ICE raids, she said:
"With your help and your stories, I believe I can help others in the Congress understand,'' said Lofgren, who became chair of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration, Citizenship, Refugees, Border Security and International Law when the Democrats took control of Congress in January. "If we are just punitive to those who have started to make a life here, who we will really punish is America.''
For more information on passing comprehensive immigration reform, check our website.