NDN Blog

NDN Presents: What to Expect from the Immigration Debate

A reminder that the leaders of the two largest pro-immigration reform coalitions in the country – Tamar Jacoby of ImmigrationWorks and Ali Noorani of the National Immigration Forum – will join NDN President Simon Rosenberg for a panel discussion in the NDN events room today, August 4, at 12:00 PM.  Ms. Jacoby and Mr. Noorani spearhead two diverse coalitions -- from business and labor to faith and community organizations -- working to move this issue to the forefront of the national agenda

Ms. Jacoby, Mr. Noorani and Mr. Rosenberg will be discussing the political and policy elements that are likely to be considered in the upcoming comprehensive immigration reform bill in Congress.  Lunch will be served; please arrive on time to guarantee a seat.  If you are unable to attend in person, you can watch our live high-quality stream beginning at 12:15 PM EST here.

We look forward to your participation in this timely and compelling event.

Down the Rabbit Hole: NumbersUSA and the Spin Machine

Well, the folks at NumbersUSA are up to their usual distortions.  The virulently anti-immigrant grassroots organizing group snuck a spy into a private pro-comprehensive immigration reform summit last month.  Click through to see the spy’s notes from the meeting, complete with Jim Robb from NumbersUSA’s snarky annotations.

Refuting all of Mr. Robb’s erroneous claims would be too time-consuming, so I’ve decided to just focus on the most egregious ones, starting with:

Misrepresentation #1: “Is the point of bringing in more illegal workers to promote the "free flow of labor?" Or is it to build an unstoppable voting block?”

Mr. Robb’s rhetorical statement is doubly incorrect.  No one – least of all the pro-reform movement – is advocating the importation of more illegal workers.  Comprehensive immigration reform is predicated on the notion of first staunching the flow of illegal immigrants, then overhauling our outmoded immigration system to better accommodate the “future flow” of legal immigrants.  If Mr. Robb’s concern is a future influx of undocumented laborers, then NumbersUSA and their nativist allies would be well-advised to abandon their quixotic enforcement-only approach.

As for the assertion that proponents of CIR are trying “to build an unstoppable voting block”?  NumbersUSA turns an issue of human dignity into one of political impact. How telling.

Misrepresentation #2: “Would love to do a snap poll of African Americans to find out how many agree with the statement that they 'are doing well where there are high immigration rates.'"

Anti-immigration hardliners like NumbersUSA propagate the idea that recent immigrants are “taking” large numbers of low-skill jobs from individuals lacking education and work skills, of which a disproportionate number are African-American.  If this were actually the case, one would expect to find elevated levels of African-American unemployment in areas where there is a large number of recent immigrants and vice-versa.  This just isn’t so.

In fact, in the ten states with the highest shares of recent immigrants in the work force, the African-American unemployment rate is about 4% lower than in the ten states with the lowest shares of recent immigrants in the work force.  There is no statistical correlation between recent immigration and unemployment rates among any native-born ethnic group.

Misrepresentation #3: “…note the bogus, nearly laughable claims of America having a present and future labor shortage! Millions of unemployed Americans will be shocked to learn this.”

Even in the midst of an economic downturn, the demand for labor in some industries – agriculture, food processing and home health care to name a few – still lags behind the supply.  Mr. Robb appears to believe that the economy is a zero-sum game: when an immigrant takes a job, a native-born worker is left without one.

This reasoning is fatuous.  When an immigrant picks apples, the produce has to be packaged, shipped, and sold: jobs that are often held by native-born Americans. Bolstering this argument, the economist James Holt estimates that each farmworker creates, on average, three new jobs in the surrounding area.

Flimsy straw-man arguments are no match for hard data.  It’s a shame NumbersUSA and their ideological brethren are so fond of brandishing the former with an utter paucity of the latter.

Honduras update: Zelaya turned away from country, Costa Rican president mediates dispute

Government forces blockaded the runways of Tegucigalpa's airport on July 5, foiling ousted President Manuel Zelaya's bold attempt to return to Honduras and reclaim the presidency.  Zelaya's plane made repeated passes over the airport as police and pro-Zelaya protestors clashed below, resulting in the deaths of two people and dozens more wounded. Thousands of Zelaya supporters stormed the police cordon as the plane neared the capital, initally breaking through before being driven back by a second deployment of police arrayed around the airport.

International outcry over the since the June 28 coup, led by the military and spearheaded by interim President Roberto Micheletti, has not diminished.  The Organization of American States voted unanimously on July 4 to suspend Honduras's membership until Zelaya is reinstated as president.  The OAS suspension resulted in a "pause" of nearly $200 million in loans from the Inter-American Development Bank, which said last week that it would, "decide its future course of action depending on actions taken by the OAS," and the U.S. has suspended more than $20 million of primarily military aid.

President Oscar Arias of Costa Rica -- the 1987 recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize -- has agreed to mediate sit-down meetings between Zelaya and Micheletti that began July 9 in San Jose. Hopes of a quick resolution have been dashed, however, as both parties refused to meet face-to-face and left negotiations just hours after they had begun. 

Unrest in Honduras

Thursday marks the fourth day since the Honduran military ousted President Manuel Zalaya in a bloodless coup and exiled him to Costa Rica.  The coup has been met with near-universal international opprobrium: the United Nations passed a resolution on Tuesday condemning the military’s actions as fundamentally undemocratic; the Organization of American States has threatened to suspend Honduras if Zayala is not reinstated to the presidency; the World Bank has frozen loans to the country; and leaders running the spectrum from Barack Obama to Hugo Chavez have resoundingly criticized the military takeover.

Zelaya was deposed following a contentious debate over the legality of holding a referendum asking Hondurans to change the constitution to eliminate term limits for the president. The Honduran Supreme Court, the military, and the legislative branch had all declared his planned ballot to be illegal. Roberto Micheletti, the Honduran Congressional leader, has assumed the presidency in Zalaya’s absence and has vowed that nothing short of a military invasion will reinstate Zalaya as President. The unseated president has stated his plans to return to Honduras with a delegation of Latin American leaders, including the presidents of Ecuador and Argentina; however, Micheletti proclaimed on Wednesday that Zalaya will be arrested the moment he sets foot in Honduras.

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