Fixing Our Broken Immigration System

Since 2007, NDN has a demonstrated commitment to achieving a sensible immigration system that reflects the needs of the 21st century. NDN began to fight for reform by investing in a Spanish-language radio and television media campaign designed to counter anti-immigrant campaigns.  In addition to reaching out to media outlets, NDN has regularly hosted forums with members of Congress to discuss proposals to fix our current broken immigration system. Through research and polling, conducted most recently among voters in Colorado, Florida, Nevada, and New Mexico, NDN has found that a majority of Americans support a legislative overhaul to fix the broken immigration system, as opposed to passing limited enforcement measures.  

Below, please find some past highlights of our work on immigration reform:



NDN's Immigration Blog

2010 Highlights

Senator Robert Menendez's Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2010 Summary

NDN Statement on New Immigration Framework

Immigration Reform Enters a New Phase by Simon Rosenberg

Commentary on Arizona Bill by Alicia Menendez

2009 Highlights

Presentation: Making the Case for Passing Comprehensive Immigration Reform this Year

7 Reasons Why Congress Should Pass Comprehensive Immigration Reform this Year by Simon Rosenberg

Video: Simon Rosenberg makes his case on why congress should pass CIR

Event: Politics & Policy: What to Expect from the Immigration Debate

Video: NDN Forum on Immigration Reform

The Census and Immigration Reform by Simon Rosenberg

Senator Kennedy and CIR by Andres Ramirez

2007 - 2008 Highlights

Event: "Immigration Reform and the Next Administration" - at the DNC in Denver

Polling: Immigration Polling in battleground states

A Responsible Immigration Policy by Simon Rosenberg

Can Democrats Seize the Opportunity the Immigration Debate Offers Them? by Simon Rosenberg

Event: NDN Bicameral Event for CIR


Immigration Reform Still in the Pipeline?

While some lawmakers formerly suggested that CIR would make it to the agenda in 2010, skepticism among the media increases.  In the meantime, supporters continue to advocate the need for reform by quietly organizing today in a prayer vigil to urge lawmakers to not only seek Comprehensive Immigration Reform, but to also seek "compassionate" immigration reform.


An ecumenical prayer vigil for immigration reform will be held at 6 p.m. today at Las Americas Faith Community/Trinity United Methodist Church, 1548 Eighth St.

The vigil follows a National Day of Prayer coordinated by Interfaith Immigration. Similar prayer vigils are to take place nationwide.

The vigil will have prayers, songs and presentations, and those who attend will write postcards to legislators and call them during the service.

- Des Moines Register






Weekly Immigration Update: What Will the President Say Tonight? CHCI Policy Conference In the Midst of Health Care Debate

It will be interesting to see what President Obama says this evening given the tension and confusion surrounding the health care debate, turned immigration debate.  At the policy plenary discussion that launched the CHCI conference, on immigration reform, Sen. Bob Menendez hit the nail on the head when he said, "if we had passed immigration reform first, all these would have been moot points," referring to Mr. Joe Wilson's recent outburst and the anti-immigrant campaign that has taken the health care debate as their most recent tool through which to spew anti-immigrant propaganda.  NDN has long talked about these "immigration proxy wars" and made the case that immigration reform would have left a clear playing field for the rest of the items on the domestic agenda. 

Factually, what is included in the Senate health care bill in regards to immigrants is that a verification for eligibility for the exchange and other benefits would essentially be the same as those in existing law, i.e., proof of legal status, not citizenship (although even legal immigrants do have restrictions for certain programs, like Medicaid).  There has been much confusion on this by the employment of the term "citizenship" verification. As you all probably know there is an ocean of LEGAL status possibilities that lie between "illegals" and "U.S. citizens."  Sadly, these differences are not always understood, as we saw this week by the absence of an acknowledgement of legal immigrants during a White House press briefing, and even on news shows like that of Dylan Ratigan, who qualified those eligible as "American citizens," when in fact, "legal immigrants" who are not yet citizens are also eligible.  

But these are all semantics.  The bottom line about what has happened this week is that regardless of whether we want to be defined by race or by the issue of immigration on policy issues, we will be.  Those who seek to divide the country and foster hate against a certain sociological other will not go away, so they must be preempted and defeated.  As Sen. Menendez also stated at CHCI this week, "make no mistake about it, when they talk about 'those people', they are talking about you, about us."  And until we recognize this, we will have no progress.  For example, in the case of health care, from strictly a policy standpoint (not humanitarian or liberal, etc.) what if we DID cover the "illegals"?  What if we suddently acknowledged that "those people" are actually part of all of us? That their kids go to school with our kids and get sick the same as our children?  That they live next door? That they work in our offices?  Please read this analysis in Newsweek of what could actually be achieved if we made a conscious decision on the basis of a strategic, policy-oriented argument and covered "those people." 

The tone taken by the debate this week is - to say the least - disappointing considering that the election of President Obama was supposed to be a sign of progress in America's attitudes towards race. But, we saw this coming. We saw it in the old woman who expressed how "afraid" she was because Obama looked likely to become president.  And in the man who said he feared for his unborn children if Obama became president. We had a preview of this with the people who linked Obama to terrorism and terrorists, and in the suggestion that he was a foreigner and that he wasn't one of "us." All this did not suddenly disappear on November 4th last year, nor will it in a near future.  No doubt, there are some who genuinely disagree with some government policies, the problem is that in light of the tone taken by the debate right now, it is hard to know who is who. Those who genuinely do disagree with the president should discuss their opinions based on policy, not on codes that appear to carry racist implications. But there is certainly something ugly going on. And that needs to be discussed - and most importantly, confronted.  And the first major stand we can take on this front is to pass comprehensive immigration reform and take much of the air our of this balloon of hate.  

I close by highlighting that these negative attitudes do not discriminate on the basis of party - hate and fear mongerers are both Democrat and Republican.  On that note, I congratulate Sen. Judd Gregg who called this debate of immigration in the context of health care what it is - a "sideshow."  And acknowledged that doctors will treat whoever walks into an emergency room, regardless of legal status (which, by the way, taxpayers are paying for - and thanks to not including "illegals" in reform, will continue to pay for).  

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Edward Kennedy: "A man who saw wrong, and tried to right it"

It was in this way that Edward Kennedy eulogized his brother Robert F. Kennedy, and I find the description just as fitting for the Lion of the Senate.  On this day, our condolences to his family, and to the millions of supporters and followers that admired and were impacted by his work. 

Of the many legacies Senator Kennedy leaves behind, one legacy that touched millions of lives is his fight for justice in our immigration system and immigration reform.  No human being was ever "illegal" in the eyes of this powerhouse.  In the Kennedy tradition, even though he was a man of privilege, he fought for the powerless.  He reminded America of its immigrant tradition:

"A century and a half ago all eight of our Irish great grandparents successfully crossed the Atlantic in the famous vessels that were known as 'coffin ships' because so many failed to survive the ardous voyage...immigration is in our blood."

"There is no question that the immigration system needs to be reformed to meet the challenges of the twenty-first century.  The urgent issue before us is about the future of America.  It is about being proud of our immigrant past and our immigrant future.  Immigration reform is an opportunity to be true to our ideals as a nation."

                     - Edward Kennedy, Introduction "A Nation of Immigrants"

He understood that his story was no different than that of today's Asian, Middle-Eastern, or Hispanic immigrants:

"The urgent issue before us is about the future of America.  It is about being proud of our immigrant past, and our immigrant future.  We know the high price of continuing inaction." 

One of the last acts as president of his brother, John F. Kennedy, was to propose a major series of immigration reforms to end the ugly race-based national origins quota system.  Sen. Kennedy understood the injustice being suffered under such a system and in 1965, he took on the job of pushing a bill to eliminate the quota system that had made it virtually impossible for anyone from anywhere but western Europe to immigrate to the USA.

Immigration also became one of the top issues on which Kennedy stood at the forefront, and a cause that he came to see as a personal crusade.

Among the immigration measures that Kennedy helped shape:

• A 1980 bill that established a system for refugee resettlement in the USA and nearly tripled the number of people who would qualify for admission.

• A 1986 bill that granted amnesty to an estimated 2.7 million people living illegally in the USA and established penalties against employers who hired illegal immigrants.

• A 1990 bill that revised the legal immigration system to allow for more immigrants and more high-skilled workers.

Most recently, Kennedy helped lay the groundwork for a 21st century immigration system through the immigration reform legislation known as the "McCain-Kennedy bill," which would have put an estimated 12 million illegal immigrants on a path to citizenship and plugged holes in the employer sanctions system.   I only wish he could have stayed with us long enough to see the fruit of his work enacted.  On the day the immigration reform legislation failed in 2007, Kennedy predicted its backers would be vindicated. "We will be back and we will prevail," he said.  The Liberal Lion's thunderous voice, the strength of his resolve, and ever generous smile will be missing as we work with President Obama and Congress to move on an immigration overhaul that would not be so far along were it not for the decades he spent laying the groundwork.

Weekly Immigration Update: Immigrants are Vital to Economic Recovery

A new study published by the CATO Institute has findings on immigrant productivity and concluded that the focus on repelling immigrants does more harm than good to the U.S. economy; the report was covered by the Wall Street Journal and by Walter Ewing, published in the Philadelphia Inquirer.  According to WSJ:

"Increased enforcement and reduced low-skilled immigration have a significant negative impact on the income of U.S. households," write Peter Dixon and Maureen Rimmer, the study's authors. "In contrast, legalization of low-skilled immigrant workers would yield significant income gains for American workers and households...a program that allowed more low-skilled foreigners to enter the U.S. workforce lawfully would put smugglers and document-forgers out of business," explain the authors. "It would also allow immigrants to have higher productivity and create more openings for Americans in higher-skilled occupations."

Using a dynamic economic model that weighs the impact of immigrants on government revenues and expenditures, the study seeks to quantify the benefits of comprehensive immigration reform versus the enforcement-only approach. It finds that legalizing the entry of more low-skilled immigrants would result in economic gains of about $180 billion annually to U.S. households. A focus on more enforcement alone would not only result in an annual net economic loss of around $80 billion, say the authors, but fewer jobs, less investment and lower levels of consumption as well. "Modest savings in public expenditures would be more than offset by losses in economic output," says the report. 

In other news, the Asian-American Community flexed more muscle this week in the fight for immigration reform, covered by various news outlets. 

More Advertisers Drop Glenn Beck - More companies came out this week opting out of being associated with his xenophobic dinner theatre.  Hopefully the next step is: Glenn Beck off air.  Join in to "Stop the Race Baiting." Next - we Drop Dobbs and Limbaugh. 

Other headlines this week:

Immigration Reform is NOT Health Care Reform

White House Reiterates Commitment to Fixing the Broken Immigration System - let's keep on it!

White House Meeting on Immigration/NDN Backgrounder on Immigration Reform

Jorge Ramos: La Promesa

Only Three Fifths of a Person - More Deaths in DHS Detention

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