9500 Liberty: Film on Immigration Battle Wins Best Documentary at the Charlotte Film Festival

This remarkable film about the debate over immigration reform received duly earned recognition at the Charlotte Film Festival as it won the award for Best Documentary.  NDN has had the pleasure of working with the filmmakers, Annabel Park and Eric Byler, as we hosted screenings for 9500 Liberty in Washington, DC and at Netroots Nation.  Annabel and Eric joined creators like Michael Moore and some other 60 filmmakers who showed 24 films in Charlotte, NC as part of the festival, which included international films.  

The film originated as footage shot by Annabel and Eric documenting the struggle of their own suburban community - Prince William County, VA - to deal with rapidly changing demographics and the issue of immigration at a local level.  Among the hundreds of visitors who viewed the films at the film festival, 9500 drew much attention in part because of the parallels that can be drawn between Charlotte, NC and Prince William; both have undergone dramatic growths in population and shifts in the local demography, both are suburban areas that have seen clashes between those in the community that have been there for decades or centuries and new immigrants (particularly Hispanic immigrants).  

Said Annabel, "The award means a lot to us because [we were competing with] some great films at the festival."  Moreover, the filmmakers were encouraged by how much moviegoers loved the film, "festival organizers and goers were mostly not from a political background, and their positive response indicates that the film is not just for the politically-minded."  Annabel reported, "I could sense the transformation happening in the audience after the screening.  The lessons [on the immigration debate] were very clear to people...Eric, Chris and I are really proud that the film has the potential to change opinions and lives."

We know that 9500 Liberty has the power to reach a wide audience, to inform, and to affect opinion on this issue.  Click here to see a trailer of the film.  You can catch the full-length feature as it officially premieres this Thursday, October 1 at the DC Asian Pacific American Film Festival, and stay tuned for additional screenings to be hosted by NDN.  


2010 AZ Ballot Could Include Anti-Immigrant Slate

Anti-immigrant bigots at a national level are scary, at a local level, even more disconcerting; Phoenix Buniess Journal reports: 

There could be an anti-immigration slate of candidates running for key elected posts in the 2010 elections.

State Sen. Russell Pearce, R-Mesa, said he would be interested in running for Maricopa County Sheriff if Joe Arpaio opts to run for governor next year.

Pearce has been a main advocate of hard-line immigration policies, including punishing businesses that hire undocumented workers and denying state services to illegal immigrants.

Weekly Immigration Update: Airport Workers Smuggle Immigrants; Latino Lawyers Can Do Much To Help; Antis Have Their Game On

Over Labor Day Weekend, news broke covering a series of airport workers in Puerto Rico who were helping undocumented immigrants enter the United States.  This once again highlights the flaws in an "enforcement-only" system, and showcases the need for a comprehensive strategy to fix the current broken immigration system.    

In other news, with E-verify becoming mandatory for all government contractors this week, Congress will have to decide on how it takes up this issue again as the program is scheduled to expire on September 30.  By dealing with this sub-issue through comprehensive immigration reform legislation, we could finally take this debate off the table.

Several outlets also covered the Hispanic National Bar Association's annual convention in Albuquerque, NM this past week.  I attended as a panelist to discuss immigrant rights.  Many judges, including Chief Judge for the U.S. Circuit in NM, Martha Vazquez, agree that the current broken immigration system is one of "de facto criminalization" of immigrants.  

Latino lawyers can do much to help advise immigrants of their rights, and they can do much to help advocate for reform. However, we have serious obstacles to overcome in having more Latinos - particularly Latinas - represented in the profession, as illustrated by an HNBA study. 

And today Simon highlights a very disturbing and concerted anti-immigrant campaign.  These videos are extremely well done; while the arguments are factually incorrect and based on no empirical evidence, the ads are incredibly effective.  Clearly these guys are elevating their game in preparation for a fight.  What are you doing to prepare?

Hispanic Lawyers' Conference Brings Big Names and Uncovers Even Bigger Challenges

Albuquerque, NM - Reflecting on the 2009 Hispanic National Bar Association's (HNBA), it is of note that public policy and social justice issues (primarily immigration) were such prevalent topics during this conference, aptly themed, "Opening Doors."  And open doors we have, with the first Latina to sit on the Supreme Court soon to hear arguments in that chamber.  However, a report released this week by the HNBA based on a nine month study of Latinas in the profession uncovered some disturbing facts that show how far we still have to go.

During the opening day of the conference Governor Bill Richardson reflected on how Latino lawyers have opened doors for so many to come, and on the importance of this demographic as a group and as an electorate.  In the same fashion, he touched on the responsibility of Latinos to influence younger generations to be involved, to do more.

For his part, Attorney General Eric Holder recognized the role of Hispanics as he addressed the conference: 

The founders of the HNBA used the law to change lives for the better.  For in the final analysis, the law serves as the great equalizer of our society – and it is still our job to make it so.  As we gather for your 34th annual conference, your membership rolls are larger – and your influence is greater – than ever before.

In light of some of the most shocking displays of racism in a generation against Hispanics in the context of the immigration debate, health care debate, etc. and given the dramatic increase in hate crimes against Latinos (which are not always punished or adequately persecuted),  Attorney General Holder highlighted the importance of DOJ and particularly the "crown jewel" of the Civil Rights division:

We seek diversity not just for its own sake, but because our nation is stronger when people from all backgrounds participate in the administration of justice.  When I was confirmed as Attorney General, I made it clear that during my tenure, we would restore luster to the Justice Department’s “crown jewel” -- our Civil Rights Division.  I promised that the Civil Rights Division would fight discrimination as fiercely as the Criminal Division fights crime -- and that we would once again honor the spirit of the movement that inspired its creation.

Let me say this very clearly:  The Civil Rights Division is once again open for business.

Senator Bob Menendez also spoke as eloquently and passionately as always at the Conference, but I should highlight his less-known contribution - of all the panels occurring during Friday afternoon (all important topics) he quietly stepped into the panel on the findings of a report just released by the HNBA "The State of Latinas in the Legal Profession."  Dressed down in kakis, with no staff and no fuss, he quietly stepped in through the back of the room, sat down and listened intently to the panel as they revealed the findings of the HNBA Commission on Latina Lawyers.  As a Latina and as a woman lawyer, it meant a heck of a lot to me that the Senator 1) made time to attend the conference and, 2) chose to spend his time in that panel of all panels.

This report was 100% a labor of love by these Latina lawyers and other collaborators, as the HNBA did not have a grant to cover costs.  At the end of the presentation, as questions surfaced and discussion ensued, Sen. Menendez raised his hand, inquired as to whether the government had supported this important endeavor.  It did not, and so he pledged his help to this group of Latina lawyers to guide and support this Commission as they seek to obtain grants and assistance from the federal government.  

And we need all the help that we can get.  This report uncovered a drastic situation; despite the appointment of Justice Sonia Sotomayor (who sent a moving videotaped message to the HNBA) and the nation’s growing Hispanic population, Hispanic women make up only 1.3% of all lawyers in the United States.  That is the lowest representation of any racial or ethnic group (overall and within their own gender) as compared to their overall presence in the nation - Latinas make up over 7% of the country's population.  Justice Sotomayor shines as a beacon of light to the Judges who served on the bench with her, and/or lawyers who argued before her and can now clearly envision new possibilities in their profession and in themselves, but the reality of today is that Latina lawyers are only a few hundred of the over 1 million lawyers currently in the U.S. 

Immigrant Rights: Presenting Issues of Enforcement, Public Policy and Views from the Bench at the HNBA

Albuquerque, NM - At the Hispanic National Bar Association's 34th Annual Convention, I just presented on the issue of "Immigrant Rights."  So I was going to just show a blank screen since immigrants don't enjoy the most basic due process rights in immigration proceedings.  Actually, I provided an overview of the latest actions taken in this area by all three branches of government and and I made the case for passage of immigration reform this year.  My first impression: very encouraged by the fact that the decent size room we were provided was completely full, not one empty seat.  Now, keep in mind that most HNBA members are in private practice and "public interest" law is not exactly part of the day to day work of the pool of mostly corporate litigation, corporate transactional, and criminal lawyers.  So I was encouraged at the sight of a full room, and at hearing our topic discussed over and over at breakfast plenaries, during lunch key note speeches, and even in the corridors of the convention hall.  This tells me that the violations of basic due process and human rights under the guise of immigration law have so permeated our society - particularly our demographic - that even "unusual" suspects, corporate lawyers who have not had immigrants in their families for centuries, are in tune and outraged at some of the most shocking violations of the Constitution in the name of "enforcing immigration law."  

This elite group of Hispanics could all report having clients who have suffered due to the broken immigration system, people who through no fault of their own have been discriminated against as "illegals" merely for the color of their skin, and some reported even being the object of this persecution themselves.  It is clear that the toxicicity of the issue of immigration has spilled over even into our judicial system.  There was a great deal of consensus among judges that the sharp rise in Hispanic defendants sentenced before them is largely due to Hispanic legal residents and undocumented immigrants that are caught in immigration enforcement efforts.  

Judge Martha Vazquez, Chief Judge for the U.S. Circuit Court of New Mexico, called the current immigration broekn system a "system of de facto immigrant criminalization," and highlighted the excessive penalization of immigrants in sentencing because illegal entry is an offense that calls for sentencing enhancement for past offenses.  And U.S. citizens might be guilty of illegal entry - she highlighted the case of a U.S. citizen who travelled to Mexico and while there was robbed of all his documents and wallet.

This defendant decided to just walk back into the U.S., but upon crossing back, he failed to go through customs inspection, which constitutes illegal entry.  Over a decade earlier he had been sentenced for assault and had served his time.  He committed a subsequent offense years later, and because of his "illegal entry," record of prior sentences must be taken into account to enhance a subsequent sentence by several years.  Judge Vazquez's point is that this person was essentially doing time twice for the same offense - he had already been judged for the original offense and carried out his sentence.  But the second sentence forces the judge to have this person serve time again for the prior offense.  

Patadas de Ahogados - Los Republicanos Ven la Tempestad y No Se Hincan


Hoy surgió una serie de artículos que resaltan la condición tan peligrosa en la que se encuentra el partido Republicano.  El partido se encuentra sin una agenda de políticas públicas clara, sin propuestas específicas para resolver los problemas más agravantes, mientras que al mismo tiempo ahuyenta cada vez más sectores de la población con su retórica alarmante y a menudo ofensiva.  En Tejas, el Dallas Morning News comenta sobre la elección a Gobernador del estado y estipula que si Kay Bailey-Hutchinson piensa tener alguna probabilidad de ganar la elección, tendrá que ampliar el partido.  Siendo que Rick Perry disfruta de mayor apoyo entre la base Republicana, Kay Bailey tendrá que acudir a los grupos y demográficas que se encuentran fuera de su base – principalmente los Hispanos/Latinos.  Lástima que se paso casi un año entero en el 2007 presentando enmiendas que lograron derrumbar un acuerdo para reforma migratoria – tema que le importa a muchos Tejanos ciudadanos con familia inmigrante. 

En Oklahoma, Ponca City News escribe, “La renuncia del Senador Mel Martínez de Florida cierra el último capítulo en el esfuerzo de la última década por parte del partido Republicano para ganarse a más votantes Hispanos.” Es decir, el partido falló, y hasta le falló a uno de los suyos.  Martínez se va, desilusionado con el comportamiento y la retórica de su partido, dejando a los Republicanos sin un solo Senador Hispano, y con sólo tres cubano-americanos en la Cámara Baja.  Simon también ha escrito sobre lo que la renuncia de Martínez y la llegada de Sotomayor significa en términos del voto Hispano para los Republicanos.

Por último, un artículo en el Wall Street Journal sobre el Censo (y lo que implicará a la hora de redistribuir escaños en el Congreso en base al conteo de personas) alude al tipo de campaña anti-inmigrante y anti-Hispana que podemos esperar de los xenofóbicos y conservadores en el 2010.  Por ejemplo, conforme a cálculos del Censo, se espera que Tejas obtenga 4 escaños más de representación en la Cámara baja.  Este crecimiento se debe en gran parte a los hispanos, ya que aproximadamente 60% del crecimiento en el estado ocurrió en la comunidad Hispana.  Siendo que en estos momentos la mayoría de hispanos se alinean con el partido Demócrata, los Republicanos le temen a que esta demografía sea contada en el Censo.  Asi que a ambos partidos: OJO, mucho ojo, para ser un partido viable en el siglo 21, ya no se vale insultar y distanciarse de la “minoría” más grande en este país. 


More on the Health Care Debate and Immigration Reform

Yesterday I wrote a few points drawing clear distinctions between the debate for health care reform and for a fix to our broken immigration system.  To complement the arguments, here is a great piece on "Four Health Care Debate Takeaways For the Immigration Reform Fight."  Essentially: 1) folks won't stick to the issue, 2) you have the same Congressional targets for passage, 3) the Minutement will act as the militia de facto, and 4) we must not waver, we must have courage.  

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

White House Reiterates Commitment to Fixing the Broken Immigration System

Today's White House meeting demonstrates that President Obama understands the need and urgency for an overhaul of our broken immigration system.  Importantly, the process is beginning, there is interest at the top levels, and today provided stakeholders an opportunity to weigh in.  Below, Secretary Napolitano's statement:


"Today's meeting on comprehensive immigration reform was an important opportunity to hear from stakeholders and build on the significant time I've spent on the Hill meeting with members of Congress on this critical subject. I look forward to working with President Obama, my colleagues in Congress and representatives from law enforcement, business, labor organizations, the interfaith community, advocacy groups and others as we work on this important issue." 


"La reunión de hoy sobre la reforma integral de la inmigración fue una oportunidad importante para escuchar a las partes interesadas y sumar al tiempo significativo que he pasado en el Capitolio reunida con miembros del Congreso sobre este importante tema. Anticipo con entusiasmo trabajar con el Presidente Obama, mis colegas del Congreso y los representantes de las agencias de la ley, empresas, sindicatos, grupos religiosos, grupos que abogan por la comunidad, y otros a medida que trabajamos sobre este importante asunto." 


For additional information on this issue, access NDN's Backgrounder: Comprehensive Immigration Reform.

NDN Backgrounder: Comprehensive Immigration Reform

Yesterday, Janet Napolitano, Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), led a White House meeting with key groups and stakeholders to discuss immigration policy. 

For anyone interested in learning more about this important issue we've assembled the following set of background material:

Key Arguments:

Beck Loses Advertisers, Dobbs Should be Worried, Simon Rosenberg, 8/14/09 - Rosenberg presents at Netroots and discusses the implication of advertisers withdrawing from purchasing air time on the Glenn Beck show on Fox. 

The Coming Battle Over the Census, Simon Rosenberg, 8/10/09 - For many months now NDN has been making the case that inevitably the right would make a spirited case to prevent the 2010 Census from counting undocumented immigrants, or at least using their numbers to influence reapportionment or the allocation of resources by the government.  We argue that it is important for the Obama Administration to pass Compehensive Immigration Reform by March of 2010 (the count begins in April, 2010) in order to avoid what could become a very nasty debate about who should be counted.

Sotomayor, Hispanics, and the Martinez Resignation, Simon Rosenberg, 8/7/09 - Rosenberg offers initial thoughts on the way the Senate Republicans handled the Sotomayor vote and how that contributes to the alientation Hispanics feel towards the GOP.  Highlights the significance of the only minority Republican Senator fleeing the national Republican Party.

Making the Case for Passage of Immigration Reform This Year, Simon Rosenberg, 6/16/09 - Rosenberg lays out the basic foundation for why Congress must pass comprehensive immigration reform. This summary is a good introduction for those wanting to learn the fundamentals of this issue.

Making the Case: 7 Reasons Why Congress Should Pass Comprehensive Immigration Reform this Year,Huffington Post, Simon Rosenberg, 4/30/09 - Rosenberg argues that the answer to whether Congress can pass reform this year is "yes."

A Responsible Immigration Policy - A Series of Essays from NDN

Hispanics Rising II, Updated May 2008 - NDN's commentary pertaining to the impact of the growing Hispanic electorate on national elections, key data and projections that support the argument that whoever wins the Hispanic vote can maintain a hold on national elections.  

On Obama, Race, and the End of the Southern Strategy, Simon Rosenberg, 1/4/08 - Rosenberg discusses the impact of the figure of Barack Obama, as America undergoes one of the most significant demographic transformations in History.  As such,liberating American politics from the pernicious era of the Southern Strategy, based on the exploitation of race, should be one the highest strategic priorities for left-of-center politics.

Can Democrats Seize the Opportunity The Immigration Debate Offers Them?, Simon Rosenberg, 12/11/07 - Rosenberg explains how embracing comprehensive immigration reform will allow Democrats to draw a bright line distinction with the GOP on an issue where the Democratic position has majority support of the American people and of a deep and broad national coalition.  Takin on CIR shows Congress can work to solve vexing national problems; drives a deep wedge in the GOP coalition; and makes a major overture to Hispanics, who are the key to a permanent 21st century progressive governing coalition.


NDN Poll in Battleground States on Immigration, 9/2/08

Polling of Swing Districts, America's Voice/Benenson Strategy Group, 2/19/09

Recent Polling on Immigration,  America's Voice/Benenson Strategy Group, 6/2/09 - Since a previous America's Voice poll in November, Pete Brodnitz of the Benenson Stratagey Group finds that support for comprehensive reform has been stable (and high), but increasing numbers of voters see the economic benefit of passing comprehensive immigration reform. The poll is consistent with NDN polling by Bendixen & Associates in its affirmation of overwhelming public support for immigration reform.


Politics and Policy: What to Expect from the Immigration Debate, Simon Rosenberg, Ali Noorani, and Tamar Jacoby, 8/4/09

NDN Forum Immigration Reform: Politics, Public Opinion and Legislative Prospects,   Simon Rosenberg and Andres Ramirez, 6/16/09. Please click here for video of Simon Rosenberg's presentation; please click herefor video of Andres’ presentation.

NDN, America's Voice, NCLR Team Up to Reiterate the Need for Comprehensive Immigration Reform This Year, 2/19/09

“Immigration Reform and the Next Administration,” NDN Event at the Democratic National Committee Convention in Denver, CO, Rep. Zoe Lofgren, Marco Lopez, Frank Sharry, Janet Murguia, 8/25/08 

NDN Bicameral Event for Comprehensive Immigration Reform, Rep. Gutierrez, Rep.Lofgren, Sen. Reid, Sen. Kennedy, Sen. Menendez, 3/3/07 

To stay up-to-date, follow us on the NDN Immigration Weekly.

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