Announcing our "21st Century America Project"

For years the team at NDN/NPI has been a leader in helping policymakers better understand the changing demographics of the United States. Today, we take that commitment one step further.

I am excited to announce that we are bringing our demographic and public opinion research together under a single banner: the 21st Century America Project. The project will feature work by NDN Senior Vice President, Andres Ramirez, the primary author of much of our recent research in the Hispanic community; Morley Winograd and Mike Hais, NDN/NPI Fellows, authors of the critically acclaimed book Millenial Makeover; Alicia Menendez, our new Senior Advisor, who has extensive experience working in these emergent communities; and other NDN/NPI Fellows and collaborators.

NDN is proud to continue our tradition of offering our members, the general public and policymakers prescient demographic and electoral analysis. In years past we were among the first to discuss the growing power of the domestic US Hispanic community, among the first to discuss how our very concept of race is changing as America hurtles towards becoming a majority-minority nation; and among the first to welcome the end of the “Southern Strategy of American politics” and the emergence of a new national electoral map.

In 2006, we funded research on the rising potential of the largest generation in American history, the Millennials. The results from that research were in the words of our Millennial experts, Mike Hais and Morley Winograd, “so eye-popping” that they were inspired to write a book on the matter. Two years later, that book, Millennial Makeover, went on to become a New York Times Favorite Book of 2008. Since then we have been tracking and studying this emerging constituency.

To take a look at some of our past 21st Century America Project highlights, please visit our website and continue to look for this new project in the months ahead. Thanks to all of you who made this exciting part of our work here at NDN/NPI possible.

Video: White House Director of Urban Affairs Adolfo Carrión's Remarks at NDN

On Tuesday, we had the privilege of having White House Director of Urban Affairs Adolfo Carrión join us at NDN for a speech on the 2010 Census, housing and education. I was personally struck by how enthusiastic Director Carrión got when he started talking about urban policy. Be sure to check it out:

Excited for Tomorrow's Presentation by Mike Hais and Morley Winograd on Emerging Political Coalitions

Tomorrow, Thursday March 4th at 12 noon, we're going to be having a great event here at NDN,  a special presentation on a new poll regarding the changing political coalitions of the 21st Century.  I encourage partisans and political idealogues of all stripes, as well as those interested in changing demographics to join us.You can rsvp to jsingleton@ndn.org or by following this link.

Part of what is so great about this presentation is that it takes a look at very important segments of the electorate (Millennials, Unmarried Women, African-Americans and Latinos) and really emphasizes how their power exists in their emergence as a coalition - and how that coalition is growing. 

I know that this is going to be an exciting kickoff for our 21st Century America project.

Immigration Reform: Still In Play

In a new Newsweek piece on immigration Reform, Arian Campo-Flores writes: 

Given that much of last year was squandered on a health-care debate that has yet to produce an agreement, and given that Americans are clamoring for the administration to focus on jobs and the economy, immigration has fallen far down the priority list, for both the president and Congress. "I don't think there's been a diminution in the desire to do it," says Simon Rosenberg of NDN, which has also pressed for an overhaul. "But there's a greater recognition that the pipeline got backed up in 2009." The top two priorities now, he says, are a jobs bill and financial-services reform. "If those get done, and Washington is working better, then I think other things will be possible this year." Even, perhaps, immigration reform, though he says it may well get pushed to 2011.

As the New York Times reports this morning, there is a new legislative pipeline now.  If the White House and Congress can pass jobs and financial services reform bills quickly, then the basket of other issues waiting for consideration - immigration reform, energy/price on carbon, education reform, transportation, a DOHA treaty, even health care now - will get put into play.  A lot now depends on what happens with these two bills now, and for those wanting progress in these other areas a good plan would be to help get these other two bills passed, quickly. 

The President might consider bringing the Senate and House leadership in for an extended set of discussions next week on how best to get the differing approaches to these bills reconciled as soon as possible, and not leave it to the whims of the Committee process alone to help determine their fate.  That is perhaps the greatest lesson from 2009 - more centralized and cooperative management by the governing party is required for the President to get done all that he wants done in the coming years.

For those wanting to reform our badly broken immigration system do not lose heart.  The President and much of Congress want to get it done, and a lot of prep work has been done in 2009 to prepare for the fight when it comes.  For an issue like this timing is going to be key.   The White House and the Senate and House will have to work closely together, in a very coordinated way, to keep the immigration reform debate from spiraling out of control.   Decks will have to be clear, leaders aligned, confidence high.  I'm not sure we are there right now, but I also think that day is not all that far down the road.  We will need to keep the pressure on, keep making our case to more people, show both determination and patience, and as the President has said, never quit.

Alicia Menendez Joins the NDN Team

I am excited to announce a wonderful new addition to the NDN/NPI family - Alicia Menendez.   Alicia is a good friend, a thoughtful television commentator, and has spent years working on issues and strategies complementary to our work at NDN.  She will be coming on board to help advise me and the NDN team on a wide range of strategic issues, represent us in the media and in public and private gatherings, and continue her advocacy for and study of the Millennial generation and Hispanics.   She will be joining us full time later this month. 

I've known Alicia for many years now and am very excited to have her join our team.  Look for her on the blog, on TV, facebook, twitter and all the ways we all connect these days - soon.

More About Alicia and the Position

Alicia Menendez is a Senior Advisor to NDN and its sister organization, the New Policy Institute.  As Senior Advisor, Ms. Menendez will help guide the direction of the two organizations, represent the organization in the national media and at public and private gatherings, and work on NDN/NPI's projects on the rapidly changing  American electorate. 

Ms. Menendez comes to NDN/NPI as a well-established television commentator and experienced organizer in important emerging communities.  You can find her talking about national politics just about every week on the cable news networks, Fox and MSNBC. She is a veteran of both Rock the Vote and Democracia USA, successful organizations dedicated to increasing the participation of Millennials and Hispanics in the electoral process.  

She also spent time as a television segment producer and on-air contributor for RNN TV in New York, and was a primary surrogate on her father's successful 2006 bid for the US Senate in New Jersey.

Alicia graduated from Harvard in 2005, and had the honor to deliver the undergraduate commencement speech at her graduation ceremony that year.

NDN, Andres in NYTImes Piece Today about the Census

The always interesting Julia Preston has an insightful piece in the NYTimes today about efforts to ensure Latino  participation in the upcoming census.  It includes a reference to recent NDN work spearheaded by Andres Ramirez:

Nearly 12 million Latinos voted in November 2008, an increase of two million votes over 2004, according to an analysis by Andres Ramirez, a researcher at NDN, a Democratic advocacy organization. Now, in the first census since Hispanics passed blacks to become the second-largest population group in the United States, Hispanics want to extend that voting power with a census count that would support more elected representatives for their communities.

An analysis by NDN and America’s Voice, an immigrant advocacy group, projected that a full count of Hispanics would lead to a significant redrawing of the Congressional map, with six states picking up one Congressional seat (Florida, Georgia, Nevada, Oregon, South Carolina and Utah), while Arizona would add two and Texas as many as four.

For the US Latino community the next three years will be of great consequence.  We will see the census, the passage of immigration reform and the 2011/2012 reapportionment at the federal and state levels.   If each happen as they should, as Andres' reports above show, there will be a significant shift of political power in the US to states and parts of states with fast-growing Latinos populations, the beginning of a more proper alignment of the actual number of Hispanics in the US with their political representation at all levels of government.  For Hispanic leaders making sure that all three of these game-changing events happen, and happen as they should, is both a great opportunity and great challenge in the years ahead. 

For many years NDN and our affiliate the New Policy Institute has worked to make sure that the extraordinary demographic transition underweigh in the US today both better understood and for it to play out with the least amount of social strife possible.  Which was what drove us this year to not only aggressively champion comprehensive immigration reform and the nomination of Sonio Sotomayor to the Supreme Court, advocate for closer Hemispheric ties and relations with our Latin neighbors, produce the reports cited above, but to also lead the successful campaigns to get CNN to drop Lou Dobbs and to defeat the pernicious Vitter-Bennett amendment in the US Senate which would have done so much to disrupt the census next year.

In looking back at our work these last few years I think this work - helping ease and enable the extraordinary demographic transition underway in the US - has been our most important and lasting contribution to the national political debate.  I am grateful for all the support the NDN community has given us - the whole NDN team - to lead on these basket of issues which have often been hard and sometimes not well understood.  But led we have, with moral clarity and bull-headed conviction, and the I would like to believe that the nation is just a little better for it. 

But the battles ahead may be our most important yet.  Get ready my friends.

Update - Here is the redistricting report cited above.

Wash Post Has Good Piece On Immigrants, Health Care Debate

The Washington Post has a very good piece this morning by David Montgomery for anyone wanting to learn more about the debate over covering immigrants in the various health care bills.

Watch or Drop by Tue for "How Hispanics Are Shaping Census, Reapportionment"

On Tue, lunchtime, NDN is co-hosting an event with America's Voice,"How Latinos Are Shaping Census 2010 and Reapportionment.   At the event we will be releasing a major new report with a lots of information about US Hispanic population growth and how it is effecting American politics. 

To learn more, get the coordinates for watching live, or to RSVP visit here.

See you Tuesday.

Newsweek Looks at Vitter-Bennett

The online edition of Newsweek has a new story on the Vitter-Bennett effort to disrupt the census and reapportionment.  It includes these two graphs: 

Immigrant advocates have been bracing for this clash for months. As Simon Rosenberg of the left-leaning New Democrat Network recently argued in a blog posting, “The Republican assault on the census and reapportionment will not end next week even if the Bennett-Vitter Amendment is voted down,” which it likely will be. “This is going to be a titanic battle.”

Rosenberg and others decry the proposed amendment as divisive. They say it seeks to pit traditionally red states that receive fewer immigrants (like Indiana and Montana) against blue states that are magnets for them (like California and New York). Indeed, an analysis cited in a New York Times article today showed that if noncitizens were stripped out of the population totals, California would lose five congressional seats and New York and Illinois one each. Among the beneficiaries (surprise, surprise): Louisiana, Vitter’s home state, which would be spared the loss of one seat. Get ready for more skirmishes ahead.

A Senate vote could come as early as today.  Call your Senator or use this site to take online action against this pernicious effort. 

And use this recent NDN Backgrounder for more.

Progress on 3 Important Fronts - Drop Dobbs, Vitter-Bennett, 9500 Liberty

Just wanted to report in, quickly, on progress on three projects NDN is taking a leading role on right now. 

Drop Dobbs - Several weeks ago, along with more than a dozen other groups, NDN helped launched Drop Dobbs, a website and campaign designed to knock Lou Dobbs off CNN.   Tens of thousands have signed our petitions, watched our videos.  And the campaign itself has gotten a lot of notice.  Dobbs himself has addressed the campaign on the air, more groups are signing on, and some new steps will be announced soon.  The NY Times has a major piece by Brian Stelter today which is the most important press story yet generated on the campaign - be sure to check it out, and if you haven't yet please add your name to the petition today.

Defeating Bennett-Vitter - For NDN blog readers you know that we have been long talking about the day Republican leaders would mount a series effort to derail reapportionment and the census by challening the propriety of counting non citizens particularly in the reapportionment process in 2011-2012.  Well that day has come now, with Senators Bennett and Vitter attempting to put an Amendment on to the current Commerce appropriations bill which would add an 11th question to the census next year, in an attempt to get an accurate count of the non-citizens in the United States.  NDN has issued many statements, been up on the Hill, organized two press conferences this week with allied groups and in general helped organize a well orchestrated push back on this irresponsible effort that would undeniably cost the country a great deal of money, threaten the integrity of the census and reapportionment processes and almost certainly be found unconstitutional. 

For more on this important advocacy effort visit here, and also feel free to read some of the press stories this effort has also generated. Be sure to contact your Senator this week and ask them to vote no on Vitter-Bennett (the vote could be as early as Weds). 

9500 Liberty - Our favorite movie, 9500 Liberty received an extraordinary early review this week:

It’s a bitter human irony that we can be at our ugliest when we’re fighting for our most passionate verities, including democracy, freedom and the American dream. And it seems to happen most often in the politics of immigration.

Most of us are good people when we’re sitting around the dinner table. What happens to us as soon as we step up to the public podium?

If there’s one movie that shows the worst -- but also the best -- in that regard, it’s a documentary you’ve probably never heard of. As of now, it's unreleased.

Like many other independently made documentaries, “9500 Liberty” doesn’t have a distributor. That ought to change. So far, it has been on the festival circuit with forthcoming stops at the San Diego Asian Festival (Oct. 27), the San Francisco’s Sundance Kabuki Theater (Oct. 29), and festivals in Virginia, Austin and St. Louis in November.

And it lit up the virtual nation of Youtubia when filmmakers Annabel Park and Eric Byler posted their movie in progress.   In the summer of 2007, Park and Byler took their cameras to Prince William County, Virginia, where an explosive debate was taking place.

In response to the burgeoning influx of Hispanics, the local board of supervisors was considering legislation that would require police officers to stop and question anyone who gave them “probable cause” to suspect was an illegal alien.  The film follows the interaction within the board, out in the community and over the Internet, as the issue attracts increasingly inflamed and widespread debate.

And as we watch events unfold, we can’t help noticing this is all taking place in Manassas, the hallowed battleground site where another racially charged matter divided the political nation.

This postmodern version of civil war may not have the musketry and the spectacular loss of life of its predecessor. But it doesn't lack for absorbing drama. And a memorable cast of characters...

.....Even though the filmmakers’ political sentiments aren’t too hard to identify, there’s something to watch for viewers of any political stripe. “9500 Liberty” is local, yet powerfully American. And not unlike Marshall Curry’s excellent 2002 documentary “Street Fight,” which chronicled the stunning rise to power of Newark Mayor Cory Booker, it shows us politics where the rubber meets the road.

With an uplifting turn of events and some extraordinary acts of conscience, “9500 Liberty” is as dramatically charged as any fiction movie. And ultimately, it’s as powerful a booster of the democratic process as anything Frank Capra ever imprinted into our collective memory.

Those of you in SF this week are lucky - along with several other organizations we are cohosting a screening of 9500 Liberty this Thursday night, October 29th, at Sundance Kabuki.  I hope you will be able to attend, and see what I have called one of the best movies I have ever seen. 

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