Hispanic / Latino

Breakdown shows the need for a fixed immigration system

An article in the New York Times today highlights, once again, the broken state of our immigration system. At issue is a breakdown in communication between the State Department and the Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) on an announcement that it would issue green cards to legal immigrants on temporary visas. Those applying, who "had obtained federal certification that no American workers were available for the jobs they hold," were then told that no visas were available. From the article:

A national association of immigration lawyers said yesterday that it would bring a class-action lawsuit against the federal immigration agency for refusing to accept thousands of applications for work-based permanent visas from highly skilled immigrants who were encouraged by the government to apply.

The hopes of thousands of foreigners who have been working legally in the United States were unexpectedly raised and then abruptly dashed as a result of the disagreement. They had responded last month to an announcement that permanent residency visas would be available, but on Monday learned there were none.

The immigration lawyers said the about-face by the immigration system had no precedent in at least three decades of legal practice, and said that it violated the immigration agency’s regulations.

Corridos use familiar sounds to define sentiment

We at NDN know the value of the corrido. We used this culturally rich and powerful medium in our song "How Little They Know Us", which was played in 2006 during the immigration debate under our Demócratas Unidos media campaign.

Today's New York Times reinforces the corrido's effectiveness by showing how, recently, they are serving as an outlet for those frustrated with the tone of the immigration debate. From the article:

While watching the immigration marches that day, Mr. Garcia said he felt compelled to put “our story” to music, scratching out the words over several weeks, right up to the day the folklife center researchers came calling.

“I feel we need to write out stories and this was a big part of our story here,” he said. “Corridos used to be like newspapers. Well, maybe, they still should be.”

UPDATE: Surge in U.S. Citizenship Applications

NBC Nightly News did a piece last night on the rise in U.S. citizenship applications, which has been a widely covered issue of late. Click here for video of their coverage.

Rising fees and immigration debate lead to increased naturalization applications

Naturalization applications are on the rise according to this article from the New York Times. Citing the imminent rise in processing fees and the immigration debate as the reasons for the rise, the article reveals that many are now applying for citizenship so their voice can be heard, and felt, in government. From the article:

For many legal immigrants, worry about their futures in the United States turned into action after an announcement on Jan. 31 by Citizenship and Immigration Services that it would increase application fees.

Under the new fees, which take effect on July 30, it will cost $675 to become a naturalized citizen, up 69 percent from $400.

Immigrants have also been mobilized to press naturalization applications by a television and radio campaign that Univision, the national Spanish-language network, began in January in California.

The campaign, promoted by personalities like Eduardo Sotelo, a radio host in Los Angeles known as El Piolín, or Tweety Bird, has directed immigrants to 350 workshop centers run by churches and other community organizations in 22 cities. At the centers, immigrants receive English lessons and advice on meeting requirements and filling out forms.

One radio listener was Ángel Iván Álvarez, 24, a legal immigrant from Mexico who said he had never thought of becoming a citizen until last week when the Senate bill failed.

UPDATE: This Miami Herald editorial serves as a follow-up, showing how we need to make progress even though comprehensive reform suffered.

Breaking through

In the last several weeks NDN's arguments about American politics have been breaking through in powerful ways:

Immigration and its implications for the GOP - We are all deeply disappointed with the results of the immigration battle this year. However, the political aftermath of the debate has created a unique opportunity, one that may enhance our chances of reviving the bill, or even passing better immigration legislation, in the near future. NDN led an effort, capped by a joint press conference with NCLR last week, which demonstrated how the harsh tone of the immigration debate was pushing Hispanics away from the GOP, threatening their capacity to become a majority party in the 21st century. Our advice to the GOP throughout was "to sue for peace:" work with the Democrats to pass comprehensive immigration reform and minimize the damage to their brand in the Hispanic community, the fastest growing part of the American electorate. While we didn't win that battle, our efforts in the media had a significant impact on the interpretation of what happened as the bill collapsed last week.

The best example of our message success was a highly influential Wall Street Journal editorial last Wednesday, a day before the vote. But you can also find our presence and influence in articles in Newsweek, USNews, Congressional Quarterly and The New York Times, the LA Times (here and here), The St. Petersburg Times, The South Florida Sun-Sentinel, Salon (here and here), DailyKos, and The Hill. A national AP piece ran in dozens of papers across the country, and several of the stories above got picked up in major outlets like CBS News. This narrative also appeared in a front page story in USA Today last Thursday, and the New York Times on Sunday.

Reviewing these stories, it is clear the NDN team created and shaped the national narrative in these last few weeks around this very consequential immigration battle.

The emergence of a New Politics - Our large argument about how the big changes in three areas - governing agenda, media/tech/advertising and demography - are reinventing politics continued to drive media coverage of politics. Most prominently, a major NPR story by Mara Liasson highlighted NDN's extraordinary efforts to create a culture of investment to help create a 21st century infrastructure for progressive politics. Ron Brownstein's recent LA Times column featured our thinking about the emergence of a people powered politics. A recent New York Times article featured our commentary on the changing face of political advertising. A front page Washington Post story this week featured the thinking of NPI Fellow Tim Chambers, and referred to his excellent NPI paper on mobile media. And NPI Director Peter Leyden is featured in the current issue of Mother Jones where he discusses the potential of open-source politics.

NPI recently released an important new report, The Progressive Politics of the Millenial Generation, which Future Majority urges progressives to "make your bible for talking about young people in politics." A survey of young Americans by the New York Times/CBS News/MTV, released several days later, shows very similar statistics and comes to many of the same conclusions as our NPI report. If you haven't already read this important report, it certainly is worth a look.

All of this press has come in just the last few weeks. This year, NDN and its team has appeared in literally hundreds of stories in news outlets across the nation, in all types of media, in both Spanish and English. We have been quoted in front page stories of most major publications, including the New York Times Magazine, on topics ranging from globalization to the rise of Millennials to the emergence of viral video on the internet. Our Hispanic Strategy Director, Joe Garcia, was also part of the panel on Telemundo the night of the State of the Union.

The reason all this matters is that our work together is breaking through. NDN is not just imagining a better future for progressives, our point of view is being heard, driving the debate, having an impact. I am very proud of this powerful community we've built, together, and promise that we are working hard each and every day to usher in a better future for our politics and our nation.

NDN Statement on Senate Immigration Bill

Today it is clear that the Republican Party has assumed a new role in American politics - as committed and determined enemies of progress.

Whatever the issue - Iraq, energy policy, much needed investments in our workers and kids, and now the immigration bill - the Republicans have proven themselves incapable of tackling the emerging challenges of the 21st century.

You would think that they would have learned from what happened to them in 2006.  After years of terrible government, important challenges unmet and repeated betrayals of the public trust, the American people threw the Republicans from power.  The message they sent is that they once again wanted an American government focused on solving the great challenges facing the nation.

They wanted progress, not politics.

On this immigration bill the Republicans had it all.  They had a deep and broad coalition that included the Chamber of Commerce, leading labor unions, the Catholic Church, their own President and all the leaders of the Democratic Party.  They had a bill that passed the Senate with broad bipartisan support in 2006.  They had the political lesson of how this issue failed to help them in the last election.  And they had a Democrat, Senator Ted Kennedy, who did everything he could to accommodate their demands, even when they were impractical, unreasonable and mean-spirited. 

Yet despite all this the immigration bill did not move forward.  We are left with a broken immigration system that threatens our national security and betrays our core values.  It is simply unacceptable that we have not made progress on this issue of pressing national concern.  And what we must all realize is there has been one party - the Democrats - who have done everything they could to solve this vexing national problem.  And the other party, the Republicans, have used every tool at their disposal to block, delay, and cripple any progress. 

Democrats, now in power, are looking for partners in helping move this great country forward.  What they are getting from the Republicans is more of what the nation saw these last six years - an inability to do what is necessary to meet the challenges of our new century.  On this immigration bill the Republicans have shown that they have become something sad, defeated, without ideas and angry.  The whole nation should be nostalgic for the party of Reagan.  Instead what we now have is a GOP that is simply incapable of serving as a serious partner in helping America meet the daunting challenges of our new century.

Senator Kennedy's Statement on Immigration

This is fantastic.

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It is now clear that we are not going to complete our work on immigration reform. That is enormously disappointing for Congress and for the country.

But we will be back, and we will prevail. The American people sent us here to act on our most urgent problems, and they will not accept inaction.

I have seen this happen time and time again. America always finds a way to solve its problems, expand its frontiers, and move closer to its ideals. It is not always easy, but it is the American way.

I learned this first as a child at my grandfather's knee. He taught me that in America, progress is always possible. His generation moved past the cruel signs in the windows saying "Irish Need Not Apply," and elected that son of an Irish immigrant as Mayor of Boston.

I learned that lesson first hand when I came to the Senate in 1962. Our nation was finally recognizing that the work of civil rights had not ended with the Emancipation Proclamation, nor with the Supreme Court's decision in Brown v. Board of Education. It was up to Congress to take action.

The path forward has never been an easy one. There were filibusters of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. But we did not give up, and we prevailed.

The same was true in our battles for fair housing, and for an end to discrimination against persons with disabilities. On immense issues like these, a minority in the Senate was often able to create stalemate and delay for a time. But they have never been able to stop the march of progress.

Throughout all of those battles, we faced critics who loudly warned that we were changing America forever.

In the end, they were right. Our history of civil rights legislation did change America forever. It made America stronger, fairer, and a better nation.

Immigration is another issue like that. We know the high price of continuing inaction. Raids and other enforcement actions will escalate, terrorizing our communities and businesses.

The 12 million undocumented immigrants will soon be millions more. Sweatshops will grow, and undermine American workers and wages. State and local governments will take matters into their own hands and pass a maze of conflicting laws that hurt our country. We will have the kind of open border that is unacceptable in our post 9-11 world.

Immigration reform is an opportunity to be true to our ideals as a nation. Our Declaration of Independence announces that all of us are created equal. Today, we failed to live up to that declaration for millions of men and women who live, work, and worship beside us. But our ideals are too strong to be held back for long.

Martin Luther King had a dream that children would be judged solely by "the content of their character." Today, we failed to make that dream come true for the children of immigrants. But that dream will never die. It has the power to overcome the most bitter opposition.

I believe that we will soon succeed where we failed today, and that we will enact the kind of comprehensive reform that our ideals and national security demand. Soon, word will echo across the country about the consequences of today’s vote.

But we are in this struggle for the long haul. Today’s defeat will not stand. As we continue the battle, we will have ample inspiration in the lives of the immigrants all around us.

From Jamestown to the Pilgrims to the Irish to today's workers, people have come to this country in search of opportunity. They have sought nothing more than the chance to work hard and bring a better life to themselves and their families. And they come to our country with their hearts and minds full of hope.

We will endure today’s loss, and begin anew to build the kind of tough, fair and practical reform that is worthy of our shared history as immigrants and as Americans.

Immigration reforms are always controversial. But Congress was created to muster political will to answer such challenges. Today we didn’t, but tomorrow we will.

Wall Street Journal Editorial Challenges Republicans on Immigration

In the past few weeks, NDN has continued to do all it can to make sure that the Senate moves forward on comprehensive immigration reform. Like so many of you, we know that passing this legislation is not only the right thing to do, but that the American people want it done. And our message has been getting through; our commentary has recently been cited in The Hill, Newsweek, US News, Salon (here and here), the LA Times (here and here), The Washington Post, and The South Florida Sun-Sentinel.

The main editorial in the Wall Street Journal today again reflects our view, and strongly recommends to the GOP that, to give themselves a fighting chance to be majority party in the 21st century, Republicans should "sue for peace" and join the Democrats in passing comprehensive immigration reform this week. We hope you read it and offer us your thoughts in the comments section.

Hispanics continue to flee the GOP

In 2006, driven by a great degree by the immigration debate, Hispanics fled the Republican Party.  From 2004 to 2006 the national Hispanic vote moved close to 20 points, going from 59/40 Kerry/Bush to 70/30 D/R.  And turnout was up 33% from 2002.  This part of the American electorate has become energized, and much more anti-Republican. 

Remember that we've seen this happen before.  In California, Pete Wilson and the GOP took on Hispanics and turned a swing state into a blue and progressive one.  Hispanics responded to the GOP attacks by registering and voting in huge numbers for Democrats.  In the first election after the GOP attacks the effect was modest.  The impact came in the 2nd election, and the ones after. 

The question about the anger Hispanics across the nation now feel towards the GOP was whether or not it would sustain, and if so, what impact it might have.  For it is hard to see a viable electoral college map for the GOP that doesn't contain the heavily Hispanic swing states of AZ, CO, FL, NM and NV.  Take these 5 states away and it starts to become hard how to see the GOP wins in 2008.  A continued big swing of Hispanics in 2008 could deny this states to the GOP, and mark the way the GOP has handled the immigration issue as one of the greatest strategic blunders of modern politics. 

Well, over the weekend, we saw a story that shows this degradation of the Republican brand with Hispanics continues apace.  Peter Wallsten of the LATimes published a remarkable piece showing that those newly eligible citizens registering to vote in South Florida, a place where most Hispanics are Republican, are becoming Democrats:

MIAMI BEACH — As a Cuban who fled Fidel Castro's communist rule for a new life in the U.S., Julio Izquierdo would seem a natural Republican voter — a sure bet to adopt the same political lineage that has long guided most of his countrymen who resettled in South Florida.

But moments after taking his oath this week to become a U.S. citizen and registering to vote, the grocery store employee said he felt no such allegiances.

"I don't know whether Bush is a Democrat or a Republican, but whatever he is, I'm voting the other way," Izquierdo, 20, said Thursday as he waited for a taxi after a mass naturalization ceremony at the Miami Beach Convention Center.

Izquierdo said he did not like President Bush's handling of the Iraq war and was miffed at politicians, most of them Republican, who seem to dislike immigrants.

That sentiment, expressed by several of the 6,000 new citizens who took their oaths Thursday in group ceremonies that take place regularly in immigrant-heavy cities nationwide, underscored the troubled environment facing the GOP in the buildup to next year's presidential election.

Surveys show that among Latino voters — a bloc Bush had hoped to woo into the Republican camp — negative views about the party are growing amid a bitter debate over immigration policy.

Republicans in Congress have led the fight against a controversial Senate bill that would provide a pathway for millions of illegal immigrants to eventually become citizens. All but one of the GOP's leading White House hopefuls oppose the measure.

Many Latino leaders, including Republicans, have said the tone of some critics in attacking the bill has been culturally insensitive. They say that has alienated some Latinos from the GOP....

Read on my friends.  This is one of the most important stories in politics today.

CA GOP goes outside the U.S. to hire top aide

This article from the San Francisco Chronicle is astonishing. From the lede:

The California Republican Party has decided no American is qualified to take one of its most crucial positions -- state deputy political director -- and has hired a Canadian for the job through a coveted H-1B visa, a program favored by Silicon Valley tech firms that is under fire for displacing skilled American workers.

Gloria Nieto finds the State GOP's actions hypocritical when compared to those representative of the national Republican party:

"The hypocrisy is disgusting," said longtime Democratic Party activist Gloria Nieto, policy director at San Jose-based Services Immigration Rights and Education Network, or SIREN, an immigrant advocacy nonprofit organization.

Nieto argued that the party has painted Latinos "as the brown menace. ... But it's perfectly OK to hire people from outside the country? What does it say about the Republican Party that they import their hired guns?"

(via The Carpetbagger Report)

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