Immigration

Immigration Polling Data

WAPO/ABC News poll shows that 2/3 of Americans support the core idea of comprehensive immigration reform, a number that has been constant over the past 18 months. 

28. Do you think illegal immigrants who are living and working in the United States now (should be offered a chance to keep their jobs and eventually apply for legal status), or do you think they (should be deported back to their native country)?

keep jobs/apply --  62% (4/15/07)  61% (12/18/05)

Deported  --         35% (4/15/07)  38% (12/18/05)

No opinion --           3% (4/15/07)  1% (12/18/05)         

H/T to Marcela Salazar

House Immigration Hearing Thursday

The House Judiciary Committee Subcommittee on Immigration, Citizenship, Refugees, Border Security, and International Law is holding a hearin on Shortfalls of 1986 Immigration Reform Legislation this Thursday at 3:00pm in Room 2141 of the Rayburn House Office Building.  It's open to the public and another sign that Congress is getting to work on this pressing issue.

Simon Rosenberg at the Tufts Democrats' "Issues of the Future" Symposium on Immigration

Simon gave the keynote address at Tufts University’s annual Issues of the Future Symposium.  Coverage from the Tufts Daily is here and excerpted below.

Concern about immigration is "one of the biggest challenges of the 21st century," Rosenberg said.

But a "durable and sustainable" approach is necessary, he argued, since migration is unlikely to let up. "As the pain of immigration is lessened due to the ease of travel and transition, migration will increase globally," he said.

In this climate, the United States' current stance leaves a lot to be desired, he said. "No one is happy with our current stance on immigration," Rosenberg said.

Passing progressive legislation, he said, is a necessary step in reforming current policies.

He said that an example of such legislation is the Kennedy-McCain immigration bill that made it through the U.S. Senate last year. He called it "an oasis of sanity."

Hispanics are becoming increasingly secular

The Times has a fascinating piece on the increasing secularization of Hispanics in the U.S.  It starts, of course, with the Hispanic immigrant's passion for soccer:

RICHMOND, Va. — On Sunday afternoons, when the local Roman Catholic church holds Mass for Spanish-speaking Catholics, Edgar Chilín is playing soccer in a league with hundreds of Hispanic players.

“Church is not very popular,” said Francisco Hernandez, a pastor for a Pentecostal congregation in Richmond, Va.

As a child in Guatemala, Mr. Chilín attended Mass every Sunday. But after immigrating to the United States 25 years ago, he and his family lost the churchgoing habit. “We pray to God when we feel the need to,” he said, “but when we come here to America we don’t feel the need.”

A wave of research shows that increasing percentages of Hispanics are abandoning church, suggesting to researchers that along with assimilation comes a measure of secularization.

Several studies show that Hispanics are just as likely as other Americans to identify themselves as having “no religion,” and to not affiliate with a church. Those who describe themselves as secular are, without question, a small minority among Hispanics — as they are among Americans at large. But, in contrast to many of the non-Hispanic Americans who identify themselves as secular, most of the Hispanics say they were once religious.

The Roman Catholic Church, the religious home for most Hispanics, is experiencing the greatest exodus. While many former Catholics join evangelical or Pentecostal churches, the recent research shows that many of them leave church altogether.

“Migrating to the U.S. means you have the freedom to create your own identity,” said Keo Cavalcanti, a sociologist at James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Va., and a co-author of a recent study that found a trend toward secularization among Hispanics in Richmond. “When people get here they realize that maintaining that pro forma display of religiosity is not essential to doing well.”

A separate study of 4,000 Hispanics to be released this month by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life and the Pew Hispanic Center found that 8 percent of them said they had “no religion” — similar to the 11 percent in the general public. Of the Hispanics who claimed no religion, two-thirds said they had once been religious. Thirty-nine percent of the Hispanics who said they had no religion were former Catholics.

Hispanics from Cuba were the most secular national group, at 14 percent, followed by Central Americans at 12 percent, Puerto Ricans and Dominicans at 9 percent, and South Americans at 8 percent, the Pew poll found. Mexicans in this country were the least likely to say they had no religion, at 7 percent.

A larger survey, called the American Religious Identification Survey, a study of 50,000 adults, including 3,000 Hispanics, found that the percentage of Hispanics who identified themselves as having no religion more than doubled from 1990 to 2001, to 13 percent from 6 percent....

The Washington Post on President's Immigration Address

The WAPO coverage of President Bush's immigration speech was pretty fair.  It gave him credit for pushing for comprehensive immigration reform, while emphasizing his frustrating reluctance to move past soundbites "family values don't stop at the Rio Grande" and focus on specifics.  Read NDN's response to the President's speech here.

President Bush outlined the latest version of his plan to overhaul the nation's immigration laws Monday, renewing his support for a guest-worker program for those with low skills and issuing a vague call for a resolution of the legal status of the estimated 12 million undocumented workers in the country.

Speaking at the dedication of a state-of-the-art Border Patrol station here, a few miles from the U.S.-Mexican border, Bush called on Congress to pass the type of comprehensive immigration legislation that he has been pushing with little success since his earliest days as president. Bush said the overhaul should combine increased border security and added pressure on employers who hire illegal immigrants with a legal avenue for large numbers of guest workers to come into the country, while resolving the status of undocumented workers already here.

President Bush leaves Easter church service in Fort Hood, Texas, Sunday, April 8, 2007. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

"Congress can pass a comprehensive bill, and I can sign it into law this year," Bush said, without offering a detailed proposal.

Since becoming president, Bush has viewed immigration as an issue on which he could make his mark as a "compassionate conservative" while extending the reach of the Republican Party to the fast-growing ranks of Latino voters, who tend to lean Democratic. But the swirling politics surrounding the emotional issue have left Bush groping for a viable path toward a solution, even as his political capital continues to be drained by the war in Iraq.

Times weighs in on immigration

The NYTimes offers a smart look at the immigration debate today with an editorial, Bush On the Border:

President Bush went to the Mexico border in Arizona on Monday and showed once again that immigration is an issue he understands. He said America suffers from a system that exploits people who come to do jobs that citizens won’t do. He said the country needed “a practical answer” that promotes an orderly flow of legal immigrants, eases pressure at the border and opens a path to citizenship for the hidden 12 million who keep our economy humming. And he urged Congress to find that answer through a “serious, civil and conclusive debate.”

It was good that Mr. Bush made these points, as he periodically does. But there was a dissonance in his speech, because it came only two weeks after he and a group of Senate Republicans circulated a list of “first principles” about immigration that amounted to a huge step backward for efforts to fix a broken system in a reasonable, humane way.

It proposed new conditions on immigrant labor so punitive and extreme that they amounted to a radical rethinking of immigration — not as an expression of the nation’s ideals and an integral source of its vitality and character, but as a strictly contractual phenomenon designed to extract cheap labor from an unwelcome underclass.

New immigrant workers and those already here would all be treated as itinerant laborers. They could renew their visas, but only by paying extortionate fees and fines. There would be a path to legal status, but one so costly and long that it is essentially a mirage: by some estimates, a family of five could pay more than $64,000 and wait up to 25 years before any member could even apply for a green card. Other families would be torn apart; new workers and those who legalize themselves would have no right to sponsor relatives to join them.

In a country that views immigrants as its lifeblood and cherishes the unity of families, the Republican talking points were remarkable for their chill of nativism and exploitation. They were also unrealistic. The hurdles would create huge impediments to hiring and keeping a stable work force, while pushing the illegal economy deeper underground.

The thrust of Mr. Bush’s speech leaves little room for a vision as crabbed and inhumane as the one he and his party have circulated. It’s hard to tell whether his plainspoken eloquence in Yuma was meant to distance himself from those earlier and benighted talking points, or whether he has simply been talking out of both sides of his mouth.

Mr. Bush should clear up the confusion. He should reaffirm the importance of family-based immigration and of an achievable path to citizenship for those willing, as he put it, “to pay their debt to society and demonstrate the character that makes a good citizen.”

Clarity and forcefulness from Mr. Bush are important because the prospects for a good immigration bill this year are so uncertain. The Senate plans to take up the issue next month, but there is no bill yet, and the talking-points memo shows the debate drifting to the hard right. Edward Kennedy, the Senate’s most stalwart advocate of comprehensive reform, has been left in the lurch as the Republican presidential hopefuls John McCain and Sam Brownback have run away from sensible positions to court hard-line voters. A decent bipartisan House bill, sponsored by Representatives Jeff Flake and Luis Gutierrez, may not get the hearing it deserves.

Mr. Bush made a strong case for comprehensive reform on Monday. He should keep it up — publicly and forthrightly, as he did this week, and forget about backroom negotiations that produce harsh political manifestoes to appease hard-liners.

NDN Press Release: On immigration, Mr. President, we need more than words

Earlier today I released the following statement to the media:

"In this time of deep partisanship in Washington, there has been one issue on which the President, Senator McCain, Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, the Catholic Church, the Chamber of Commerce, numerous labor unions and many other grassroots groups were able to find common cause and work together: the McCain-Kennedy approach to comprehensive immigration reform that passed the Senate with broad bipartisan support in 2006.

Based on various news accounts, the President and his Party appear to be walking away from this broad and deep coalition, abandoning a smart, tough and sensible approach to immigration reform. Floating a brand new approach to immigration reform, the President and his Party have stepped backward and devised a new path that will do much more to please their partisans than solve this important problem. 

We hope that on this vital national issue of immigration, the President doesn't follow the lead of his Party, but rather leads it and the nation to a comprehensive solution this year. While his speech today was one we welcome, the President needs to publicly distance himself from the plan being floated by Senate Republican leaders, and say right now that he intends to pick up where we left off in 2006 - with the McCain-Kennedy approach that has already passed the Republican-controlled Senate. Anything less will show that the President, despite his passionate rhetoric today, is simply not serious about passing comprehensive immigration reform this year.   

Years of work went into crafting the McCain-Kennedy approach. It has made great progress through Congress. It has a deep and broad coalition behind it. Democratic Congressional leaders in both chambers have made it clear that passing this bill this year is a very high priority (see video from our recent event with leaders from both chambers reiterating their support). The new and flawed Republican approach being floated will unravel this coalition, and deal a severe blow to those hoping to pass comprehensive immigration reform this year.

The Republicans lost power in 2006 because their government did not produce the results it had promised and had left many important challenges unmet. At NDN, we believe the American people sent a clear message to Washington to stop playing politics and start focusing on solving a daunting set of 21st century challenges. On this issue of immigration reform, once again the Republicans seem to be on the verge of listening more to their partisans than the American people, and are in the process of walking away from a good and sensible bipartisan solution to a difficult national challenge."

"La Audacia de la Esperanza"

I wanted to acknowledge the Spanish release of Sen. Barack Obama's best-selling book "The Audacity of Hope." From the AP article:

Vintage Espanol, a paperback imprint of Random House Inc., will publish "La Audacia de la Esperanza" in June with a first printing of 50,000, a high number for a Spanish release.

"It will be our biggest book of the year in Spanish," Vintage spokesman Russell Perreault said Thursday.

The work of our New Politics Institute - which encourages the use of new tools like speaking in Spanish - suggests that this could bode well for Senator Obama.

Gingrich calls Spanish the language of the "ghetto"

The GOP's leaders, once again, thinking big:

Former House speaker Newt Gingrich yesterday described bilingual education as teaching "the language of living in a ghetto," and he mocked requirements that ballots be printed in multiple languages.

"The government should quit mandating that various documents be printed in any one of 700 languages depending on who randomly shows up" to vote, Gingrich said. The former Georgia congressman, who is considering seeking the GOP presidential nomination in 2008, made the comments in a speech to the National Federation of Republican Women.

"The American people believe English should be the official language of the government. . . . We should replace bilingual education with immersion in English so people learn the common language of the country and they learn the language of prosperity, not the language of living in a ghetto," Gingrich said, drawing cheers from the crowd of more than 100...

Senate GOP to Latinos: “¡no se puede!”

REPUBLICANOS DEL SENADO A LOS LATINOS: ¡NO SE PUEDE!

En el día de César Chávez, los republicanos del Senado deshonran al líder legendario de los derechos civiles

Washington, DC –El Líder de la Mayoría del Senado Harry Reid hizo las siguientes declaraciones hoy celebrando el natalicio del líder legendario de los derechos civiles y fundador de los Trabajadores Agrícolas Unidos (UFW, por sus siglas en inglés), César Chávez, el cual se celebra mañana. Reid también condenó a los republicanos del Senado por bloquear una resolución anoche que hubiese honrado el legado de Chávez, por su insistencia en añadir un lenguaje controversial relacionado a la  inmigración.

“Hoy me uno en el reconocimiento del legado y las contribuciones de César Chávez, un estadounidense que inspiró a un pueblo y quien luchó por la justicia social y económica para aquellos que trabajaban en los campos recogiendo la comida para nuestras mesas. Él se enfrentó a obstáculos grandes y siempre se destacó por su búsqueda incansable por los la justicia, la igualdad y la libertad.  Su ejemplo demuestra cómo un individuo con valentía y determinación puede lograr superar retos significativos y mejorar las vidas de los demás.

“Desgraciadamente, los republicanos del Senado se opusieron a honrar el legado verdadero de César Chávez. En vez de unirse a los demócratas para honrar a este gran estadounidense con una resolución que hubiese celebrado su vida, el liderazgo republicano del Senado decidió anoche que era mejor bloquear la resolución, porque fallaron al no poder incluir lenguaje controversial relacionado a la inmigración. Esto es un escándalo y es una falta de respeto al legado de este líder que inspiró a un pueblo.

“Mientras el Congreso considera una reforma de inmigración, necesitamos aprender del ejemplo de César Chávez, reparar lo que es incorrecto, restaurar el orden y la dignidad de nuestro sistema de inmigración que está roto. Necesitamos una reforma integral y bi-partidista de inmigración que fortalezca la seguridad en las fronteras, provea un camino hacia la ciudadanía para los inmigrantes indocumentados, reunifique a las familias y que tenga medidas fuertes e inteligentes para la aplicación de las leyes en los lugares de trabajo. Tenemos a 11 millones de personas que residen en las sombras de nuestra sociedad y ya es hora que sepamos quiénes son y proveerles una oportunidad para que puedan lograr el ‘Sueño Americano.’  

“Chávez una vez dijo que: ‘Si estas indignado con las condiciones entones no será posible que seas feliz hasta que hagas todo lo puedas para cambiarlas.’ Los demócratas del Senado seguiremos luchando por las causas que hicieron de César Chávez el gran héroe estadounidense que fue. Ya sea el proveerle los derechos que los trabajadores se merecen, mejorar la calidad de la educación pública de nuestros niños, o proveerle servicios de salud económicos y de calidad a todos los estadounidenses, el legado de César Chávez continua inspirándonos para hacer que esta gran nación viva de acuerdo a sus principios.”

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