Weekly Diaspora: Will Immigration Reform Bills Bring Voters to the Polls?

by Catherine A. Traywick, Media Consortium blogger

Riding the media blitz that followed the DREAM Act’s recent defeat, Senators Bob Menendez (D-NJ) and Orrin Hatch (R-UT) unveiled their own comprehensive immigration reform bills just before Congress adjourned last week. The bills are enforcement-heavy, party-line bills that were immediately referred to committee, where they are expected to languish for some time.

Few expect much to come of either bill, given their untimely introduction and the broad failure of previous immigration reform efforts. Rather, these bills are perceived as last-ditch attempts to score political points before midterm elections. The Menendez bill could net support for Democrats from an increasingly unmotivated Latino electorate, conversely, Hatch’s bill reinforces the hard-line immigration stance so popular among Republican voters.

The Menendez Bill: Two steps forward, one step back

While the Menendez bill was introduced with the strong support of major immigration reform groups like the National Immigration Forum, others regard it as a disappointing mixed bag of talking points.

The bill has several high points, like its inclusion of AgJOBS and the DREAM Act, but is heavy on the kinds of federal immigration enforcement that immigrant rights advocates abhor. As Prerna Lal at Change.org writes:

[The bill] starts with border enforcement, followed by interior enforcement, then worksite enforcement, before actually reforming the system and moving forward with the legalization of undocumented immigrants. […] The biggest downfall of the bill is probably that it does not do much to address the ever-growing immigrant detention complex and, instead, mandates a system that criminalizes immigrants.

Likening it to the failed Schumer-Graham bill of last spring, Lal notes that the bill’s prioritization of enforcement isn’t bi-partisan so much as a slap in the face of those who have fought hardest for comprehensive reform. Nevertheless, the Menendez Bill succeeds where its Democratic predecessor—the Guttieriez bill—failed: It provides a path to citizenship for undocumented partners of LGBT citizens.

While it remains unlikely that the bill will ever become law as is, Menendez introduced it into Senate to remind Latinos which party is on their side this election season.

The Hatch Bill: Revving up the base with more of the same

Orrin Hatch admits even more frankly that he only introduced an immigration bill because he wanted to stir up his base. In his own words, the bill is “just for show.”

Accordingly—and as Elise Foley of the Washington Independent notes—his bill doesn’t do much of anything except reinforce existing immigration laws and practices:

Immigration advocacy groups were critical of the bill, calling it “dog whistle rhetoric” to gin up his base. “His bill doesn’t offer serious solutions,” Ali Noorani, executive director of the National Immigration Forum said in a press release. “Instead it duplicates work already being done on enforcement and won’t solve the crisis it purports to address.”

The bill does propose boosting enforcement in some areas—for instance, requiring all law enforcement agencies to deputize their officers as immigration agents—but on the whole appears to be little more than the political ploy Hatch says it is.

Where are the Latino voters?

Whether either bill will have much of an impact on voters, however, is up for debate. A new report released by the Pew Hispanic Center reveals that, while Latino voters still largely identify as Democrats, they are much less motivated to cast their ballots this year than they have been in the past two elections. The finding is a surprising one, as reform advocates have been working hard to galvanize the Latino constituency against increasing anti-immigrant sentiment.

But weak voter motivation may have less to do with politics and more to do with the pressures accompanying a bad economy. As I wrote for Campus Progress, populations that were disproportionately hurt by the recession seem to have less overall interest in voting this November.

In particular, Latino voters with close ties to undocumented workers are experiencing some of the worst voter fallout from the recession and, under the circumstances, are becoming politically disaffected despite the highly politicized immigration debate.

Rather than motivating the bulk of Latino voters, all of the controversy surrounding anti-immigrant sentiment and policies are instead fomenting an agitated conservative base. At ColorLines, Jamilah King astutely notes that, “while Democrats had hoped incendiary anti-immigrant legislation like SB 1070 would encourage voters to come out against Republicans in protest, it seems that the opposite is happening.”

Instead, controversy surrounding SB 1070 and other measures are generating strong support among conservatives. Maricopa County, AZ Sheriff Joe Arpaio, once the figurehead of immigration enforcement in the U.S., is now proclaiming himself to be the “poster boy” of immigration as he tours the country endorsing a slew of radical conservative candidates.

There they are!

Nevertheless, reform advocates are optimistic about both the power and the will of the Latino electorate.

According to Valerie Fernandez at New America Media, organizers are registering record numbers of Latinos this year. In Arizona, where voter registration closed on Monday, a coalition of ten groups claims to have registered 22,000 new voters. It’s a remarkable accomplishment. Latino voters make up only 15 percent of all registered voters in Arizona, despite the fact that Latinos comprise 30 percent of the state’s population. 22,000 new voters could effectively double the number of Latinos voting in the state, and may significantly impact the election’s outcome.

This post features links to the best independent, progressive reporting about immigration by members of The Media Consortium. It is free to reprint. Visit the Diaspora for a complete list of articles on immigration issues, or follow us on Twitter. And for the best progressive reporting on critical economy, environment, and health care issues, check out The Audit, The Mulch, and The Pulse . This is a project of The Media Consortium, a network of leading independent media outlets.

 

 

Weekly Diaspora: DREAM Act Stalls, Voting Rights Violations in Arizona

by Catherine A. Traywick, Media Consortium blogger

Immigration reform activists suffered a disappointing setback this week. The Senate failed to muster enough votes to move forward with an annual defense authorization bill that would have included both the DREAM Act and a repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” as amendments. At Feet in Two Worlds, Sarah Kate Kramer has a good breakdown of the floor action.

As Kramer notes, not all is lost. The defense bill—and the DREAM Act with it—are certainly stalled, but Democrats say they plan to try again after midterm elections. The DREAM movement, for its part, seems invigorated by the close call.

Reform activists are hoping to channel that new energy into getting out the Latino vote this November, which will increase the chances of moving forward with the act after elections. But, given the obstacles Latinos are expected to face at the polls, it will be an uphill struggle.

The DREAM continues

While many DREAM activists are disappointed by the vote’s outcome, they remain steadfast in their resolve to provide hard-working immigrant youth with a path to citizenship.

As Julianne Hing of Colorlines reports, the DREAM Act has galvanized youth activists to an unprecedented degree. In one week, supporters of the measure made a record 25,000 calls to their senators, matching the usually overwhelming vigor of nativist callers one-to-one.

Such support for the bipartisan act isn’t surprising. The measure is popular with the public and has even been endorsed by former secretary of state Colin Powell, a self-proclaimed moderate Republican. The DREAM Act also retains the full support of the Defense Department, which included the bill in its 2011 strategic plan in the hopes that it will increase military enlistment during war time.

The new plan is to use the DREAM Act’s popularity to make immigration reform a key issue this election season, thus bringing more Latinos to the polls. Their votes will be crucial to keeping DREAM advocates like Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) in office and ensuring that the measure is put back on the table after elections.

Latinos struggling to get out the vote

But Latinos bent on motivating voters in swing states this November will meet some significant obstacles.

According to a report by election watchdogs Demos and Common Cause, several swing states are expected to roll out a number of roadblocks that would effectively stifle minority votes. Art Levine at Truthout reports that Arizona has a long history of discriminating against Latinos, in direct violation of the Voting Rights Act:

Besides a legacy of flouting the Voting Rights Act by failing to do outreach to Hispanic voters or to provide sufficient translators, [Arizona] features a draconian voter registration requirement for a government-issued birth certificate that’s already barred over 30,000 people from voting between 2004 and 2008, although 90 percent of them, court documents indicate, were native-born Americans.

On top of all that, apparent election mismanagement is so widespread that in the state’s largest county alone, Maricopa (home of Phoenix), nearly 30,000 voters – at a rate three times the national average – had their “provisional ballots” discarded as invalid in 2008…

While the findings bode ominously for Arizona’s midterm elections, they are vindicating in a way. Arizona politicians have long argued that they are able to elect anti-immigrant officials because the state’s Latino citizens simply don’t vote—in spite of the fact that they make up 30 percent of the population.

The new report, in combination with Truthout’s investigation, reveals just the opposite. Minority populations in Arizona do vote, but they are actively and frequently disenfranchised by a system set up to impede their suffrage.

Voting against Arizona’s immigration detention system

And, naturally, corruption at the polls begets corruption in government. The Latino votes that were invalidated last election season were a boon to the private detention industry, which is now profiting from the slew of anti-immigrant laws it helped to write.

As Elyse Foley of the Washington Independent notes, Arizona’s SB 1070 was written by a lobbying group funded by Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), the single largest provider of private detention facilities in the country. Arizona governor Jan Brewer (R) has particularly close ties to CCA, as two members of her staff either work, or used to work, for the company.

Obviously, CCA stands to benefit considerably by any legislation that increases the immigrant detention population—regardless of how that goal is achieved.

Getting people to the polls is essential to fixing the broken immigration system. With the country deeply divided over the immigration, hundreds of thousands of people languishing in detention, and countless youth waiting to become part of the system, those who can vote, must.

Undocumented student and DREAM activist David Cho said it best when he urged young people to vote in a video for Campus Progress. “While members of congress may have the power to vote for or against important legislation like the dream act,” he said, “we have the power to vote for or against every one of them.”

This post features links to the best independent, progressive reporting about immigration by members of The Media Consortium. It is free to reprint. Visit the Diaspora for a complete list of articles on immigration issues, or follow us on Twitter. And for the best progressive reporting on critical economy, environment, and health care issues, check out The Audit, The Mulch, and The Pulse . This is a project of The Media Consortium, a network of leading independent media outlets.

 

 

Weekly Diaspora: DREAM Act Stalls, Voting Rights Violations in Arizona

by Catherine A. Traywick, Media Consortium blogger

Immigration reform activists suffered a disappointing setback this week. The Senate failed to muster enough votes to move forward with an annual defense authorization bill that would have included both the DREAM Act and a repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” as amendments. At Feet in Two Worlds, Sarah Kate Kramer has a good breakdown of the floor action.

As Kramer notes, not all is lost. The defense bill—and the DREAM Act with it—are certainly stalled, but Democrats say they plan to try again after midterm elections. The DREAM movement, for its part, seems invigorated by the close call.

Reform activists are hoping to channel that new energy into getting out the Latino vote this November, which will increase the chances of moving forward with the act after elections. But, given the obstacles Latinos are expected to face at the polls, it will be an uphill struggle.

The DREAM continues

While many DREAM activists are disappointed by the vote’s outcome, they remain steadfast in their resolve to provide hard-working immigrant youth with a path to citizenship.

As Julianne Hing of Colorlines reports, the DREAM Act has galvanized youth activists to an unprecedented degree. In one week, supporters of the measure made a record 25,000 calls to their senators, matching the usually overwhelming vigor of nativist callers one-to-one.

Such support for the bipartisan act isn’t surprising. The measure is popular with the public and has even been endorsed by former secretary of state Colin Powell, a self-proclaimed moderate Republican. The DREAM Act also retains the full support of the Defense Department, which included the bill in its 2011 strategic plan in the hopes that it will increase military enlistment during war time.

The new plan is to use the DREAM Act’s popularity to make immigration reform a key issue this election season, thus bringing more Latinos to the polls. Their votes will be crucial to keeping DREAM advocates like Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) in office and ensuring that the measure is put back on the table after elections.

Latinos struggling to get out the vote

But Latinos bent on motivating voters in swing states this November will meet some significant obstacles.

According to a report by election watchdogs Demos and Common Cause, several swing states are expected to roll out a number of roadblocks that would effectively stifle minority votes. Art Levine at Truthout reports that Arizona has a long history of discriminating against Latinos, in direct violation of the Voting Rights Act:

Besides a legacy of flouting the Voting Rights Act by failing to do outreach to Hispanic voters or to provide sufficient translators, [Arizona] features a draconian voter registration requirement for a government-issued birth certificate that’s already barred over 30,000 people from voting between 2004 and 2008, although 90 percent of them, court documents indicate, were native-born Americans.

On top of all that, apparent election mismanagement is so widespread that in the state’s largest county alone, Maricopa (home of Phoenix), nearly 30,000 voters – at a rate three times the national average – had their “provisional ballots” discarded as invalid in 2008…

While the findings bode ominously for Arizona’s midterm elections, they are vindicating in a way. Arizona politicians have long argued that they are able to elect anti-immigrant officials because the state’s Latino citizens simply don’t vote—in spite of the fact that they make up 30 percent of the population.

The new report, in combination with Truthout’s investigation, reveals just the opposite. Minority populations in Arizona do vote, but they are actively and frequently disenfranchised by a system set up to impede their suffrage.

Voting against Arizona’s immigration detention system

And, naturally, corruption at the polls begets corruption in government. The Latino votes that were invalidated last election season were a boon to the private detention industry, which is now profiting from the slew of anti-immigrant laws it helped to write.

As Elyse Foley of the Washington Independent notes, Arizona’s SB 1070 was written by a lobbying group funded by Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), the single largest provider of private detention facilities in the country. Arizona governor Jan Brewer (R) has particularly close ties to CCA, as two members of her staff either work, or used to work, for the company.

Obviously, CCA stands to benefit considerably by any legislation that increases the immigrant detention population—regardless of how that goal is achieved.

Getting people to the polls is essential to fixing the broken immigration system. With the country deeply divided over the immigration, hundreds of thousands of people languishing in detention, and countless youth waiting to become part of the system, those who can vote, must.

Undocumented student and DREAM activist David Cho said it best when he urged young people to vote in a video for Campus Progress. “While members of congress may have the power to vote for or against important legislation like the dream act,” he said, “we have the power to vote for or against every one of them.”

This post features links to the best independent, progressive reporting about immigration by members of The Media Consortium. It is free to reprint. Visit the Diaspora for a complete list of articles on immigration issues, or follow us on Twitter. And for the best progressive reporting on critical economy, environment, and health care issues, check out The Audit, The Mulch, and The Pulse . This is a project of The Media Consortium, a network of leading independent media outlets.

 

 

Weekly Diaspora: DREAM Act Stalls, Voting Rights Violations in Arizona

by Catherine A. Traywick, Media Consortium blogger

Immigration reform activists suffered a disappointing setback this week. The Senate failed to muster enough votes to move forward with an annual defense authorization bill that would have included both the DREAM Act and a repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” as amendments. At Feet in Two Worlds, Sarah Kate Kramer has a good breakdown of the floor action.

As Kramer notes, not all is lost. The defense bill—and the DREAM Act with it—are certainly stalled, but Democrats say they plan to try again after midterm elections. The DREAM movement, for its part, seems invigorated by the close call.

Reform activists are hoping to channel that new energy into getting out the Latino vote this November, which will increase the chances of moving forward with the act after elections. But, given the obstacles Latinos are expected to face at the polls, it will be an uphill struggle.

The DREAM continues

While many DREAM activists are disappointed by the vote’s outcome, they remain steadfast in their resolve to provide hard-working immigrant youth with a path to citizenship.

As Julianne Hing of Colorlines reports, the DREAM Act has galvanized youth activists to an unprecedented degree. In one week, supporters of the measure made a record 25,000 calls to their senators, matching the usually overwhelming vigor of nativist callers one-to-one.

Such support for the bipartisan act isn’t surprising. The measure is popular with the public and has even been endorsed by former secretary of state Colin Powell, a self-proclaimed moderate Republican. The DREAM Act also retains the full support of the Defense Department, which included the bill in its 2011 strategic plan in the hopes that it will increase military enlistment during war time.

The new plan is to use the DREAM Act’s popularity to make immigration reform a key issue this election season, thus bringing more Latinos to the polls. Their votes will be crucial to keeping DREAM advocates like Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) in office and ensuring that the measure is put back on the table after elections.

Latinos struggling to get out the vote

But Latinos bent on motivating voters in swing states this November will meet some significant obstacles.

According to a report by election watchdogs Demos and Common Cause, several swing states are expected to roll out a number of roadblocks that would effectively stifle minority votes. Art Levine at Truthout reports that Arizona has a long history of discriminating against Latinos, in direct violation of the Voting Rights Act:

Besides a legacy of flouting the Voting Rights Act by failing to do outreach to Hispanic voters or to provide sufficient translators, [Arizona] features a draconian voter registration requirement for a government-issued birth certificate that’s already barred over 30,000 people from voting between 2004 and 2008, although 90 percent of them, court documents indicate, were native-born Americans.

On top of all that, apparent election mismanagement is so widespread that in the state’s largest county alone, Maricopa (home of Phoenix), nearly 30,000 voters – at a rate three times the national average – had their “provisional ballots” discarded as invalid in 2008…

While the findings bode ominously for Arizona’s midterm elections, they are vindicating in a way. Arizona politicians have long argued that they are able to elect anti-immigrant officials because the state’s Latino citizens simply don’t vote—in spite of the fact that they make up 30 percent of the population.

The new report, in combination with Truthout’s investigation, reveals just the opposite. Minority populations in Arizona do vote, but they are actively and frequently disenfranchised by a system set up to impede their suffrage.

Voting against Arizona’s immigration detention system

And, naturally, corruption at the polls begets corruption in government. The Latino votes that were invalidated last election season were a boon to the private detention industry, which is now profiting from the slew of anti-immigrant laws it helped to write.

As Elyse Foley of the Washington Independent notes, Arizona’s SB 1070 was written by a lobbying group funded by Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), the single largest provider of private detention facilities in the country. Arizona governor Jan Brewer (R) has particularly close ties to CCA, as two members of her staff either work, or used to work, for the company.

Obviously, CCA stands to benefit considerably by any legislation that increases the immigrant detention population—regardless of how that goal is achieved.

Getting people to the polls is essential to fixing the broken immigration system. With the country deeply divided over the immigration, hundreds of thousands of people languishing in detention, and countless youth waiting to become part of the system, those who can vote, must.

Undocumented student and DREAM activist David Cho said it best when he urged young people to vote in a video for Campus Progress. “While members of congress may have the power to vote for or against important legislation like the dream act,” he said, “we have the power to vote for or against every one of them.”

This post features links to the best independent, progressive reporting about immigration by members of The Media Consortium. It is free to reprint. Visit the Diaspora for a complete list of articles on immigration issues, or follow us on Twitter. And for the best progressive reporting on critical economy, environment, and health care issues, check out The Audit, The Mulch, and The Pulse . This is a project of The Media Consortium, a network of leading independent media outlets.

 

 

Weekly Diaspora: DREAM Act Stalls, Voting Rights Violations in Arizona

by Catherine A. Traywick, Media Consortium blogger

Immigration reform activists suffered a disappointing setback this week. The Senate failed to muster enough votes to move forward with an annual defense authorization bill that would have included both the DREAM Act and a repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” as amendments. At Feet in Two Worlds, Sarah Kate Kramer has a good breakdown of the floor action.

As Kramer notes, not all is lost. The defense bill—and the DREAM Act with it—are certainly stalled, but Democrats say they plan to try again after midterm elections. The DREAM movement, for its part, seems invigorated by the close call.

Reform activists are hoping to channel that new energy into getting out the Latino vote this November, which will increase the chances of moving forward with the act after elections. But, given the obstacles Latinos are expected to face at the polls, it will be an uphill struggle.

The DREAM continues

While many DREAM activists are disappointed by the vote’s outcome, they remain steadfast in their resolve to provide hard-working immigrant youth with a path to citizenship.

As Julianne Hing of Colorlines reports, the DREAM Act has galvanized youth activists to an unprecedented degree. In one week, supporters of the measure made a record 25,000 calls to their senators, matching the usually overwhelming vigor of nativist callers one-to-one.

Such support for the bipartisan act isn’t surprising. The measure is popular with the public and has even been endorsed by former secretary of state Colin Powell, a self-proclaimed moderate Republican. The DREAM Act also retains the full support of the Defense Department, which included the bill in its 2011 strategic plan in the hopes that it will increase military enlistment during war time.

The new plan is to use the DREAM Act’s popularity to make immigration reform a key issue this election season, thus bringing more Latinos to the polls. Their votes will be crucial to keeping DREAM advocates like Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) in office and ensuring that the measure is put back on the table after elections.

Latinos struggling to get out the vote

But Latinos bent on motivating voters in swing states this November will meet some significant obstacles.

According to a report by election watchdogs Demos and Common Cause, several swing states are expected to roll out a number of roadblocks that would effectively stifle minority votes. Art Levine at Truthout reports that Arizona has a long history of discriminating against Latinos, in direct violation of the Voting Rights Act:

Besides a legacy of flouting the Voting Rights Act by failing to do outreach to Hispanic voters or to provide sufficient translators, [Arizona] features a draconian voter registration requirement for a government-issued birth certificate that’s already barred over 30,000 people from voting between 2004 and 2008, although 90 percent of them, court documents indicate, were native-born Americans.

On top of all that, apparent election mismanagement is so widespread that in the state’s largest county alone, Maricopa (home of Phoenix), nearly 30,000 voters – at a rate three times the national average – had their “provisional ballots” discarded as invalid in 2008…

While the findings bode ominously for Arizona’s midterm elections, they are vindicating in a way. Arizona politicians have long argued that they are able to elect anti-immigrant officials because the state’s Latino citizens simply don’t vote—in spite of the fact that they make up 30 percent of the population.

The new report, in combination with Truthout’s investigation, reveals just the opposite. Minority populations in Arizona do vote, but they are actively and frequently disenfranchised by a system set up to impede their suffrage.

Voting against Arizona’s immigration detention system

And, naturally, corruption at the polls begets corruption in government. The Latino votes that were invalidated last election season were a boon to the private detention industry, which is now profiting from the slew of anti-immigrant laws it helped to write.

As Elyse Foley of the Washington Independent notes, Arizona’s SB 1070 was written by a lobbying group funded by Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), the single largest provider of private detention facilities in the country. Arizona governor Jan Brewer (R) has particularly close ties to CCA, as two members of her staff either work, or used to work, for the company.

Obviously, CCA stands to benefit considerably by any legislation that increases the immigrant detention population—regardless of how that goal is achieved.

Getting people to the polls is essential to fixing the broken immigration system. With the country deeply divided over the immigration, hundreds of thousands of people languishing in detention, and countless youth waiting to become part of the system, those who can vote, must.

Undocumented student and DREAM activist David Cho said it best when he urged young people to vote in a video for Campus Progress. “While members of congress may have the power to vote for or against important legislation like the dream act,” he said, “we have the power to vote for or against every one of them.”

This post features links to the best independent, progressive reporting about immigration by members of The Media Consortium. It is free to reprint. Visit the Diaspora for a complete list of articles on immigration issues, or follow us on Twitter. And for the best progressive reporting on critical economy, environment, and health care issues, check out The Audit, The Mulch, and The Pulse . This is a project of The Media Consortium, a network of leading independent media outlets.

 

 

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