Progressive bloggers and advocates set the stage for immigration reform in 2010

From the Restore Fairness blog.

"Not the usual suspects-" This is how Nico Pitney, National Editor for the Huffington Post and moderator on a panel discussion about the prospect of immigration reform, introduced his fellow panelists. Organized by the Center for American Progress, Netroots Nation, and America's Voice, the panel featured some of the leading voices for comprehensive and just immigration reform, including Markos Zúñiga, founder and editor of Daily Kos, Andrea Nill, immigration blogger for Think Progress, and María Elena Durazo from the AFL-CIO.

Using the context of Rep. Luis Gutierrez's progressive CIR ASAP immigration reform bill introduced in mid December, the recent election of Sen. Scott Brown in Massachusetts (and the obvious question of how this will affect the progressive agenda including immigration reform), President Obama's campaign promise to address immigration reform with his election, a lively discussion ensued on what makes the present time ripe for the passage of immigration reform legislation. Unlike the harsh and divisive debates of failed reform in 2007, the overall outlook amongst the panelists was positive, as they approached the topic from the point of view of electoral vote politics, the economy, and the labor movement.

Using Rep. Gutierrez's bill as a solid base, Andrea Nill began by clarifying the fundamentals of Comprehensive Immigration Reform which would include,

An earned path to legalization for undocumented immigrants, including registering with the government, a background check, paying taxes, and ensuring their integration into society.

Creating flexible channels for the future legal flow of immigration which could adjust itself to the ebb and flow of the economy.

Smart enforcement policies including moving resources away from spending money trying to detain and deport immigrants and "chasing busboys and nannies through the desert" into addressing problems such as drug and human trafficking at the border.

Markos Zuniga made the distinction between the political climate around immigration in 2007 and now by talking about today's polls that show 66% of voters (an equal percentage of Democrats and Republicans) support reform making it a truly bipartisan issue. With Latino groups reaching a plurality in 2050 and Asian and other minority communities growing rapidly, the co-relation between electoral votes and reform is clear. For many Republicans, falling back onto nativist rhetoric and hate-mongering like in 2007, could mean a significant loss in votes from Latino and other immigrant communities."President Bush won 40% of the immigrant vote in 2004, John McCain only got 28% in 2008, so the long term health of republican party is in jeopardy if they can't appeal to immigration groups."

Andrea Nill added that while there are three groups largely responsible for the nativist rhetoric - FAIR, NumbersUSA and the Center for Immigration Studies, there is also division between the anti-immigration movement, including within the Republican party between moderates willing to engage with immigration reform, and hardliners such as  Rep. Joe Wilson and Rep. Brian Bilbray and other members of the House Immigration Reform Caucas.

Speaking on behalf of  the labor movement, Maria Durazo said there is high expectations from the administration and Congress to deliver on its promise of reform."These are people who harvests our crops, build our buildings and work in our restaurant...they do services for us but then when we need to respond to their need to bring them out of the shadows we call them names - law breakers, illegals...we want to make sure any immigration legislation has protections for workers, both native born and undocumented immigrants who will come out of the shadows - because we will all lose if we don't work together."

In terms of Sen. Scott Brown's recent victory, the panelists felt that it has little effect since immigration reform has and always will be a bipartisan issue. But on a larger scale, the election felt emblematic of the waning of Democrat popularity due to their lack of engagement with many issues, including immigration, and while voters are looking for the 'hope' and 'change' that they were promised, immigration reform is an opportunity for both Democrats and Republicans to work together towards a viable solution.

But there is also an economic argument for reform. According to a recent Center for American progress report, immigration reform will be crucial for the economy, with mass deportation causing a loss of $2.6 trillion as opposed to a growth of approximately $1.5 trillion over a ten-year period if reform passes. And since the economy, like healthcare,  is a foremost priority of the Obama administration, this is an opportunity to address both issues simultaneously.

The panelists were unanimous on the fact that the present situation is highly favorable towards immigration reform and highlighted the expanse, width and strength of the present coalitions, which today include faith-based groups, LGBT groups, ethnic groups, immigrant rights advocates and immigrant communities in general.

Looking ahead, while Rep. Gutierrez's progressive immigration bill which has 90 co-sponsors would serve as the progressive conscience, everyone is waiting for the bill that Sen. Charles Schumer is working on with Sen. Lindsey Graham is introducing for debate in the Senate. It will then move to the House where it will be written by Rep. Zoe Lofgren.

The penultimate point of the discussion centered around ensuring that the mainstream media begin to report on the issue and mobilize around reform. Maria Elena pointed out the importance of providing people with honest information about the implications of enforcement actions such as raids and detention to families and the economy. Markos Zuniga pointed out that Latino and Asian communities are virtually invisible to the mainstream media, thus removing one side of the immigration story. Stressing the importance of building a pro-immigration story into the media narrative, the speakers highlighted the essential role of online journalism, blogging and networking in building knowledge and momentum for the movement.

Barack Obama has larger problems than blogs in selling cave

Bloggers may make for an effective bogeyman for the administration:  people misunderstood enough to be marginalized. But bloggers aren't the biggest problem for Rahm Emanuel's strategy of passing something...anything, in fact they aren't even the biggest problem online.

If anything, progressive blogs have been overly accommodating by creating a discussion-heavy atmosphere over the disagreements between Democrats. The administration should be relived that bloggers opposing the bill have largely taken such an approach. Because the bloggers opposing the bill have by and large shown far more of a willingness to get their hands dirty and fight with every tool available. From fundraising to message to organizing, I can't imagine anyone would rather go into a political fight with the bloggers supporting anything than the bloggers fighting to make the bill better. I mean, Fred Hiatt didn't bring on Ezra Klein because of all he'd done to elect Democrats.

But bloggers aren't the main problem, not even online.

If there is anything keeping up at night administration online folks like Macon Phillips and Jesse Lee, it is email...

There's more...

Call in Tonight for Veterans

This Wednesday is Veterans Day, and I hope you'll join me, Gold Star Mother Ruth Stonesifer, and Powerline blogger John Hinderaker for a conference call tonight at 8 pm Eastern/ 5 pm Pacific as we launch The Eleven Eleven Campaign.

The objective of the campaign is simple: to get 11 million Americans to donate $11 to support America's Veterans. We've made giving back to our Vets easy through a national Text to Give Campaign (simply text "VETS" to 85944 to contribute).

Please RSVP to the conference call here:

http://action.eleven-eleven.org/t/5400/s ignUp.jsp?key=2817

There's more...

Media Critic Doubts Milbank's "Kill Him" Claim

Alex Koppelman runs Salon.com's political blog "The War Room", and has written for the Huffington Post and the New York Observer, among others.

As reported by Koppelman on Saturday, the Secret Service found no evidence to back up Dana Milbank's claim that someone had yelled "kill him" in a GOP rally in Clearview, FL.
"tell him," not "kill him" was heard in the tapes analyzed by the SS agent in charge of the investigation.

Koppelman took the Secret Service's side against Milbank, who I must add was once pronounced "worst journalist in the world":

There's more...

Republican Congressman Attacks 14 year old blogger

That's right. Yesterday at a debate between Rep. Virgil Goode of Virgina's 5th district and his Democratic challenger Tom Perriello Goode said this

"And they want me out of Congress, the liberal Democrats want me out. And they want me out because I'm a conservative voice, if we can silence that person that's exactly what we want, we want more mushers up here  in Congress that won't speak out and stand out. They want a Obamajority in this country, Tom is on the Obamajority list for the US House of Representatives, they want to get him in there because they know he is going to be voting with them. They want to control the White House, 60 votes in the US Senate and a strong majority in the US House of Representatives."

Goode is famous for using bogeymen to scare people, he attacked Rep. Keith Ellison for being a Muslim and repeated tall tales about China that even Dick Cheney said where false.

Now he's found a new bogeymen. He's attacking the Obamajority, an ActBlue page started by a 14 year old blogger--me.

There's more...

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