Two Recessions, Two Americas

Although official unemployment in New York City is 10.1 percent, a closer looks reveals an underlying complexity to the story. Rates of unemployment vary greatly across the city. Last month, the Fiscal Policy Institute released a report, New York City in the Great Recession: Divergent Fates by Neighborhood and Race and Ethnicity (PDF), investigating further.

Here are some numbers, first by neighborhood. Unemployment in Manhattan's Upper East and West Sides is 5.1 percent. Brooklyn's East New York stands at 19.2 percent. The South and Central Bronx have unemployment levels at 15.7 percent.

Now turning to unemployment rates by ethnicity, white non-Hispanics are experiencing an unemployment rate of 7.3 percent. 15.7 percent for black, non-Hispanic, and 11.8 percent for Hispanics. The Fiscal Policy Institute reports that unemployment is 6.1 percent for their Asian and other category.

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Thursday Immigration Blog Roundup

In his inauguration speech last Friday, Mayor Bloomberg pledged to promote immigration reform in 2010: "With leaders from across the country, we will assemble a bipartisan coalition to support President Obama's call for comprehensive immigration reform that honors our history, upholds our values, and promotes our economy..."

Steve Levy, Suffolk County Executive is the first polititican to announce a possible primary challenge to Gov. Paterson.  Levy, a conservative Democrat is well-known for his opposition to illegal immigration.  In response to the announcement, Hispanic lawmakers led by Bronx Assemblyman Peter Rivera, held a press conference declaring their opposition to this potential run-off.

Sens. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) are expected to introduce an immigration bill in their chamber early next year. Advocates want the Judiciary Committee to take up the issue by February.

Immigrant advocates are disappointed with the lack of specifics from both Democratic and Republican Illinois Senate candidates with regard to immigration. 

In anticipation of the 2010 census many Latino leaders are urging Latinos to be counted in order to avoid the potential undercount of nearly eight million undocumented Latinos.  In an analysis done by NDN and America's Voice, a full count of Latinos living the U.S. could lead to 6 states picking up an additional Congressional seat (Florida, Georgia, Nevada, Oregon, South Carolina and Utah) while Arizona would add two and Texas as many as four.

A study by UCLA said that legalization, along with a program that allows for future immigration based on the labor market, would create jobs, increase wages and generate more tax revenue and that comprehensive immigration reform would add an estimated $1.5 trillion to the U.S. gross domestic product over 10 years.

Lastly, The CDC has removed HIV from the list of illnesses that make a foreign national inadmissible (effective January 4th, 2010).

Biweekly Public Opinion Roundup: The Economy, Race Relations, and Entering a New Decade

The end of a year – and especially the end of a decade – warrants both retrospective reflection and predictions of what is to come.  Currently there seems to be much consensus, especially around the 2000s as a decade of struggle and decline for the US.  There is a silver lining, however, in the cautious optimism around the issue of race relations.  As the decade comes to a close, it is still clear that the US is entering the 2010s with much work to do, particularly with the economy and unemployment.  Below is recent public opinion on the past decade, the current climate, and what may be in the next ten years.

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Ten New Years Resolutions for the Obama Administration

In 2010:

1. I will inspire. I am one of the most charismatic orators of our generation, but as president, I’ve moved away from that critical element of my leadership. While my speech to the Muslim world in Cairo and onreproductive rights at Notre Dame were inspirational—if I do say so myself—I haven’t brought that eloquence to my key domestic agenda items, or to my broader vision and goals as president. In 2010: 1. I will inspire. I am one of the most charismatic orators of our generation, but as president, I’ve moved away from that critical element of my leadership. While my speech to the Muslim world in Cairo and onreproductive rights at Notre Dame were inspirational—if I do say so myself—I haven’t brought that eloquence to my key domestic agenda items, or to my broader vision and goals as president.

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Thursday Immigration Blog Roundup

This week's Immigration Blog Roundup covers comprehensive immigration reform and more.

In the biggest immigration news this week, Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL) has introduced his proposal for comprehensive immigration reform.  Some features of the bill:

-A legal path to citizenship: in order to gain legal status undocumented immigrants would have to show that they are working, pay a fine, learn English and undergo a criminal background check (Unlike previous proposals they would not have to return to their homeland first).
-Increased border security: the bill calls for additional training and equipment for border guards but also to improve immigrations jails and eliminate the 287(g) program.
-The establishment of the Commission on Immigration and Labor Markets to provide recommendations for future flows of workers.

While the introduction of the bill has breathed new hope in the prospect of comprehensive immigration reform, many are disappointed in the lack of a temporary worker program.

In what the ICE calls their largest operation ever aimed at illegal immigrants with criminal records, nearly 300 illegal immigrants who have committed serious crimes were deported or detained last week in California.  While President Obama's new approach to immigration enforcement focuses on felons and employers who deliberately hire illegal workers, immigrant advocates remain skeptical questioning the numbers of undocumented immigrants without felony convictions who get caught in the mix as well as the ability to implement due process.

A revision in detention policies: the Obama administration said it will stop detaining asylum seekers who can establish credible fear, their identities, and show that they are not dangerous or a flight risk.  Currently, foreigners who come to the U.S. without valid documents can be immediately removed without a hearing.

The Census Bureau has released population projections that reflect four different immigration scenarios (high, low, constant, and zero).  Experts say a falling immigration rate would mean fewer workers paying into Social Security and Medicare as well as a decreased workforce to replace the nation's baby boomers.

Two Asian American civil rights groups have issued a Freedom of Information Act Request to understand how Border Protection agents may single out and interrogate individuals that are from "special interest countries."

In their on-going research of the economic and political impact of immigrants, Latinos, and Asians on a state level, the Immigration Policy Center has released their findings from Nebraska:

-Nebraska was home to 98,512 immigrants in 2007, 37.0% of whom (36,423 people) were naturalized U.S. citizens eligible to vote.
-The 2008 purchasing power of Latinos totaled $2.8 billion and Asian buying power totaled $1.0 billion in Nebraska in 2007.
-If all unauthorized immigrants were removed from Nebraska, the state would lose $852.4 billion in expenditures, $378.6 million in economic output, and approximately 5,400 jobs.

Lastly, on December 4th, 2000, the General Assembly, taking into account the large and increasing number of migrants in the world, proclaimed December 18th International Migrants Day. On that day, in 1990, the Assembly adopted the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families.




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Housing and Opportunity: A Closer Look

For many, buying one’s first house is a major milestone, both financially and symbolically. The ownership of a home has traditionally led families towards long-term wealth, and a home is the foundation of the American dream, an accomplishment and a source of pride. Unfortunately, despite some talk of an improvement in the economy, there are still various factors preventing many people from realizing this dream.

—Although the foreclosure rate declined for the third straight month in October—decreasing by 3% between September and October 2009 to one in every 385 housing units—this rate is an increase of nearly 19% from October 2008. (footnote: 1)
—In September, 7.7% of all homeowners were behind 30 days or more on their primary-residence mortgages, up about 0.1% since August. This is a record rate comparing to the 5.2% rate of September 2008 and the 3.6% rate of September 2007. (footnote: 2)
—Nearly 4.4% of payments on bankcard accounts were at least 60 days late, compared to 3.4% in September 2008. This is a 28.7% increase since September 2008. (footnote: 3)

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Biweekly Public Opinion Roundup: Latinos in the U.S.

Over the next few decades, the United Sates’ Latino population is estimated to triple, comprising about 29% of US residents. At the same time, voters of Latin descent made up 7.4% of the electorate. In a continuing effort to better understand the attitudes and values of Latinos as expressed in survey studies in the past, we rounded up below findings from recent months.

The Pew Hispanic Center released today a new survey of Latinos focusing especially on young people who are ages 16 to 25. The survey explores the “attitudes, values, social behaviors, family characteristics, economic well-being, educational attainment and labor force outcomes of these young Latinos”. We will look more carefully at this study in one of our upcoming blog postings, but we wanted to bring attention to the racial identification of Latinos in this survey, in case it’s taken out of context in the various coverage of the study. Three out of four Latinos don’t identify themselves as white in the race question (“What race do you consider yourself to be: white, black or African- American, Asian, or some other race?”), or they volunteer that their race is Hispanic or Latino, although based on the U.S. Census these terms are used to describe ethnicity. This finding is consistent with what we see in studies of Latinos every day. The questions usually asked and response choices offered to identify the respondent’s ethnicity and race are not aligned with the way Latinos think about race.

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Thursday Immigration Blog Roundup

This week's Immigration Blog Roundup will cover national policy, new research, state news, and more.

While the U.S. and Cuba intend to continue holding periodic negotiations on immigration issues twice a year, their talks that were scheduled for early December in Havana have been pushed back to February.

In her statement to the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday, Department of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano reiterated her commitment to work with Congress to push for comprehensive immigration reform in early  2010.  Several immigrant advocates respond here.

In a written request to Secretary of State Clinton and DHS Secretary Napolitano, a group of organizations have asked for the termination of the National Security Entry, Exit Registration System (NSEERS) which requires nonimmigrant males from predominantly Muslim-majority countries to register at ports of entry and at local immigration offices where they were fingerprinted, photographed, and subjected to lengthy questioning.

According to a legal database Justice Sotomayor’s opinion in the case Mohawk Industries v. Carpenter, No. 08-678, released earlier this week, marked the first use of the term “undocumented immigrant" as opposed to the term "illegal immigrant" which has appeared a dozen times.

Part of the nonpartisan Denver University Strategic Issues Program, a DU panel of experts have outlined 25 specific recommendations for immigration reform detailed in their recently released report (PDF) “Architecture for Immigration Reform: Fitting the Pieces of Public Policy.”

A steady flow of new immigrants into major metropolitan areas have cushioned the population losses from the migration of native-born Americans to interior parts of the U.S. in search of jobs and more affordable housing which is good news for places like Chicago, Miami, New York, and Los Angeles ahead of the 2010 census.

The Arizona Supreme Court has dismissed the League of Arizona Cities and Towns' constitutional challenge to budget law provisions on immigration enforcement that toughen and expand existing prohibitions on providing services to illegal immigrants.

Lastly, to highlight the work of the Immigration Policy Center and their research on the significance of immigrants, Latinos, and Asians as economic and political forces in Wisconsin:

  • The 2008 purchasing power of Latinos totaled $5.3 billion and Asian buying power totaled $3.0 billion in Wisconsin in 2007.

  • If all unauthorized immigrants were removed from Wisconsin, the state would lose $2.6 billion in expenditures, $1.2 billion in economic output, and approximately 14,579 jobs.

  • 41.2% of immigrants in 2007 (or 103,291 people) in Wisconsin were naturalized U.S. citizens who are eligible to vote.

Access full research (PDF)

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Talking Human Rights in the United States

Today, Human Rights Day, serves as an opportunity to tell key audiences why the United States should consider dignity, fairness, and human rights in domestic policy decisions. Several national debates loom in which these values should be central, namely health care and immigration. At the same time, state-level budget crises pose threats to the fulfillment and protection of human rights at the local level.

As we think about the best way to use Human Rights Day in our communications work, recent public opinion research done by our organization offers some insight into public thinking about human rights generally, and its intersection with a range of social justice issues. Our recent released Human Rights Toolkit builds on this research to provide messaging guidelines and recommendations about human rights, treaties and conventions, health care, due process, immigration, racial profiling and criminal justice for young offenders.

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Nonprofit Technology: Social Network Sites and Immigration Reform

This past summer, The Opportunity Agenda conducted a scan (PDF) to determine the state of immigration advocacy on the social web, looking specifically at the following: blogs that frequently cover politics and reach a mass audience, Twitter, YouTube, and the two largest social networking sites (Facebook and MySpace). This research built on a similar scan we conducted in 2007.

Turning specifically to social networking sites, we found a landscape transformed.  In 2007 anti-immigrant groups dominated social networking sites approximately two to one.  Today the majority of groups on Facebook with a focus on immigration support commonsense reform.  MySpace, meanwhile, seems to no longer serve as an active tool for advocacy.

While the main point of our scan was to provide a snapshot of online immigration advocacy in the summer of 2009, our research did lead to a number of recommendations.

First, we wish to point out the success of DREAM Act-related groups on Facebook.  Of all the immigration groups on the site, these were the most popular in terms of membership.  We speculate that an important reason for this was the ability of these groups to consistently update their content and have active members routinely post information and news related to the DREAM Act. This is key. Members often need to see the vibrancy of a group before they will participate. Once they do, these members' networks see this activity and learn of the group. It is this cycle, we believe, that led to much of the success seen by these groups.

Our crude measure for participation in these groups, membership, is not uncommon. As seen by the proliferation of Facebook groups looking for "1,000,000 for..." any number of causes, it would help the movement to combine its numbers to show unity and support for practical immigration re- form. The best example, again, is the dream Act with its 33 different groups advocating for the same piece of legislation. Despite the difficulties in doing so, it would be beneficial to work toward fewer groups and higher membership rolls.

Again read the full report online for more.  Meanwhile, any more tips? Let us hear them in the comments below.

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