Bi-weekly Public Opinion Roundup

For much of this decade, immigration has been an important topic on the public agenda. Nowhere is that more true than in California. The state is home to 9.9 million immigrants, its governor is an immigrant, and it is a border state on the front lines of the debate over immigration reform. State and local policies concerning immigrants are hotly debated across the state, and the raucous debate over an anti-immigrant initiative in 1996, is widely perceived to have influenced the electoral landscape in lasting ways.

Understanding the values and perspectives that Californians bring to this debate is critical. In general, Californians hold a favorable opinion of immigrants, believing that immigration is a benefit to the state. Most California adults believe undocumented immigrants should stay and work in the United States rather than be deported to their native countries.

At the same time, Californians are concerned about the impact of some aspects of immigration on their state. Most Californians attribute the majority of their population growth to immigration, while most voters also see the population growth projected for California as unsustainable, and ultimately having a negative impact on the state.

When it comes to resolving immigration-related problems, Californians were split on which presidential candidate would do a better job dealing with it in October 2008, although they voted for then Senator Barack Obama over Senator John McCain by a large margin on Election Day (Obama’s 61% to McCain’s 37%).

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Nonprofit Tech: Blogging for Immigration Reform in 2009

This past summer, The Opportunity Agenda conducted a scan 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 blogs, we found that while in 2007 major progressive-leaning blogs (including the DailyKos and others) were unsafe territory for immigration advocates.  Today, however, the climate is much more receptive.  Major progressive blogs discuss immigration, and the comments are usually constructive.  Meanwhile, the pro-immigration-specific blogosphere is thriving.  One such blog, Citizen Orange, counts well over 100 blogs actively advocating for practical immigration reform.

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.

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An Economic Recovery for Everyone

Today, the public will get a look at how funds distributed through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 are being spent when the reports from agencies receiving these stimulus funds are released.

While many questions will surround the release of this information, it's likely that a critical part of this story will be lost unless we ask the right questions about this spending. Namely, is this stimulus really creating a recovery for everyone?

This is an important consideration given that many groups of Americans have consistently been left behind in ways that hard work and personal achievement alone cannot address. This was true even before the economic downturn began to affect everyone else, and it's likely that the crisis has further worsened gaps in income and assets that existed already.

To get an idea of what some Americans faced before the crisis, just look at 2007, the year before the crisis began affecting everyone:

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Thursday Immigration Blog Roundup

This week's immigration blog roundup will cover a number of new studies in immigration, some state news, and more.

A new report from the Department of Homeland Security provides estimates of the number of legal permanent residents living in the United States in 2008.  The report includes information on the leading countries of orgin and the leading states of residence. 

The House and Senate have voted to pass the Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Conference Report, which includes an amendment to abolish the "Widow Penalty."  The new law permits widows and widowers of U.S. citizens to apply for a green card for themselves and on behalf of their foreign-born children. 

Lawmakers in Arizona are pushing for a new meaure that would allow local authorities to detain and question suspected undocumented immigrants. This new campaign comes as a result of the recent decision by the Department of Homeland Security to limit the powers of Sherriff Arpaio of Maricopa County in enforcing federal immigration laws through 287(g).

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Possible Internet Regulations Threaten Opportunity

As reported yesterday on NPR, current efforts by telecom providers threaten access to information and applications on the Internet. Possible changes by the Federal Communications Commission highlight these efforts, which pertain to what power Internet service providers have in restricting access that conflicts with their own interest. What is at stake are the values of opportunity, something that should be examined as the FCC released the proposed regulatory changes for public discussion.

Restricting the use of Internet based alternatives to telephones, such as Skype and other voice over Internet applications, is just one example of what changes could take place. As telephone and cable providers aggressively market often monopolized products, bundling Internet and telephone packages into one service plan, services that are free over the Internet jeopardize telecom companies own share in person to person communications.

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Bi-weekly Public Opinion Roundup

Americans are still pessimistic about employment and the economy, according to several recent polls. A majority agree that young people will not achieve the same standard of living as the previous generation or that it is more likely that families will suffer "economic reversals" in the next 5 to 10 years. Support for the stimulus bill has dropped and opinion is now deadlocked on the bill, though some aspects, such as spending on infrastructure and public works, remain popular among a majority. A majority of Americans think that some of the recent federal measures should be lasting, while fewer Americans – although still a majority – feel that President Obama's policies will help in these tough economic times.

A nationwide poll conducted in October by Gallup, consisting of 1,013 telephone interviews with adults age 18 and older, found that a small share of Americans believe now is a good time to find a quality job (10%). This percentage has been wavering between 9% and 11% since February 2009, and has dropped dramatically since January 2008 (33%). Findings from an October nationwide Pew Research Center survey of 1,500 adults are consistent with this trend: 84% of Americans say that today good jobs were difficult to find, up from 73% in July 2008 acording to another Pew survey.

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Thursday Immigration Blog Roundup

This week’s immigration blog roundup will cover a new bill aimed at uniting immigrant families, abuses of local police in enforcing federal immigration policy, anti-immigration hate crimes, and more.

In an effort to amend the outdated family-based immigration policy in the United States, Rep. Mike Honda (CA) has reintroduced the Reuniting Families Act (H.R. 2709) in Congress, aimed at better accommodating the large number of immigrants faced with choosing between working in the United States and living with their families.  In his Monday article in Roll Call, Rep. Honda recalled the example of how a California woman, Judy Rickard, must relocate to Europe because she is unable to sponsor her partner, Karin Bogliolo, a UK national, for residency in America.  Such a sponsorship is legal for married heterosexual couples.  According to Rep. Honda, “[f]ailure to reunite families means failure to keep communities healthy, physically and financially.”

The ACLU has released a report on the abuses of local police in Cobb Country, Georgia in their implementation of section 287(g) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, which allows local law enforcement to act as immigration officers.  According to the report, Cobb County officers are unduly “round[ing] up immigrants for deportation,” largely by targeting them in traffic-related offenses. The ACLU suggests that there be greater oversight and accountability on the federal level in order to remedy these abuses.

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Coming Clean on the Stimulus

A report issued by the White House and the Education Department on Monday showed that the federal economic stimulus package (the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act) has so far created or saved 250,000 education jobs. The report is the first hard evidence of the Recovery Act’s contribution to the nation’s economic health, and previews more extensive data that will be released October 30.

The report is good news for at least two reasons. First, it documents how public investment is helping to pull the nation back from the brink of a devastating economic depression. And, second, it includes crucial information that should inform the ongoing investment of stimulus funds to achieve a full recovery—especially when it comes to job creation. In analyzing the full October data, however, it is important to ask not only how many jobs were created and what infrastructure was built, but also whether we are investing in a lasting economic recovery that will include our entire nation.

Because stimulus funds are flowing largely through traditional state and local channels, particular attention is needed to ensure that they reach the communities and populations that need them most, that distribution is fair and transparent, and that progress is measured in terms of greater and more equal opportunity for all Americans.

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Investing in Our Future

The U.S. economy is lurching towards recovery.  We continue to see nearly as many disheartening indicators as we do reasons to be optimistic, but it does appear that the worst is behind us. Even if the freefall is over, though, the question of whether or not we will return to pre-crisis levels of inequality, or emerge as a nation with a robust economy that is able to create economic security and mobility for all, has yet to be answered. That question will be answered, in large part, by how recovery efforts are structured and the degree to which resources expended on recovery reach the communities that need them most. If we are truly committed to ensuring a fair and equitable recovery, and to building a foundation for future prosperity, we will make investments in education a key component of our recovery strategies.

The reasons for enhanced investment in education are myriad—economic development, global competitiveness, ending the school to prison pipeline—but, ultimately, it’s simply a matter of our responsibility to our children. There is nothing more basically human than a desire to create a life that is more secure and more fulfilling for the next generation, but we are failing. Our children are not learning the skills they need to provide for themselves, nor are they developing the tools of cultural appreciation that will make their lives rich and meaningful. If we are the first generation in U.S. history to leave our children worse off than ourselves, we will never forgive ourselves.

Read more at The Opportunity Agenda website.

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Blog Action Day: Climate Change

Today is blog Action Day.  In the organizers' own words:

Blog Action Day is an annual event that unites the world's bloggers in posting about the same issue on the same day on their own blogs with the aim of sparking discussion around an issue of global importance. Blog Action Day 2009 will be the largest-ever social change event on the web. One day. One issue. Thousands of voices.

Although The Opportunity Agenda does not directly work on climate change, the problem is so pervasive that it impacts the issues we do work on.  Climate change is not an abstract phenomenon when it comes the lives of everyday people in America.  There is mounting evidence that greenhouse gases are increasing the potency of hurricanes, whose impact disproportionately affects those most vulnerable in our society.  And as the climate does change, it will be the poorest among us that suffer in increased fuel costs. Finally, the polluting elements that cause climate change are also most common in low-income communities of color.  As a result, the health of residents in these areas is worse than those in more affluent neighborhoods.

For these reasons, climate change isn't an issue simply to be addressed by environmental groups.  Social activists, too, must see the connections and address this universal concern—a step in realizing the promise of opportunity for all.

Read more at The Opportunity Agenda website.

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