Thursday Immigration Blog Roundup

This week's roundup covers some state immigration news and a few book reviews.

The Migration Policy Institute released a policy paper on making U.S. immigration policy more responsive to changing economic and labor conditions while protecting workers' rights. MPI Senior Fellow and former Commissioner of the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service Doris Meissner stated, "The current economic crisis brings into stark relief the inflexibility of the U.S. immigration system in comparison with the highly dynamic and constantly evolving global economy. Now, more than ever, the United States needs an immigration system that better serves U.S. economic and social interests by being sensitive to economic fluctuations, both up and down."  The report can be found here (PDF).

In Arizona, immigration advocates called on lawmakers to support immigration policies that uphold communities, consider long-term economic health and stability, and protect workers' rights.

In Rhode Island, lawmakers are considering a bill to require private companies to use E-Verify to check employees' immigration status. Immigration advocates argue that the system is flawed and discriminates against minority candidates.

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Finding a Fair Solution for Youth Offenders

What certitude do we have as a nation that sees no opportunity for the light of goodness to shine on even the most stone covered seed? This question comes to mind amidst the recent decision by the Supreme Court to hear two cases on the sentencing of youth to life in prison without parole.

For more than 2,500 incarcerated youth in our country, our federal justice system and state courts around the country have left them shrouded in despair, sentencing them to life without any chance for ever seeing light beyond the pale concrete confines of prison.  There actions, indeed, deserve retribution. However, the complexity of adolescents makes it difficult to see any good in a sentence that denies a young person any opportunity for rehabilitation.

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Getting Real About Inequality

I'll admit that I love "fake" news sources--The Daily Show, The Colbert Report, Huffington Post's 236--for their willingness to cut through the spin and say what we're all thinking.  My favorite, though, is The Onion.  With only a headline, or even a caption, The Onion can make an insightful point about a topic that might be too uncomfortable to discuss were it not couched in a joke.   An article in this week's issue, "Nation Ready to be Lied to About Economy Again," had just such a headline.

Until fall of 2008, as the stock market climbed higher, much of America genuinely wanted to believe that a rising tide was lifting all boats.   But, even then, opportunity was drastically unequal.  As our recent State of Opportunity in America report explained, as of 2007, African American families were three times as likely to live in poverty as White families, and eleven percent of full-time, year-round workers were living in poverty.  College educated women earned just 65¢ for every dollar earned by college educated men.  Latinos earned just 73¢ for every dollar earned by whites, and African Americans just 75¢.  These disparities demonstrated that structural inequality and a real disparity of opportunity existed, even beneath the veneer of a flourishing economy.

There's real hope though, that the current downturn, painful as it may be, will force us grapple with the ways in which inequality undermines our economy and our fundamental values.  If we emerge from this troubling time ready to be honest about persistent inequality and committed to rectifying it, then there will be a silver lining after all.

For more, visit The Opportunity Agenda's blog.

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Health Does Not Equal Health Care

In a post on KQED's Healthy Ideas blog, Alameda County Public Health Director Dr. Anthony Iton agrees that "access to a high quality system of affordable health care is an important human right and a necessary strategy for improving health and quality of life and reducing health disparities," but argues that to truly guarantee the highest attainable standard of health for Americans, we need to look beyond just reactive health care.

With health care reform a major national priority, we have a tremendous opportunity to make strategic investments in primary prevention that will reduce the burden of chronic disease and eliminate health disparities. The current health care reform debate is driven in large part by concerns about ever-growing, unsustainable costs. Immediate cost-containment efforts are necessary, but they alone will not solve the long-term problem— more lasting changes are needed. Chronic disease rates are the major force driving up the costs of health care. Primary prevention is a systematic process that promotes healthy environments and behaviors before the onset of symptoms, thus reducing the likelihood of an illness, condition, or injury occurring. The bulk of those preventive strategies, particularly the community-level strategies, occur outside of the health care system and are strongly influenced by social and economic policies particularly policies shaping land-use, employment, transportation, income, and education. California’s experience with tobacco control is arguably one of the clearest examples of the benefits of primary prevention on health status, mortality and health care costs.

Iton provides several example of community-level strategies that compliment insurance reform, including policies of mixed-use housing/zoning to encourage more walking and less pollution, universal preschool, and funding public transit. To maximize these effects, Iton argues that we must have new partnerships across governmental agencies, so that health departments are working in concert with other city and county agencies.

While Iton focuses on the community-level, his point has resonance as we consider how federal funds to help the economic recovery are being used. This is a crucial opportunity to being to think about how infrastructure and policies around transportation, education, and housing all directly impact the health of ourselves, our families, our neighbors and our communities.  This is a crucial moment in how Americans think about their health, and we must use all available avenues—from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to health care reform--to not just treat our illness, but to build a system that supports and encourages healthier lives.

For more on how you can support a human right to health care in the United States, visit the Amnesty International USA Action Center.

For more on The Opportunity Agenda's work on health and human rights, visit our website.

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One Wrong Note

During the presidential campaign, candidate Barack Obama spoke eloquently about race in America and its continuing relevance to our national progress. But at the press conference marking his first 100 days, President Obama got it wrong.

Black Entertainment Television reporter Andre Showell asked the President:

As the entire nation tries to climb out of this deep recession, in communities of color, the circumstances are far worse. The black unemployment rate, as you know, is in the double digits. And in New York City, for example, the black unemployment rate for men is near 50 percent. My question to you tonight is given this unique and desperate circumstance, what specific policies can you point to that will target these communities and what's the timetable for us to see tangible results?

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Thursday Immigration Blog Roundup

This week's roundup covers two new polls, more debate on comprehensive immigration reform, and last Friday's May Day marches.

National News
Two new polls show increased support for legalization of undocumented immigrants.  An ABC poll found that support for a legalization program increased from 49% in December 2007 to 61% in April 2009.  A CBS/New York Times poll also showed that 65% of Americans support a path to citizenship or temporary legal status.

The current Boston Review has a lively debate on “The Case for Amnesty.”  The main article is written by Joseph Carens and there are responses to his argument from T. Alexander Aleinikoff, Mary Lyndon Shanley, Gara LaMarche, and thirteen others.

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Nonprofit Tech: Getting Started

A lot of nonprofits are still just starting their outreach on the web.  When someone from these groups needs a quick, short answer on where best to simply get started, I invariably direct them to Google for Non-Profits.

Launched approximately a year ago, Google opened up a one-stop shop featuring an array of tools.  Beginners will have heard of many of the tools (e.g. YouTube) but the site serves as a reminder that these tools can be harnessed for nonprofit communications and advocacy.

The site is also replete with tutorials on how to use each of Google services.  Some of the highlights are:

*Create a page and be listed on the Nonprofit YouTube channel.
*Start a blog to keep your supporters informed and engaged.
*Cut costs using Google-hosted email at your own domain. Access your e-mail from any computer with an Internet connection.
*Accept online donations with Google Checkout.
*Apply for free online advertising through our Google Grants program to raise awareness and drive traffic to your website.

Google's put together a well-crafted testimonial video. Check it out for more info and visit the Google for Non-Profits page.

Read more at The Opportunity Agenda's blog.

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Thursday Immigration Blog Roundup

This week's roundup covers Friday's May Day happenings and some state news.

This year's May Day activities are expected to have a bigger turnout than in previous years.  There are activities planned in Orlando's Lake Eola Park, Washington DC's Malcolm X Park, and New York City's Union Square. Standing FIRM has a list of events here.

Last Friday, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick held a press conference with ethnic media journalists. He stated that "we need immigration laws that are consistent with our values" and answered other questions about driver's licenses for immigrants, bilingual education, and race relations.

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Launching Bi-weekly Public Opinion Roundup

As President Barack Obama was assuming office in January, 93% of Americans said that restoring public trust in government should be a top priority (63%) or an important but lower priority (30%) for the new President. Take it as an absolute value, this is a stunningly high percentage; put it in comparison with the other seventeen (widely discussed) issues tested in an AP-Gfk survey, and you will find out that only improving the economy, creating more jobs, making the government more efficient and increasing the country’s independence scored higher.

It’s good to be reminded that people crave trust in government — despite well coordinated efforts that tell a different story. I won’t debate here the relationship of the individual to the “state” (an Aristotelian term in loan) but, in my bi-weekly visits to The Opportunity Agenda blog, I will translate the latest findings on public attitudes on public policy issues, voting patterns and trends, elections and elected officials.

Without an ideological lens, I will help understand Americans’ opinions on issues of public interest such as health care, immigration, the economy, and human rights; and explore how these opinions relate to people’s experience of a deeply held American value: the promise of opportunity. People’s outlook to the President's economic stimulus package can tell a true story about their perception of security,equality, mobility, voice, redemption, or community which make up opportunity, as explained in our newly released report The State of Opportunity in America.

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Thursday Immigration Blog Roundup

This week's immigration blog round-up covers a new report on low-wage Latino workers and some state immigration news.

A new Southern Poverty Law Center report finds that low-wage Latino workers in the South are "are cheated out of wages, subjected to inhumane conditions, subjected to wide-spread racial profiling and are regularly harassed by law enforcement." The report also found that:

-Eighty-eight percent of Georgia respondents believed that Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials targeted and treated Latinos differently, including immigrants of other backgrounds;

-41 percent of responders reported that they had personally experienced wage theft, meaning they had not been paid for work they completed; and

-Although only 44 percent of survey participants were women, 77 percent of them reported that sexual harassment was a major problem on the job.

More here.

Last weekend in Baltimore, a coalition of organizations and people of African descent come together to form the Black Immigration Network to address immigration and racial equity issues surrounding African Americans and immigrants of African descent. The convening included participants from the Center for New Community and the NAACP.

The Center for New Community has more on their initiative to address race and immigration here. They reject the notion that immigrants and African Americans compete for jobs and argue that proof of citizenship legislation disenfranchises African Americans.

Representative Michael Honda, Chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, has joined Rep. Luis Gutierrez on the Family Unity tour.  Asians make up 12 percent of the undocumented population.

In New Jersey, the leading candidate for the Republican nomination for Governor has come out against the recommendations of the blue ribbon panel on immigration.  In New York City, Mayor Bloomberg announced his support for the DREAM Act.

The Latino Coalition is working to ensure that Latino entrepreneurs secure their share of government small business contracts and procurement opportunities.  They will be holding an Economic Summit in DC on May 6th.

For more from The Opportunity Agenda, visit our blog.

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