An eagle’s eye approach to immigration reform

3 Immigrant rights May Day 09CROP

Like most challenges immigration reform is and always has been an uphill battle. Today many agree it’s a human and civil rights issue.

It’s been said over and over again immigrants who came here in search of work and freedom founded the history of the United States.

Unfortunately the ultra-right along with its supporters continue to use the issue to divide working people.

Immigrant rights are connected to the rights of all working people – the right to organize unions and a voice on the job, better working conditions, livable wages with benefits and a path toward legalization – to name a few.

Historically poor immigrants who came to the U.S. were persecuted and even criminalized for their language and traditions.

Chinese immigrants suffered much of the same abuse.

Those same problems exist today.

However in recent history the immigrant rights movement here has propelled a massive campaign that swept the nation after millions took to the streets for reform on May 1.

May Day is a worldwide working-class holiday that was re-ignited after the immigrant rights movement made the correct connection between the fight for comprehensive immigration reform and worker’s rights.

For the first time in decades the nation's largest labor group, the AFL-CIO, which represents about 11 million workers, recently endorsed May Day. The holiday was originally born out of the international worker's movement in Chicago.

In 2008 we elected our very first African American president. Even during economic recovery the Obama administration continues to be one of our most important allies.

Whether it’s choosing a Supreme Court Justice, appointing women and minorities to high posts in Washington, passing reform on higher education, the landmark battle for health care, finance reform or an economic stimulus, the Obama administration has had its work cut out.

Yet immigration reform continues to be one of the most contentious debates nationwide.

Success in this fight will depend on our ability as activists to rally the broadest possible forces to see this struggle as a way to address our nation’s ailing economy as a whole.

Obama says he favors reform and has encouraged his colleagues to work in a bipartisan effort to make it happen.

But they cannot do it alone.

U.S. trade policies such as NAFTA and CAFTA and neoliberal regimes led by decades of anti-worker policies from Washington continue to destroy entire communities both rural and urban across the American continent.

Immigrants see the U.S. as their only option as a way out of extreme poverty and come here in search of work and opportunity.

The H2 Visa Guest Worker program allows U.S. companies to hire immigrant workers at extremely low wages. This abuse is a modern day form of indentured servitude and exploits immigrant workers whose lives depend on selling their labor power to live and work here.

But the right wing, including the Tea Party, the Minutemen and talk-radio hosts, continue to invoke racist and nativist anti-immigrant rhetoric.

As do renegade Republican lawmakers like those in Arizona that pass draconian measures criminalizing immigrant communities and invite racial profiling.

It’s the children of immigrant parents who also suffer the brunt of a broken immigration system. Most immigrants come here because it’s precisely their children they have in mind. They want what any parent wants, a good paying job that will allow them to send their children to school with the hopes of enriching their families future.

That is why young people, many who are undocumented and unafraid, have taken a stand to speak out and fight for the Dream Act, which would grant immigrant students access to higher education and eventually a pathway to legalization.

We must be involved in this legislative fight.

As activists our work is demonstrated in our strength to see the bigger picture and find ways to humanize issues that ultimately brings mass unity to the forefront.

Every major issue – ending wars, fighting for a massive jobs program, extending unemployment benefits, holding Wall Street accountable, the health care overhaul, the fight for public education, and the fight for immigration reform – share common threads of tactical approaches from one stage to the next.

We need to continue stepping up the pressure on the Obama administration and on all lawmakers, but also on the movement from the ground up at the grassroots.

History has proven that we, worker advocates, multi-racial and social justice unity builders are the best soldiers on the ground when it comes to organizing progressive and independent movements for change.

And we should seek ways to advance the broadest possible coalition forward with an eagle’s eye approach that champions immigration reform and the rights of all workers.

Photo: Pepe Lozano/PW

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  • granting amnesty to children of illegals, and even granting citizenship to them, is a violation of the "fruit of the poisoned tree" principle of english common law and American statute. such a scheme brings no benefit to American people, who are sick and tired of mexicans coming to USA and doing the rapes, robberies, drug trafficking, prostitution, and homicides that Americans won't do.

    Posted by joe smith, 07/25/2010 3:15pm (4 years ago)

  • 'Fixing' immigration doesn't require a change in immigration law.
    Building a fence on the border, beefing up the Border Patrol and using the military to control the border doesn't require a change in immigration law. It does require however, an adminstration and congress willing to appropriate the money to get it done.
    Deporting illegal aliens in the US also doesn't require a change in immigration law, but it does requires the same administration and congressional action to appropriate the money to do it.
    The only part of 'fixing' the immigration laws that actually requires a change in the law, is an amnesty. There is no amnesty provision in the law at this time. This is why those who clamor for 'comprehensive immigration reform' have the sole objective of seeing amnsety enacted.

    Posted by halibut, 07/22/2010 11:08am (4 years ago)

  • This week, the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) came out with a report entitled, The Fiscal Burden of Illegal Immigration on U.S. Taxpayers, which discusses the costs of unauthorized immigration to the United States. As usual, FAIR has put out a highly misleading fiscal snapshot of the costs allegedly imposed on U.S. taxpayers by unauthorized immigrants and completely discounts the economic contributions of unauthorized workers and consumers. Moreover, FAIR inflates their costs in a variety of ways and conveniently ignores any contributions that would offset these costs.

    While the publication is long and deals with a wide range of issues that warrant more dissection by credible economic experts, the trade publication Education Week has already begun the deconstruction with an item that sheds light on their misleading claims about providing English language services in schools.

    According to the Immigration Policy Center (IPC), FAIR's report suffers from three fatal flaws:

    * The report notes that the single biggest "expense" it attributes to unauthorized immigrants is the education of their children, yet most of these children are native-born, U.S. citizens who will grow up to be tax-paying adults. It is disingenuous to count the cost of investing in the education of these children, so that they will earn higher incomes and pay more in taxes when they are adults, as if it were nothing more than a cost incurred by their parents.
    * The report fails to account for the purchasing power of unauthorized consumers, which supports U.S. businesses and U.S. jobs.
    * The report ignores the value added to the U.S. economy by unauthorized workers, particularly in the service sector.


    In contrast to FAIR's report, the Perryman Group estimated that if all unauthorized workers and consumers were somehow removed from the U.S. economy, the United States would lose $552 billion in total economic activity ("expenditures"), $245 billion in Gross Domestic Product (GDP), and 2.8 million jobs." This doesn't count the billions it would cost to actually implement a mass deportation program.

    Another argument FAIR makes, which makes it hard to glean what their solution would be is the high cost of deporting undocumented workers which FAIR blames on the immigrants themselves. It's a somewhat circular argument to say that the cost of undocumented immigrants includes the cost of failing law enforcement efforts. So, in essence, FAIR is saying that the deport-them-all approach costs too much money and doesn't work. Yet their "solution" is to spend even more money on enforcement.

    FAIR's data is meant only to reinforce their vision of "attrition through enforcement." It is not rooted in an effort to move the immigration debate forward. Therefore, passing comprehensive immigration reform - which would yield a cumulative $1.5 trillion in added U.S. gross domestic product over 10 years - is the only sound economic decision the United States can make.

    SOURCE Immigration Policy Center

    Posted by Facts, 07/22/2010 8:34am (4 years ago)

  • THE FACTS ARE THAT JAN BREWER DID THIS TO GET REELECTED, HERE ARE FACTS.

    1, HOW MUCH MONEY $$$$$$$ IS ALLOCATED TO ENFORCE THIS LAW?? NONE.

    2, HOW MANY NEW POLICEMEN / WOMEN SHES HIRED TO HOLD AND PROCESS THE HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF UNDOCUMENTED IMMIGRANTS? NONE.

    3, HOW MANY NEW IMMIGRATION JUDGES SHES HIRED TO PROCESS THE THOUSANDS OF DEPORTATION CASES?? NONE.

    4, HOW MANY NEW JAILS SHES BUILT TO HOLD THE THOUSANDS OF UNDOCUMENTED IMMIGRANTS? NONE.

    5, HOW MANY BUSES / PLANES SHES BROUGHT TO DEPORT THE HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF THOSE WHO ARE ORDERED BY THE IMMIGRATION JUDGES TO BE DEPORTED?? NONE.

    CAN ANYONE ANSWER THESE FACTS? THE REPUBLICAN STATES ARE TRYING TO MAKE THIS THEIR PLATFORM, THEY WILL LOSE BIGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGG TIME.
    ALL ARE GODS CHILDREN. NO HUMAN IS ABOVE ANOTHER. ALL ARE CREATED BY ONE ALMIGHTY GOD WHO LOVES ALL HIS CHILDREN.
    I AM NOT SAYING DON'T CLOSE THE BORDERS I AM SAYING STOP THE FOOLISH HATE AND IGNORANCE.

    Posted by Facts, 07/22/2010 8:32am (4 years ago)

  • I choose my family over any law in the world. That's why I'm crossing the border illegally to reunite with my American wife and son.
    It has been 3 years since I was denied a visa in Juarez Mex.
    I grew up in the US.
    I don't have a record, drugs, DUI's and I can run the 100 meter dash in under 11 seconds.

    NO MORE MR. NICE GUYS, America won't wake up, so I gotta get my life back mofos.

    Posted by cr7, 07/22/2010 1:08am (4 years ago)

  • Illegal Immigration is not a race or human rights issue but of a nations soverign right to secure its borders.

    Posted by Robert Emery, 07/22/2010 12:39am (4 years ago)

  • Tea partiers racist? Give me a break. One of my friends is BLACK and active in the Tea Party. It doesn't have anything to do with race. Why doesn't your article talk about illegal immigration - which is the topic in question -- not name calling and all-out slanderous statements against the so-called "Right Wing Fundamentalists". The only issue that I see coming up that needs to be addressed is one based on reality. The reality that we have an illegal immigrant PROBLEM. One that most of America has finally woken up to realize - by the way, Republicans are actually interested in immigration reform - to help resolve the issue. Democrats are just interested in legalizing all those here illegally to make it all better. Doesn't sound like a solution to me. Our borders are fluid, and the lax borders result in anybody coming in, including terrorist cells and other people running from the law in their own country. Hello? Who wants these people here? It's called needing immigration reform to tighten our borders and make it possible for more migrant visas to be issued to those farmers willing to separate from their families and work at picking (not bring their families along). Keep your article pointed at the real issue here - one that shouldn't matter what side of the political fence your ass sits on - ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION. It's a problem. And the bleeding heart mentality that most left wingers have aren't going to solve the issues one iota. Come here legally - you're welcome. Come here illegally - let's kick you out, drag you to jail or any other of the lovely things that every other country of this world does to those who enter THEIR borders illegally. Wake up America.

    Posted by The other opinion, 07/22/2010 12:26am (4 years ago)

  • GREAT ARTICLE! You said it all. What is the most important thing we can do now? CALL ALL REPUBLICAN POLITICIANS.............TELL THEM YOU WILL NOT SUPPORT THEM UNLESS THEY SUPPORT IMMIGRATION REFORM!

    Posted by Christian in Austin, 07/21/2010 4:59pm (4 years ago)

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