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August 2006: National Immigrant Solidarity Network Monthly News Digest

by Lee Siu Hin - Immigrant Solidarity Network Saturday, Aug. 12, 2006 at 1:59 AM (213)403-0131 Los Angeles, CA USA

No Immigrant Bashing! Support Immigrant Rights!

August 2006 National Immigrant Solidarity Network Monthly Digest

August 2006 National Immigrant Solidarity Network Monthly Digest

National Immigrant Solidarity Network

No Immigrant Bashing! Support Immigrant Rights!

New York: (212)330-8172
Los Angeles: (213)403-0131
Washington D.C.: (202)595-8990

Every Dollar Counts! Please Support Us!

August 2006 U.S. Immigrant Alert! Newsletter
Published by National Immigrant Solidarity Network
[Requires Adobe Acrobat, to download, go:]


July 28-30 Washington DC National Grassroots Immigrant Strategy Conference
A Success and Milestone for the Immigrant Rights Movement!

In This Issue:

1) Report: National Grassroots Immigrant Strategy Conference
2) Immigration News From Across The Country
3) Upcoming Nationwide Immigrant Events
4) Detention Standard & Complain

Yesterday We Marched, Today We Organized,
Tomorrow We'll Achieve Our Dreams and Goals!

Lee Siu Hin
National Coordinator, National Immigrant Solidarity Network


The 3-day (July 28-30, 2006) Washington DC National Grassroots Immigrant Strategy Conference at American University has been without doubt a success and a milestone for the immigrant rights movement.

Organized by National Immigrant Solidarity Network, one of the leading coalitions involved in the March 25 Los Angeles "Gran Marcha" and the May 1st "A Day Without Immigrants" General Strike/Boycott, there were approximately 180 people from over 80 organizations across the country in attendance.

The conference represented diverse groups, including Latin@s, APIs, African Americans, African immigrants, European immigrants, LGBTQ, women, youth/students, interfaith, peace/global justice activists, white allies, labor, immigrant day laborers and community organizers from two dozen states. Community/grassroots immigrant activists from across the country met face-to-face for the first time to discuss how to collectively build a new national, broad-based, immigrant rights/civil rights movement.


Please read the newsletterURL:


Special Report: Immigration Policy Update

National Immigration Forum
August 10, 2006


Political Circus

Congress is in the midst of August recess. Normally, this is a slow period for policy advocates. This August, however, the House Republican leadership will continue to stage their anti-immigration circuses. By the end of the month, the House will stage 21 performances in 13 States. (For comparison, this month the Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus, arguably more entertaining depending on how you feel about circus animals, will perform in 15 cities in seven states.) Tickets for the House political circuses are not available; if you have an opinion that is sensible on immigration, your voice is not welcome. However, though the House Republican leadership may not be interested in a pro-immigrant voice, the media is. The House circuses present an opportunity to put our messages in front of the public through the journalists who are covering the story.

For a list of House hearings, see the Web site of the New American Opportunity Campaign at:

Check this page periodically, as information on the House hearings has been hard to come by, and is sometimes revealed only at the last minute. On the same page, listed under each event, you will find contact information of the person who is organizing a pro-immigrant event around the House hearing (if there is one).

How has the circus strategy been working for the House Republican leaders? Not so well. Perhaps they would do better with some professional circus training. For now, in the print media at least, the press has been overwhelmingly negative about these hearings. They are being described for what they are—faux hearings that are not meant to collect a variety of perspectives on immigration. Thanks to the good work of advocates, the media has been reporting the stories that are not being told inside of the hearings. To get a flavor of press coverage so far, see this collection of clips compiled by the Forum. You can also view some editorials, which we post here.

Unfortunately, however, for now the House remains committed to its strategy of avoiding a conference with the Senate. Political analysts say that the main function of the recess flurry of activity by the House Leadership has been to motivate the Republican “base” to turn out for the upcoming mid-term election. It appears that so far the public is unimpressed, according to a new poll by the Washington Post and ABC News. Voters are in a mood to turn out the incumbents.


More Opportunity to Have Your Voice Heard

For the House members who are not performing in the circus, August is a time when many members of Congress hold “town hall” meetings to hear from their constituents on a range of issues. Anyone can attend these meetings with members of Congress, and they present an opportunity to tell your member of Congress that our immigration system must be reformed to make our laws more fair and generous towards immigrants. We are pasting below a “Tool Kit” to give you ideas and tips for turning a Congressional town hall meeting into an opportunity to promote a positive message about immigrants and immigration reform. Thanks to the American Immigration Lawyers Association for creating the tool kit, which we have modified.

In addition to this tool kit, you will also find pasted at the end of this update some revised talking points pertaining to the current immigration debate, which you can modify and use in your communications to the press, letters to the editor, letters to members of Congress, or wherever else you might find these useful. Remember, the constituent mail to members of Congress is still very lopsided in favor of the restrictionists, and if we want more than a snowball’s chance in a Washington August to steer immigration reform legislation in a more positive direction, we will have to begin to match the intensity that has been motivating those who want more restrictions on immigrants.


Complain to CNN: Lou Dobbs is Not the Only One

And while you are making your voice heard. Among our chief obstacles in the battle to gain more generous policies for immigrants are the radio and television hosts who have discovered that getting people worked up against immigrants is good for their ratings. Among them is anti-immigrant Crusader Lou Dobbs of CNN. A recent report by Fairness and Accuracy In Reporting (the good FAIR) alerts us to the fact that Lou Dobbs is now not an anomaly on that cable network. Other CNN journalists, and some recent hires, also have an anti-immigrant slant. FAIR (the good FAIR) is urging people to contact CNN and let them know what they think about this bias against immigrants. Here is their action alert:

ACTION: Ask CNN how it plans to balance its outspoken anti-immigration voices.

CONTACT: CNN President, Jonathan Klein

Phone: (404) 827-1500


We link to FAIR’s story on Lou Dobbs and CNN in our “Restrictionists” page on our Web site:

Or you can go directly to the article here:


New on the National Immigration Forum Web Site

* Two editions of our “Facts on Immigration” series might be useful to you in making the case for comprehensive immigration reform this summer. “Facts, Not Fiction: Common Myths About Immigrants” responds to arguments being made by restrictionists:

“Immigration has 500 Economists Agreeing on Something, Yet Leading Restrictionists Still Squabble” discusses (and links to) a recent letter signed by 500 economists who say that immigrants are good for the economy and that we should have comprehensive immigration reform:

* On our Comprehensive Immigration Reform Legislation page, we link to a new paper by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities that calculates there would be an increase in federal revenues overall under the Senate’s comprehensive immigration reform bill—refuting a Heritage Foundation paper that claimed the Senate bill would be a fiscal burden to the taxpayer:

* On our page on Immigrants and the Economy, we link to a new paper that examines the impact immigrants have had on the jobs and income of American citizens and concludes that most scholars believe immigrants have had a relatively minor impact on high-school drop outs and low income minorities.

* Our page on National Security links to a recent paper by the Immigration Policy Center that points out that U.S. efforts to stem undocumented immigration have increased the profitability of and fostered greater sophistication in smuggling networks:

* To see how editorial boards across the country are viewing the House anti-immigration circus, check out our collection of editorials about comprehensive immigration reform:


Town Hall Toolkit

(Created by the American Immigration Lawyer’s Association and Modified by the Forum)

Members of Congress often schedule town hall style or public meetings in their districts. This is a good way for them to get out and talk to their constituents and "take the pulse" of the communities they represent in Congress. It is also a great opportunity for advocates to educate and inform Senators, Representatives, and other meeting attendees about the need for comprehensive immigration reform and other immigration issues of concern. Consider organizing with your colleagues or organizing a diverse group with an interest in fair and generous immigration reform to attend a town hall meeting, in order to show collective support for your shared ideals. This Tool Kit will provide you with an overview of town hall meetings, tips for developing strategic questions to ask your Member of Congress, and the steps for maximizing the effectiveness of your advocacy at the town hall meeting. At the end of this article you will find step-by-step instructions for attending and making the most of your town hall participation.

Once you’ve arranged to attend the town hall meeting together with your colleagues, jointly draft some questions and comments for the host. Questions and comments should be well thought out and to the point because long, laborious questions and speeches will only turn off others in the crowd, including the press. To keep the audience’s attention, you may want to relate your question to a real-life example or experience that will help to humanize the politics of immigration. Above all, remember that this is your opportunity, as a constituent, to stand up and ask the Senator or Representative a pointed question about an issue of concern.

For example, on the issue of comprehensive immigration reform, you should tailor your questions to draw out substantive, non-generic answers. Even if your Representative voted against HR 4437 (the Sensenbrenner bill), you can ask him to elaborate on his position on comprehensive reform: Does he support the Senate bill's approach? Does he acknowledge that any solution must deal realistically with the 12 million undocumented workers in this country, including a meaningful path to legal permanent residence? Does he agree that for enforcement to be effective, we need to create new legal channels for workers to come and fill jobs in the United States? Does he understand the futility of simply building a wall?

Or, on the Senate side, if your Senator voted for S.2611, you may want to press farther and ask if she would oppose a Conference report that deals only with enforcement issues. Does she agree that enforcement alone will not solve the problem? Would she commit to demanding that any solution be comprehensive, including a realistic solution for the 12 million undocumented and a new temporary worker program with labor protections and a path to permanent resident status?

If your Member of Congress staunchly opposes comprehensive immigration reform, you may want to use the town hall meeting as an opportunity to deliver a coordinated letter of rebuke from your allies in the Congressional district or state. Or you may want to evaluate the central arguments the Member of Congress has against comprehensive immigration reform and prepare yourself with a few basic statistics that could refute those arguments. You can find basic statistics and talking points about the inadequacy of enforcement-only immigration reform, the economic benefits of immigration, and other helpful resources more specific to comprehensive immigration reform legislation and on H.R. 4437.

In some cases, a Member of Congress may be unfamiliar with the details of the legislation you wish to discuss. She may refer you to a legislative aide or other staff expert who can better respond to your question. In this situation, make sure to get the full name and contact information of this staff person so that you can raise your question with him.

As always, follow-up is important. If you get an opportunity to ask a question or talk to a Member you should follow it up a day or so later with a letter. This is your chance to thank the Member for meeting with you and for supporting your views, or if they don't, to encourage reconsideration. It is always important to be respectful and courteous regardless of the Member's views and to represent your organization in a professional manner.


10 Steps for Attending and Making the Most of a Town Hall Meeting with your Member of Congress

1. Keep a lookout in your mail for a notice from your member of Congress or Senator announcing a town hall meeting, or look in your local newspaper.

2. Coordinate with a group of colleagues to attend the town hall meeting together.

3. Research your Members of Congress. Find out how your Senators and Representatives voted on key immigration issues:

· Senate Roll Call Votes for S. 2611, The Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2006:

· House Roll Call Votes for H.R. 4437, Border Protection, Antiterrorism, and Illegal Immigration Control Act:

· View your Members’ key votes to see a broader cross section of their vote histories on immigration issues.

· Find key votes by visiting Contact Congress at, enter your zipcode and scroll down below the photos to see the “key vote spotlight.” If you need to enter your zip+4, you can find the “key vote” button below the legislator’s photo.

You can also find biographical and fundraising information about your elected officials on Contact Congress at:

4. See the following links to resources or lists of resources on relevant topics:

· Immigrants and the US Economy:

· Why IRCA Failed to Control Illegal Immigration:

· Polling Summary: Public Support for Comprehensive Immigration Reform:

5. Prepare educated, open-ended questions for your Member of Congress with the intention of

drawing out substantive, non-generic answers.

6. Contact the local media – let reporters know that you and your colleagues will be attending the town hall meeting and intend to ask immigration-related questions. Visit the Media Center of the Web site of the American Immigration Lawyer’s Association to email the local media:

7. Submit letters-to-the-editor or op-eds before or after the town hall meeting. Town hall meetings held by Members of Congress will serve as a “hook” for timely letters-to-the-editor and opinion pieces about your elected officials’ voting records. You can find tips for writing opinion pieces:

and tips for letters to the editor:

8. Attend the meeting and engage the Member of Congress in a discussion about immigration, being sure to draw out substantive responses, and also get the name and contact information of the Member’s legislative aide working on immigration issues.

9. Follow up with a letter to both the Member of Congress and his staff expert.

10. If you learn anything interesting, drop us a line to report (


Talking Points: Spin Will Not Fix Our Broken Immigration System

  • Stop the spin. We can do better. The American people want Congress to stop the spin and work on real solutions to real problems, like the broken immigration system. But instead of sitting down to negotiate with the Senate over workable immigration reform, House Republican leaders are stalling, and conducting an anti-immigrant road show. They want to portray all immigrants as criminals and terrorists, to manufacture support for their “get-tough and get-tough only” approach to immigration reform. But the American people won’t buy it. They want Congress to get back to work, and to come up with a real solution that is fair and practical: a comprehensive immigration reform bill that recognizes reality, rewards work, and restores the rule of law to immigration.

  • To enforce our immigration laws we need to make them enforceable. Our broken immigration system is a complex problem that needs a comprehensive overhaul. We’ve been implementing piecemeal measures for 20 years, which have made the system more complex, but not more controlled. “Seal the border” is a sound bite. “Enforce our laws” is a sound bite. Comprehensive reform is a solution, and only by changing our laws to meet economic need and family ties will we be able to restore control and order to the system.

  • “Enforcement-only” or “Enforcement-first” is the status quo, more of the same, and a prescription for failure. For the past twenty years, we have tried enforcement-only. The result has been spectacular failure. People smuggling has become big business. Fake document merchants have plenty of customers. Unscrupulous employers have a large pool of exploitable workers. Families stay separated for years. Hundreds die in the desert each year. There are 12 million undocumented immigrants—and counting—and Americans all across the U.S. are angry at the government’s failure. In light of all this, calls for more of the same do not make sense. Illegal immigration happens because we have jobs or loved ones on this side of the border, and an insufficient number of legal visas for these workers and family members. We must deal with that reality.

  • Proposals that ignore the 12 million undocumented immigrants in our midst are not serious proposals. No “reform” proposal can be taken seriously if it assumes that undocumented immigrants will simply go away if we get tough enough. It also doesn’t make sense to treat these workers as hardened criminals. They are already part of the work force, and have U.S. citizen and legal resident family members. Making them into criminals would only drive them further underground, and we would know even less about who they are. A much better solution would be to bring them out of the shadows so that we can find out who they are, put them through background checks and security screenings, make sure they are all on our tax rolls, and make them earn their citizenship over time by learning English, keeping a clean record, and continuing to contribute to our country.

  • Proposals that pretend we don’t need immigrant workers are also not serious proposals. Let’s get real: we have jobs on this side of the border and workers clamoring to fill them on the other side. We need to shift our thinking to bring our immigration laws in line with the needs of our economy—not our underground economy. Reform should bring a greater share of the immigration flow through legal channels, so that migrants can be screened, we can have greater control over who gets in, and all workers can exercise their labor rights. These reforms, combined with reform of our family visa system and fair and consistent enforcement of the new laws, are the solution to unauthorized immigration.

  • Proposals that leave legal immigrants waiting in the wings are also not serious proposals. Reuniting families is a cornerstone of our immigration policy. But lately, the wait times for close family members to reunite has stretched into years and even decades, leaving families separated and many scrambling to find another way to enter the United States, even illegally. Separating families is not the American way. Comprehensive reform must provide more legal channels for those coming here to join close family members, so that they do not decide to make the dangerous trip across the border illegally because of a needless separation.

  • Comprehensive reform is the way forward. Those members of the House advocating an enforcement-first or enforcement-only approach have a good sound bite, but no solution. They offer no way to deal with the 12 million undocumented immigrants living and working in the United States, and no way to bring future immigration levels in line with economic need, so that we don’t have another build-up of illegal immigration. By contrast a realistic, comprehensive, and bipartisan approach to immigration reform is supported by businesses, diverse faith-based organizations, labor unions, civil rights groups, immigrants and, as demonstrated in poll after poll, by the American people. Only comprehensive reform offers the realistic prospect for making our immigration system orderly, secure, and legal. Only comprehensive reform will work.


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