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August 2006 U.S. Immigrant
by National Immigrant Solidarity Network
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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
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: http://www.immigrantsolidarity.org/Newsletter/August06.pdf
Special Report: Immigration Policy Update
National Immigration Forum
August 10, 2006
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
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 arefaux 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
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 snowballs 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:
CNN how it plans to balance its outspoken anti-immigration voices.
CONTACT: CNN President, Jonathan Klein
Phone: (404) 827-1500
We link to FAIRs 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 Senates
comprehensive immigration reform billrefuting 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 Lawyers 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 youve 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 audiences 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
immigration reform legislation and on H.R.
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
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: http://capwiz.com/aila2/issues/votes/?votenum=661&chamber=H&congress=1091
· 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 http://capwiz.com/aila2/dbq/officials/,
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 legislators photo.
You can also find biographical and fundraising information about your
elected officials on Contact Congress at: http://capwiz.com/aila2/dbq/officials/.
4. See the following links to resources or lists of resources on relevant
· Immigrants and the US Economy:
· Why IRCA Failed to Control Illegal Immigration:
· Polling Summary: Public Support for Comprehensive Immigration
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
Lawyers Association to email the local media: http://capwiz.com/aila2/dbq/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 Members legislative
aide working on immigration issues.
9. Follow up with a letter to both the Member of Congress and his staff
10. If you learn anything interesting, drop us a line to report (firstname.lastname@example.org).
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 wont 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 enforce our immigration laws we need to make them enforceable.
Our broken immigration system is a complex problem that needs a comprehensive
overhaul. Weve 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
immigrantsand countingand Americans all across the U.S.
are angry at the governments 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 doesnt 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 dont need immigrant workers are
also not serious proposals. Lets 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 economynot 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
- 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
- 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 dont 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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