Thursday, December 31, 2009
Washington Forgets Best Case for Immigration Reform
By: Richard Herman**
The White House has once again announced its commitment to immigration law reform in early 2010. So far, however, there is no sign that the administration, the Congress, or any other national leaders have learned their lessons from past attempts on this issue, most notably the ugly debate and legislative failure in 2007.
Ask people on the street what they think of when they hear the word
"immigrant" --- particularly with 10% unemployment in the country ---- and
you will hear statements like: "They take our jobs," "They bring crime,"
"They steal our health care," "They don't learn English."
Americans hear the word "immigrant" and imagine the worst. They think of illegal immigrants, competition for jobs and the stamping out of American culture.
They don't think of the tendency of immigrants--especially today's immigrants-- to create jobs, to revitalize communities, and to adopt and strengthen American culture, because no one is reminding them of this.
Humanitarian arguments to legalize 12 million undocumented immigrants
dominate the public discourse on immigration law reform. This is a mistake.
Instead of focusing on illegal immigrants, policy-makers should focus on legal immigrants--the vast majority of all immigrants--and their power as an economic engine.
Economic policy has never driven immigration debates ---- that must change.
In the new book, Immigrant, Inc. ---- Why Immigrant Entrepreneurs
Are Driving the New Economy (and how they will save the American worker) (John Wiley, November, 2009), which I co-wrote with Robert L. Smith, we document how immigrants have created millions of jobs for Americans and now represent the most powerful job-creating force today.
Consider the following:
* Immigrants are almost twice as likely as native-born Americans to start a business.
* Immigrants are twice as likely as native-born Americans to file for a U.S. patent.
* Immigrants constitute the majority of Ph.D. candidates in many science and engineering programs at U.S. universities
* Immigrants founded more than half of the high-tech companies in Silicon Valley, and twenty-five percent nationwide.
* Many brilliant immigrants are turned away from this country because of an immigration system that does not value their skills.
To succeed in a knowledge-based economy, America needs an advanced-degreed, entrepreneurial, and globally-connected population. Today's immigrants bring these skills to the table --- with aces. Their world-class talents translate into the creation of new industries and generations of new jobs for Americans.
Immigration reform would also inject billions of dollars into the economy.
The Congressional Budget Office has estimated that $66 billion in new revenue over 10 years would have been generated if supporters of the 2006 immigration reform bill had succeeded in legalizing most undocumented immigrants.
Jobs and fiscal responsibility ----- this should be the message ----- not earned amnesty and candlelight vigils.
Recently, syndicated columnist Neal Peirce of The Washington Post Writers Group argued that a new line of thought could drive a more productive discussion. "The mere fact that immigrants are an asset, not a liability, puts a whole new face on the Lou Dobbs-style attacks on America's 12 million undocumented immigrants," he wrote.
Welcoming immigrant innovators and entrepreneurs is "a virtually guaranteed stimulus to our economy and to our creative capacity
for this century," Peirce argues.
The problem is, it's hard for the innovators and entrepreneurs to get in. The current immigration system reserves only 9% of the coveted "green cards" for highly-skilled or investor immigrants. Instead of waiting in a years-long line, more and more super talent is leaving the U.S. or deciding not to come in the first place. That's why reform is essential.
So, while the right-wing begins the public outcry on undocumented immigrants or problems with H1B visas, the pro-immigration side should not allow the powerful, economic issues to be forgotten.
A job-creating message will soften the conversation, inject rationality into the discussion, and increase the chances of something getting passed. The White House should help coordinate a public education campaign that explains how smart immigration is good for America, especially in a smart economy.
To get that message out, they should employ the services of some immigrants who have been quite busy lately: People like Sergey Brin, who co-founded Google, Andy Grove, who gave us Intel, or Vinod Khosla, a co-founder of Sun Microsystems.
The President could talk about immigrant-founded companies like Dow Chemical, DuPont, Pfizer, Proctor & Gamble, Carnegie (later U.S.) Steel. He should remind America that immigration has historically been our competitive advantage. That's a fact that is more real today than ever before.
**Richard Herman is the co-author of Immigrant Inc.--- Why Immigrant Entrepreneurs are Driving the New Economy (and how they will save the American worker (John Wiley & Sons, November, 2009)
NY Office Secures Talented New Director
Happy New Year to all of Appleseed's partners and supporters! With 2010 just hours away, the New York Office is celebrating the successful launch over the past year of several landmark projects under the leadership of outgoing director Jennifer Ching, as well as the entrance of her successor, David Tipson.
"Replacing the irreplaceable Jenn was a daunting prospect for us," said Betsy Cavendish, executive director of Appleseed. "But David's impressive background and proven commitment to social justice leave no doubt that the New York Office will continue to produce innovative, life-changing work."
With Ching to continue her service to low-income populations as the director of Queens Legal Services, Tipson officially begins on February 1. In the meantime, he and Ching are working together to ensure a smooth transition.
Tipson's legal and professional experience cover everything from program creation and legal research to fundraising and volunteer management. As an attorney at the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law for the past three and a half years, he has accumulated a wealth of knowledge relating to community development, disaster recovery and housing issues, expertise that is particularly germane to heir property, one of Appleseed's key projects.
Inspired by leaders of African American communities on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, Tipson created the Lawyers' Committee's Heirs' Property Initiative in 2006 and has managed it since that time. That program, which connected him to several Appleseed project leaders, deployed nearly 100 volunteer attorneys to provide legal representation to low-income individuals seeking to clear title to land and has unlocked nearly $1.8 million in grants for these landowners.
Tipson will apply his proven skills as a writer, legal researcher and coalition builder to several ongoing programs launched by Ching during her tenure at the NY Office. A few highlights:
Removing barriers to the New York Earned Income Tax Credit, the state's largest anti-poverty program, for self-employed and cash-earning workers
Ensuring due process for the unrepresented by launching a volunteer lawyer program to provide legal advice and assistance to consumer debt litigants
Expanding health care access for immigrants through innovative public-private partnerships and local advocacy for insurance plan and program extensions
Promoting immigrant consumer empowerment by developing and distributing financial literacy materials in Haitian-Creole, leading trainings for over 150 community leaders, and developing a model community investment fund led by hometown associations
Appleseed is delighted that this impressive list of projects will be passed into such capable hands. Please join us in thanking Ching for her brilliant service and welcoming Tipson to the Appleseed network!
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has announced that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will extend Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for nationals of Sudan from the current expiration of May 2, 2010 to the new expiration date of Nov. 2, 2011. During the past year, DHS and the Department of State have reviewed the conditions in Sudan. Based on this review, Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano has determined that an 18-month extension is warranted because the armed conflict is ongoing and the extraordinary and temporary conditions that prompted the last TPS designation of Sudan on Oct. 7, 2004 persist.
The U.S. government will not prosecute Pilgrim's Pride Corp. for employing undocumented immigrants. The Texas-based company agreed to pay $4.5 million and improve how it screens prospective employees to ensure they are allowed to work in the United States. See the AP story and the U.S. government's press release (here).
Jennifer Ludden of NPR reports that the recession has given new life to a program for visas for immigrants who invest between $50,000 and $1 million in a U.S. business and can establish that it created 10 jobs. The number of these investor visas has tripled in the past year. Still, fewer than half the the 10,000 allotted visas were used.
One reason for the uptick in investor visas -- the long backlog in other visa categories that create long lines for noncitizens seeking to immigrate to the United States from certain nations, such as China.
Not Really News: U.S. government moving to deport longtime legal residents with criminal convictions
Photo Courtesy of the Famalily of Annie Moore Schayer
Sam Roberts of the New York Times has a nice story on the first immigrant to set foot on Ellis Island when it opened on Jan. 1, 1892. Annie Moore, who came from Ireland, was her name and died on the Lower East Side in 1924.
Wednesday, December 30, 2009
A new year is coming and it seems like a good time to think back on 2009. Here is my list of the top 10 U.S. immigration news stories for 2009:
1. Comprehensive Immigration Reform: Representative Luis Gutierrez's introduction of a comprehensive immigration reform bill in the U.S. House of Represenatives on December 15.
2, Enforcement Now, Enforcement Forever: To the surprise of many who thought that they were voting for change in the 2008 elections, the Obama Administration continues to adhere to immigration "enforcement now, enforcement forever" in its immigration policies.
3. Adios, Lou Dobbs: Lou Dobbs abruptly departs from CNN (announced at the beginning of his last CNN show) this fall to "pursue other opportunities." Many Latinos and immigrants had viewed Dobbs as conducting "war" on them for years.
4. Feds Prosecute Teens Involved in Killing of Luis Ramirez: After a state prosecution resulted in the acquittal of the defendants on the most serious charges, the U.S. government files a federal hate crimes prosecution in the killing of Luis Ramirez in Shenandoah, Pennsylvania.
5. Sheriff Joe's Reign of Terror Continues: Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio continues a reign of terror over immigrants and Latinos generally in Arizona. Along these lines, state and local governments continue to actively pursue the regulation of immigration and immigrants in 2009.
7. R.A. Finally Prevails: The victim of horrific spousal abuse, Rody Alvarado, with the help of a UC Hastings clinic, finally prevails after years of litigation in her efforts to remain in the United States.
8. Death on the Border Continues: Deaths on the U.S./Mexico border sadly continue as migrants from Mexico seek passage to the United States.
9. The Supreme Court: The U.S. goverment loses three of four immigration cases in the U.S. Supreme Court Term ending in June. Late in the summer, Justice Sonia Sotomayor is confirmed as a Justice on the Court and is the first Latino on the Court. Justice Sotomayor has already made a difference in the judicial discourse on immigration.
10. Matter of Comnpean Vacated: Attorney General Eric Holder vacates Matter of Compean, a heavy-handed, last minute effort by the Bush administration to thwart ineffective assistance of counsel claims by noncitizens in immigration proceedings.
1. "You Lie": The immigration-related outburst of Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC) during an address of President Obama on health care reform.
2. The Olympics -- What Goes Around Comes Around: The Chicago Olympic bid fails, with the U.S. government's treatment of foreigners an apparent issue.
3. Happy Halloween! Target's tone-deaf "illegal alien" Halloween costume.
4. New UN Refugees Deputy: Georgetown Dean Alex Aleinikoff is named United Nations Deputy High Commissioner for Refugees.
Of course, I had to make many hard decisions in winnowing this list. Sorry for any omissions.
HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!!!
From the National Day Laborer Network:
March on Phoenix, AZ -- Arpaio's America is NOT our America
January 16, 2010
Dear Friends and Colleagues,
We are seeking organizational endorsers for the March on Phoenix, AZ on January 16, 2010. By endorsing the march, your organization will stand in solidarity with the people of Maricopa County, AZ and send a clear message that Sheriff Arpaio's America is NOT our America. To be included in the list of endorsers click here: http://puenteaz.org/JANUARY_16_.php
Why do we march?
We have reached a new phase in the struggle for justice and dignity in Maricopa County, Arizona and in other communities suffering severe civil rights abuses due to the failure of United States immigration policy.
The nation has watched with disbelief as Sheriff Joe Arpaio has carried out a systematic reign of terror disguised in the name of immigration enforcement, but directed against all communities of color in his jurisdiction. In the process, he has become a symbol of abuse, bigotry, and intolerance. The Obama Administration's recent endorsement of Sheriff Arpaio - through the renewal of his 287(g) authority and its expansion of local immigration enforcement initiatives proven to cause racial profiling - is an affront to this nation's struggles for equality and justice.
Not since the days of Bull Connor has this country seen a public official abuse his authority in order to terrorize and intimidate communities based on the color of their skin. The hatred and extremism that Sheriff Arpaio breeds is felt from Phoenix to Washington DC. It is an extremism that, left unchallenged, threatens to disrupt communities, destroy lives, and undermine bedrock constitutional protections for us all.
On January 16, the communities in Arizona will come together with the support of people from across the country to turn the tide. By endorsing the march, your organization will join the people of Maricopa County in their historic call for justice.
· A termination of Sheriff Arpaio's 287(g) contract, which grants him federal immigration law enforcement authority.
· An end to the controversial 287(g) program, the so called " Secure Communities" initiative, and others like them that spread racial profiling and civil rights abuses across the nation.
· An end to criminalization of migrants and communities of color in the name of immigration enforcement.
· An end to family separation.
· The passage of comprehensive immigration reform legislation that provides legal status and political equality to undocumented immigrants.
· A restoration of constitutional rights to all people.
We encourage organizational delegations from all over the country to JOIN US along with thousands of marchers including civil rights and labor leaders such as Dolores Huerta and artists like Zac de La Rocha and Linda Rondstat. We ask that you march in Phoenix, Arizona on January 16 to demand that the federal government restore constitutional protections and peace to families in Maricopa County and across the nation.
Click here to endorse the march: http://puenteaz.org/JANUARY_16_.php
For questions or more information please email: email@example.com
Repeat after me: Sheriff Joe has got to go!
Our Immigrant of the Day is Jorge Sactic-España, known among the Latino community in Prince George County, Virginia, as Don Jorge. Don Jorge is from Guatemala and, although he is not an elected official, he regularly dispenses aid and advice. "His Chapina Bakery is a popular gathering spot in the two-story shopping center, the epicenter of the large Hispanic enclave in this part of Prince George's County. Sactic's cachitos and gallinitas are known as the most authentic Latin American sweet buns around. But it's his standing as a onetime illegal immigrant who has mastered life in the United States that makes him a bridge between newcomers and old-timers, Latinos and gringos -- the unofficial mayor of La Union Mall."
At age 25, Don Jorge swam across the Rio Grande at Brownsville, Texas in 1985. "The Guatemalan civil war was raging, and college students were targets of right-wing hit squads. He abandoned his studies in economics and fled north." His story is a classic story of a political refugee -- one of many thousands -- who fled Central America in the 1980s.
See Steve Hendrix's story in the Washington Post about Don Jorge.
As a candidate and later as President, Barack Obama pledged to support comprehensive immigration reform. Some observers have been disappointed that the administration has done little to push immigration reform in the President's first year in office. Indeed, his administration has adopted a plethora of immigration enforcement measures. Nor has the administration said much about the comprehesive immigration reform bill introduced by Rep. Luis Gutierrez in the House on December 15.
But there may be hope that the Obama administration will start to move on immigration reform in 2010. The Baltimore Sun reports that "senior White House aides have privately assured Latino activists that the president will back legislation in 2010 to provide a road to citizenship for the estimated 12 million undocumented workers now living in the United States."
Tuesday, December 29, 2009
From: Richard Herman, co-author of "Immigrant, Inc. --- Why Immigrant Entrepreneurs Are Driving the New Economy (and how they will save the American worker)" (John Wiley, November, 2009).
I remember appearing on Fox's television show "The O'Reilly Factor" a couple of years ago to discuss immigration reform with guest host Michelle Malkin. As you can guess, Michelle quickly abandoned a conversational tone and erupted into a frenzied scream ont how immigration is destroying America.
I also remember receiving death threats after the show, from viewers who called me to say things like: "all 100 million saw you on TV, and the revolution is on."
I don't think Michelle (whose parents immigrated to the U.S. from the Philippines in the 1960s as the result of the Immigration Act of 1965, immigration reform that more widely opened the American door to Asians and other non-Europeans) will like the new book I co-wrote with journalist Robert L. Smith, titled "Immigrant, Inc. --- Why Immigrant Entrepreneurs Are Driving the New Economy (and how they will save the American worker)" (John Wiley, November, 2009).
While I hoped a few might like this read of immigrant success stories intertwined with groundbreaking research, I didn't anticipate that the book would garner such glowing reviews and attention as referenced below.
In his review, Neal Peirce of The Washington Post Writers Group calls the book "audacious." Peirce writes that "the mere fact that immigrants are an asset, not a liability, puts a whole new face on the Lou Dobbs-style attacks on America's 12 million undocumented immigrants that CNN so longer tolerated, and right-wing media still promote." Peirce supports the book's message that welcoming immigrant innovators and entrepreneurs is "a virtually guaranteed stimulus to our economy and to our creative capacity for this century." Hard to do with the current immigration system, which reserves only 9% of the coveted "green cards" for highly-skilled or investor immigrants. Due to the paltry number of available green cards and the resulting years' wait to get one, more and more super talent is leaving the U.S. or deciding not to come in the first place.
In his review, Ira Stoll, editor of Future of Capitalism and author of "Samuel Adams: A LIfe" writes that the immigrant success stories "are compellingly told in this book." Stoll also found that the book uncovered a unique angle on the formation of Google. "Somehow, even with all the books out there on the company's success, most Google users probably don't realize that the involvement of immigrants in the company's success is so extensive." An interview with the parents of Google co-founder, Sergey Brin, also give the reader a new persepective on how America's welcoming of refugees has changed the world.
India's Businessworld magazine says that Imimigrant, Inc. goes "beyond praising talented immigrant entrepreneurs to explore their mindsets, cultural specificities, and their high level of determination and innovative thinking....suggesting how Americans need to tap their 'inner immigrant' to succeed."
The Akron Beacon Journal says that the authors "embarked on a mission to explore the data on immigration and open the eyes of a country they viewed as growing more insular since 9/11."
The book is also generating the type of controversy that I first tasted after my appearance on "The O'Reilly Factor." As indicated in the posts to some of the articles below, the nativists insist on spreading a message of xenophobia and of perpetuating antiquated high-skill immigration policies that continue to tie at least one hand behind America's back as she faces fierce overseas competition in the innovation and job-creating game. As my quote in Forbes suggests, "Americans are having a tough time dealing with global diversity."
Congress and the President are expected to tackle immigration reform in early 2010. Let's hope that we can find a way to free the immigrant job-creators.
Monday, December 28, 2009
Gary Martin writes for the San Antonio Express-News
President Barack Obama's campaign promise to overhaul immigration laws next year faces an uphill battle in Congress, and it could hurt Democrats in the 2010 midterm elections whether it succeeds or fails.
Division among Democrats and solid Republican opposition to key provisions of any sweeping reform bill will be major hurdles. Democrats facing tough re-election battles will be hard-pressed to vote to legalize the status of unauthorized immigrants during an economic downturn.
But inaction on the issue could alienate crucial Hispanic voters who helped deliver the White House to Democrats last year.
“After being on our national agenda for a decade, comprehensive immigration reform's time has come,” said Thomas Saenz, president of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund.
Perhaps. But the House Democratic leadership is so skittish about the issue that it wants the Senate to go first. Click here for the rest of the story.
The number of immigrants to Israel this year rose 17 percent over last year, the first time there has been an increase in 10 years.
Some 16,244 people immigrated to Israel in 2009, compared to 13,859 last year, according to the Jewish Agency. The announcement was made Sunday by Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky and Immigration and Absorption Minister Sofa Landver.
In addition, some 5,294 people immigrated from English-speaking countries in 2009, an increase of 17 percent over the 4,511 who immigrated the previous year. Click here for the rest of the story.
Sunday, December 27, 2009
Saturday, December 26, 2009