undocumented immigrants

Obama’s Immigration Opportunity

Photo: Ryan Rodrick Beiler / Shutterstock.com

Photo: Ryan Rodrick Beiler / Shutterstock.com

As President Barack Obama prepares for a second term, immigration reform is rumored to be at the top of his agenda. With conservative opinion on the issue shifting, a unique opportunity exists to fix our nation’s broken immigration system. Americans are eager to see the president and Congress make progress on this unnecessarily vexing issue.

The record Latino voter turnout in support of President Obama played a key role in his electoral victory, as he won 71 percent of the vote compared with 27 percent for Gov. Mitt Romney.

These results have provided a catalyst for reenergizing the conversation around comprehensive immigration reform and paved the way for unexpected conversations among conservatives.

NumbersUSA Stirs Up Division With New Immigrant Attack Ad

We all know the conversation on immigration in the United States can oftentimes become contentious, with inaccurate portrayals of immigrants inhibiting progress. The most recent attempt to fuel the debate with fear-driven messaging is by NumbersUSA.  

A new ad by  the organization tries to pit racial groups against each other by suggesting that immigrants admitted to the country on work permits are “stealing” jobs from other racial minorities.

This tactic is hateful, fear-based, and sad. By running this ad NumbersUSA is trying to divide people against each other on racial grounds, sowing hate and division among our neighbors. It misrepresents the truth about immigrant workers and the benefits they provide to our country. It also does nothing to substantively address the issue of unemployment among minorities, a problem we can’t solve by directing hate at one segment of the population.

Simply Seeing

Infographic by Immigration Policy Center

Infographic by Immigration Policy Center

Nikki Haley, the governor of my state, recently signed the South Carolina Illegal Immigration and Reform Act. The law, which is part of a recent wave of state immigration legislation, goes into effect in January. As she signed the bill, she stated:

What Im concerned about is the money were losing because of illegal immigration in this state. The money thats lost in education and medical services and workers and employment and all of those things is well beyond millions of dollars …”

It is dehumanizing when you refer to people only in terms of money. Further, the research does not support the governors statement.

According to the Institute for Taxation and Economic Policy, undocumented workers in South Carolina paid $43.6 million in state and local taxes in 2010. Another study outlined the losses to the state if all unauthorized immigrants were removed from South Carolina. The state would lose $1.8 billion in economic activity, $782.9 million in gross state product and approximately 12,059 jobs.

Christians Deliver Petition to Repeal Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer's Executive Order

Photo: Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer Christopher Halloran / Shutterstock.com

Photo: Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer Christopher Halloran / Shutterstock.com

Today, two Christian leaders in Arizona delivered a petition signed by thousands of Christians to Gov. Jan Brewer calling on her to retract her controversial executive order denying driver’s licenses and other benefits to undocumented young people who qualify for deferred action. The petition was signed by members of the Sojourners community and reads:

We believe every person, regardless of immigration status, is created in God's image. Your recent executive order denying driver's licenses and other benefits to undocumented young people who qualify for deferred action is harsh and short-sighted. As people of faith, we urge you to reconsider your position and retract this executive order so that all God's children in Arizona can contribute to your state's economy and strengthen its communities.

Pastor Yvette Lopez of the New Life Church of God in Tucson, Ariz., also helped deliver the petition.

“I’m a conservative, but this is this was the last straw for me,” Lopez said.“This executive order is deplorable, and it must be rescinded; my faith and my politics demand this.”

How Private Prisons are Profiting From Immigrants

As reported by The Associated Press last week:

Locking up illegal immigrants has grown profoundly lucrative for the private prisons industry, a reliable pot of revenue that helped keep some of the biggest companies in business.

And while nearly half of the 400,000 immigrants held annually are housed in private facilities, the federal government — which spends $2 billion a year on keeping those people in custody — says it isn't necessarily cheaper to outsource the work, a central argument used for privatization in the first place.

The Associated Press, seeking to tally the scope of the private facilities, add up their cost and the amounts the companies spend on lobbying and campaign donations, reviewed more than 10 years' worth of federal and state records. It found a complex, mutually beneficial and evidently legal relationship between those who make corrections and immigration policy and a few prison companies. Some of those companies were struggling to survive before toughened immigrant detention laws took effect.

Read more here

'Homeland' Asks Tough Questions About Immigration Policy

Photo courtesy PBS discussion guide

Photo courtesy PBS discussion guide

Can America still afford to be a generous immigrant nation? Can it afford not to be?

These are the questions posed by Nine Network of Public Media's and PBS's documentary Homeland: Immigration in AmericaThe first of a three-part series focused on job issues.

While the largest Hispanic populations are in California and Texas, the fastest growing Hispanic populations are in smaller Southern and Midwestern towns. 

The episode shined a spotlight on Monett, Mo., home to a Tyson Foods chicken processing plant; EFCO, a Pella Company; and Happy Apples — an apple orchard that produces caramel apples for nationwide sales. The plants have relied on immigrant labor for years, and now the city has revitalized because of the influx of Hispanic immigrants. 

While the issue of illegal immigration is at the forefront of people's minds when discussing immigration reform as a whole, the documentary points out the flaws in the legal immigration process as it exists. 

Undocumented or Illegal?

Photo: Juan Camilo Bernal / Shutterstock.com

Photo: Juan Camilo Bernal / Shutterstock.com

When people who have immigrated to another country through methods other than the official legal system are discussed, we hear quite a few words bandied about: “illegal,” “undocumented,” and “alien” just to name a few. The terms are often used interchangeably, but are these terms interchangeable? On NPR’s, Tell Me More, Professor Kevin Johnson, Dean of the law school at the University of California at Davis says no.

“I fear that ‘illegal immigrant’—the term—is a loaded term. It is not as loaded as some of its predecessors like ‘illegal alien’ or ‘wetback,’ but it still is a loaded term,” says Johnson.

DREAMers: Not So Different From Me

Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call

National Immigrant Youth Alliance Protest on June 26. Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call

Spending time with family last week caused me to reflect on what it means to be an American and what it means to be family. I spent the evening of July 4th back home with family, half of whom are not U.S. citizens. We watched fireworks blast off above the Allegheny River in the hills of northwestern Pennsylvania—the place I grew up, and the place I will always call home. 

But my life story actually begins in a country outside of the United States.  

When I was a very young child, my parents decided a better future would likely be afforded for me in the U.S. Before an age when I could comprehend the situation and without my given consent, I was brought across the border into the United States.  

I am a foreign-born, U.S. citizen who was adopted as an infant. 


BREAKING: Relief, Work Permits Offered to Certain Immigrants



According to the Associated Press

"The Obama administration will stop deporting and begin granting work permits to younger illegal immigrants who came to the U.S. as children and have since led law-abiding lives. … The policy change, described to The Associated Press by two senior administration officials, will affect as many as 800,000 immigrants who have lived in fear of deportation. It also bypasses Congress and partially achieves the goals of the so-called DREAM Act, a long-sought but never enacted plan to establish a path toward citizenship for young people who came to the United States illegally but who have attended college or served in the military."

Jim Wallis, president and CEO of Sojourners, has been at the forefront, pushing for changes to immigration policies that rip apart families. Wallis released the following statement on Friday:

“The announcement from the White House today is very good news for 1 million young people who have a dream of staying in the country where they have lived most of their lives. Instead of being placed in the deportation pipeline, they will receive work permits enabling them to contribute to the nation and help build America’s future. This is an important step but only a beginning toward comprehensive reform of an utterly broken immigration system. This week a very broad and deep table of Evangelical leaders called on the political leaders of both parties to fix that broken system and protect ‘the stranger’ whom Christ calls us to defend. As Evangelicals we love the ‘good news’ of the gospel, and today we affirm this good news that gives hope and a future for young immigrants who are an important part of both the church and this country.”

Alabama’s Indefensible New Immigration Law

By Ryan Rodrick Beiler for Shutterstock.

Father and child at an immigration march in Washington, D.C. By Ryan Rodrick Beiler for Shutterstock.

Last week, Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley made a morally indefensible decision. He signed HB 658, which intensifies the climate of fear that already hangs over Alabama like low dark clouds before a hurricane.

Bentley once claimed that HB 658 would simplify HB 56 — the current anti-immigrant legislation that catapulted Alabama to the national stage. If this is simplification, then I’d like to see Bentley’s version of messed up. HB 658’s additional punitive measures now have created a more problematic situation that exacerbates the current oppression of some of the most vulnerable souls in Alabama.  

The new law is reckless. HB 658 calls for the creation of an online public database to expose the names of all undocumented immigrants who have appeared in court. In addition, the law targets innocent children by requiring schools to check the immigration status of students.