Saturday, February 27, 2010

Chile Earthquake

I was both surprised and saddened when I looked online for information about the earthquake in Chile that occurred early this morning. As I searched the news, I found coverage on the possible tsunamis threatening the US everywhere, reports on military status, and even a report stating that no Bulgarians were harmed before I came across anything that really focused on Chile's status and condition. It's unfortunate that information about Chile is so overrun by concerns about ourselves. While I'm certainly not downplaying or disregarding the current threats to various places that we are all now on high alert for, Chile has already experience earthquakes, tsunamis, and all the problems that come along with those disasters and yet, so far, information seems a little scarce for what I thought it would be. CNN does have some information focused a little more on Chile....CLICK HERE

Friday, February 26, 2010

Haiti National Prayer and Fasting

I didn't find this in the news even when I googled it, but this is really powerful. A broken nation unifies and cries out to God to heal their land. On the one month anniversary of the tragic earthquake, Haitian president, Preval, declares three days of prayer and fasting during which all businesses are shut down. See a short video here.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

A New Civil Right Movement: Undocumented Students for Immigration Reform

A New Civil Rights Movement: Undocumented Students for Immigration Reform
This week is the beginning of a monthly campaign advocating for the Dream Act organized by undocumented students across the country through the United We Dream Coalition, a national umbrella organization of undocumented student activist groups. According to Nancy, the media relations coordinator for Dream Team LA, the Los Angeles area undocumented student coalition, "Part of the reason for these events is to stress the urgency of the Dream Act. A lot of times people are sympathetic to undocumented students and our issues, but they really don't see the urgency and the reason why we need the Dream Act to pass this year, now, as soon as possible."

Another "The World is Flat" review: Why the world looks flat to Friedman

Here's a review on the book from 2005. The review is on a pro-socialism site so the text really focuses on the side of the story that Friedman missed...the people. It's an interesting analysis somewhat similar to the Raymond Lotta analysis "A Jagged, Unjust, and Obsolete World."

Review by Elizabeth Terzakis | October 28, 2005 | Page 8
Thomas Friedman, The World Is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-First Century. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2005, 488 pages, $27.50.
ABOUT 50 pages into The World Is Flat, you start to wonder how New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman found the time to write so much about so little. Surely his usual activities as a mouthpiece for the Pentagon and corporate America --playing free-trade apologist for global sweatshops, promoting U.S. imperialism, hypocritically calling for fatwas from Arab leaders between Islamophobic rants--leaves him too busy to natter on for hundreds of pages about nothing.
You would think. Tortuously, you would be wrong...Continued Here.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

E-2 Visas Provide Immigration Opportunities to Wealthy Mexicans Fleeing Violence

SAN DIEGO — Last year Jorge, a Tijuana business owner who asked for anonymity for safety reasons, was driving home from work when several cars attempted to corner him.
When he realized that he was in the middle of a classic kidnap setup, he quickly accelerated and squeezed his Mini-Cooper in between two of the cars. As Jorge escaped, shots rang out behind him and he arrived to the police station with a bullet wound to his arm.
At the station, however, the police told Jorge that there was little that they could do for him.
“I was told that as soon as I left they could not guarantee that I would live.” They asked Jorge if he wanted to be taken to the airport or the U.S.-Mexican border.
Even though Jorge’s life was threatened in Mexico and he fears returning, he does not want to risk losing his tourist visa in the United States by applying for political asylum or refugee status.
Holders of tourist visas in the U.S. who apply for asylum risk losing those visas if their case is denied, according to San Diego immigration attorney Jacob Sapochnick. Applying for refugee or asylum status demonstrates the intention to stay permanently in the U.S. — a measure used by the State Department as the basis to deny a tourist visa, Sapochnick says.
Those who have “a well-founded fear of persecution based on at least one of five internationally recognized grounds: race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion” can apply for asylum and refugee status, according to a 2005 U.S. Justice Department report.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

New ICE Numbers Reveal Need for Revised Definition of 'Criminal'

February 18, 2010 |
Immigration Impact / By Travis Packer

A new report by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) released last week reveals that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is beginning to detain more criminal immigrants as opposed to non-criminal immigrants, which is in line with ICE Assistant Secretary John Morton’s stated goal.

The numbers, however, aren’t so black and white when you examine how ICE defines criminality. ICE currently classifies “criminals" as persons found guilty of minor violations of law such as traffic offenses, disorderly conduct, as well as immigrations violations such as illegal entry. While the report, which covers the first three months of Fiscal Year 2010, hints that the growing proportion of criminal detainees is the result of revised detention policies under the Obama administration, the report begs the questions of who we’re locking up, why and at what expense.

Read the rest of the report here.

UNM partners up to promote U.S.-Mexico border research center

UNM partners up to promote U.S.-Mexico border research center
By Kallie Red-Horse | Daily Lobo

UNM is joining other universities near the U.S.-Mexico border to create a resource center aimed at tackling an issue at the forefront of American politics.

UNM signed a Memorandum of Understanding on Feb. 16 to potentially collaborate with institutions bordering Mexico to create a Border Studies Resource Center, led by the University of Texas at Brownsville.
Antonio Zavaleta, associate provost at the University of Texas at Brownsville, said the creation of such a resource is paramount in today’s political climate.

“We feel that the U.S-Mexico border is one of the most important — if not the most important — region in the United States today,” he said. “Looking forward to the next presidential election and beyond, immigration-reform issues concerning illegal immigration, homeland security, border security — all that will become forefront in the American mind, and we believe that there is not enough information available to people about the border out there now.”

The on-campus meeting generated interest from a diverse range of University departments and resulted in signing a Memorandum of Understanding between UNM and UT Brownsville, said Vice President for Student Affairs Eliseo ”Cheo” Torres.

“The meeting was just basically bringing faculty from both universities together,” he said. “It was a meeting to get input and advice and to talk about collaborations here in the near future.”

Torres said UNM departments in attendance included the School of Public Administration, the Spanish Colonial Research Center, the Communication and Journalism Department, the Law School and University College.

The Memorandum of Understanding is not a binding contract, Zavaleta said, but just a means of facilitating communication between the institutions.

“It doesn’t commit us to any specific thing, funds or resources, but it does allow us to sit down and talk about potential collaborative projects in real time,” he said. “We will continue this process and will develop these partnerships along the border.”

The collaboration could provide UNM students with transborder research opportunities, Torres said.

“My guess is students would be involved in research projects on both sides of the border,” he said. “The students could play an important role in developing resources and would study different resources that would be beneficial to both Mexico and the U.S.”

Student Rachel Matthews said she considers immigration to be one of America’s largest perpetual issues.

“It seems like immigration has troubled the U.S. since the beginning,” she said. “In history, my teacher mentions immigration reforms and stuff at the beginning of last century. I would say it is still a problem, but I don’t really know much about it.”

The selection of partnering institutions was based on their educational strength and proximity to the border area to maximize information gathering potential, Zavaleta said.

“The U.S. Mexican border is 2,000 miles long and encompasses four American states and six Mexican states,” he said. “What we are trying to do is establish partnerships as we develop and roll out our center for border studies. We like to be partnered with strength.”

Venezuela's Chavez Demands Respect from Mexico's Calderon

January 29th 2007, by Liza Figueroa-Clark –

Caracas, January 29, 2007 ( [1])— Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez demanded respect from his Mexican counterpart, Felipe Calderon, during his weekly program, Aló Presidente, yesterday, and denied that his government planned to seize private property.

“Mr. President of Mexico, if you want people to respect you, then you must show respect,” Chavez responded during his weekly television program, which lasted 7 hours and was broadcast from a cattle ranch on the outskirts of the small city of San Carlos, in central Venezuela. Chavez was inaugurating one of several "socialist formation centers," where he said Venezuelans will study socialist ideals while undergoing job training.

Chavez’s retaliatory remarks came after Calderon criticized Venezuela’s, Argentina’s and Bolivia’s economies at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

Calderon issued a warning that Latin America was divided into two camps: between those countries that embraced a failed past of state-led models of development, and those that sought economic growth through foreign investment, and stated that, “many countries in Latin America have chosen a move toward the past, and among their most harmful decisions are seeking nationalizations, expropriations, state control of the economy and authoritarianism,” according to Bloomberg.

Calderon last week criticized existing prejudices in Latin America against free trade agreements and stated that investors would be better off taking their capital to Mexico rather than Venezuela, Bolivia or Argentina, where he claimed, “there have been expropriations which investors believe threaten their wealth,” in a reference to Chavez’s recent announcement that his government would nationalize the country's electric and telecommunications companies, and to Bolivia’s moves to nationalize natural gas production.

“Several countries in Latin America are acting against foreign investors, but we are thinking all day, every day, how can we attract more investment to Mexico,” Calderon said.

In response, Chavez told Calderon that building strong ties with the US was jeopardizing Mexico’s future by making it “subordinate to [US] imperialism and world capitalism,” and said he doubted Mexico was the “hope for the future,” as expressed by Calderon.

Chavez also said that Calderon was following in the footsteps of his predecessor, Vicente Fox as a “puppy dog of the empire,” referring to the ex-President’s submission to North American interests.

A diplomatic spat ensued after the exchange between Chavez and Fox late 2005, when Chavez called the then Mexican leader a “puppy dog of the empire.” The comment was in response to Fox’s criticisms of Chavez’s opposition to the free trade agreements with the United States. The incident led to both countries withdrawing their ambassadors and relations have remained tepid ever since.

Chavez admitted Sunday that until now, he had abstained from making any comments on the recently-elected Mexican President, despite the fact that “the Mexican right-wing insulted me when they called me the dictator of the Caribbean during the election campaign against [Manuel] Lopez Obrador,” he said.

Calderon, whose negative campaigning against Obrador included portraying him as an extremist and comparing him to Chavez, won the Mexican Presidential elections by an extremely narrow margin of 233,831 votes, a margin of 0.56 percent. The results were strongly contested by Obrador who refused to acknowledge the result.

“Someone who is meant to be the President of a country […] and seizes on, or uses a President of a beautiful country as an excuse to attack his internal opponent, is simply making it difficult, if not destroying, the possibility of having relations, good relations,” he added.

Chavez rejected declarations made at the World Economic Forum in recent days that claimed there was an energy and terrorism risk in Latin America , and which went as far as to qualify the Venezuelan President as the third threat to the region.

“The only terrorist threat that exists in America at present is the one represented by the government of the United States,” Chavez declared.

Private property

In separate comments made during Aló Presidente , Chavez denied that private property was under threat and urged Venezuelans not to fear the country’s accelerated move towards Socialism.

"If anybody should be scared, we should be scared of capitalism, which destroys society, people and the planet," said Chavez.

Chavez’s comments were an attempt to assuage fears of the wealthy and the middle-class who believe the government will seize assets such as second homes, yachts or expensive cars.

Chavez reminded his audience that the right to private property was enshrined in the 1999 Constitution.

“We are building our own model in Venezuela: a mixed economy. We do not reject private property, but it does have to act more and more in the interests of social wellbeing.”

Chavez also reiterated his call to private businessmen and small producers to participate in the construction of Venezuelan socialism.

Chavez explained that there is also social property, which is made up of strategic resources such as oil, energy and agriculture that cannot be privatized and must be run by the State.

Lastly, Chavez stressed that Venezuela’s socialist model was original and could not be compared to any other similar experience. “Cuba is Cuba and Venezuela is Venezuela. Bolivia is Bolivia in its own time and space.”
Source URL (retrieved on Feb 23 2010 - 15:51):

Barnidge: Immigration reform would be their dream come true

Barnidge: Immigration reform would be their dream come true
By Tom Barnidge Contra Costa Times columnist
Posted: 02/22/2010 01:38:29 PM PST
Updated: 02/22/2010 05:06:18 PM PST

THE REASON that more than 200 men, women and children attended an immigration reform rally Saturday morning at Ygnacio Valley High School was to hear invited advocates speak for their cause. But the voices that resonated loudest belonged to three people in the audience.
Their stories encapsulated the conflicting sentiments expressed about a bill before Congress that would grant amnesty to millions of illegal aliens — HR 4321: The Comprehensive Immigration Reform for America's Security and Prosperity Act of 2009.
A Latina, speaking through a translator, said that Contra Costa County clinics had denied many families basic health care because they were undocumented. She told of diabetics with elevated glucose levels who were desperate to find treatment.
A health care administrator from Pittsburg said she had been forced to turn away applicants for Medi-Cal and Healthy Families programs because of their undocumented status. She had been moved by the sight of grown men, racked with worry, shedding tears.
Even opponents of illegal immigration would find it hard to shut their hearts to such stories. More than 5,000 undocumented county residents are without access to clinics.
Then a third speaker, a man in his 20s, stepped to the microphone and unwittingly provided fuel for the opposition.
Because of his undocumented status he was unable to get a driver's license, and every time he sat behind
the wheel of his car, he worried about being pulled over and having his vehicle impounded.
So, to recap: He entered the country illegally. He operates an automobile without a license. Which means has no insurance coverage. If he is responsible for an accident, good luck in recovering damages. So please reward him with legal status.
Is it any wonder this topic pulls people in opposite directions?
Amnesty proposals have been with us for decades. President Jimmy Carter floated a plan in 1977 that fizzled. Ronald Reagan pushed through the Immigration Reform and Control Act in 1987, after which nearly 3 million undocumented workers became legal. George W. Bush lobbied for a measure in 2006 that withered in Congress.
Today, we have HR 4321, co-sponsored by Rep. Luis Gutierrez, D-Ill., and Rep. Solomon Ortiz, D-Tex., a 700-page bill that would beef up border security, overhaul the federal detention system for jailed immigrants and prevent local police from acting as immigration agents, among other things. But the crux of the bill is clearing a path to legalization for an estimated 12 million illegal immigrants.
That was the focus of the rally.
"Immigrants who do not have legal status must be given the opportunity to come out of the shadows, to work without fear, to become U.S. citizens," attorney Nicolas Vaca told the crowd. "It makes no sense to spend billions of dollars rounding up people, breaking up families and deporting people who have set down roots in this country."
He spoke as much to Congress as the audience. Rep. John Garamendi, D-Walnut Grove, and Rep. George Miller, D-Martinez, had representatives in attendance who agreed to deliver the message.
Event co-chairwoman Connie James added a postscript: "This is a country that lets people achieve their dreams. We want for our children the same right to dream."
That's a nice thought. But it's not easy making most dreams come true.
Our guess is this one won't be any different.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Tacos for Justice: Innovative Effort Launches

Tacos for Justice: Innovative Effort Launches
LA-area plan will help fund national advocacy strategy for immigrant justice

For Immediate Release
Contacts: Armando Gudino: 562-413-9003, Erin Glenn: 213-434-0071

(Los Angeles, CA, Feb. 22) Responding to the call of the National Latino Congreso (NLC) held in El Paso, Texas, January 29-31, a multi-level partnership launched Tacos for Justice/Tacos Para Justicia today, an effort to include millions of local immigrant justice supporters in the national campaign to achieve legalization for America’s 10-12 million undocumented persons in 2010.

“Through Tacos for Justice the simple act of eating is converted into an act of social justice,” said Erin Glenn, Executive Director of the Asociación de Loncheros L.A. Familia Unida de California. “Our trucks will give a 10% discount to every patron as well as donate to the national Immigrant Justice Campaign for every Tacos for Justice coupon used in a purchase of the “Justice Menu” at our participating trucks,” she continued. “The lunch truck addresses are on the back of the coupon or can be accessed online at”

More than one million discount coupons are being issued by the Latino Voters League (LVL), an advocacy group designated by the National Latino Congress to manage the proceeds. “Grassroots funds gathered through Tacos for Justice will fund organizers and media in key states and congressional districts throughout America to persuade federal legislators to support good immigration reform bills. For example, HR 431 (the CIR ASAP Act) would legalize all qualified undocumented and Dream Act, would legalize 65,000 college eligible undocumented high school graduates,” said Armando Gudino, Communications Director of the LVL,

The general public can download the free coupons at now. Some 200,000 coupons are being distributed this week to participating organizations to give to their members including Anahuak Youth Sports Association, La Placita Church, Mexican American Political Association, National Day Laborers Network, William C. Velasquez Institute, National Alliance of Latin American and Caribbean Communities, Hermandad Mexicana Latinoamericana, and others.

“Any interested group can order bulk discount coupons from their members (300 booklet minimum order; booklets contain 16 coupons each) by contacting me. Also restaurant chains that want to join the “Tacos for Justice” can also contact me,” said Tacos for Justice LA Coordinator Carmen Amaya (323-246-2210 or

“The NLC is organizing numerous efforts across the country as part of its Immigrant Justice Campaign Later in this week the high tech companion to “Tacos” will be released: Texts for Justice, as well as a new immigrant-interest scorecard,” said Angela Sanbrano for the NLC Conveners.

Latino Voters League
2914 N. Main St, 1st Floor
Los Angeles, CA 90031
(323) 222-2217

Immigration, Political Realignment, and the Demise of Republican Political Prospects

Interesting piece on immigration and political party alignment. It has some useful tables but they don't come out here. You'll have to link to the actual article to see them. -Angela

Immigration, Political Realignment, and the Demise of Republican Political Prospects

By James G. Gimpel
February 2010
Backgrounders and Reports
Download a pdf of this Backgrounder

James G. Gimpel is a professor of government at the University of Maryland, College Park. He can be reached at

This Backgrounder examines the political implications of large-scale immigration. Between 1980 and 2008, 25.2 million people were granted permanent residency (green cards) by the United States. A comparison of voting patterns in presidential elections across counties over the last three decades shows that large-scale immigration has caused a steady drop in presidential Republican vote shares throughout the country. Once politically marginal counties are now safely Democratic due to the propensity of immigrants, especially Latinos, to identify and vote Democratic. The partisan impact of immigration is relatively uniform throughout the country, even though local Republican parties have taken different positions on illegal immigration. Although high immigration may work against Democratic policy goals, such as raising wages for the poor and protecting the environment, it does improve Democratic electoral prospects. In contrast, immigration may help Republican business interests hold down wages, but it also undermines the party’s political fortunes. Future levels of immigration are likely to be a key determinant of Republicans’ political prospects moving forward.

The electoral impact of immigration has been greatest in counties with large populations, where most immigrants settle. In these locations, Republicans have lost 0.58 percentage points in presidential elections for every one percentage-point increase in the size of the local immigrant population. On average the immigrant share has increased 9.5 percent in these counties.

In counties of at least 50,000, where the immigrant share increased by at least two percentage points from 1980 to 2008, 62 percent saw a decline in the Republican percentage. In counties with at least a four percentage-point increase, 74 percent saw a decline in the GOP vote. In counties with at least a six percentage-point gain in the immigrant share, 83 percent saw a decline in the GOP vote share.

Republicans have remained competitive in presidential elections because losses in high-immigration counties have been offset by steady gains in low-immigration counties.

Even in Texas and Florida, often thought to be an exception, the rising immigrant population across counties is associated with sharply diminished support for Republican candidates.

In Texas, for example, the estimate shows that for every one percentage-point increase in the immigrant population in a county, the Republican vote share dropped by 0.67 percentage points, which is more than the decline nationally association with immigration.

The decline does not seem to be associated with the local Republican Party’s position on illegal immigration.

How has the growth of the immigrant population changed the political partisan leanings of the places where immigrants have settled? The answer to this question is of considerable interest to academic specialists, journalists, interest groups, and political parties engaged in the immigration policy debate. If the impact of mass immigration is politically neutral, there is no reason to be concerned that constituencies will change appreciably by the settlement and naturalization of new arrivals. In that case, immigration might have economic and cultural impacts that should be anticipated, but no one need be concerned about political shifts.

On the other hand, if immigration does change the politics of locales, districts, and even entire states, then what might those changes entail? Certainly one important implication will be a resultant public shift toward favoring governmental activism — a belief that government should do more, rather than less. Latino voters, for instance, are presently among the demographic groups that are most strongly behind an activist government. This is undoubtedly because they have, on balance, lower incomes, and concentrate in areas monopolized by Democratic Party politics into which they are easily socialized.

Observers have witnessed the concurrent surge in California’s immigrant population, fueled mostly by the relocation of less-educated Mexicans, along with its rising Democratic Party majority, especially in presidential elections.1 Recent studies of Latino party identification have shown that those of Mexican origin, and occupying the lower rungs of the socioeconomic ladder, are especially likely to identify with the Democratic Party (Alvarez and Garcia-Bedolla 2003, 40). Remarkably, Latinos in California appear to vote overwhelming Democratic even when Republican Latino candidates are on the ballot opposing Anglo Democrats (Michelson 2005).

It is not surprising, then, that the nation’s sustained flow of lower-skilled immigrants, largely from Latin America, has given rise to predictions of an emerging Democratic Party majority by a variety of studious onlookers (Judis and Texiera 2002; Campbell 2008; Arnoldy 2008; Lopez and Taylor 2009). After all, the propensity for immigrants, and especially Latinos, to be swing voters has been wildly exaggerated by wishful-thinking Republican politicians and business-seeking pollsters who refuse to acknowledge the durability of individual party identification (Green, Palmquist, and Schickler 2002). Nevertheless, the rise in Democratic Party prospects in California and elsewhere has more than a single source, and it is always questionable just how much this partisan realignment can be attributed to immigration.

Naturalization, Voting, and Political Influence

In most locations in the United States, the most direct instrument for the political influence of immigrants is the naturalization process, by which immigrants become citizens and can then vote. It is well known that not all immigrants naturalize as soon as they are eligible.2 The longer an immigrant resides in the United States, however, the more likely he or she is to naturalize. Moreover, according to recent reports the share of eligible immigrants choosing to naturalize reached a 25-year peak of 59 percent in 2005, up from just 48 percent in 1995 (Passel 2007). Estimates of annual naturalizations were running about 650,000 per year as of mid-decade, with about 35 percent of the present foreign-born population now naturalized and eligible to vote. The rate of naturalization for Mexicans, by far the single largest immigrant nationality group, has also increased, though it is still lower than other immigrant groups, at around 35 percent of the eligible Mexican immigrant population (Passel 2007).

Origins matter, as the naturalization rate from Latin America is lower than from other regions of the world. About 4.4 million immigrants from Latin America are naturalized (46 percent of those eligible), compared with four million from Asian nations (71 percent), 2.8 million from Europe and Canada (69 percent), and 444,000 from Africa and the rest of the world (59 percent) (Passel 2007).3 Although Latino immigrants have the lowest naturalization rate, their sheer numbers make them a potentially influential population, casting about 7.4 percent of all votes in national elections (Lopez and Taylor 2009; Lopez 2008). Notably, more recent immigrant entry cohorts also show themselves to be naturalizing faster than did previous cohorts (Passel 2007, 16). Related research has shown increasing levels of political mobilization among naturalized immigrants, at least in some key states (Barreto 2005).

With rising immigration, and faster naturalization rates, the potential for immigrants to exert direct political influence is higher than it has been in the past. But for this influence to register, immigrants must have decidedly different political viewpoints and preferences than the native-born. If immigrants possess or come to acquire the same partisan predispositions as natives and divide their votes in the same way, there is not likely to be much political change resulting from their emergence into the electorate.

But recent studies have indicated that the foreign-born, and particularly the large Latino immigrant populations, do not mimic the attitudinal and behavioral tendencies of natives. They have slightly lower participation rates, and they are far more Democratic in their party identification and vote preference. Throughout the last decade, for instance, surveys large enough to represent the foreign-born population eligible to vote all showed a lopsided preference for the Democratic Party. The 2008 Cooperative Congressional Election Study, conducted by YouGov/Polimetrix, gauged the partisan preferences of over 1,700 naturalized immigrants and found 55 percent to be Democratic identifiers, 31 percent Republican, and 14 percent independent (see Table 1).4 The 2004 National Annenberg Election Study found a similar percentage of naturalized citizens to be allied with the Democratic Party: 49 percent, compared to just 32 percent for Republicans and 19 percent for independents (n=4,138).

In non-presidential years, the Democratic bias appears to drop due to the considerably smaller electorate casting ballots in mid-term contests. The YouGov/Polimetrix survey in 2006 exhibited less Democratic bias among immigrants eligible to vote, at 51 percent, compared with 36 percent Republican identifiers and 13 percent independent (Table 1). In both the 2006 and 2008 surveys, however, the independents actually leaned lopsidedly Democratic, and voted that way in the November general election. Democratic senators, for instance, captured 64 percent of the immigrant vote actually cast in 2006, compared with just 34 percent won by the GOP candidates. This favoritism of the Democrats in mid-term contests is especially pronounced in closely competitive elections, as previous research on the Latino electorate has shown (Gimpel 2007; Gimpel 2003). Republicans do well in mid-term contests among immigrants only in cases where immigrant turnout drops and/or the GOP candidate is an overwhelming favorite, bringing only the most Republican-identifying immigrant voters to the polls.

More importantly, among immigrants who are not yet citizens, these same surveys show an even greater preference for the Democratic Party (Table 1). With the Democratic bias in immigrant political preference so decisive and so predictable, it is no surprise that the rise in immigrant populations should directly lead to ever-growing Democratic majorities in the places where immigrants settle, and declining electoral prospects for Republicans. The instrument of this partisan realignment is the directly observable behavior of the immigrants themselves.

Immigration and Displacement

Even when immigrants are slow to naturalize and vote, however, the instrument of political realignment at the local level can lie in the indirect force of population displacement. If particular populations are pushed out of areas as a consequence of large-scale immigrant flows, this could have the impact of altering the political complexion of districts, states, and regions.

A number of labor economists, economic historians, and demographers have documented the prodigious outflow of natives associated with immigrant influx (Frey 1996; Frey and Liaw 1998; Frey, Liaw, Xie, and Carlson 1996; Borjas 1999, Chap 4; Hatton and Williamson 2006, Chap. 14). The exodus is a consequence of downward pressure on wages coupled with rising housing prices, costs that natives would rather avoid by moving elsewhere. These “crowding out” effects are noticeable only when the volume of immigration is large and one can observe the native response across numerous internal labor markets.

For the native out-migration to have a politically realigning effect on the location left behind, the existing voters have to be predominantly identified with one particular political party. Demographic studies of interregional migration during the 1980s and 1990s suggested that, with the exception of elderly migration flows to a few locations, internal migrants were predominantly white, younger, lower middle and middle class, and upwardly mobile. Early evidence from several studies indicated the presence of an independent political leaning among migrants at least following the move (Brown 1988), with some Republican bias to movers in general (Gimpel and Schuknecht 2001). If internal migration exhibits a Republican bias, and the volume of outflow is sufficiently high, then an ever-greater Democratic majority at the locations left behind — among the non-migrants — would be the outcome. Immigrants, under these circumstances, need not naturalize and vote in order to generate significant electoral change in states, districts, and localities.

Enlarging the Majority Party

A third possible mechanism for electoral change is that the arrival of immigrants in a location produces larger political majorities because, under population pressure, natives hasten to align themselves with the dominant political organization in these locales. This would occur, for instance, if natives anticipated that the only modicum of competition would be within the dominant party anyway, so there was no point in aligning with the minority party. In most cases, the destinations that immigrants initially aimed for as their inflow intensified in the 1970s already had decided local Democratic majorities. The minority party was not a sufficiently credible local presence in these cities to position itself to take advantage of native disaffection with the results of population pressure.

Under such circumstances, political control over the dominant party apparatus in local politics can be settled only within ever more contested primaries often pitting racial and ethnic groups against one another (Kaufmann 2004). But once the primary is over, the general election outcome is then settled. The main difference between the old politics and the new is in the crowdedness of primaries, and the diversity of groups vying for control.

This scenario may fit the experience of large numbers of U.S. cities where the Republican Party is rarely a competitive force, but Democratic Party politics have become increasingly divisive as the white share of the urban electorate has declined. Especially in those cities that have not seen appreciable out-migration by natives, but have seen growth from international sources, it makes sense that the explanation for increasing Democratic electoral majorities lies in the native calculation that fighting within Democratic ranks makes better sense than converting to the hopelessly overmatched Republicans. After all, there was little chance that the new immigrant arrivals would elect their own officeholders anytime soon, as that kind of upward political progress would take a generation or more. By this logic, then, natives became a larger share of the Democratic electorate, but immigrants did as well. Both contributed, and are contributing, to the extinction of urban (and increasingly suburban) Republicans as the immigrant population expands its presence outward from its original central-city destinations (Frey 2006).

County Level Data

As an information source, a unit of observation more granular than the state level or metro area data used in numerous studies is required to understand the changing politics of places. There are more than 3,000 counties and they therefore provide far greater variation in immigrant concentration, population growth, and electoral leaning, than the 50 states. County data offer the advantage of allowing us to encompass the entire United States, unlike metro area data that would exclude rural communities. Fortunately, counties are also convenient in that a wide variety of social, economic, and political information is recorded by official sources at this level, including intercensal estimates and projections. Counties also approximate more closely than states the actual milieu in which citizens live out their daily lives, experiencing the stimuli that shape political attitudes and behavior. Finally, in many states, counties are actually meaningful governing units in their own right, thereby possessing the legal authority to shape many aspects of economic and social life within their boundaries.5

The Largest Counties

Given that the immigrant population is drawn to the nation’s largest cities, it is instructive to take a brief look at the 25 largest U.S. counties for selected election years (see Table 2).6 A very large share of the total population in these 25 counties was foreign-born by 2008 — around 26 percent on average. This compares to just 12 percent in 1980, showing that the immigrant population has become a far larger presence in these locales, even though it may be diffusing outward from the central cities in these same counties (e.g., Los Angeles (Los Angeles), Cook County (Chicago)) to their suburbs. By 2008, nearly half (47 percent) of the nation’s total foreign-born population was estimated to live in these 25 counties, compared with just 21 percent of the native-born population. This figure for foreign-born concentration has not changed much since 1980 (46.4 percent); however, it is proof that the growing immigrant population has remained highly concentrated in the largest urbanized counties, even though there have been some streams moving into outlying areas. The vast majority of the foreign-born in these counties, as in the nation as a whole, are of Latino ancestry as they have been over the last 30 years.

Our central question is whether the rising tide of immigration in the nation’s counties, large and small, has altered their political character. We can certainly see suggestive evidence in support of this notion. Republican presidential voting has declined notably since 1980 in all of the counties in Table 2, and this is not due simply to the differing candidacies (Reagan vs. Bush vs. McCain).

To be sure, immigration trends are not the only place to look for an explanation. The smallest losses in GOP support have been in Texas, the largest in California, and yet the immigrant (predominantly Latino) percentage of the population has risen in both. There is also evidence of a drop in GOP support in locations where the immigrant population has not jumped dramatically, such as Cleveland (Cuyahoga County, Ohio) and Detroit (Wayne County, Mich.). Important facts such as these remind us that a rising immigrant voting population is not the only possible source of declining Republican prospects in large counties. The flight of natives from these counties and the growing concentration of native-born African Americans may also contribute to the enlargement of local Democratic majorities. Even so, the rise in the number of immigrants flowing into the nation’s largest counties has to account for some of the partisan change. Figure 1 indicates that the growth has been in the neighborhood of 171 percent for the 100 largest counties in the nation since 1980, even though the native-born population increase in these counties collectively has been a modest 17 percent. And even if only around 38–40 percent of the foreign-born are naturalized and eligible to vote in any given election, their rapid numeric increase coupled with their Democratic alignment seems certain to be a major source of declining GOP electoral prospects.

The declining Republican percentage of the two-party presidential vote in the largest counties is exhibited in Figure 2. The drop in support for Republicans is both steady and sharp. In 1980 the largest counties, in the aggregate, gave about half of their two-party vote to the Republicans (ranging from 56 percent for the 10 largest counties, to 48 percent in the 100 largest). The upshot is that these locations, which contain a mixture of central cities and suburbs, were marginal and contested 25–30 years ago, ensconced in the middling deciles of Reagan support in 1980.

By 2008, however, the Republican two-party vote percentages at these locales hovered between 35 and 37 percent — in some cases a 20 percentage-point drop across the intervening election cycles (see Figure 2). By the new century, these counties were collectively no longer marginal, but instead safely Democratic. Specific locations where the immigrant population appears to have had a direct impact in diminishing GOP prospects include all of the larger California counties, as well as Maricopa County, Ariz. (Phoenix); Kings County, N.Y. (Brooklyn); Dallas, Texas (Dallas); and Miami-Dade, Fla. (Miami). All of these locations would be considerably more competitive were it not for the triple-digit growth in the foreign-born proportion of their local populations.

Pooled Estimation of Immigration Impact

To produce a summary estimate of the impact the surging immigrant population had on Republican vote share in the nation’s 100 largest counties, the data for eight elections were combined into a single, pooled, cross-sectional data file (100x8=800 observations total). About 37 percent of votes cast in the 2008 presidential election were cast in these 100 locations, as they were home to 34 percent of the total U.S. population.

The results indicate that a one percentage-point increase in the share of immigrants across these large counties produced an average 0.58 percentage-point drop in the Republican percentage of the vote, controlling only for election year. Realizing that the vote may also be influenced by other socioeconomic dynamics, we included controls for the median household income and the percentage of African American residents in these counties (see Table 3). The impact of the increasing immigrant presence was actually slightly augmented by these changes: A one-point increase in the percentage of immigrants dropped the Republican percentage of the vote by 0.59 percentage points, a very precipitous decline (see Table 3). Another way to gauge the impact is to evaluate the effect of a one standard deviation increase in the immigrant population because a single standard deviation is a considered a fairly typical degree of change in the distribution. This calculation shows that a one standard deviation (σ=9.9) increase in the percentage of immigrants in the local population drops the GOP vote share by a marked 5.8 percentage points. In short, the rise in the immigrant, and particularly the Latino, population has been a powerful force behind the decline in the share of the Republican vote in these urban and suburban centers of electoral power.

When we incorporate the nation’s remaining counties, the immigrant population is likely to be a lesser force driving political change and our estimates of impact are likely to diminish. This is because immigrant populations have been slow to settle outside of major metropolitan areas, so any surge in Democratic voting must be attributable to other causes.

The results summarized in the right side of Table 3 indicate that a 1 percent increase in the immigrant population across these eight election cycles, generates a 0.38 percentage-point drop in the Republican vote share, a substantial effect. Calculations indicate that a single standard deviation (σ=4.4) increase in the proportion of immigrants drops the Republican vote share by an average of 1.7 percentage points, even after we control for the independent impact of election year, median household income, and the percentage of black residents. States such as California and New York have lost their competitive status in presidential elections as a consequence of such fundamental demographic change. Florida has moved from a safely Republican state to a perpetual battleground. Texas, too, sits on the threshold of more competitive politics as Democrats steadily gain ground in Dallas, Houston, and the state’s other large cities.

Texas, Calif., N.Y., and Fla. Compared

What is quite remarkable is that even when we consider Texas alone we find that, as the immigrant population has grown across its 254 counties, the Republican vote share has declined from where it stood 30 years ago. Estimates for California and Texas appear in Table 4. For Texas, the estimate shows that for every 1 percent increase in the immigrant presence in a county, the Republican vote share dropped by 0.67 percentage points, which is considerably higher than the impact nationally. A one standard deviation (σ=6.07) increase in the percentage of immigrants taking up residence in Texas counties, translates into a four percentage-point drop in Republican Party prospects, controlling for income and the percentage of black residents. Contrary to conventional wisdom, immigration is precisely why the GOP has lost so much ground in the most heavily Latino areas of South Texas, as well as in the larger urban counties.

The story is somewhat different for California. Yes, the drop in Republican presidential voting has followed on the heels of the immigrant influx; a 1 percent increase in the immigrant concentration drops the GOP vote share by about 0.58 percentage points (σ=9.21 producing a 5.3 percentage-point decrease for Republicans with a single standard deviation increase in the immigrant presence). But rising incomes decrease the GOP vote share as well, as the wealthy coastal counties have become profoundly Democratic since the Reagan years. In Texas, rising affluence is a countervailing force, bolstering Republican performance at the county level. In California, however, immigration and growing affluence have combined to put the state out of Republican political reach in national elections.

According to our estimates in Table 4, a single standard deviation (σ=8.1) increase in the share of immigrants in New York’s counties from 1980 to 2008 decreased the Republican vote share in presidential elections by 7.3 percentage points, a remarkably steep drop reflecting the declining performance of New York City area counties for the GOP for major offices. In fact, viewing New York from the perspective of the 2004 and 2008 presidential elections, it is hard to believe that Republicans once populated the New York City boroughs at all, electing such prominent local officials as Theodore Roosevelt, Fiorello LaGuardia, Jacob Javits, and Bill Green. This tradition has largely disappeared — and the current New York City council counts just five Republicans among its 51 members. In the state legislature, Republican representation from the New York City boroughs and suburban counties has dwindled. And although Republicans have won the mayoralty of New York City, many party officials in the rest of the nation wonder if the issue positions a candidate must take to win the mayoralty are compatible with Republican Party principles.

As for Florida, immigration has also steered this once solid Republican state in an increasingly Democratic direction. This was not always the case, of course, as the earliest waves of Cuban immigrants greatly bolstered Republican prospects in South Florida. Dade County was once winnable by Republicans, as it awarded Ronald Reagan 56 percent of the two-party vote in 1980. In 2008, John McCain won just 42 percent of the two-party vote in Dade County, which cast nearly twice as many votes as it had in 1980. Next door, Broward County was a safe Republican jurisdiction a generation ago. Broward had moved resolutely into the Democratic camp by the turn of the new century, though this development was also facilitated by the retirement migration of elderly Democrats from the Northeast.

The old exile politics that helped hawkish Republicans win in South Florida has faded, and the immigration flows have been decidedly less Cuban in origin with time. This is why the estimates in Table 4 show that a single standard deviation (σ=4.9) increase in immigration between 1980 and 2008 winds up decreasing the Republican vote share by 3.6 percentage points — not as drastic as the effect on New York State, but certainly enough to move Dade, Broward, and other high-immigration counties decidedly toward the Democrats in presidential elections.


Using standard statistical methods, this research has directly estimated the impact of the rising percentage of immigrants across U.S. counties on Republican presidential voting in the eight presidential elections from 1980 to 2008. The conclusion is inescapable and uncomplicated. As the immigrant population has grown, Republican electoral prospects have dimmed, even after controlling for alternative explanations of GOP performance. A typical drop in Republican support in a large metro area county is about six percentage points. In other words, an urban county that cast 49 percent of its vote for the Republican candidate in 1980 could be expected to drop to 43 percent by 2008.

Across all U.S. counties, including many rural counties, the estimated effect of immigration is to drop Republican vote share 1.7 to two percentage points. Even in seemingly remote locations with negligible immigrant populations, the effect is sufficient to move a 51 percent county to a 49 percent county. Aggregated over the large number of counties and viewed through the template of the Electoral College’s winner-take-all system of elections, the impact of immigration is easily sufficient, by itself, to decide many current and future presidential elections.

If we take two roughly comparable elections, 1988 and 2004, as bookends and examine the counties with more than 50,000 people (2004)7 that experienced just a two percentage-point gain or more in the share of the population that is foreign-born, 62 percent of those locations also saw a drop in their Republican vote share between those two contests. Inspecting figures for those counties experiencing a 4 percent or greater gain in the percentage of the population that is foreign-born, 74 percent of those counties witnessed a drop in Republican vote share. Given a 6 percent gain or more in the immigrant share of the population from 1988 to 2004, 83 percent of those counties lost GOP vote share. These comparisons plainly amplify the point that growing immigrant populations have eroded Republican electoral prospects in the vast majority of cities and towns of substantial size.

Ironically, past Republican votes in Congress in favor of a more generous immigration policy have unquestionably bolstered local Democratic majorities, and succeeded in stamping out Republican prospects in once politically competitive locales. This is because Republicans have not converted the legions of Democratic-leaning Latinos who constitute the lion’s share of the immigrant population. Nor can they be expected to win over many Latinos given their weak institutional presence in the locations where new arrivals typically settle. The hope for Republican success with immigrant voters lies mainly with the upward mobility and prosperity of Latinos, Asians, and others, something that will occur only with great difficulty given current levels of low-skill, wage-corrosive immigration.

Republicans are right to want to attract Latino voters. They are indisputably a growing share of the population and the electorate. But expanding the future flow of low-skilled immigrants into an economy ill-suited to promote their upward mobility will clearly be counterproductive given the evidence presented here. At the same time, Republican opposition to higher immigration levels can be too easily typecast as racist and xenophobic. This is because the party’s elites have failed to deliver a clear message that they want a pro-immigrant policy of reduced immigration and that these two goals are complementary. Such a policy would also prove to be the best means for moving immigrants toward the middle and upper income status that will promote their geographic and political mobility.


Alvarez, R. Michael and Lisa Garcia-Bedolla. 2003. “The Foundations of Latino Partisanship: Evidence from the 2000 Election.” Journal of Politics 65: 31-49.

Arnoldy, Ben. 2008. “The Mountain West, Once GOP Turf, is Now Competitive.” Christian Science Monitor. January 31, p. 2.

Barreto, Matt A. 2005. “Latino Immigrants at the Polls: Foreign-born Voter Turnout in the 2002 Election.” Political Research Quarterly 58: 1: 79-96.

Borjas, George J. 1999. Heaven’s Door: Immigration Policy and the American Economy. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

Brown, Thad A. 1988. Migration and Politics: The Impact of Population Mobility on American Voting Behavior. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press.

Campbell, Don. 2008. “Why Ga. should be on GOP’s mind; Tour Atlanta’s suburbs to get a sense of where this country is headed. The minority population is booming, and the math is decidedly against the GOP.” USA Today. November 18, pg. 11A.

Frey, William H. 1996. “Immigration, Domestic Migration and Demographic Balkanization in America: New Evidence for the 1990s.” Population and Development Review 22: 4: 741-763.

Frey, William H. 2006. “Diversity Spreads Out: Metropolitan Shifts in Hispanic, Asian and Black Populations since 2000.” Brookings Census 2000 Series. Washington, DC: Brookings Institution Metropolitan Policy Program.

Frey, William H., Kao-Lee Liaw, Yu Xie and Marcia J. Carlson. 1996. “Interstate Migration of the U.S. Poverty Population: Immigration “pushes” and welfare magnet “pulls.” Population and Environment 17: 6: 491-533.

Frey, William H. and Kao-Lee Liaw. 1998. “Immigrant Concentration and Domestic Migrant Dispersal: Is Movement to Nonmetropolitan Areas ‘White Flight’? Professional Geographer 50: 2: 215-232.

Gimpel, James G. 2003. “Latinos and the 2002 Election: Republicans do well when Latinos Stay Home.” Washington, DC: Center for Immigration Studies Backgrounder, January.

Gimpel, James G. 2007. “Latino Voting in the 2006 Election: Realignment to the GOP Remains Distant.” Washington, DC: Center for Immigration Studies Backgrounder, March.

Gimpel, James G. and Jason E. Schuknecht 2001. “Interstate Migration and Electoral Politics.” Journal of Politics 63: 1: 207-231.

Green, Donald P. Bradley Palmquist and Eric Schickler. 2002. Partisan Hearts and Minds: Political Parties and the Social Identities of Voters. New Haven: Yale University Press.

Hatton, Timothy J. and Jeffrey G. Williamson. 2006. Global Migration and the World Economy: Two Centuries of Policy and Performance. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.

Judis, John B. and Ruy Teixeira. 2002. The Emerging Democratic Majority. New York: Simon and Schuster.

Kaufmann, Karen M. 2004. The Urban Voter: Group Conflict and Mayoral Voting Behavior in American Cities. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.

King, Gary. 1997. A Solution to the Ecological Inference Problem: Reconstructing Individual Behavior from Aggregate Data. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

Larsen, Luke J. 2004. “The Foreign-Born Population in the United States: 2003.” P20-551. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Commerce, U.S. Census Bureau. August.

Lopez, Mark Hugo. 2008. “The Hispanic Vote in the 2008 Election.” Washington, DC: Pew Research Center., accessed January 4, 2010.

Lopez, Mark Hugo and Paul Taylor. 2009. “Dissecting the 2008 Electorate: Most Diverse in U.S. History.” Washington, DC: Pew Research Center., accessed January 4, 2010.

Michelson, Melissa. 2005. “Does Ethnicity Trump Party? Competing Vote Cues and Latino Voting Behavior.” Journal of Political Marketing. 4: 4: 1-26.

Passel, Jeffrey S. 2007. “Growing Share of Immigrants Choosing Naturalization.” Washington, DC: Pew Research Center., accessed January 4, 2010.

Petrocik, John R. 2009. “Measuring Party Support: Leaners are not Independents.” Electoral Studies. 28: 4: 562-572.

Wong, Janelle S. 2000. “The Effects of Age and Political Exposure on the Development of Party Identification among Asian American and Latino Immigrants in the United States.” Political Behavior 22: 4: 341-371.

End Notes

1 California has not been in play politically since 1988, when George H.W. Bush won a narrow 51.1 percent victory over Michael Dukakis.

2 Eligibility requires: reaching the age of 18, living continuously in the United States for five years, acquiring some basic knowledge of English and U.S. government, successfully passing a background check for criminal history, taking the oath of citizenship, and swearing allegiance to the United States.

3 For comparison: Barack Obama’s margin of victory over John McCain was 9.5 million votes nationwide; 3.3 million in California alone; two million in New York. In other words, just two large immigrant-receiving states accounted for 55 percent of President Obama’s margin of victory.

4 Party registration was similarly divided; 48 percent Democratic, but 27 percent Republican.

5 Readers should be mindful of the fact that county boundaries are arbitrarily drawn, giving rise to issues of ecological inference; one cannot infer the behavior of individual citizens from observing the aggregate units (King 1997). But in this particular research, we are interested less in the behavior of individuals than in how locations or places have changed, making these locations either more or less receptive to the appeals of particular political interests. We draw upon county level data from 1980 to 2008, using interpolated estimates where necessary to capture the intercensal years.

6 Data for all counties are available from the author upon request.

7 These counties were home to an estimated 86 percent of the U.S. population, and an estimated 97 percent of the foreign-born population in 2004.

As the national tally gears up, officials note that undercount in 2000 meant area lost out nearly $236 million in federal money

As the 2010 census draws near everyone seems to be honing in on it. This is a particularly interesting article as it is local to our county. Make sure you take a look at the pie charts on the left hand side of the article. They show Hispanic population growth in Austin as well as projections for growth.


Published: 12:16 a.m. Sunday, Feb. 21, 2010

Every 10 years, the government mounts a colossal effort to count every single person in the United States. The snapshot of America that emerges produces a vast landscape of figures used to calculate political power as well as how much federal money flows back to local communities for everything from hospitals to schools to roads.
With so much riding on the national count, which will begin next month, it has become a focus of community leaders across the country. At a January gathering of Austin and Travis County residents working to get an accurate and complete census count on April 1, one figure leaped out: $235,980,000.
That's the amount of federal money city and county officials say was left on the table as the result of a 2000 census undercount of about 16,000 county residents. Although the figure had been reported before, it was stop-in-your-tracks news to many of the volunteers.

Read More Here

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Why the 2010 Census Matters

Melissa Rentería - Conexión

Census Day is April 1, but the official forms that aim to get a snapshot of America should arrive at households days before then.

The catchy slogans — “You can’t move forward until you send it back” and “It’s in our hands” — urging U.S. residents to fill out the forms should become more frequent as March 15, the day census forms are mailed, approaches.

Census workers say they want to make sure that residents understand why it’s important to participate in the census, including the distribution of federal funds, and dispel myths associated with it. One of the ways that the U.S. Census Bureau is trying to get the word out include celebrity-endorsed public service announcements.

Other outreach to Hispanics includes the formation of Texas Latino Complete Count Committee, which aims to mobilize Latinos to be fully counted in the 2010 census. The Latino civil rights organization Mexican American Legal Defense Fund formed the committee.

“We believe it’s in the best interest of our state in terms of representation and our tax dollars flowing back to Texas for every Texan to be counted in the census and we will look at ways to help ensure that happens,” Gov. Rick Perry spokeswoman Allison Castle said in a statement.

According to MALDEF, the 2000 Census left an estimated 373,567 people in Texas uncounted, and the state missed out on more than $1 billion in federal funds over the last decade. MALDEF officials said Latinos, particularly immigrants, students and the working poor, are among the most difficult to count.

The census is used to determine how $400 billion in federal funds are distributed to local communities. Census totals also are used to determine the number of seats each state has in the U.S. House of Representatives, and states use census totals to redraw their legislative districts.

Clergy wants Congress to act on immigration reform

Clergy wants Congress to act on immigration reform

Religious leaders say it’s time to address ‘unfinished business’ of illegal immigration

By Victor Manuel Ramos, Orlando Sentinel

5:43 PM EST, February 17, 2010

A group of Orlando-area clergy renewed its call Wednesday for immigration reform that would legalize millions of unauthorized immigrants in the U.S., saying that it's time for President Obama and Congress to address "unfinished business."

The leaders, led by Roman Catholic Bishop Thomas Wenski, included Baptist, Methodist, Episcopal and Islamic clergy who said they were acting on their religious beliefs in compassion for the neediest. They were also representing the thousands of immigrants in their congregations.

"We are calling our nation to a change of heart, and hopefully, that change of heart will result in good news" for undocumented immigrants, said Wenski, a vocal advocate for legalization of immigrants during the past several years.

"The Catholic Church has a long history of advocating for immigration reform, but this is not a Catholic issue," he said. "It is an issue that touches on human rights and on America living up to its promise" as an immigrant haven.

The news conference was the local launch of a national initiative by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. The Justice for Immigrants campaign seeks to collect and distribute postcards signed by members of congregations and to deliver them to local members of Congress.

The postcards call for "immigration reform legislation that keeps immigrant families together, adopts smart and humane enforcement policies, and ensures that immigrants without legal status register with the government and begin a path toward citizenship." About 32,000 of those have been distributed in Orlando in the past two weeks, according to the Catholic Diocese of Orlando.

The Orlando churches launched the initiative just before the bishop said Ash Wednesday Mass for the start of Lent, a period of penitence and fasting. The bishop said it is "a time of conversion" that could serve for Christians to re-think their position on immigration.

Not all local clergy, however, think that religious beliefs mandate a specific position on immigration.

The Rev. Canon Gary L'Hommedieu, at The Cathedral Church of St. Luke in Orlando, said that while the Scriptures speak of welcoming the stranger, their message is not to be misinterpreted as a pass on obeying the law.

"Circumventing the rule of law in the name of welcoming the stranger is not a moral mandate, but more of a sleight of hand," said L'Hommedieu, who was not at the news conference. "We are not reforming immigration; we are bypassing it altogether. What we have is a problem of illegals already here and the case has not been made that the existing immigration laws were unjust. They simply were just bypassed."

The clergy members who joined Wenski on Wednesday behind the podium said they owe it to their congregations to join what they see as a fight for justice. Some congregation members are immigrants struggling with their status.

"In our faith tradition, we are all immigrants, and we know we came from somewhere else," said the Rev. Priscilla Robinson, of the First AME Church of Rosemont.

Imam Muhammad Musri, president of the Islamic Society of Central Florida, which represents about 10 mosques in the region, said that while Arab immigrants "mostly come through the door" entering the country legally, he wants to see all hard-working immigrants treated equally and afforded the opportunity to become U.S. citizens — as he did.

"Immigration is a touchy subject," Musri said, "but it is a vital issue that affects all of us. Millions of people live in our country undocumented and unable to contribute fully to our society....My happiest day was the day I was able to receive my citizenship."

Víctor Manuel Ramos can be reached at or 407-420-6186.

Copyright © 2010, Orlando Sentinel

Mass Movement for Migrants Rights 2010 on the threshold of history-the Last Stage

Mass Movement for Migrants Rights 2010 on the threshold of history-the Last Stage

Similar to the epoch of 2006, but contributing its own characteristics, as a whole, the process of today has already entered the massive and irreversible galvanization that apparently is about to reach the coveted goal, the big prize, immigration reform.

by Javier Rodriguez Political Strategist Los Angeles February 17, 2010

Once again the US movement for immigrant rights is in the threshold of history. This last stage for legalization and immigration reform has arrived and it’s moving fast. Though the political conditions are difficult, the long-awaited legislation that will empower the millions of undocumented now in the shadows, could well be debated and approved by congress and signed by President Barack Obama in the next months. To put the legislative strategy in motion, the nation is expecting the immigration proposal of Senators (D)Schumer and (R)Graham to be introduced in the coming weeks. At the same time the movement and its leadership have changed the tone of their political message and pressure on Washington by calling for a large mass mobilization on March 21st. The potential catalyst event will gather an estimated 100,000 people plus.

The general background to these developments is the global economic crisis and the wall street bailout with colossal gifts of hundreds of billions of dollars to the same financial class known to be the root of the country’s economic downfall. The millions of jobs lost have not been replaced and the double digit unemployment continues unabated. Millions of homeowners have been displaced from their homes, the health reform bill is paralyzed while the empire's wars have no end and the future of the middle and working class has diminished greatly.

In the area of immigration there is the long existence of an absurdly broken immigration system. Under President Obama the violent end to ICE raids in the work place was won, but it was not free. Instead, the Obama administration launched a Machiavellian strategy of securing the country by unleashing its own and unexpected campaign of persecution and deportation, police programs and the expansion of employment verification. The year long effort has unveiled ironic results considered by DHS Director Janet Napolitano, as proof, that the nation is secured and the country is ready for full immigration reform. Astonishingly, the battle cry could be enhanced by the fact the undocumented population has depleted to 10.8 million.

Accompanying these developments are several revealing political and organizational achievements that have been amassing steadily for over a year. On the one hand these include the 2008 elections and the defeat of the right, in which the Latino and immigrant vote played a pivotal role, especially in the former battleground states. The high-level White House meeting on immigration along with the continuing statements of support for reform by the president, senior officials and key federal legislators. The national surveys and academic studies that point to a well known favorable public opinion in support for legalization and that in fact it is essential for the country’s economic recovery(DR. Raul Hinojosa UCLA). The departure of Lou Dobbs from CNN and the recent presentation of Congressman Gutierrez immigration bill in the house, co-signed by 92 congressional Democrats from the Hispanic, African American, Asian and Progressive Caucuses.

Most important are the persistent educational and motivational campaigns along with protests proliferating nationally, including the entrance of this social movement into the electronic arena with its nets roots environment deploying effectively hundreds of thousands of emails, faxes and texts as well telephone meetings of up to 60,000 attendees. All this combined with summit meetings and lobbying in the capital.

Also, a month on the road is a dramatic marathon hike of 2.414 kilometers, from Florida to Washington DC, by four undocumented university students, culminating on May 1st. And the fasts or hunger strikes are growing parallel with the continuing protests and legal complaints against the infamous separation of families. In Chicago, the city council adopted a resolution in favor of immigration reform. In Phoenix 20.000 protested against conservative Sheriff Arpaio. In Detroit, as in other cities, 2,000 people gathered to plan their lobbying work and in Los Angeles over a thousand activists attended a fired up rally headlined by Luis Gutierrez.

Furthermore, with plans to mobilize by land and air tens of thousands to the March 21st national demonstration, the massive preparations are speedily advancing already heralding a huge success. In fact, the Hermandad Mexicana Trans-Nacional, based in California and Nevada, has already reserved the flights for a hundred of its members, 100% women “adelitas”. And amazingly all the funds for airfare, hotels, meals and ground transportation are being raised grass roots, including a Mexican wrestling match.

Added to the outpour of multiple and eclectic activities is a well funded national movement, more professional and multifaceted, different from the May 1st street groups. Organized and composed of large social sectors and coalitions, NGOs, Reform Immigration for America, Center for Community Change, FIRM, unions, the churches, etc., this movement can be observed moving in unity and in alliance -partnership- with progressive forces and legislative lobbyists in the beltway and Congress pushing the political process.

Indisputably the principal national figure has turned out to be the Chicago Puerto Rican (D)Congressman Luis Gutierrez who in 2009 headed the historic “National Campaign of Familias Unidas” with rallies of thousands in more than 20 cities. Inherently within this broad display of participating social forces, parts of the national grass roots movement that led millions of immigrant demonstrators unto the streets and also boycotted the economy since early 2006 is also included.

It is obvious that we are in the dynamics of the last stage of a 24-year struggle to legalize the millions of undocumented immigrants in the U.S. Also more than obvious is that the present national movement is a logical extension of this social struggle, with more leadership skills it sought and found unity and is moving so far under a national strategy. Similar to the epoch of 2006, but contributing its own characteristics, as a whole, the process of today has already entered the massive and irreversible galvanization that apparently is about to reach the coveted goal, the big prize, immigration reform.

*A clarification. This piece does not include an analysis of any bills with a comparative to international human rights principles. Nor a deeper look into the leadership of said movement and its principal organizations, their political trajectories and ideological roots. It also does not contain a look into the more radical and hard sectors, its divisions and its present vision or strategy. In spite of other writing priorities, I expect to broaden this article and offer my critical contributions on this points in the following days.

* Javier Rodriguez, a Media-Political Strategist, is a co-founder of the National Coalition for Fair Immigration Laws and Practices 1973-78, CASA 1971 -78, the Coalition for Visas and Rights for the Undocumented 1982-90, California Latinos for Jesse Jackson 1984, the March 25 Coalition 2006, May 1st National Movement 2007 and Paramento Migrante Mexico City 2007. As a progressive journalist, has also published for the LA Times La Opinion, Eastern Group Publications, Uno Mas Uno-Mexico, syndicated with Hispanic Link,, and STN's He is now writing his experiences and perspective as a leading activist in the Immigrant Rights Movement, including the making of 25 March 2006 For which he was the initiator.

Mexicans flee drug war city in fear of killings

This is extreme:

"Up to 200,000 people have left Ciudad Juarez -- more than 10 percent of its 1.5 million population -- in 18 months from fear of a turf war between cartels which has made the city one of the world's deadliest places."

"At least 30,000 people have moved to El Paso."

Read on.


Mexicans flee drug war city in fear of killings

By Julian Cardona

Thu Feb 18, 12:30 pm ET

CIUDAD JUAREZ, Mexico (Reuters) – Tens of thousands of Mexicans are fleeing drug violence on the U.S. border in an exodus that is decimating a large city and threatening to leave a major manufacturing area short of skilled workers.
Up to 200,000 people have left Ciudad Juarez -- more than 10 percent of its 1.5 million population -- in 18 months from fear of a turf war between cartels which has made the city one of the world's deadliest places.
Drug murders reach up to a dozen a day and bullet-riddled vehicles and bodies in pools of blood are commonplace on busy streets in a collapse of law and order.
Ciudad Juarez, which lies just across the Rio Grande from El Paso, Texas, hit perhaps its lowest point in years of violence when suspected drug gang hitmen burst in on a party of high school students in January and killed 15 people, most of them teenagers.
Kidnappings and extortions are also rampant as drug gangs seek extra income, despite a government security crackdown.
"I fled to El Paso when a gang tried to kidnap me last year," said the head of a cross-border trucking firm who declined to be named for safety reasons. "They came for me but I had a change in my schedule so I wasn't home and they kidnapped my neighbor instead," he added.
Once one of Mexico's fastest growing cities, Ciudad Juarez is now blighted with shuttered restaurants and shops. Garbage and unopened mail gathers around the doorways of empty office buildings and once upscale suburbs are devoid of cars.
About a quarter of homes in the city lie empty as residents escape or new houses are left vacant, according to the municipal planning institute. Wealthy and middle class families are heading to safer Mexican cities like Guadalajara and Monterrey, traumatized by the 4,500 drug murders in Ciudad Juarez since violence exploded in early 2008.
At least 30,000 people have moved to El Paso.
Estimates vary on the size of the exodus but academics and Ciudad Juarez officials put it at between 75,000 and 200,000 people since mid-2008. An economic crisis has also hit the city but violence is the main reason for the exodus, city officials say.
Ciudad Juarez, which boomed in the U.S. Prohibition era of the 1920s and until recently attracted Americans seeking cheap medicine, dental care and tequila, is home to U.S.-run plants producing goods ranging from autoparts for General Motors to surgical masks for Johnson & Johnson.
The factories, attracted to Mexico by lower labor costs, are operating normally. But some U.S. companies are halting investment in Ciudad Juarez because of the violence, said Carlos Chavira, president of a leading local business group.
"We are seeing a reduction or a freezing of some investment because of the crime," Chavira said, adding that telecoms, autoparts and electrical goods' factories were worst hit.
Smaller local business are suffering as drug gangs in league with corrupt police run extortion rackets.
"The drug gangs come to your place and leave a note with a telephone number, you have to call and they tell you how much protection money to pay," said a restaurant owner.
Ciudad Juarez is the main flashpoint in a war between some half a dozen drug cartels, who are also fighting police and the army. About 18,000 people have died nationwide since President Felipe Calderon took office in late 2006 and deployed tens of thousands of troops against the gangs.
Control of Ciudad Juarez is prized by traffickers because of its location smack in the middle of the border and its road and rail links deep into the United States.
It was always a dangerous town but violence took off in early 2008 when Mexico's most-wanted trafficker Joaquin "Shorty" Guzman sent his henchmen to try to wrest Ciudad Juarez from the local cartel headed by Vicente Carrillo Fuentes.
Violence has mostly not spread across the border, but many in the Ciudad Juarez-El Paso area, which is home to some 235,000 manufacturing jobs and operations of 70 Fortune 500 companies, say the future of the region that handled $50 billion in trade in 2008 is at stake.
El Paso officials are lobbying for President Barack Obama to meet Calderon in the area and come up with a plan to stop the killings.
"An unprecedented tragedy has been unfolding in our community and our entire region is at immediate risk of further violence, devastation and chaos," El Paso city councilors Steve Ortega and Beto O'Rourke said in a February resolution calling for an end to drug violence.
Many of those abandoning Ciudad Juarez are middle class or skilled workers, threatening a labor shortage despite Mexico's high unemployment. "There's the risk the city's competitiveness drops and forces us to lose ground," said Chavira.
Calderon, who has staked his reputation on beating back the drug cartels, is facing rising public anger at the violence in Ciudad Juarez. In his second trip to the city in less than a week, Calderon reiterated on Wednesday a pledge of financial aid to create jobs, entice youngsters out of drug gangs and regenerate the most dangerous neighborhoods.
(Writing and additional reporting by Robin Emmott; editing by Alistair Bell and Kieran Murray)
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Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The White House Blog: Immigration

I came across this blog in the website. There are several blog topics but this one is specifically on immigration. The last blog posted was January 27th of this year, but I thought it's an important link to have. I have linked the title of this post to the blog site.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

tackling illegal immigration from the top

Tackling illegal immigration from the top
A crackdown on alleged smuggling operations is a step in the right direction.
February 12, 2010

Super Express Van Tours of Houston was not your ordinary bus line. It served neither tourists nor commuters. Instead, federal officials say, it specialized in transporting illegal immigrants around the country. Once they arrived from Mexico, it kept the passengers under lock and key in "safe houses" -- preventing both scrutiny from outsiders and possible escapes -- until it loaded them into minivans and shuttled them to cities across the United States, including Los Angeles, Atlanta and Miami.

Super Express was no stranger to the Border Patrol and other federal authorities -- its drivers had been stopped and arrested seven times over five years for transporting illegal immigrants. But the drivers and their human cargo were merely the low-hanging fruit. That's why it was a welcome development last week when agents arrested the company's owner, Fermin A. Tovar. This reflects a marked shift in enforcement methods, officials said, and a critical step in what is intended to be an ongoing effort to crush the smuggling industry.

Friday, February 12, 2010

H.R. 4321: The Amnesty Mob's 'Greatest Hits'

In light of our conversation during our last class. I thought this was disturbing-Courtney

AMNESTY: No Illegal Alien Left Behind!
Rep. Luis Gutierrez and his 91 closest pals have come to the conclusion that if the Congress won't pass one amnesty, maybe it'll pass a bunch of amnesties piled into one bill. To be honest, "a bunch" doesn't do the bill credit, as you'll soon see.
Rep. Gutierrez's bill contains the DREAM Act amnesty, the AgJOBS amnesty, an amnesty for the parents of anchor babies (which is a fair chunk of the illegal population), and an amnesty for the children of Filipino WWII veterans, just to name a few (and I do mean "a few." President Bush had "No Child Left Behind," Rep. Gutierrez has "No Illegal Alien Left Behind.").
Why the honorable representative even bothered to include these various amnesties is beyond me because under the terms of the bill, literally anyone who is illegally present in the United States at the time of the bill's passage is eligible for legal permanent residence. But, if you listen to the bill's supporters, this is not an amnesty because the illegal aliens (excuse me, "undocumented migrants") must pay a fine. A fine of $500. No, I didn't forget a zero or three. All that illegal aliens must do to receive legal permanent residence under the terms of the bill is pay a $500 fine (and not be a mass murderer, a serial rapist, a polygamist, or Osama Bin Laden). The average illegal alien family costs American taxpayers $10,000 per year, but Rep. Gutierrez believes a $500 fine is a just and proper punishment. Oh, and if an illegal alien cannot pay the fine, that's no problem, they can still get their amnesty. Why should the we let the inability to pay a minor fine stand in the way of an great amnesty bill, right?

Thursday, February 11, 2010

The Little Trip of a Dream

This 30-minute documentary ties in nicely to our reading of Mexico Unconquered.


A documentary that portrays the stories of undocumented Mexicans living in Richmond, Va., a journey that their American friend took to their home village in Morelos and the reality of crossing the U.S./Mexico border.

The Little Trip of a Dream// El Viajecito de un Sueño from Jen Lawhorne on Vimeo.

Immigrant Students: A Year in the Lives of New Immigrants

A big challenge facing North Texas' public schools is immigration — particularly teens from rural Mexico. Most speak scant English, some had interrupted schooling back home and some want to work. Often, they are here illegally. Still, the courts say schools must educate them. Since DFW has become one of America's new arrival capitals, the entire region shares an interest in their success. The News followed about 60 new immigrants and their teachers at DISD's Adamson High last school year, and met with many families, to learn about their challenges at school and home.

The main page with links to the different parts in the series as well as to editorials can be found here.

Part One - Immigrant Students: New arrivals face a hard road to finish high school

Part Two - Education a challenge in a small Mexican community with strong ties to Dallas

Part Three - Backgrounds play big role in new immigrants' success in U.S. classrooms

Part Four - Adamson High Principal Rawly Sanchez takes a personal stake in kids' success

Part Five - Adamson students finish year with TAKS results, graduation, plans for the future

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

The power of the Latino vote in the 2010 elections

A 48 page report from America's Voice (The power to win common sense immigration reform).

How and why Latinos will vote in the next election (supposedly). CeCe

HR4321 on family unity

Sec. 304, titled "Promoting family unity," provides amendments to help families stay together. The section starts on p. 316 of HR4321 and continues through p. 319. I searched for the Immigration and Nationality Act that is referenced at the beginning of the text and I found the following:

8 U.S.C. § 1182, INA § 212

Walking the Dream: Immigrant College Students Push for Reform

Immigrant students use the good ole' "American way" and create publicity to lobby for their cause.

- Igor

Walking the Dream: Immigrant College Students Push for Reform

By Karen Yi
From the January 29, 2010 issue
Posted in National , immigration

Miami-Dade Community College student Felipe Matos has a new schedule this spring semester. Each day starts with a 5:30 a.m. wake-up call, a big breakfast, a quick stretch and securing his feet with a thick layer of duct tape. Then Matos sets off for a 17-mile walk interspersed by several breaks of singing songs, and later stops to sleep in a different place every night — RVs, churches or even strangers’ homes.

The thick blisters that have developed on his feet after walking 250 miles beg him to stop. But this semester of learning has only just begun. Along with three other immigrant students, Matos, 23, is trekking 1,500 miles in a five-month campaign that launched Jan. 1 from Miami and will end in Washington, D.C., to rally in support of “education not deportation” for undocumented youth and their families.

“It was hitting home and it was time for us to get up and act,” said Gaby Pacheco, 25, an undocumented immigrant living in Miami, whose family is in deportation proceedings. “Our communities couldn’t wait anymore,” said Pacheco, a music therapy student at Miami-Dade College.

Four youth will walk the entirety of the trip — Pacheco, Matos and two other students, Carlos Roa, 22, an architecture student at Miami-Dade, and Juan Rodriguez, 20, who recently became a permanent resident and hopes to study sociology in Chicago.

Named the “Trail of Dreams,” the walk has four guiding goals: a pathway to citizenship, greater access to education, workers’ rights and the end of the separation of families. The campaign was launched by Students Working for Equal Rights, the Florida Immigration Coalition and, a group that works to promote the political empowerment of Latino communities.

“It’s courageous and inspiring what these young people are doing,” said Norman Eng, director of media relations at the New York Immigration Coalition. “It’s been a very effective way to highlight the plight of immigrants like themselves. I think we’re all marching with them in spirit.”

The Trail of Dreams comes at a time when immigrant-rights groups across the country have mobilized to reinvigorate the push for the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act (DREAM Act) introduced in 2001 to offer a route to legal residency to graduating undocumented high school students living in the country for more than five years.

A report by College Board Advocacy, “Young Lives on Hold: The College Dreams of Undocumented Students,” found that 65,000 undocumented students living in the country for more than five years graduate from high school annually. While they can legally attend most colleges, they are not eligible for financial aid.

The laws vary by state and are a source of confusion due to constantly fluctuating state and local policies. Only 10 states allow undocumented students to pay in-state tuition rates. Current New York policy states that undocumented youth need to be enrolled in an in-state high school for two years to be eligible for in-state tuition. Higher education is just not an option for many undocumented students who have no access to financial aid and no legal authorization to work.

Approximately two million undocumented children live in the United States, roughly 15 percent of the entire undocumented population.

The rest of the acrticle can be found HERE

Gibler speaking at a book signing

John Gibler talks at a book signing in Houston, TX reviewing a lot of his talking points from Mesico:Unconquered.

- Igor

Representatives Introduce Bill to Block Illegal Aliens from Accessing In-State Tuition

Written by
Monday, 01 February 2010 17:44

On Wednesday, January 27, Congressmen Todd Tiahrt (R-KS), Rodney Alexander (R-LA), Brian Bilbray (R-CA), and Duncan Hunter (R-CA) introduced the "Fairness for American Students Act" (H.R. 4548). This commonsense legislation would amend the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act to clarify that illegal aliens who attend a postsecondary educational institution are ineligible for in-state tuition unless the institution offers those rates to all American citizens. To help enforce this provision, the bill provides out-of-state students legal standing to file civil actions against states and institutions that violate the law. Finally, H.R. 4548 would bar any college or university that provides in-state tuition to illegal aliens from receiving any Federal funding.
Currently, ten states grant in-state tuition to illegal aliens. Groups of American students have challenged these laws in both California and Kansas. The suit in California is pending before the state supreme court. However, in Rep. Tiahrt's home state of Kansas, a Federal judge dismissed the suit for lack of standing. (NILC, October 5, 2005). H.R. 4548 would help American students challenge the granting of in-state tuition to illegal aliens by creating a civil cause of action for citizens who suffer financially by not receiving in-state tuition from a college or university that simultaneously grants such benefits to illegal aliens. (§ 1(a)(3)).
FAIR has strongly endorsed the Fairness for American Students Act. As FAIR President Dan Stein noted, "This commonsense bill is consistent with the belief held by millions of Americans that our government should not subsidize and reward illegal immigration." (American Chronicle, January 28, 2010).
The Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) is a national, nonprofit, public-interest, membership organization of concerned citizens who share a common belief that our nation's immigration policies must be reformed to serve the national interest.
FAIR seeks to improve border security, to stop illegal immigration, and to promote immigration levels consistent with the national interest-more traditional rates of about 300,000 a year.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Colleges Wary of Violence Near U.S. Border

ABC News reports on how violence along the border affects (or doesn't affect) nearby universities. The tone of the article suggests there is very little impact but my cynic's view leads me to think university officials are trying to deal with the public relations aspect of negative press. It would be interesting to have more student perspectives. --Lauren

As drug violence continues to escalate across the Rio Grande, particularly in Juarez, Mexico, many colleges and universities along the U.S.-Mexico border are working to assure students that their campuses are safe.

As the body count continues to rise, city officials search for a solution.
Despite the murders in neighboring Juarez, the city of El Paso, Texas, has remained relatively calm.
"Though we're located very close to our neighbors to the south, I'm not aware of any spillover that has taken place that would directly affect our students," said Clifton Walsh, chief of police for the University of Texas at El Paso. "We do work with agencies to monitor the activities taking place in Mexico."

Last Sunday, 16 people, many of them teenagers, were gunned down at a house party early Sunday morning in Juarez. They are now among the more than 15,000 who have been killed in Mexico since President Felipe Calderon assumed office in 2006, according to the Associated Press.

In El Paso, Walsh said the university issues travel bulletins to students who want to travel across the border, as recommended by the State Department.

The violence nearby, however, has yet to deter students from enrolling at UTEP, said Steven Lazarin, UTEP public affairs specialist. In fact, enrollment has increased steadily over the past few years to about 21,000.

"I think students have grown accustomed to the violence," said Ruben Rodriguez, a sophomore at UTEP and a long-time resident of the border city. "I think we all feel moderately safe, at least on this side. I mean, UTEP can't provide 2,500 bulletproof vests."

Story continues: