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Thursday, Apr 16, 2009, 8:55 am

Legalize the Undocumented, Help Fix the Economy

By Nezua
The dialogue on immigration has, historically, been contentious and cyclical. There are times when hysteria peaks, and rational thought struggles to enter the national dialogue. There are also moments of truth. This week, independent media debunked many myths about the undocumented and made the case for the positive impact of immigrants in the US, including the positive effect of legalizing the undocumented on the economy and how citizens are holding elected representatives accountable for votes against pro-immigrant measures.

Wendy Norris, writing for the Colorado Independent, held the New York Times to task for using questionable sources in an article about President Obama's push for immigration reform. Norris exposes the background of quoted anti-immigration groups like NumbersUSA, CIS, and FAIR, who have ties to white supremacy groups and eugenics promoters and calls the New York Times out for quoting organizations "repeatedly discredited as hate groups." When hate groups are quoted as legitimate sources, society suffers from the misrepresentation.

Also in New America Media, Jacqueline Esposito and Jumana Musa explore the kinds of "enforcement" that groups like NumbersUSA and FAIR claim is the most important part of Immigration Reform. Esposito and Musa cite the case of Guido Newbrough, a detainee who made multiple requests for medical attention; there was a treatable bacterial infection in his heart. Newbrough was locked in an isolation cell and died of the ailment.

"As the country moves forward on comprehensive immigration reform," they write, "We must uphold American values by ensuring that all people, no matter where they come from, are afforded fundamental rights, including the right to a fair day in court before being deprived of liberty and the right to be free from inhumane conditions of confinement. As a nation, we cannot stand for anything less."

The San Francisco Democratic County Central Committee (DCCC) would no doubt agree with that sentiment, as Beatriz Herrera reports for Wiretap. Apparently, the DCCC voted 20-1 against San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom to preserve Sanctuary ordinances for juvenile offenders. These ordinances ensure that offenders have a chance to prove their innocence instead of facing immediate deportation.

During the 2008 election season, voices calling for reason in the immigration debate were often drowned out by the near-hysteria that certain elements of the Right called forth. Another encouraging sign that we are, perhaps, at a new juncture: Today, even democratic state senators are being held accountable. Colorado Sen. Morgan Carroll (D-Aurora) was recently forced to defend her vote against SB 170, the tuition bill was one that would provide in-state tuition equity for undocumented Colorado high school graduates, on the air.

According to the Colorado Independent, Sen. Morgan appeared on progressive talk radio host Mario Solis-Marich's show on April 10—after "a week of being beat up in the press and on the blogs" for her opposition to the bill.

In Public News Service, Doug Ramsey has news about a report which focuses on the benefits of legalizing currently undocumented workers. Compiled by the nonpartisan Immigration Policy Center, the report breaks down how legalizing the undocumented community would increase the amount of income that the immigrant community brings into the economy. Rather than immigrants costing us, "legalization would boost tax collections at all levels of government by $66 billion over the next few years."

Public News Service
also explores the economic benefits to bringing the underground economy above ground. According to David Kallick, an economist with the Fiscal Institute, billions of dollars are simply "lining the pockets of employers who hire folks in the underground economy and avoid contributing to payroll and other taxes."

And OneWorld US reports that Hispanic rights advocates are eager to hear the president's plan for immigration reform and note that very reform is key to economic recovery. Janet Murguía, President and CEO of the largest national Hispanic civil rights and advocacy organization in the US notes that "the path to a strong economic recovery includes strategies that lift wages, increase revenue, and create a level playing field—and immigration is a crucial element of that equation."

Even the American Prospect's Ezra Klein is writing about immigration in a more proactive light. Just last week, Klein wrote Why Immigration Reform Won't Happen. He is now making The Political Case for Immigration Reform.

So maybe we're figuring it out as we go. The costs of letting parts of our country fail and fall away are more than economic, they are moral and profound. We have time to act, but opposition voices are gathering in number. There are many anti-immigrant myths, and many oppose a truly progressive stance on immigration. But we have the will for the struggle and the payoff will come not only in a healthier economy, but in a sounder national soul.

Are you ready? Let's go.


This post features links to the best independent, progressive reporting about immigration. Visit Immigration.NewsLadder.net for a complete list of articles on immigration, or follow us on Twitter. And for the best progressive reporting on critical economy and health issues, check out Economy.NewsLadder.net and Healthcare.NewsLadder.net. This is a project of The Media Consortium, a network of 50 leading independent media outlets, and was created by NewsLadder.
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