Reflecting on Immigrant Rights Strategy After 2010 - What Went Wrong?

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I haven't seen as much soul-searching, discussion, and fingerpointing within the immigrant rights movement as I expected after the 111th Congress ended with no measurable progress for the immigrant community in the U.S. Democrats spent the last two years claiming to be champions of the immigrant community but in the end accomplished nothing despite holding large majorities in both houses of Congress.

Since the DREAM Act was defeated in December, I haven't heard anything new from President Obama.

I haven't heard anything from the Congressional Hispanic Caucus.

From the Democratic leadership in the Senate.

From the Reform Immigration for America campaign.

From America's Voice or the National Immigration Forum.

From AILA.

Maybe I haven't been paying attention. Or maybe I haven't heard much that is new, something that doesn't replicate the failed strategy of the past several years.

I know some have been taking time to decompress after a fierce extended campaign. I know others have been depressed and unsure of what comes next.

I have to accept accountability for the current situation as well ... I've been working towards the goal of legalization for a few years with as little success as anyone else. And drifting from necessary introspection to counterproductive acrimony is a real danger.

But the silence right now is deafening.

Whatever happens going forward, the immigrant rights movement can't repeat the mistakes of the past several years. I hope that this silence from those who formulated and implemented the comprehensive immigration reform strategy represents a tacit acknowledgment that something went badly wrong. And that now it is time to listen to new voices and new ideas. I hope that conditions now are favorable for more vibrant discussions, more brainstorming, and more openness to new strategies.

I hope there is more space in this movement now for undocumented leadership, for leaders whose incentives, information, and experiences are more closely aligned with undocumented communities than current leadership. Leaders who would personally benefit from legalization will almost always fight harder than leaders who wouldn't.

I'll be writing more about this soon, but for now one of the few in-depth attempts to debrief I've seen so far in the new year is this one from Daniel Altschuler. Another is my co-blogger Kyle's recent post on priorities for 2011. Check them out, share your thoughts in comments here or at these posts. Write your own reaction and post the link in comments or email it to me or Kyle, or let us know about pieces you liked that we might have missed. Let's start talking.


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This page contains a single entry by David Bennion published on January 10, 2011 11:31 PM.

Citizen Orange Comments Are Down was the previous entry in this blog.

Making Sense Out of the Violence in Tuscon: Reflections From A Migrant is the next entry in this blog.

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