U.S. Immigration Reform: May 2008 Archives

Frank Sharry, Executive Director of the newly formed U.S. pro-migrant communications war room, America's Voice, has laid out what looks to be Sharry's new strategy for victory in a post on Alternet.  Let's see if we can come up with catchy phrases, a la nativist, that describe the new strategy.

Julia Preston at the New York Times reported yesterday on an alarming development in the Postville debacle:

In temporary courtrooms at a fairgrounds here, 270 illegal immigrants were sentenced this week to five months in prison for working at a meatpacking plant with false documents.

The prosecutions, which ended Friday, signal a sharp escalation in the Bush administration's crackdown on illegal workers, with prosecutors bringing tough federal criminal charges against most of the immigrants arrested in a May 12 raid. Until now, unauthorized workers have generally been detained by immigration officials for civil violations and rapidly deported.

Picture from the New York Times.

It may not be politically viable, I may be attacking allies in this post, but someone needs to say it.  In the wake of shocking exposes in the New York Times, The Washington Post, and 60 Minutes, (h/t to Roberto Lovato for the links) it looks like there's actually some movement from the U.S. government to enact some pro-migrant, or better said, less anti-migrant federal legislation.   Nina Bernstein and Julia Preston of the New York Times report in "Better Health Care Sought for Detained Immigrants".


Immigration attorney Greg Siskind drew the ire of Lou Dobbs, who recently featured on his show an item Siskind had posted on his blog a while back.  Dobbs didn’t like Siskind’s research showing that Dobbs’ repeated claim that he supports legal immigration—a common misleading tactic of restrictionists—is false.

DOBBS: The pro-amnesty lobby at it again, telling all-out lies about my position on illegal immigration and our border security crisis. The latest example of the pro-illegal aliens' movements' lies coming in a letter to the "Wall Street Journal" today. Douglas Rivlin, director of communication for the National Immigration Forum, says quote, "research by attorney Greg Siskind suggests that 96 times Lou Dobbs talked about legal immigration on his nightly CNN show, dating back to 2001, 92 times he painted legal immigration in a negative light."

Well, Mr. Rivlin, here's a little research you might add to your own. The vast majority of Greg Siskind's analysis is based on my justified criticism of abuses in the system for temporary work visas, specifically H1B visas in nearly every case, not legal immigration.

Dobbs’ point here turns on a distinction of legal terminology between immigrant and non-immigrant visas.  Immigrant visas are green cards, non-immigrant visas are inherently temporary and include student visas, tourist visas, and H-1B visas.  One key difference between “immigrant” and “non-immigrant” visas is that the former category permits “immigrant intent,” or the objective of living in the U.S. permanently, while the latter does not.  However, Dobbs doesn’t acknowledge that the H-1B visa allows for “dual intent,” which means that an H-1B visa holder can also apply for a green card through his or her employer without violating the terms of his/her status.  Probably most H-1B visa holders do try to become permanent residents.  So the H-1B visa program is de facto one of the major sources of legal immigration.  Also, most readers or viewers are likely not aware of the immigrant/non-immigrant distinction and apply the common usage of “legal immigration” to anyone who comes to the country legally, including those who use the H-1B program.

Here are my belated scattered observations from the May Day rally at Union Square in New York City last week. 


This was the first May Day march I had participated in.  It was a lot of fun, and emotionally and (in a strictly secular way :-)   ) spiritually uplifting, but I kind of felt like I had missed the party.  I heard about crowds exponentially larger in 2006 and substantially larger last year.  But apparently, frustration in the pro-migrant community with the lack of progress toward comprehensive reform and fear instilled by widescale raids over the past year-and-a-half had combined to ratchet down participation in this year's march.  (With my own eyeballs, I estimated between 2,000 and 3,000 marchers--not something you see every day parading down Broadway, but certainly not the numbers seen in recent years.)  It's a shame, because things are about as bad now as they've ever been for migrants in the U.S.  It's a shame, because the "Operation Return to Sender" raids that have terrorized migrant communities across the country were a direct response to the restrictionist backlash resulting from the remarkable pro-migrant rallies of early 2006.  DHS Secretary Chertoff has explained that the raids are a tool to push businesses and migrant groups towards a comprehensive solution.  It's also part of the "enforcement by attrition" policy promoted by restrictionists and adopted in recent years by the Bush administration.  If Bush is a pro-migrant president, he sure has a funny way of showing it. 

The low numbers, then, are a clear indication that the restrictionists--backed squarely by the U.S. government--currently have the upper hand in the public square.  But that's not the whole story by any means . . .