Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Immigration News Roundup - June 16, 2009

1. Hate Crimes Rise as Immigration Debate Heats Up: A new report from the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights Education Fund indicates that an increase in hate crimes committed against Hispanics and people perceived to be immigrants in recent years "correlates closely" to the nation's increasingly contentious debate over immigration, faulting anti-immigrant rhetoric in the media and extremist group mobilization on the Internet. Hate crimes targeted against Hispanic Americans increased 40 percent between 2003 and 2007, the most recent year in which FBI statistics are available, from 426 to 595 incidents, marking the fourth consecutive year of increases.

Among the recommendations contained in Confronting the New Faces of Hate: Hate Crimes in America 2009:

  • Set The Tone For A Civil National Discourse On Comprehensive Immigration Reform: "Civil rights organizations have become increasingly concerned about the virulent anti-immigrant and anti-Latino rhetoric employed by a handful of groups and coalitions that have positioned themselves as legitimate, mainstream advocates against illegal immigration in America. Leaders from every sector — including government, media, business, labor, religion, and education — have an essential role in shaping attitudes in opposition to all forms of bigotry. These leaders must moderate the rhetoric in the immigration debate. It is vital that civic leaders and law enforcement officials speak out against efforts to demonize immigrants — and use their bully pulpits to promote better intergroup relations. They must use their power of persuasion and political clout to condemn scapegoating, bias crimes, racism, and other hate speech and hate crimes, and to press for fair and workable immigration reform."

2. For immigrants, living the dream is getting tougher: An article in yesterday's USA Today offers case studies of how the current recession is affecting small immigrant entrepreneurs. About 1.5 million immigrants own U.S. businesses, according to a study for the Small Business Administration by Rob Fairlie, an economics professor at the University of California-Santa Cruz. He found that immigrants are 30% more likely to start a business than non-immigrants. They account for 11.6% of all U.S. business income....Because immigrant business owners — particularly those who operate stores or restaurants — often depend on their own communities, they can be "more vulnerable in these downturns," says Gregory DeFreitas, an economist at Hofstra University. For the same reason, recovery will come more slowly to immigrant businesses, he says...

3. Wenski's Word: In a column titled My Word: Moment of truth on immigration in yesterday's Orlando Sentinel, Mons. Thomas Wenski, bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Orlando and a consultant to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Committee on Migration, tells the Obama administration that it needs to produce "a substantive plan that shows that the administration intends to win this battle, even if it might take longer than expected."

Says the prelate: "Such a plan should include legislative and administrative actions that increase public confidence that immigrants are integrating into U.S. society systematically and that the government would be able to efficiently implement and enforce a new immigration system...I am not talking about more border enforcement. I am speaking of initiatives to show that, if we do intend to require 12 million people to earn citizenship, the infrastructure is in place to ensure that they are processed and able to learn English and civics in a reasonable time period. In short, the administration must prove that these new immigrants, now in the shadows, can emerge and become good Americans."

4. In Virginia, Lies, Damned Lies and Statistics: The anti-immigrant group Federation for American Immigration Reform has come out with a new study titled The Costs of Illegal Immigration to Virginians which purportedly shows that "providing education and health care to illegal aliens and their families, and incarcerating criminal illegal aliens, costs state taxpayers nearly $1.7 billion annually." FAIR bolstered their findings with a new Zogby poll that shows "56% of Virginia voters say illegal immigration has a negative impact on the state."

Immigration Impact blog promptly counterattacked with a column refuting FAIR's findings and dissecting the group's rather biased methodology. The Immigration Policy Center also retaliated with their own fact sheet New Americans in the Old Dominion State that demonstrates the growing political and economic power of the immigrant community in Virginia, and documenting the economic impact of both documented and undocumented immigrants on the state. Among the statistics: "Undocumented immigrants in Virginia paid between $260 million and $311 million in taxes in 2007" and "The state’s undocumented population, which earned between $2.6 billion and $3.1 billion in 2007, even after accounting for remittances sent back to their home countries, uses their income to purchase Virginia’s goods and services." Sic semper tyrannis...

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