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Immigration Strategy Doc

 

Fighting the Anti-Immigrant Movement in the States:

Strategy Memo and Resources

by Nathan Newman

Policy Director, Progressive States Network

nnewman@progressivestates.org

212-680-3114

www.progressivestates.org/stateimmigrationproject/

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Executive Summary: Fighting the Anti-Immigrant Movement in the States

Purpose of this Strategy Memo:  With the rise of anti-immigrant rhetoric and attacks, immigration will inevitably be a major issue in state legislatures in the 2008 session.  The goal of this strategy document is to provide an outline of strategies and resources that state legislative leaders and advocates can use to challenge the anti-immigrant movements in their states

Changing the Narrative on Immigration Politics:    Even as anti-immigrant policies have been enacted in a number of states, other states have also been enacting smart, humane policies that raises living standards for all workers, undocumented and native worker alike, while encouraging maximum integration of new immigrants into our communities.  State leaders and advocates can use smart policy campaigns to change the public debate on immigration both at the state level and nationally.

Launching the State Immigration Project:  Working with allied labor, civil rights, religious, and community organizations, the Progressive States Network is launching the State Immigration Project, which will support state legislative leaders and advocates in challenging the rising anti-immigrant movement at the state level.  The goal will be to defeat bad legislation and pass humane immigration legislation where possible, but also to create opportunities to highlight the positive contributions of immigrants to our states.  These policy campaigns will emphasize those issues that evoke the many positive feelings the public has about immigrants, a counterbalance to the negative "wedge" messaging of the anti-immigrant rightwing.   The campaign overall will have a five-part strategy:

·         Emphasize the political costs of anti-immigrant political positions and the long-term political gains from humane, inclusive immigration politics

·         Stress the facts that counter anti-immigrant lies

·         Promote policies that overcome anti-immigrant "wedge" politics and helps to unite progressive constituencies

·         Emphasize the issues that divide even many conservative voters from anti-immigrant advocates

·         Generate national messaging on the positive steps being taken by states on the immigration issue

Making Immigration a Winning Issue- The Political Case Against Anti-Immigrant Politics:  The reality is that globalization is driving economic changes, including immigration, that cause fear and uncertainty for many voters.  If progressives promote economic policies that address the broader economic needs of working families, all polling shows that there is no majority for punitive measures against undocumented immigrants.  And given the rapid expansion of legal immigrants voting in US elections, including the doubling of the Latino electorate from 7.5 million voters in 2000 to an estimated 14 million voters in 2008, there is no political leadership future for politicians who promote punitive policies against new immigrants and alienate this growing bloc of voters. 

<??>Smart State Policy to Deflect Anti-Immigrant AttacksProgressive leaders need to promote policies that will highlight that those leading the anti-immigrant charge are actually against the interests of working families of all races and immigrant status. Key progressive immigration strategies include:

  • Wage Enforcement as Immigration Policy:  Much of the anger at immigrants derives from fears that sweatshops and sub-minimum wage labor will undermine wage standards.  Punishing employers who violate wage laws will politically unite all workers, immigrant and native alike, and actually strengthen the progressive political base.  If wage enforcement bills end up being attached to anti-immigrant bills, many in the business lobby will break their current alliances with anti-immigrant politicians.
  • Encouraging Immigrant Integration and NaturalizationProgressives need to emphasize that all available evidence shows that most are eager to become full members of our communities if given a chance. highlight policies that help all immigrants better integrate, which will unite the interests of legal and undocumented immigrants along with the members of their communities who are already voting citizens.
  • Immigrants and Public BenefitsWhile state leaders and advocates need to highlight the studies that show that undocumented immigrants actually pay more in taxes than they use in public benefits, they also need to demand studies of the lost benefits to citizens and the costs to taxpayers from onerous anti-immigrant enforcement rules.   Progressive leaders should also demand that the federal government, which receives billions in taxes paid by undocumented workers, share those revenues with states to expand services for communities with heavy immigrant populations.
  • Voting Reform versus "Voter ID" Attacks:   Despite the complete lack of evidence that non-citizens have illegally voted  in US elections, progressives need to challenge the voter ID requirements that are disenfranchising many legal voters.   While voter ID laws need to be defeated, the other part of progressive mobilization should be demanding that voting be made easier, through reforms like same day registration and voting by mail, for people who do overcome these new barriers to proving their legal right to vote.
  • Immigrant Outreach as Public Safety and Anti-Terror Policy: Most law enforcement groups recognize that it is harder to protect victims of crime when millions of people living in our communities are fearful of talking to the police when they see a crime or are a victim of one. Progressive leaders can highlight this reality by promoting policies that protect undocumented immigrant victims and witnesses of crime when they contact the police and encourage community policing efforts involving undocumented immigrant communities. 

Strengthening Progressive Alliances and Finding New Conservative Allies on the Immigration IssueBeyond individual policy options, advocates and elected leaders need to emphasize that the coalition in support of humane policies involving new immigrants is diverse and cuts into even many seemingly conservative communities.   Elected leaders can build on traditional support from many African-American leaders to labor unions to forge alliances with forward-looking business leaders and religious leaders, including many evangelicals, who recognize that smart, humane immigration policies for our communities is a source of both moral and social strength.

Conclusion- Moral Immigration Politics is Smart PoliticsAs this strategy memo outlines, moral immigration politics are also smart politics in the long-term, since the present coalition for humane immigration policy is rapidly being joined by new citizens who are unlikely to forgive politicians who vote wrong in the coming legislative session.   Ultimately, there is no political future for the politicians leading the drive to enact anti-immigrant laws, while those elected leaders who step up with intelligent, humane policies will be the long-term political winners of the current debate.

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Table of Contents

Fighting the Anti-Immigrant Movement in the States

 

Executive Summary: Fighting the Anti-Immigrant Movement in the States

 

Table of Contents

 

Introduction- Changing the Narrative on Immigration Politics in the States

 

Launching the State Immigration Project

 

Making Immigration a Winning Issue: The Political Case Against Anti-Immigrant Politics

In the Short-term, No Need to Give in to Anti-immigrant Politics

In the Longer-Term, Anti-Immigrant Politics are Political Suicide

The California Precedent: How Anti-Immigrant Politics Marginalized the California Right

 

Using Smart State Policy to Deflect Anti-Immigrant Attacks

 

Wage Enforcement as Immigration Policy

Why Going After Wage Law Violators Matters

Increasing Immigrant Labor Rights to Undermine Employer Lawbreaking

What States are Doing to Enforce Wage Laws

 

Encouraging Immigrant Integration and Naturalization

The Need for Integration Policies

State Policies to Assist Naturalization

 

Immigrants and Public Benefits

Citizens Lose Benefits under Bad Immigration Policies

No Savings from Benefit ID Rules

Positive Alternative State Policies on Public Benefits

 

Voting Reform versus “Voter ID”? Attacks

Demanding Real Election Reform

 

Immigrant Outreach as Public Safety and Anti-Terror Policy

 

Strengthening Progressive Alliances and Finding New Conservative Allies on the Immigration Issue

 

Conclusion- Moral Immigration Politics is Smart Politics

 

 

APPENDIX A: STATE IMMIGRATION POLICY RESOURCES AND LINKS

 

Broad Immigration Policy Resources

Voting and Naturalization Trends in Immigrant Communities

Background on the Anti-Immigrant Rightwing

Data Resources: Demographics and Economics

Wage Enforcement as Immigration Policy

Enforcing Wage Laws

Anti-Sweatshop Procurement Policies

Problems with E-Verify Workplace Immigrant ID Screening

Effects of Workplace Raids

Encouraging Immigrant Integration and Naturalization

Immigrants and Public Benefits

Research on Taxes Paid and Benefits Used by Immigrant Communities

Research on Effects of Benefit ID Rules

Voting Reform versus "Voter ID" Attacks

Research on Lack of Voter Fraud by Immigrants

Alternative Voter Reform

Immigrant Outreach as Public Safety and Anti-Terror Policy

Community Policing and Immigrant Communities

Domestic Violence and Immigrant Communities

Licenses and Identification

 

Appendix B: A QUICK MENU OF AFFIRMATIVE IMMIGRATION POLICY IDEAS
  - from the National Immigration Law Center

 

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Introduction- Changing the Narrative on Immigration Politics in the States

During the 2006 and 2007 sessions, legislation dealing with immigration has been promoted and enacted in many state legislatures across the country.   And with the failure of comprehensive immigration legislation at the federal level, immigration will likely be even more of a dominant issue in the 2008 state legislative sessions.

Much of this legislation has taken the form of anti-immigrant legislation, where even when the legislation has not passed, the attacks on immigrants has been a subtext undermining many state proposals in areas ranging from health care to voting rights, as the focus on excluding undocumented immigrants from participation has led to political deadlock.   

Yet, often less emphasized by the media, state and local governments across the country have also enacted many programs that include immigrants, including undocumented immigrants, within public benefit programs, extend higher education to immigrants growing up in those states, and created a range of programs to better include new immigrants in the cultural life of those communities and bring new citizens more firmly into the democratic system of those states.   These pro-immigrant policies include:

  • New York state courts in 2006 held that undocumented immigrants have full rights to sue under state labor laws.  Other states have worked with immigrant communities to crack down on employers violating minimum wage and other employment laws.
  • Nebraska last year joined nine other states that have passed the DREAM ACT-- in-state tuition for aspireing undocumented college-bound students.
  • Illinois has created the most comprehensive "New Americans Policy" to expand English language programs, welcome centers, jobs programs and document translation programs aimed at new immigrants. Joined by 11 other states with similar smaller-scale programs.
  • Illinois' new AllKids program extended coverage to children of all income levels, regardless of immigration status. Joined by MA, HI, NY, and CA as those states continued to expand health benefits for many immigrant children. WA this spring extended health coverage to all children in families up to 250% of the federal poverty line, again regardless of immigration status.

Yet despite the many positive pro-immigrant policies extended across the country, a false national narrative that anti-immigrant policies dominate state politics has emerged.   The reality is that in the states, we are seeing a mix of both very positive policies favoring the integration of new immigrants, both legal and undocumented, into our communities along with the anti-immigrant policies that get so many of the headlines.

What this reflects is a country where elected leaders, like many voters, are unsure what to do on the immigration issue.  More prosaically, it reflects a divide between some politicians thinking they can gain political advantage from directing disdain and even hatred towards a population perceived as lacking the political power to retaliate at the polls versus other elected leaders who recognize that Latino and other new immigrant voting populations are growing in almost every state and that anti-immigrant politics is long-term political suicide for any American political party or movement.

Launching the State Immigration Project

This strategy memo is part of Progressive States Network’s work in helping to develop a positive state immigration legislative program for the 2008 legislative calendar, build a coordinated network supporting the legislation, and create a national messaging strategy aimed to reinforce those state-level strategies.   Working with a wide range of allied labor, civil rights, religious, and community organizations, Progressive States is launching the State Immigration Project to support state legislative leaders and advocates to challenge the rising anti-immigrant movement at the state level.  

The goal of the State Immigration Project will be to defeat bad legislation and pass humane immigration legislation where possible, but also to create opportunities for hearings and associated positive media to highlight the positive contributions of immigrants to state economies and emphasize those issues that evoke the many positive feelings the public has about immigrants, a counterbalance to the negative "wedge" messaging of the anti-immigrant rightwing. The overall goal is to create a sustained pro-immigrant message in the states throughout 2008, using progressive legislative policies to keep a focus off the anti-immigrant alternatives.

For immigrant advocates, this involves a five-part strategy for the coming legislative sessions in the states and at the local level:

  • Emphasize the political costs of anti-immigrant political positions and the long-term political gains from humane, inclusive immigration politics
  • Stress the facts that counter anti-immigrant lies
  • Promote policies that overcome anti-immigrant "wedge" politics and helps to unite progressive constituencies
  • Emphasize the issues that divide even many conservative voters from anti-immigrant advocates
  • Generate national messaging on the positive steps being taken by states on the immigration issue

Anti-immigrant advocates have the goal of dominating the media and political debate by pushing their policies aimed at heightening tensions and even hatred between various groups, so progressives need to emphasize the policies that unite most of the population to create an alternative media and political focus. 

Making Immigration a Winning Issue: The Political Case Against Anti-Immigrant Politics

The first step is to firmly highlight the short- and long-term political costs of anti-immigrant positions by elected leaders.  Advocates need to change any media narratives and conventional wisdom that the "smart" position for elected leaders is to attack undocumented immigrants. 

The reality is that globalization is driving economic changes, including immigration, that cause fear and uncertainty for many voters.  Given stagnating wages for most workers this decade and the low-wage conditions in which immigrants are often employed, this does create fears that new immigrants are undercutting living standards for native workers.  When a recent Democracy Corps poll found that 70 percent of the public says the country is on the 'wrong track,' the poll found that this derived from feelings of "big business getting whatever they want in Washington, leaders forgetting the middle class, and America doing nothing about problems at home."  Furthermore, a recent Wall Street Journal Poll on the eve of the 2007 legislative elections found that a majority of both Republican and Democratic voters felt that America's current globalization policies have been bad for American workers. When people feel economic fear and don't see anyone acting to help them, anger and scapegoating, as with some of the attacks on immigrants, is often the result.    Especially when many leaders aren't offering a more general vision of demanding corporate accountability and standing up for the concerns of working families, that danger of scapegoating just increases.

In the Short-term, No Need to Give in to Anti-immigrant Politics

Yet the public itself is divided and conflicted on immigration.  Many voters do advocate beefed up border enforcement, but overwhelmingly support legalization and other measures to bring existing undocumented immigrants into mainstream American society.  And while exact numbers change in different polls based on changes in the wording of the question -- a sign of the mixed feelings of voters on the issue -- there is no majority for the kind of anti-immigrant policies promoted by some rightwing forces.  For example, a broad survey of polling by the Century Foundation and Center for American Progress found that the public was broadly divided on the costs and benefits from immigration, with many Americans holding deep respect for the hard work and aspirations of new immigrants.   Despite claims that anti-immigrant politics would help elect conservative candidates in both 2006 and 2007, progressive candidates actually made gains in states across the country.

This means that there is no real national majority for punitive measures against undocumented immigrants.  In a few states, especially those with less experience with older waves of immigration, there has been more visceral reactions around immigration, but the underlying poll numbers show that even in the short-term in such states, an intelligent, progressive response by elected leaders that addresses underlying economic and social fears is a better response than political scapegoating.

In the Longer-Term, Anti-Immigrant Politics are Political Suicide

While some rightwing politicians see appeals to xenophobia as a smart political strategy, the reality is that Latino citizens are one of the fastest growing demographics-- and a traditional swing vote in elections.  Part of the reason for progressive victories in 2006 was a backlash by Latino voters (see also here) against what they saw as anti-immigrant conservative politicians.

Advocates need to highlight these longer term trends.  While most focus has been on the millions of undocumented immigrants, much ignored are the estimated eight million legal immigrants who are now being mobilized to apply for citizenship. The National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials Educational Fund (NALEO) organized the ya es hora Ôš ¡Ciudadania!

 (It's About Time - Citizenship!) campaign coordinated by national organizations, community groups, unions such as SEIU, and media partners like Univision to motivate eligible permanent residents to apply for citizenship. The results of this effort to draw more Hispanics into the US political process has been overwhelming:

Citizenship applications doubled in 2007 in areas where the campaign was launched and have increased 65% across the country (and over 110% in Los Angeles!). Latinos made up only 6% of the electorate back in 2004, but with massive voter registration and citizenship drives, the rightwing seems to have awakened a sleeping giant that will soon have political clout more in line with its 14.3% of the population.  The centrist New Democratic Network (NDN) has highlighted data that the Hispanic electorate is projected to expand from 7.5 million voters in 2000 to 14 million in 2008.   NDN argues that "The Republican handling of immigration has been one of the biggest strategic mistakes by a modern Party in recent American history."  But they are not alone in that assessment.  America's Majority, a conservative strategy center, has highlighted the political losses by politicians taking hard-line anti-immigrant stances in 2006, arguing "Any policy that induces mass fear in illegal aliens will induce mass anger in legal aliens."  They argue that rightwing politics could cost the GOP 3.5 to 4.7 million Latino votes in 2008 and even more in years to come.

The California Precedent: How Anti-Immigrant Politics Marginalized the California Right

Advocates need to point to California where conservative politicians controlled both legislative chambers and the governorship in the mid-90s only to see a Latino backlash against the anti-immigrant Proposition 187 drive massive electoral mobilization and the progressive takeover of the state legislature within a couple of years.  Nearly 600,000 Latinos naturalized between 1990 and 1999

Traditionally, Latino citizens have voted at far lower rates than eligible whites, but that appears to be changing as such potential voters are being mobilized to vote, just as Latino (and other immigrant) voting spiked in California in the mid-90s after the anti-immigrant Prop 187 was passed in that state.  A key to the progressive victories in California was that Latino political surge went hand-in-hand with new political alliances involving new labor-community alliances that put the rights of all working families front-and-center in the politics of California.

Before Prop 187 passed, former Congressman and 1996 GOP Vice-Presidential nominee Jack Kemp had warned his party that the party was about to repeat past mistakes, mistakes that alienated ethnic whites for generations with earlier anti-immigrant policies and lost the African-American vote by turning away from civil rights.  We need to highlight the prophetic voice of humane conservatives who highlighted the dead-end future for anti-immigrant politics in a country of increasing turnout by new citizens.  Similarly, progressive leaders need to be warned that they could lose a historic political opportunity to consolidate a governing majority in the future if they ape the anti-immigrant politics out of short-term desperation.

Using Smart State Policy to Deflect Anti-Immigrant Attacks

The key for responding to these anti-immigrant attacks is to respond with policies that put those promoting anti-immigrant policies on the defensive.   Their goal is to pit African-American voters against latinos, legal immigrants against undocumented immigrants, and white workers against undocumented workers.   So progressive leaders need to promote policies that will highlight that those leading the anti-immigrant charge are actually against the interests of working families of all races and immigrant status.

Anti-immigrant politics are focusing largely on five main messages:

Progressives need to highlight not only the facts that refute these arguments, but identify policies that undercut the political alliances anti-immigrant forces are trying to establish around these arguments.   We highlight resources and links below to a range of resources to support such goals (see Appendix A below) and the National Immigration Law Center has a good summary of suggested policies (see attached Appendix B below at the end of this document).  However, the key for progressives is to use these policies to actively focus public debate in the areas where public attitudes towards immigrants are most positive and to direct frustrations over the economy at the corporate interests who are most responsible for stagnating family incomes.

Different policies will no doubt be promoted in different states.  In a number of states where heavy immigration in the modern era is a relatively new phenomena, political leaders are facing more fear among the public and may have to be more strategic in the policies they promote.   In such states, a heavier focus on issues like wage enforcement policies may be the best options to create the greatest unity among progressive constituencies.   In other states where long-term immigrant communities are politically mobilized in broader local alliances, passing more pro-active immigrant policies can help change the national narrative and emphasize the strong pro-immigrant constituences across the nation.

Wage Enforcement as Immigration Policy

While many advocates of "fighting illegal immigration" claim to be doing so in the name of helping low-income workers, it is remarkable that almost none of them are addressing the pervasive theft of low-income worker wages by employers violating of wage laws.  

Advocates and progressive state leaders need to emphasize a few key points:

Since going after employers who violate wage laws will politically unite all workers, immigrant and native alike, cracking down on those employers will actually strengthen the progressive political base.  If anti-immigrant politicians resist such laws, it will just emphasize that their concern for wage losses by low-income workers is empty and is just a smokescreen for hatred and nativism.  

Where anti-immigrant politicians propose workplace sanctions against immigrants, progressives should be proposing amendments that highlight the broader illegality of broken wage and safety laws that undermine workplace standards for all Americans.   If every immigration bill is tied to proposals to tighten enforcement of wage and employment laws, many in the business lobby will break their current alliances with anti-immigrant politicians.  

Why Going After Wage Law Violators Matters

Public concerns about the decline in wage standards in the economy is not unwarranted, especially with the pervasive rise of sweatshops.

The key message progressives should emphasize is: eliminate the sweatshops and most of the incentive for employers to recruit undocumented workers disappears, a point the Progressive States Network has made in its "Pervasive Violations of Wage Laws -- and What States Can Do About It," but also one that the Bush administration endorsed in their recent budget document, which itself argued, "[L]abor standards enforcement efforts...will help to reduce the economic incentive for such illegal employment practices and will, in turn, help reduce illegal immigration." The problem is that while this rhetoric is nice, the reality is that the federal government let the minimum wage rate decline for years  and provides few enforcement dollars, and applies minor punishments to offenders even if they get caught.

The proposed federal budget this past year had a grand total of $177 million appropriated to enforce our wage and hour laws, compared to $13 billion in the budget for border enforcement -- that's nearly one hundred times as much spent for border enforcement as for wage enforcement at the federal level, and adding in state funds doesn't change the numbers significantly.

Increasing Immigrant Labor Rights to Undermine Employer Lawbreaking

In fact, cracking down on sweatshops and wage violators would be one of the most effective deterrent to employers recruiting undocumented immigrants, a point the Drum Major Institute makes in its "Principles for an Immigration Policy to Strengthen and Expand the American Middle Class." If all employers have to pay a decent wage, the attraction of hiring undocumented immigrants would diminish tremendously.

As a recent Brennan Center report, "Unregulated Work in the Global City,"  argued:

"The best inoculation against workplace violations is workers who know their rights, have full status under the law to assert them, have access to sufficient legal resources, and do not fear exposure or retaliation when bringing claims against their employers."

Does such an approach work?  In Los Angeles, a historic gateway for immigration, the last decade saw a series of legislative crackdowns on sweatshop conditions and a raised minimum wage.  As the Los Angeles Times detailed, the result was that an estimated one million undocumented immigrants bypassed the city, immigrating to states with weaker labor laws where low-wage employers could thrive hiring exploited undocumented workers.

What States are Doing to Enforce Wage Laws

States like California and New York have established clearly that their laws fully protect undocumented immigrants against retaliation when they bring wage claims against employers.  In the words of New York's highest court, this is necessary since weak employment rights for undocumented workers makes "it more financially attractive to hire undocumented aliens [and] would actually increase employment levels of undocumented aliens, not decrease it."

Most state enforcement divisions are woefully underfunded, but some states are taking new actions to better fund wage enforcement. One of the most obvious places for states to beef up enforcement is making sure public money doesn't fund lawbreakers. Ohio's Attorney General has announced a program to crack down on government contractors violating the state's prevailing wage law. Richard J. Hobbs, executive vice-president of the Association of General Contractors, a construction trade group, applauded the plan since it "keeps your low-rate, less of a quality firm from coming in and underbidding" legitimate honest firms.

As PSN has highlighted, a number of states are putting additional funds into independent legal services agencies, which can assist low-income workers in bringing civil cases when their employment rights are violated. 

States are also increasingly targeting the employer tactic of misclassifying employees as "independent contractors," which excludes workers from minimum wage, prevailing wage, overtime, health and safety, and right to organize protections.  

A February report by Cornell University researchers estimated, for example, that 704,000 of the seven million private-sector workers in New York state were misclassified as independent contractors, costing the state $175 million in unemployment insurance taxes each year and undermining those workers' rights.  In response, recently elected Gov. Elliot Spitzer has vowed to revitalize the state labor department to fight misclassification of workers.  And Colorado this year enacted a law requiring construction sites to make sure all workers, whether officially employees or "independent contractors," are covered by workers' comp insurance. 

Encouraging Immigrant Integration and Naturalization

While anti-immigrant forces raise fears that recent immigrants resist integration into American society, progressives need to emphasize that all available evidence shows that most are eager to become full members of our communities if given a chance.  Studies by research groups like RAND have shown that latino immigrants, for example, are assimilating into the economy at the same rate as earlier waves of European immigrants.

Politically, progressives can highlight policies that help all immigrants better integrate, which will unite the interests of legal and undocumented immigrants along with the members of their communities who are already voting citizens.   Especially if anti-immigrant politicians oppose policies that help legal immigrants, it will emphasize to the voting parts of those communities that all the rhetoric about the problem being "illegal" immigration is empty and the bigotry is aimed at the whole ethnic community.

The Need for Integration Policies

The reality is that immigrants want to learn English and join in their communities fully, but there is a shortage of English language classes across the country.   Many business leaders recognize that problem and want better language training programs, diverging sharply from anti-immigrant groups wanting to deny such help.

Illinois has created the most comprehensive "New Americans Policy" involving business, religious and community leaders to expand English language programs, welcome centers, jobs programs and document translation programs aimed at new immigrants. 11 other states have offices that help tailor services to immigrants, but Illinois is emerging as a leader among states in investing to integrate new immigrants into our society.

Nebraska last year joined nine other states that have passed laws to provide the in-state tuition rate to undocumented immigrants who attend state colleges and universities. This year, both the Connecticut and California legislatures voted to do so as well, although the Governors in those states unfortunately both vetoed the bill.

State Policies to Assist Naturalization

The other key policy states can emphasize is helping legal immigrants become voting citizens, a move that will strengthen the base for progressive politics. Again, if opposed by anti-immigrant forces, this will just further alienate those conservative forces politically from immigrant communities and lose them support among already naturalized immigrant community voters and their allies.

States and local governments can take action to assist naturalization, from improving registration procedures at driver licensing offices and other government offices, and assisting in the naturalization process. Santa Clara County, California, developed an Immigrant Relations and Integration Services (IRIS) to support immigrant integration programs in the county, one of the inspirations for Illinois' Office of New Americans, which also helps with the naturalization process. Massachusetts operates an Office for Refugees and Immigrants that also assists in citizenship efforts.

Immigrants and Public Benefits

Many of the attacks on immigrants focus on the idea that undocumented immigrants use more benefits than they pay in taxes.  Advocates first need to highlight the multiple studies that have shown that even when you total up the limited services for which they do qualify -- public school education and emergency medical care for example -- undocumented immigrants pay significantly more in state taxes than states spend on those benefits. The Texas State Controller, for example, estimated that undocumented immigrants added over $17 billion to the state economy and paid over $400 million more in taxes than they received in benefits from the state.

Progressives need to emphasize two key points beyond educating the population:

Citizens Lose Benefits under Bad Immigration Policies

ID requirements are usually so extreme that many legal citizens are turned away. For example, Colorado no longer accepts even a U.S. passport as documentation to obtain a driver's license, leading to the irony that one of the state's main proponents of the bill saw his daughter rejected for a license. The sad result, as the National Immigration Law Center notes, is that "U.S. citizens are less likely than noncitizens to have the documents required by the new verification laws." (p.7) 

This was highlighted when the federal government imposed new identification requirements for new applicants for Medicaid.  The result? Initial estimates were that 1.2 to 2.3 million citizens lacked the documents required by the new rules and were in danger of losing coverage.  Follow-up studies by both the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities and the Government Accountability Office (GAO) found that Medicaid rolls declined in 44 states after Congress imposed the new requirements -- and most of those losing coverage were legal residents eligible for coverage but unable to produce the necessary documents. For other social programs covered by the states with the new anti-immigrant laws, confusion and fear led people to lose other benefits.

No Savings from Benefit ID Rules

While the justification for passing these anti-immigrant laws was to save taxpayer money, follow-up studies have shown little evidence of any savings -- hardly surprising since there was little evidence beforehand that undocumented immigrants were receiving many benefits. In fact, one study in Colorado found that the law there was costing the state an additional $2 million in increased administrative costs without any identifiable savings.

Federal Policies Making the Problem Worse:  Since the federal government collects many taxes from undocumented immigrants, including social security taxes for which the federal government has to pay no benefits, a number of programs have been designed to funnel those revenues back to the states.   In fact, federal policies continue to deny help even for legal immigrants who clearly pay taxes.  A clear example is the failure to include funding for legal immigrant children in the recent SCHIP bill approved by Congress.  Programs like the State Criminal Alien Assistance Program (SCAAP) were also designed to channel some of those increased tax revenues to states that are particularly impacted by new immigrants to help them deal with increased costs that local tax revenues might not fully cover, yet the Bush administration and others have argued for cutting its funding.

Positive Alternative State Policies on Public Benefits

Rather than pursuing useless and costly attempts to deny benefits that undocumented immigrants don't even qualify for, many states are actually trying to spend more on new immigrants, recognizing that long-term investments in education and health care will pay off with a more skilled and healthy workforce in the future.

More than half of the states spend their own funds to provide services to at least some immigrants ineligible for federal services.  On medical care in particular, Illinois' new AllKids program extended coverage to children of all income levels, regardless of immigration status. It was joined by Massachusetts, Hawaii, New York and California as those states continued to expand health benefits for many immigrant children. The state of Washington this spring extended health coverage to all children in families up to 250% of the federal poverty line (moving to 300% in 2009), again regardless of immigration status. As Republican Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger said, including undocumented immigrants in his health care proposals was a matter of common sense:

[T]he decision for my team was do we treat them in emergency rooms at the highest cost available or we do it right and do it efficiently?

Health care prevention and education are just the most obvious places where leaders can make the case that saving money today will just cost a lot more money down the line with a sicker and less educated workforce in the future.

Voting Reform versus “Voter ID”? Attacks

The charge that undocumented immigrants voting is a major problem is, unfortunately, a place where anti-immigrant forces are mobilizing around a big lie, stoking hate on pure fiction.  

The cynical goals of voter identification laws pushed by the rightwing is highlighted by a basic fact-- there is zero evidence that undocumented immigrants are illegally voting. At its "Truth about Fraud" website, for example, the Brennan Center for Justice has highlighted that fraud is a red herring used by the rightwing to disenfrachise legal voters through abusive identification rules.

This is emphasized by the current national scandal over how the Bush Administration fired U.S. Attorneys, in part because some of those appointees refused to go along with partisan pressure to generate non-existent cases of voter fraud.  Five years of investigations revealed no real evidence of voter fraud by an administration as determined to find non-existent voter fraud as non-existent WMDs in Iraq.

Progressive leaders should be alarmed, though, that while little fraud has been stopped, the result in states that have implemented voter ID rules has been a sharp drop in voting by legally eligible voters, the real goal of rightwing campaigners promoting the myth of undocumented immigrants voting. A report prepared for the federal Election Assistance Commission found that in states with voter ID requirements, blacks were 5.7% less likely to vote and Hispanics appeared to be 10% less likely to vote under those requirements.

Demanding Real Election Reform

Such voter ID laws need to be defeated, but the other part of progressive mobilization should be demanding that voting be made easier for people who do overcome these new barriers to proving their legal right to vote:   

Immigrant Outreach as Public Safety and Anti-Terror Policy

While anti-immigration forces seek to paint immigrants as a dangerous criminal force, the facts show that immigrants commit fewer crimes than the general population.  But more importantly, most law enforcement groups recognize that it becomes harder to protect victims of crime, particularly immigrants themselves, when millions of people living in our communities are fearful of talking to the police when they see a crime or are a victim of one.  As a report endorsed by the Major Cities Chiefs Association, representing the police departments of New York City, Los Angeles, Houston and city departments serving over fifty million residents outlined:

Immigration enforcement by local police would likely negatively effect and undermine the level of trust and cooperation between local police and immigrant communities. If the undocumented immigrant’s primary concern is that they will be deported or subjected to an immigration status investigation, then they will not come forward and provide needed assistance and cooperation...Such a divide between the local police and immigrant groups would result in increased crime against immigrants and in the broader community, create a class of silent victims and eliminate the potential for assistance from immigrants in solving crimes or preventing future terroristic acts.

Progressive leaders can ally with both law enforcement and victims rights groups by promoting policies that  immigrant victims of crime when they contact the police or encourage community policing efforts involving immigrant communities.  

More controversially, programs to extend drivers licenses to undocumented immigrants can be framed as part of the need to better track drivers and protect the driving public on the road.   Many top law enforcement officials are on record as supporting such drivers license identification.

The broadest message by progressives must be that we don't improve public safety by making millions of people afraid to cooperate with the police or anti-terror authorities.   Turning every police officer or, even worse, every social worker into a potential immigration enforcement official undermines community policing and other known effective law enforcement approaches.

Strengthening Progressive Alliances and Finding New Conservative Allies on the Immigration Issue

Beyond individual policy options, advocates and progressive elected leaders need to emphasize that the coalition in support of humane policies involving new immigrants is diverse and cuts into even many seemingly conservative communities. 

Among traditional progressive constituencies, despite the occasional marginal black leader or union official who calls for anti-immigration policies, the African-American community, despite some obvious tensions at times, is far more supportive of immigrant rights than the general population. Groups like the NAACP have made strong statements supporting humane immigration reform.  In a major poll of African-Americans,  significantly more blacks (30.1%) than non-Hispanic whites (19.8%) saw immigration reform as only "somewhat important" or "not important" as an issue, and when asked about legalization,  63.4% of African-Americans supported some form of permanent legalization. 

Similarly, labor unions from the construction unions to service workers unions are on record supporting better treatment of immigrant workers as a way to strengthen labor rights for all Americans.    Even perceived "conservative" unions like the Teamsters have made strong statements supporting legalization of the undocumented immigrant community.

On the conservative side, law enforcement and many business leaders are one example of allies that progressive elected leaders should tap, but they should also look to many religiously conservative groups that have spoken out on the immigration issue.  A new organization, Christians for Comprehensive Immigration Reform, includes the Mennonite Church U.S.A., Latino evangelicals, individuals like Dr. Joel C. Hunter, pastor of a megachurch in Longwood, Fla., and Sammy Mah, president of World Relief, an aid group affiliated with the National Association of Evangelicals.  Dr. Richard Land, the conservative president of the Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, has been a prominent proponent of humane treatment of undocumented immigrants and legalization.

Conclusion- Moral Immigration Politics is Smart Politics

State-by-state, progressive elected leaders and advocates need to craft policies that bring these diverse communities together, highlight the American ideals that demand policies that unite people rather than divide them, and find strategies that isolate those who promote scapegoating of immigrants rather than dealing with the issues that working families really need, from health care to clean energy.   

As outlined at the beginning of this strategy memo, moral politics are also smart politics in the long-term, since this present coalition for humane immigration policy is rapidly being joined by new citizens who are unlikely to forgive politicians who vote wrong in the coming legislative session.   Ultimately, there is no political future for the politicians leading the drive to enact anti-immigrant laws, while those elected leaders who step up with intelligent, humane policies will be the long-term political winners of the current debate.

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APPENDIX A: STATE IMMIGRATION POLICY RESOURCES AND LINKS

 

Broad Immigration Policy Resources

NILC, State and Local Policies on Immigrant Access to Services (May 2007)  

Drum Major Institute, Principles for an Immigration Policy to Strengthen and Expand the American Middle Class (2007)

National Employment Law Project, More Harm Than Good: Responding To States’ Misguided Efforts To Regulate Immigration (2007)

Fair Immigration Reform Movement, Immigration Reform and Immigrants at the State Level

National Council of La Raza, State and Local Immigration Initiatives

NCSL, Overview of State Legislation Related to Immigration and Immigrants in 2007 (April 2007)

American Immigation Lawyers Association, Making the Case for Fair and Reasonable Immigration Policy- talking points and surveys and polls mostly focused on federal immigration policy

AFL-CIO, Executive Council Statement on Immigration Policy (2006)

ACLU Immigrant Rights Project

National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild

National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO)

Voting and Naturalization Trends in Immigrant Communities

Dept. of Homeland Security, Estimates of the Legal Permanent Resident Population and Population Eligible to Naturalize in 2004

Pew Hispanic Center, Hispanics and the 2004 Election

National Council of La Raza, Leap to Action Voter Mobilization Project

Southwest Voter Registration Education Project

League of United Latin American Citizens, Voter Registration

National Immigration Forum, New Wave of Voters Coming: Citizenship Applications Up 61%

Background on the Anti-Immigrant Rightwing

Southern Poverty Law Center, Anti-Immigration Groups and its weekly newsletter tracking the anti-immigrant movement Nativist News

Southern Poverty Law Center, The Puppeteer: The organized anti-immigration 'movement,' increasingly in bed with racist hate groups, is dominated by one man, John Tanton

Public Research Associates, Anti-Immigrant Organizations and their Immigrant Rights resources tracking anti-immigrant movements

In These Times, "Keeping America Empty: How one small-town conservationist launched today’s anti-immigration movement"

People for the American Way, Right Wing Watch: Immigration

Data Resources: Demographics and Economics

Migration Policy Institute, 2005 American Community Survey and Census Data on the Foreign Born by State

Pew Hispanic Center, Size and Characteristics of the Unauthorized Migrant Population in the U.S. (2006)

Urban Institute, Trends in the Low-Wage Immigrant Workforce

Center for an Urban Future, A World of Opportunity: Immigrant entrepreneurs have emerged as key engines ofgrowth for cities from New York to Los Angeles

Wage Enforcement as Immigration Policy

Enforcing Wage Laws Policies

Progressive States, Eye on Immigration

List of Organizations involved in wage law enforcement

National Employment Law Project, Workplace Rights for Immigrant Workers

Workplace Enforcement Studies

Cornell University Institute for Labor Relations, The Cost of Worker Misclassification in New York State (Feb. 2007)

Brennan Center, Unregulated Work in the Global City (2007)

Brennan Center, Survey of Literature Estimating the Prevalence of Employment and Labor Law Violations in the US (2005)

LA Times, How L.A. Kept Out a Million Migrants

Progressive States Network, Cracking Down on Wage Law Violators (2006)

Brennan Center, Enforcement of Workplace Rights

National Employment Law Project, Enforcement of Wage and Hour Standards for Low-Wage Workers (2006)

National Employment Law Project, Combating Independent Contractor Misclassification in the States

Workplace Fairness, Contractors

California SB 1818 -- Law declaring that all legal remedies are available to workers regardless of immigration status

New York Balbuena v. IDR Realty - New York Court of Appeals decision affirming immigrant workers' legal rights

Anti-Sweatshop Procurement Policies

Global Exchange -- Sweatfree Campaigns

AFL-CIO Stop Sweatshops

Problems with E-Verify Workplace Immigrant ID Screening

Illinois HB 1744, Workplace Privacy-Verify

Electronic Privacy Information Clearinghouse - E-Verify System: DHS Changes Name, But Problems Remain for U.S. Workers

National Immigration Law Center - Court Halts Government from Implementing Flawed Social Security No-Match Rule

Effects of Workplace Raids

Urban Institute- Paying the Price: The Impact of Immigration Raids on America’s Children

Encouraging Immigrant Integration and Naturalization

Progressive States, IL: Policies to Bring Immigrants into Economic Mainstream

New Americans Policy Council, For the Benefit of All: Strategic Recommendations to Enhance the State's Role in the Integration of Immigrants in Illinois

NCSL, State and Local Immigrant Offices

Migration Policy Institute, Leaving Too Much to Chance: A Roundtable on Immigrant Integration Policy

Urban Institute, Immigration Studies: The Integration of Immigrant Families in the United States

Illinois Coalitions for Immigrants and Refugee Rights, The New Americans Initiative

CLASP, The Challenges of Change: Learning from the Child Care and Early Education Experiences of Immigrant Families (2007)

Grant-makers Concerned with Immigrants and Refugees, Investing in Our Communities: Strategies for Immigrant Integration (2006)

FIRM, In-State Tuition Campaigns

Immigrants and Public Benefits

Research on Taxes Paid and Benefits Used by Immigrant Communities

National Immigration Law Center - Immigrants and the US Health Care System

Urban Institute, Civic Contributions: Taxes Paid by Immigrants in the Washington, D.C. Metropolitan Area (May 2006)

California Immigrant Policy Center, Looking Forward: Immigrant Contributions to the Golden State (2005)

Texas Office of the Controller, Undocumented Immigrants in Texas: A Financial Analysis of the Impact to the State Budget and Economy (Dec. 2006)

Economic Policy Institute, Immigration not driving the erosion of health insurance (2007)

Iowa Policy Project,  Undocumented Immigrants in Iowa: Estimated Tax Contributions and Fiscal Impact (2007)

Research on Effects of Benefit ID Rules

Center on Budget and Policy Priorities - New Medicaid Citizenship Documentation Requirement is Taking a Toll: States Report Enrollment is Down and Administrative Costs Are Up

Government Accountability Office (GAO), Medicaid: States Reported that Citizenship Documentation Requirement Resulted in Enrollment Declines for Eligible Citizens and Posed Administrative Burdens (June 2007)

Denver Post, Colo. Immigration Law Falls Short of Goal: State Agencies $2 million cost and no savings

Voting Reform versus "Voter ID" Attacks

Research on Lack of Voter Fraud by Immigrants

Progressive States, "Fighting Vote Suppression by the Rightwing"

New York Times: "In 5-Year Effort, Scant Evidence of Voter Fraud"

Brennan Center, The Truth About Fraud

Project Vote, The Politics of Voter Fraud

Century Foundation, Where's the Voter Fraud?

Eagleton Institute, Testimony presented to the U. S. Election Assistance Commission (February 8, 2007).

Alternative Voter Reform

 

Immigrant Outreach as Public Safety and Anti-Terror Policy

Community Policing and Immigrant Communities

Major Cities Chiefs Statement on Immigration - Statement on the need for separation of local law enforcement and federal immigration enforcement 

Appleseed, Forcing Our Blues into Grey Areas: Local Law Enforcement and Federal Immigration Enforcement

CAUSA, Collaboration with federal immigration enforcement hurts community policing

National Immigration Forum, Success Story: Santa Ana Uses Community Policing Methods to Reduce Crime in Heavily Immigrant Area

USA Today, Chiefs, mayors order local cops: Leave catching illegal immigrants to the feds

Institute for Policy Research, Community Policing and ”Ëœthe New Immigrants:’ Latinos in Chicago prepared for the National Institute of Justice, U.S. Department of Justice (2002)

National Immigration Forum, Police in “New Immigrant”? States Say Asking Them to Enforce Immigration Laws Would Harm Public Safety

Vera Institute of Justice, Strengthening Relations between Police and Immigrants

Vera Institute of Justice, Building Strong Police-Immigrant Community Relations: Lessons from a New York City Project

Domestic Violence and Immigrant Communities

Electronic Privacy Information Center, REAL ID and Domestic Violence

Letter to Congress from the National Network to End Violence Against Immigrant Women.. Describing the impact that REAL ID will have on battered women

National Immigration Project, Noncitizen Survivors of Domestic Violence, including Local Police Enforcement of Immigration Laws and Its Effects on Victims of Domestic Violence

Violence Against Women network, Somewhere to Turn: Making Domestic Violence Services Accessible to Battered Immigrant Women - A 'How To' Manual For Battered Women's Advocates and Service Providers

Licenses and Identification

City of New Haven, NEW HAVEN’S ELM CITY RESIDENT CARDS ”“ Fact Sheet

New York Coalition for Immigrants' Right to Driver's Licenses, Equal Access for All Communities

National Immigration Law Center, Immigrants & Driver's Licenses: Resources for Advocates

National Immigration Law Center, The Tennessee "Driving Certificate" Not a Model Policy

National Immigration Law Center, Driver's Licenses for All Immigrants: Quotes from Law Enforcement

New York Immigration Coalition- New Driver's License Policy is a Win for All New Yorkers

SB1162- California bill proposed to grant drivers licenses to undocumented immigrants.

 

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APPENDIX B: Pro-Immigrant Measures Available to State or Local Governments

September 2007

C

ongress’s failure to enact a comprehensive reform of the federal immigration system has increased the pressure on state and local governments to address the issue of immigration in areas within their control.  Some governments have undertaken purely restrictive and punitive measures aimed at making their communities less hospitable to immigrants ”” as if this approach were an effective, let alone desirable, solution to an immigration system that cries out for reform.  On the other hand, an increasing number of state and local governments are also exploring ways to more effectively incorporate immigrants into their communities, investing in immigrants instead of marginalizing them.  This reality-based approach recognizes immigrants as a key ingredient of shared prosperity and seeks to maximize the economic, social, and cultural benefits of such immigration on towns, cities, counties, and states.

What follows is a quick menu of affirmative, pro-immigrant measures that state and local governments can consider.  Among these ideas:

·    Most have already been successfully implemented in one or more places across the country. 

·    Some are boldly pro-immigrant with concrete and immediate impact; others are moderate, incremental steps with primarily symbolic value.

·    Most benefit not only immigrants but also native-born persons, and therefore hold potential appeal to broad-based political constituencies.

·    Some require legislative action; others are measures that can be initiated by executive bodies.

·    While a small number of the measures need to be crafted with some care so as not to infringe on federal authority to regulate immigration (or other federal laws), the vast majority address areas in which state and local governments have full power to act.  

This is a rapidly evolving area.  Please offer your feedback ”” e.g., measures to add or subtract from this menu, new examples of places in which the measures have been adopted, and the impact these measures have had where they have been implemented.

Enforcement and enhancement of labor and employment law protection

þ     Prohibit local “employer sanctions.”?  Bar localities from superseding federal law by enacting their own set of penalties (e.g., monetary fines, criminal prosecution, or revocation of business licenses or government contracts) against companies that employ undocumented immigrants.

þ     Ensure that enforcement of state labor, employment, civil rights, and housing statutes is conducted regardless of immigration status.

þ     Prohibit employers from taking adverse actions against workers based on their participation in the Basic Pilot employment eligibility verification program (recently renamed “E-Verify) or receipt of “no-match”? letters from the Social Security Administration.

þ     Increase state and local enforcement of health/safety and wage/hour laws, and increase fines for violations.

þ     Increase or establish state and/or local minimum wage and local living wage (in states where localities have legal authority to do so), raising the floor for all workers.

þ     Prohibit state labor agencies from sharing immigration status information obtained in the course of a labor complaint or labor investigation with federal immigration authorities; and prohibit employers from turning over personnel information to federal immigration authorities without a warrant. 

þ     Make it an unlawful employment practice under state law to discriminate against an employment-authorized worker based on national origin or citizenship/immigration status.

þ     Make it an unlawful employment practice under state law for employers to request more or different documents than are required under federal law for the purpose of establishing employment eligibility.

þ     Require employers to provide employees access to their personnel files.

þ     Ban harassment of day laborers and day labor sites, including overly intrusive videotaping and photographing.

Promoting public safety and protecting confidentiality

þ     Implement policies to protect victims of and witnesses to crime by limiting police inquiry into immigration status.

þ     Implement policies to prevent and combat racial profiling by law enforcement.

þ     Establish a system of reports, audits, and complaint procedures to address improper police inquiry about immigration information.

þ     Combat identify fraud though state and local “Privacy Acts”? limiting the circumstances under which a person is required to provide his or her Social Security number (SSN).

þ     Implement a policy prohibiting local law enforcement agencies from participating in U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) raids.

þ     Promote community policing practices that engage all community members fighting crime by combating fears and addressing concerns of all communities.

þ     Pass a bill or resolution rejecting the federal REAL ID Act and state adoption of REAL ID driver’s licenses and ID cards.

þ     Enact a law removing immigration-related barriers to driver’s licenses (promoting safe driving, vehicle registration, ability to purchase insurance).

þ     Conduct anticrime education and outreach programs educating immigrants on how to avoid becoming victims of crime (e.g., opening bank accounts rather than carrying cash), how to report crimes when they have been victimized; how to avoid unknowingly violating city ordinances (e.g., cars on front lawns, overcrowded housing), and how to steer children away from gangs.

Promoting access to health, housing, legal, and social services

þ     Pursue policies and resolutions that limit questioning and recording of immigration status and SSN requirements by village/city/state agencies except where required by federal law.

þ     Establish state and local programs that provide assistance to lawfully present immigrants who are ineligible for federally funded services (health coverage, food stamps, and/or subsistence income) due to arbitrary restrictions such as the five-year waiting period.

þ     Expand county and state public health insurance programs (especially those serving children, pregnant women, and families) so that coverage is available regardless of their status.

þ     Conduct outreach (preferably face-to-face) to immigrant communities and those with limited English proficiency to inform families about benefits and services offered by local, state, and federal programs, especially to ensure participation in public health insurance programs of families already eligible but not enrolled.

þ     Require that training and continuing education for students and clinicians in health professions includes cultural and linguistic competency.

þ     Implement payments from Medicaid and State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) funds for interpreter services for Medicaid and SCHIP enrollees in clinical health settings (many states already use such funds to help pay for interpreting and translating expenses incurred by agencies administering these programs).

þ     Increase funding for community heath centers providing primary care to all persons in need.

þ     Enact policies that increase the proportion of workers who have access to affordable health coverage ”” e.g., by establishing a minimum expenditure requirement under which employers must spend at least a set minimum amount to cover their employees’ health care costs.  

þ     Provide funding for legal services, including immigration assistance, to immigrants ineligible for assistance from programs funded by the Legal Services Corporation.

þ     Pass legislation or adopt rulings adding immigration and citizenship status to the grounds of prohibited discrimination under fair housing laws and/or prohibiting cities, counties, and landlords from making inquiries into immigration status.

Promoting English language instruction and access for English language learners

þ     Increase funding for affordable and accessible adult English language instruction.

þ     Offer tax credits for employers offering job-based English language instruction to workers.

þ     Enact laws and guidance requiring public agencies to provide language services (interpretation and translation) to persons with limited English proficiency and establishing a private right of action for individuals to enforce these rules when such services are denied.  (More focused measures could address access in key areas such as public safety, hospitals/health settings, courts.)

þ     Pool language service resources into “interpreter banks”? to facilitate and make more efficient procurement of interpreters and translation by publicly funded agencies.

þ     Fund vocational English instruction programs, including collaborations between community colleges, community-based organizations, and employers

þ     Increase funding for training of interpreters and translators (states can use Medicaid funds as one source).

þ     Implement professional competency standards for interpreters and translators in health and legal settings.

Promoting community membership and civic participation

þ     Establish municipal identification documents, provide them to local residents regardless of status, and promote their universal use.

þ     Fund organizations that assist immigrants to successfully complete the process of obtaining ml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" />U.S. citizenship through naturalization (e.g., application assistance, English and civics classes for lawful permanent residents).

þ     Enact a state refundable tax credit for naturalization expenses.

þ     Promote voter registration of naturalized citizens and broader civic participation by immigrant communities.

Investing in students by facilitating access to the educational system

þ     Ban immigration status inquiries by public schools.

þ     Provide in-state college tuition to all graduates of high schools in the state, or at least those graduates who attended high school in the state for at least three years.  (Similar policies can also be enacted for certain city and county community college systems offering preferential rate to residents.)

þ     Ensure access to state or locally funded financial aid/scholarships, regardless of immigration status, to those who attended high school and graduated in the state; and create alternative funding vehicles for students excluded from federal financial aid (especially merit-based aid).

Promoting entrepreneurialism, wealth-building, and utilization of mainstream financial services

þ     Encourage community outreach and education regarding financial services, e.g., by working with banks, worker centers, and other community institutions to create pamphlets and other materials accessible to immigrants and addressing immigrant questions and concerns regarding issues such as banking, borrowing, and home ownership.

þ     Encourage banks to implement flexible identification and documentation requirements, to the maximum degree permitted by federal law, to ensure that all people residing in the community can safeguard their money in a bank and benefit from having a checking account and other banking services.

þ     Pass regulatory law or facilitate creation of alternative financial mechanisms that lower the cost of remittances.

þ     Enact a state earned income tax credit program available to all low-income workers who file taxes.

þ     Promote cooperative ventures such as limited liability corporations, enabling persons without employment authorization to work without violating the law.

þ     Increase funding for new day labor and worker centers and additional services at existing sites.

þ     Support street vendors by opening more public space to vending, raising licensing caps, combating harassment of street vendors by enforcement agents, and creating language accessible information about what street vendors must do to comply with various laws and regulations. 

þ     Encourage compliance with laws regulating businesses by educating immigrant communities about zoning, licensing, and small business rules.

Improving government communication and coordination over programs promoting immigrant integration

þ     Establish a government office promoting immigrant integration and coordination among agencies, e.g., an office or commission on immigrant affairs.

þ     Create an advisory council aimed at informing government of new approaches needed to promote immigrant integration and offering feedback on policy options under consideration.

þ     Conduct a survey of immigrant community needs that could be better addressed by state and local governments, e.g., language assistance, legal services, law enforcement special needs, antidiscrimination enforcement, and educational needs.

Protecting immigrants from exploitation

þ     Increase state and local protection for victims of trafficking and other serious crimes.

þ     Ensure access to state and local public benefits for immigrant victims of trafficking, domestic violence, and other serious crimes.

þ     Establish an interagency taskforce to address and combat trafficking and worker exploitation.

þ     Strengthen protections against abuses committed by notarios”? and others who harm community members by engaging in fraudulent and unauthorized practice of law.

Building greater appreciation for the contributions of immigrants and causes of immigration

þ     Conduct or commission studies on economic contributions of immigrants (e.g., workforce participation, business or jobs generated, buying power, revitalization of neighborhoods, full range of income, payroll, sales, and property taxes paid). 

þ     Conduct or commission studies on the effectiveness of community policing and broad participation in crime-fighting efforts.

þ     Create, fund, or otherwise promote billboards, public service announcements, and flyers embracing immigration and promoting a welcoming tradition.

þ     Establish a sister city program with an immigrant-sending community.

Signaling support for immigrants and humane immigration reform through resolutions

þ     Urge Congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform, including a broad-based legalization program.

þ     Urge Congress to pass the DREAM Act, providing conditional status and a pathway to permanent residency to long-term undocumented students who graduate from U.S. high schools.

þ     Support a moratorium on raids and/or oppose enforcement-only approaches to addressing immigration.

þ     Acknowledge the economic, social, and intellectual contributions of immigrants.

þ     Condemn vigilante or hate activity targeting immigrants. 

””””””””””””””””””””