Integrating Immigrants into Our Communities

Interview with Iowa Sen. Joe Bolkcom

Iowa State Senator and PSN board member Joe Bolkcom shares his experience pushing for progressive initiatives on wage standards, election reform, anti-war resolutions, and integrative immigration policy, as well as a the promise of state legislators using their growing ranks to form a national coalition for change.

Bigotry is not an American value

Now more than ever, we need a rational and respectful dialogue about how to fix our country’s broken immigration system. But comments like Texas Representative Betty Brown’s recent assertion that legal Chinese American immigrants should adopt Anglophone names that are “easier for Americans to deal with” represents precisely the kind of divisive rhetoric that will keep us from such a levelheaded debate.

Brown’s callous suggestion that Chinese American citizens are not American is symptomatic of the veiled bigotry that underlies much of the immigration debate across the nation. It also begs the question of why state legislators across the country would want to associate with the organization that Brown helped found to propagate racially divisive policies.

PSN calls on state legislators to denounce TX representative's claim that legal immigrants aren't Americans

NEW YORK  -  Today, Progressive States Network (PSN) issued a call for state legislators across the country to denounce Texas State Rep. Betty Brown’s recent assertion that that legal Chinese American immigrants should adopt Anglophone names that are  “easier for Americans to deal with.”

According to PSN policy analyst Caroline Fan, herself a second generation Chinese American immigrant, “Now more than ever, we need to have a rational and respectful dialogue about how to fix our country’s broken immigration system.  Rep. Brown’s comments, which imply that Chinese Americans aren’t Americans, are precisely the kind of racially divisive rhetoric that will keep us from having such a dialogue.”

Dreaming of a Better Tomorrow: In-State Tuition at the Forefront

States across the country are proposing in-state college tuition rates for undocumented students, a move mirrored by Congress' proposed DREAM Act, which was re-introduced at the federal level on March 25th. Currently ten states allow undocumented immigrants to enroll in state colleges and universities under the cheaper in-state tuition rate category: California, Illinois, Kansas, Nebraska, New Mexico, New York, Oklahoma, Texas, Utah, and Washington. In recent years, anti-immigrant legislators sought to modify or repeal laws providing access to in-state tuition for undocumented immigrants, though they've failed each time. This session, those efforts failed again in Utah and Nebraska. Kansas didn't even bring up repealing it.

RELEASE: Policy recommendations from Corzine panel would put NJ at forefront of immigration reform

JERSEY CITY, NJ — At a press conference this morning, Gov. Jon Corzine unveiled the results of his Blue Ribbon Panel on Immigration Policy, which included recommendations for the establishment of an Office on New Americans to help integrate immigrant families into the state’s culture and work force.  Policy experts at the Progressive States Network (PSN) were quick to praise the panel’s recommendations, which they placed within an emerging trend among state lawmakers to include working immigrant families into plans for shared economic growth.

According to PSN Interim Executive Director Nathan Newman, who authored a comprehensive 50-state analysis of state immigration policy last September, “The story that states are rushing out to punish undocumented immigrants is really a smoke screen. When you look at the facts, you see that more and more states are finding ways to integrate immigrants into a growing workforce and thriving small business community.  States like New Jersey realize that there is a far better economic future in working together than there is in dividing the population against itself.”

E-verify: An Economic Burden to Businesses and State Budgets

A new resource from our friends at the National Immigration Law Center emphasizes the costs to both businesses and local governments of trying to enforce immigration law in the workplace.  As they note, the E-verify system - the electronic program that is currently voluntary for employers to use in comparing workers’ documents for employment eligibility against federal databases from the Department of Homeland Security and the Social Security Administration - imposes a range of costs:

Integrating New Immigrants into our Communities: Smarter Policy, Smarter Politics

The general failure of anti-immigration politics at the polls in recent years has led many state leaders to switch their focus from anti-immigration initiatives to addressing the real challenge of integrating new immigrants into our communities and economy.  This change of strategy is especially critical in a time when we need all in our community working together to revive our states.

In fact, many state leaders have been quietly pursuing smart, integrative policies that promote stronger local communities, protect public safety and save money for the taxpayers.  As Progressive States highlighted in our September 2008 report The Anti-Immigrant Movement That Failed, the majority of both legal and undocumented immigrants live in states that are promoting some version of integrative policies, even as the media continues to focus on the relative handful of state where punitive policies have been enacted.