National Immigration Forum

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NDN Panel: Future of Immigration Reform Debate

August 06, 2009 - Posted by Katherine Vargas


What to expect from the Immigration Debate? That was the question asked of Tamar Jacoby from ImmigrationWorks USA and Ali Noorani from the National Immigration Forum during a panel discussion at the New Democrat Network (NDN). The two panelists represented two diverse perspectives that support a government revamp of our obsolete immigration laws.


Jacoby heads ImmigrationWorks USA, a national business coalition that organizes employers in support of immigration reform. She spoke about the important role of businesses advocating for an orderly and workable legal immigration system that responds to the economic and labor needs of the country, an immigration system that works for all Americans. Spanish newswire EFE was present at the event and reported on the discussion:


The magic number of [279] votes, needed to secure final passage for a comprehensive immigration reform bill is far from being an ideal…according to experts from diverse pro-immigration coalitions. The advocates confirmed that today’s political climate is quite different from the political environment of 2006 and 2007, when immigration reform proposals failed in Congress.


For Tamar Jacoby, president of ImmigrationWorks, the new [immigration reform] proposal would benefit firstly from the post-racial environment that our country is experiencing after President Obama’s election, and secondly from the political engagement developed by American voters.


“This time around, Americans are seeing this as a problem that the government has ignored and has let it escalate during the last few years, and that it needs to be fixed right away” said Jacoby.


According to a national survey published by Benenson Strategy Group, 64% of Americans support immigration reform, while 21% oppose it and 16% don’t know the response.

Experts hope to obtain [279] votes to pass immigration reform despite political climate, August 5, 2009. Translation by Katherine Vargas


On this poll, America’s Voice reported on survey back in June, detailing how support for comprehensive immigration reform significantly increased from 64% to 86% once voters where given the details of what a plan would entail: “securing the border, cracking down on employers who hire illegal immigrants, and requiring illegal immigrants to register for legal immigration status, pay back taxes, and learn English in order to be eligible for U.S. citizenship.”


Back at the NDN panel discussion, moderator Simon Rosenberg, President of NDN, spoke about the politics of immigration, warning that opposition to comprehensive immigration reform would be a missed opportunity for the GOP to prevent further damage in support from the ever-growing Hispanic electorate.


A similar warning was voiced by political analyst Mark Murray of NBC News’ FirstRead who commented on how the GOP’s strategy to oppose the nomination of Judge Sonia Sotomayor would backfire and alienate Hispanic voters further, particularly as the electoral power of minorities continues to gain importance.


At NDN. the panelists also discussed the need for supporters of immigration reform to continue pressuring Congress to change its course on immigration policy. As quoted in EFE:


As Congress goes on recess this August, activists would continue their campaign for immigration reform at the local level through lobbying visits to Senators and Congressmen in their local districts. The national campaign Reform Immigration FOR America has the support of about 500 organizations nationwide.


… According to Ali Noorani, Executive Director of the National Immigration Forum, it is necessary for President Obama and Secretary of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano to clear from the latest tendency to escalate enforcement policies against illegal immigration.

Experts hope to obtain [279] votes to pass immigration reform despite political climate, August 5, 2009. Translation by Katherine Vargas


The Administration continues to talk tough on enforcement but this is no substitute for reform. Immigration is a complex problem that requires complete and comprehensive solutions. Support is building from broad constituencies from business to labor, faith, immigrant, ethnic, and civil rights groups that will push for a common sense approach to our immigration problems through comprehensive immigration reform.

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