Politicians Out of Sync with People on Immigration

As Politico reported last week ((Politico, “Gov. candidates in 20 states endorse anti-immigration laws,” September 2, 2010, http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0910/41692.html))  of the 37 governor’s races this year, candidates in over 20 states are pushing anti-immigrant laws.

These candidates are not confined to a single political party or any particular region of the country. Racist rhetoric has been spewed from both Democratic and Republican candidates. And, they are running in states that include Iowa, Georgia, Alabama, Massachusetts, Florida, Wisconsin, Nebraska, Colorado, and New Mexico.

The gubernatorial candidates do not appear to be persuaded by recent federal court rulings – one halting significant portions of Arizona’s controversial law (SB 1070) and another striking down an ordinance passed in Hazelton, PA that erected barriers for immigrants seeking housing or jobs ((The Washington Independent, “Court Overturns Hazletown, Pa., Anti-Immigration Law,” September 9, 2010, http://washingtonindependent.com/97083/court-overturns-hazletown-penn-anti-immigration-law)).

There seems to be a disconnect. The politicians think they are playing to what people want, but the reality is that people across party lines want comprehensive immigration reform (CIR). A recent survey ((Politico, “Poll: Surprising demand for immigration reform,” August 15, 2010, http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0810/41037.html)) found that 61% of both Democrats and Independents and 59% of Republicans agree that legislators should “pass comprehensive immigration law guidelines now.”

Stopping the madness. A range of anti-immigrant proposals were considered in Houston suburb, Tomball, Texas. Community members packed the Council’s chambers and spoke up against the ordinances. City leaders looked at places like Hazleton, saw how they suffered, and decided this was not right for their community. As one resident put it, “…the proposals would change the city from a welcoming community to one marred by racism. ((The Houston Chronicle, “Houston suburb won’t pursue immigration laws,” September 7, 2010, http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/ap/tx/7190696.html))”

The story of Tomball illustrates the importance of people coming together and not allowing the loudest, most hateful rhetoric to dominate.

To get involved, contact one of the following organizations:

Fernando Mejia, Northwest Federation of Community Organizations, fernando (at) nwfco (dot) org, 206-568-5400.

Idaho Community Action Network

Illinois: The United Congress of Community and Religious Organizations

New York: Make the Road New York

Washington Community Action Network

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