Monday, September 21, 2009

In Our Community: Immigration News

With lots to catch up on this week, I hope you enjoy reading the news on immigration from Monday, September 14 to Monday, September 21. Here we go!

The National Council of La Raza has released an analysis stating that the number of immigrants applying for U.S. citizenship fell by 62% this year. This past year, just over 500,000 immigrants applied, each paying an application fee of $595 plus $80 for computerized fingerprinting. (Before late 2007, the application fee was only $330.) Rising application fees, combined with the economic recession, placed citizenship applications out of reach for many.

The Immigration Policy Center just released a report about the economic power of immigrants in Arizona. As business owners, consumers, workers, and taxpayers, immigrants in this border state strengthen both state and local economies. Here's an interesting fact: If all undocumented immigrants were removed from Arizona, the state would lose $26.4 billion in expenditures, $11.7 billion in economic output, and approximately 140,324 jobs. Here, another article discusses how immigration reform would help the United States to remain on the forefront of technological innovation. Providing expanded opportunities for skilled foreign workers to create start-ups in the United States would improve the economy and create jobs.

Let's not lose sight of the big picture, however. This video with Matt Soerens, author of "Welcoming the Stranger," reminds us of the need for a broader immigration policy. Soerens talks eloquently about how Christian teachings apply to immigration reform.

Legislative time: The Respect for Marriage Act was introduced in the House of Representatives this week, with 91 original cosponsors. This Act would repeal the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, which discriminates against legally married same-sex binational couples. The Respect for Marriage Act would restore to these couples their full federal rights and responsibilities. This Act is a step in the right direction toward ensuring that permanent same-sex partners are treated equally under U.S. immigration laws.

Calls for comprehensive immigration reform are coming from every angle! Speaking out on the need for immigration reform, astronaut José M. Hernández said last week that legalization would provide opportunities for undocumented immigrants to work openly and integrate into the U.S. economy.

Nonprofit Quarterly has written a special issue on nonprofits and immigration, available free to the public online. I recommend reading this article, which discusses the importance of grassroots organizing within and among immigrant communities in the United States. Too often, immigrants themselves are left out of the national debate on immigration reform. Recognizing the important role of immigrants' organizations in grassroots advocacy at the national level can only strengthen the movement toward immigration reform.

On the subject of being inclusive, I find it concerning that, once again, foreign language programs are being cut from primary and secondary schools. On the surface, this issue may not appear to apply directly to immigration issues. However, foreign language teachers encourage their students to respect the diversity of languages, cultures, and traditions around them. Teaching foreign languages is one pathway toward creating a shared spirit of openness and inclusion, in which immigrants may be accepted into local communities and valued for their contributions.

That's all for now. Enjoy the week and keep an eye out for updates on the blog! As always, I welcome your comments and contributions.

1 comment:

  1. It really gets on my nerves when school districts cut programs like the arts and foreign languages because they think the money can be used more effectively elsewhere. This really does a disservice to students.

    It's unfortunate that so many people believe that because English is the "lingua franca" of business and diplomacy learning a second, or even third language, is unnecessary. Knowing multiple languages helps people in ways that go beyond career choices.

    I like how you tie together learning a foreign language and immigration issues. I think what you say is very true and can also be applied to other areas of education that are facing cuts such as performing and visual arts.