California Congressman To Propose Middle Road On Immigration Reform (KPBS)

BY JILL REPOGLE   NOVEMBER 4, 2013

KPBS News

Southern California Congressman Darrell Issa is rumored to be cooking up his own immigration reform proposal. It’s reportedly designed to find some middle ground in the contentious debate over providing legal status to the more than 11 million immigrants in the country illegally.

Issa’s district stretches along the coast from UC San Diego in La Jolla to southern Orange County. The district leans heavily Republican: Issa won the 2012 election with a 16-point lead.

Issa’s constituents are mostly white and largely affluent. Still, Issa isn’t immune to the demographic changes taking place throughout California and the nation. About one-quarter of Issa’s district is Latino, and close to 50 percent of his hometown of Vista is now Latino.

Polls have shown that the majority of Latinos want immigration reform with a path to citizenship for people in the country illegally.

The details of Issa’s plan for immigration reform are still scarce, and his office didn’t respond to numerous requests for an interview. But the plan would reportedly include a six-year period of temporary relief from deportation for undocumented immigrants.

During that time, they would be expected to find a legal way to stay here or leave.

Issa told Politico it’s “halfway between full amnesty and simply rejecting people.”

But some of Issa’s staunchly conservative constituents say that approach is too soft.

“This whole subject to me right now is about the rule of law,” said Patricia Newman, who manages her husband’s medical practice in Vista.

Newman is Mexican-American, and she thinks the government should make it easier for immigrants to come here legally. But she’s suspicious that Issa’s proposal would reward those who haven’t followed the rules, and encourage others to keep coming here illegally.

She said the Republican Party was compromising its ideals in exchange for votes.

“I really think that’s what they’re doing,” Newman said, a stylized portrait of Ronald Reagan looking down at her from her office wall.

“They’re just considering all these things just so they can get new votes. I don’t think they’re thinking it through.”

But Republicans like Issa are facing pressure from business and faith leaders — and even some GOP donors — to take action on immigration reform.

The Vista Chamber of Commerce recently joined state and national business groups in endorsing a pathway to citizenship for undocumented residents. They also want a temporary worker program for high and low-skilled workers, and strong border security.

“We also have businesses that have had tangible difficulties bringing talent in from outside the country when they needed people,” said Bret Schanzenbach, CEO of the Vista Chamber.

Political scientists warn the Republican party risks becoming irrelevant if it can’t appeal to the country’s growing Latino population. That warning hasn’t seemed to hold much weight for Republican congress members in districts with few Latino voters.

But the political calculations are different for Republican leaders. That likely includes Issa, saidTom Wong, a political science professor at UC San Diego.

“He not only is concerned about his electoral survival, but with eyes towards higher office, he also has to be concerned with the Republican brand as a whole and how that’s perceived nationally,” Wong said.

Several other Republican congress members have recently signed on to the House Democrats’ immigration reform bill, which includes a path to citizenship for people in the country illegally.

Wong said Issa’s halfway plan could help propel a real discussion on the issue among the Republican caucus.

But time is quickly running out this year to get that discussion going.

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If Vote Were Today, Immigration Reform Would Fail House (Fusion)

BY JOHN ROSMAN of FRONTERAS @ThisIsFusion   Updated OCTOBER 25, 2013

Fusion

SAN DIEGO — In 2012, statistician Nate Silver made headlines when he accurately predicted the outcomes for the presidential election in all 50 states.

While political scientists have been forecasting election results for decades, very few forecast legislation. But in San Diego, one assistant professor is doing just that. He’s forecasting the outcome for immigration reform.

Most days, you can find Tom Wong inside a boutique coffee shop in San Diego’s North Park neighborhood, hunched over a Macbook Pro.

The assistant professor of political science at UC San Diego is crunching thousands of numbers.

“I’m predicting opposition and support for immigration reform among all 535 current members of congress,” Wong said.

How Does It Work?

His forecast is created in three steps. The first is a model that determines what factors create a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ vote on immigration.

It begins in 2006. That was the year millions of immigration advocates protested in the streets across the United States, rallying against H.R. 4437, an enforcement-heavy immigration bill.

Many cite these demonstrations as the starting point for the modern immigration movement.

In step one, Wong counts every vote cast by every member of Congress on immigration since 2006. Then he pulls a ton of data — unemployment rates, education levels, ethnic makeup — from states and districts.

Wong explains his model is taking into account “the factors that previous research has identified as being important for immigration policy.”

He uses that information to create a model that predicts how a member of Congress will vote based on what their state or district looks like.

Step two is seeing if his model is accurate.

Wong looks at each member of Congress since 2006 to see whether his model accurately predicted how they actually voted on immigration bills.

“In the House we’re talking about a 94 percent match rate. And the Senate we get about 90 percent,” said Wong.

Step three is using the model as a predictor. For example, how will freshmen members of Congress vote, someone like Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas)?

“His state has certain demographic characteristics, certain economic characteristics and he’s a Republican,” explains Wong.

It shouldn’t be a surprise that the model predicts Cruz will be voting against the bill. But what about the rest of the Senate and members of the House?

“Right now the data points to 67 to 71 ‘yes’ votes in the Senate. For the House we’re only seeing about 203 ‘yes’ votes,” Wong said.

So if voted on today, according to Wong’s model, the Senate’s comprehensive immigration reform bill would fail by 15 votes in the House.

But, Wong wants immigration reform to pass.

Seeking Change

“My own immigration experience gives me this window into the data where the results are more than just numbers, because I see the families and the people that can potentially benefit,” he said.

When Wong was 16 years old he learned that he and his family had overstayed their tourist visas from Hong Kong. They were living here illegally.

Although they have since become legal residents, that moment is always with him.

“It is very easy for me to simply close my eyes and feel exactly how I felt as my 16-year-old self,” Wong said.

It’s a feeling that he believes is shared among many of the young immigrants who are rapidly changing the demographics of districts across the United States.

Wong is using his model to help pro-immigration reform activists locate Congress members who are poised to vote ‘no.’ But are in positions where they should be voting ‘yes.’

He uses Rep Gary Miller (R-Calif.) as an example.

“Based on the data Gary Miller will vote ‘no’ on immigration reform,” Wong said.

Miller’s voting records show’s him as a staunch opponent of immigration reform. But Wong’s model points to Miller as a candidate whose stance can, and perhaps should, change.

In 2012, Miller ran and won election in a newly formed California district in San Bernardino County. It is made up of young minority voters, and his next election is rapidly approaching.

“The young Hispanic/Latino and the young Asian population — meaning those that will turn actually 18 and become voters — will exceed Gary Miller’s 2012 margin of victory,” Wong explains.

He believes there are enough representatives in the House like Miller, who if presented with these statistics, could change their vote and change the current fate of immigration reform.

You can follow Tom Wong as he updates his data and changes model as the immigration debate conitinues. Check out the CIR 2013 Blog

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Making San Diego an international hub (UT San Diego)

BY DAVID FITZGERALD & JOHN D. SKRENTNY   JULY 3, 2013

UT San Diego

An effort to dramatically increase spending on U.S. border enforcement was a key reason for Senate passage of immigration reform and will be key to bipartisan support in the House. The debate has focused on walling off the border rather than thinking of it as a conduit. Yet border states such as California, and cities such as San Diego, have the unique opportunity to leverage proximity to Mexico to generate jobs and bolster economic growth for the themselves and the United States as a whole. By further integrating with its Mexican sister city, Tijuana, San Diego could become an international trade hub of more than 5 million people in a binational, regional metropolis.

The economic challenges of recent years have aroused fear and skepticism in the United States around global trade and outsourcing. While moving manufacturing outside the United States can cost American jobs, not all trade and outsourcing is equal. Mexico’s shared border with the United States mitigates the costs associated with trade and maximizes the benefits. Many goods imported from Mexico are actually coproduced on both sides of the border, creating jobs for American workers. In fact, according to a report from the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, 40 percent of the value of imports from Mexico was actually created in the United States by American workers — about 10 times the level of value created in the United States for goods imported from China. Coproduction keeps jobs in North America that might otherwise be lost altogether overseas.

A further benefit of trade from Mexico compared to transoceanic trade is environmental. While all transport of goods relies on the burning of fossil fuels, trade within North America has a smaller environmental footprint and thus produces less pollution and greenhouse gases than transoceanic transport.

The benefits of integration are clear, but many barriers stymie its full potential.

A 2007 study by the San Diego Association of Governments found that border wait times cost the regional economy $7.2 billion in lost economic output and more than 62,000 lost jobs. The hassle of crossing is a major deterrent to mobility. Improvements underway at the San Ysidro crossing and the upgrading of state Route 905 to Otay Mesa are a good start, but more could be done. Programs like FAST (Free and Secure Trade Program) and SENTRI (Secure Electronic Network for Travelers Rapid Inspection) that speed crossing for businesses and individuals who have undergone background checks could be expanded. Additional spending authorized by a new immigration bill could ease the logjam, with more agents dedicated to processing travelers and goods, rather than further militarizing a border between two friendly countries.

Old and limited-capacity border infrastructure is another impediment. On the Tijuana side, the design of roads feeding into the border crossing area is confusing and aggravating for drivers. A faster trolley service from downtown San Diego to the border would spur tourism in both directions. An expansion of the San Diego port could export goods coproduced in San Diego and Baja California. To his credit, San Diego Mayor Bob Filner has identified border development as a top priority. Yet the mayor faces an uphill battle, as much of the problem with border infrastructure is resolved at the federal level.

Although San Diego has been a border-crossing city as long as there has been a border, the city’s rail, freeway and air links historically made it a southern spur of Los Angeles rather than an important link for the entire state. A more robust partnership between San Diego and Tijuana would re-center the region. Rather than San Diego being the end of the line, it would be a major hub linking the two Californias. The immigration reform now being debated in Congress provides the opportunity to make this dream a reality.

FitzGerald and Skrentny are co-directors of the Center for Comparative Immigration Studies at UC San Diego, and co-leaders of the San Diego Scholars Strategy Network.

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Qualcomm CEO Discusses Immigration With Obama (UT San Diego)

BY MIKE FREEDOM   FEBRUARY 6, 2013

UT San Diego

Qualcomm Chief Executive Paul Jacobs has often criticized current immigration law, saying it makes it hard to hire foreign-born engineering graduates when the company recruits at U.S. universities.

On Tuesday, Jacobs got the chance to make that pitch directly to President Barack Obama as one of about 10 business leaders invited to the White House to discuss immigration reform.

Jacobs joined chief executives from Motorola Solutions, Goldman Sachs, Yahoo, Marriott, Alcoa, United/Continental and other firms in the private meeting with the president, who has made immigration reform a priority of his second term.

Jacobs was unavailable Wednesday for an interview. But Qualcomm issued a statement saying the San Diego company supports comprehensive changes to the nation’s immigration laws.

“Highly skilled immigrants are critical to innovation and are important contributors to economic growth in the United States,” said Jacobs. “As a company that employs and hires thousands of engineers, we believe it’s critical that we do everything possible to welcome the most talented inventors to our shores by updating immigration rules that disadvantage U.S. companies.”

Qualcomm’s gripe with current law centers on caps and restrictions on temporary work visas and permanent green cards for foreign workers.

For example, one rule forbids spouses of workers with temporary visas from seeking jobs in the U.S., said Alice Tornquist, Qualcomm’s vice president of public affairs based in Washington, D.C. Caps on the number of green cards issued each year can result in foreign-born graduates of U.S. universities waiting years — sometimes a decade — to be cleared to work here permanently.

Supporters of reform say these hurdles discourage not only foreign-born, highly skilled workers but also noncitizen entrepreneurs from founding companies and creating jobs.

“We don’t know to what extent we’re losing talent, brilliant people, who just decide upon graduation not to pursue employment in the United States,” said Tornquist. “We’re making it impossible.”

A bill recently introduced in the Senate raises caps on annual temporary work visas and exempts certain jobs from the green-card limits in fields such as science, technology, engineering and math — or STEM.

“So a STEM graduate from a U.S. university with an advanced degree — master’s or above — with a job offer in a science, technology, engineering or math field, would get a green card without waiting,” said Tornquist.

Critics of loosening rules for highly skilled immigrants say many U.S. citizens with degrees in science, technology, engineering and math can’t find jobs in those fields, said John Skrentny, a sociology professor and director of the Center for Comparative Immigration Studies at UC San Diego.

“For example, about 15 million Americans have STEM degrees, but only 5 million work in STEM,” he said. “Where do these STEM workers go? It’s not clear.”

U.S. computer programmers have complained that they are replaced by cheaper foreign workers here on temporary work visas, added Skrentny. “Some also argue that employers refuse to train or retrain American workers and prefer to simply import foreigners who have the needed skills,” he wrote.

Lawmakers last tackled comprehensive immigration reform in 2007. Those efforts largely failed. Qualcomm is hoping for a better outcome this time.

“We really look at this opportunity, with comprehensive immigration reform, as the best chance to get the changes that we think are needed,” said Tornquist.

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Tom K. Wong on Life as an Undocumented Youth (KPBS)

BY MONICA MEDINA   JANUARY 9, 2013

KPBS News

Tom K. Wong is haunted by a childhood memory. It is of being awakened in the middle of the night by his mother, and being taken into the hallway, along with his older brother. There, she held them both tightly and sobbed while helicopters hovered overhead.

“It was bizarre,” says Wong, who still remembers the incident that occurred when he was 10, in their low-income neighborhood in Riverside, California, which was comprised mostly of Mexicans, Salvadorians and Guatemalans. “That night, my mother was really scared. There were helicopters flying around, and lights shining down by our house, but they weren’t there for us. The police were surrounding our neighbors’ house. Yet, it was clear my mother thought the immigration officials were coming to raid our house. I connected the dots later on in life.”


    Wong at age 11. (Tom K. Wong)

For Wong, who today is an assistant professor of political science at the University of California, San Diego, connecting the dots included coming to America from Hong Kong with his parents and brother, at the age of two, and staying long after their visas expired. The revelation that he was an undocumented immigrant came when he reached the age of 16. Like most youth at that age, he was eager to get his driver’s license. Instead, he learned that he couldn’t because of his undocumented status, and the news left him reeling or, as he says, “It was like having a bomb dropped on me.”



“A lot of young undocumented immigrants aren’t aware that they’re undocumented,” notes Wong, whose research focuses on the politics of immigration, citizenship, and migrant illegality. “They learn later in life, after they’ve spent a lifetime being a part of the society. In that context, learning that you’re undocumented is completely shattering for one’s identity. At least it was for me. Suddenly, the things I wanted to do I actually couldn’t do because of my identity.”

Besides not being able to apply for a driver’s license, Wong discovered that being undocumented meant he’d have to make other adjustments. Having spent high school enrolled in all Honors and AP (Advanced Placement) classes, he’d now have to put aside his dream of going to college. Instead, he’d join his parents—selling toys at swap meets. He also had to figure out how his new identity as an undocumented immigrant would affect the relationships he’d built with his friends.

“I had to learn to navigate my personal relationships with others,” he says with some regret. “And, I didn’t do it very well. I didn’t tell any of my friends. I felt so lonely and isolated and I had nobody to talk to. I was ashamed. When I finally did tell somebody, I told my best friend, and the response was one that I didn’t expect.”

His best friend stopped speaking to him. But, around this time, when Wong was 18, he started dating Rose Bloomberg-Rissman, a high school classmate who, seeing that he was facing deportation, stepped in to help.

“I don’t think I told her until a couple months into us being a couple,” recalls Wong. “It became real when (in order to become a U.S. citizen) I had to go back to Hong Kong and wait 10 years. I think it was only then that she realized what it meant for me to be undocumented. She proposed to me, though I didn’t say yes right away. It was a tough choice and I was ready to go to Hong Kong.”

But, with their parents’ blessing, they married. Wong, though, wants to make it clear that his decision to marry wasn’t all about the green card. ”Eleven years later, and we’re still married. She’s the mother of my kids (triplet boys). The immediate assumption is that we got married so that I could stay, but I was ready to go.”
Wong, with his wife Rose, and their triplet boys.


Wong, with his wife Rose, and their triplet boys. (Paige Ogilvie)

Today, Wong is trying to help other undocumented youth. He has reached out to students, sharing his story in the hopes that they would come forward and, in turn, share their stories with him. And they have. In droves. The reason, says Wong, is simple.



“So much of this is cathartic. When you hear someone else’s story and you can sort of connect to that person because yours is similar, it is a healing experience. It empowers them. And people instantly want to get more involved. It’s becoming more and more common.”

Wong is also trying to combat assumptions made about undocumented youth. “We have just around 40 million immigrants in the U.S., and about 11 million are undocumented,” he observes. “The face of the undocumented immigrant is Latino, but there’s Asian, Afro-Caribbean, and undocumented people from Canada, France and Australia.”

Studying immigration politics and policy is personal for Wong, something he does in honor of his parents. “As a Chinese family, we aren’t very apt on sharing our feelings with each other. A lot of why I do it, is to show them my appreciation, my acknowledgement that I understand why we came here the way we did and why the struggle growing up was actually worth it.”

He adds, “Recently, I did a press briefing in Los Angeles about undocumented Asians, and my mom called me because she saw an article in a Chinese newspaper saying this is great. Even though we don’t talk about our situation directly, they get why I do this.”

Wong’s experience as an undocumented youth, or former “DREAMer,” as he calls himself, has led him to want to help other undocumented youth get on the path to citizenship. In addition to his work at UCSD, Wong serves as the director of the DREAM Project, a non-profit that collects the oral histories of undocumented students. Largely through his own personal funds, he also is making available 30 private grants of $100 each, to assist students in the costs of DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) applications. For more information, contact dacagrant@gmail.com.

Wong is actively involved with the San Diego Dream Team, which plans to host a statewide summit of the California Alliance Dream Team Alliance, the first to be held in San Diego, beginning Friday. The purpose is to strategize for comprehensive immigration reform and other statewide policies.

Wong, who is committed to studying immigration trends and its influence on politics, asserts that immigration will be a major issue in 2013. Which is why for him, his work is just beginning. “It’s a perfect storm for San Diego in a positive way,” he says, “to get people energized and mobilized towards social justice, and I’m just glad to be part of it.”

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Wayne Cornelius awarded the Order of the Aztec Eagle

Wayne A. Cornelius, CCIS Director Emeritus, has been honored with Mexico’s highest award for foreigners: the Order of the Aztec Eagle. Cornelius was selected “for his work of more than five decades to achieve greater and better understanding of Mexico in the United States”.

Read award presentation remarks 1 and 2 »


Two San Diegans awarded Mexico’s highest honor for foreigners (U-T San Diego)

UCSD scholar Wayne Cornelius and Rancho La Puerta Founder Deborah Szekely

BY SANDRA DIBBLE   JUNE 6, 2012

Deborah Szekely

For San Diegan Deborah Szekely, volunteerism and philanthropy are a way of life. (John Gastaldo • U-T)

Two San Diegans — a scholar who found fulfillment studying Mexican migrants and a refugee who built a successful spa in Baja California — are receiving Mexico’s highest honor for foreigners, it was announced Wednesday.

Wayne Cornelius, 66, a longtime professor at the University of California San Diego, was selected “for his work of more than five decades to achieve greater and better understanding of Mexico in the United States,” according to a statement by President Felipe Calderón.

Deborah Szekely, the 90-year-old founder of the internationally known Rancho La Puerta in Tecate, was praised for contributions “oriented to preserving the environmental, social and cultural heritage over the past seven decades.”

A third American recognized with the distinction — called the Order of the Aztec Eagle — is Rick Bayless, a chef who specializes in Mexican cuisine. He hosts the PBS television series “Mexico: One Plate at a Time,” which recently aired a segment on Baja California cuisine.

“Mexico has always been my focus, my passion,” Cornelius said. “I have unlimited respect and admiration for all those generations of migrants who have had the courage to leave their homes and try to make a life for themselves and their children in the United States — for all the obstacles they have faced in doing so.”

Cornelius and Szekely learned of their selection from U-T San Diego on Wednesday. The announcements were made in Diario Oficial de la Federación, the Mexican government’s official registry.

Szekely, who also founded the Golden Door spa in Escondido, has received much recognition as she celebrates her 90th birthday. But “this is the one that takes the cake,” she said.

She gives much credit to her daughter, Sarah Livia Szekely Brightwood, current president of Rancho La Puerta and the force behind much of the environmental work carried by the spa through its foundation.

In his proclamation, Calderón highlighted the spa’s community-service projects in Tecate, including:

  • environmental training and campouts for 25,000 children
  • protection of 2,000 acres of Rancho La Puerta through the 2004 establishment of a conservation easement with the Mexican environmental group Pronatura
  • and financing of a program to improve the urban zone around the Tecate River.

Close ties with the community have been key to the spa’s success, said Szekely, who moved to Tecate in 1940 with her husband, Edmond, as World War II refugees.

“What we did could never have been done in any other place,” she said. “My husband and I got there as undocumented aliens, no papers, no money. This (honor) is for the people who welcomed us.”


Wayne Cornelius

In his remarks for Cornelius, Calderón said the professor’s “research has influenced the manner in which shapers of opinion and decision-makers in the United States perceive the Mexican reality.”

The president cited Cornelius’ 38 years of teaching, noting that he “has trained a great number of experts on Mexico in different universities.” He also mentioned Cornelius’ role in founding the Center for U.S.-Mexican Studies in 1979 and the Center for Comparative Immigration Studies in 1999, both at UC San Diego.

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The Untold Future of American Politics

New York Times
CCIS Research Associate Zoltan Hajnal’s article on the future of American politics is published in The New York Times.


BY ZOLTAN HAJNAL and TAEKU LEE   JUNE 4, 2012

Volunteer

A volunteer for Mi Familia Vota working to register people to vote in Denver.
(Matthew Staver for The New York Times)

The demographic future of the United States is clear. Sometime around 2050 today’s racial and ethnic minorities will likely become a majority. Understanding that change is one of the keys to understanding the future of American politics, but not in the way that most people believe. The conventional view is that in the decades to come the growing minority population and its strong ties to the Democratic Party will be a boon to Democrats and a blight for Republicans.

But that view overlooks the two central features of America’s racial and ethnic minority population: ambivalence about both political parties, and at the moment, staggeringly low rates of political participation. Most Asian-American and Latino adults are not tied to either political party and most currently do not vote.

Many of the numbers do point to Democratic ascendance. On one side of the equation, the Republican Party has effectively become the party of white America. More than 90 percent of John McCain’s votes in 2008 came from white Americans. On the other side, the Democratic Party has largely won over the minority vote. In 2008 Barack Obama won 95 percent of the black vote, 67 percent of the Latino vote, and 62 percent of the Asian-American vote. This pull toward the Democratic Party is not specific to Obama: in the 2010 Congressional elections, exit polls show that Democratic candidates garnered 91 percent of the black vote, 66 percent of the Latino vote and 59 percent of the Asian-American vote.

Putting together demographic trends with past performance, most observers and strategists say that Republican demise is all but inevitable. We don’t. Our research shows that the dominant force among minorities is not attachment to the Democratic Party but uncertainty about where they fit into American politics.

When asked in national surveys, most Latinos and Asian-Americans say that they don’t fit into a party at all. The largest segments of the Latino and Asian-American populations do not identify as Democrats, as the conventional wisdom would suggest, but rather as “nonidentifiers” – those who refuse altogether to answer a question about party identification or who claim that they do not think in partisan terms. Combined, these nonidentifiers and others who expressly state they are ‘independent’ make up the clear majority of both groups. All told, 56 percent of Latinos and 57 percent of Asian-American identify as independent or as nonidentifiers. Even among blacks, there are signs of growing ambivalence. For example, almost 30 percent of blacks feel that the Democratic Party does not work hard for black interests.

Critically, this nonpartisan population is neither apolitical nor unreachable. A lot of racial and ethnic minorities are currently on the sidelines of American politics, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Today’s minorities are no different from the minorities of yesterday in one very important sense: They are politically approachable and readily mobilized. A range of recent experimental studies has shown that when politically inactive minorities are contacted by parties and especially when they are properly approached, many of them do become engaged and participate.

What this means is that the future of the minority vote, and consequently the balance of power in American politics, is still very much up for grabs. If either party wants to attain dominance, it ignores this segment of the American population at its own peril.

The real challenge is how. Targeting the “median voter” no longer makes sense. America is now too diverse with too many different sets of concerns and issues. It is far from obvious where today’s median voter lies and less than clear which segments of the electorate will be drawn to a strategy to vie for that median voter.

Instead, we suggest that to reach America’s increasingly mixed electorate, candidates and political parties should run a multifaceted and multiracial campaign. Rather than ignore race or use race to lure whites together into a largely exclusionary majority, the alternative we offer is a strategy of smartly and selectively narrow casting to different voters, where and when it is appropriate. Essentially, parties should endeavor to build future winning coalitions through a mixed strategy of broadly based meat-and-potatoes issues like taxes, the deficit, safety nets, and foreign policy that brand Democrats as Democrats and Republicans as Republicans with tightly packaged appeals to targeted electorates.

This strategy is complex. It entails collecting good focus group and polling data on groups like Latinos and Asian-Americans, then carefully combing through a political agenda, then finding a fit that homes in on issues of particular concern to groups like Latinos and Asian-Americans without repelling support from one’s party base or centrist Independents. For Latinos, that issue might be some narrow elements of immigration reform, like allowing children a path to citizenship through college or the military – a policy that was needlessly attacked by Republican leaders. For Asian-Americans, either party might make inroads without raising a ruckus by strengthening incentives for highly skilled immigrants or by finding non-polarizing ways of further supporting the enforcement of language accommodations in existing election laws. For African-Americans, now might be an opportune moment for either party to take a strong stand against Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law or especially egregious forms of racial profiling, without incurring a full-on political backlash.

The winnable set of issues may be thin, but the list is longer than you might think. Since the areas of unique concern to one group can often be inconsequential to the core concerns of a second (or third or fourth) group, this multipronged approach can slowly build up support from a fairly diverse array of interests. The key is to embrace the new reality of America’s diverse electorate through targeted issue-based appeals — rather than overlooking race altogether, making symbolic gestures, or seeing only zero-sum trade-offs between the continued loyalty of established racial groups and the burgeoning support of emerging groups.

The consequences are huge. Despite the Obama campaign’s remarkable mobilization of first-time Latino and Asian-American voters in 2008, more than half of voter-eligible citizens in these rapidly growing segments of the electorate stayed home. These are people who could be mobilized, who could be attracted to a party, and who could sway electoral outcomes. They should not be ignored.

At present, one party – the Democratic Party – has an edge with minority voters. But the eventual outcome of the battle for America’s diverse uncommitted population is far from settled. Ultimately, the extent to which minorities become fully politically incorporated and the success or failure of both political parties depends very much on how the Democrats and the Republicans approach America’s changing racial demographics.

Zoltan Hajnal and Taeku Lee are the authors of “Why Americans Don’t Join the Party: Race, Immigration, and the Failure (of Political Parties) to Engage the Electorate.’ Hajnal is professor of political science at the University of California, San Diego. Lee is professor of political science and law at the University of California, Berkeley.

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Mexican Immigration to U.S. Slowed Significantly, Report Says

Wayne A. Cornelius, CCIS Director Emeritus, comments on the decrease in Mexican immigration to the United States.


BY JULIA PRESTON   APRIL 28, 2012

<Mexican Immigrantion Slows

Migrant workers in Mexicali, Mexico, waited to legally cross into Calexico, Calif. Many work for $9 an hour picking crops. (Gregory Bull/Associated Press)

In what the report called a “notable reversal of the historic pattern,” the number of Mexicans leaving rose sharply in the five years after 2005, while the new flow of migrants coming from Mexico into the United States fell steeply, Pew demographers found.

For the first time in at least two decades, the population of illegal immigrants from Mexico living in this country significantly decreased, according to the report. In 2011, about 6.1 million Mexicans were living here illegally, down from a peak of nearly 7 million in 2007, it said.

“We really haven’t seen anything like this in the last 30 or 40 years,” said Jeffrey Passel, the senior demographer at the Pew Hispanic Center and a co-writer of the report with D’Vera Cohn and Ana Gonzalez-Barrera. The center, a nonpartisan research organization in Washington that does not advocate policy positions, has provided some of the most reliable estimates for the elusive numbers of Mexican immigrants.

Over all, the report said, about 58 percent of an estimated 11.2 million illegal immigrants in the United States are from Mexico.

The report provides material for all sides in the fierce debate over immigration policy. A major episode in that debate will take place on Wednesday when the Supreme Court hears arguments over a law passed by Arizona in 2010 to expand the powers of the local and state police to conduct immigration enforcement.

Arizona officials say that tough local enforcement measures like SB 1070, the statute they passed, are the most effective way to curb illegal immigration because they pressure migrants who lack legal status to return home. Immigrant advocates say those measures serve to separate families and drive illegal immigrants into the shadows, and they point to prolonged high unemployment in this country as the primary reason for reduced immigration.

Mr. Passel said the data does not allow Pew demographers to say which factor was most important in reducing the population of illegal immigrants. The report cited a mix, including high unemployment in the United States, particularly in the construction industry; heightened border enforcement and increased deportations by the American authorities; and a long-term decline in birth rates in Mexico.

The migration from Mexico that began after 1970 brought, by far, the largest numbers of immigrants from one country in American history, the report said, with about 30 percent of 39.6 million immigrants today having been born in Mexico. The 12 million Mexican-born people who live in the United States — about one in every 10 Mexicans in the world — comprise more than all the immigrants in any other country, the Pew report said.

The report presents a striking change from earlier findings by the Pew Hispanic Center on the number of Mexicans who have been returning to their country. While earlier Pew studies said the data did not show any exodus, the report published Monday includes new data from the 2010 Mexican census revealing that about twice as many Mexicans returned home from 2005 to 2010 than in the previous five years. In all, about 1.4 million people moved from the United States to Mexico in that time, the Mexican census showed.

The report cited Mexican data showing a big increase in the number of United States citizen children with Mexican parents who were living in Mexico — to about 500,000 in 2010 from about 240,000 in 2000. Some of those Americans are the children of deportees, the data suggested.

The report found that more Mexicans who were deported after coming to the United States to work said they were not likely to try to re-enter. About 20 percent of deportees in 2010 said they would not try to return, up from 7 percent in 2005. Still, in 2010, six in every 10 deportees said they would try to re-enter within seven days, according to the new Pew report.

The report did little to quell a controversy among demographers over the scope and causes of return migration to Mexico.

Steven A. Camarota, the director of research at the Center for Immigration Studies in Washington, a group that advocates reduced immigration, noted that he had first reported an outflow of Mexicans in 2009. “The evidence is very strong,” Mr. Camarota said, “that there is a slowdown of people coming from Mexico and a big increase in people leaving.”

Wayne A. Cornelius, a director of the Center of Expertise on Migration and Health at the University of California, said that in his most recent field research, which drew on interviews with migrants in Mexico and California, there were no signs of increased return migration. The “overwhelming pattern,” he said, “is that migrants who have made it to the United States and found employment, particularly if it is relatively stable despite the recession, are hanging in there and riding it out.”

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Report finds wave of Mexican immigration to U.S. has ended

LATimes

Associate Director, David FitzGerald, discusses the drop in number of Mexican immigrants coming to the United States.


The study by the Pew Hispanic Center cites the economic downturn and increased enforcement at the U.S.-Mexico border as factors in the drop in the number of Mexicans coming to the country.

BY PALOMA ESQUIVEL and HECTOR BECERRA   APRIL 24, 2012

Net migration from Mexico to the United States has come to a statistical standstill, stalling one of the most significant demographic trends of the last four decades.

Amid an economic downturn and increased enforcement at the U.S.-Mexico border, the number of Mexicans coming to the United States dropped significantly, while the number of those returning home increased sharply over the last several years, according to a report by the Pew Hispanic Center.

“The largest wave of immigration in history from a single country to the United States has come to a standstill,” the report says.

Between 2005 and 2010, 1.4 million Mexicans immigrated to the United States, less than half the number that migrated between 1995 and 2000. At the same time, the number of Mexicans and their children who moved to Mexico in the same five-year period rose to 1.4 million, about double the number that did so between 1995 and 2000.

The estimates are based on data from the U.S. Census Bureau and on Mexican census data. The most recent data indicate that the historic flow of migrants into the U.S. might even have started to reverse.

“We’re fairly confident that by the end of the period we were seeing more people moving to Mexico than leaving” for the United States, said co-author Jeffrey S. Passel, a senior demographer at the Pew Hispanic Center.

Illegal immigrants from Mexico residing in the U.S. still outnumber their legal counterparts, but the proportion has shifted, the report found. The number of Mexican illegal immigrants residing in the U.S. fell from 7 million in 2007 to about 6.1 million in 2011. In the same period, the number of legal immigrants from Mexico residing here increased from 5.6 million to 5.8 million.

The report attributes the changes to several factors, including the weakened economy, increased border enforcement, a rise in deportations, growing dangers at the border and a long-term decline in Mexican birthrates. Which factor is dominant is still unknown.

“At this point, it’s very hard to say because all of them are kind of working in the same direction,” Passel said.

The report comes as the Supreme Court on Wednesday is set to take up elements of Arizona’s tough crackdown on illegal immigrants, known as SB 1070. Advocates for reduced immigration cited the report as proof that tightened enforcement works. Many immigrant advocates have long cited job prospects as a primary factor in decisions to migrate.

Several factors in Mexico contributed to the shift, including a drop in fertility rates there, according to the report’s authors. That rate dropped from 7.3 children per woman in 1960 to 2.4 in 2009, meaning there are fewer people entering the workforce. At the same time, indicators of development such as literacy, average years of education and healthcare have improved.

The Mexican demographic trends and the U.S. political shift toward increased enforcement mean that immigration from Mexico is probably down for the long run, said David Fitzgerald, a sociology professor with the Center for Comparative Immigration Studies at UC San Diego.

Even if the U.S. economy bounces back, he said, there’s strong reason to believe that illegal immigration from Mexico will never surge the way it did about 10 years ago, he said.

The Center for Comparative Immigration Studies does an annual survey of three communities in Mexico that are routine sources of immigrants to the U.S. All three show decreases in immigration, he said.

“This report is showing at the binational level what we’ve seen at the community level in the sense that new, unauthorized immigration to the U.S. has dropped off dramatically,” Fitzgerald said. “I think by far the most important factor is the downturn in the U.S. job market, and the second factor is the concentrated border enforcement activity.”

Fitzgerald said it’s too early to say whether tough state laws have caused illegal immigrants to return to Mexico, although there is evidence that Arizona’s law caused some people to leave that state, he said.

Advocates against illegal immigration said the report confirms that stricter enforcement combined with tougher job prospects work to curtail illegal immigration.

“If you dry up the job magnet because of the bad economy or increased work-site enforcement, you reduce illegal immigration,” said Bob Dane, a spokesman for the Federation for American Immigration Reform, which advocates for restricted immigration.

The federal government needs to continue to crack down on illegal immigration, regardless of the report’s conclusions, Dane said.

“The fact remains there’s still 7 million illegal aliens occupying jobs that should go to American citizens,” he said. “It’s nowhere near mission accomplished.”

Jessica Dominguez, a Los Angeles-based immigration attorney, said increasing numbers of deportees who have families in the U.S. are not returning because the trip is more dangerous and the consequences of being caught are more severe.

“Some people are staying away until they can come back legally,” Dominguez said. “They don’t want to be exposed to being detained again and losing the opportunity to come back legally later. The laws are very strict at this point.”

About 29% of the immigrant population is from Mexico, far surpassing the next largest group, Indians, who comprise about 4.5% of the 40-million immigrants living in the U.S., according to the report. The number of Mexicans who came to the U.S. over the last several decades surpasses that of any other nationality in U.S. history, but when measured as a share of the U.S. immigrant population at the time, the Irish and German influx in the 19th century equaled or exceeded the Mexican migration, the report noted.

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Does the GOP care about Latino voters?




CCIS scholar Zoltan Hajnal discusses Republican strategy on Latino voters.


BY DANA MILBANK   FEBRUARY 14, 2012

When it comes to Latino voters, Republicans must have un impulso suicida.

What else but a death wish could explain the party’s treatment of the fastest-growing voting bloc in the nation? First was the wave of Arizona-style immigration laws. Then came the anti-immigrant rhetoric from the GOP presidential candidates. On Tuesday, Senate Republicans roughed up Adalberto Jose Jordan — because, well, just because they could.

Jordan is the very picture of the American dream: Born in Cuba, he fled with his parents to the United States at age six and went on to become a lawyer and clerk for Justice Sandra Day O’Connor. With the support of his home-state senator, Republican Marco Rubio (Fla.), a fellow Cuban American, Jordan was nominated to become the first Cuban-born judge to serve on the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, which covers Alabama, Georgia and Florida.

There is no serious objection to his confirmation — which makes the hazing he has experienced all the more inexplicable. Republicans slow-walked his nomination (he was approved unanimously by the Judiciary Committee in July), then filibustered his confirmation vote on the Senate floor. Even when the filibuster was broken Monday night (by a lopsided 89-5), a lone Republican, Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, used a procedural hurdle to postpone the confirmation vote by two days, to Wednesday.

Congressional staffers I checked with couldn’t recall a similar instance of blocking a confirmation even after a filibuster had failed. This would seem to be a unique humiliation for a man hailed by the Hispanic National Bar Association because of “the positive message this nomination sends to the Latino community.”

Paul, whose home-state Hispanic population is just 3 percent, had a different message. He used his senatorial prerogative to leave Jordan twisting in the wind for another 30 hours – because Paul wanted to use him as leverage to secure an extraneous amendment (rescinding foreign aid to Egypt) to an unrelated bill (transportation).

“Some senators are concerned that I may be delaying a vote in the Senate. This is not true,” Paul said on the floor Tuesday morning, in direct contradiction of the facts. He complained about assistance going to the Egyptians, who “now hold 19 U.S. citizens virtually hostage.”

Republican leaders couldn’t — or wouldn’t — defy their colleague. Asked about the holdup, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) said only: “I’m a great admirer of the junior senator of Kentucky.”

Democrats waited out the delay by reminding Republicans of their tone-deafness. “He’ll be the first Cuban-born judge to serve on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit,” Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (Vt.) said, standing alongside a poster of the nominee. Leahy complained that if the biblical Moses were nominated, there are “some on the other side who would demand to see Moses the Lawgiver’s birth certificate to make sure he wasn’t born in Kenya.”

Republicans should be sensitive to the tweak. The party’s presidential candidates have done long-term damage by vowing opposition to the DREAM Act (legalization for illegal immigrants who serve in the armed forces) and by trying to paint each other as too soft on immigration (highlighted by Herman Cain’s call for a lethal electric fence). Rubio and Jeb Bush have called for an end to what Rubio called “harsh and intolerable” rhetoric.

The Hispanic population is expected to double — to 30 percent of the United States population — in the coming decades. So if Latinos continue to vote 2-to-1 for Democrats, the Republican Party will become irrelevant. Zoltan Hajnal of the University of California, San Diego, an authority on racial politics, sees a parallel with the Republicans’ alienation of African Americans in the 1960s. “The image of the party is pretty clear to most Latinos,” he said, “and once party images are built, they get passed on from parent to child in a process that’s very resistant to change.”

The party simply can’t afford self-inflicted wounds such as the Jordan debacle. “He’s an integral part of our community,” Rubio told his colleagues.

But Republicans didn’t care enough about that to stand up to Paul. Through the “debate” on the nomination, one senator after the other came to the floor — and ignored the delay.

Some spoke about transportation. Others spoke about the budget. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) spoke about the wonders of his state. “The lettuce in your salad this month almost certainly came from Arizona,” McCain said. “It’s also believed that the chimichanga has its origin in Arizona.”

The chimichanga? It may be the only thing Republicans have left to offer Latinos.

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