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October 17, 2008

Rethinking Immigration in a Tough Economy

(Photos by Robin Holland)

This week on THE JOURNAL, Bill Moyers spoke with political analyst Linda Chavez and writer Roberto Lovato to explore hispanic perspectives on the challenges America faces.

On the topic of immigration, Chavez called for a policy based on economics:

"We could end illegal immigration basically tomorrow if we enacted immigration policies that were market-based... We ought to have a policy that is attuned to what's going on in the economy. When you have unemployment, you're not gonna bring in a lot of new people."

Noting the precarious state of the economy, Lovato argued for a fundamental redefinition of citizenship:

"If you look at the market, the people that are running our economy don't know what they're doing. It's obvious... There's no logic, and it's naked to all of us. And so why not embrace the fact that this is stuff that's failed? And let's start with a new rationale, a new kind of citizenship that's more global."

Faced with the global economic crisis, European Union leaders agreed this week to a "European pact on immigration and asylum" pledging to expel illegal immigrants and enhance border controls. While many nations - including the United Kingdom and Australia - are moving to substantially reduce immigration, Spain has already announced plans to stop issuing visas to most migrant workers:

"No more visas will be granted to low-skilled workers, such as those employed in restaurants and shops, a spokeswoman for [Spain's] labour and immigration ministry said... 'It doesn't seem reasonable that with 2.5 million unemployed, we continue to recruit workers from abroad,' said [employment minister] Mr. Corbacho, who wants to pay unemployed foreigners to return to their countries... Unemployment has leapt by 500,000 in a year as the construction boom has evaporated."

What do you think?

  • What immigration policy should the U.S. pursue?
  • Do you think, as Chavez suggests and other nations have decided, that the new economy should factor into U.S. immigration policy?
  • Do you think that “global citizenship” is a practical approach to migration issues?


  • February 8, 2008

    Is Amnesty a Winning Strategy?

    (Photo by Robin Holland)

    In his conversation with Bill Moyers on this week’s JOURNAL, Hispanic evangelical Samuel Rodriguez argues that Republicans’ opposition to amnesty for illegal immigrants could undermine the GOP’s prospects for attracting Hispanic voters:

    “The Republican Party really had it going on. I mean, they really made significant inroads. 44 percent of Latinos voted for George W. Bush in the 2004 elections... All of a sudden, the Republican Party is hijacked de facto by the Sensenbrenners and Tancredos... There's an anti-Latino, a nativism, xenophobic spirit emerging out of the Republican Party. As a result of that, the Republican party will be hard pressed to engage anything close to 25 percent in the 2008 elections. And they may lose the Latino vote for two or three generations...

    [The Latino evangelical vote can be decisive] if the Republican Party nominates a candidate that addresses the issue of immigration reform, that really repudiates the xenophobic and nativist threat, and that apologizes... The question is whether or not McCain will continue to be committed to an immigration reform platform. I mean, there's an incredible amount of push back from the conservative voters in the Republican Party.”

    Polling from Rasmussen confirms Rodriguez’ assessment that many Americans oppose amnesty, but suggests that the “incredible amount of push back” might come from more than just conservative voters:

    “Fifty-six percent (56%) of American adults favor an enforcement-only approach to immigration reform. Only 29% are opposed. However, support falls sharply when 'a path to citizenship' for illegal aliens already in the United States is added to the mix. Just 42% support the more 'comprehensive' approach while 44% are opposed.”

    What do you think?

  • From where do you think opposition to amnesty for illegal immigrants is coming?
  • Should either or both parties campaign on an amnesty platform? Why or why not?
  • What are your thoughts on extending amnesty to illegal immigrants?


  • November 29, 2007

    Manuel Vásquez Addresses Your Questions

    After the lively immigration discussion on this blog over the past few weeks, sociology professor Manuel Vásquez has addressed some of the questions that viewers had asked following his interview.

    Stay tuned in coming weeks as the JOURNAL delves deeper into the immigration debate to explore various perspectives on this most contentious issue, and feel free to discuss Vásquez's response below.


    November 16, 2007

    Examining the Discourse on Immigration

    Photo: Robin Holland

    In this week’s JOURNAL, Professor Manuel Vásquez suggests that some vehement grassroots opposition to extending citizenship to illegal immigrants is based in prejudice:

    “Perhaps that’s one of the things that threatens some of the people who are restrictionist – that they see some of these immigrants maintaining loyalty, maintaining their language, maintaining their culture to some extent. And for them this is a threatening situation because they think of sovereignty very much in an exclusivist way… [After] the first World War, we shut the door. And for a while that door was pretty much closed. And we had tight limits on who could be admitted. And of course, before that, we had the Asian, the “Yellow Peril,” right? The Chinese Exclusion Act... this whole concept of illegality is really problematic, because it really doesn't go to the complexities of the situation.”

    But political analyst Michael Barone writes in a column that while allegations of nativism — hostile exclusion of immigrants simply to protect the cultural dominance of existing citizens — are common, restrictionists are motivated by other concerns:

    Continue reading "Examining the Discourse on Immigration" »


    Ask Manuel Vásquez...

    After watching Bill Moyers' interview with sociologist and religious scholar Manuel Vásquez, do you have further questions about immigration policy? What are the current options on the table? What would his ideal program look like?

    We are no longer accepting questions, but you can find Professor Vasquez's response to viewer questions and offer your comments at this link.

    Photo: Robin Holland


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