Thursday, January 19, 2006

"The Nation" comes out on DMI report

Katrina vanden Heuvel, editor of The Nation, has come out with an analysis of the Drum Major Institute for Public Policy’s report on Immigration reform: “Principles for an Immigration Policy to Strengthen and Expand the American Middle Class”. As we first reported, this is the most comprehensive look at immigration reform from a progressive point of view to be put forward thus far.
more below the fold

Toward a Sensible Immigration Policy
Katrina vanden Heuvel

For those concerned about human rights, it's easy to see why undocumented immigrants in the United States need legal protection. But it's still a challenge to make the case for immigrants' rights to working and middle-class
Americans, apprehensive that illegal immigrants are taking their jobs and driving down wages.

Polls suggest that voters from low- and middle-income households are more likely to express anti-immigrant attitudes. The outrageously harsh Border Protection, Antiterrorism, and Illegal Immigration Control Act, passed by the House in December, shows how ready legislators are to exploit these fears.

A new report by the Drum Major Institute for Public Policy attempts to turn the conversation on its head with a well-documented report arguing that protecting immigrants' rights in the workplace benefits all middle-class and aspiring middle-class Americans.

Vanden Heuvel goes on to give a great synopsis of the report. Her analysis is spot on and hopefully will draw some attention to this excellent piece of research.

Drawing on a broad range of empirical studies and economic analyses, the report makes the case that it is not undocumented immigrants' presence in the US labor market that harms American workers, but rather it is the immigrants' disempowerment in the workplace, stemming from employers' ability to threaten deportation, that is a danger to US workers. "When immigrants lack rights in the workplace," the report contends, "labor standards are driven down, and all working people have less opportunity to enter or remain part of the middle class. So a pro-middle class immigration policy must guarantee immigrants full labor rights and make sure that employers cannot use deportation as a coercive tool in the labor market" to drive down the wages of all workers.

The assumption that policy should strengthen the rights of immigrants in the workplace forms one half of the Drum Major Institute's middle-class litmus test for evaluating immigration policy. The other half of the test holds that "because the American middle class relies on the economic contributions of immigrants…immigration policy should bolster-not undermine-the critical contribution that immigrants make to our economy as workers, entrepreneurs, taxpayers, and consumers." That means mass deportations and attempts to cut off future immigration are out.

It’s very heartening to see a major progressive publication like the Nation starting to address the immigration “problem”, and the coverage of the Drum Major Institute’s report couldn’t be a better place to start.

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