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Research Roundup

In a ground-breaking report, Getting Ahead or Losing Ground: Mobility in America, the Economic Mobility Project found that widening gaps in higher education between those coming from rich and poor families as well as disparities between white and minority children, are leading to a downturn in opportunities for the poorest families. Only 11 percent of children from the poorest families have earned college degrees in recent years, trapping most of them in the lowest income brackets in adulthood.

The American Immigration Lawyers Association has just published Navigating the Immigration Debate: A Guide for State & Local Policymakers and Advocates to help legislators and advocates respond to the raft of anti-immigrant measures being proposed around the country. Different sections highlight central arguments, offering factual rebuttal to common myths, current legislative activity around the country, relevant litigation, and a compilation of additional resources from individuals and organizations with expertise to assist advocates.

Also on the immigration front, Virginia's Commonwealth Institute released Fiscal Facts: Tax Contributions of Virginia's Undocumented Immigrants, which estimated that the 250,000 to 300,000 undocumented individuals in the state pay between $145 million and $174 million in state income, sales, excise and property taxes, and their employers pay $4 million to $5 million in unemployment insurance taxes on their behalf. As in many other states, the debate on the impact of undocumented immigration on Virginia's economy has been dominated by a discussion of costs that has altogether ignored the other side of equation of contributions.  This study is the first time anybody in Virginia has put an estimate around the contributions.

In Unequal Access: Neglecting the National Voter Registration Act, 1995-2007, a report by Project Vote and Demos, finds that public assistance agencies are failing to register voters, with a decline of 79% in applications since 1995, and many states fail even to report data on registration as required by federal law. Examples from a few states do show, however, that low-income voter registration can be increased by vigorous enforcement of the law.

In a new analysis, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities finds that the President's proposed budget would cut $20.5 billion for domestic discretionary programs outside of homeland security -- meaning decreased help for child care, environmental protection, and medical research.

Uninsured or Medicaid-insured patients are far more likely to miss signs of cancer until advanced stages, according to a new American Cancer Society study of 3.5 million cancer patients. Independent of insurance status, black and Hispanic patients were also more likely to be diagnosed only in later stages of cancer compared to white patients, compounding the problem that minorities also are more likely to be uninsured or on Medicaid.

In its First Interim Report, the New Jersey Civil Union Review Commission, set up under the law establishing civil unions in that state, found that many same-sex couples see New Jersey's system as a "failed experiment" that has created a "second class citizenship" for gay and lesbian couples because employers refuse to recognize and grant benefits based on civil unions, while employers in Massachusetts have been prompted to provide equal benefits under that states' marriage equality law. Couples also faced uncertainty during health care crises and exposure to punishment by the military under the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy.

FollowtheMoney.org, produced by the National Institute on Money in State Politics, is an indispensible resource for tracking the influence of special interest campaign spending on state politics and policy. They have revamped the site to include better visual displays and ways to search by individual, contributors, candidates, states, or industries -- all with one click.  Find out "What's New With FollowTheMoney.org."