FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 6, 2008
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STATE LEADERS FROM ACROSS NATION MOBILIZE AGAINST ANTI-IMMIGRANT POLICIES
D.C. PANEL HIGHLIGHTS PROGRESSIVE VICTORIES IN STATE-LEVEL IMMIGRATION DEBATE
Washington D.C. - Legislators and policy experts assembled at the Center for American Progress Action Fund today for a panel to discuss the emerging national trend toward progressive immigration policy in the states.
At the event, PSN and dozens of partner legislators announced the formation of the Network of State Legislators for Progressive Immigration Policy, a national coalition that will work to facilitate information sharing and collaboration across state lines among progressive legislators and advocates working to build off of the recent progressive gains in the immigration debate.
Despite widespread expectations that conservatives would leverage immigration as an incisive ”Ëœwedge’ issue in last years’ legislative session, speakers on the panel maintained that this plan had largely backfired, and in many cases, given way to budding consensus in favor of more humane, immigrant-friendly policies.
According to Nathan Newman, Policy Director with event co-host Progressive States Network, “Everyone thought conservatives were going to be able to come in and use immigration as their silver bullet issue ”“ this year’s equivalent to gay marriage or abortion. But that hasn’t happened. People see through the knee-jerk scapegoating, and they want something different.”?
State legislators from Arizona, Texas, and Maryland were also on hand to discuss their experience in mobilizing immigrant-friendly coalitions going into the current legislative session.
Among victories cited by panel members were measures across the country to provide in-state tuition rates to children of undocumented immigrants at public universities, a successful campaign in Maryland to defeat efforts to ban driver’s licenses for undocumented workers, and resistance from a broad coalition of small business and immigrant groups in Arizona and Oklahoma to the aggressive anti-immigrant bills passed in those states last year.
As part of his presentation to the panel, Newman made the case for specific models of progressive immigration policy such as wage enforcement bills, immigrant naturalization programs, and public safety provisions that he said could protect all working families from the economic insecurities at the root of misdirected anti-immigrant sentiment in the states.