Tag Archives: Vulnerability

State of the Immigrant Rights Movement

Following is the text of a keynote speech I gave at the 2014 AKIN annual meeting.

State of the Immigrant Rights Movement

Good evening. I want to thank AKIN for putting together this event and for inviting me to give this talk tonight. When the steering committee invited me to speak, it was suggested that I address the “State of the Immigrant Rights Movement.” Now, if I were a politician – say, the President of the United States – I might feel obliged to assure you that, “The state of our movement is strong.” Then, after your partisan applause, I would spend the next forty minutes explaining how good old American ingenuity and elbow grease will ultimately triumph over the myriad challenges we face today in this exceptional nation of ours, this “shining city on a hill.”

But, unhappily for all of you, I am an academic. And so instead I will say this: the state of our movement is complicated. The challenges we face are numerous and far from easy to resolve.

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Immigration from Law to Justice

Following is the text of an invited talk I gave at Foothills Unitarian Universalist Fellowship in 2012.

Immigration From Law to Justice

At the core of the Unitarian Universalist covenantal principles, we affirm the inherent worth and dignity of all people. By and large, we recognize that this includes people regardless of their gender identity, race, sexuality, and political ideology. Recently, the Unitarian Universalist Association and other faith traditions throughout the United States have also urged us to “Stand on the Side of Love” with immigrant communities, especially with those who are unauthorized immigrants. But what does it really mean to stand with immigrants, and to affirm their inherent worth and dignity, regardless of their immigration and citizenship status?

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Is the GOP sincere about immigration reform?

So inquires the (paraphrased) headline to a news article in the Arizona Republic.  Don’t you love how newspapers so easily give the impression of debate where none actually exists?  Because we really doesn’t need someone with specialization in the political economy of migration to know the answer to this “question.”

But just in case you’re curious: the answer is no. GOP leaders are most definitely not sincere about immigration reform.

Nothing against the Repubs here, folks.  Let’s face it: the fact is that the Democratic party – indeed, most of the United States – is equally insincere about immigration reform.  Even Joe Biden is starting to look like a concern troll.

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Unauthorized migration is an act of desperation, not love

A lot has been said recently of Jeb Bush’s “compassionate” conservatism with regard to unauthorized migrants.  Rejecting the idea that the unauthorized are felons,* Bush explains that immigrants who come to the US “illegally” do so as an “act of love.” He explains,

The way I look at this is someone who comes to our country because they couldn’t come legally, they come to our country because their families — the dad who loved their children — was worried that their children didn’t have food on the table. And they wanted to make sure their family was intact, and they crossed the border because they had no other means to work to be able to provide for their family. Yes, they broke the law, but it’s not a felony. It’s an act of love.

Well, kudos to Bush for remembering that unauthorized migrants are human beings too.  No, seriously: I mean it.  It’s not like many Republican politicos can claim the moral high ground here, what with ardent nativists like Steve King calling for the immediate and unconditional removal of everyone with brownish skin.  Ok – that last bit may be a slight exaggeration, but I wouldn’t necessarily be surprised.

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