Skip to Content


Perspectives on Immigration

Perspectives offers fresh ideas and alternative viewpoints on immigration policy from writers inside and outside the immigration debate.

Arizona's Anti-Immigration Law is also Anti-Faith

By Jenny Hwang

While visiting Phoenix, AZ in late January with a group of evangelical leaders who were in the border region to learn more about immigration, I met an immigrant family struggling to survive in a difficult economy. The father was employed as a mechanic but recently lost his job and lived in constant fear of being separated from his two young children who are U.S. citizens. This man considered moving his family back to Mexico because life was so hard in Phoenix, but was concerned about his two young children who would go back to a country they never knew. They were generous in feeding a group of American visitors delicious homemade Mexican food, as their children ran around the yard, yelling at each other in a mix of Spanish and English. During the same visit, my colleague met an undocumented immigrant woman named Maria whose son was killed by a drunk driver. She cannot press charges, however, because of her undocumented status.Read more...

Published On: Thu, Jun 17, 2010 | Download File

The Anti-Immigrant Movement and the Politics of Exceptionalism

By Roxanne Lynn Doty

Over the period from 2005 to 2007, I researched the anti-immigrant movement. As I spoke with immigration restrictionists and observed their patrols and anti-immigrant rallies, I was often haunted by the question, “Are these people to be taken seriously?”  At times it was hard to fathom that they amounted to anything more than a disgruntled fringe element of a society experiencing complex transformations in an increasingly interconnected world. I witnessed much hyperbole and many “colorful” characters, but at times questioned their potential broader impact.Read more...

Published On: Fri, Jun 04, 2010 | Download File

Re-Living Our Immigrant Past: From Hazleton to Arizona and Back Again

By Jeffrey Kaye

The intent of Arizona’s SB 1070, the “Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act,” is to chase illegal immigrants out of the state. Or, as the new law puts it more formally: “to make attrition through enforcement the public policy of all state and local government agencies in Arizona.” The stern new law quickly made Arizona the target of international news headlines, boycotts, demonstrations, and lawsuits—most recently by the ACLU and a coalition of civil rights groups. While the spotlight has been on Arizona, however, copycat legislation has been brewing in at least 16 other states, supported to one extent or another by two organizations that have made a cause of providing legal and political assistance to lawmakers similarly intent on “attrition through enforcement.”

The two groups, which work together, are the Washington, D.C.-based Immigration Reform Law Institute (IRLI), an affiliate of the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) and the lesser-known State Legislators for Legal Immigration. IRLI lawyer Kris W. Kobach, who was a chief adviser on immigration issues to Attorney General John Ashcroft following the attacks of 9/11, has consulted with lawmakers around the country, helping frame and defend state and local legislation targeting illegal immigrants. (At the Justice Department, Kobach engineered a controversial program that aimed to register visitors from certain Muslim countries).Read more...

Published On: Fri, May 21, 2010 | Download File

The Lasting Impact of Mendez v. Westminster in the Struggle for Desegregation

By Maria Blanco

Years before the U.S. Supreme Court ended racial segregation in U.S. schools with Brown v. Board of Education, a federal circuit court in California ruled that segregation of school children was unconstitutional—except this case involved the segregation of Mexican American school children.  The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals reached this historic decision in the case of Mendez v. Westminster in 1947—seven years before Brown.  Historic in its own right, Mendez was critical to the strategic choices and legal analysis used in arguing Brown and in shaping the ideas of a young NAACP attorney, Thurgood Marshall.   Moreover, the Mendez case—which originated with LULAC but benefited from the participation of the NAACP—also symbolized the important crossover between different ethnic and racial groups who came together to argue in favor of desegregation.

From a legal perspective, Mendez v. Westminster was the first case to hold that school segregation itself is unconstitutional and violates the 14th Amendment.   Prior to the Mendez decision, some courts, in cases mainly filed by the NAACP, held that segregated schools attended by African American children violated the 14th Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause because they were inferior in resources and quality, not because they were segregated. Read more...

Published On: Thu, Mar 25, 2010 | Download File

The Many Facets of Effective Immigration Reform

The United States needs a new immigration policy that is based less on wishful thinking and more on realism. Spending vast sums of money trying to enforce arbitrary numerical limits on immigration that bear no relationship to economic reality is a fool’s errand. We need flexible limits on immigration that rise and fall with U.S. labor demand, coupled with strict enforcement of tough wage and labor laws that protect all workers, regardless of where they were born. We need to respect the natural human desire for family reunification, while recognizing that even family-based immigrants are unlikely to come here if jobs are not available. And we need to create a pathway to legal status for unauthorized immigrants who are already here so that they can no longer be exploited by unscrupulous employers who hang the threat of deportation over their heads.

Originally published online: 19 February 2010 © Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Published On: Fri, Feb 19, 2010 | Download File

What the Bible Really Says about Immigration

by Bruce and Judy Hake

Comprehensive immigration reform is one of the most pressing problems for the United States.  This is expected to be a key issue for Congress in 2010.

Many faith-based organizations are motivated by the Bible in advocating for reform.  To counter this, the restrictionists have tried to preempt, issuing a report that purports to prove that the Bible justifies a harsh stance on immigration.

Building on an article we wrote in 1998, in a new article published on January 1, 2010 in Bender's Immigration Bulletin, we debunk the restrictionist argument and show that the Bible actually does support a generous attitude towards immigrants and immigration. Indeed, it mandates such a view.

There are both religious and non-religious people on both sides of the debate over comprehensive immigration reform.  One does not need to be religious in order to advocate for the rights of immigrants.  But religion is very important for many people involved in the debate.  That being so, it is important to have an accurate view of what the Bible really says about immigration, and we have tried our best to show that.


Published On: Tue, Jan 26, 2010 | Download File

Focusing on the Solutions: Key Principles of Comprehensive Immigration Reform

Nearly everyone agrees that our immigration system is badly broken and in urgent need of reform. Under the existing system people are dying at the border, immigrants are living and working in abject conditions, families trying to reunite legally are separated for many years, employers are unable to hire the workers that they need, U.S. workers suffer from the unlevel playing field shared with exploited immigrant workers, and law‐abiding U.S. employers are in unfair competition with unscrupulous employers who increase profits by hiring cheap and vulnerable labor. Meanwhile, the United States continues to spend billions of dollars on enforcing these broken laws.


Published On: Thu, Nov 05, 2009 | Download File

Made in America: Myths & Facts about Birthright Citizenship

By James C. Ho, Margaret D. Stock, Eric Ward, and Elizabeth B. Wydra

The Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution is enshrined in U.S. history as the cornerstone of American civil rights, ensuring due process and equal protection under the law to all persons.  Equally important, however, is the Fourteenth Amendment’s affirmation that all persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to its jurisdiction are, in fact, U.S. citizens: 

All persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.  No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.Read more...

Published On: Tue, Sep 15, 2009 | Download File

Immigration Reform as Economic Stimulus

The public debate over immigration reform, which all too often devolves into emotional rhetoric, could use a healthy dose of economic realism. As Congress and the White House fulfill their recent pledges to craft immigration-reform legislation in the months ahead, they must ask themselves a fundamental question: can we afford any longer to pursue a deportation-only policy that ignores economic reality?


Published On: Tue, Sep 01, 2009 | Download File

A Conversation about the Economic Effects of Immigration on African Americans

By Gerald D. Jaynes

Anti-immigrant groups have repeatedly tried to drive a wedge between African Americans and immigrants by capitalizing on the myth that immigrants take American jobs. In a new Perspectives piece for the Immigration Policy Center, Yale Professor Gerald Jaynes dispels the myth that immigrants take “black jobs” and instead suggests we find solutions on how to lift up all low-wage American workers.

Most African Americans are very conflicted about the immigration issue. African Americans, who have long espoused strong beliefs in principles of equality of opportunity, the rights of the downtrodden, and respect for humanity viewed in its broadest terms, are especially cognizant of the hypocrisy embedded within ethnocentric demands for an end to immigration. For the nation, immigration‘s economic benefits exceed its costs, but the costs are disproportionately borne by certain social groups and geographic areas. Rather than divide the public over the issue of depriving the country of the benefits to help the few who pay the highest costs, we need to be engaging in a political debate over the kinds and levels of compensatory policies that should be enacted to help low‐income citizens.

Published On: Tue, Jul 14, 2009 | Download File