Massachusetts Election: Death Knell for Immigration Reform?

New America Media, News Report, Elena Shore Posted: Jan 21, 2010

Tuesday’s historic election in Massachusetts could spell trouble for Democrats, but advocates of immigration reform say it’s not over yet.

By capturing the seat held by former Democratic Sen. Edward Kennedy who passed away last summer, Republican Scott Brown brings a different vision to the historically blue state. While Kennedy was known as a champion of health care reform and was co-author of the 2006 McCain-Kennedy immigration reform bill, Brown has spoken out against both.

But advocates of immigration reform were quick to dispel fears that the election could be the death knell for immigration reform in 2010.

“This was a race that revolved around the issue of change, and Scott Brown – in spite of having a long history of being anti-immigrant, was able to tap into that wave,” Ali Noorani, executive director of National Immigration Forum and chair of Reform Immigration FOR America, said in a telephonic press conference Wednesday. “What didn’t happen is that we did not articulate that immigration reform is part of that change agenda.”

Janet Murguía, president and CEO of National Council of La Raza, added that the campaign by Democrat Martha Coakley made a fatal error in the election in Massachusetts – It “did not engage the Latino community,” she said.

There will be “consequences” for both parties if immigration reform does not pass, Murguía warned. “Promises have been made on this issue, and the Latino electorate is not going to look kindly on politicians who exuberantly seek our support in their campaigning but fail to follow through.”

But supporters of comprehensive immigration reform say that despite Coakley’s defeat, there is still a window of opportunity to pass the legislation in 2010. Unlike health care reform, they stress, immigration reform has historically been supported by both Democrats and Republicans.

“In this election we lost one vote, and that will make our job more difficult, but certainly not impossible, because we never thought of immigration reform as a partisan issue,” said Eliseo Medina, international executive vice president of the SEIU. “We always knew that we would need the support of members of Congress from both parties in order to pass comprehensive legislation.”

They cite recent studies that indicate that reforming immigration could be beneficial to the economy, leading to $1.5 trillion in economic growth over the next decade, while a deportation-only policy would drain $2.5 trillion over the same time period.

Craig Regelbrugge, co-chair of the Agriculture Coalition for Immigration Reform, noted that many in the business and agricultural sector – from the $2.2 billion sheep industry in the Western United States to the Wisconsin dairy industry’s 133,000 jobs -- view immigration reform as an economic issue.

“Most of the herders in the U.S. are foreign-born,” he said, yet from meat processing plants to wool production the sheep and lamb industry sustains thousands of jobs. Without immigration reform, he added, agricultural and other industries could be in serious jeopardy.

“We’re operating in fierce competition from other producers around the world like Australia and New Zealand. So if we lose to them because of Congress’s failure to deal with this issue, and the sheep industry leaves the United States,” he said, “you’re going to hear, in states like Montana, and Idaho, and Wyoming, and Utah, and Colorado and California, the sucking sound of the shrinking economy and the shrinking job base that will have resulted from Congress’s failure.”

Advocates of reform also note that, while some predict that the Massachusetts Senate race could spell the end of immigration reform, “conventional wisdom” isn’t always right.

“There’s a lot of conventional wisdom regarding immigration reform that has turned out to be wrong over the years,” said Frank Sharry, executive director of America’s Voice. “We were told in 2006 that immigration was going to be the wedge issue that was going to save the Republican majority. That didn’t work out. We were told that immigration wouldn’t be a mobilizing issue for Latino voters in 2008, and that turned out to be wrong. And we’ve been told for the past year that immigration reform is essentially dead because of the down economy.”

Brown, who has denounced “amnesty” for undocumented immigrants, said in September that the Democratic Party “wants a rubber stamp in Washington. There are some important votes coming up in the U.S. Senate on issues like healthcare reform, cap and trade and immigration reform … They want a ‘yes’ vote on immigration reform, even if it means amnesty for illegal aliens.”

But with polls showing support for comprehensive immigration reform by independent voters, studies finding that it could be a critical component of economic recovery, and independent voters rejecting partisanship, Sharry argues that immigration reform is not dead yet.

“Comprehensive immigration reform is a bipartisan issue,” added Noorani. “It has always been a bipartisan issue, and in fact it will always be a bipartisan issue.”

Related Articles:

Latinos and the Political Earthquake in Massachusetts

Haitians Now Join Environmental Refugees

Black Immigrant Rights Group Dispels Misconceptions

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User Comments

Frank Medina on Jan 27, 2010 at 16:53:27 said:


As you had no real response or solution to the immigration issue, you chose instead to attack me by calling me an idiot. I don't apologize for my opinions because I've served plenty of years in the military to ensure that I earned my right to express myself and as much as you and I likely disagree on this specific issue, I'm glad that you are fully using your freedom of speech as well. That tells me that my sacrifices and those of veterans before me have not been in vain. As a fellow human, I'm also glad your family is finally together as they should be. But you can't blame immigration laws for keeping your family apart. Rather, you should blame your husband for not following the laws which then subjected him to time bars.
As you will further note, I NEVER mentioned any races or ethnicities in my posts. Seems like you may have your own issues with stereotyping people.
If you ever feel that you can make an honest and relevant contribution to the immigration debate without resorting to name calling, I invite you to visit , the only website that tries to bring together Americans on all sides of the immigration debate to share their stories and to foster meaningful dialogue.

Frank H.,
Alien has been used as a term to refer to foreigners for many centuries. The use of the same term to refer to people from outer space only started in the early 20th century. It is the correct and widely accepted legal term to use when describing people that are not nationals or citizens of a specific country. If it makes you feel any better, we are all aliens when we travel to a country other than our own. We have to stop saying that immigrants made this country great because that is not exactly correct. We should actually say that legal immigrants made this country great. If illegal immigrants make this country so great, why is the US suffering so much with an estimated 12-18 million (the number widely accepted by experts on all sides of the debate) illegal aliens here already. I agree with you though that no extreme actions (amnesty or mass deportations) will be the best solution. If you're interested in further participating in the immigration debate, feel free to check out my blog at .

Gale Raymond on Jan 27, 2010 at 10:58:47 said:

First we need to make English our national language. I live in Texas by a border where you go to a store and they speak Spanish. You can\'t get a job if you don\'t speak Spanish. In our schools here they taught non English speaking children English on our tax money but fail to teach non spanish children spanish to make it fair to compete for a job. 1700 America fought for the rights we have. Americans had hard times too but we voted for our presidents to do what we needed. not to run to another country to take the easy way out . We are fighters not runners.

Edie on Jan 26, 2010 at 07:11:00 said:

Speak up and say NOOOOOOOOOO MOREEEEEEEEEEEEE legalizations of illegal immigrants. It doesn't work. If fact, it only promotes more illegal activity. Get out there and stand, stand, stand up against Amnesty. You already see what these progressive and liberals are doing to this country. They want to enrich others with your money. They are wealth redistributors!

Frank Haiek on Jan 24, 2010 at 19:32:37 said:

For those in here that claim that all immigrants out of status should be deported I have couple of things to say, (sorry I don’t call anybody alien since aliens are from another planet) I can almost positively say that many of the people that now oppose any immigration reform or anything that would help Latinos (let’s be real this is a Latino thing) if you check your ancestors when they came to this country they came here in the same situation, in the early days people just jumped in a boat and came to America, like it or not they came the same way, UNINVITED, the difference is they provided visas fast all they had to do was be stuck at Ellis island and became a legal,(I'm not even talkin about early immigraton)It was so much that they had to come up with laws to stop immigration ( see the laws of 1921 and 1924) we all come here with the same hopes and dreams expecting to get accepted and to be a part of this wonderful country.
With those with fears that immigrant are going to take the jobs, please don’t be so naïve they are already working, out of the so call 12 million (I don’t know who counted them) I can tell you pretty much everybody works, legalizing will help get all straight, I agree that other things have to play a roll, like enforcing the employment laws, borders etc, the whole issue will stop if they stop employers from using undocumented people, no work nobody comes over, period. STOP THE HATE AND STOP THE IGNORANCE, STOP TALKING AND DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT. WHAT MAKES THIS COUNTRY GREAT IS US, THE IMMIGRANTS, with our own mix of cultures, race, ideas, religions, we make this country unique, for those that say America is the best and greatest country, stop talking and SHOW IT.

tina on Jan 24, 2010 at 18:48:01 said:


You do not know what you are talking about. The current immigration laws hurt more american citizens than illegal immigrants. For every illegal immigrant, it is likely there are 2+ us citizens that are directly connected to them. We dont pay lawyers for hope, idiot. U.S. immigration rules separated my husband from his daughter and wife for 3 years. He missed her first day of school and the birth of his second child. Keep families united! You are truly an idiot. Not all illegal immigration equals criminal mexicans stealing "american jobs". Every American that heard my story could not believe that the U.S. separated our families for 3 years. I would rather of donated the $5,000 dollars i paid the lawyer to a poor family in my community. Reform needs to happen now!!!

Frank Medina on Jan 23, 2010 at 12:25:12 said:

We see hordes of illegals during protests in our towns. We see many more crowds standing on corners and at Home Depot parking lots seeking work. Finally, we see tons of illegal aliens at our kids schools and our county jails. So please don't say illegals live in the shadows. The only ones literally in the shadows are the ones who are waiting for their next victim to mug, rape or assault. Other than that, they are all pretty much in our faces.

You're complaining because although an attorney obviously briefed you about the 3 and 10 year bars for illegals and also advised you that an I601 case would likely be lost, you still decided to hire them to do an almost impossible task. You, my dear, are not paying for attorney services, you're paying for hope. What part of the immigration laws do you think are unfair? The ones that keep your husband from finally legalizing his status? People like you seek an amnesty law not because it's good for America but rather because it suits your own specific cause and you have no regard to the consequences of such a bill. As millions have entered the US legally as non-immigrants and immigrants, it seems that the immigration system does work. In fact, the only things broken are the laws you're husband broke and continues to break as long as he remains in the US.

Frank Medina on Jan 23, 2010 at 12:00:51 said:

Janet Murguía does NOT speak for me! I'm a part of the Latino electorate and many of us who can vote legally, do NOT want an amnesty for illegal aliens.
If illegal immigrants are so good for the economy, how come our country is in such an economic mess although we already have an estimated 12-18 million illegal aliens in the country already?
Do amnesty proponents really believe that once legalized, these aliens will continue to work for the same employers at below minimum wage and without then demanding other benefits as well? Won't that then raise business costs which businesses will then pass on to us?
I know someone will respond to this comment by saying that legalized aliens would then pay taxes. Shouldn't they be paying taxes already anyways? Nothing keeps an illegal alien from filing taxes. The IRS allows them to do so by furnishing them with an Individual taxpayer Identification number (ITIN). So seriously, why not show that they'll actually pay their taxes before we actually legalize them?
it's sad that the American people are being brainwashed into believing that our immigration system is broken. Our immigration laws are just and sound and are among the most generous in the world. What is broken though, is the will of our elected officials to actually require that we enforce our laws. We all go down a dangerous slope when we start to choose which laws we'll follow and which ones we'll collectively decide to ignore. Also, although Americans do state that they want some type of immigration reform, that does NOT translate into Americans supporting amnesty for illegal aliens.

Delaware Bob on Jan 22, 2010 at 19:31:54 said:

WE DO NOT WANT AMNESTY! I repeat. WE DO NOT WANT AMNESTY! We want our immigration laws ENFORCED! I repeat. We want our immigrton Laws ENFORCED! We want the illegal aliens out of this country and back with their families in their own country!

nativessayno on Jan 22, 2010 at 15:48:30 said:

We are in a serious recession....Death knell to amnesty....that has a great ring to it!!!! "Advocate" all you want; we don't want 25M "workers" to become "citizens"; got it?

Edie on Jan 22, 2010 at 06:37:14 said:

Just like the progressives loons had a wake up call, so will you pro-illegal advocates. There are over 17 million U.S. workers who are unemployed or under employed. Economists have said that this recession will go on for years. Why would anyone pass amnesty for people who should not even be here. Our immigration laws are not built around one groups personal desires or needs. They are built around the needs of this country. And why would this country need to legal tens of millions of uneducated and unskilled people who will add little to nothing to our tax base. If they are paying any taxes now, they will pay nothing at all after legalized. Earned income tax credits, food stamps, housing subsidies, etc. You say your propoganda for someone else. Just because you say something over and over does not make it true, nor does it make anyone believe it.

jane on Jan 21, 2010 at 16:20:44 said:

People that are usually against the reform or hate illegals are usually ignorant to immigration laws and the process that immigrants have to go through. But something has to be done soon. Either get rid of them all or make them legal, but something

No Amesty on Jan 21, 2010 at 13:10:25 said:

Immigration reform will not happen. Only illegals and their families or scummy employers care. The majority of Americans are against any form of amnesty for law breaking illegals. Amnesty has been done before and it was a disaster. Legal citizens will not allow that to happen again. To be an American citizen is an honor and a priviledge. It should never be squandered on people who have no respect for this country and its laws or are just looking to mooch off of our system. If you cannot do what is right and legal, speak English and assimilate into this country, then you are not needed or wanted. The "Latino's" think they have so much power but in actuality they don't and get very little respect. When they gather and DEMAND rights they are not entitled to, they will never gain the respect of America. Politicans who support immigration reform will find they have a tough battle come the next election. I would never vote for a pro-illegal immigration candidate.

Majestic on Jan 21, 2010 at 10:51:50 said:

It is disturbing that in XXI century America millions of hard-working immigrants have no rights and are forced to live in the shadows. So much for "the beacon of democracy"! Congress MUST pass a comrehensive immigration reform NOW! Not next year, not in 2012! No more excuses and delays!

History will judge us harshly for yet another cruelty perpetrated by our politicians and RACISM!

Majestic on Jan 21, 2010 at 10:46:15 said:

We can go to Iraq and Afganistan to REFORM their way of life, spending our TRILLIONS of dollars tax payer money. Why can’t we REFORM our own Immigration System here?

Majestic on Jan 21, 2010 at 10:38:04 said:

Ideal Immigration Reform & Earned Citizenship

1. If you are in the United States and out of status but enter the country with inspection, must show I-94 (Arrival – Departure Record) or other entry documents.

A) 20 years plus stay in the US : you will get a green card immediately.
(must show past Federal Tax for 18 years)
B) 15 years plus stay in the US : you will get a green card after 1 year.
(must show past Federal Tax for 13 years)
C) 10 years plus stay in the US : you will get a green card after 5 years.
(must show past Federal Tax for 8 years)
D) 5 years plus stay in the US : you will get a green card after 10 years.
(must show past Federal Tax for 3 years)
E) less than 5 years stay in the US : you will get a green card after 12 years.

2. If you are in the United States and out of status but enter the country without inspection, cannot show I-94 (Arrival – Departure Record) or other entry documents.

a) You will be given a special visa to go back to your country and a guaranteed return (within 90 days), and inspection with USCIS.
b) After 12 years you will get a green card.

3. If you are in the United States and out of status but accompanied by your parents before the age of 16.

a) You will be given a special visa to go back to your country and a guaranteed return (within 90 days), and inspection with USCIS.
b) You must have lived continuously in the U.S. for at least 5 years
c) You must either complete 2 years of collage or serve in the military for a minimum of 2 years.
d) You will get a green card after your 26th birthday.

4. You must pay $3000 fee to USCIS regardless of your status to process your application.
5. All applicants must prove their common English language skills within one year after you file your application.
6. Pass a background check with FBI.
7. Barred from any Federal Welfare Program until you get your Green Card.
8. If you are married and have children (under 21) they will be united to you immediately.
9. You must prove each year as a TAX PAYER. Must pay $2000 or more per year FEDERAL TAX. If you pay $5,000 or more FEDERAL TAX, you can expedite your application process by one year. $10,000 or more by two years and $15,000 or more by three years.
10. All applicants will be issued a 5 years Work Authorization Card immediately.
11. You can travel outside the country but cannot stay more than 90 days.
12. After you get your green card, 2 years later you will become a US Citizen.

Karen Callaghan on Jan 21, 2010 at 10:10:29 said:

NO to amenesty. Americans are not going for that. Millions of people are out of work. We dont need millions of illegals out there looking for work along with American citizens.

Ivan on Jan 21, 2010 at 07:45:17 said:

Congress must not wait and pass a comprehensive immigration reform in 2010. No more excuses, hatred, and racism! While at it, let's deport the "honorable" Senators Sessions, DeMint, and Vitter back to pre-Civil War America. Talk about the South, racism, and stereotypes...ugh...

Vianey on Jan 21, 2010 at 06:08:35 said:

Immigration reform needs to passed! The current immigration laws are sh**! I cannot adjust my husband's status because he entered illegaly 6 yrs ago. We have to go thru this waiver I601 process which has a very low chance of approval. We're paying our lawyer $6000 and Immigration dept $720. The lawyers charge so much because the immigration laws in this section are so difficult and dont make sense. I would rather give the majority of the money to our goverment who really needs it right now than a lawyer. But you guys think our immigration laws are great!

Joe Justice on Jan 21, 2010 at 05:21:37 said:

Any politician who refuses to work to secure our borders and create an immigration system that has integrity is either corrupt or too dumb to keep his (her) job. Any politician, irrespective of party affiliation who favors Comprehensive Immigration Reform and the outrageous betrayal that this would represent given the national security implications that this program would have, should be shown the door at the next election!
just like all previous "comprehensive immigration reform" bills, is indeed an amnesty bill for illegal aliens and their employers who have committed and facilitated felonies ranging from identity theft to tax evasion.

Where is the justice in this bill for the millions of American men, women, and children who are the victims of illegal alien identity theft?

Where is the justice for employers who made sure they hired only legal workers and who met their tax obligations?

Where is the justice for the millions of foreign nationals who have suffered because illegal aliens have lied and cheated in order to get to the head of the line?

The answer is that there is no justice.




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