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The Politics of Immigration: Questions and Answers


In the spring of 2006, millions of immigrants and supporters organized in cities and small towns across the United States to defend their rights following the passage of HR4437, a bill designed to punish unauthorized immigrants. In an unprecedented show of force, tens of thousands of workers marched out of meatpacking plants, factories, restaurants, landscape businesses and stores, while students—many of them the US-born children of immigrants—staged school walkouts. Thousands also observed a one-day national consumer boycott to demonstrate the economic power of immigrant communities.

The spring 2006 mobilizations—and the ensuing backlash from anti-immigrant sectors—pushed the topic of immigration to the front and center of U.S. politics. Polls show the public increasingly divided, with the debate framed as a choice between “deport them all” and “give everyone amnesty.” But dialogue is possible when we dig deeper. Why are people leaving their homes? Why are they coming here? What is the impact of our current enforcement policies? What kinds of alternatives exist?

Backed with a wide range of cited sources, The Politics of Immigration tackles questions and concerns about immigration with compelling arguments and hard facts, laid out in straightforward language and an accessible question‑and‑answer format.

For immigrants and supporters, the book is an effective tool to confront common myths and disinformation. For teachers, it provides a useful framework on the current debate, and ample opportunities for students to reach out and explore the intersecting issues.

Those who believe immigrants steal jobs from citizens, drive down wages, strain public services, and threaten our culture will find such assumptions challenged here, while people who are undecided about immigration will find the solid data and clear reasoning they need to develop an informed opinion.

We desperately need to put aside false information about immigrants, to see them as we see ourselves with honesty and compassion. This book gives powerful meaning to the slogan ‘No Human Being is Illegal.’ I hope it will be widely read.

—Howard Zinn, author of A People’s History of the United States

As the immigrant rights movement grows in size and energy, we need quick facts and deep history. This book gives us both.

—Aarti Shahani, co-founder, Families for Freedom

Guskin and Wilson have identified the hot-button points in the national immigration debate, and have set out to undo the stereotypes, misinformation and prejudice that paralyze rational thought on the subject. This book is a great reality check, a good teaching tool, and a powerful weapon against racism.

—David Bacon, author of Communities Without Borders: Images and Voices from the World of Migration

Jane Guskin and David Wilson are the co-editors of Weekly News Update on the Americas, an English-language bulletin covering grassroots news from Latin America. Guskin also edits Immigration News Briefs. Guskin produced a widely circulated immigrant rights flier entitled “What’s So Wrong About Immigration?” Her essay “The Case for Open Borders” was published in Melting Point or Boiling Point? The Issues of Immigration. Wilson’s articles on Latin American issues have appeared in publications including Monthly Review, Extra!, and New York’s El Diario-La Prensa.

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Publication Date: April 2007

Number of Pages: 144

Paperback ISBN: 9781583671559

eBook ISBN: 9781583674048