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From the New School in Greenwich Village, this is a WNYC Public Event; "Feet in Two Worlds", I am Brian Lehrer. Good morning again everyone. Now four more guests and four members; we have a live audience here at the New School on West 13th Street. They will keep comparing notes on the ever changing immigrant experience in our area on covering our global city for different kinds of news organizations and we will talk even more this hour about the new immigration bill that is now the focus of the national debate. With me now, Julia Preston, National Immigration Reporter for The New York Times, she has the lead story in The Friday Times on this topic. Roberto Lovato, a New York based writer with New American Media, a nationwide associate of over 700 ethnic video organizations, he is also a frequent contributor to The Nation magazine among other things and a former advocate for immigrant's rights as head of the Central American Resource Center in LA. Also Muzaffar Chishti, Director of the Migration Policy Institute at the NYU School of Law and Leon Wynter, he has co-author credit on Congressman Charles Rangel's new memoir called "And I Haven't Had a Bad Day Since". He is also the author of his own book, "American Skin: Pop Culture, Big Business, and the End of White America". He has also been an NPR commentator with the race and business column for the Wall Street Journal for 10 years and he blogs at his own blog, The American Race. Please welcome all our guests. The "Feet in Two Worlds" radio series is a project of the Center for New York City Affairs of the New School, made possible thanks to the generous support of The David and Katherine Moore Family Foundation, The Menemsha Fund, and the New York Council for the Humanities, a state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Now let me just get as a starting point, a quick show of hands, Julia accepted, so she doesn't have to give an opinion as a neutral journalist, but for the three opinion makers here, if the Immigration Bill is put to a vote today, in its present form, who would vote yes? Leon Wynter would vote yes and that's the only hand so far. Now Julia Preston that lead story is a New York Times poll, how is this bill playing around the country? Very well, we have two thirds majority in favor of providing some paths to legalization for illegal immigrants and also two thirds majority in this poll in favor of creating a guest worker program. In fact the bill, both in its particulars and in its sweeping sculpt is resonating with a big majority of Americans? Did you break it down to different communities including different immigrant communities? No, we did not. Or if people are immigrants at all, is it playing one way with immigrants, one way with non immigrants or didn't you measure it that way? We didn't measure it that way, but we did break it down in terms of Republicans and Democrats and interestingly there isn't that much difference between Republicans and Democrats on the question of giving legal status to illegal immigrants. In fact it was about as I recall about a six or seven percent difference; 73 percent of Democrats if I am not mistaken, are in favor of legalization and the percentage for the Republicans is in the 60s. So certainly Romney and Giuliani may remember how pro immigrant they are, you don't have to answer that. Did you identify a most controversial part of the bill? Well, I would say more that what was surprising was another part of the bill that was not controversial which is that Americans seem ready to transform the system to base it less on family ties and more on attracting immigrants who have a role to play in the economy. There were I can't remember the exact percentages, but 51-52 percent who were in favor of of selecting future immigrants on the basis job skills and educational achievement. And there I would imagine there would be a big divide between immigrants and others because so many immigrants have come over as a result of the family ties, laws of the past and would feel you know, kind of personally threatened by this, I would guess. But Roberto Lovato, you told this off the air that media coverage of the bill is not focusing on the fact that 70 to 80 percent of it punitive. Is that your position? Yeah, yeah, it's my observation, not my position. And if you look at the letter of this 300 plus page letter, you find a law, you find the proposal, you find that the spirit of it is chockfull of policy that will jail more children, having their parents wearing those orange outfits that they wear in Guantanamo, denying political asylum to women that are raped and basically facilitating the exploitation as under things like the guess work of problems that most people in the United States have really have no idea what they are about. I did a story today that won't get read like Julia's across you know the planet. But some people would be reading tomorrow in our on our website about some interviews I did with immigrants about the case I don't know if anybody heard about the slave, the Indonesian slaves that were being detained. These slaves were - on Long Island, they were H12B Visa holders. So if we would ask Americans like, my organization polls in 12 languages, we are the only news organization that polls in these languages. Most polling organizations don't even poll in two languages. www.newamericamedia.org So if you look our polls on certain issues, you look at The New York Times, CNN; you will find a chasm of the size of the Grand Canyon. But do you want to backup some of the things you said like more children are going to wind up in jail, why in your opinion is that so? Yeah, for example many people in the United States know that the law and both Democrats and Republicans appear to be agreeing on this, there is basically they are willing to do away with judicial review, which means your day in court. Do you you know, traditionally immigrants have had a right to judicial review. To be before a judge and explain their case, like the women that gets raped in you know, Latin America or Asia or Africa or somewhere. Let me bring Muzaffar Chishti in on this point because you are with an immigration law project and also though you didn't raise your hand at the beginning I gather from talking off the air that that you are much more positive about this bill in general than I guess Roberto is. Well I think when you asked us to raise hand I was kind of half hearted. My hands were only half up. I think one of the most difficult things about the bill is that it's it presents very, very difficult choices. For immigrants, for immigrant organizations, for policy makers, because there is enough in this bill to be very positive about. Of all the legalization provisions that we have seen in the last three years in circulation this is clearly the most generous legalization program. It covers more people, it covers almost everyone who has come to United States since to till January 1st of 2007. So it covers almost the good chunk of the universe of 12 million people. That's a huge chunk in a policy debate today. The counter point of this is that it sort of asks you to shift our immigration policy in a way that challenges our philosophical frame of immigration and some of our core values as American, so that's the that's sort of the balance lies. So if you are concerned about the undocumented this is as good a bill as I have seen. If you are concerned about future immigrants and what it means in terms of the mix of the immigrants we will have, it may not be the bill that most people would would support. What about Roberto's concern? Punitive nature of it? Roberto's concern, yeah, I mean it has it has lots of punitive because it's a comprehensive bill. A good chunk of it is enforcement. There would not have been any legalization bill unless there was a huge chunk of enforcing bill. So for the first time it makes illegal entry a crime which was never true. If you make straight illegal entry you can now be jailed for six months. Just for entry illegally, which was never a crime in our law before. Why would they jail you rather than deport you? To to make it the joke if they catch you you know, they can't deport you to Mexico if you are not from a contiguous country. It's harder to deport you to a noncontiguous country, then they can actually jail you for six months. If you if you make a second reentry you could be jailed for up to two years. So there are obviously if you overstay, I think the least noted provision of the bill is that if your overstay your visa even by a day you could be barred from entry to the United States for 10 years. The Y visas, the nonimmigrant special category that had come, if any of them overstay their visa even by one day they could be barred for ever from coming to the United States. So those are some of the very punitive aspects. No, I am I think that it's a very, very difficult choice to make at the end of the day. I mean for me if you ask the question would you do it on the basis of what the bill looks like today, the litmus test for me would be what we did on the Temporary Worker Program. Is that we have for the first time accepted the notion that there will be large number of people coming to do some of the most important jobs in our country and they can never become permanent members of the society. This is the new Y visas where people can come for two years, they leave for one year, they come back they will be permanently temporary if you will. And that I think is deeply un-American. Only up to six years lifetime than their temporary their ability to work here temporarily even expires. Well Leon Wynter, let me turn to you and you told us off the air that there is at least one set of people that the media is not talking about in the debate on the bill, un-employed Americans, especially un- employed African Americans, do you think they get the short end of this? I do indeed. Well, in fact they have not been considered at all in course of this debate. As the only person who foolishly, wholeheartedly seem to raise my hand, I know I did raise my hand; I am not going to waffle on that. I mean and it so seems like I am endorsing the anti Christ. But I think as the remark was made "politics is the art of the possible" or and at the same time, sync policy made is sausage, you really don't want to know what goes on into it. But again speaking as a child of immigrants, my entire family was not born in this country; immigration creates a great conflict basically in how we think of ourselves as Americans. One the one hand we pride our souls as a nation of immigrants and all the law good enough to go into that, you know right, right, I am all for that. At the same time we forget, that on a parallel track immigration has always served as a certain counterpoint to slavery and the legacy of slavery. Immigration allowed this country to elide the case of dealing with the ex-enslaved Africans in here. So in a nutshell they have been forgotten in the discussion of this debate and I think it would be very important if I had a reservation of something I would want to add to that bill, it's let's make sure that we do something so that African Americans males in particular are not forgotten. Ah! Funny you should mention that. One, we should definitely skew this so that in fact we can cause wages to rise in general, which would benefit everyone, immigrant, nonimmigrant, so on unions etc. Two, at the same time we need to have zero tolerance on hiring discrimination. It you will say what do that have to do with immigration, well, it has a lot to do with it because part of the reason that African American males are not are are both un-employed in double digit rates and are their workforce participation is falling, is because of the discrimination in the market place. And finally, adding resources that will be devoted to the real education among the social capital deficiencies that we find in this part of the workforce. Julia Preston, I don't presume if it wasn't broken down by immigrant group that your survey was broken down by race. So we don't have a discreet take on African American attitudes towards this bill? Do we? I think it's possible we do. But I don't have it with me in my head. Right in front of you. Roberto you were shaking your head during the part of Leon's answer, how come? I agreed with some of it and I didn't quite agree with other parts. One of the parts I really didn't agree with was that it sounds as if we want to solve the plight of young African American males in the United States with an Immigration Law. The fusion of the two seems to me of questionable origin. African American males in different parts of the United States where there are no immigrants are not suffering because of immigrants. And you have to look at specific sectors of the US economy. There are very particular areas where in fact there is competition between African Americans and it just happen to be with the huge black middle class and upper class. It has to do with say in LA, in the service hotel and restaurant industries in so you have to take it case by case. And we don't really inform ourselves in this way. We have a lot of platitudes, a lot of half truths that are kind of guiding our our discussion of immigrations as if Latinos and African Americans are genetically modified to be competing with one another. Now where does this come from? But we have studies, Roberto, that show I am sure you have heard about this, which was in the news recently, employers generally prefer immigrants to African Americans so much so that even Caribbean and African immigrants get hired much more easily than American blacks for jobs they both apply for and are equally qualified for. So there is a dynamic that results from that kind of perception on the part of employers, isn't there? I think that the perception on the part of employers on immigrants and employers of anybody is just the institutional racism of the United States towards African Americans. We have not resolved the legacy of the effects of the legacy on slavery on African Americans and I think I actually think the immigrant community can learn from now that the immigrant community is the primary focus of slavery in the United States, we need to study what the effects of slavery on African Americans are. What's so interesting is precicely how this issue divides in ways that don't need to be fit left and right anymore. In during our research and as you pointed out some of the research I have right there came from your website, good stuff. And in fact I am looking at a headline that discrimination, not illegal immigration fuels black job crisis. And I searched looking for studies about this. And it is true that you really can't find any research that shows a link between immigration and black unemployment. But at the same time the research does show that as immigration surges black work force participation has dropped, unemployment has surged in the lowest end of the black male population. In a nutshell while you can't ascribe a cause of relationship there is a missing link that I believe the studies have not looked at. And that is that preference that employers have for motivated hardworking immigrants and at the same time, that positive preference at the same time is a racist dis-preference for black males based to some extent, not entirely but to some extent, I mean stereotypes. For example the evidence that blacks can be rejected just on the basis of their name or their zip code, so before you even get a chance to say you know, well in fact shiftless lazy drug addict, and you know, whatever it is, you know you are counted out. Now the thing is that it's unfair, you are right, because it does seem to set the two groups against each other, very interesting the politics is in the side; in Washington there has been some criticism leveled a the Congressional Black Caucus because they have basically take a pass on this, deciding for political reasons that better to stand four square with the Hispanics in politically, than to consider you know, whether or not there is something that goes against this interest. So Muzaffar, before we get off this, why not say as we run around to deal with the immigration issue, that the United States as a country has an obligation first, because of our history, to create conditions for African Americans to get jobs and education. I think there is absolutely no doubt it. I think on employment based immigration the first crack at US jobs must go to US workers, including African Americans. I think there should be no doubt about it. That's why I think a Temporary Worker Program, where people come with compromise rights and not comparable rights, obviously disadvantageous to blacks, because it puts a downward pressure. I think that's the if you ask me that's sort of the main reason for illegalization program, because right now you got 12 million people with almost no rights, completely at the mercy of the employer, competing against unemployed blacks. And obviously people prefer to hire people with no rights than an available black. We need to remove that incentive right now for people to hire them. We will continue in a minute, this is Feet in Two Worlds, from the New School, Brian Lehrer on WNYC. From the New School in Greenwich Village, this is a WNYC Public Event; "Feet in Two Worlds", I am Brian Lehrer. With me still, Julia Preston, National Immigration Reporter for The New York Times, Roberto Lovato, a New York based writer with New American Media, a nationwide associate of over 700 ethnic video organizations, Muzaffar Chishti, Director of the Migration Policy Institute at the NYU School of Law and Leon Wynter who among other things blogs at the American Race. And let's listen to part of the new WNYC story about reverse immigration. In the current debate over US Immigration Laws we hear a lot about people who will do almost anything to live and work in this country. But there is another barely noticed trend, highly skilled immigrants who are in the US legally and have decided to go home. Many of them are Indians on H1B visas. The H1B allows companies to bring skilled workers to fill jobs that they can't fill with US citizens. And the H1B is a temporary visa but traditionally it has been a path toward the Green Card and eventually US citizenship. For her first Feet in Two Worlds story reporter Aswini Anburajan is following Indian immigrants who don't necessarily want a green card. India's economy is booming and these young professionals have discovered that they can earn a very good living without giving up the comforts of home. Here is a clip from Aswini's story. Hi, I would place an order for delivery. Good Indian food is just one of the many things from home that Ruchita Kaur misses. There is this festival that we have, Kanjak and Kanjak is where you make puris and chole and halwa and this time I was missing it so badly, I mean I was calling my mummy, I was calling my chachi and you know, where is my Kanjak, I want my puri chole halwa. Ruchi arrived in the US in 2003 to earn a Masters Degree in Accounting. Less than four years later at age 27, she is a consultant for Deloitte & Touche, a leading accounting firm. She is married to her college sweetheart from India and lives in a spacious apartment on Manhattan's Upper East Side. Coming to America had always been Ruchi's childhood dream. I was so much awed by the country and I was very motivated to be successful in this country. But lately all Ruchi's success hasn't made up for her homesickness. There is just this feeling of of missing something of not being able to be close to your family on all the big festivals. I know it sounds very petty but I miss that. So she has decided to go back to India. At this point of time, it's not about being successful, it's about you know finding where you have to go in the end. That is Feet in Two Worlds reporter Aswini Anburajan and she is here, so hi Aswini Anburajan. You want to talk about that story? Yes, I I reported this story; I got the idea for it when I went back to India after 16 years, in December. And I thought everybody wants to come to the US. It doesn't matter how good this country is doing. It's still dirty; it's still crowded, it's still polluted. And what really struck me was that there was an excitement about the economy and there was also the fact that, we no longer have to give up our culture, that the US has opportunities for us, we can still go there, we can still take advantage of it. But now we can retain something of ourselves that we see you as an Indian immigrant coming back to India no longer have. And so for me you know, telling the story is kind of talking about what my parents wished they could do but they never could. And I think it really I what strikes me about the Bill and the debate and how it connects to this is that often times I think we forget as we tell these stories that immigrants add an incredible value to our communities, whether it's at the low end of the labor market or at the high end. And at the high end there is often a great fear and you know, this is my response to Lou Dobbs like this is about the idea that you want these people to stay even if they are homesick. You want to create avenues where they can make a choice about staying in the US you know, making it easier to credit green card or creating more H1B visas or whatever it might because we are losing out even if we don't realize it, because we don't often talk about that story. Julia Preston, this bill is so big with so many moving parts, it's like a Rube Goldberg Contraption, it has got taped together to satisfy different political constituencies and satisfy some better than others. How do you begin to report it on it as a whole as national immigration correspondent? Well, the way we did it was leap into print before we actually knew it was in the bill. And I think we were not alone in that. Which is the imperative in the 24 hour news cycle network. Yes, the compromise was announced last Thursday afternoon and we needed to have a story for the Sunday paper which meant it needed to be written by Six PM on Friday afternoon. So we went to Tucson and asked a number of illegal immigrants what they thought about a bill that they hadn't seen and we hadn't seen. But it actually turned out to be quite a good story because the immigrant word of mouth network is actually very efficient and generally very well informed. And by that time the debate had already started in the Congress, so there was also this kind of eco-chamber going on the Hill where people were already debating about something that they really hadn't seen. I just got the final version of the bill today, actually. How many pages? It started with 362, that's something is it you know moving - even this bill has been a moving target since last Thursday. It started with the 362 pages, today it's like 632 pages. How is your access at The New York Times to members of various communities compared to say, the ethnic or alternative media? You talked about interviewing illegal immigrants in Tucson. Well, I am always remarkably surprised at the willingness of people who have illegal status in this country to speak freely about their situation. It obviously helps a lot if you speak Spanish as I do, but and I often find myself in the situation of having a very sober conversation with immigrants to say, look, this is going to be in the pages of The New York Times and let me try explain to you what the consequences of this would be. If I publish your name and I am often the one who is in the situation of saying, I don't it's your decision but I would suggest that you think very carefully about publishing your entire name. So on one hand we have good access. But on the other hand we have to be very careful with the responsibility that we take on when we speak to people who don't have legal status. Roberto Lovato, Aswini, in talking about her piece mentioned the Lou Dobbs factor and the fear. And I know another thing that you think is missing from the mainstream media coverage of this bill and public reaction to this bill; is a kind of white fear, do you want to talk about that? Yeah, those of us that view the mainstream media of corporate media; as one of our previous panelists said, we view them some of us view them as ethnic media organizations as well, just not Latino, Asian or Latin American or Latino. Or black and so you know there is a lot of and that leaves a very dangerous inversion of values I think. If you look for example about two and a half weeks ago, there were two incidents in the United States that should have garnered national attention but only one of them did. One was the New Jersey terrorist story where six Muslim men that Lou Dobbs said were three of them were illegal aliens and The New York Times had maps of you know, the plans and got into their minds - yeah the Fort Dix case, yeah. And there was a several pages were covered in The New York Times. That same week there were also six white militia men in Alabama that were armed with grenade launchers, grenades, 2,500 cartridges of amo, semi-automatic weapons and plans, to quote according to the FBI, "Kill Mexicans." Now, that I couldn't find in The New York Times. There was no designations of the white guys as terrorists. There was no coverage of their motives. There was no nothing about it and so well, there are an increase in hate crimes. Here in New York, in Westchester a man was killed by the Police last week and Bronx, an Andorran African a man of African descent was killed. We are not seeing these stories, we are not seeing the fire bombing in Casa Marlin that took place during the [0:29:09] ____. So there is a lot going on that somehow we are missing the point in mainstream, so - - it's no wonder people vote for these things in certain way. Now Julia Preston, you were nodding your head through some of that. Since you are with The New York Times, you qualify for better or worse as a full fledged member of the mainstream media, not to hold you you know, responsible for everything The New York Times ever did, but it's interesting to me as I listen to all the criticism from various sides, not just in this room, of how the MSM is reporting on the bill, whether its Lou Dobb saying the MSM is failing to say how it threatens our sovereignty or threatens our national security or Roberto Lovato there saying some of the things he just said, what's your reaction as a reporter to either of those critiques? Well, I saw the wire about I believe this was the sentencing, it was either a verdict or a sentencing in the trial in Alabama and I thought I looked at my watch and tried to figure out if I could get down there in time to do that and get a story and then get back with all the other things that were going on. They don't have a story? And I concluded that I couldn't, but I definitely thought it was a story that we should have covered more extensively, I completely agree with that. And I haven't given up hope actually about that particular case. And also I just to in our defense, to go back to the question that you asked me before, after the weekend on Monday I sat down and wrote a story that just said what's in this bill. That as just a kind of a service to the readers to so that going forward people would know what was under debate. So you know I tried to be aware of the fact there was a lot of confusion out there and to remedy that before we went on to the next step.