Editor's note: Ruben Navarrette Jr. is a CNN contributor and a nationally syndicated columnist with the Washington Post Writers Group. Follow him on Twitter: @rubennavarrette.
By Ruben Navarrette Jr., CNN Contributor
San Diego (CNN) - Did you think the Republican Party had cornered the market on racism, nativism and ethnic demagoguery? If so, think again.
That is the GOP's modus operandi when it comes to the immigration issue. In an ugly trend that started in the Southwest in the 1990s but has now moved on to the South and Midwest, Republicans have learned to scare up votes by exploiting fear of changing demographics and the anxiety that many Americans have about an "invasion" of illegal immigrants across the U.S.-Mexico border.
But this fear of foreigners has proven just effective enough that Democrats are now borrowing the GOP's playbook to advance their own causes.
Here's the difference: The voters who fear-mongering Democrats want to manipulate aren't so much afraid of what worries many conservatives - that immigrants are supposedly lowering our standard of living, changing the country's complexion and weakening our sense of national identity. They're more afraid that foreign workers - either here in the United States or even in their home countries - are going to take their jobs, lower wages, or prove so attractive to companies and factories that jobs go overseas.
In other words, the fears aren't cultural; they're economic. But the way that Democrats exploit those fears is still the same: racism, nativism and ethnic demagoguery.
Editor's note: Michael Hung is a chef and writer living in San Francisco.
By Michael Hung , Special to CNN
(CNN) - I've had three long-term relationships in my life, all with Asian-American women.
It was never a conscious decision to date solely within my race. In most ways, those relationships were serendipitous. I'd met intelligent, loving, beautiful girls who happened to look like me. But this idea of happy coincidence, in retrospect, was only partially true.
While I never sought to date within my race exclusively, it was, admittedly, easier.
Easier in that she automatically removed her shoes at the door. Easier in that I could slurp noodles and gnaw at chicken feet unabashed. And easier on my ego, because when I asked an Asian-American girl for her phone number, she would give it. I would not be dismissed, or snickered at, or overhear, "But he's Asian," from a friend on the wing.
I attributed the difficulties of dating outside my race to external factors, social forces I'd learned about in college classes. I was subject to the model minority myth: How sexy can a calculator toting conformist be? I was castrated by the Chinese Exclusion Acts, where my own government once declared it illegal for my ancestors to enter the country I call home.
Those laws, in existence until 1943, surely pervaded public consciousness, and as such affected my love life, didn't they?
Mainstream media portrayals of Asian males –Mr. Yunioshi in "Breakfast at Tiffany's," William Hung on "American Idol," Hiro Nakamura, the Japanese computer engineer turned supermutant on "Heroes" - consistently cast me as a socially deficient, sexless jester.
Even the Korean pop music phenom, PSY, is known for his clownish giddy-up dance rather than his ability to croon to the ladies like Frank Sinatra.
Under these influences, how can the American public see a young Asian-American man as an object of desire? How can a young Asian-American man see himself as a sexual creature? FULL POST
By Jessica Yellin and Gregory Wallace, CNN
(CNN) – Word that the Obama administration has circulated to federal agencies drafts of an immigration plan led the White House on Saturday to reaffirm its commitment to successful bipartisan negotiations to reach a plan on Capitol Hill.
"The president has made clear the principles upon which he believes any common-sense immigration reform effort should be based," White House spokesman Clark Stevens told CNN. "We continue to work in support of a bipartisan effort, and while the president has made clear he will move forward if Congress fails to act, progress continues to be made and the administration has not prepared a final bill to submit."
CNN has reported that the White House was drafting an immigration bill in case an effort among a group of senators – the Gang of Eight – does not produce legislation in the near future. A similar effort is under way in the House.
USA Today obtained a draft proposal which an administration official told the newspaper was being sent to various federal agencies. An administration official told CNN the specifics of the plan are accurate as of the last draft this official saw.
Editor's note: CNN's Moni Basu, a Bengali immigrant, was born in Kolkata, India.
By Moni Basu, CNN
(CNN) – In the next few weeks, Fatima Shaik, an African-American, Christian woman, will travel “home” from New York to Kolkata, India.
It will be a journey steeped in a history that has remained unknown until the publication last month of a revelatory book by Vivek Bald. And it will be a journey of contemplation as Shaik, 60, meets for the first time ancestors with whom she has little in common.
“I want to go back because I want to find some sort of closure for my family, said Shaik, an author and scholar of the Afro-Creole experience.
Fatima Shaik's grandfather settled in New Orleans. She is going to India to see his home.
That Americans like Shaik, who identify as black, are linked by blood to a people on the Indian subcontinent seems, at first, improbable.
South Asian immigration boomed in this country after the passage of landmark immigration legislation in 1965. But long before that, there were smaller waves of new Americans who hailed from India under the British Empire.
The first group, to which Shaik’s grandfather, Shaik Mohamed Musa, belonged, consisted of peddlers who came to these shores in the 1890s, according to Bald. They sold embroidered silks and cottons and other “exotic” wares from the East on the boardwalks of Asbury Park and Atlantic City, New Jersey. They eventually made their way south to cities like New Orleans and Atlanta and even farther to Central America.
The second wave came in the 1920s and ‘30s. They were seamen, some merchant marines.
Most were Muslim men from what was then the Indian province of Bengal and in many ways, they were the opposite of the stereotype of today’s well-heeled, highly educated South Asians.
South Asian immigration was illegal then – the 1917 Immigration Act barred all idiots, imbeciles, criminals and people from the “Asiatic Barred Zone.”
The Bengalis got off ships with little to their name.
They were mostly illiterate and worked as cooks, dishwashers, merchants, subway laborers. In New York, they gradually formed a small community of sorts in Spanish Harlem. They occupied apartments and tenement housing on streets in the 100s. They worked hard.
And they did all they could do to become American in a nation of segregation and prejudice. FULL POST
Editor's note: Ruben Navarrette is a CNN contributor and a nationally syndicated columnist with the Washington Post Writers Group. Follow him on Twitter: @rubennavarrette.
By Ruben Navarette, CNN Contributor
(CNN) - Being native-born means never having to think about citizenship. Those concerns are for immigrants, either those who are in the U.S. illegally and want a chance to get legal status or those who already have legal status and would like to upgrade to full citizenship and all the perks that come with it, including voting.
The deeper your roots go, the less likely you are to think about citizenship. Both my parents, three of my four grandparents and half my great-grandparents were all born in the United States. So I've hardly given it a thought.
Until now. I have written about immigration for nearly a quarter-century. I want an end to the deportation frenzy caused by the Obama administration and a chance for the roughly 11 million illegal immigrants to have a shot at legal status. Solutions to these pressing problems pivot on citizenship and what it should cost. More than border security, temporary workers, employer sanctions or reforms to the process for admitting legal immigrants, citizenship has emerged as the linchpin of immigration reform.
If you pulled together 100 undocumented immigrants and asked them how they feel about citizenship, you'd probably get 100 different answers. Some value the chance to become citizens, while others couldn't care less and would settle for a driver's license and the right to travel freely across borders.
Those diverse opinions make it difficult for reformers to know what they should demand in negotiations, what they should hold out for and what they should be willing to ditch if necessary for a deal.
(CNN) – Tucked in the Senate bipartisan plan on immigration reform are key requirements for prospective immigrants. Among them, a knowledge of English, civics and history of the United States. Assimilation is clearly an underlying issue in the debate.
A new study shows that second-generation Americans have enjoyed success in becoming a part of America.
Roughly 6 in 10 said they consider themselves to be a "typical American," though they maintain ties to their ancestral roots. That's almost double the number of immigrants who identify that way, according to a new Pew Research Center study released Thursday.
Like Jose Martinez, 29, a son of Dominicans who owns his own graphic design company in New Jersey.
"It's important to try and hold on to your roots, stay Latino," he said. "But you have to be American at the same time." FULL POST
By Kevin Bohn, CNN
Washington (CNN) - A day after pushing the administration's gun control proposals on the road in Minnesota, President Obama will sit down with groups to push for immigration reform Tuesday, White House officials said.
The president will meet with leaders of labor unions, including AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka and and Eliseo Medina, Secretary-Treasurer of the Service Employees International Union, as well as representatives of progressive groups, like the NAACP and the Center for American Progress, and key immigration reform groups.
Separately he will have a meeting in the afternoon with a dozen leading CEOs, including Goldman Sachs' Lloyd Blankfein, Yahoo's Marissa Mayer, Coca Cola's Muhtar Kent, Alcoa's Klaus Kleinfeld, Marriott's Arne Sorenson and Motorola's Greg Brown.
The White House said the meeting will allow the president the opportunity to discuss how to get a bipartisan immigration reform bill passed this year and how it fits into his economic agenda.
By Rachel Rodriguez, CNN
(CNN) - Juan De la Torre is living in the United States completely legally. He came here from Mexico with his parents at age 14. His father, a migrant worker, became a permanent resident and filed immigrant petitions for the whole family.
Eighteen years later, De la Torre is still in a constant cycle of waitingto hear from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. He's not an American citizen. He doesn't even have a green card, or permanent residency status. He's just in limbo, waiting to upgrade to a green card from his approved immigrant petition.
In the immigration debate that has gripped the country, De la Torre is one of many legal immigrants who feel they've been overlooked. What to do about millions of undocumented immigrants has been discussed at length in government and the media. But legal immigrants, who say they're spending countless hours and thousands of dollars to do it right, want reform to help their struggle, too.
By CNN Staff
(CNN) - The sudden momentum toward a bipartisan plan to reform the U.S. immigration system has sparked a torrent of discussion about this politically charged and emotional issue. Here's a sampling of voices from across the spectrum of viewpoints:
"Anything other than having these people going home and apply through our regular immigration system that successfully admits over 1 million people every year is amnesty," said a CNN commenter using the screen name ninesixteen. "Allowing them to wait in the U.S. is a reward. Our immigration is deliberately constructed to not let in unlimited numbers. These people violate our laws yet expect to be allowed to stay and work when others wait patiently in their countries. Legalization is wrong."
"Illegal immigration has already put massive and unaffordable burdens on the welfare state and with 20 million or more applying for Amnesty, this will simply accelerate this process," said Tea Party Nation founder Judson Phillips, who argues that the real number of undocumented immigrants in the United States is higher than the frequently cited 11 million figure.
By Dana Ford and Catherine E. Shoichet, CNN
Atlanta (CNN) - Every day, millions of people like 16-year-old Celeste live their lives shouldering a huge emotional weight forged by fear, uncertainty and separation.
She was only 10 years old when the reality of her family's desperate situation hit her in the face.
Rolando Zenteno has lived more than half his 18 years in the United States, yet he still feels like an outsider.
Another undocumented immigrant - Prerna Lal - is fighting to stay in her adopted homeland and dreaming of becoming an immigration lawyer.
As Washington lawmakers try to hammer out an immigration reform plan while avoiding political gridlock, millions of people find themselves caught in the middle - suspended between two worlds - while not really belonging to either.
Some immigrants spoke to CNN, giving permission to use their full names. Others chose to withhold their last names, fearing it would affect their legal status. Here are their stories.
What defines you? Maybe it’s the shade of your skin, the place you grew up, the accent in your words, the make up of your family, the gender you were born with, the intimate relationships you chose to have or your generation? As the American identity changes we will be there to report it. In America is a venue for creative and timely sharing of news that explores who we are. Reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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