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Weekly Diaspora: Working Together for Reform

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This post is a weekly feature by Nezua, Media Consortium Blogger.

As we usher the last decade into the realm of memory, it’s time to stop viewing immigration reform as an Us vs. Them issue. The metaphors and language we use are key to framing a debate because they can communicate broader truths via association. For example, a scientist might mention the porous nature of all membranes and boundaries found in nature to describe the ineffectiveness of the militarized U.S.-Mexico border.

Reporting for New America Media, Marcelo Ballvé defines two emerging policy terms—“complementarity” and “circularity”—that are being used to describe the seasonal ebb and flow of migrant labor and argue for progressive reform. The terms effectively render concepts impenetrable borders and zero sum supply of resources, which are key fighting points for those who oppose progressive immigration reform, rigid and backward in contrast.

Former Mexican foreign minister and New York University professor Jorge Castañeda argues that clamping down on the border and the flow of migrant labor disrupts a healthy and needed circulation.

Justin Akers of the Progressive compares geographically targeted unemployment rates with immigration population numbers to demonstrate a similar concept. The data “shows that unemployment is more structural than the result of a direct competition for the same jobs.” Further, Akers writes, while it would cost an estimated $200 billion to remove the undocumented population from the U.S., it would, conversely, add approximately $180 billion to the national Gross Domestic Product (GDP) to bring these people into the system. Yet, the unfortunately pervasive story line that the undocumented steal jobs from willing citizens, an idea championed by anti-immigrant groups, continues to “poison the well of American politics,” as Akers writes.