Immigrant Rights -- Scope, Limits, and Implications
March 30, 2012 | Report
By Tom Barry
“Immigrant-rights” is a term commonly used by immigrant advocates – including service providers, community organizers, leftists, lawyers, foundation program officers, labor organizers, and policy reformers.
But the term immigrant-rights is seldom defined by those who refer to the rights of immigrants when campaigning for immigration reform. This is especially true for immigrant-rights advocates and organizations that aren’t directly involved in the defense of the legal rights of immigrants.
Over the past few decades, most of the organizations and coalitions involved in grassroots efforts and policy advocacy for liberal immigration reform have identified themselves as “immigrant-rights” groups. At the same time, since the early 1980s many organizations and campaigns have emerged to serve immigrant communities and to fight discrimination against immigrants.
In the aftermath of the defeat of the Comprehensive Immigration Reform (CIR) campaign over the past decade– routinely described as an “immigrant-rights” struggle and movement – the value of the term as a framework for reform efforts and as a messaging tool needs review.
Immigrant-rights is a term that is still widely used by groups and activists who call for an immigration reform that would legalize the status of unauthorized immigrants. But there are indications that at least some sectors of the pro-immigrant movement have become more circumspect about what they contend are immigrant rights.