Pages tagged "immigrants"

Civil Rights & Liberties Policy

Our Progressive Vision: Our nation was founded and built upon the self-evident truth that all men and women are created equal. That ideal calls us to defend liberty and justice for all people, with no exceptions. In the 21st century, three policies are of foremost importance: (1) outlaw discrimination based on race, gender, age, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation or gender identity; (2) guarantee fundamental fairness for immigrants, whether or not they are authorized; and (3) protect the personal privacy of individual Americans from intrusion by governments or businesses, including the collection, use and sale of data without individuals’ active consent.

Forbid discrimination

It has been more than half a century since the civil rights movement, aided by the Warren Supreme Court, started a revolution against discrimination. That cause endures. Women and people of color continue to be underrepresented in government and other places of power, so some jurisdictions consider affirmative action while others promote more aggressive enforcement of anti-discrimination laws, especially in claims for fair and equal pay. Most states currently do not protect LGBT people from employment or housing discrimination, and there are many ongoing efforts to correct that. States must beat back efforts to legalize discrimination, like efforts to target Muslim Americans and laws which invite businesses to discriminate against gay and lesbian Americans.

Fairness for immigrants

More than 40 million American residents are foreign-born. About three-fourths of these are authorized residents, and yet, whether authorized or not, they often face discrimination. Millions more Americans were born in the U.S. but face discrimination because they look foreign. Progressive states and cities are responding by limiting government inquiries into immigration status, refusing some federal immigration detainer requests, authorizing driver’s licenses regardless of immigration status, making government ID cards available to all, and providing information about government requirements, programs and services in various languages.

Protect privacy

Technology is advancing at a phenomenal rate, and it is causing new problems for individuals who want to protect their privacy. Businesses are creating and often selling data profiles about millions of Americans—including where we go on the Internet, what we buy, what we’re interested in, and even where we physically are or have been. Progressives are starting to push back by requiring warrants for law enforcement to access the most sensitive of this data and limiting how long some data can be kept by police. In some cases, governments are limiting the collection, sale or use of certain data, especially information about children.


Racial profiling

Thirty-two million Americans have been the victims of racial profiling, according to an Amnesty International report. Racial profiling and racially motivated policing result in a breakdown of communication between police and the public, undermining law enforcement’s ability to ensure public safety. Cities, counties and states can combat these practices by prohibiting the selection of individuals for interrogations, searches and frisks based on race or other factors. Law enforcement should be required to train officers to recognize the difference between good policing and misguided stereotyping. 

LGBT fairness

Over one-third of lesbian and gay people have experienced workplace discrimination and about one-sixth have lost a job because of their sexual orientation. Sadly, over half of states and most cities do not ban discrimination against LGBT individuals. The LGBT Fairness Act prohibits discrimination in employment, public accommodations, education, credit and housing.

‘Don’t ask’ immigration status

When immigrants believe that state or local law enforcement agents are involved in the enforcement of federal immigration law, immigrants—fearing harassment or deportation—simply decline to report crimes or suspicious activity. The result is twofold: criminals see immigrants as easy prey, and offenders who could have been caught, remain on the streets, putting everyone at risk of becoming the next victim. Assigning the role of immigration law enforcer to local police both overburdens law enforcement and increases the risk of racial profiling. And local police usually lack the training needed to enforce our nation’s complex web of immigration laws. States and localities should adopt policies prohibiting government inquiry into immigration status unless otherwise required by superseding law.

Limits on license plate databases

All over the nation, police agencies are using license plate readers that tell them exactly which vehicle was at a certain location at a certain date and time. Several states have enacted a version of the License Plate Privacy Act to limit the amount of time government agencies can hold on to those records.

Birth certificate after sex change

People who have undergone transitional surgeries often run into trouble when trying to get legal documents like marriage licenses or driver’s licenses. States are enacting legislation to allow a transgender person to obtain an amended birth certificate reflecting a change in both sexual designation and name.


Public Services, Standardized Testing, Message Framing and More

The Public Leadership Institute is a nonprofit educational group organized to raise public awareness on key issues and to develop public leaders who will improve the economic and social conditions of all Americans. To join, click here.

Access to Public Services for Non-English Speakers Act: Millions of residents can’t easily interact with government agencies because they a have limited ability speak or read in English. The Access to Public Services for Non-English Speakers Act would require a city, county or state to take reasonable steps to provide access for many non-speakers of English.

Did Arne Duncan Just Surrender on Standardized Testing? Days ago, the U.S. Department of Education announced a major policy shift, claiming they would now help states and school districts to decrease standardized testing in public schools. One of the DOE’s proposals, to limit testing to 2% of yearly school hours, is meaningless. But there are other provisions. Read about them on IdeaLog, our blog intended to raise eyebrows and engage minds.

Message Framing 101: Tuesday, November 3 @3pm Eastern, 2pm Central, 1pm Mountain, Noon Pacific. This is an explanation of the fundamentals of message framing which we provide every year or so. We will explain the behavioral science behind why it is so hard to persuade people, offer three rules that help you structure persuasive arguments on any topic, and provide examples of how those rules apply to a wide variety of controversial political issues. Register for the webinar here.

Seattle plan would allow collective bargaining for Uber drivers: A landmark bill was unanimously approved by a legislative committee in Seattle to classify all for-hire drivers as employees instead of independent contractors.

End of Life Options: California Governor Jerry Brown just signed the End of Life Option Act, authorizing medical aid in dying. This Compassion & Choices webpage lists what is happening on the issue in many states all over the country.

Latest Compendium of State and Local Legislation in 2015: What’s happened so far in 2015? Read about it in our Compendium. If you have additions to suggest, please contact

Fast Track, Language Access, Direct Mail and More

The Public Leadership Institute is a nonprofit educational group that helps turn state and local elected officials, advocates and grassroots activists into progressive champions. To join, click here.

Language Access for Non-English Speakers Act: Thousands of residents cannot access public services because of their limited ability to speak or read English. SB 758, approved by the Maryland Senate, requires government agencies to make important resources available in other languages. This simple model bill accomplishes the same thing.

Three Reasons Americans are Ignorant of Basic Facts: Polling shows that average voters are ignorant of basic political facts—like who controls the U.S. House and Senate! Why are so many voters so ill informed, and what can progressives do? Read about it on IdeaLog, our blog intended to raise eyebrows and engage minds.

Top Ten Rules of Direct Mail: Wednesday, May 20 @3:00pm Eastern, 2:00pm Central, 1pm Mountain, Noon Pacific. For most state and local policy campaigns, direct mail is the only affordable way to broadcast messages. Join this webinar to discuss: the mechanics of direct mail, the messages conveyed through direct mail, and design of the most effective direct mail.

Sign-On Against Fast Track Authority for the TPP: As Senator Elizabeth Warren explains here, the Trans-Pacific Partnership includes an “Investor-State Dispute Settlement” (ISDS) provision that would allow foreign companies to challenge U.S. law—including state and local laws—in special tribunals that are not part of the U.S. system of courts.

Toolkit addressing the use of force by police: Our friends at Center for Popular Democracy and PolicyLink have created a very useful report to help you reform the policies and practices of state and local law enforcement agencies. Click here to download Building Momentum from the Ground Up: A Toolkit for Promoting Justice in Policing.

Lots of horrible legislation at the state level, much better in cities: What’s happened so far in 2015? Read about it in our Compendium. If you have additions to suggest, please contact Michael Weiss at

Immigration Status, "Free" Markets, Healthy Food and More

The Public Leadership Institute is a nonprofit educational group that helps turn state and local elected officials, advocates and grassroots activists into progressive champions. To join, click here.

Don’t Ask Immigration Status Act: Conservatives are stumbling badly on the issue of immigration. Let’s help them stumble some more. The Don’t Ask Immigration Status Act says local government agents won’t ask unless required by federal law. Two reasons: (1) we are all safer if immigrants are comfortable reporting violations of the law to government authorities; and (2) immigration is the federal government’s business and only one side stands in the way of immigration reform.

There’s no such thing as “free” markets: American markets are not, and never were free of government influence. The idea of “free” markets is a myth. Why do we progressives perpetuate it? Read about this policy and messaging problem on IdeaLog, our blog intended to raise eyebrows and engage minds.

Healthy food solutions for states and localities: Wednesday, March 11 @3:00pm Eastern, 2:00pm Central, 1pm Mountain, Noon Pacific. Guests from the Union of Concerned Scientists will explain what states and localities can do to improve your communities’ access to healthy and affordable food. Register here to participate.

New Podcast! The Science of Persuasion: This is the first in a series intended to allow you to get an entire messaging presentation in just 20 minutes. Want to know why people just don’t listen to facts? Why they’re so stubborn about politics? Watch this YouTube video.

Past editions of the PLI Leadership Bulletin: Today marks the two-year anniversary of the Leadership Bulletin. You can skim back copies and find a wealth of policy resources specifically for state and local lawmakers by clicking here.

Compendium of State and Local Legislation: What has happened in the states, cities, counties and towns in January and February? Read about it in our Compendium. And we welcome input! If you have additions, please contact Michael Weiss at

Five Progressive Wedge Issues for 2015

For years, conservatives used “wedge issues” to split moderates from progressives—measures like criminalizing flag burning, cutting “welfare,” and (until recently) banning same-sex marriage. They still do that, of course, but the Tea Party has forced conservatives to put greater emphasis on policies with little popular appeal.

It’s time for progressives to promote some wedge issues of our own. In 2015, progressive wedge issues tend to fall into three categories: (1) addressing the way our economic system has been rigged to benefit the rich; (2) supporting important groups that conservatives target; and (3) promoting issues that drive conservative extremists to say crazy things.

The minimum wage remains a powerful wedge issue but it’s not listed among the five because it already has been or is being pushed just about everywhere. These policies—which hyperlink to model bills featured in the Progressive Agenda for States and Localities—should be introduced in both red and blue states. If you can’t enact the legislation, use these battles to organize the grassroots and show voters the differences between conservatives and progressives. Let them see that we are the ones on their side.

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How to argue over the Thanksgiving table

In the wake of the disastrous 2014 election, you might be dreading Thanksgiving a bit. Every year your loud-mouthed right-wing Uncle Mort insists on debating politics over the dinner table. This year, you expect, he’ll be louder than ever.

There is no point in trying to “educate” Mort. Instead, follow the basic rules of persuasion that we describe in our book, Voicing Our Values. Find a point of agreement and use values to show that you understand his point of view, and that overall, you share the same goals. It’s very unlikely you can get Mort to change his mind, but you will throw him off his game and connect with other “persuadable” people around the table.

Below are short discussions of three issues the might come up: (1) immigration, (2) Obamacare, and (3) taxes and the 47 percent. For much more about these—and dozens of other policies—consult Voicing Our Values.


Right wing advocates want to make this debate about upholding the rule of law: “But they broke the law!” they will say. If these are the terms of debate, you will lose; it strongly suggests the solution is to treat immigrants as criminals. You must move the conversation to our nation’s broken patchwork of immigration policies.

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Municipal ID Cards, Top Ten Rules of Direct Mail, and more

The Public Leadership Institute is a nonprofit educational group that helps turn state and local elected officials, advocates and grassroots activists into progressive champions. To join, click here.

Municipal ID cards to help immigrants: Immigrant residents are often unable to access city services and programs because they lack adequate identification. They often can’t even get a library card. ALICE has legislation and resources that support a policy where any resident can get a municipal ID—and 1,500 other model and exemplary bills for both state and local policymakers.

D.C. school test results reflect utter failure of “reform” policies: The latest results of D.C.’s high-stakes standardized test show that the percentage of public school students judged “proficient” or better in reading has declined over the past five years in every significant subcategory except “white.” Read about it on IdeaLog, our blog intended to raise eyebrows and engage minds.

Top Ten Rules of Direct Mail: Wednesday, August 13 @3pm Eastern, 2pm Central, 1pm Mountain, noon Pacific. For most state and local policy campaigns, direct mail is the only affordable way to broadcast messages. Register here for an interactive discussion about how to write and design persuasion mail.

State gift card protection laws: The 2009 federal CARD Act provided a variety of protections for consumers of gift cards. However, states can and should provide greater protections. Consumers Union has a list of these provisions.

Beware of the American City County Exchange (ACCE): The right-wing group ALEC has formed an offshoot to promote their extremist agenda in localities, targeting city and county elected officials. If ACCE comes to your jurisdiction, please alert us and we’ll help you fight back.

A message guide: Get the Second Edition of Voicing Our Values. Here is a free PDF of the book or you can buy a printed copy on Amazon here.

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