Maria Echaveste

Maria Echaveste is a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress.

Recent Articles

African Americans and Immigrants: The Common Good

Are foreigners "taking Americans' jobs"? Or are employers once again exploiting cheap labor and vulnerable people?

America's current heartburn over immigration policy has focused on, among other things, the impact of immigrants on African American workers and other low-wage, uneducated workers. This superficial analysis is summed up by the cry, "They are taking our jobs." Are they? Or is this just the latest chapter in America's never-ending search for cheap labor? It takes no anti-capitalist conspiracy theorist to conclude that along with individual freedoms, another founding principle was employers' freedom to search for labor (preferably free or cheap) both here and abroad. How else to explain this country's continued sanction of slavery well after England and other civilized countries had outlawed it? How was it, as Douglas Blackmon explains in his superb new book, The Re-Enslavement of Black People in America from the Civil War to World War II , that Southern capitalists could use the legal system for decades after the Civil War to ensure a steady supply of essentially free labor? America...

Color, Values, America

Our next president must restore the United States as a nation of laws and of rights, rooted deeply in values. This effort must appeal to all Americans and transcend race -- but cannot ignore race.

To unite us in pursuing the ambitious agenda demanded by the times, the next president must ground bold initiatives in a compelling vision of community, from neighborhood to globe. If successful, that vision will not resemble some blueprint for policy-plumbing. It will be a tapestry of values and aspirations that evokes and summons the best of what we can be. We have two central propositions. The first concerns vision and values, the second concerns vision and color. It is no accident that the opening verses of our secular torah, the Constitution, proclaim the equality of, well, "men," followed immediately by the revolutionary proposition that we have "inalienable rights." The most dramatic chapters in our domestic national history have been about correcting, contesting, and completing these proclamations. If the chapter that opens on Election Day 2008 is to be as dramatic and American as we hope, then both the discourse and policies surrounding a boldly enriched set of rights and...

Rising Tide

In 2002 and 2004, Republicans won on national security and terrorism. In 2006, they thought they could use illegal immigration to win again. Yet being tough on illegal immigrants did not turn out to be the Hail Mary pass that could galvanize the conservative base to save the Republican majorities in Congress. Instead, it may have added to the points scored by Democrats with another part of the electorate -- Hispanic voters. In Democratic campaign headquarters across the country in November 2007, amid the general glee as results came in, there was an additional reason to crow: initial post-election analysis indicated that Hispanics had returned to the Democratic column. In 2004, the Republicans touted the inroads made in the Hispanic community when President Bush received about 40 percent of the Latino vote, an increase of about 10 percentage points over 2000. Yet in 2006, Latinos preferred Democratic candidates at rates, in high-profile races, like 67 percent, reelecting Governor...

Target Employers

While people choose to risk life and limb to enter this country illegally for many reasons, the vast majority come to seek employment -- and they find it. What would happen if employers were effectively penalized for hiring the undocumented? Would there be fewer job opportunities for those who should not be here and, consequently, fewer people trying to enter illegally? Our current immigration policy is dysfunctional, partly because business' demand for more workers has interacted with the intertwining forces of racial and ethnic prejudice and the legitimate concerns of existing workers to protect their livelihoods. This pattern has a long history. Early threats to some U.S. workers by increasing numbers of new immigrants quickly became platforms for racist and nativist voices, such as the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882. The 1917 literacy tests and the 1924 national origin quotas, enacted with support of organized-labor leaders like Samuel Gompers, aimed to stop or slow the flow of...

Nacho Man

When May rolls around, the people who work in the Bush White House Scheduling Office know it's time to show Hispanics that the president cares about this growing community. And for the last three years, the Bush White House has invited Latino leaders from across the country (or at least those who support this administration) to celebrate Cinco de Mayo on the White House lawn. For those who wonder if there's something more to this day than the tequila and beer industries' marketing efforts, Cinco de Mayo is a Mexican holiday celebrating the victory of a Mexican army over a much larger French army in 1862. In the United States, however, Cinco de Mayo is celebrated in this country -- especially in the Southwest -- as an occasion for cultural affirmation and ethnic pride. So why does President Bush use the majesty of the White House for a party celebrating a relatively obscure Mexican holiday? It should come as no surprise that a celebration of Mexican heritage is all about politics,...

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