America is a nation of immigrants. As they arrived in waves, they shaped the nation’s identity, built its economy and embodied its ideals of freedom. The country relied on immigrants to help it grow, yet conflicts inevitably arose. Fear and suspicion of foreigners, competition for jobs, and the potential burden of refugees on society led to quotas or outright bans on immigrants. Recent debate over illegal immigrants has revived the old arguments about newcomers’ place in America.
NumbersUSA describes itself as a “non-partisan, public policy organization that favors an environmentally sustainable and economically just America” or, more succinctly, an “immigration-reduction organization.”
The National Immigration Law Center analyzes proposed immigration legislation and litigates on behalf of immigrants’ rights. The NILC partners with community advocates in states that have high immigrant populations and works to help low-income immigrants get legal, medical and social assistance.
National Immigration Forum is an immigrant rights organization that, according to its website, “advocates and builds public support for public policies that welcome immigrants and refugees and are fair to and supportive of newcomers to our country.”
The Leadership Conference on Civil Rights says it is “the nation’s premier civil rights coalition,” and it has “coordinated the national legislative campaign on behalf of every major civil rights law since 1957.” It was founded in 1950 by A. Philip Randolph of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, Roy Wilkins of the NAACP and Arnold Aronson of the National Jewish Community Relations Advisory Council. Today, the LCCR has more than 180 member organizations, including People for the American Way, AARP, the American Civil Liberties Union, the AFL-CIO and constituent unions, the NAACP, National Council of La Raza, the Human Rights Campaign and the National Organization for Women.
The Federation for American Immigration Reform is a nonprofit organization promoting more restrictive immigration laws. FAIR favors improved border security, an end to illegal immigration and restrictions on legal immigration, which means that the legislation it supports is often spearheaded by Republicans and its concerns correlate with conservative causes.
The Department of Homeland Security was established in 2002 after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. The department’s primary responsibilities are to prevent terrorist attacks and to respond to national security threats.
The Center for Immigration Studies, founded in 1985, is a think tank “devoted exclusively to research and policy analysis of the economic, social, demographic, fiscal, and other impacts of immigration on the United States.”
The American Immigration Lawyers Association is a professional organization of more than 10,000 immigration attorneys and legal professors. Its members represent a variety of immigrants, including asylum seekers, entertainment personalities, families that wish to bring relatives to the United States and companies wanting to sponsor foreign workers’ entry to the United States.
The AEI describes itself as dedicated to “limited government, private enterprise, individual liberty and responsibility, vigilant and effective defense and foreign policies, political accountability and open debate.”
The Census Bureau’s website offers far more than its up-to-the-second clocks with estimates of the U.S. and world populations. There is, of course, a general summary of the most recent census. A link from the home page brings up the American FactFinder, which allows the user to retrieve complete census breakdowns of the U.S. population by age, race, home ownership status and many other categories within cities, counties, states or even ZIP codes.
Brookings is the oldest and one of the best-known of the Washington-based think tanks, tracing its origins back to 1916 and founder Robert Somers Brookings, a wealthy St. Louis businessman. Its scholars generally have very strong academic credentials.Reports from the institution and its scholars can be viewed by research programs, policy centers and research projects. They fall mainly into the categories of competitiveness, education, migration, health care or energy security.
The Urban Institute says it is a “nonprofit, nonpartisan policy research and educational organization” focusing on “the social, economic, and governance problems facing the nation.” It has its roots in the Great Society era of government anti-poverty programs. The institute was chartered by a blue-ribbon commission assembled by President Lyndon Johnson to examine problems and issues faced by the nation’s urban populations.
The Heritage Foundation, one of the nation’s best-known think tanks on the right, says its mission is to “formulate and promote conservative public policies based on the principles of free enterprise, limited government, individual freedom, traditional American values, and a strong national defense.”
According to its website, FactCheck.org is a “nonpartisan, nonprofit ‘consumer advocate’ for voters that aims to reduce the level of deception and confusion in U.S. politics.” Its staff monitors factual accuracy in American politics, looking at what’s being said in TV ads, debates, speeches, interviews and the like.
The Library of Congress houses the Congressional Research Service, “the public policy research arm of the United States Congress.” The CRS performs independent, nonpartisan and objective research for members of Congress and their staffs on a nearly endless array of issues. The Librarian of Congress appoints the director of the service, which has a large, knowledgeable staff and receives a sizable budget.
Founded in 2003 by former Clinton White House Chief of Staff John Podesta, the Center for American Progress describes itself as “progressive.” Many of its experts once worked in Democratic presidential administrations or for Democrats on Capitol Hill. According to its website, the center seeks to “combine bold policy ideas with a modern communications platform to help shape the national debate, expose the hollowness of conservative governing philosophy, and challenge the media to cover the issues that truly matter.”
The Cato Institute describes its work as broadening public-policy debate on “individual liberty, limited government, free markets and peace.” For the last decade, Cato has supported Social Security reform through private accounts and championed deregulation of the drug industry. Cato was founded in 1977 by Edward H. Crane, a chartered financial analyst and former vice president of Alliance Capital Management Group. Most of Cato’s funding comes from private foundations and individuals, with only a small amount from corporations.
USA.gov calls itself “the official U.S. gateway to all government information.” The U.S. General Services Administration’s Office of Citizen Services and Communications oversees the website, which offers a library of links to government agencies, information about particular laws and regulations, and data and statistics.
The United Nations website contains a huge amount of information that dates back to the global governing body’s inception in 1945. From the U.N. home page there are links to several of its divisions and programs.