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New Yorkers Push to "Cool Down" Heated Debate Over Immigration

January 29, 2008

Syracuse, NY - A week out from Super Tuesday, immigration is a hot topic. A coalition of New York groups is calling for candidates and pundits to "cool down" the rhetoric and take a rational approach to the immigration debate. At St. Lucy's Church in Syracuse, Andre Kwon wants to see a cooler tone in the discussion.

"There is this hateful rhetoric from a vocal minority that exploits the public's legitimate concerns about immigration, about security, the economy and other issues. Immigrants have been scapegoated as the cause of our problems."

Groups as diverse as the American Jewish Committee, the Arab American Association and the New York Immigration Coalition are coming together today to launch an education campaign. They say it will separate fiction from fact on the heated issue of immigration in New York.

Karen Kaminsky with the New York Immigration Coalition believes reason needs to replace fear.

"Obviously, the big issue is the undocumented population. Why is that the case? I think it's the national debate in general and the way some politicians are exploiting it, playing into people's fears instead of coming up with reasonable and positive solutions."

Kwon says the numbers show New York actually gains from being home to a large immigrant population.

"For instance, in 2006, immigrants were responsible for close to a quarter of New York's economy, about $229 billion. That's a fact not generally known to the public."

Both Kwan and Kaminsky hope the candidates will focus on the truth about immigrants when it comes to key issues like security and New York's economy.

Michael Clifford/Chris Thomas, Public News Service - NY