Covering Immigration Reform

Immigration reform remains at the forefront of the national political agenda, engendering debate within and between parties over the preferred resolution of issues surrounding undocumented immigrants in the U.S. and future regulation of immigration and treatment of immigrants.

To cover this national story effectively and to localize it successfully, journalists need to understand immigration policy and legislation. They also need to understand the effects on individuals, families and communities of these national policies and laws.

Journalists can find national and local stories by gathering and analyzing hard data and statistics, including:

  • Studying immigration statistics/data about their communities
  • Learning the details of the pending Immigration Reform
  • Mining U.S. Census data
  • Studying immigration trends
  • Identifying political players and advocates

The resources here will point journalists to a wealth of resources, including statistics and data, resources targeted specifically to journalists, expert sources and more.

These resources are provided as part of the McCormick Specialized Reporting Institute, “Immigration Reform: Immigration from the Border to the Heartland," held September 26-29 at the University of Texas at El Paso. The workshop, hosted by Borderzine, a Web community for Latino student journalists at UTEP, was funded by the Robert R. McCormick Foundation.

Find an Expert

Amanda Bergson-Shilcock, Welcome House Pennsylvania, expert on data collection and analysis, email:

Amanda Bosquez, media relations manager, National Association of Latino Elected Officials, tel.: 202-546-2536; email:

Center for American Progress media contacts:
Print: Crystal Patterson, tel.: 202-478-6350; email:

TV: Lindsay Hamilton, tel.: 202-483-2675; email:

Radio: Madeline Meth, tel.: 202-741-6277; email:

D'Vera Cohn, Pew Research Center expert on U.S. demographics and trends, email:

Adela de la Torre, National Immigration Law Center, tel.: 213-674-2832; email:

Kristin Ford, United We Dream, email:

Charlie McAteer, communications director, We Are One America, tel.: 206-452-8402 or 917-696-1321; email:

Michelle Mittelstadt, Migration Policy Institute, immigration policy expert, email: MMittelstadt@MigrationPolicy.Org

Ali Noorani, executive director, National Immigration Forum, tel.: 202-347-0040; email:; Twitter: @anoorani

Claudia Nuñez, Migrahack Director for the Institute for Justice and Journalism, specializes in immigration data mapping , email:

Lise Olsen, Houston Chronicle, expert on computer-assisted reporting, email:

Paul Overberg, USA Today, expert on exploratory data analysis, email:

Joseph Rendeiro, media relations specialist, National Council of La Raza, tel.: 202-776-1566; email: and Rick Garza, tel.: 202-776-1732; email:

Twitter Handles to Follow

@anoorani: Ali Noorani, executive director, National Immigration Forum

@ImmPolitic: National organization that advocates for the value of immigrants and immigration

@MigrationPolicy: A non-partisan, independent think tank dedicated to analysis of U.S. and global immigration issues

@weareoneamerica: Building power within immigrant communities in collaboration with key allies

Blogs Worth Reading

America's Voice blog: Harnessing the power of American voices to enact policy change that guarantees full labor, civil and political rights for immigrants and their families

Fair Immigration Reform Movement blog: The blog for FIRM, a national coalition of grassroots organizations fighting for immigrant rights at the local, state and federal levels

National Council of La Raza blog: Informs the public about Latino priorities through news releases, articles, blog posts and more

OneAmerica blog: Blog of the largest immigrant advocacy organization in Washington State

What Others Are Doing

Group Aims to Curb South Texas Migrant Deaths with Water Stations, Mark Collette, Corpus Christi Caller-Times, Oct. 13, 2013

Destino: Georgia, Mario Guevara, Mundo Hispanico, Oct. 9, 2013

Border Patrol Hit with Abuse Complaints, Bob Ortega, The Republic /, Oct. 8, 2013

Illegal Crossings Increasingly Deadly Along South Texas Border, Mónica Ortiz Uribe, Fronteras, The Changing America Desk, Sept. 5, 2013

Along Border, Preparing to Live with the Real-World Consequences of Immigration Debate, Ed O'Keefe, The Washington Post, Sept. 2, 2013

Deported Veterans: Banished for Committing Crimes After Serving in the U.S. Military, Kevin Sullivan, The Washington Post, Aug. 12, 2013

Many Freed Criminals Avoid Deportation, Strike Again, Maria Sacchetti, The Boston Globe, Dec. 9, 2012

Better Lives for Mexicans Cut Allure of Going North, Damien Cave, The New York Times, July 6, 2011

Key Resources

Proposed Immigration Legislation

Side-by-side comparison of 2013 Senate immigration bill with individual 2013 House bills

Media Resources

Beyond the Border, a News21 project

Borderzine's Mexodus Project

Colorlines immigration section

Fronteras Desk

Institute for Justice and Journalism; Digital resources for journalists; aims to help journalists bring context to news coverage of social justice issues, particularly immigration and racial and economic inequality

Out of the Shadows, ABC News, Special Series, July 2010

Texas Tribune race and immigration coverage

Data and Statistics

Department of Justice’s Executive Office for Immigration Review statistics, reports and other publications

The Migration Policy Institute offers several valuable data resources:

  • Its Data Hub offers state-level and national data from the Census bureau and other authoritative sources on the demographics of the immigrant population and on its workforce, poverty, language, and educational outcomes as well as country of birth, recency of arrival, gender, and much, much more
  • Data resources on historical U.S. immigration trends include states with the fastest-growing immigration populations, size of diasporas from different countries, and more
  • All of MPI's aggregated research relating to the current U.S. immigration debate

TRAC Immigration: The Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) is a data gathering, data research and data distribution organization at Syracuse University. It bills itself as "your source for comprehensive, independent and nonpartisan information about U.S. federal immigration enforcement."

Resources on the Web

The Center for American Progress offers tremendous resources on immigration, in particular “Living in Dual Shadows”, a study focusing on undocumented LGBT immigrants, and "National and State-by-State Economic Benefits of Immigration Reform", a report detailing the economic gains for 24 individual states of enabling immigrants to obtain legal status.

The Center for Immigration Studies is a nonprofit research organization that exists to provide information to the academic community, news media, and concerned citizens about the social, economic, environmental, security, and fiscal consequences of legal and illegal immigration into the United States.

The Immigration Policy Center (IPC) is the research and policy arm of the American Immigration Council. Both organizations' websites feature a wealth of resources. In particular, check out: the special report “Stepping Up: The Impact of the Newest Immigrant, Asian, and Latino Voters”, and the resources on Comprehensive Immigration Reform 2013.

The Imprint Project works to raise awareness of the contributions of immigrant professionals.

The Migration Policy Institute's monthly online journal publishes a wrap-up of recent national, state, local and court developments on immigration called Policy Beat.

The National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) and the NALEO Educational Fund are the nation’s leading nonprofit organizations facilitating the full participation of Latinos in the American political process, from citizenship to public service.

The National Council of La Raza is the largest national Hispanic civil rights and advocacy organization in the U.S. It promotes the advancement of Latino families.

The National Immigration Forum promotes responsible federal immigration policies, addressing today’s economic and national security needs.

The National Immigration Law Center is the only national legal advocacy organization in the U.S. exclusively dedicated to defending and advancing the rights of low-income immigrants and their families.

The National Immigration Project is a national nonprofit that provides legal and technical support to immigrant communities. Its website features a state-by state directory of immigration attorneys.

The National Partnership for New Americans advances the integration and active citizenship of immigrants.

OneAmerica was formed directly after September 11, 2001 in response to the hate crimes and discrimination targeting Arabs, Muslims and South Asians. Called Hate Free Zone at the time, the organization has grown into a leading force for immigrant, civil and human rights.

United We Dream is the largest immigrant youth-led organization in the nation. UWD organizes and advocates for the dignity and fair treatment of immigrant youth and families, regardless of immigration status.

Resources from the SRI

The Ebb and Flow of Immigration: Getting away from the Buzz by Richard Schaefer, associate professor at University of New Mexico, and Carolyn Gonzales, senior university communications representative, University of New Mexico

Finding Local Census Data on Immigrants by Paul Overberg, USA Today

Immigration Reporting: Data, Tools and Sources by Lise Olsen, investigative reporter, The Houston Chronicle

Immigration Research: Numbers and Findings by D’Vera Cohn, senior writer at Pew Research Center

Mapping Immigrants by Claudia Nuñez, Migrahack director, Institute for Justice and Journalism

Mexican Asylum Seekers in the Paso del Norte Region: Cross- border Violations of Human Rights by Molly Molloy, professor and librarian at New Mexico State University, and Crystal Massey, Southwest Asylum & Migration Institute

UTEP Library Resources for the Specialized Reporting Institute on Immigration Reform

Where to Find Border and Immigration Data by Lise Olsen, investigative reporter, The Houston Chronicle: This document lists databases and official sources for every type of immigration data and statistics imaginable


Self-Directed Courses

Handling Race and Ethnicity: Examine your assumptions about race and ethnicity. Learn to approach this delicate topic with confidence and make thoughtful and informed decisions about word choices.

Religion, Culture and Society: Getting Beyond the Cliches: Learn how religion touches stories about politics, ethics, science, sexuality and more. Explore "guiding questions" that will help you dig deeper into a story, and begin to understand that what happens outside a church, mosque or temple will give your coverage about the intersection of faith and daily life deeper context, nuance and sensitivity.

Webinar Replays

Covering Immigration from the Border to the Heartland: Recent immigrants are an integral part of the fabric of U.S. urban, suburban and rural communities as policy makers and politicians debate the best way of reforming our broken immigration system. Learn how to tell the unfolding immigration story in our communities with sensitivity, depth and context.

Giving Local Stories a Global Context: See how globalization affects small businesses, foreign direct investment and immigration. This one-hour Webinar provides the tools to discover the international dimension of local stories in your community. Learn how to find a gold mine of under-covered stories, how to give international context to what’s happening locally and how to connect the dots between global events and your local community.

Imprint Project’s Webinar for journalists on Immigration Reform and Skilled Immigrants: This Webinar, targeted to general assignment journalists, provides crucial context for understanding and writing about proposed changes to immigration law, background on the existing immigration system and understanding of issues at play in revamping it.

The State of Metro America: Key Trends for the Future: In this Webinar, take a peek at the key demographic trends that define and shape the nation. This one-hour Webinar will help you understand national trends in immigration, race and ethnicity, aging, education, poverty and — and understand their effects on your community.