The new CBO report is a bit of a political game changer for the immigration debate. While it has been long argued that the Senate Immigration Bill would do many things – improve border security and interior enforcement, resolve the issue of the 11 million undocumented immigrants living and working here in the US, improve the legal immigration system, smartly invest in expanding our trade with Mexico – we now know that it will also help improve the US economy, create jobs and significantly lower the budget deficit.
The bar for the opposition to the Senate immigration bill just got higher. Already specious arguments that already effective and ambitious Senate border security goals don’t go far enough are no longer sufficient for opposing this bill. To oppose the Senate bill means one is now for increasing the deficit, slowing growth and reducing the number of jobs created in the US in coming years.
Finally, it needs to be understood that the new attack by House Republicans on what is known as “prosecutorial discretion,” a provision they have attacked in both the recent King Amendment and in the just passed SAFE Act, would result in the elimination of the current government policy of prioritizing criminal migrants for deportation. Thus, it can now be said of those House supporters of the SAFE act today that they are voting to eliminate the prioritizing of criminals from removal of the country, and for increasing the deficit and reducing US economic growth.
How exactly the House GOP found itself in these tortured set of policy positions is one of the great mysteries of the current immigration debate.
As the state of the US-Mexico border moves front and center in the national debate over immigration, a little perspective is needed.
What is apparently driving Republican efforts to alter the border security provisions of the Senate immigration bill is a distrust of the Obama Administration and DHS’s commitment to the effective management of the US-Mexico border. At the core, this concern is misplaced, and Republicans are simply going to have to find a better argument for their proposed changes to the Senate immigration bill.
Let’s review some data from the last decade or so. Crime on the US side of the border has plummeted, dropping from just over 19,000 incidents of violent crime in 2004 to just over 14,000 in 2011. The flow of unauthorized immigrants is now a fifth of what it was at its height, declining from over 700,000 in 2000 to less than 200,000 last year. With the normal churn of immigrants returning home, the net migration of unauthorized immigrants is zero today. In the five high traffic corridors which experience most of the flow of unauthorized migrants, two already have achieved a 90% apprehension rate, and two are over 80%.
Importantly, this enforcement success has not come at the expense of trade with Mexico, which is rising at extraordinary rates. In 2009, US trade with Mexico was $300 billion; in 2012 it was $536 billion, and we are on track this year to see it hit close to $600b – a doubling in just four years. Six million US jobs are dependent on this exploding trade, and Mexico has become the US’s second largest destination for our exports, buying almost double what China purchases from our businesses every year.
The Senate immigration bill establishes ambitious enforcement targets to build on DHS’s recent success. The bill calls for a 90 percent apprehension rate across the entire border; it requires a new exit visa system at air and sea ports of entry; and it nationalizes our worker verification system, giving businesses better tools to ensure their workers are legal. Achieving any one of these three objectives in the next decade would be ambitious; doing all three together is going to require significant bipartisan cooperation, adequate funding levels and strong leadership from DHS in the years to come. None of the current Republican border amendments, including the one being offered by Senator John Cornyn, do much to alter this strategy. They move the enforcement timetable up a bit, which would be expensive and given the already ambitious targets, make the overall strategy much more likely to fail. Many of the other recommended additions are unnecessary and often terribly expensive flourishes which may sound strong and tough but do little to alter the strategic trajectory the Senate has already agreed to. In almost every case these new GOP provisions make the Senate bill more expensive and worse, not tougher and better.
What the Cornyn Amendment gets right, however, is the need for additional investments in our ports of entry. The explosion of our trade relationship with Mexico in recent years has made the need to modernize and update our 47 ports of entry along the border a national economic priority. The current Senate bill makes a nod in this direction, adding 3,500 customs agents to facilitate the movement of more goods and people, and establishes a grant program to upgrade our ports. But Cornyn goes further, committing $1b a year for six years to improve infrastructure and add personnel at our land ports of entry, and calls for changing the law to allow DHS to enter public-private partnerships along the border to help mobilize private capital to improve these ports. While we think much of the enforcement side of the Cornyn Amendment is unnecessary and unrealistic, the ports of entry investment provisions should be adopted on the Senate floor and woven into the final Senate bill. They will help create good jobs here in the US while improving security at the border.
To be adopted, Republican proposals to alter the current Senate immigration bill’s ambitious border enforcement provisions should have to demonstrate two things: 1) they make the current Senate Bill better 2) they acknowledge the significant success the Administration has had in managing the border. You can’t really have it both ways on this last one – the reason the Senate bill has set such ambitious targets for enforcement in the coming years is because DHS has shown it can manage the border effectively. If you think DHS has failed, and is not to be trusted, as some have suggested, then why in the world would you make the border provisions even more ambitious and harder to achieve?
The answer, of course, is that these Amendments are not designed to make the bill better, or the border safer, but to derail the process altogether. You can’t have a “tougher” bill without also trusting DHS to carry it through.
NDN/NPI's 21st Century Border Initiatve hosted a conference call with Southwest Border Mayors to discuss the real life impact of immigration policies on border communitties.
On the call NDN/NPI unveiled the following Southwest border mayors will be available to provide context to the ongoing immigration debate and how it impacts real people and the economic vitality of border communities.
They include, but are not limited to, the following Mayors:
Arturo Garino - Mayor of Nogales, Arizona
Raul Salinas - Mayor of laredo, Texas
Greg Stanton - Mayor of Phoenix, Arizona
Tony Martinez - Mayor of Brownsville, Texas
Ken Miyagashima - Mayor of Las Cruces, New Mexico
Following the call Simon Rosenberg, President, NDN and the New Policy Institute led a conversation with Greg Stanton, Mayor of Phoenix, Arizona and Tony Martinez, Mayor of Brownsville, Texas talked about how the border communities are dealing with the immigration bill.
Also as the Senate Border/Immigration bill moves to the Senate floor, the team at NDN/NPI offers up its most relevant background materials, and key press clips, updated daily. To view this please click here.
The election of Hassan Rouhani as the next president of Iran is a positive development and represents an opportunity for reform as well as renewed and rational engagement with the west. While it would be naïve to expect any sudden policy shifts from a regime still headed by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Rouhani ran on a platform of reform that emphasized not only domestic economic issues, but also his goal of working toward normalizing relations with the international community and creating an environment in which sanctions can be gradually rolled back.
U.S. relations with Iran should continue to be driven by our regional interests and by ensuring the security of our allies. It should be understood, however, that the current policy of sanctions and isolation are not policy goals in and of themselves. American interests will be best served by a more democratic, open, and responsible Iran that respects international norms and laws. If President-Elect Rouhani wishes to normalize Iran’s relationship with the United States and our allies, they will need to bring their nuclear program under transparent monitoring and cease supporting regional terrorism and instability through the forces they control both directly and by proxy.
It is worth noting that Mr. Rouhani was instrumental in negotiating the 2003 Sa’dabad Agreement, in which Iran agreed to suspend nuclear enrichment. Though this deal eventually collapsed, the fact that he has demonstrated a willingness to constrain the Iranian nuclear program should be viewed as a possible opening for new talks. While it will take time for the President-Elect to bring new and hopefully reform-minded personnel into the bureaucracy, the Iranian people have clearly rejected the status quo and spoken out for change. The United States should seize this opportunity to develop a diplomatic relationship with the new President and deploy a strategy designed to encourage Iran to become a more open and responsible member of the global community.
Simon Op-Ed in The Hill: "On the border, DHS has earned Congress' trust:" Simon provides his analysis on a flurry of amendments being proposed to the Senate Immigration and border legislation. He argues that the Republican party must acknowledge the positive work done by the Department of Homeland Security at the border in order set realistic and achievable goals for the Senate immigration legislation.
Media call with Southwest Border Mayors to discuss real life impact of immigration policies: NDN hosted a media call with several southwest border mayors will be available to provide context to the ongoing immigration debate and how it impacts real people and the economic vitality of border communities. They include, but are not limited to, the following: Arturo Garino - Mayor of Nogales, Arizona, Raul Salinas - Mayor of Laredo, Texas, Greg Stanton - Mayor of Phoenix, Arizona, Tony Martinez - Mayor of Brownsville, Texas, Ken Miyagashima - Mayor of Las Cruces, New Mexico. Today NDN/NPI hosted a call with two of these regional leaders, Greg Stanton - Mayor of Phoenix, Arizona and Tony Martinez -Mayor of Brownsville, Texas to discuss the Senate immigration legislation and what it means for their communities. To listen to the call please click here.
Simon Op-Ed in Huffington Post: "The Administration's Border Strategy Is Working"- Simon analyzes how the US-Mexico border is safer, trade with Mexico has exploded, the immigration system is better, and how the Senate bill will improve upon all of this.
Webinar Presentation: “How Improvements Along the Border, In Our Immigration System and In Mexico Are Impacting the National Immigration Debate”- Three factors that have paved the way for comprehensive immigration reform to happen now in the United States: the US-Mexico border is safer; the immigration system is better; and Mexico is modernizing and growing. The presentationis also available in the attached pdf.
Report: "Realizing the Strategic National Value of our Trade, Tourism and Ports of Entry with Mexico"- The report states: “Trade between Mexico and the United States is among one of the great untold success stories of the last four years….The current negotiations in Congress on comprehensive immigration reform offer a key window of opportunity to expand our ability to facilitate legitimate trade and tourism with Mexico and grow our economy in the process.”
Kristian Op-Ed in AZ Daily Star: "Updating Ports of Entry Will Help Preserve Our Vital Trade with Mexico"- Kristian highlights important border provisions, including adding more customs agents and investing in US ports of entry, of the legislation currently in Congress that will benefit the Southern Arizona and overall US economies.
Simon's Statement on The House Judiciary Bill 'The SAFE Act:' “Today, the House Republicans declared their independence from Comprehensive Immigration Reform. The self-deportation/attrition movement, which captured the Republican Party’s nominee in 2012, has re-asserted itself in American politics. While the House deferred action vote was regrettable, the newly introduced Goodlatte-Gowdy Enforcement Bill (HR 2278), which calls for among other things, guns and body armor for ICE agents, is as true an expression of self-deportation/attrition as one will ever find in Congress. "
Simon's Statement on the Passage of the Border/Immigration Bill out of the Judiciary Committee- “After the Senate Judiciary Committee passed S.755 with a strong bipartisan majority yesterday, we remain optimistic that Congress will be able to pass a good, comprehensive border and immigration bill this year”
Immigration Reform: Bipartisanship's Improbable Poster Child- NDN President Simon Rosenberg and President and CEO of ImmigrationWorks USA Tamar Jacoby met at the New America Foundation to continue this bipartisan engagement on immigration reform. Watch their discussion of how the Senate “Gang of Eight” provides commonsense reform through compromise on border enforcement, an arduous path to citizenship, and a balance on employment-based visas.
Senator Michael Bennet Optimistic About Immigration Reform's Prospects- Senator Michael Bennet (D-Col.), joined by Congressman Joe Garcia (D, FL-26), on the progress of immigration legislation in Congress.
Babeu Urges House to Reject Senate Immigration Bill, Focus on Border Security During yesterday’s House Judiciary Committee hearing yesterday on the SAFE Act, Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu urged the House to reject the Senate immigration legislation and increase law enforcement and police authority. However Karen Tumlin, of the National Immigration Law Center, pushed back suggesting that would be too much to add to a bill that already increases enforcement.
Senate Rejects Republican Effort to Gut Immigration Bill The Gang of Eight compromise remained strong yesterday as the Senate defeated an amendment from Sen. Grassley with a 57-43 vote. The amendment would have delayed the pathway to citizenship provisions of the bill. Supporters and critics of the bill continue to work on border security provisions.
Senate Immigration Authors Consider Border Control Change Several sponsors of the Senate immigration bill are trying to draft an alternative to Sen. John Cornyn’s RESULTS amendment which they fear could permanently impede the proposed path the citizenship for undocumented immigrants in the US. One of those sponsors, Sen. Chuck Schumer said, “We just want to make sure that it doesn’t forsake our principles, which is that there has to be an achievable, specific [border] trigger.”
Gang of Eight Seeks Alternative to John Cornyn Amendment Members of the bipartisan Gang of Eight who drafted the original Senate immigration bill are pushing back against Senator John Cornyn’s RESULTS amendment that seeks to increase border enforcement saying it is a “poison pill.” The Cornyn amendment, meanwhile, is gaining more support from other Republicans.
Ted Poe, Lamar Smith, Bill Flores Propose Border Enforcement Crackdown Similar to Cornyn Plan Senator John Cornyn introduced an amendment to the Senate immigration bill currently being debated on the floor that would increase border security requirements. Seemingly following his lead, three members of the House have introduced the very similar “SMART Border Act” in the lower chamber.
“Purgatorio,” a Film about Lives on the U.S.-Mexico Border While immigration reform is being debated in the halls of Congress, filmmaker Rodrigo Reyes feels like lawmakers are not seeing the full picture of life at the border. He says his film “Purgatorio” attempts “to give you an x-ray of the border so you can really feel it, and then you can go off and talk about what’s going on.”
Join us tomorrow as Simon will be conducting a live webinar about the border and immigration debate this Thursday at 12:15pm. He will be reviewing our acclaimed power point presentation, "How Improvements Along the Border, In Our Immigration System and In Mexico Are Impacting the National Immigration Debate." To join the webinar, please click this link before 12:15 tomorrow to view the webinar. You will need to download a free trial of Go To Meeting prior to joining.
This is part of a new weekly series here at NDN where Simon will discuss immigration reform and the border every Thursday during lunch.