NDN Blog

Some Thoughts For My Friends in the Immigration Reform Community

I sent this letter to friends of ours in the immigration reform community last Thursday, July 24th. It had been passed on to several reporters who have called me about it so I decided to make it available to the public.

Friends,

Right now in the House of Representatives, the most powerful legislative body in the history of the world, there is a serious debate going on about immigration reform or the first time in nine years.  With Granger’s proposal, the House Republicans have now proposed or passed measures on border and interior enforcement, the legal status of over 1m undocumented immigrations and are even enormous and consequential changes to another law, Wilberforce, while taking modest steps on the supplemental the President requested.   The point is that they have through their own actions expanded this debate into terrain far beyond the supplemental, terrain that looks much more like traditional immigration reform.    We also know from news reports that it looks like Boehner will need Democratic votes to pass anything this summer.  

Thus, it is my recommendation that far more resources of this community be focused now on the House.   We need to push the Democrats to go big and demand that CIR be part of any potential deal with the Republicans, and force a full and robust debate about the need to fix our broken immigration system.   Even Jeb Bush took the House Rs to task for not stepping up on CIR in a WSJ oped today.   We also know that in the Senate it is unlikely that any supplemental will make it without changes to Wilberforce – thus once again the Rs are blocking progress, and focusing on deporting children.  

Simply put the Rs must pay a serious price for this politics and cannot get away without significant damage to their brand.  We need to put pressure on them to deal, and to get as much out of this process as we can, perhaps even CIR itself.   There is a huge opportunity emerging here, and I hope as many of you will step up and do things like protest outside McConnell and Boehner’s offices the way many have been protesting outside the White House.   I am convinced that one of the reasons the Republicans have not moved on CIR this year is that they see Obama and the Democrats getting attacked by their allies.   Why mess with that? 

Bottom line – we are in the midst in the one of the most important public debates about immigration the US has seen in the last ten years.  Time to stand and be counted. 

Good luck, and godspeed. 

S  

Central American Migrant Crisis: Questions for House Republicans

As the House Republicans get ready to release their plan to tackle the Central American migrant crisis, we prepared a few questions members of the media and public should feel free to ask members of the House GOP conference this week:  

  • The Administration is reporting a fairly substantial decline in the migrant flow over the past few weeks.   Are you encouraged by this?  Why do you think this might be happening?  Was it the paid advertising in the three countries and the visit by the Vice President? Recent crackdown on human smugglers on SW border? Something else?
  • Will you be including the King Amendment, the revocation of prosecutorial discretion and DACA you passed in 2013, in your package to be negotiated with the Senate?  Many Republicans including Texas Senator Ted Cruz and Texas State Senator Dan Patrick have argued that DACA was the cause of the migrant crisis.  Do you agree?
  • Will HR15 – the House version of the Senate immigration bill, which includes the House Homeland Security Committee border strategy - be included in your immigration package? The President, the Senate and a majority of the House would like it to be, and Speaker Boehner has repeatedly said he would like to pass it this year.   If not, what is the rationale for not passing a major, 9 years in the making, growth producing, deficit reducing, bipartisan immigration reform bill in the middle of a migration crisis?  What exactly is the hold up here?
  •   What specifically do you object to in the President’s plan to resolve the crisis?  How is your plan better, and more likely to bring a swift and rapid end to the crisis?
  •  Some say this is a border crisis, and more needs to be done to secure the border.   Can you elaborate on that, and comment on data showing significant improvements in the security of the border in recent years?  (for more on how the border is safer today visit here).
  • For example, crime is down on the US side of the border, flow of undocumented immigrants into the US is a fraction of what it was in the Clinton and Bush era, the border patrol is far more effective now and there is growing evidence that Obama era deportations of those entering the country illegally has helped strengthen deterrence?  What specific data do you have indicating that the border is less safe today due to President’s Obama policies?
  • Some border sheriffs have said it would be far better to add more local law enforcement in the Rio Grande Valley than to send the National Guard.   Do you agree? What exactly will the National Guard do at the border that isn’t already being proposed in the current Administration’s plans?  If they are there to “observe,” isn’t this a waste of money? What problem are we solving here?
  •  If we are to expedite the deportation of minors at the border, denying them current legal protections that allow them under certain conditions to remain in the United States, are you worried that some number of these minors might be murdered upon returning home?  What responsibility to the US have to ensure their safe repatriation?  What does “safe repatriation” mean to you? 
  • Do you have any ideas about what we can do to help the three Central American countries effected by the crisis?  How can we help them battle the growing power of the cartels in their country and create greater economic opportunity and citizen security? Do we need something like a Plan Colombia for these three countries, and would you commit $3-5b over the next 10 years to see it through?  

This post has been updated as the pace of debate has picked up on Capitol Hill.

Support the Innovative, Far Sighted Work of the NDN/NPI Team Today

Keeping the internet open and free.  A new American electorate.  The need to reform our electricity grid.  A new approach towards Cuba.  Immigration reform and a smart strategy to resolve the Central American migrant crisis.   Necessity of “raising our game” to help the struggling middle class.  Making it easier for everyone to vote.  Bolstering the liberal international order through modernizing a new round of Atlantic and Pacific trade agreements. 

These are just some of the ideas the team at NDN and the New Policy Institute have helped develop and bring to market in recent years.    For a small institution, we’ve had an outsized impact on the debate in Washington and around the country, offering sensible and forward looking solutions and analyses during a time of enormous change for our nation and our politics.    We are very proud of the contribution we’ve made in a time of great challenge for our nation.  

But you already know the next part – we can only do this work with the financial support of our members from around the country.  We’ve been blessed to have generous investors over the years, ones comfortable with our kind of high-risk, high reward strategy.    That’s why we hope you will make a contribution to NDN today of whatever size you feel comfortable with - $25, $50, $100 or more.   You can support our work by clicking here today. 

As you know we only come to our community a few times of year.   We don’t participate in the daily avalanche of emails we all receive.   We’d rather speak to you about our work, our ideas, our events – the things that we all want to talk when we get up in the morning and think about how the world can be better.   That’s why when we do write it is important that folks step up.  And if you want see the innovative, cutting edge work continue here, I hope you will join many of your peers and make a contribution to NDN today and help us keep working to give our country a brighter future.  

NDN in the News: Central American Migrant Crisis Press Mentions

NDN/NPI has recently weighed in on recent policy and political decisions around how to stem the Central American Migrant Crisis. Here are the recent articles that we have been mentioned in:

Amid Roiled Landscape of Border Politics, Obama’s Plans May Change, NPR, 7/17/14

Democrats Split Over Migrant Crisis, Jordan Fabian, Fusion, 7/16/14

Morning Plum: Once again House GOP tells Tea Party To Get Lost, Greg Sargent, Washington Post, 7/16/14

On Immigration, the GOP has only one answer: Deport The Kids, Simon Rosenberg, MSNBC, 7/15/14

Activist: Despite recent problems, immigration policies on U.S.-Mexican Border largely a success, Chris McAdams, McClatchy Washington Bureau, 7/15/14

Bizarre Case of Jose Antonio Vargas Shows That The Border Is More Secure Than Ever, Igor Bobic, Huffington Post, 7/12/14

Border Crisis Scrambling the Politics of Immigration, Karen Tumulty and David Nakamura, Washington Post, 7/12/14

Amid Border Crisis, Advocates Talk Next Steps on Immigration, Suzanne Gamboa, NBCNews.com, 7/7/14

Obama has only bad options on Immigration, Francis Wilkinson, Bloomberg News, 6/30/14

Immigration Reformers Favorite Spin on Migrant Crisis Is Dead Wrong, Dara Lind, Vox.com, 6/27/14

Care about Minors Crossing the Border?  Then Pass Immigration Reform Now!, Greg Sargent, Washington Post, 6/23/14

 

 

Timely New NDN Report on Central American Migrants, Obama Border/Immigration Enforcement Record

Today, NDN/NPI’s 21st Century Border Project is releasing a new report looking the Central American migrant crisis and reviewing the Obama Administration’s border and immigration enforcement record.   The subjects covered in this new report, released in a PDF/Powerpoint format, are at the center of the current debate about how to best fix the US immigration system.   You can find the report at the bottom of this post in pdf format. 

Among the report’s key findings:

On Border/Immigration Enforcement – The Border is Safer, Immigration System is Better, While Trade With Mexico Is Soaring

  •  Crime is down along the US side of the border.  The two largest border cities, El Paso and San Diego, are the two safest large cities in America today. 
  • Out of the five high-traffic migration corridors across the US-Mexico border, four are already at or near the Senate bill’s goal of 90% effectiveness rate.
  • The flow of undocumented immigrations is way down, at net zero today.  Under Pres. Bush the undocumented immigrant population grew by over 3m, an average of almost 400,000 a year.  Under Obama there has been no growth in the undocumented immigration population – a sea change from the Clinton and Bush years.   
  •  The new prioritization of removals begun by ICE director John Morton in 2011 known has “prosecutorial discretion” has brought significant changes to the immigration/border enforcement system.  In 2013, all but 10,336 of those removed from the country were either criminals in the interior of the US or caught entering the country illegally.  The result of these policy changes is that the threat of deportation has been lifted from the vast majority of undocumented immigrants in the US,  while simultaneously providing more effective border deterrence - flow has remained low even while the US economy has recovered. 
  • In 2012, the Obama Administration implemented Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), allowing  over 1m DREAMers, unauthorized immigrants brought to US as youths, to work and study legally in the US.
  • Trade with Mexico has jumped from $340b in 2009 to about $550b in 2013.  Mexico is America’s 3rd largest trading partner, 2nd largest export market.  $1.3 billion worth of goods and 1m people cross the 2000 mile US-Mexico border each day.

On The Central American Migrant Crisis - A Review Of The Data, and Thoughts On The Path Forward

On the Central American migrant crisis, the report goes through data on the significant challenge of an overwhelmed immigration court system, and the recent increase in unauthorized arrivals in the Rio Grande Valley.  It then offers recommendations of what needs to be done to stem the tide, with a particularly emphasis on passing Comprehensive Immigration Reform - the most powerful tool in the toolbox the United States government has at its disposal today to bring the crisis to a humane and rapid end.     

Additional NDN Resources 

On Immigration, the House GOP has one answer: Deport the Kids, MSNBC, 7/15/14

The Border Migrant Crisis is a Big Test for the GOP, NDN, 7/7/14

What Congress Can Do To Help with the Central American Migrant Crisis, NDN, 6/24/14

GOP Attacks on Obama Enforcement Record are Ridiculous, NDN, 4/25/14

Backgrounder, The Surge of Central American Migrants at the U.S.-Mexico Border

MSNBC: On Immigration, the House GOP Has Only One Answer - Deport the Kids

Friends, I wanted to share a new op-ed I wrote on immigration reform and the Central American migrant crisis that is running on MSNBC now. An excerpt is below, and the full piece is on MSNBC.com

Beyond this piece, I encourage you to take a look at these additional posts detailing what I believe Congress can do to help stem the crisis at the border, and why this issue is a big test for the GOP

--

On immigration, the House GOP has only one answer: Deport the kids

A popular immigration reform bill passed the Senate a year ago and still awaits action in the House. Meanwhile, a tragic humanitarian crisis has emerged on our doorstep, demanding a swift and humane response. Yet the House Republicans, who have long stood in the way of sensible action on immigration reform, have fashioned a single response to both: Deport the kids. 

Nine years ago, Senators John McCain and Ted Kennedy introduced a thoughtful, bipartisan approach to modernizing our immigration system and strengthening border security known as “Comprehensive Immigration Reform.” From the beginning, this approach has maintained an unusually broad coalition of support, from evangelical ministers to national labor unions.
 
Both Democratic and Republican presidents have supported it, and in a time of intense polarization, it has passed the Senate twice with wide bipartisan margins. The current Senate bill is projected to grow the economy by 5% over 20 years, and take almost a trillion dollars off our deficit. Far from being a divisive issue, immigration reform has been something of an oasis in an unusually polarized era. 
 
But not in the House. The only immigration-related bill the House has passed in this Congress has been the “King Amendment,” a provision that would revoke the Obama administration’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals – a program that has given 600,000 DREAM-eligible youth temporary legal status, protection from deportation, and permission to work in the United States. Revoking DACA would strip these kids of this legal status and make them available for immediate deportation. In other words: Deport the kids. 
 
In recent months, a crisis has unfolded along our border, providing another powerful reminder of the need to modernize our antiquated immigration system. The administration has proposed a simple, straight-forward set of actions to address the crisis, which require congressional approval. But so far, weeks after Obama outlined his plan, the only idea gaining traction in the House is a change in a Bush-era law that would make it easier to deport the minors being apprehended at the border. Again, the Republican answer is simply this: Deport the kids. (And some extra border security, too.) 
 
The nativist response of the House Republicans to our ongoing immigration challenge is not only an incredible disappointment to all Americans who would benefit from a more modern immigration system, but should be terrifying to the national leaders of the Republican Party. In 2005-2006, the Senate passed a broad bipartisan immigration reform bill. Like today, the House Republican response was to pass a bill calling for more deportations – this time for the deportation of all 11 million unauthorized immigrants in the U.S.
 
----------

The Border Migrant Crisis Is A Big Test for the GOP

The crisis at the border has already started impacting the broader debate over immigration reform.   The most interesting immediate change we are seeing is that the crisis is making it much harder for the House Republicans to maintain their current position that the status quo is preferable to some set of legislative fixes.   With GOP House Members starting to introduce bills to address the border crisis, we have stumbled now back into a debate over what Congress can do to fix the broken immigration system.  The White House and the Senate have a powerful answer to that question, Senate Bill 744 and other requests which will come from the President this week.   What will the GOP response be?  

Will the GOPs’ answer to the latest manifestation of a broken immigration system really be limited to just giving the President expedited authority to remove minors at the border?  No fixes to the legal immigration system? No legalization process for undocumented immigrants here prior to 12/31/11 as the Senate bill provides?  No additional money for more humane detention centers?  No additional monies for the immigration courts to help remove the judicial backlog which is contributing to the crisis?  No additional money for Central America to help stabilize and improve conditions there?  

It is our view that the single most powerful thing Congress can do now to help bring an end to the border migrant crisis is to pass the Senate bill in the House.  It will send a loud and clear signal to Central America and Mexico that our Congress, our parties and our President are united in improving our immigration system.  It will make clear that those who’ve come or will come after 12/31/11 will not be able to stay.   It will help alleviate the growing judicial backlog which has contributed so much to the current crisis.  It will give DHS even more powerful tools to make an already improved border even safer.   All of these things will be critical to bringing a rapid and humane end to the crisis. 

The Obama Administration is taking prudent and smart steps to bring an end to the border migrant crisis, including making clear that passing the Senate bill is a needed and important piece of what is required.  But the House GOP cannot continue to cry that the house is on fire and then prevent the Administration from using all the water we have to put the fire out.  While the border migrant crisis is clearly a test for the Administration, it is also an important test for the House GOP – and our hope is that they will work with the President in the days to end the migrant crisis while bringing long needed reform to our broader immigration system.  Failure to do so means that they will be acting to extend the crisis, worsen human suffering, slow our economic recovery, add to the deficit and strengthen the cartels profiting from the increased human trafficking from Central America.  America deserves better than that.

Update: See our recent essay, "What Congress Can Do To Help With the Central American Migrant Crisis;" and this one from earlier this year, "GOP Attacks on Obama's Immigration Enoforcement Record Are Ridiculous." 

Invite: Tue 7/15 - Border Migrant Crisis/US Border - Event, Webinar

Next Tuesday, July 15th, please join NDN/NPI for a DC based event and webinar on the border migrant crisis and the Obama Administration’s border and enforcement record.    The presentation will showcase a newly updated data-driven version of our influential powerpoint on the border and immigration enforcement that has been widely seen across the country over the past year or so.   The presentation will be helpful to anyone wanting to get a better understanding of these complicated and fast-changing issues.   Both are free and open to the public. 

Noon - 130 pm EST, Luncheon Presentation at NDN - Lunch will be provided. You can reserve your spot  here, and feel free to invite others who might interested. 

4 - 5 pm EST, Webinar - If you can't make the luncheon, we will be hosting a Webinar later that afternoon. To attend, register here

For the Webinar presentation, please leave a few moments for the software to install before the event begins. Webinar can be used on either a Mac or PC. If you have any issues, please contact ccantor@ndn.org

NDN is located at 729 15th Street, NW, 1st Floor. We look forward to seeing you next week, and feel free to invite others you think might be interested. 

What Congress Can Do To Help with the Central American Migrant Crisis

Last Friday the Obama Administration took a series of smart and sure footed steps designed to bring an end to the Central American migrant crisis we are now experiencing on our Southern Border.  While we all welcome Congress’s attention to the issue this week, the discussions should be focusing on what Congress can and should be doing to support the Administration’s aggressive actions to date.  I offer up four things in particular Congress can do to help bring this crisis to a more rapid close:

  • Allocate necessary resources to ensure safe temporary detention facilities, expedited adjudication for unaccompanied minors and sufficient legal representation for those requiring it.  Other measures which will hasten adjudication or give temporary authority to the President should be considered. 
  • Publically support the Administration’s short and long term efforts in Central America designed to prevent reoccurrences of this recent surge.   Should include short term measures to ensure repatriation is both rapid and humane, and longer term efforts to bring more economic opportunity, citizen security and rule of law to the region.   A whole of government approach to combating the growing regional influence of trans-national organized crime should be developed and implemented.
  • The House should pass something akin to the Senate Immigration Reform bill in the next few weeks.  There is no doubt at this point that confusion about our immigration system has played a role in the recent surge.   The single most effective way our government has of clearing up this confusion is by passing immigration reform swiftly so it can be enacted by the end of this year.   The rules of the road will be clear as day at point, ensuring that all in Central America understand that no migrants arriving here after Dec 31st, 2011 will eligible for legalization. 
  • Speak with one voice.   Again, by Congress passing a plan like the one outlined here and showing their support for the Administration, the United States government will be sending a loud and clear signal to those South of us that the US is determined to bring a swift and humane end to the crisis.  This unaminity will itself be a powerful deterrent, and help us bring an immediate slowing of the northbound flow.

This week the House Republicans have spent far more energy beating up on the Administration about this crisis than acting as a responsible partner in bring the crisis to a close.   In the coming weeks they and all of Congress will have an opportunity to do their part in bringing this unfortunate chapter in our immigration system to a close.   The Administration has taken smart and aggressive first steps.   They have done their part.  It is now time for Congress to do its part.  Failure to act will prolong the crisis, worsen human suffering and strengthen the cartels south of the border prospering from the enlarged flow. 

For more information on the migrant crisis, please look at the new "backgrounder" we at NDN have put together. In particular, Greg Sargent has a great piece outlining how Congress can approach this issue. 

Backgrounder: The Surge of Central American Migrants at the US-Mexico Border

The recent surge of migrants from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras is the latest challenge to an overburdened US immigration system.  Here are some of the resources that we at NDN found most useful to learn more about this highly complex problem:

From the Obama Administration

From The Media

Other Important Resources

 Resources on Central America/Cartels

NDN Resources

Also, be sure to attend our Webinar on this issue at Thursday, June 26th at 3 PM or Friday, June 27th.  

 We hope you find these useful, and please reach out with questions.

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