Rubio Balancing Immigration Revision with Fragile Support Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) continues to negotiate behind the scenes with Republicans in both the Senate and the House to build support for immigration reform legislation. “It’s very simple: If people want immigration reform, we’re going to have to improve the border-security elements of the bill, and we’ll have to make people confident that what we’re doing is enough,” Rubio said. “That’s what I’m going to focus on.”
House Group: We’ve “Found a Way Forward” on Immigration The bipartisan group working on immigration reform in the House of Representatives announced last night that they have “found a way forward” on formulating a comprehensive bill for their chamber after meeting with select Senate Republicans. Though Idaho Republican Rep. Raul Labrador has stepped away from the group over healthcare issues, he said remains committed to immigration reform in the House.
Toeing the Line Perhaps one of the most important parts of the proposed immigration reform legislation pending in Congress includes investment in US ports of entry along the border. Carlos Puig, columnist for the Mexican newspaper Milenio, shares a vignette of how the currently overtaxed and inefficient border infrastructure is costing time and money. It would greatly benefit from the funding President Obama and many members of Congress have requested.
Simon Op-Ed in Huffington Post: "The Administration's Border Strategy Is Working" Ahead of next week’s Senate floor debate on immigration reform, NDN and New Policy Institute President Simon Rosenberg published a timely op-ed in The Huffington Post today in which he addresses ongoing questions about border security strategy.
Breaking: Cornyn Presents Solution for Gang of Eight Action is heating up as next week’s Senate floor debate on immigration reform fast approaches. Supported by Gang of Eight member Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), Senator John Cornyn (R-Tex.) announced today that he would be offering an amendment entitled the RESULTS (Requiring Enforcement, Security and Safety, & Upgrading Legitimate Trade and Travel Simultaneously) Amendment. Cornyn says he wants to solve the problem of border security, and if the amendment passes, he will support the Gang of Eight bill.
Border Apprehensions Up Again. Big Blow to Immigration Reform Efforts? Recent CBP data shows an uptick in apprehensions at the border in the last year, though they remain at historic lows, evidencing progress made on both sides of the border in the last decade. While the US has increased its border security, Mexico has continued to modernize and improve its economy.
Simon published a timely op-ed in The Huffington Post today.
"As immigration reform moves to the Senate floor, Senator Marco Rubio has raised new questions about whether the border security strategy in the current Senate bill can be effectively executed by the Obama and future administrations. The experience of the past several years indicates that DHS can, in fact, despite rancorous politics, manage the complex border region and improve the immigration system. Let's review how:
The Border Is Safer, While Trade Has With Mexico Has Exploded -- Despite a very real rise of violence on the Mexican side of the border, the situation on the US side of the border has improved dramatically in recent years. Due to a bi-partisan commitment in recent years to improve security, violent crime on the U.S. side of the border has dropped precipitously, from 19,000 violent crimes in 2004 to just 14,000 today. Major border cities like San Diego and El Paso have violent crime rates just a third of what they were a decade ago. With the increase in border security and improvements in the Mexican economy, total immigration from Mexico to the U.S. decreased from 770,000 in 2000 to 140,000 in 2010, resulting in a current net migration of zero.
Additionally, while we have toughened up on the border, trade between the U.S. and Mexico has exploded, increasing from $300b in 2009 to $536b in 2012. During this time Mexico has become the U.S.'s second largest export market, and third largest overall trading partner. Because of this trade boom, 70 percent of which flows over the 47 U.S.-Mexico border crossings, we now trade more with Mexico than we do with the UK, Japan and Germany combined, and Mexico now buys twice as much from the U.S. than China's billion-plus people do.
It is important to note that the successful management of these complex challenges has been led by a deeply experienced veteran of the region, DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano, a former border state governor, state attorney general and native of the region. Her experience has allowed her to put together a team, and a strategy, which have made our border much safer while also allowing an enormous increase in border trade flows, something which has created many new jobs in recent years on both sides of the U.S.-Mexican border.
The Immigration System Is Better -- In the past few years, while Congress has debated immigration reform, the administration did not stand still. It has taken a series of steps to improve the current immigration system. Actions like the prioritization of criminal migrants for deportation (while maintaining higher levels of deportation than ever before), a significant expansion and improvement in the nation's worker verification system, the replacement of large work place raids with the much more targeted and effective I-9 audits to go after exploitive employers, and the limited legalization of DREAM-act eligible youth, together have all made the immigration system better today.
The Senate Bill Makes Smart Moves Towards Making All This Better Still -- Building on this track record, the border and immigration bill passed by the Senate would make additional improvements in border safety and in the immigration system. Border enforcement would receive billions in additional dollars in the coming years, giving DHS the resources it needs to hit the new target of 90 percent apprehension rates of undocumented migrants along the border. Our nation's worker verification system would become universal, and a new and more comprehensive method of tracking the exit of people temporarily in the U.S. would be adopted. The legal immigration system would become much more focused on skilled workers, which will give a very real boost to U.S. productivity. We would of course offer legalization to millions of undocumented immigrants, with a clear path to citizenship. And critical investments in our ports of entry and an increase in U.S. customs agents will expand U.S.-Mexico trade while allowing for more tourists to visit the U.S. each year -- investments that will lead to the creation of hundreds of thousands of new jobs in the US in the coming years.
The concerns voiced in recent days about the ability of the federal government to effectively manage the immigration system, while legitimate, need to be tempered by both the very real progress made in recent years, and the intelligence of the current Senate bill. It has clear that with better strategies, more money and greater cooperation with our Mexican partner, the U.S. government has made the border safer, the immigration system better while also facilitating an enormous expansion of our trade and commercial relationship with Mexico, creating hundreds of thousands of new jobs here in the U.S. By any measure the U.S. government's policy towards the border in recent years has been successful, and with the passage of the well-crafted and thoughtful Senate bill, the border can become safer still. Doing nothing would of course guarantee that the U.S.-Mexican border does not take the next steps in bringing about a safer border region, and would be tantamount to a vote for less rather than more border security."
Immigration Reform Would Improve Economic Productivity A report from the Fiscal Policy Institute shows that legalizing undocumented immigrants, while enforcing labor standards and providing for future legal immigration, would increase economic productivity in New York State and the entire US. Immigration reform with legalization would remove barriers to advancement for currently undocumented immigrants, level the playing field for businesses and workers, and better align taxes, social services, and social insurance. As David Dyssegaard Kallick, Director of the Fiscal Policy Institute’s Immigration Research Initiative, said, “Immigration reform, done right, would be good for immigrants, but it would also be good for all Americans.”
The Economic Effects of Granting Legal Status and Citizenship to Undocumented Immigrants This Center for American Progress report analyzes the potential economic boon of granting legal status and citizenship to undocumented immigrants. “Legal status and a road map to citizenship for the unauthorized will bring about significant economic gains in terms of growth, earnings, tax revenues, and jobs—all of which will not occur in the absence of immigration reform or with reform that creates a permanent sub-citizen class of residents.” Also important as immigration reform legislation makes its way through Congress, the study concludes that the sooner legal status is provided, the greater the economic gain for the nation.
Border Bridge Stalls U.S., Mexico Border Plan Proponents of the construction of a new bridge over the Rio Grande see the potential for long-term economic growth through the more efficient transportation of people and goods across the border as well as potential industrial development in an area covered with struggling farms. The new port of entry located near Ciudad Juarez and El Paso is designed to alleviate the long lines for crossing from Ciudad Juarez, a huge manufacturing center. However, since the groundbreaking two years ago, construction on the Mexico side has stalled and US counterparts are waiting for a reciprocal response to their progress.
Washington is broken, you may have heard, a victim of scorched-earth partisanship. Congress can't get anything done because its members have abandoned the art of the compromise, opting instead for a zero-sum politics that incentivizes gridlock, lest the other side get any credit for getting things done.
And yet... this year the Senate's bipartisan Gang of Eight has advanced an ambitious comprehensive immigration reform bill, never something to rank high on anyone's list of low-hanging fruit to jumpstart comity between the parties. Almost as ambitious as the particulars of the bill recently voted out of the Senate Judiciary committee are the particulars that Democrats and Republicans each left out to make the package palatable to the other side.
Join us at New America as a prominent Republican and Democratic supporter of immigration reform come together to discuss this exceptional outbreak of bipartisanship and what it will take to keep it alive as immigration reform moves beyond the Senate and into the House, and onto most Americans' radar screen.
Bernard L. Schwartz Fellow, New America Foundation
President and CEO, ImmigrationWorks USA
Immigration Reform Deal Hangs on Border Security The bipartisan Gang of Eight hopes to pass their immigration reform bill in the Senate with a supermajority of votes to force the House to take action on the legislation. However, Senate and House Republicans, including Gang of Eight member Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), are pushing back saying the bill needs to be stronger on border security. Referencing the recent Obama administration scandals, Rubio is advocating that Congress instead of DHS take charge of the border security plan.
Schumer Predicts Immigration Reform Will Pass By July 4 Partisan opinions remain strongly opposed regarding the future of immigration reform in Congress. Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) confidently asserted yesterday that the bill would pass the Senate by July 4 with enough of a majority to compel the House to take it up. However, many House Members remain determined to take their own step-by-step approach, if any, to immigration reform.
Immigration Bill Faces Tough Path in Full Senate The Senate, which returns from recess today, is expected to take up the immigration reform bill by next week in what could be a very difficult debate. The Gang of Eight is confident in their work, but the bill still faces mixed criticism that it is too strict on requirements for citizenship or not strict enough on border security, citizenship, and tax measures. "We can pass this out of the Senate," Flake said. "The question is, can we get enough votes to convince the House to vote."
The economic news and data have turned distinctly upbeat. With unemployment down, consumer confidence up, and personal debt back to normal levels, it was no surprise when last week's revised report on first quarter GDP showed consumer spending rising at twice the rate of the preceding three quarters. Housing investment is now increasing at a 14 percent rate, following a 25 percent drop in home foreclosures compared to the first quarter of 2012 and many months of rising housing prices. Business investment is still sluggish, but corporate profits are strong, and the stock market is setting new records. These positive reports also explain why markets barely moved when Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke noted recently that the Fed's aggressive program to keep interest rates low might wind down sooner than expected.
The biggest drag on the economy, as usual, is government. If not for Washington's misguided sequester cuts, tax increases and continuing layoffs by state and local governments, GDP would be growing at a healthy three to five percent annual rate. Even so, conditions are improving enough to sharply drive down the deficits projected for the next two years. With Europe stuck in a double-dip recession, the United States once again finds itself a prime engine of global growth.
Credit for much of this turnaround goes to the Fed, and some of it is luck. But business attitudes and orientation count here, too. In particular, American policymakers and businesses have been committed to globalization for the last two decades, especially compared to their European counterparts. And this deep engagement in global markets is a critical factor in the economy's renewed strength. Not only are exports one of the brighter points in the current recovery. In addition, years of sustained competition in global markets have made many U.S. industries markedly more efficient and innovative than their rivals in other advanced economies.
Bill Clinton deserves some thanks for all this. He not only articulated the need for Americans to actively engage in world markets, clearly and convincingly. He also made that attitude concrete by corralling bipartisan majorities to enact NAFTA, create the World Trade Organization, and draw China and other large developing nations into a global trading system. American multinational companies may be best known today for their byzantine strategies to minimize their U.S. taxes. But their many years of investing in foreign markets at higher levels and rates than firms from other major economies count for a lot more. Once there, they have had to compete with lower-cost producers in markets those producers know better than they do. This intense competition has forced U.S. multinationals to come up with new efficiencies and innovations, which they also have applied to their U.S. operations and markets.
The falling U.S. trade deficit provides clear evidence that all of this matters. In the first quarter of this year, for example, our trade imbalance was $22 billion less than it was a year earlier. This may seem remarkable, since stronger growth here than in Europe and Japan would suggest a rising U.S. trade deficit as imports rise and exports fall. It's true that some imports are up - but so are most exports, including high tech goods that account for 19 percent of all U.S. exports. The main reason, though, is globalization as U.S. companies that have spent years setting up shop around the world now tap into fast-growing markets across the developing world.
Consider whom we now trade with. Our traditional major markets of Europe and Japan now account for just 25 percent of U.S. exports. They're overshadowed today by the 32 percent share of our exports which go to our NAFTA partners, Canada (19 percent) and Mexico (13 percent). Another 12 percent of U.S. exports go to the rest of Latin America, seven percent to China, and 13 percent to the rest of non-Japan Asia. In fact, American firms export nearly half as much to Africa and the Middle East as they do to Europe.
President Obama is now doubling-down on the commitment to globalization. Last term, he got Congress to approve new free trade pacts with South Korea, Colombia and Panama. This term, he's pressing for a major new trade deal with Pacific Rim countries and another with the European Union. The negotiations for the first deal, the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) began in 2010. Now, the President is pressing all interested parties - Australia, Brunei, Chile, Canada, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam, along with the United States - to complete the deal within one year. That's an ambitious deadline, since TPP would lower or end many thorny domestic barriers to open trade. Among these are regulations and other impediments to competing in service-sector businesses, with state-owned enterprises, and in areas of government procurement, as well as health and safety regulations targeted at foreign competitors. And if we and the 10 other Pacific Rim countries can strike the deal on TPP, Japan and South Korea would probably join too, and further expand its impact.
Completing a new free trade pact between the U.S. and the EU within the President's two-year deadline will be equally daunting. Here, too, the issues include many of the toughest for trade in the 21st century, encompassing barriers rooted in the domestic regulation of services as well as health and safety, labor and environmental rules, agricultural subsidies, data privacy, and anti-trust policy. These are very difficult matters not only for the regulation-prone countries of continental Europe, but for the United States as well. Nevertheless, German Prime Minister Angela Merkel and the UK's David Cameron are both on board with Mr. Obama. Alas, France's President Francois Hollande is less enthusiastic, and the president of the European parliament, Martin Schulz, has warned that any deal must "put the European model at its core," especially with regard to "labor unions and social rights."
Both sets of negotiations will test everyone's patience and political limits. But the process will recommit the United States to the path of liberal internationalism that has helped drive American prosperity for more than 65 years. And if they succeed, the result will not only reassert America's global economic leadership. The new agreements should also permanently raise the incomes of tens of millions of people here and abroad, along with the sales and profits of tens of thousands of U.S. and foreign companies.
This post was originally published in Dr. Shapiro's blog
Border Delays Cost U.S. $7.8 Billion as Fence Is Focus Delays at border crossings are cost the U.S. economy billions of dollars as trade with Mexico has increased and needed updates to infrastructure at ports of entry has lagged behind. Christopher Wilson of the Wilson Institute expressed his concern: “In the context of the current immigration debate, we are very focused on what is going on between the ports of entry while this major issue, which is about security but also about jobs and the economy, is getting a lot less attention.”
The Presidential Inbox: Latin America Shannon K. O’Neil, Senior Fellow for Latin America Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, sat down with to talk about U.S. policy toward Latin America during a panel on May 29, 2013. Video of the event is available here.
Mary Meeker Highlights US Immigration Hypocrisy Support for immigration reform continues to be strong from the high tech and business startup sector. Mary Meeker of Silicon Valley highlighted the enormous economic contributions made by immigrants and their families: first or second generation immigrants have founded 42% of Fortune 500 companies, creating 10 million US jobs and $4.5 trillion in annual revenue.
John recently published a new blog, "Advancing Manufacturing Means Advancing Jobs" on GE's Ideas Lab. Below are some excerpts from his latest:
"Even with all of these positive trends, unemployment is still stubbornly high. Yes, unemployment is at a four year low – and that’s a good thing. And, yes, unemployment is slowly creeping downward. But a 7.5-percent national unemployment rate can only be considered good news in comparison to our near term high unemployment rate of 10 percent in October 2009. At our current rate of reduction, it could take years to get unemployment down to pre-recession levels. That doesn’t even count the number of people that are underemployed.In short, of the various factors that caused the economic turmoil in the last four years, most have turned around. But we still have a jobs crisis in America."
He continues, explaining that Americans understand we need a strong return from the manufacturing sector in the 21st century. Though he elaborates upon these ideas, below is a summary:
"The Obama Administration’s manufacturing initiatives are a great place to start. The suite of efforts promoted by the Administration are designed to promote regional centers of manufacturing innovation, retooling skills for a workforce that needs 21st century skills, and helping to develop the overall ecosystem needed for manufacturing to thrive. Expanding the National Network for Manufacturing Innovation will help pair cutting edge university research with emerging companies in the advanced manufacturing space. A recently announced effort by the Economic Development Administration called the Investing in Manufacturing Communities Partnership addresses the workforce retooling and infrastructure investments needed to broaden and deepen manufacturing ecosystems in cities across America. An exciting new initiative spearheaded by the Department of Energy combines advanced manufacturing with another critical emerging sector of the economy – the clean energy sector – to bolster both at once while increasing America’s competitiveness in the race to become a global leader in cleaner energy. (You can read more about the range of manufacturing initiatives undertaken by the Obama Administration here.)"
He then details innovative metro policies like the Lousville-Lexington corridor, and this integral aspect of their improving their local economies. In conclusion, he writes, "The manufacturing sector is growing across the country. As noted here, a range of metro areas – from Texas to Washington state to Michigan to Virginia – have created hundreds of thousands of jobs since 2010 by focusing on manufacturing. As a nation, we need to build things. It’s in our DNA as Americans. We may not build the same things as our grandparents or produce them in the same way, but we will continue to build. The emerging importance of advanced manufacturing for job creation – and the economy at large – is too important for policymakers to ignore. And it can get a jumpstart from smart policy from Washington to City Hall."
A number of factors combined to create the vortex of the Great Recession in 2008.
Since the darkest days of the Great Recession, many signs show that big sectors of the economy are getting demonstrably better.
Unemployment is down from a high of 10.0% in late 2010 to a current rate of 7.5%. (Graphic courtesy of BLS)
The Case Shiller Index indicates home values are up significantly, the highest since 2006. (Graphic from McGraw Hill via Slate.) Recovery in the housing market is critical as the housing bust lit the fuse for the financial meltdown.
Meanwhile, financial markets have stabilized. This week, Moody's upgraded its outlook on our financial sector for the first time in five years.
The S&P 500 has increased dramatically since 2009. (Graphic courtesy of the New York Times)