NDN Blog

Recent Analysis: Egypt, Syria, and Iran

Dramatic changes have been taking place in the Middle East over the last few weeks and NDN's MENA Initiative has gathered together some of their latest analysis to help our community better understand the challenges and opportunities of the unfolding events in Egypt, Iran, and Syria. You can stay up to date on all of these developments at the MENA Initiative website, www.menaprogram.org

A Critical Crossroads in Egypt

“When Deputy Secretary of State Bill Burns meets with Egyptian officials today, for the first time since President Morsi was deposed, he should strongly encourage the transitional government to avoid prosecuting or persecuting the ousted leader and his allies. While the Muslim Brotherhood’s government managed to alienate much of the population through managerial incompetence and autocratic tendencies, they were serving under the legitimate authority of popular elections.

The United States has important regional interests in the stability of Egypt, but American policy needs to avoid taking sides with specific political actors. Instead, the U.S. should make it clear that our allies and recipients of large aid packages are expected to be invested in the processes, values, and institutions of inclusive democracy.  We have seen over the last several years that threats to withhold military assistance are seen in Cairo as empty threats and insufficient motivation to change policy or approach. This sticks American policymakers with the bill while denying them any of the leverage that is supposed to accompany it. Burns should inform the Egyptian government that, as mandated by U.S. law, aid will be temporarily suspended until a democratically elected government is returned to power. The United States should take this opportunity to continue working on the bilateral relationship – one that is marred by a history of suspicion and ambivalence – while expanding the scope of stakeholders that the U.S. government engages with. If we aspire to see this “revolution reboot” result in a more open, democratic, and inclusive Egypt, we need to learn the lessons of the last 18 months, speaking out vocally for U.S. values and backing it up with consistent actions.” Brad Bosserman, 7/18/2013

"In Egypt, a new transitional government is taking shape amidst clashes between the Egyptian Army and the Muslim Brotherhood. Response in Washington has been mixed, with Sen. McCain calling for suspending U.S. aid in light of the military-led ouster of President Morsi. The major questions that will determine the immediate and medium-term implications of these events involve the details, time table, and process for holding new parliamentary elections and the amending of the currently suspended constitution. Also crucial will be addressing the future of the Muslim Brotherhood. After being forced out of the formal political process and having their media networks shut down by the military, the U.S. should use its leverage to discourage the prosecution of the Brotherhood, push for building institutions and norms that are inclusive and give voice to all Egyptian constituencies, and encourage the government to craft a means of formal engagement with the Brotherhood that will be essential in dissuading them and their regional allies from pursuing a path of violent opposition." Brad Bosserman, July 8, 2013

"Millions of Egyptians took the streets over the weekend in much-anticipated protests against President Morsi. The largely peaceful demonstrations reveal a deep and broad "legitimacy deficit" for a government that was elected democratically, but has consistently pursued non-inclusive policies designed to consolidate power in the hands of Morsi and his allies. The everyday Egyptians taking part in these protests feel alienated by the ruling government and the heavily criticized constitutional process that followed. But while the opposition may appear unified from 30,000 feet, there remain deep ideological, political, and strategic cleavages among these anti-Morsi groups. The situation on the ground is still unfolding, but as of Monday afternoon, the Egyptian military had issued an ultimatum, threatening to intervene in 48 hours if the situation is not resolved. The U.S. has vital strategic interests in seeing a stable, secure, and democratic Egypt and American policymakers should speak out in favor of institutions and processes that respect the will and views of the Egyptian public. A military coup seems very unlikely to be a positive development, but neither does a continued consolidation of power by Morsi . If a third way is to emerge, the responsibility lies with key Egyptian opposition figures to coalesce around a shared goal and vision for the country, at least in the short term, which can provide a legitimate alternative." Brad Bosserman, July 1, 2013

A New President of the Syria Opposition

"The Syrian National Coalition met in Istanbul over the weekend and elected Ahmad Jarba as their new President. The move represents a victory for the Saudi-aligned factions within the rebel coalition and Jarba declared that the SNC would not attend the proposed peace conference in Geneva until major military support was secured. As the Assad regime continues to make headway on the ground, it is unclear how the level of aid that is currently being supplied by the U.S. and Gulf allies will be able to turn the tide in favor of the rebels or even provide enough leverage to extract any real concessions from Assad."  Brad Bosserman, July 8, 2013

Webcast: Brad Bosserman hosted a conversation with three leading experts.


Shadi Hamid from the Brookings Institution and Research Director of the Brookings Doha Center.

Yisser Bittar from the Syrian American Council.

Christy Delafield from the Washington office of the Syrian Opposition Coalition.


A New President in Iran

"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. Brad Bosserman, June 17, 2013

Invite: Wednesday, July 10th- Confronting the GOP's Big Lie About the Border

As the debate over immigration reform moves from the Senate to the House, Simon will be presenting an updated version of a powerpoint we’ve been giving around town these last few months: “The Border Is Safer, The Immigration System Is Better, and Mexico Is Modernizing and Growing.”  It is a fact-filled presentation showing how successful the Obama Administration has been in managing the complex US-Mexico border and improving our immigration system.  

The presentation will take place here at NDN at twelve noon, and lunch will be served.  You can RSVP here. 

At its core this presentation is a refutation of the border hysteria far too common in our politics today, an hysteria that has been largely abandoned, for example, by the Republican Party of Arizona, the state perhaps most responsible for exporting this politics to the rest of the country.  Among the statistics we will cover in the presentation tomorrow: 

  • In recent years spending on border security has tripled, the number of border patrol agents has doubled.
  • The net flow of unauthorized immigrations to the United States is now ZERO, and the annual flow of unauthorized migrants is one fifth of what it was a decade ago.
  • Crime on the US side of the border has plummeted, and is violent crime rates in the 2 largest border cities, San Diego and El Paso are one third of what they were a decade ago.
  • Apprehension rates in 2 of the 5 high traffic corridors are already over the Senate goal of 90%, and 2 are over 80%.
  • Due to the drop in flow and huge increase in border patrol, the apprehension rate per border patrol agent has dropped from 327 in 1993 to 19 last year, or one every two to three weeks.  
  • Meanwhile, trade with Mexico across this very same fortified border has exploded, growing from $300b in 2009 to $536b in 2012.  Mexico is now the US’s third largest trading partner, and second largest export market.  

If you cannot make it tomorrow, feel free to send this invitation on to others.  And for more of our analysis about the border and immigration reform, visit this page on our site, which includes a link to an earlier version of this presentation and related materials.  Also see Simon’s op-ed in The Hill, "On the Border, DHS Has Earned Congress' Trust," arguing 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 immigration legislation.

We hope you can join us for this timely and informative discussion.  And please don’t be shy about forwarding this information, which is so important to the current debate, to others you think might be interested. 

Invite: Wed, July 24th - Creating a North American Energy Community

On July 24th, NDN and NPI will host an introductory conversation about the potential for a burgeoning energy community between Canada, Mexico, and the United States. You can register for this exciting event here.

As soon as August of 2013, new leadership in the Mexican government is expected to pass comprehensive energy reform to modernize its energy resources. The reforms could pave the way for Mexico to open its hydrocarbons sector to private investment, as well as to create significant growth opportunities in renewable energy.

Because Mexico is the U.S.’ third largest trading partner, America is in the unique position to avail itself of these opportunities and to broaden and deepen its relationship with Mexico for the benefit of the entire region.  By establishing a North American Energy Community, we can create a cleaner energy economy for both nations, spur desperately needed economic stimulus in the border region, and build a viable platform for regional energy security. 

A distinguished panel will offer insights into the opportunities and pitfalls of this important emerging economic development: 

Governor Bill Richardson  

Former Secretary of Energy, U.S. Ambassador to the UN, and Governor of New Mexico.  

Richardson has enjoyed a very successful career in public service, academia, and the private sector. Few can match his wide-ranging experience and dedication to both energy issues and issues related to the U.S.-Mexico relationship.

Duncan Wood  

Director of the Mexico Institute at the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars

Wood brings two decades of academic and professional experience in Mexico to the conversation. At the pre-eminent Institute, he provides invaluable analysis on a broad range of issues pertinent to the United States and Mexico.

Rick Van Schoik  

Energy Portfolio Director at the North American Research Partnership 

Van Schoik is a leading expert in multidisciplinary, tri-national research and policy programs. He frequently travels to give talks and publishes articles in the scientific, lay, and professional press that inform several perspectives on transboundary security, transportation, water, energy, environmental, and related issues.

Wednesday, July 24th, 2013

12:00 Noon – 1:30PM

NDN Event Space

729 15th St NW

Washington, DC 20005

Please RSVP here today for this luncheon, as space will be very limited.

NDN Kicks Off Summer Fundraising Drive

It is that time of year again for friends of NDN/NPI – the time we come to you and ask for your financial support of our path-breaking work. 

Over the next few weeks on this site and through other means we will explaining what we’ve done these past few years with the money our supporters have generously given to us, and what we intend to do going forward.   We are proud of what we have contributed to the national debate here in the US, and we are confident that, with your support, we can keep making a difference during a time of significant global transition and change.

We write now because this is the time of year we most need your support.  Our generous supporters keep us well-nourished and in the black throughout the year.  But to avoid that summer cash-flow lull – as many head out on vacation – it is important that we raise $100,000 before August 2nd. 

I hope you will help us by contributing what amount you feel comfortable - $15, $25, $50, $100 or more. 

You can make a secure, online donation here, or learn how to use other means of payment.  We know that you have spent time with us recently, and we hope that experience will move you to contribute today.  It will certainly set off some celebratory and seasonal fireworks here if you do!

Thanks again for your interest, and support, of our important work here.

The Politics and Economics of Obama's New Climate Program

          The Supreme Court's blockbuster decisions on voting rights and same-sex marriage attracted most of the attention, but President Obama also moved decisively last week, on climate change.  The facts that drove the President are scientifically undisputed.  Increasing concentrations of greenhouse gas emissions in the earth's atmosphere continue to raise global temperatures; and without serious action, the long-term effects on sea levels and climate could be catastrophic.   Yet, climate-change deniers on the far right have a tight hold on a majority of congressional Republicans, who now won't even acknowledge the threat.  With no hope of reaching a reasonable accommodation, the President put forward new regulations that don't need their approval -- and ultimately will be less effective and more costly for average Americans than the alternatives which Congress won't consider. 

            For a while now, most climate experts and economists have broadly agreed that the most efficient and effective way to reduce these carbon and other greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions is the direct approach:  Raise the price of fuels based on the GHG emissions they produce, and so raise the price of all goods and services based on the emissions created to produce them.  In principle, this approach could attract bipartisan support.  It rests on one of the bedrock tenets of conservatism, the power of prices in free markets, as well as the liberal disposition to create national programs to improve the general welfare.  Yes, the most straight-forward way to achieve such climate friendly fuel prices is apply a dreaded tax to all forms of energy based on their carbon dioxide (CO2) and other GHG emissions.  But even that, in more placid political times, could be a basis for attracting broad support, since the revenues from a climate tax could be dedicated to cutting payroll, corporate and other, more economically-distorting taxes.

            The truth is that every other serious approach to climate - from a cap-and-trade system to the President's new regulations - also would raise prices:  Directly or indirectly, they make it more expensive to use fuels that emit more than their share of greenhouse gases, relative to other fuels that damage the climate less.  Over time, those price differences should gradually move millions of businesses and tens of millions of households to favor the cheaper, more climate-friendly fuels and technologies, and the goods and services produced using them.

            The sobering news is, we don't have much time.  Scientists warn that however broadly we might adopt the current generation of cleaner fuels and technologies, the atmospheric concentrations of CO2 and other GHG will soon reach levels that will produce serious climate changes.  However, the economics of setting a clear and hefty price on carbon and other GHG would also create new incentives that could extend the frontiers of climate technology.  If energy companies, scientists and entrepreneurs can be certain about the price of carbon and other greenhouse gases, looking forward - if they know how much more it will cost people to use climate-damaging fuels, compared to climate-friendly ones - that would create strong incentives to develop and adopt the next generation of climate-friendly fuels and technologies. 

            The question is, how efficient and effective are each of these approaches, and which is most likely to spur new advances?   The question highlights the costs of the extreme right's current hold on congressional Republicans, which drives the political stalemate on climate policy and has left President Obama with few options apart from executive regulation.  His new regulatory agenda has three parts.  It includes, first, higher energy-efficiency standards for appliances and buildings, aimed at reducing energy use whether clean or otherwise.  There also are new loan guarantees for projects to reduce or isolate the greenhouse gases emitted by fossil fuels, and additional grants to develop more efficient biofuels.  These guarantees and grants are designed to promote greater use of more climate-friendly technologies and fuels by reducing the cost of capital to develop them.  While these measures provide a sense of the administration moving on many fronts, their combined impact on the climate crisis will be modest. 

There is one measure that could matter a great deal more:  The President has directed the EPA to develop new CO2 and other GHG emission standards for existing power plants.  This follows EPA regulations proposed last year that set similar standards for new power plants.  The logic is straight-forward:  Set standards that will force utilities to rapidly shift from coal to natural gas and renewable fuels.  This makes sense, since the use of cheap coal to generate electricity accounts for about half of worldwide carbon and other GHG.  Shifting to natural gas worldwide would cut life-cycle GHG emissions by 20 percent, and shifting to renewable fuels would reduce those emissions by as much as 40 percent.

            There is no doubt that sufficient regulation could move the United States to a path under which our GHG emissions would decline in a sustained way.  But using regulation in this way will cost Americans a great deal more than a carbon tax with the same result.  Under the new regulation, existing power plants will have to develop and adopt new investments that meet a new, uniform standard by reducing their emissions from fossil fuels or converting their plants to use cleaner fuels.  To begin, monitoring and enforcing such regulation will cost a lot more than collecting a tax.  More important, the program suffers from the inefficiencies of most regulation, because some utilities will be able to meet the regulation much more cheaply than others, based on the state of their current plants.  For example, plant A could reduce its emissions by a required unit by investing $1,000,000, while plant B could reduce its emissions by the same unit for $250,000, and by two units for $500,000.  So, reducing emissions by two units under the regulation will cost $1,250,000, while plant B could achieve the same result for the climate under a tax or a cap-and-trade system for $500,000.  Under all of these alternatives, most of the costs are passed along to the ratepayers and consumers.  But a tax with offsetting tax reductions could return much of those costs to everyone.  Based on a simulation from several years ago, those costs could average some $1,500 per-household, year after year. 

            Finally, while the new regulations should spur technological innovations to enable utilities to meet the standard more efficiently, the incentive to innovate will dissipate once the standard is met.  By contrast, the economic incentives to develop and adopt cleaner fuels and technologies never go away under an emissions tax, since every incremental advance would reduce the tax and, with it, the price of energy. 

            This past weekend, President Obama also devoted his weekly address to his new climate program.  He deserves credit for refusing to be cowed by his opponents' intransigence.  He could truly elevate his presidency, however, by taking the case for a carbon/GHG tax with offsetting tax cuts to the country, and beating his opponents on one of the most fateful challenges we face today. 

This post was originally published in Dr. Shapiro's blog


Celebrating the Passage of the Senate Immigration Reform Bill

Today, we join in celebrating the passage of the Senate immigration reform bill. As we’ve written before, we believe the bill at its core is ambitious, bold and super smart. It improves the legal immigration system, strengthens border security and interior enforcement, puts unauthorized immigrants on a path to citizenship and makes prudent investments in our ports of entry with Mexico which will create jobs on both sides of our border.

As the CBO noted last week, the bill will also accelerate economic growth in the US, create jobs and reduce the deficit by as much $1 trillion over the next two decades. Politically, it has gained votes as it moved through the Senate legislative process and passed today with a veto-proof super majority. Given what little good has come from Washington in recent years, both the integrity of the bill and its broad political support are truly remarkable accomplishments for the original Gang of Eight.

This is not to suggest the legislation as it comes out of the Senate is perfect.  In the months ahead we will be advocating that there is a much better way to throw money at the border than the one imagined by the Corker-Hoeven amendment. Adding more fencing and doubling the border patrol is bad policy. It is incredibly expensive while promising little return on investment, damaging to border states and communities, and is sure to antagonize our Mexican neighbors and other allies throughout Latin America. As a matter of policy, having far more troops on our friendly border with Mexico than we do on the North Korean border is a global embarrassment for the US. Given the huge security gains along the US-Mexico border in recent years, and the ambitious border provisions already in the Senate bill, this massive “surge” simply isn’t needed (see my recent op-ed for more on this).

If Congress is so interested in throwing money at the border there is a better way – investing in modernizing our 47 ports of entry with Mexico and adding more customs agents at all our air, land and sea ports of entry.  Given the enormous amount of trade and tourism now flowing through these ports due to rising standards of living around the world, modernizing our ports of entry has become one of the most important infrastructure investment priorities for the nation. 

Take trade with Mexico, for example. In 2009 total trade with Mexico was $300 billion. In 2012, it had grown to $536 billion and is on track to hit close to $600 billion this year.   Mexico is now our third largest trading partner in the world, and our second largest export market.  We trade more today with Mexico than we do with the UK, Germany and Japan combined, and Mexico now buys twice as much from the US as China does.  In recent years the trade relationship between our two countries has evolved into one of the most important binational trade relationship between any two countries in the world.  Estimates are that fully 6 million American jobs now depended on this trade, a number which is going to increase as the trade flows grow in the years ahead.  

The infrastructure which facilitates this exploding trade relationship, however, was designed for an era of trade much less robust than what we are seeing today. Wait times on the Mexican side of far too many ports are unacceptable today, let alone what they may be in 5 to 10 years as Mexico continues to grow and modernize.

The US needs a more aggressive plan to ensure that the economic opportunity these trade flows offers our businesses and workers can be realized. Doing so is going to require investment. Investment in ports will provide significant return by creating millions of jobs on both sides of the US-Mexico border, something that new border strategy of the Senate bill threatens rather than supports. 

There are at least three things Congress can do with the $40-$50 billion of new spending on the border that would be far more beneficial to the US than the current Senate plan:

First, Congress can increase the number of customs agents from the proposed 3,500 to an additional 10,000. These agents will help facilitate the increased levels of trade and tourism while providing more security at all our ports.
Second, Congress can provide $10 billion over 10 years to the port of entry infrastructure grant program in the current Senate bill.   
Third, Congress can adopt Senator John Cornyn’s thoughtful proposal to open up ports to public-private partnerships, deploying private capital to help grow and maintain this vital national infrastructure.

The original Gang of Eight Senate border and immigration bill was one of the most impressive legislative accomplishments of the Obama and Bush eras. It is a good bill, bipartisan to the core, ambitious while also creating jobs and reducing the deficit. Whether the rest of Congress can keep the integrity of this bill as it moves forward in the coming months remains to be seen. We remain hopeful, but have no illusions how about much work needs to be to ensure that President Obama signs not just an immigration bill later this year, but a good one.


Daily Border Bulletin: Crime and Banishment, Selling Their Souls to the Devil, Border Surge Stirs Outcry in Mexico

Your Daily Border Bulletin is up:

Crime and Banishment “Mexico wants the U.S. government to pass an immigration reform that would set on the path to legality the six million or so undocumented Mexicans now living in the United States. But the cost might be too great for some Mexican communities along that very border Americans are trying so hard to make secure — for themselves.”

Selling Their Souls to the Devil As cited in yesterday’s LA Times article, on Sunday, June 23, 2013, reporter Jorge Ramos Ávalos shared the Mexico viewpoint of the proposed ‘border surge’ amendment to the Senate’s border/immigration bill. The article was originally published in the Mexico City-based paper La Reforma, and a copy is available here. Here is a quick translation of the piece.

In Mexico, U.S. Border 'Surge' Proposal Stirs Outcry After much silence from the other side of the border, some criticism is emerging from Mexico of the proposed increase of border patrol troops and fencing along the US-Mexico border. Foreign Secretary Jose Antonio Meade stated that fences "are not the solution to the phenomenon of migration, and aren't consistent with a modern and secure border. They don't contribute to the development of the competitive region that both countries seek to promote."


Jorge Ramos Ávalos: Selling Their Souls to the Devil, La Reforma, June 23, 2013

As cited in yesterday’s LA Times article, on Sunday, June 23, 2013, reporter Jorge Ramos Ávalos shared the Mexico viewpoint of the proposed ‘border surge’ amendment to the Senate’s border/immigration bill. The article was originally published in the Mexico City-based paper La Reforma, and a copy is available here.

The following is a quick translation of the piece:

“We were about to record a special television program on immigration reform and we could not begin because Senator Chuck Schumer of New York would not hang up his cell phone. But none of the other three senators accompanying him- Bob Menendez, Dick Durbin and Michael Bennet- dared to interrupt him. Me either. Schumer was counting by telephone the number of senators who would support a new amendment to “militarize” the border of the United States with Mexico and the issue was too important to ask him to hang up. When at last he did, we found out about the negotiation that had occurred behind closed doors.

In exchange for securing enough Republican votes to legalize the majority of the 11 million undocumented, the Democrats would have to sell their souls to the devil, as the Mexican saying goes. The agreement includes increasing the number of border patrol agents on the border from 21,000 to 41,000, completing construction of 700 miles of wall between the two countries, putting into practice at a national level the employment verification program known as e-verify, and using the latest technology (like drones) to monitor the border.

 ‘Militarization’ is not exactly the right term because the agreement doesn’t send US soldiers to patrol border with Mexico. But it includes some harsh tactics that are only used between enemy nations. In fact, various private contractors that worked for the American military in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are now pursuing new contracts on the Mexican border. That is where the money is.

This is undoubtedly the most drastic series of measures in history for physically separating two countries. That is why the absolute silence of Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto in this debate is so surprising. The passivity and negligence of his government is incomprehensible; it is as if this had nothing to do with him, as if it were not going to seriously affect millions of Mexicans.

This is not done between neighbors. Mexico is not being treated like one of the principal trading partners of the US. With this agreement, it appears as if the two nations are fighting. It’s terrible to return to the epoch of building walls.

The Peña Nieto government lacks imagination to propose migration agreements like that of the European Union, or at the very least, the audacity and temerity of Vicente Fox to ask for a new migration treaty with the United States. What Mexico needs are more visas for its workers in the north, not more US agents that arrest the poorest of Mexicans in the deserts and mountains.

The US senators that devised this border agreement, clearly, did not want narcoviolence from Mexico to cross into their country, nor did they want to run the risk of a terrorist sneaking through the border. After a complicated, long, and difficult negotiation on immigration reform, they also did not want their country to again fill with undocumented immigrants in a few years.

I understand why these US senators did this. The message they received from the Latino community en the past presidential elections is that they had to move forward with immigration reform and a path to citizenship for millions of undocumented people, no matter the cost. And this is exactly what they did. Now we cannot hold it against them. The Democrats are sacrificing almost everything so that Republicans in the Senate approve an immigration reform bill and so the project passes in the House of Representatives.

The senators Schumer, Menendez, Bennet, Durbin and the Republican from Arizona, Jeff Flake, were very candid with me. No, this was not the agreement that they would have wanted. But immigration reform is a negotiation, not the directive of a single party. Lesson: one does not win what one deserves but only what one negotiates.

Of course, all these deals can change, or even be rejected up to the moment of voting. But the intention is already clear and the message is written on the wall: on the border it’s a heavy hand, not cooperation.

Finally, the principal loser in all this is Mexico. The US is shutting the door in its face and it isn’t reacting. Its ministers and diplomats appear not to understand how things work in the US. Here you knock on doors, lobby Congress, look for influence, use propaganda, appear in the media, and make noise. The Peña Nieto government has not done any of this and there are the consequences: more miles of fence and thousands of more agents to arrest Mexicans.

And the winners, I think, are the undocumented immigrants. It is unimaginable how many people are fighting for them! The reform advances and these immigrants are closer than ever to legalization. It is at an extremely high cost and with binational consequences that will last decades, but their voice is being heard.”

Transitions At NDN

Part of the joy of running an organization is seeing people grow, learn and then move on to new challenges and opportunities.   This week we send off two really good members of our team to exciting new positions.  Chris Bowman, who has been a terrific assistant to me, moves into the Congressional office of Mike Doyle, a home state Congressman for him.  Kristian Ramos, who has been a high-impact and vital member of our team for three years now, takes on an important new assignment as the Communications Director of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus. 

Kristian also joins an important club, alums of NDN's pathbreaking Hispanic work, a wonderful club which includes Joe Garcia, Sergio Bendixen, Maria Cardona, Jimmy Learned, Alicia Menendez, Fernand Amandi, Andres Ramirez and Gil Meneses.  Over the 11 years of our project few have done more to advance a greater understanding of the changing demography of the US and advance immigration reform than this intrepid and wonderful group.  I am proud of what we have done together, and for what they continue to do every day to make our politics more modern and responsive to the challenges our country faces today. 

Stepping up to become Policy Director of our 21st Century Border Initiative is Emma Buckhout who has already been a welcome and talented addition to the project.   Emma comes to us from the Latin America Working Group, where she worked on their Mexico and Border program. Prior to moving to DC, she spent two years on the other side of the border working on community development with Incarnate Word Missionaries in Mexico City. She graduated Summa cum Laude in International Relations from the University of Pennsylvania.

So please join me in saying thank you and good luck to Kristian and Chris, and welcome to Emma. 


Daily Border Bulletin: Cost of Border Deal Questioned, Arizona Sheds Anti-Immigration Policies, On Border DHS Has Earned Trust

Your Daily Border Bulletin is up:

Cost of Border Deal Questioned Read this article for an excellent analysis of the implications of the Corker-Hoeven proposed additional spending to the Senate border/immigration bill. Border experts agree that the spending for additional border patrol agents and fencing is more than needed and probably more than is possible to effectively implement.

Arizona Sheds Anti-Immigrant Policies; House Should Take Note Kristian gives his thoughts on the implications of shifting immigration politics in Arizona: "A combination of real improvements along the border, a series of high-profile legal and political defeats, and a rallying of business and community leaders against the social and economic costs of anti-immigrant politics is ushering in a new, post-SB1070 era in Arizona.  As House Republicans in recent days have committed to SB1070 style anti-immigrant politics, it would be wise for them to pay attention to what has happened in Arizona in recent years."

On The Border, DHS Has Earned Congress’s Trust Simon recently published this op-ed analyzing why Republican criticism of DHS is misplaced and how real success achieved at the border should be guiding Congress’s debate over immigration reform.


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