On September 16th, Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas joined NDN at the National Press Club to discuss the agency's work on addressing the Central American Migrant Crisis. We have posted the full transcript of his remarks below . The Administration has an excellent summary of its efforts in this post on the White House Blog. R. Gil Kerlikowske, the Commisioner of Customs and Border Protection (CBP) runs through the most recent data and illustrates the steps taken to stem the crisis.
Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas’ Remarks at NDN
September 16, 2014
Thank you very much Simon, and thanks to all of you for dedicating a few minutes of your time this morning. I should say that is not the way the interview with Secretary Johnson went. Be that as it may. I’m going to be very brief. I want to share with you just a few thoughts about our response to the surge in the migration of unaccompanied children to the southwest border and of course specifically to the Rio Grande Valley Sector of that border. And then leave it to you to leave as much time for question and answer. I see representatives from the embassies. I see journalists I know. And of course I see wonderful advocates very dedicated to the issues. And I want to give everyone as much time to ask whatever questions are on your mind. I know that some will be difficult and some less so. Simon aptly described this as a difficult situation.
Our response to it is characteristic of how we would respond to situations as a Department and that is in a very comprehensive way across the department. It was but five months ago when we first began to experience a really dramatic surge in the number of children arriving at and apprehended in the Rio Grande Valley sector of the border. More than 300 in a day. And very quickly Secretary Johnson raised the level to the highest level of contingency planning in the department which meant that not only the traditional agencies in the department would respond to this situation, but rather the department as a whole would. And shortly thereafter, the President directed the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) under the capable leadership of Craig Fugate would lead an all of government response. It is now five months later and the number of children arriving at and apprehended at our border is dramatically lower than it was five months ago. And that I think that is a result of a number of factors, many within our control and some perhaps outside of the control of the Department and the government generally.
Historically, for example, the month of August has seen a precipitous drop in the number of migrants reaching the southwest border by virtue of the season, the time of year, the heat and the like. So that very well may play a factor in what we observed in the dramatic decline. But clearly the response of the United States Government and the Department of Homeland Security on point, as well as the responses of our partner countries, Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras, have all played a part. And let me if I can, just briefly describe our response and what we have done in the surge of resources and bringing together all of the assets of the Department of Homeland Security and the government of the United States to be where we are today.
And I should at the outset say two things. One, it would be premature at best to declare victory. To say the problem is behind us because we don’t know. And so what we have achieved is tremendous progress. And the second point is that if indeed we begin to observe an uptick in the number of unaccompanied children migrating to the southwest border, specifically the Rio Grande Valley, we are prepared to address that uptick very swiftly.
One of the first things that we did, both to prevent the migration of those youth to the southwest border and to accomplish a very important humanitarian protection mission is surge law enforcement resources to combat the traffickers and smugglers that were bringing the children to the Rio Grande Valley sector. And we did that with Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents, Homeland Security Investigations officers, with our partners in Mexico, with other law enforcement agencies in our administration, and we surged resources, more than 50 investigators and tremendous resources not only to address the trafficking networks and the people that are conducting them but also to address the flow of funds from the illegal enterprise. We had a number of operations working in parallel that have yielded tremendous results to date.
We engaged in a public messaging campaign that had two main components to it. One was to dissuade individuals from taking the perilous journey from their countries of origin across Mexico and to the southern border. And I think we are all acutely aware of the perils of that type of journey, even for an adult, let alone for a child who is unaccompanied. And that was a very significant area of focus for us. The second was to counter what we learned to be a very significant misinformation campaign on the part of smugglers and others. And that was that if you can get to the southwest border, if you can get to the United States and be apprehended you had a permiso, you had the ability to enter the United States and remain in the United States lawfully. You could avail yourself of comprehensive immigration reform when that would pass or alternatively you could avail yourself of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program or DACA, as it is commonly known by its acronym. Both very significant pieces of misinformation, and we engaged with our partners to the south in a very vigorous public messaging campaign to dissuade people from taking the perilous journey and from setting the record straight with respect to the fact that relief would not be provided to them under either of those programs.
We accelerated the cases, the processing of the recent arrivals. I should say at the outset of this tremendous spike our facilities on the border there are not designed for the long term detention of children or families. We have under the law an obligation to turn over a child in our custody to Health and Human Services within 72 hours. When three, four hundred children a day were arriving we were not meeting that 72 hour threshold and now we’re well under it and we’re managing the process very ablely. And we accelerated our processing of children, of family cases while adhering to our legal requirements and values as a nation. We built facilities. We developed facilities for the detention of families and adults traveling with children. And I know very well, and I’m sure I’ll be asked about this, I know that the conditions in those facilities have been a concern to advocates in the community and we have responded to those concerns very vigorously.
When the concerns were first surfacing, Secretary Johnson had planned to send two experts in immigration, David Shahoulian and Serena Hoy, relatively new arrivals in our Department of Homeland Security. Many of the advocates in the audience know them both well for the quality of their work and their expertise and lifelong dedication to these issues. He was planning to send them to observe the facilities, but accelerated their visit to the Artesia facility in response to the concerns articulated by the community, the concerns about the ability to conduct screening of a parent outside the presence of a child; issues of concerns of access to counsel; the scheduling of interviews; the privacy of spaces and the like. And we have responded to those concerns as quickly as possible. And our response is ongoing. We understand those concerns and we want the conditions of our facilities to be at the highest levels that everyone here would embrace.
We are working as I alluded to earlier. We have worked and continue to work with the governments of Mexico, with the governments of El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala to build the repatriation capacity, to work on the public messaging, to interdict individuals seeking to cross borders illegally, to address and attack the smuggling and trafficking organizations. It’s been a very holistic approach in that regard while ensuring that the humanitarian protections of individuals seeking refuge under the law, seeking refugee protection here in the United States for example are honored, that our credible fear screening is comprehensive and is as fulsome and sensitive to the needs of the children as all would expect.
And lastly, not most importantly, but at least equally as important perhaps most importantly to the future, is investing in the countries of Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador and providing them with the resources to address the situation of violence in the towns and cities, to address the causes of despair that would lead a parent to send a child unaccompanied from one of those countries on a long and dangerous traverse to the United States. And I do think that the investment of resources is perhaps the most important of all with respect to the future and the future children in those communities. And with that I conclude and I thank you for being here and I really welcome your questions and comments.
Today’s Los Angeles Times reports on a new study showing that the uninsured rate for Hispanic adults in the US dropped from 36% to 23% in just the first year of the Affordable Care Act. These dramatic gains of course took place even without two states with enormous Hispanic populations, Florida and Texas, expanding their Medicaid programs.
As I wrote last year, given the high number of Hispanics without health insurance in the US, it is possible that the Affordable Care Act will affect more Hispanic families over the next few years than any version of Comprehensive Immigration Reform.
“The ACA is in the process of becoming the legislation that has done more to benefit Hispanic families than any other,” said Simon Rosenberg, President of NDN, a think tank in Washington, DC. “These gains are dramatic. The quality of life of millions of Hispanics is far better today than it was just a year ago. And it just the beginning.”
I have a new op-ed running in US News this morning timed to the President’s important UN speech tomorrow. You can read it in full below or at the US News site here.
The Liberal Order Needs An Upgrade
On Wednesday, President Barack Obama will address the United Nations General Assembly. We know the speech will focus on a very full slate of immediate global challenges, including the Islamic State group and U.S. airstrikes in Syria, as well as Iranian nuclear ambitions, Russia’s adventurism and Ebola. But it is my hope that the speech also finds time to discuss a subject very appropriate for the U.N. on the cusp of its 70th anniversary: the need to reinvigorate and modernize an aging liberal international order.
The world as we know it is going through a truly profound and historic set of changes in demographics and in the distribution of economic and political power. A long 500-year run of Western preeminence is giving way to a world where power and opportunity will be far more distributed among the people of the world. More than 50 percent of the world's population is under the age of 30 today, and it is those emerging leaders who will do much to determine the fate of their countries and the rest of the world. Much more must be done to help create a sense of ownership in the current liberal order for these emerging powers and leaders, so they can become powerful stewards of what has been built.
Over the coming generation, the American president should become a champion of this process of reinvigoration. What exactly a project like this looks like is hard to know at this point, but I offer up four areas the president could address this week to start a conversation in earnest:
1) The Middle East: It is long past time to put on the table what is obvious to all: The greatest threat to world peace today is the chaos emanating from the Middle East and North Africa. No other part of the world is so actively resisting modernity and the core values of the United Nations as the despotic governments of the region. Anti-modern radicals, funded and aided by regional elites, have exported their barbarism far beyond the region itself. And with a vast wave of young people coming into adulthood in the region over the next decade, the opportunity for a dramatic escalation of this radicalism is staring the entire world in the face.
In exchange for ridding the region of the latest dangerous set of radicals, the developed world, backed by the U.N., should demand the region’s leaders begin to engage in a conversation about how to bring an end to this era of chaos. Plans for investing in everyday people, as well as for creating a regional Marshall plan, should to be discussed. A forum for forging a regional Sunni-Shiite détente should be established. All countries in the region should commit to ceasing the arming of proxies and investing in institutions of radicalization like Wahhabi madrassas, which have done so much to fuel extraordinary levels of violence.
Additionally, the president should identify the very real global threat of the “oil curse,” or of our learned experience that much of the chaos the world is seeing today is a result of the reckless behavior of oil producing nations. A plan to create a totally different global energy paradigm should be articulated, with the goal of universal energy independence for all nations by 2050 through investments in renewables and other technologies put on the table for debate.
2) Modernizing the global trade system: The president should also offer a full-throated defense of the two major trade agreements his team is negotiating now. Affecting two-thirds of the global economy, these two big trade agreements will usher in a period of renewal and modernization of our global trading system. The last period of structural reform took place before the advent of the Internet and our recent wave of globalization. For this system to remain relevant, it will need an extended period of modernization, as new innovations like 3-D printing and peer-to-peer banking will challenge the current, very 20th century, orientation of our global trade system; new voices from the developing world will need to have far greater influence in shaping a more modern system.
3) Keeping the Internet open and free: There has perhaps never been a tool as powerful for advancing the global liberal order as the Internet. It should be a far more important priority of the president to ensure the Internet stays open and free for the people of the world in the years ahead. A combination of factors – increasingly powerful cybercriminals, efforts by despotic nations to seize control over Internet governance, growing censorship and very legitimate fears about privacy – all have made the Internet far more fragile an undertaking than is commonly understood. In his speech this week, the president should offer an aggressive defense of the Internet, make clear he will oppose greater governmental control over it, and reaffirm his commitment to the current multi-stakeholder system of Internet governance.
4) Expansion of the Security Council: The president should acknowledge that the current structure of the United Nations Security Council no longer represents the world as it is today. He can begin by suggesting that the three largest countries in the world not on the permanent council – India, Indonesia and Brazil – be added. More reforms should be considered.
Like an old building needing an upgrade, the liberal international order, now almost 70 years old, needs to go through a period of renewal and reform. The president should lead this effort. This order has helped usher in a remarkable period of prosperity and relative peace in the world. As the world changes, and a long period of Western dominance of world affairs comes to an end, the need to modernize and maintain this order is perhaps the greatest responsibility the American president has today. I hope our president can begin this conversation in his speech to the U.N., and begin a discussion that will ensure the values articulated in Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s “four freedoms” prevail in this uncertain but promising century.
Forward, or Backward?October 25th, 2012, Letras Libres. The English language version of my major essay about the 2012 elections which originally appeared in the October issue of the Mexico City based Spanish language journal, Letras Libres.
Video: The Age of Possibility,April 29th, 2011, Tisch College, Tufts University. Simon Rosenberg explores the notion that we are entering an era of unprecedented opportunity and possibility, and that more is possible today for the people of the world than ever before.
Obama: No Realist He, June 16, 2009, Huffington Post. Simon offers some thoughts about Obama's global brand in the early days of the Iranian uprising. The essay drew many comments in its more than 24 hours on the front page of Huffington Post.
On September 16th, the Deputy Secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas joined NDN at the National Press Club to discuss the Obama Administration's border security strategy and comprehensive response to the influx of unaccompanied minors in the Southwest border. He recapped the Administration's engaged in an aggressive response to stem the flow of Central American migrants. In July and August, this effort resulted in a dramatic drop in the number of migrants attempting to cross the southwest border.
We have posted the full transcript of his remarks here or in pdf form below. The Administration has an excellent summary of its efforts in this post on the White House Blog. R. Gil Kerlikowske, the Commisioner of Customs and Border Protection (CBP) runs through the most recent data and illustrates the steps taken to stem the crisis.
The event was covered in major publications, including:
Dr. Shapiro and I have op-eds running in English and Spanish now on Fusion/Univision on the future of Puerto Rico. The English version can be found here, and below. And the Spanish version here. The op-eds are derived from Rob's recent paper on the subject which you can find here.
To Restore Prosperity, Puerto Rico Should Look to Ireland
How much longer will the people of Puerto Rico have to live with failed economic policies? It must be clear by now that the Commonwealth reliance on U.S. corporate tax preferences for U.S. companies locating operations there ran its course many years ago. Low tax rates matter to foreign investors, but it’s time for Puerto Rico to expand its horizons well beyond the United States. Rather, the Island should consider the example of Ireland, which a generation ago was the poorest member of the European Union (EU) – and became one of its most prosperous members by 2006.
In the late 1980s, Irish policy planners recognized that the fastest way to modernize their economy and turbo-charge productivity and growth was large-scale foreign direct investment (FDI). They also knew that with scores of middle-income countries vying for FDI, Ireland needed a comparative advantage. So they offered up Ireland as a low-wage, low-cost platform for multinationals from everywhere but Europe to enter the huge EU market. But they also had to make Ireland the most attractive place in the region for foreign investment. So in addition to the tax breaks that countries offered, the Irish government ramped up its public investments in modern infrastructure, they created 10 "enterprise zones" for foreign investors and equipped each zone with a new institution for advanced training and education, and they rolled out an array of special services and subsidies for foreign multinationals. The program even included helping foreign companies find the best locations and workers to meet their needs and providing relief from selected regulations and taxes for individual companies.
From 1987 to 2006, more than 1,000 multinational companies established new facilities in Ireland, including Microsoft, Dell, and Citicorp. The country’s real GDP grew at an average annual rate of 6.9 percent over that period, unemployment fell from 17 percent to 4 percent, the brain-drain of highly-educated young Irish was reversed, and the government’s debt as a share of GDP declined from 112 percent to 33 percent.
Like Ireland and the E.U., Puerto Rico and the mainland United States share a common currency, and virtually everything made in the Commonwealth enters U.S. markets without cumbersome customs and other import regulation. In short, Puerto Rico has a real opportunity to attract large-scale FDI from around the world by offering itself as a low-wage, low-cost platform for multinationals from Latin American, Asia and Europe to sell into the huge American market.
To succeed as Ireland did, Puerto Rico will have to undertake a comparable commitment to undertake difficult spending and tax reform, including targeted increases in public investments in education and infrastructure while still bringing down budget deficits. The Commonwealth government also must repair its tattered image with large foreign investors. To restore their confidence, Puerto Rico must step back from a possible debt default and from proposed changes in its bankruptcy laws to word off technical defaults by its public utilities. In this context, Puerto Rico also can ill-afford widely-publicized controversies that cast doubt on the Government’s commitment to keeps its word, such as current efforts by the Commonwealth Treasurer to negate its legal agreement to provide tax credits for tax over-payments to one of the Island’s major financial institutions, the Doral Financial Corporation.
The alternative is that the future for Puerto Ricans will look much like their present and recent past. After nearly a decade of stagnation and recession, the economy is 13 percent smaller than it was in 2004 – compared to Puerto Rico’s 13 Caribbean neighbors, which have averaged 2 percent annual GDP growth over the same period. That’s unsurprising. Business investment has grown in Puerto Rico at half the rate as elsewhere in the Caribbean. Capital flight has accelerated: foreign financial flows have been negative since 2006; and more recently, FDI flows turned negative as well. Unemployment is double the rate of the U.S. and nearly percent among the young, and the labor participation rate is the lowest in the Western Hemisphere. Moreover, public debt has soared from 66 percent of GNP to 96 percent, and both Moody’s and Standard & Poors rate the Commonwealth’s bonds as junk.
Here’s what ought to be the bottom line: While the per capita income of the Irish people increased from 60 percent of the EU average in 1987 to 136 percent of the average in 2003, per capita income in Puerto Rico today is seven percent less than it was in 2006. The choice – a hard road to long-term prosperity or the easy road to further decline – is Puerto Rico’s.
Dr. Robert Shapiro, former Under Secretary of Commerce for Economic Affairs in the Clinton administration is chairman of Sonecon, LLC, an economic advisory firm in Washington D.C. He is also an advisor to the Doral Financial Corporation and the International Monetary Fund.
Simon Rosenberg is president of NDN, a Washington-based think tank, which works on US-Latin America policy issues.
Next Tuesday, 9/23, I will take part in a panel to discuss on the role of the Latino Vote in the midterm elections. I will join representatives from the Center for American Progress, the National Council of La Raza, the Heritage Foundation, and Libre Initiative.
The panel will touch on the role of the Latino electorate in American politics thus far, including how it played a pivotol role in President Obama's 2012 re-election effort. We will also discuss how the growing electorate will impact the midterms and the what issues the Latino community is most concerned about in 2014.
The event is on September 23rd at 7 PM at the GWU Marvin Center's 3rd Floor Amphitheather. For more information, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
NDN and its "21st Century Border Initiative" are pleased to invite you to an important today by Deputy Secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Alejandro Mayorkas.
Deputy Secretary Mayorkas will discuss the Obama Administration's border security strategy and comprehensive response to the influx of unaccompanied minors in the Southwest border. Over the summer, the Administration engaged in an aggressive response to stem the flow of Central American migrants. In July and August, we have seen a dramatic drop in the number of migrants attempting to cross the southwest border.
The event will take place today Tuesday, September 16th in the First Amendment Lounge at the National Press Club, 529 14th Street NW, 13th Floor. Please arrive by 9:50 am, so the event can begin promptly at 10 am.
Today, NDN has released a new paper from Dr. Rob Shapiro: “To Reclaim Prosperity, Puerto Rico Should Adapt Ireland’s Model for Modernization And Focus on Attracting Investors from Around the World.” You will be able to find the full paper below in pdf form.
In this thoughtful prescription for Puerto Rico’s future, Dr. Shapiro writes:
“Puerto Rico’s current and long-standing program for economic growth has clearly failed, and the Commonwealth government and the people it serves need a new approach. For nearly two generations, the Island’s economic policy has focused on preserving U.S. corporate tax preferences for American firms that locate operations in the Commonwealth. The record shows that this singular focus has produced economic decline. Instead, Puerto Rico should adopt a version of Ireland’s economic approach, which used targeted public investments, tax preferences, and the country’s low-cost access to markets in the European Union (E.U.), in order attract large scale foreign direct investments (FDI). In the process, Ireland transformed itself over one generation from the poorest country in the E.U. to one of its most prosperous members.”
“NDN is proud to release this new paper which we hope will become an important part of the debate about Puerto Rico’s future,” said Simon Rosenberg, President of NDN, a DC based think tank. “The commonwealth's economic course is unsustainable. Dr. Shapiro offers a powerful vision for how Puerto Rico can regain control over its own destiny, and stride confidently into the far more competitive world of the 21st century.”
Started in 2005, NDN and its sister educational arm, the New Policy Institute, are well established thought leaders on US-Latin American Relations, the US-Mexico partnership and Latino issues in domestic US politics. Dr. Rob Shapiro, former Under Secretary of Commerce for Economic Affairs, Chairs NDN’s Globalization Initiative.
Today’s decision to delay is a pragmatic recognition that given the election, and a very crowded Presidential agenda, the Administration will be more likely to successfully sell whatever action they take to the public after the election than before. Am sure this was a tough decision but I think it is was the right one.
Immigration advocates should be careful to temper their reaction. At the end of the day we are talking about a six week delay on an issue of enormous consequence. It is more important that it get done right than fast.
In discussing deportations, it is also important to consider how much the President has already done. The 2011, DHS’s “Morton Memos” made it official government policy to end deportation of undocumented immigrants without criminal records. Just a few years into this new policy, in 2013, we saw the results of this new strategy – all but 10,000 of the 370,000 deported either had a criminal record or were caught entering the country without permission; and the total number of people deported from the interior of the US had plummeted. The practical effect of these changes is the threat of deportation has already been lifted for the vast majority of undocumented immigrants living in the United States. The assertion by some that delay means tens of thousands more “innocent” immigrants will be deported are at best exaggerating the short term impact of today’s decision.
The U.S. Department of Commerce’s International Trade Administration (ITA) recently released two reports showcasing how exports are helping businesses and communities grow across the country. ITA found that exports in the surveyed Metropolitan Areas had increased by 50% since 2009. The second report shared that 7.1 million US jobs were supported by the export of goods last year. The Obama Administration has made increasing exports a key Commerce priority under the National Export Initiative (NEI).
Metropolitan Area Exports Report
ITA calculated that a record number of goods and services—valued at 2.3 trillion dollars--were exported in 2013. 387 Metro Areas were surveyed overall, with 208 seeing positive growth in 2013. Of those that grew, 156 of the Metro areas surveyed exported over $1 billion of goods. 134 areas recorded export numbers that were an all-time high. Five Midwestern metro areas, located in the states of Louisiana, Mississippi, Ohio, Wyoming, Kentucky, Michigan, and Utah, exported over $1 billion in goods for the first time ever. Overall, there was a growth in exports in Metropolitan Areas of $42.8 billion or 3.1% from 2012 – 2013. This is excellent news as we are seeing areas across the country continue to grow and expand trade internationally.
Jobs in States Supported By Exports Report
This is the first time that Commerce Department has produced this report, which focused on the relationship between states that export and job growth. The Census Bureau contributed to the report via offering “origin of movement” data—which showcases where an export begins its journey (i.e. within a particular state). In 2013, 7.1 million jobs across the country were shown to be directly supported by the export of goods, and a total of 11.3 million jobs supported by exports, when including service exports (these are not tracked by the Census Bureau). The Department of Commerce noted separately that exports of manufactured products supported 6.2 million jobs.