NDN Blog

Simon To Speak on Immigration Reform in San Francisco This Friday, March 14th

We are pleased to announce that NDN and New Policy Institute President Simon Rosenberg will be participating in the World Affairs Council annual conference "WorldAffairs 2014: Enhance Your World View" March 14th-15th in San Francisco.  Each year the conference seeks to gather experts to share and discuss the most pressing global issues.

As our national debate over how to fix the US’s broken immigration system continues into 2014, this year’s conference begins with a conversation on this timely topic.  Simon will join Jose Antonio Vargas, Pulitzer Prize-Winning Journalist and Founder of DefineAmerican.com, and Tara Magner, Program Officer in the Policy Research area of U.S. Programs at the MacArthur Foundation, for a keynote conversation on “The Human Face of Immigration” at 1:15pm Friday, March 14th.

World Affairs writes:

"Comprehensive immigration reform is at the top of the policy agenda in 2014. While the debate may be no less contentious than it has been in the past, there is growing consensus that a solution can be found, not only for those already here but for those who would like to come. Perspectives vary regarding immigrants in the United States with both positive and negative viewpoints, but many agree that workers are needed across the spectrum—high-tech, low-tech or no-tech. From the food that we eat to the high-tech start ups, large portions of the US economy are dependent upon foreign-born workers. Who are these people and how can immigration policy best be shaped to help fuel America’s innovation economy? What is the status of this debate?"

To register or find out more about the conference, see here.

Video of the panel is available here (added 3/14/14).

NDN/NPI Backgrounder: US-Mexico: A Vital, Modern Economic Partnership

Full memo pdf attached

In the next few weeks, the Obama administration embarks upon two significant trips to Mexico.  From February 3rd to 7th Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker will lead her first trade mission to Monterrey and Mexico City accompanied by a delegation of representatives from 17 major US businesses.  On February 19th, President Obama will join Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto at this year’s North American leaders’ summit in Toluca, Mexico.  Both trips are expected to include discussions of economic competitiveness for the region, trade and investment, and security. 

These crucial dialogues coincide with the 20th anniversary of the entry into force of the North America Free Trade Agreement, ongoing US Congressional efforts to pass meaningful immigration reform legislation, as well as Trans'Pacific Partnership negotiations.  We must evaluate and better understand the gains of the last two decades for both the US and Mexico as our leaders seek to build upon them moving forward.  As we look to the next twenty years, the US has the opportunity to deepen its partnership with Mexico and North America, to strengthen economic development, job creation and social growth in the US and abroad, and to ensure that the US and North America remain strong in an age of increasing global competition.

We offer up the following backgrounder on the current state of our southern neighbor Mexico and our North American partnership.  While there is still more to do, Mexico has made tremendous strides toward becoming a modern, democratic, economically developed country since the implementation of NAFTA.  As it has modernized and opened its economy, trade between the US and Mexico has skyrocketed and supports six million US jobs.  The Trans Pacific Partnership could be a means of further strengthening and expanding that growth.

See the following for more information.

Background on Mexico, North America

Since 1993, the year before NAFTA went into effect, Mexico’s:

Skyrocketing US-Mexico trade and tourism, job growth, and progress at the border:

  • US-Mexico trade goods and services trade has increased six-fold, from $80 billion to over $500 billion. Mexico is now the US’s third largest trading partner, second largest export market.  We trade more with Mexico today than Japan, Germany and the UK combined.  Mexico buys twice as much from the US as China does, with 1/11 the population, and more from Brazil, Russia, India and China (the BRICs) combined.
  • Mexican tourism to the US ranks second for number of visitors to the US and fourth for level of spending in the US.
  • 14 million jobs in the US are dependent on trade with NAFTA countries, 6 million with Mexico alone.
  • 10% of people living in the US today are of Mexican origin, and about 10% of people born in Mexico live in the United States. 
  • In recent years, net migration from Mexico to the US has dropped from 770,000 to zero.
  • Despite massive organized crime violence in Mexico, the border on US side is safer- the two safest large cities in the US according to violent crime rates are El Paso and San Diego.
  •  While Mexico faces great challenges in strengthening its rule of law and eliminating the threat of organized crime, the US shares in that challenge.  Violence in Mexico has been significantly driven by US drug habits, and weak response to guns smuggled from the US into Mexico.

Mexico is becoming a modern country:

  • After 70 years of single-party rule, Mexico has transitioned to a more liberal democracy.  It successfully transferred party rule in the 2000 and 2012 presidential elections.  Its executive, legislative, and judicial branches operate independently, as does the Church and press from the state.
  • In the past year, President Enrique Peña Nieto has championed an ambitious reform agenda, including education, telecommunications, taxes, energy, elections and more.
  • Mexico has transformed from a protectionist state to one of the most open countries- it has free trade agreements with twice as many countries as the US does.
  • At Davos, Mexico was specially acknowledged among OECD countries for its growth and reforms, and received over $7 billion in investments from major corporations.

Images: Among Major US Trading Partners, NAFTA Countries Buy More Goodsand Support More US Jobs
(See attached for more images)

U.S. Trade With NAFTA

Source: U.S. Census Bureau Credit: Danny DeBelius, Emily Siner / NPR


Further Reading:

General Background


Mexico/North America

"No Special Path" Does Not Preclude Citizenship

Friends – a quick point of clarification on a key point in the immigration reform debate.

Though the GOP is using the term “path to legalization,” this path does not preclude citizenship for undocumented immigrants.   What Rep. Goodlatte and other GOP leaders have been floating is the idea that formerly undocumented immigrants, with whatever legal status, can apply for a green card like anyone else, thus receiving “no special path.”  Once they receive the green card, they are then on a citizenship track – or path to citizenship - as a green card is the first step in the current legal process for an immigrant becoming a citizen.

So, while the House Republicans are talking about a path to citizenship, the proposals we’ve heard about in these talking stages do not contemplate a permanent second class status, and indeed many of the undocumented immigrants will receive citizenship in this process. 

For more on this see Greg Sargent's smart analysis in the Washington Post. 

Open Position: NDN/NPI Economic Policy Intern

Economic Policy Intern, Spring Semester 2013, 15-20 hours/week minimum, unpaid

About the Position: NDN and the New Policiy Institute seek a part-time intern who will focus on economic policy and general research assistance.  The intern will learn from NDN’s years of economic and globalization research and join the team in better defining this moment of North American relations and exploring the possibilities of the current US global trade agenda. He/she will report to the 21st Century Border Initiative Policy Director.

Qualifications: The ideal candidate is an upperclass undergraduate student or current graduate student with a background in economics and political science, with an interest in the Americas. He/she must possess strong research and writing skills, and be able to work independently and communicate with high level staff both at NDN and elsewhere. Knowledge of social media desired. Spanish proficiency is a plus.

To apply, please send cover letter (including your schedule availability), resume, and brief writing sample (1000 words max.) to ebuckhout@ndn.org by January 30th.

An Enduring Legacy: The Democratic Party and Free and Open Trade

Looking back at the history of the Democratic Party since Franklin Roosevelt, modern Democrats have much to be proud of: the successful stewardship of our nation through WWII; the creation of the United Nations; a strong partnership with the GOP in fighting and winning the Cold War; rescuing the nation from the Great Depression and the Great Recession; the establishment of a strong and comprehensive safety net for the old and poor; courageous support of successful Civil Rights Era reforms; the launching of a 21st century American health care system that finally provides for universal coverage; a strong track record of job growth and deficit reduction in recent presidencies; and of late, the fight to extend equality to LGBT Americans and the growing ranks of people of color and immigrants (feel free to add things left out -- there are more, of course).

It is a remarkable track record indeed. But I want to make the case that of all these accomplishments, there is one more that has been the most consequential, that has done more to provide opportunity and alleviate poverty around the world than any other set of policies in modern history -- that is the creation of the global system launched by Presidents Roosevelt and Truman at the end of WWII built on the foundation of free and open trade.

There can be little doubt, looking back at global architecture established by the leaders of the Democratic Party at the end of WWII, that free and open trade was seen as inextricably linked to the promotion of democracy and political liberty around the world. That to prevent yet another World War, our leaders imagined a world at peace, where the industriousness and creativity of everyday people all around the world linked together through free and open trade would create a global middle class -- a sensible, powerful bulwark against totalitarianism of both right and left. This spirit is best captured in FDR's famous "Four Freedoms" speech, which is perhaps the most important speech given by a Democrat in the long and storied history of our party.

To a great degree this inherently liberal vision has both triumphed on the global stage, and worked. A majority of the world's 200-plus countries are some form of democracy today. Trade flows are exploding, a truly global middle class is emerging, standards of living are rising are all around the world, and poverty is falling at extraordinary rates -- all while the population of the world has more than tripled. Large scale global conflagrations have been avoided, and international institutions of peace and civility retain encouraging degrees of effectiveness almost 70 years after their creation.

This global system, imagined and built by leaders of the Democratic Party of the United States, has created more opportunity for more people than any other political system in human history. It is not without its flaws, and more must be done in the developed world and here in the US to ensure broad-based growth in an age of more virulent global competition and the "rise of the rest." But over this period, in this system, America itself has created unparalleled opportunity and prosperity for its own citizens, and produced technologies and companies who have made life better for billions of people around the world.

Through his vision of new trade liberalization arrangements in both the Pacific and the Atlantic, President Obama has put the weight of his presidency behind deepening, broadening and modernizing this successful global system. The trade deals would further liberalize trade in economies with more than 60 percent of global output. They do so while attempting to establish higher standards for labor and the environment, while fashioning new rules for the digital age in areas like cloud services and intellectual property. At their core these trade rounds bind countries to higher and more responsible standards of capitalism than they might practice otherwise, while opening foreign markets to US businesses who are far more prepared for the rigors of 21st century global competition than most of their peers.

From a geopolitical perspective, these far-reaching deals also keep America front and center in the economic and political arrangements of the Pacific, Latin America, and Europe. It re-affirms America's commitment to this free and open rules-based global system, providing a powerful counterbalance to those countries whose leaders have a different view of the political liberties and economic opportunities offered to their own people.

This last point deserves a bit of emphasis. We know from history that eras of peace and prosperity can give way to eras of repression and belligerence. Today, due to the in part to the peace and prosperity of the modern age, the world is very young. More than 50 percent of the people alive today are under 30. In many developing nations, two-thirds of their people are under 30. To a great degree these young people will dictate what kind of world we will have in the 21st century. It is essential, that as much as possible, this next global generation both be given a liberal and open global system, and be taught the lessons of why such a system is preferred to other, less liberal alternatives. Concluding these visionary deals, passing them through the US Congress and implementing them before President Obama leaves office will send a powerful signal to liberalism's opponents that this system will continue to prevail in the decades ahead.

And, of course, the opposite is true. If these agreements fail to pass through an inward looking Congress we will be sending exactly the wrong signal to the rising new generation soon to inherit power in the world -- that indeed free and open societies, built on responsible capitalism and respectful of human rights, were a product of a different era, lost to history by leaders and nations unwilling to renew their commitment to a global system that has done so much for so many.

The case for these nascent trade deals is powerful. But at the same time, proponents cannot ignore what has happened in the US economy since the global economy became truly global in the late 1990s and early part of the 21st century. Job growth in the US has slowed, and American workers have seen their wages stagnate. Policy makers here cannot really expect the American public to buy into these far-reaching agreements unless more is done to ensure their success in this more competitive world of the 21st century. Accompanying the passage of these trade deals should be a comprehensive agenda for the American people -- one that makes unprecedented investments in skills and knowledge, modern infrastructure, lower cost and cleaner energy, long-term research and development and innovative health technologies. We should also modernize our immigration system to meet the challenges of this global economy by passing a version of the Senate immigration bill, and raise the minimum wage. The US needs a new strategy to ensure our peoples -- not just our company's success -- in a more competitive age (NDN has been arguing for such an agenda since 2005).

In the final years of the Obama presidency, the US Congress has an extraordinary opportunity to both strengthen and buttress the global system which has done so much good for the world for so long, and to raise our game at home so we can meet the challenges of what is becoming, inevitably, a more competitive world. If the two parties can come together to do both of these things, this will become an historic period indeed, a period where despite the rancor the two American political parties came together to make both the world and our nation stronger and better in a new, uncertain age.

As a lifelong Democrat, I am deeply proud of what our party has done over the past several generations. We have left America and the world far better than we found it. A major part of our party's success has been the construction of a global system which has given far better lives and more opportunities to billions of people. As we begin a needed debate about our economic and trade policies here in the US, my hope is that modern Democrats fashion a set of answers to the challenges of the moment that strengthen, modernize and improve this global system that is perhaps our party's greatest legacy.

You can find the original Huffington Post articlef rom January 21st, 2014 here.  

In Omnibus, Smart Investments in Border Trade and Infrastructure

Updated from original version

NDN applauds the southern border provisions included in the 2014 bipartisan omnibus spending bill. These provisions, including much-needed additional Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers, funding for port of entry infrastructure, and a public-private partnership pilot program, demonstrate that Congress is embracing a more holistic strategy for its southern border. That strategy continues to include border security enforcement while incorporating a greater focus on facilitating our burgeoning trade and tourism across the US-Mexico Border.

About $1.2 billion worth of trade crosses the US southern border per day. Trade with Mexico has skyrocketed in the last 2 decades to over $500 billion in 2012. Mexico is the US’s second largest export market, third largest trading partner overall. Trade with Mexico supports 6 million jobs in the US alone. In the post 9/11 era, the US has successfully increased its border security, tripling funding, doubling border patrol staff, increasing apprehensions and deportations of people crossing illegally. El Paso and San Diego, two of the largest border cities, have the lowest crime rates of large cities in the whole US. Yet as trade has continued to successfully expand, understaffed ports of entry and increased delays at the border have cost the US billions in additional revenue and jobs.

Congress’s prioritization of additional customs inspectors and infrastructure spending evidences the decline of an enforcement-only approach at the border. Policies like the “border surge” in the Senate immigration bill, which allotted nearly $50 billion for additional border patrol, fencing, and military equipment at the border, have been exchanged for smaller targeted spending proposals. The $128 million in appropriations allotted for California’s San Ysidro, the world’s busiest land port of entry, will allow for increased security, decreased wait lines, a greater flow of trade, and economic growth for the border region and the greater US economy. The 2,000 additional CBP officers slated for the busiest ports of entry will do the same. A 2013 USC study estimates that one additional CBP officer could facilitate an additional $2 million in GDP growth, $640,000 worth of time savings, and 33 jobs. The omnibus bill also includes a 5-year public-private partnership program, an expansion of a current PPP program, to allow CBP “to enter into partnerships with private sector and government entities at ports of entry” which could provide additional needed funding.

These border spending provisions show bipartisan bicameral movement forward toward embracing a broad, holistic strategy for a 21st Century US-Mexico Border.  As we venture into 2014, NDN remains optimistic that Congress can pass meaningful immigration reform that continues in this spirit. We hope it will incorporate related CBP and infrastructure investments, like those included in Senator Cornyn’s RESULTS Act and Representatives Grijalva and Vela’s CIR ASAP bill. An immigration reform compromise should continue to include smart and targeted border enforcement for local and national security; more staffing, infrastructure, and public-private partnership support will ensure that the United States also continues to grow its globally competitive economy while meeting the needs of its vast border region and strengthening its North American community.

"Layoffs Sharply Lower" - Dr. Rob Shapiro on New Jobs Report

 "The jobless rate fell sharply again – from 7.0 percent to 6.7 percent – but the reason wasn’t a burst of new job creation.  In fact, total employment was up by just 74,000.  What changed in December was that new layoffs fell sharply, which we usually see in the first two years of an expansion.  It’s some two year behind schedule, but the number of newly unemployed people was down by 365,000 in December.  The rest of it was mainly demographics, not economics.  Yes, the labor participation rate fell 0.2 percentage points – but it had risen by as much the month before.  Moreover, the number of “discouraged workers” (those no longer looking for work) and those “marginally attached” to the labor force (who haven’t tried to get hired for a month) did not go up.  What continues to rise are the numbers of baby boomers retiring, because the numbers of boomers reaching ages 60, 62 or 65 continues to accelerate."


20 Years of NAFTA: Looking Back to Look Forward

Updated 1/4/14

January 1, 2014 marks the 20 year anniversary of the implementation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) among the United States, Canada, and Mexico. This New Year’s Eve, as we reflect on the past year and look ahead to the next, we also take the opportunity to reflect on the success of the past 20 years of NAFTA and look forward to the possibility it has created. If these three nations continue to build upon the growth and strengthening relationships NAFTA has begun, the next 20 years hold immense promise for a competitive North American Region.

NAFTA formed the world’s largest free trade area, including 450 million people and producing $17 trillion worth of goods and services. Since 1994, U.S. trade with Canada and Mexico has more than tripled to $1.2 trillion, and they are the U.S.’s first and second export markets, accounting for about a third of all U.S. Exports. While some sectors have benefited more than others, an estimated additional 5 million U.S. jobs were supported by the increase of trade generated by NAFTA. Since 1993, GDP in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico has grown more than that of industrialized nations as a whole, about 53%, increasing by 63%, 66%, and 65% respectively.

While NAFTA was negotiated in 1992 under Republican President George H. W. Bush, it was ratified under Democratic President Bill Clinton in 1993. This bipartisan implementation of a shared national and international agenda offers a beacon of hope for the future. In 2014 the Obama administration will continue to work on immigration reform and the Trans Pacific Partnership. These items will shape not only Obama’s second term, but the future of North American community. As he engages with Congress, the President should draw on NAFTA’s bipartisan legacy of ambitious forward thinking and regional partnership to strengthen the United States and the North American region in the 21st Century.

The following resources may be useful for more information on what NAFTA has accomplished so far:

Source: U.S. Census Bureau
Credit: Danny DeBelius, Emily Siner / NPR


"Reinvent Immigration Strategy": Optimism for Compromise in 2014

On December 18th, NDN and The New Policy Institute President Simon Rosenberg was pleased to join an all-star panel hosted by Reinventors to discuss the prospects and strategy for immigration reform in 2014. 

Simon emphasized the Republican history of working on immigration reform and how both parties are closer to a deal than ever before:

More information and the full roundtable discussion are available here from Reinventors.

The panel concluded that with continued work and compromise from Congress, the President, and activists, a bold immigration reform that strengthens the American economy and brings 11 million people out of the shadows can indeed pass in 2014. For more analysis of immigration reform's prospects in the new year, see our latest: "Immigration Reform in 2014? 6 Reasons Why We're Optimistic."

Immigration Reform in 2014? 6 Reasons We’re Optimistic

As 2013 draws to a close, immigration reform prospects among both parties and both chambers of Congress are brighter than ever. Here are 6 reasons we believe that Congress can pass immigration reform legislation in 2014.

1. The two parties are closer to a deal than ever before.

This year the Senate passed its comprehensive immigration reform bill with a decisive 68-32 bipartisan majority, which included 14 Republicans. During that process the House passed 5 piecemeal bills out of committee, including a unanimous bipartisan border security bill. This fall, Democrats introduced their own bill, a combination of the Senate Judiciary Committee bill and the House border security bill, both bipartisan, as a means of moving compromise forward. That H.R. 15 bill now has over 190 Democrat cosponsors and three bold Republican cosponsors. Meanwhile, House GOP leaders like Reps Cantor and Issa have continued work on versions of a KIDS Act to address legalization.

As members continue to contemplate reaching across the aisle, the pieces of a final immigration deal are already in sight: increased border security and customs officers, an employment-verification system, a high-skilled visa system, a low-skilled visa and agriculture guest worker program, and legalization for the people already here with a path to citizenship for some or most. The debate over legalization and citizenship shows less and less open space. Hard compromises were made in S. 744 and H.R. 15. Their sponsors as well as the president have indicated they will support the House piecemeal approach to reach a compromise. Now the House has to finish its process, sit down at the table and put all the pieces of the puzzle together.

2. Bipartisan agreement on the border shows just how close we are.

Even three years ago, the U.S. southern border would have been the most heated point of debate, yet in 2013 it has been the point of greatest compromise. The Senate Gang of Eight agreed upon tough security triggers. The bipartisan House Homeland Security bill on border security was the only immigration bill to pass unanimously out of committee.

On the border, the Obama administration has given Congress a strong base to build upon. Funding for enforcement has tripled and border patrol has doubled while migration across the US-Mexico border has dropped to a net zero. Meanwhile, trade with Mexico, our third largest trading partner and second largest export market, has skyrocketed to over $500 billion in 2012. Over $1 billion worth of goods cross the US-Mexico border per day.

Senators McCain, Flake, Cornyn and other border state members have led the conversation about the real needs of the border, including increased infrastructure funding to better facilitate this trade. The Senate bill calls for more customs officers and infrastructure spending in addition to enforcement troops. The expensive “border surge” amendment has been replaced in the House, trading excessive spending on border militarization with measured spending according to the needs of DHS and the border.

3. The Republican history on immigration reform is different.

The Republican Party actually has a long national history of championing immigration reform. While in office, President Reagan and both President Bushes led efforts to pass immigration reform. Former Republican presidential nominee and veteran Senator John McCain has championed the effort for the last decade, and he along with others like Jeff Flake (R-AZ) formed the core Senate group that crafted the strong Senate bill this year.

Key Republican constituencies, including the Chamber of Commerce and business, farmers and agriculture groups, Catholics and Evangelicals, have joined these national leaders to build critical base support for immigration reform. The Americans for a Conservative Direction July poll found that 96% of Republican primary voters, arguably the strongest partisans, thought fixing the current immigration system was important: 79% of those surveyed said it is “very important” and 17% said it is “somewhat important.”

Recent developments indicate that the House GOP is engaged and working to get to a real fix for immigration this Congress. House Judiciary Committee Chariman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) said last week that immigration reform would be a “top priority” in 2014. Speaker John Boehner hired Becky Tallent, John McCain’s former Chief of Staff, to work on immigration reform. Finally, Boehner’s approval of the bipartisan budget deal and criticism of conservative groups working against it opened the door for his further support to GOP members working on immigration reform. As Greg Sargent reports today, Boehner’s support of the budget deal coupled with Rep. Tom Cole’s (R-Okla.) new statement that immigration reform could get done next year gives real hope for 2014.

4. The end of the self-deportation movement has cleared the way for CIR.

A year and a half ago, the Republican Party and its presidential nominee’s solution to immigration reform was “self-deportation”—making life in the US so difficult that the 11 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S. would choose to leave. Not only was that nominee soundly defeated and ridiculed for his position, but the “Arizonification” of state laws enforcing that doctrine have also met political defeat.

Arizona’s SB 1070 and its copycats have been denounced by law enforcement, public officials, businesses, and families, and now defeated in the courts. Most of SB 1070 was ruled unconstitutional, as was its subsequent version in Arizona. The architect of that law, State Senator Russell Pearce was removed from office, and Arizona’s politics are transforming as the House delegation is majority Democrat, and Governor Jan Brewer, former SB 1070 proponent, is supporting more inclusive policies. Most recently, Alabama’s anti-immigrant HB 56 was also defeated in court. Instead, more and more states are implementing laws, such as drivers’ license measures, that support immigrants.

Self-deportation, the Conservative alternative to CIR for the last three years, has failed. The most anti-immigrant politicians recognize that the undocumented population in the U.S. will not leave, and that deporting 11 million plus people is not logistically possible, economically feasible, or desirable. The decline of the self-deportation movement means that the only way forward to address the 11 million and the market factors that brought them here is immigration reform legislation. This was an essential step in bringing Republicans to the negotiation table.

5. The immigration reform movement is more effective and politically engaged than ever before.

By all accounts it is clear that the pro-immigration reform movement is better organized than ever before. It has joined a broad national coalition of labor, Chamber of Commerce, tech, non-profit, and faith groups from all creeds. They have coordinated communication, policy, and legislative efforts to strategically address Congress, member by member and constituency by constituency. And they have better funded and better organized than the grassroots anti-immigration movement.

They have made their voices heard in Washington and in districts with advocacy meetings, letter campaigns, tv ads, rallies, protests, and sit-ins. They have drawn national attention to the moral and human face of immigration reform while also explaining how it practically affects the entire U.S. basic functioning and economy. Even approaching the holidays the movement has built momentum for 2014, with the national Fast for Families, immigrant children canvassing the Hill, and approximately 200 Hill office visits.

6. The current framework for immigration reform is good and offers much for lawmakers of both parties to sell to their constituents.

The current framework begun by in the Senate and continued in the House will grow our national economy and shrink our deficit. It will bolster national security with border patrol and interior enforcement. It will add customs agents and support infrastructure for more cross-border trade and tourism. It will create a visa system to meet the real demand of the US labor market, in vital high-skilled (tech) and low-skilled sectors (ag). It will crack down on exploitative employers and raise national wages. It will provide legalization to bring 11 million people out of the shadows and an arduous path to citizenship that does not reward those here illegally, but requires back taxes, fines, English competency, and sends people to the end of the line.

Immigration reform will test whether Congress will build a system that bolsters American productivity and global competitiveness or whether it will choose to become increasingly exclusionary to its own detriment. The CBO report on the Senate bill cannot be highlighted enough. It predicted the bill passed out of the Senate Judiciary would grow GDP by 5.4% and cut the national deficit by nearly a trillion dollars over twenty years. In a time of fiscal battles and few easy compromises over deficit reduction, as Ezra Klein said, “immigration reform is a free lunch.”

Two reports released this week from the Pew Hispanic Center and Immigration and Customs Enforcement  (ICE) further emphasize the urgency for a comprehensive legislation package. Pew’s survey determined relief from deportation is more important than a path to citizenship among Hispanic and Asian immigrants. Meanwhile ICE reported the first annual decrease in yearly deportations since President Obama took office- down 10% to 368,644- and a higher number of criminal prosecutions. The administration seems to be touting its progress, but immigration advocates have responded saying that is not enough. While they call for President Obama to expand executive authority and the DACA program for greater deportation relief, the surest way to create a long-term solution to deportations is to enact bipartisan legislation that encompasses all the pieces of a working legal immigration system. More executive action threatens to upset the hard-won reform framework compromise. It could drive Republicans already distrustful of Obama away from the table for good. 2014 is the time for the pro-reform movement to lean in and help their legislators reach a final compromise that makes it to President Obama’s desk.

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