Senate GOP Leaders Face Tough Choice on Immigration Reform Republicans must balance their decision on immigration reform with the opinions of varied state constituents, from conservative grassroots contingents against reform to businesses and employers who need more legal immigrant labor. Senators Cornyn (R-Tex.) and McConnell (R-Ky.) will vote in favor of proceeding with debate on the Senate reform bill, but are unsure how they will vote in the end. Their support could be crucial to supporters trying to pass the bill with over sixty votes in the Senate.
Marco Rubio Lobbies On Immigration Reform Behind The Scenes In his effort toad more security measures to the Senate bill, Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) appears to be doing some behind-the-scenes dealing. He reportedly asked Senator Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) not to publicly express her support for the bill, which she did on Sunday to the delight of immigration reform supporters.
"Gang of Eight" Immigration Reform Bill Faces First Vote in Senate Today the Senate resumes consideration of the motion to proceed with S. 744, the Comprehensive Immigration Bill. Much is on the line, including border security measures and a path to citizenship, and the bill with face amendments either strengthening or threatening the compromise.
Simon recently appreared on Megyn Kelly's show to discuss the NSA leaks, Snowden, and the greater political implications. He explained that "we'll have to establish new norms so people have faith in government... [and] we have to do more to ensure that countries like Russia and China... are not also using their power to interfere with things going on here in the U.S..." He also touched on the political ramifications of the leaks: "The timing of the leaks seem to be maximally designed to undermine" the discussions with the Chinese.
Additionally, Simon appeared on Al Jazeera's Inside Story Americas debating the same topic. Joining him was Michael Riley of Bloomberg News and Trevor Timm of the Electronic Frontier Foundation. Simon extrapolated greater geopolitical meaning from this, explaining "This is not just a condition that's unique to the United States, governments all around the world have much more powerful tools to surveil their people - this is the condition of the modern world ..."
Things Are Getting Ugly Fast for Immigration Reform As immigration reform hits the Senate floor this week, the path forward is looking more complicated from all sides. Senator Marco Rubio, member of the Gang of Eight that drafted the Senate bill, continues to call for tougher security measures. House Republicans last week raised two bills indicating broader opposition to immigration reform. Regardless, supporters in the Senate remain confident they can pass the immigration bill there.
Immigration Reform Bill Already Tough Enough: Our View The USA Today Editorial Board criticizes Senate Republicans for attempting to derail possible immigration reform by adding unrealistic measures to an already tough bill. The proposed immigration bill builds on current government border spending and decreased immigration and includes security measures like E-Verify and an entry-exit system. However, unreasonable requirements for these security systems and border apprehensions should not be allowed to prevent the possibility of passing any legislation at all.
Ayotte Announces Critical GOP Support for Senate Immigration Bill Senator Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) announced yesterday on CBS’s “Face of the Nation” that she would support the Senate immigration bill drafted by the bipartisan Gang of Eight. “This is a thoughtful bipartisan solution to a tough problem and so that's why I'm going to support it." The bill is expected to be debated on the Senate floor this week and Democrats will be seeking support from several other key Republicans.
On June 6th, NDN’s MENA Initiative hosted a panel exploring ways that decreasing US oil demand and rapidly growing Chinese presence in MENA oil markets is reshaping the global politics of the Middle East.
Bradley Bosserman, Director of the MENA Initiative, moderated the wide-ranging conversation with two experts. Dr. Gawdat Bahgat is a professor at the National Defense University where he specializes in American energy policy in the Middle East, grand strategy, and security issues. He brought to the discussion his significant experience not only in academia, but also in advising U.S. officials and global energy companies.
I-wei Jennifer Chang joined us from the University of Maryland, where her doctoral work focuses on Chinese foreign policy in the Middle East and how oil interests effect Beijing’s global strategy.
We will be releasing a major report in the next couple of week which addresses some of these issues in more depth. Full video of the event is available here.
Updating Ports of Entry Will Help Preserve Our Vital Trade with Mexico
Modernizing our ports of entry is now an urgent national economic priority, and one of particular importance to Southern Arizona.
Despite a recession and slow growth on the U.S. side of the border and security challenges on the Mexican side, the trade relationship between our two countries has exploded in recent years. According to a recently released study (co-authored by Arizonan Erik Lee), trade between the U.S. and Mexico has increased from $300 billion in 2009 to a staggering $536 billion last year. Mexico is now the U.S.' third-largest trading partner and second-largest export market. Six million jobs in the U.S. are now dependent on U.S.-Mexico trade. All of these numbers, of course, will increase as trade flows continue to grow in the years ahead.
The immigration legislation making its way through Congress addresses legalization, border security, a transition to a more skills-based legal-immigration system and the national adoption of E-Verify. There is a growing bipartisan and bicameral consensus, however, about another key aspect of the emerging legislation as it relates to the border region, which deserves equal attention, if not more - the need to invest in, and modernize, our ports of entry with Mexico.
With the addition of a much tougher border-security regime in recent years, this doubling of our trade with Mexico - trade that is creating jobs on both sides of the border - in such a short period of time is putting strain on all 42 ports of entry that 70 percent of this trade flows through. According to a new study, delays at U.S.-Mexico border crossings costs the U.S. $7.8 billion annually, and could cost us more than $20 billion a year by 2020.
With the help of Arizona Sens. John McCain and Jeff Flake, the Senate border and immigration bill intelligently addresses the new realities of a much more robust U.S.-Mexico trade relationship in two significant ways:
• More customs agents. The current Senate legislation would increase the number of customs agents at our ports of entry by 3,500, from 21,000 today to 24,500. These additional agents will go a long way to helping ensure that our ports can expeditiously process not just current trade flows, but much higher flows in the years ahead.
• Investment in port facilities. The current Senate legislation establishes a new grant program "to construct transportation and support infrastructure improvements at existing and new international border crossings necessary to facilitate safe, secure and efficient cross-border movement of people, motor vehicles, and cargo." This provision is a powerful endorsement of the need to invest far more in our valuable port infrastructure to meet current shortfalls and future needs.
In the House, the recently passed Border Security Results Act of 2013 contains provisions that are designed to "both enhance security and facilitate trade." The recently introduced Cross Border Trade Enhancement Act of 2013 offers enhanced staffing at the ports and infrastructure improvements via alternative financing mechanisms such as public-private partnerships. A similar bill has been introduced in the Senate.
Few states would benefit more from these investments than Arizona, and particularly my hometown of Tucson. At a recent forum in Washington, D.C., Tucson Mayor Jonathan Rothschild said: "Our relationship with Mexico is a symbiotic relationship with the potential to yield vast dividends, both financially and culturally. Trade with Mexico generates jobs for Tucson in exports, logistics, supply-chain management, tourism, scientific, technical and professional expertise - but in order for Tucson to be a hub for international trade, we need the right infrastructure at the border."
The stakes for Arizona in this debate are high. Mexico is Arizona's top foreign-export market, and fully $13 billion a year of trade flows between Arizona and Mexico each year. In Pima County fully 5 percent of all taxable sales revenue comes from visitors from Mexico. So cutting border wait times that discourage trade and tourism from Mexico is clearly one of the most important economic development priorities for those in Tucson and the rest of Arizona.
The border and immigration legislation emerging from Congress will do a great deal to improve the economy of Southern Arizona in the years ahead. Smart and strategic investments in our ports of entry will allow increased movement of people and goods across our border with Mexico, helping create jobs and strengthening local businesses. The new immigration and border bill, if passed by Congress, could give a real and significant boost to the region's economy and help ensure the years ahead are prosperous ones.
Kristian Ramos is the policy director of the Washington-based New Policy Institute's 21st Border Initiative. He grew up in Tucson, graduating from Sabino High School.
Scholars Find US-Mexico Border Filled with Potential Gains, Pitfalls The Wilson Center’s "The State of the Border Report" recommends a holistic approach to the border to address not only issues of security, but also trade and the environment. One of the authors Eric Lee of Arizona State University, said: "Our report, by focusing on four large areas of security, trade, sustainability and quality of life, shows quite clearly that all sorts of interactions and issues are present in the border region. And some of these, such as cross-border trade, are quite positive overall."
As Wars End, a Rush to Grab Dollars Spent on the Border The potential passage of a border and immigration reform bill in Congress has endless implications for the US economy, including business and jobs for military contracting companies. They have turned their attention toward the technology required to satisfy the requirements of securing the US-Mexico border.
Senate Resumes Immigration Reform Debate Today The Senate takes up the motion to proceed on S. 744, the “Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act” this morning.
“Today, the House Republicans declared their independence from Comprehensive Immigration Reform. The self-deportation/attrition movement, which captured the Republican Party’s nominee in 2012, has re-asserted itself in American politics. While the House deferred action vote was regrettable, the newly introduced Goodlatte-Gowdy Enforcement Bill (HR 2278), which calls for among other things, guns and body armor for ICE agents, is as true an expression of self-deportation/attrition as one will ever find in Congress.
Rather than reaching out, the House GOP is digging in. Those who want to see the Senate immigration bill signed into law this year have a tougher job ahead of them today than we did a few days ago.”
Rubio Balancing Immigration Revision with Fragile Support Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) continues to negotiate behind the scenes with Republicans in both the Senate and the House to build support for immigration reform legislation. “It’s very simple: If people want immigration reform, we’re going to have to improve the border-security elements of the bill, and we’ll have to make people confident that what we’re doing is enough,” Rubio said. “That’s what I’m going to focus on.”
House Group: We’ve “Found a Way Forward” on Immigration The bipartisan group working on immigration reform in the House of Representatives announced last night that they have “found a way forward” on formulating a comprehensive bill for their chamber after meeting with select Senate Republicans. Though Idaho Republican Rep. Raul Labrador has stepped away from the group over healthcare issues, he said remains committed to immigration reform in the House.
Toeing the Line Perhaps one of the most important parts of the proposed immigration reform legislation pending in Congress includes investment in US ports of entry along the border. Carlos Puig, columnist for the Mexican newspaper Milenio, shares a vignette of how the currently overtaxed and inefficient border infrastructure is costing time and money. It would greatly benefit from the funding President Obama and many members of Congress have requested.
Simon Op-Ed in Huffington Post: "The Administration's Border Strategy Is Working" Ahead of next week’s Senate floor debate on immigration reform, NDN and New Policy Institute President Simon Rosenberg published a timely op-ed in The Huffington Post today in which he addresses ongoing questions about border security strategy.
Breaking: Cornyn Presents Solution for Gang of Eight Action is heating up as next week’s Senate floor debate on immigration reform fast approaches. Supported by Gang of Eight member Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), Senator John Cornyn (R-Tex.) announced today that he would be offering an amendment entitled the RESULTS (Requiring Enforcement, Security and Safety, & Upgrading Legitimate Trade and Travel Simultaneously) Amendment. Cornyn says he wants to solve the problem of border security, and if the amendment passes, he will support the Gang of Eight bill.
Border Apprehensions Up Again. Big Blow to Immigration Reform Efforts? Recent CBP data shows an uptick in apprehensions at the border in the last year, though they remain at historic lows, evidencing progress made on both sides of the border in the last decade. While the US has increased its border security, Mexico has continued to modernize and improve its economy.
Simon published a timely op-ed in The Huffington Post today.
"As immigration reform moves to the Senate floor, Senator Marco Rubio has raised new questions about whether the border security strategy in the current Senate bill can be effectively executed by the Obama and future administrations. The experience of the past several years indicates that DHS can, in fact, despite rancorous politics, manage the complex border region and improve the immigration system. Let's review how:
The Border Is Safer, While Trade Has With Mexico Has Exploded -- Despite a very real rise of violence on the Mexican side of the border, the situation on the US side of the border has improved dramatically in recent years. Due to a bi-partisan commitment in recent years to improve security, violent crime on the U.S. side of the border has dropped precipitously, from 19,000 violent crimes in 2004 to just 14,000 today. Major border cities like San Diego and El Paso have violent crime rates just a third of what they were a decade ago. With the increase in border security and improvements in the Mexican economy, total immigration from Mexico to the U.S. decreased from 770,000 in 2000 to 140,000 in 2010, resulting in a current net migration of zero.
Additionally, while we have toughened up on the border, trade between the U.S. and Mexico has exploded, increasing from $300b in 2009 to $536b in 2012. During this time Mexico has become the U.S.'s second largest export market, and third largest overall trading partner. Because of this trade boom, 70 percent of which flows over the 47 U.S.-Mexico border crossings, we now trade more with Mexico than we do with the UK, Japan and Germany combined, and Mexico now buys twice as much from the U.S. than China's billion-plus people do.
It is important to note that the successful management of these complex challenges has been led by a deeply experienced veteran of the region, DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano, a former border state governor, state attorney general and native of the region. Her experience has allowed her to put together a team, and a strategy, which have made our border much safer while also allowing an enormous increase in border trade flows, something which has created many new jobs in recent years on both sides of the U.S.-Mexican border.
The Immigration System Is Better -- In the past few years, while Congress has debated immigration reform, the administration did not stand still. It has taken a series of steps to improve the current immigration system. Actions like the prioritization of criminal migrants for deportation (while maintaining higher levels of deportation than ever before), a significant expansion and improvement in the nation's worker verification system, the replacement of large work place raids with the much more targeted and effective I-9 audits to go after exploitive employers, and the limited legalization of DREAM-act eligible youth, together have all made the immigration system better today.
The Senate Bill Makes Smart Moves Towards Making All This Better Still -- Building on this track record, the border and immigration bill passed by the Senate would make additional improvements in border safety and in the immigration system. Border enforcement would receive billions in additional dollars in the coming years, giving DHS the resources it needs to hit the new target of 90 percent apprehension rates of undocumented migrants along the border. Our nation's worker verification system would become universal, and a new and more comprehensive method of tracking the exit of people temporarily in the U.S. would be adopted. The legal immigration system would become much more focused on skilled workers, which will give a very real boost to U.S. productivity. We would of course offer legalization to millions of undocumented immigrants, with a clear path to citizenship. And critical investments in our ports of entry and an increase in U.S. customs agents will expand U.S.-Mexico trade while allowing for more tourists to visit the U.S. each year -- investments that will lead to the creation of hundreds of thousands of new jobs in the US in the coming years.
The concerns voiced in recent days about the ability of the federal government to effectively manage the immigration system, while legitimate, need to be tempered by both the very real progress made in recent years, and the intelligence of the current Senate bill. It has clear that with better strategies, more money and greater cooperation with our Mexican partner, the U.S. government has made the border safer, the immigration system better while also facilitating an enormous expansion of our trade and commercial relationship with Mexico, creating hundreds of thousands of new jobs here in the U.S. By any measure the U.S. government's policy towards the border in recent years has been successful, and with the passage of the well-crafted and thoughtful Senate bill, the border can become safer still. Doing nothing would of course guarantee that the U.S.-Mexican border does not take the next steps in bringing about a safer border region, and would be tantamount to a vote for less rather than more border security."
"Older politicians will have to get beyond their ideological blinders to recognize the opportunity waiting for any candidate or political party that can embrace both halves of the Millennial era civic ethos paradox."