NDN was fortunate enough to be invited down to Arizona, to talk to local law enforcement officials regarding their views on what is happening along the border between Mexico and the United States. Over the next couple of days we will be putting videos up on the blog of some of our conversations with said law enforcement officials.
The first person we were able to talk to was William Bratton, who is currently the Vice President of Kroll Security Consulting. Bratton began his law enforcement career in 1970, and has served as Los Angeles Police Department Chief, Chief of the New York City Transit Police, Boston Police Commissioner, and New York City Police Commissioner. Please feel free to watch the video below:
Two immigration bills, one in the state House the other in the state Senate, are causing protest from immigration activists and business leaders in Florida.
Laura Munoz of The Associated Press has the full story here:
Immigrant advocates say components of the House bill closely resemble the very ones in Arizona's new immigration law that a federal appeals court recently upheld were unconstitutional. Florida's House bill would authorize local law enforcement to check out the immigration status of anyone under investigation, even if the individual had never been arrested. And it would allow local officers to check the immigration status whenever they suspected someone is in the country illegally. The House bill also requires employers to use the federal government's E-Verify work authorization program.
Both advocates for and against stronger immigration laws are also focused on E-Verify, an employment verification system that has proven controversial for Florida Lawmakers:
The Senate bill is more limited, but it still requires local law enforcement check the immigration status of inmates, encouraging them to go beyond simply using federal criminal and immigration databases. The Senate bill would also allow businesses to let employees use a driver's license as proof they are authorized to work, instead of the E-Verify program. Supporters of stronger immigration enforcement say the Senate version of the bill is worthless because driver licenses from other states are too easy to forge and won't prove work eligibility.
Joyce Tarnow of the Floridians for a Sustainable Population was dissapointed that the Senate Bill did not require businesses in the state to use E-Verify:
Deeply disappointed with the Senate version of the bill, not because its enforcement provisions are watered down but because it doesn't make E-verify mandatory. She noted the latest review of the program by the U.S. Congress found it was accurate nearly 98 percent of the time. "E-verify is free, easy to use, highly accurate," she said, adding, "The agricultural industry and hotel industries just don't want to lose their access to cheap labor. It's the simplest, clearest way to have people self-deport."
More state legislatures are beginning to recognize that Arizona style laws may not be the best way to deal with immigration issues. The question may now become, how best to utilize the existing tools in the federal enforcement tool kit.
Making E-Verify mandatory, is coming up more often in individual states as a way for states to better enforce immigration laws. Utilizing existing federal employer verification programs is currently not mandatory nation wide.
NAVICUS an employment screening software organization that is part of the National Association of Professional Background Sreeners has a handy map up that shows which states require employment screeners and which do not, it can be seen below:
States in the Red have passed mandatory E-Verify, states in the orange recommend using E-Verify and states in the blue have no E-Verify law.
As Congress looks for ways in which the federal government can beef up enforcement nationwide, could a mandatory E-Verify be far behind?
NDN and NPI was proud to host the Ambassador of Mexico Arturo Sarukhan for a key note speech at our Forward Together/Avanzando Juntos/Avançando Juntos – A Conference Looking at the Changing Politics of the Americas event.
The Ambassador did an excellent job of explaining why the 21st Century Border Initiative is such a key part of the United States and Mexico's intermestic relationship. Ambassador Sarukhan did this by first contextualizing the current relationship between the United Statesand Mexico in a historical way, then he highlighted the positive economic ties between the our two countries, finally concluding with the improvements in security along the border.
Ambassador Sarukhan started his speech by putting the current U.S. - Mexico relationship in a historical context:
Let me start with why the relationship is strategic and how the 21st century border vision fits into this strategic concept. Let me start by reminding some of you who follow US-Mexico issues or Mexican foreign policy curtly, that many, many years ago—decades ago—I’ll name the sin but not the sinner, a then-sitting Mexican president went to Singapore to meet Premier Lee Kuan Yew, on what was the first trip a Mexican president had ever made to Singapore.
They sit down, and in the usual chit chat that accompanies formal diplomatic meetings, Premier Lee Kuan Yew asks this Mexican president—“Mr. President, remind me how many kilometers of a border does Mexico share with the United States?” And this Mexican president responded—“Unfortunately, 3,000 kilometers.” Lee Quan Yew kind of stayed silent for about ten seconds, scratched his head, and looked at this Mexican president and said—“Mr. President, what would Singapore give for one kilometer of a border with the United States.”
What this Mexican president said 25 plus years ago, A) would never be said by any serious, responsible Mexican public official or president or politician today (and that’s a sign of how much the relationship has changed) and B) did not take into account what precisely the 21st century border vision is trying to do, which is to understand the huge synergies that exist because of this 3,000 kilometer border that both countries share. And if you look at how the border has played a role in the creation of this strategic relationship, you just have to look at trade and the role that trade has played in changing the face and the nature of this bilateral relationship.
He then highlighted the mutual benefit of the North American Free Trade Agreement which not only economically benefitted both countries but strengthened ties between the United States and Mexico while also not shedding jobs in America:
Now this is too sophisticated of a crowd for me to come in and say that every single one of those 40 million jobs was the direct result of NAFTA. But what I think we can fairly say is that the Ross Perot sucking sound of jobs never materialized because of NAFTA—40 million new, additional jobs.
Annual trade among NAFTA partners now total $946 billion, more than triple what it was in 1993. US exports to Mexico have risen 221.2%. Mexican exports to the US have grown 364% and Mexican exports to Canada have grown 641.1%.
And actually, Simon, it’s slightly different and depends on where your orientation and focus is. If your focus is on additional trans-Atlantic ties with Western Europe, Mexico buys more US goods than the combined purchases of Germany, France, Great Britain and Italy. If your focus is on the South, Mexico buys more goods than all of the rest of South America put together. And if you’re focused east towards the Pacific, Mexico buys more than what Japan and China together buy from the United States. Regardless of over all the ballyhoo over China these days, for every dollar that China is buying from the United States, Mexico and Canada together are buying nine dollars of American exports.
We are your second largest buyer of exports on the face of the earth. And we have become the second largest trading partner of the United States these last three trimesters because of the surge that we have seen in Mexico’s economy coming off the effects of the 2009 recession. If you look at some of these trade numbers, there’s an impressive story to be told as to how NAFTA changed the dynamics of our bilateral relationship and why we are doing what we’re doing, which I’ll explain in a few minutes regarding the 21st century declaration and vision.
He finished by discussing the postive security gains made along the border and how the United States and Mexico must now work together to create more infrastructure to continue harnessing the positive economic benefits from our two countries:
for the first time in the history of the relationship with the United States, we have one holistic vision for border management.
We have eliminated the old stuffed pipe system in which each one of these issues was dealt with in a separate bin, and there was connection or connectivity of the different issues that were critical to understanding the border and the dynamics on the border. This concept and this vision and the articulation of these policies is doing, it is ensuring as we move forward on security, we’re also moving forward on trade facilitation, as we move forward on how to trigger economic growth and wellbeing on the border.
We’re also tackling environmental degradation on the border. How do we deal with critical issues like water? How do we deal with migratory species going back and forth across our common border? This is the first time in our bilateral relationship that we have a common, articulated, unified vision of dealing with challenges on the border.
According to the LA Times, arrests of illegal crossers along the Southwest border dropped more than two-thirds from 2000 to 2010, from 1.6 million to 448,000.
The Department of Homeland Security gauges success in a sector along the border not by an increase in apprehensions but by a drop in the number of apprehensions. When Customs and Border Protection identifies an area were there have been a high rate of encounters with migrant crossers they flood the area with personell, at which point you have a high rate of apprehensions. If all goes well the number of apprehensions drop because the area is secured.
Richard Morasi of The Los Angeles Times has the full story here:
Wild foot chases and dust-swirling car pursuits may be the adrenaline-pumping stuff of recruitment efforts, but agents on the U.S.-Mexico border these days have to deal with a more mundane occupational reality: the boredom of guarding a frontier where illegal crossings have dipped to record low levels.
No where is this more appearent then in Yuma, AZ were The statistics speak for themselves:
Then double and triple fencing went up. Stadium lighting was installed. Every arrested immigrant, instead of being returned to Mexico, was jailed. Outside town, workers laid steel barriers on previously wide-open borders to block drug-smuggling vehicles from driving through.
In Yuma From 2005 to 2010, apprehensions of immigrants:
Dropped 95%, from 138,460 to 7,116.
Vehicle drive-throughs fell from 2,700 to 21 during the same period.
Farmers are now able to plant crops in once-trampled fields.
Residents don't find immigrants hiding under their cars anymore.
With such stark drops in apprehensions along the border and with an increase in the number of border patrol agents in the area many who joined the border patrol are seeing little in the way of action. The reports in this story hardly sound like messages from a war torn region. Hopefully local and national politicians take notice.
This is further evidence that this administrations border strategy is working, please look at all the work we at NDN have done to highlight the positive effect of the border at our 21st Century Border page.
Also make sure to watch Secretary Napolitano's recent speech on the advances made along the border.
Violence is down on the American side of the border and apprehensions of criminal aliens are up nationwide. The current administration's plan on the border is working. Despite these facts the Republican Party has continuously used the specter of an out of control border to score political points with its base and slow progress on a comprehensive solution to fixing our broken immigration system.
Bafflingly, the Republican controlled house has significantly cut money for border security, money which they overwhelmingly voted to allocate just lastyear.
Unsurprisingly anti-immigrant groups such as Numbers U.S.A. have given Congressional Republicans a pass. In a recent interview with TPM's Benjy Sarlin Numbers U.S.A. Director of Governmental Affairs, Rosemary Jenks noted "For an administration that's decided it's not a priority, it doesn't make sense to throw money at them."
Ms. Jenks is of course referring to President Obama's administration and by them she is referring to the Department of Homeland Security. Never mind that this statement totally lets Republicans off the hook for cutting security funding, but it is also completely and utterly out of sync with the reality of the current Administration's strategy on the border.
Let's be very clear here, the only thing Congress has done on immigration has been the earmarking of money for border security.
According to the United States Customs and Border Protection since 2004, the number of "boots on the ground" along the Southwest border has increased by nearly 85% to 17,600 Border Patrol Agents today. In Arizona, where the current Governor has very publicly asked for more funds, the administration is currently putting a record number of border patrol agents in rotation, with more than 4,900 Border Patrol Agents, 900 Customs and Border Protection Officers, and 130 Air and Marine Agents.
Interior enforcement of immigration laws have also increasedunder the current administration: there has been a record 2,746 worksite enforcement investigations, more than doubling the 1,191 cases initiated in FY 2008. ICE also issued a record 2,196 notices of inspection to employers, surpassing the prior year's record of 1,444 and more than quadrupling the 503 inspections in 2008. ICE issued 237 final orders -- documents requiring employers to cease violating the law and directing them to pay fines -- totaling $6,956,026, compared to the 18 issued for $675,209 in FY 2008. The total of $6,956,026 last year represents the most final orders issued since the creation of ICE in 2003.
Calming inflamed rhetoric on border violence is the first step in beginning work on fixing our broken immigration system. The mantra of "securing the border" feeds into the hysteria surrounding the southwest region and ignores the fundamental truth that the border has long been a positive space for commerce, trade and the movement of labor into and out of the country for a long period of time.
Furthermore the rhetorical straw man that the border is out of control is totally bogus. Our southwest border is doing fine. It is true that Mexico has a very real problem with drug cartels, but there has been very little spillover on the American side of the border In fact, violence along our southern border has never been lower.
While border security is an important part of reform, it by no means is it separate from or a substitute for a long term, wholesale change of an immigration system that members of the Republican party acknowledge is broken and needs to be fixed.
It is certainly easy for Republicans to raise the specter of out of control border violence as a means to score political points, but wouldn't it make more sense to have a real conversation about ways to improve the border and our immigration system?
Let's have a real discussion about moving forward with a plan that not only makes America safer but also creates a system that allows our country to continue to prosper and harnesses all of the positive benefits of legal immigration. If we concentrated on that, and if we created an alternative to illegal immigration, we probably wouldn't have to worry so much about that "troublesome border."
The Immigration Policy Center has a great piece up on the positive economic impact that undocumented immigrants have on local and state economies. The full post can be seen here, quotes and some handy statistics and graphs below:
The Institute for Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP) has estimated the state and local taxes paid in 2010 by households that are headed by unauthorized immigrants. These households may include members who are U.S. citizens or legal immigrants. Collectively, these households paid $11.2 billion in state and local taxes. That included:
$1.2 billion in personal income taxes,
$1.6 billion in property taxes
$8.4 billion in sales taxes.
The states receiving the most tax revenue from households headed by unauthorized immigrants were:
One of the guiding principals of NDN's The 21st Century Border Initiative has been that the unprecedented resources and high levels of cooperation between the United States and Mexico along the southern border has created a safer region.
The effects of this cooperation and resources are now being felt in Mexico. The Economist has written a cover story on how many of the drug gangs who came from Columbia into Mexico are moving into Central America. The full story can be read here:
Now violence is escalating once more in Central America, for a new reason. Two decades ago the United States Coast Guard shut down the Caribbean cocaine route, so the trade shifted to Mexico. Mexico has started to fight back; and its continuing offensive against the drugs mafias has pushed them down into Central America.
The article notes that whatever the violence level felt in Mexico is nothing compared to what is now happening in Central America:
Whatever the weaknesses of the Mexican state, it is a Leviathan compared with the likes of Guatemala or Honduras. Large areas of Guatemala—including some of its prisons—are out of the government’s control; and, despite the efforts of its president, the government is infiltrated by the mafia. The countries of Central America’s northern triangle (Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador) are now among the most violent places on earth, deadlier even than most conventional war zones (see article). So weak are their judicial systems that in Guatemala, for example, only one murder in 20 is punished.
While this is by no means an outright victory in what has turned into a long war in Mexico, it is a sign that some progress is being made in creating a safer region along the southern border.
Below is an interactive map of Mexico's s drug system, since the creation of this map in February of this year some of the cartel members responsible for the spikes in deaths have moved out of the region:
NDN and NPI are proud to say that the first LAPI-21st Century Border Inititiave Policy Day, was a huge success. The day featured speeches from senior officials from the White House, the State Department, United States Trade Representatives, and Local Officials speaking. The day also covered a wide spectrum of views on the Americas and the border.
The 21st Century Border portion of the day focused first on the perspective of a Mayor who lives and works with a Mexican Border, this panel was moderated by Chappell Lawson, Associate Professor of Politics at MIT and featured the Mayor of Nogales Arturo Garino.
Following this, Maria Luisa O’Connell, Senior Advisor for Trade and Public Relations Office of the Commissioner US Customs and Border Protection, DHS led a roundtable panel discussion Growing Together: How a 21st Century Border is Essential to Prosperity in Both the U.S. and Mexico. While this panel was designed to discuss infrastructure and commerce along the border, the conversations quickly dovetailed into discussions on the interconnectedness of America and Mexico's economies and how the real solution to so many of the problems along the border can be solved with a federal comprehensive overhaul of our immigration system.
Jim Kolbe, former Congressman from Arizona and current Senior Transatlantic Fellow, The German Marshall Fund, kicked off the panel by putting the border in the context of a much larger economic conversation. His remarks sought to highlight the enormous economic positives of the border. He also placed this conversation in a more historical place, by noting that the border has been under transformation for some time. In particular, the North America Free Trade Agreement changed how the United States and Mexico conducted business along the border forever. To that point he noted that much of the problems along the border today have very little to do with security and everything to do with outdated infrastructure that has slowed the movement of goods moving into and out of Mexico. (to the left is a photo of El Paso and Ciudad Juarez at night)
Col. Eric Rojo, Vice President of U.S.-Mexico Chamber Of Commerce and Security Program Coordinator for CEDAN-ITESM, followed up Jim's portion of the panel discussion by focusing in on the security aspects of the border. Col. Rojo, noted that the concept of securing the border was antithetical to the realities of our economic interests. Mexico is the United States second largest trading partner, and shutting down the border would be counter intuitive to the interests of both of our countries. Furthermore "securing" the border is unrealistic in terms of the sheer number of military personnel it would require be placed along the border. He also commented that if the federal government was serious about alleviating some of the security concerns along the border then they would find a way to allow workers who come seasonally to do so legally. What has happened over the last two decades as the border has become more secure, migrants have been pushed into the same routes that drug dealers use, and a new market of human smuggling has been created. If the federal government gave these workers legal means, they would not have to cross illegally.
Martin Rojas, Vice President of Security & Operations, American Trucking Association focused more on the movement of goods across the border as they pertain to trucking issues. The trucking situation encapsulates all of the issues brought up by both of the previous panelists. The commerce issue is huge for both the United States and Mexico, particularly when it comes to ports of entry along the southern border. The demand for movement of goods far exceeds the capacity currently along the southern border. Trucks entering the U.S. must be screened by the federal government to ensure that they are not bringing in any illegal substances. This can create long wait times for goods moving into the country. Customs and Border Patrol have also recently begun scanning outbound traffic leaving the United States which also has created long wait times. With more staff focused within ports of entry and not primarily focused on the border much of these issues could be fixed. This would have a positive effect on the economies of both countries.
We will be putting up a video of this panel shortly.
NDN and NPI are proud to say that the first LAPI-21st Century Border Inititiave Policy Day, was a huge sucess. The day featured speeches from senior officials from the White House, the State Department, United States Trade Representatives, and Local Officials speaking. The day also covered a wide spectrum of views on the America's and the border.
The 21st Century Border portion of the day focused first on the perspective of a Mayor who lives and works with a Mexican Border, this panel was moderated by Chappell Lawson, Associate Professor of Politics at MIT and featured the Mayor of Nogales Arturo Garino.
This important conversation hit upon three important facts:
Nogales Arizona, and Nogales Sonora are more or less the same city with a dividing border between them. Mayor Garino noted over and over that together there is a population of nearly 80 thousand people who cross back and forth a day. What happens to one side effects the other (See Photo).
EXCEPT when it comes to border Security, Mayor Garino was emphatic in stating that the border is safe on the American side. There has been little spillover in violence from Mexico into the United States. Mayor Garino is a former law enforcement officer in Nogales. He noted that in the 80's there were actual cases of spillover violence. According to the Mayor in the 80's there were not as many law enforcement officials along the border. Today, the sheer number of law enforcement officials both federal and local stop the cartels from coming over and inciting violence.
Mayor Garino finished by noting that the rhetoric surrounding border (which is untrue) is hurting cities along the border. He underscored the importance of commerce both into and out of Mexico plays a huge role in not only the economies along the border but the nation as a whole.
NDN will be putting up video from the discussion shortly.
The Ninth Circuit has upheld invalidation of the most controversial parts of Arizona's anti immigrant legislation SB-1070. Ashby Jones of The Wall Street Journal has the full story up here:
"...on Monday, the 2010 Arizona law that targets illegal immigration landed again on our radar screen when the Ninth Circuit upheld a lower court’s ruling blocking portions of the law from going into effect. Click here for the LAT story; here for the opinion. Click here, here, here, here and here for earlier LB posts."
The Governor of Arizona Janet Brewer filed suit asking the Ninth Circuit to overturn a federal courts decision to stop the most controversial portions of the law from going into effect:
"Federal Judge Susan Bolton concluded that several of the law’s most controversial and far-reaching provisions indeed encroach on the federal government’s power and authority to regulate immigration. On Monday, the Ninth Circuit agreed. Wrote Judge Richard A. Paez:"
"The relevant provisions of S.B. 1070 facially conflict with Congressional intent.
We stress that the question before us is not, as Arizona has portrayed, whether state and local law enforcement officials can apply the statute in a constitutional way… This formulation misses the point: there can be no constitutional application of a statute that, on its face, conflicts with Congressional intent and therefore is preempted by the Supremacy Clause.
By imposing mandatory obligations on state and local officers, Arizona interferes with the federal government’s authority to implement its priorities and strategies in law enforcement, turning Arizona officers into state-directed DHS agents."
The full opinion from the 9th Circuit can be read here. Governor Brewer took to to Fox News Greta Van Susteren show to among other things ask for money to continue to fight for SB-1070 . The full video and transcript can be seen here. The New York Times piece can be read here, The Washington Post here as well as a good round up of reactions from within Arizona here.