NDN Blog

Birthright Citizenship Legislation puts State Politicians at odds with business

While an Arizona state passed law which attempts to deny children of undocumented immigrants hit a road block in the state senate judiciary committee yesterday it is still very much alive. Russell Pearce has vowed to move the bill to the state appropriations committee where he has indicated that he does have the votes to pass the legislation. What is interesting about all this legislative maneuvering is where the opposition to the Pearce’s legislation comes from; business and Republican members of Pearce's own party have come out against his proposed legislation.

Linda Valdez of the Arizona Republic has the full story here:

The business community, which has long seen the GOP as their party of choice, testified against two Senate bills aimed at challenging birthright citizenship. Business leaders understand the damage all the negative publicity will do to the state. But instead of allowing a vote that likely would have doomed the bills, Sen. Ron Gould held the bills in committee. He didn’t have enough GOP support to pass them.

Valdez does an excellent job of contextualizing what this means for the politicians in Arizona who seek to scape goat immigrants for political gain:

Clearly Pearce is effective in achieving his agenda. He proved that last year with SB 1070, which made him a cable news star – and allowed him to claim the crown as de facto governor when Jan Brewer won the election. (She would have lost the primary if Pearce hadn’t handed her SB 1070 to sign.)  So Pearce is effective when it comes to getting what he wants.  But is Pearce effective in leading the state? He has power completely out of proportion to the number of people who voted for him.  Should Republicans feel comfortable allowing him to shove them to the ideological edge of a flat Earth? To redefine their party as a party that is deaf to business?

The last point above is an important one: a national trend is occurring, in states where there is proposed legislation to regulate immigration locally, business is generally the most vocal opponent.

How can a party that claims to be pro small business and anti regulation pursue an agenda that according to the business community in their states is hurtful to industry and the economy?

The real question is how long can this go on before the national media starts to notice this glaring dichotomy in the current enforcement rhetoric out there.

14th Amendment Legislation Stalls In Arizona State Senate

Arizona State Senator Russell Pearce's plan to push an augmentation of the 14th Amendment through the  state legislature has hit a big snag this week.

The legislation, which would deny the children of immigrants birthright citizenship, did not have enough votes to pass out of the State Senate Judiciary.

Alia Beard Rau of the Arizona Republic has the full story here:

The Senate versions of Arizona's birthright-citizenship bills hit a wall Monday afternoon. After three hours of testimony, a key sponsor held the measures to avoid a vote of his own Senate Judiciary Committee. Based on questioning from committee members, the bills didn't appear to have enough support to move forward.

Just because the legislation does not have enough votes to pass in the Judiciary Committee, does not mean that the legislation is dead:

Sen. Ron Gould, R-Lake Havasu City, could bring the bills back to the committee later, or they could be referred to a committee that may be more receptive. "It's going to come back," said Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Phoenix, who opposes the package. "Nothing's dead until sine die." The Legislature adjourns when it is sine die, which means its work is done.

One thing was very clear, the practicality of this legislation has been called into question. Especially once it became clear that the legislation was more about the meaning of the 14th Amendment then it was about actually doing anything productive or constructive on immigration reform:

For two hours, the audience got a lesson in constitutional history and a debate over U.S. Supreme Court rulings. The bill's sponsors want to push the high court to reconsider how the 14th Amendment is interpreted and stop the United States from granting citizenship to babies born in the U.S. to illegal immigrants. The 14th Amendment states that "all persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside."

The real question here is if this eventually passes the State legislature, can Arizona afford a new round of costly legal battles over a law that is designed to create a conversation about the crafting of the 14th Amendment.

21st Century Border Initiative Webinar: The Governments Border Plan Is Working

NDN is excited to announce that we will be giving a webinar on February 25th, 2011 at 2:00 pm ET on how the Governments Border Plan Is Working.

We will be breaking out some of the statistics showing how the government is making the border safer in a presentation that clearly shows that the border is safer now then it has been at any other time.

This webinar is important for a couple of reasons:

1.  There is still a pervasive narrative in the nation that the border is out of control. Not only is this patently false  but it is hurtful on macro and a micro level.

On the macro level, Members of Congress say that without the border being secure they will not move on broader reforms.

On a micro level, the characterization that the border is out of control actually hurts the economies of the cities that neighbor the border.

The more that statistics and first hand accounts of what is actually happening on the border reach the  the harder it becomes for misinformation about what is happening on the border to be disseminated.

2.  By presenting these border statistics in a clear way, NDN hopes to facilitate a conversation about what is actually being done to make our south west border safer.

If there are statistics that are presented in this presentation that raise skepticism, this webinar is your opportunity to raise questions about the strategy currently being employed along the border.

It is imperative that people from all over the country weigh in on this as it informs the debate and creates a constructive back and forth conversation about what can be done to create a more harmonious southern border region.

Ahead of the webinar be sure to check out some of the work we have done highlighting the improvements made on the border:

NDN REPORT: The Governments Border Strategy Is Working

VIDEO: U.S. Mexico Border Mayors Conference Roundtable and Statements From Mayors On Their Cities Safeness

U.S. Mexico Border Mayors Conference: Border Is Safer Today Than Ever Before

So by all means sign up now!

Click here to RSVP. 

Arizona And The 14th Amendment: A Fight The State Cannot Afford

This blog has long contended state passed immigration laws are problematic for many reasons, not least because of the civil rights implications of having un-trained local law enforcement officers profiling people based on their skin color and other characteristics deemed to be "undocumented like."

On top of these problems, there are very real economic and legal issues, which are conveniently listed below:

  1. Costly Law Suits From Local and National Organizations
  2. Possible Involvement Of Federal Government In The Form Of More Law Suits
  3. Budget Deficits For Overtime Pay of Local Law Enforcement Officials
  4. Backlash from Local Law Enforcement Officials Who Are Divided On Whether The Laws Are Effective
  5. National Political Backlash

With Arizona introducing a bill in the state legislature last week to revoke the 14th Amendment, the Arizona Republic has released an editorial outlining why the state can ill afford passing this latest anti-immigrant state law.

You may believe "birthright citizenship" should be ended. Fine. Get involved on the national level. Measures before Congress target birthright citizenship with two different strategies. This is the place to have the debate.  If you think Arizona should be leading this fight, please think again.

The state's efforts to enact immigration laws resulted in one law (employer sanctions) winding up before the U.S. Supreme Court and another one (SB 1070) on an inevitable path toward the nation's big, white marble courthouse.

What this editorial does so well is articulate just how expensive these state passed laws are to the general population of the state while also rightly noting that the appropriate place to have these discussions is the Congress.

Congress is best equipped to host this debate. An Arizona-led court battle over birthright citizenship would also be a waste of money. Arizona faces billion-dollar deficits for years to come. We don't need to throw buckets of cash at high-priced lawyers. What's more, the bills introduced in the Arizona House and Senate last week may be tossed by the courts on grounds that fall far short of the 14th Amendment challenge their authors intend.

Read the full editorial, it goes on to explain exactly how the state passed law would deny children of undocumented immigrants birth right citizenship.

What is most important about this editorial is that it outlines the problem's associated with state passed immigration legislation, from the perspective of a state that is currently grabbling with the fall out from passing these types of laws.

The lessons that Arizona are having to learn should provide ample evidence why other states should think twice about passing their own laws.

Mexican Drug Cartels Using American Guns To Rob Migrants

As enforcement has increased along the southern border, traditional points where undocumented immigrants have crossed into the United States have been pushed into drug smuggling routes.

This has lead to increased predatory actions by the Drug Cartels in areas where migrants cross. The cartels have begun robbing families of immigrants who cross in remote areas of the desert. In Arizona, a Border patrol agent was recently killed defending migrant crossers from bandits who were attempting to rob them.

Kim Murphy of the Los Angeles Times recently wrote a story connecting the guns used in the killing of the Border Patrol agent back to a gun store in Arizona:

In a sign of the cost of widespread U.S. weapons smuggling into Mexico, federal law enforcement sources have confirmed that two guns, part of a series of purchases that were being monitored by authorities, were found at the scene of the firefight that killed a U.S. Border Patrol agent in southern Arizona.  Sources said U.S. authorities did not have the ability to adequately monitor the movement of the guns toward the southern border, in part because current laws and low levels of staffing.  As a result, "the next time they became aware of those weapons was when they turned up at the crime scene," said one source, who, like others connected to the case, spoke on condition of anonymity because of the ongoing criminal investigation.

As it turns out the most person asking more questions about the flow of guns into Mexico is a Republican Senator, just not the ones from Arizona...

Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa), ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, has asked the bureau for detailed answers about its gun smuggling investigation, known as Project Gunrunner. In a letter to the bureau, Grassley said there are "serious concerns that the ATF may have become careless, if not negligent, in implementing the Gunrunner strategy." Grassley has focused on allegations that two AK-47s purchased with cash from a dealer in Glendale, Ariz., on Jan. 16, 2010, were then used in the Dec. 14 firefight that left Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry dead. Federal sources said agents were notified about the sale of the guns several days after the purchase.

The article goes on to note that there has been some controversy regarding Operation Gun Runner, particularly critics note that the program does an excellent job of monitoring the flow of guns but much less in actually stopping the guns from heading south of the border. 

These accusations seem somewhat disingenuous given the size of Operation Gun Runner, whose yearly budget is only $10 Million Dollars. If law makers where serious about this perhaps Congress should provide more resources for stopping the flow of guns across our border.

U.S. Mexico Border Mayors Release Letter On Positive Steps Forward On Making Border Safer

The United States Mexico Border Mayor Association have released a letter to Mike Hukabee regarding his remarks that the Obama Administration has failed to do enough on securing the southern border.

The letter is in response to an Op-Ed placed in the New York Post, Huckabee's editorial can be read here, with some key excerpts from the Op-Ed are below:

"Indeed, DHS efforts to secure our southern flank have failed miserably: In October, the department admitted that more than 1,000 miles of the 2,000-mile US-Mexico border were not under "effective federal control." Just after Thanksgiving, a 2,200-foot cross-border tunnel was discovered in San Diego, complete with lighting and ventilation -- and even a rail system."

The Border mayor letter puts things in perspective, and can be read in full HERE:

"As mayors of some of the largest cities along our border with México, we can tell you first hand that the Southwest Border Initiative is certainly working."

"The results of the Southwest Border Initiative speak for themselves:"

  • Border cities are some of the safest in the nation. Border Patrol apprehensions,
  • A key indicator of illegal immigration, have decreased 36 percent in the past two years.
  • At the same time, we have seen increased seizures of southbound illegal bulk cash and weapons as well as northbound drugs. 
  • Since beginning the Southwest Border Initiative in 2009, Immigration and Customs Enforcement removed almost 800,000 illegal immigrants from our country and almost 200,000 of them were convicted criminals.

Once again, we have an instance of an extreme view of the border being rebuffed by those who actually live on the border.

Lets hope that the next time Mike Huckabee decides to write an op-ed on how the border is out of control he checks his facts, and with the people who actually live in these areas.

Huckabees Editorial was in reaction to a speech by Secretary Napolitano, Simon's take on her speech can be seen here.

And the immigration blog's breakdown of her speach on border security can be seen here

Among Mobile Phone Users, Hispanics, Asians are Most-Likely Smartphone Owners in the U.S.

NielsenWire a part of the Nielsen Media Group which measures media consumption nationally, released a report today which noted that among mobile phone users Hispanics and Asians are most likely to be smart phone users.

The full report can be seen here, below is a handy graph which shows the exact break out of usage by race.

Arizona Copy Cat Laws Face Negative Economic Reality Of State Passed Immigration Legislation

The negative economic impact of passing state based anti immigrant legislation is starting to be realized by local governments all over the country. As the new legislative season begins in state governments across the country many local politicians are realizing that passing anti immigrant legislation is bad economic policy as it opens their states to:

  1. Costly Law Suits From Local and National Organizations
  2. Possible Involvement Of Federal Government In The Form Of More Law Suits
  3. Budget Deficits For Overtime Pay of Local Law Enforcement Officials
  4. Backlash from Local Law Enforcement Officials Who Are Divided On Whether The Laws Are Effective
  5. National Political Backlash

Lois Romano of the Washington Post has the full story here:

"State budget deficits, coupled with the political backlash triggered by Arizona's law and potentially expensive legal challenges from the federal government, have made passage of such statutes uncertain. In the nine months since the Arizona measure was signed into law, a number of similar bills have stalled or died or are being reworked. Some have faced resistance from law enforcement officials who question how states or communities could afford the added cost of enforcing the laws."

Of note, anti-immigrant organizations have begun to characterize SB1070, not as a way for states to actively work towards solving the problems of associated with undocumented immigration at the state level.

Even leaders of these organizations admit that in the current economy states are ill equipped to enforce federal immigration laws. The real purpose of these laws is to begin a national conversation about immigration reform:

"Obviously most places were not going to pass Arizona bills," said Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies, which advocates tighter immigration laws. "There's always an initial flush of enthusiasm and then the reality of politics sets in. . . . These states are bankrupt - they need to decide what battles they want to fight." But Krikorian also said that the Arizona bill has "done what it was supposed to do" by creating a national discussion on immigration reform in the absence of federal legislation."

While its great that these organizations have seen the light, and can acknowledge that state based immigration laws are expensive and counterproductive, it would be even better if they spent less time in the states and more time in Washington D.C. to work towards passing a federal solution which would help to alleviate the financial burden of enforcement from the states.

NDN REPORT: The Governments Border Strategy Is Working

Yesterday, The Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano delivered a major address on the "State of America's Homeland Security, Making The Border More Secure."

In the speech Secretary Napolitano made the assertion that the Southwest Border Initiative has yielded very real results, and she provided statistics and DHS metrics which showed that the border has become safer.

NDN has also taken a deep dive into the question of whether or not the border has become safer over the last two years. Our findings show that since the Southwest Border Initiative has been in place, there has been greater cooperation between the United States and Mexico, there has been a drop in violence, apprehensions, and crossings along our southern border.

Asserting these facts is necessary because there has been so much talk on television, on the radio and by certain politicians that the south west border region is out of control. With enough statistical evidence, dialogue between legislators who actually live on the border and their counterparts in Washington D.C.  perhaps we can put the notion that the border is out of control to rest.

It should be clear that we at NDN do not think that the border is "secure." The concept of "securing the border" is fairly nebulous and in many ways creates an unreachable metric for which to gauge success in the southwest region. We could not assert that the border is secure because there have been isolated incidents of violence along the border. But those incidents are much less then they were five years ago, and violence along the border is at an all time low.

This is not an unrealistic assessment of the progress made on the border; casually perusing the data collected below shows an increase in the number of government personnel along the border which has resulted in lower number in apprehensions, and crossings.

Which is to say that The Government’s Border Strategy Is Working:

The Department of Homeland Security Secretary (DHS) has made a commitment to serious and effective enforcement of the law along the United States southern border. Despite all of this there is currently a perception that violence along the border has increased and that the federal government has done nothing to stop it.

This is nothing short of nonsense and here is why:

DHS has facilitated huge increases in the presence of federal agents on the border, this coupled with overall historically high increases in the number of deportations of criminal aliens and increased, enhanced and continued cooperation with Mexico is dramatically changing the dynamic on the border.

To date there has been a decline in crime in border states, a slowing of illegal migration into the United States, and a lack of spillover of violence from Mexico onto American soil.

As this docuement will show the statistical evidence to make this case is overwhelming:

  1. More Money, More Border Patrol, Customs Agents and National Guard
  2. Deportation of Criminal Undocumented Immigrants Has Increased
  3. Drug Seizures Are Up
  4. Illegal Migration Into the US Has Dropped 
  5. Much Greater Cooperation with Mexico

Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano: U.S.-Mexico Border Violence Is Diminishing

Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano gave a major speech today on Border Security, the full speech can be read here:

It is a long speech, and for the sake of space and time, below is the section on the Southwest Border Initiative, which for my money has the most substance, enjoy:

"It was clear from the outset of this Administration that we needed a reinvigorated approach to border security and immigration enforcement. In March, 2009, we launched the Southwest Border Initiative:

  • We increased the size of the Border Patrol to more than 20,700 agents today, which is more than double the size it was in 2004.
  • We doubled personnel assigned to Border Enforcement Security Task Forces, which work to dismantle criminal organizations along the border.
  • We increased the number of ICE intelligence analysts along the border focused on cartel violence. In all, a quarter of ICE’s personnel are now in the region – the most ever.
  • We quintupled deployments of Border Liaison Officers to work with their Mexican counterparts.

And we began screening southbound rail and vehicle traffic looking for the illegal weapons and cash that are helping fuel the cartel violence in Mexico.

With the aid of $600 million supplemental requested by the Administration and passed by the Congress in the summer of 2010, we’re continuing to add technology, manpower, and infrastructure to the border. That includes:

  • Adding 1,000 new Border Patrol Agents;
  • Adding 250 new CBP officers at our ports of entry;
  • Adding 250 new ICE agents focused on transnational crime;
  • Improving our tactical communications systems;
  • Adding two new forward operating bases to improve coordination of border security activities; and
  • Adding additional CBP unmanned aircraft systems. In fact, we’ve now instituted Predator Unmanned Aircraft System coverage along the entire Southwest border – from the El Centro Sector in California to the Gulf of Mexico in Texas.

President Obama authorized the deployment of 1,200 National Guard troops who are now actively assisting us in our work along the border.

We announced $150 million in Operation Stonegarden funds in 2009 and 2010 to help local law enforcement jurisdictions along the border pay for things like overtime. $123 million went to Southwest border states – more than ever before.

In partnership with the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Department of Defense, we have achieved initial operational capability for the new Border Intelligence Fusion Section within the El Paso Intelligence Center.

And we’re continuing to work with Mexico to develop an interoperable, cross-border communications network that will improve our ability to coordinate law enforcement and public safety issues."

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