NDN Blog

Job Opening at NDN - Asst to the President - 5/21 Application Deadline

We have an opening for my assistant here at NDN.   See the job description below.   All applications for the position will need to be in by this coming Wednesday, May 21st. Please send cover letter, resume, recommendations and anything else you would like to submit to Andres Chong-Qui at achongqui@ndn.org

Job Description:  At NDN & New Policy Institute, the Assistant to the President is responsible for managing their principal’s immediate priorities, including his schedule; getting out important e-mails via NGP-VAN;  responsibilities with respect to paper processes; delegable operational and administrative duties and tasks (such as event managing, travel, scanning important documents, running errands); coordination with other assistants from NDN members’ offices and important stakeholders. With direction from the President, the assistant is also responsible for coordinating the President’s work towards his or her medium and longer-term objectives and goals, including directing and supporting special projects. Other duties include: answering communications, including telephone calls, emails, and written correspondence; clearing visitors in the building and meeting and escorting them while on the premises; event coordination; meeting arrangements, including manifests and agendas; support when President is on the road or in the office as needed; and other duties as assigned.

NDN Supports Robert Holleyman for Deputy USTR

May 8, 2014

Dear Members of the United States Senate,

I write in support of Robert Holleyman to be the next Deputy United States Trade Representative.   I have known Robert for several decades, and worked closely on many issues over the years.   He is very smart, collegial, knowledgeable, experienced, forward-looking - a perfect fit for this position. 

Through his years running a leading software advocacy organization, time as a federal clerk, Senate staffer and in private practice, Robert brings:

  • Deep understanding of the role of technology in expanding economic and individual opportunities, and empowering citizens. 
  • Over two decades of private-sector experience working with some of the most innovative companies and entrepreneurs in America.  A decade of experience working in government.  
  • Extensive and direct on-the-ground experience working to open foreign markets and fight trade barriers impacting US technology workers internationally.   This has helped make software one of the largest export industries in the US, with a positive balance of trade and growing job base.     
  • Thoughtful, balanced perspective on the mix of policies needed to foster innovation and an open and democratic Internet both in America and globally.  
  • Private sector leadership in helping define new "digital age" opportunities around cloud computing and cross-border digital trade.  This is critical to ensure further expansion of the benefits of technology around the world and the ability of US-based companies to compete successfully in the world of emerging cloud architecture.  
  • Deep appreciation for the important roles of Congress, the Administration and the public in developing trade policy that strengthens the American economy, raises standards of living and promotes global stability.  

It has long been our belief that keeping the internet open and free is one of the most significant responsibilities of our government in the 21st century.   Adding Robert Holleyman to the already strong team in place working on this project will truly give the United States an “A” team on one of the most important issues the United States is facing today.  

Given that these issues are under intense discussion in the TPP and TTIP trade agreements being negotiated by USTR, and in many global forums like NETmundial and the ITA talks at this very moment, it is our hope that you act swiftly to confirm Mr. Holleyman.  His expertise is needed now in shaping discussions that could determine the evolution of the global digital economy for decades to come. 

GOP Attacks On Obama’s Immigration Enforcement Record Are Ridiculous

Yesterday, a group of Republican Senators repeated one of the great canards of the Obama era –  that our immigration and border enforcement system is less effective today than when Obama took office.  By virtually every measure we have, this is simply not true.   With far greater resources, better strategies and improved cooperation with Mexico, the Obama Administration has in fact made the border safer, the immigration system far better while also allowing for an enormous expansion of trade with Mexico (visit here for a deeper dive on these arguments and more). 

Let’s review some of what we know: 
 
Crime is Down on US Side of the Border - Crime is down along the US side of the border.  The two largest border cities, El Paso and San Diego, are the two safest large cities in America today.
 
Border Patrol Far More Effective - Four of the five high-traffic migration corridors across the US-Mexico border are already at or near the Senate bill’s goal of 90% effectiveness rate.  Many of the nine corridors have seen significant increases in their effectiveness rates in recent years.  
 
Flow of Unauthorized Immigrants into US Has Plummeted – The increased effectiveness of the border patrol along the border, and the deterrent effect of more aggressive removals of those crossing the border has helped dramatically slow the flow of unauthorized migration from Mexico.  This flow has fallen from its peak of 770,000 people in 2001 to zero today.  Looking at it another way, under President Bush, the undocumented immigration population grew by 3m, or almost 400,000 a year.  Under President Obama there has been no increase in the overall size of the undocumented population.  The flow has essentially stopped. 
 
The System Is Deporting Far More High Priority Unauthorized Immigrants -  The system is removing far more people of consequence from the US than before.   According to ICE data, 59% of those deported in 2013 had criminal records, up from 36% a few years ago.  And fully 98% of those removed were either caught trying to illegally enter the country or were interior removals with criminal records.   In 2013, the number of overall removals was at approximately the same level as the last year of the Bush Administration, and the average number of formal removals has been far higher under Obama than Bush.  Prioritizing the removals of murderers and border-crossers over hard-working moms is just smart policy.
 
While Providing Opportunities for Young People To Contribute – In another smart improvement in immigration enforcement, the President has offered temporary relief from deportation and work permits for more than a million DREAM-eligible youth, allowing these young people to more fully contribute to American society.  
 
Trade Across our Border With Mexico Has Almost Doubled - Trade with Mexico has jumped from $340b in 2009 to about $550b in 2013.  Mexico is now America’s 3rd largest trading partner and 2nd largest export market.  $1.3 billion worth of goods and 1m people now cross the 2000 mile US-Mexico border each day.  This trade supports millions of jobs on both sides of the border.  
 
So what is the big idea these tough Senators propose to make the system better?  Move resources to deporting non-criminal migrants in the interior of the country.   The result of this in practical terms will be to weaken the highly effective border deterrence system established in recent years, and to cause a drop in the number of criminals we are deporting in the interior.   In essence, the President’s critics want to re-establish the Bush era system which did not prioritize murderers over moms, and simply went after all unauthorized immigrants in the interior regardless of their criminal history.   The outcome of this strategy will be in fact to weaken the enforcement system in the US, not strengthen it. 
 
This is no idle debate.  Last year the House GOP passed something known as the King Amendment which would achieve the same thing the Senate Republicans are advocating for – the roll back of the DHS’s successful new enforcement priorities, a vote that would among other things revoke the DACA program for DREAM eligible youth. The excuse coming from the House GOP today on why they cannot move forward on immigration reform is that the President’s policies have weakened our immigration and border enforcement system – when it is clear that this is not true, that the system is far better today and that their proposals will actually weaken the system not strengthen it. This argument, still alive and potent inside the House GOP is simply ridiculous, and is not a legitimate reason to hold up moving ahead on immigration reform.   If they want to once again turn their back on the clear majority of Americans – and their Speaker – who want a better immigration system they simply are going to have to come up with a far better excuse.   
 

 

Keeping the Internet Open and Free

With the future of the Internet being discuss a great deal these days, I just wanted to repost something Alec Ross and I wrote seven years ago.  It was an early articulation of what became known as the "Internet Freedom" agenda, and still speaks powerfully today: 

"A single global communications network, composed of Internet, mobile, SMS, cable and satellite technology, is rapidly tying the world’s people together as never before. The core premise of this paper is that the emergence of this network is one of the seminal events of the early 21st century.  Increasingly, the world’s commerce, finance, communications, media and information are flowing through this network.  Half of the world’s 6 billion  people are now connected to this network, many through powerful and inexpensive mobile phones.  Each year more of the world’s people become connected to the network, its bandwidth increases, and its use becomes more integrated into all that we do. 
 
Connectivity to this network, and the ability to master it once on, has become an essential part of life in the 21st century, and a key to opportunity, success and fulfillment for the people of the world. 
 
We believe it should be a core priority of the United States to ensure that all the world’s people have access to this global network and have the tools to use it for their own life success. There is no way any longer to imagine free societies without the freedom of commerce, expression, and community, which this global network can bring.  Bringing this network to all, keeping it free and open and helping people master its use must be one of the highest priorities of those in power in the coming years."

New ICE Data Finds Big Changes In Who Is Getting Deported From US

Given the very public discussion about the Obama Administration’s immigration enforcement and deportation strategy in the last few weeks, we’ve spent some time going through a new ICE report on deportations, and frankly, it had some surprising findings in it. 

At NDN, we have long argued that despite both very real operational and political challenges, the Obama Administration has done a very good job in managing one really important piece of the enforcement puzzle - our border with Mexico.   Crime is down substantially on the US side of the border, and net migration of unauthorized migrants from Mexico has dropped from 700,000 per year to zero today.  While the border has been toughened up, we have also seen a huge increase in cross border trade with Mexico, which has almost doubled since 2009.  Despite this increased security, Mexico is now our 3rd largest trading partner and 2nd largest export market in the world. 

The new FY 2013 report from ICE, which offers a more detailed look at our deportation strategy than was available in previous years, shows similar success.   While the report shows that deportations of unauthorized migrants remain at near historic highs, it also chronicles how smart Obama Administration policies putting greater priority on the removal of criminal migrants and border crossers has dramatically altered the composition of who gets deported.  Over the past few years, we’ve seen a steady increase in these high-priority deportations; almost all of those deported in 2013 were either convicted criminals or people caught at the border attempting to enter the country illegally.  Remarkably, only 10,336 non-criminal, non-border-crossers were removed from the country in FY 2013.  In 2009, based on one estimate, this number was closer to 150,000.  The percentage of those deported who are convicted criminals has risen from 35% in 2009, to 59% in 2013.    

These numbers should bring some comfort to the critics of the Obama Administration deportation policies.  For those wanting a more humane system, we’ve seen the near elimination of the deportation of run of the mill non-criminal unauthorized migrants.  For those calling for even tougher policies, the explosion of deportation of border-crossers and criminals should be welcome news.  Prioritizing criminals for deportation is clearly the best use of our limited deportation resources, and leaves the nation far safer than in the day of Bush era workplace raids. 

But rather than doing an even deeper analysis of the ICE report, we think it should speak for itself.   We end with some of the more interesting charts and graphs in the report, and look forward to hearing from others well versed in this tough and important issue. 

          
           Source: FY 2013 ICE Immigration Removals

           
           Source: FY 2013 ICE Immigration Removals

See the full "FY 2013 ICE Immigration Removals" report here.

Emma Buckhout also contributed to this post.

Invite: Thur, Mar 20th - "Now I Know Who My Comrades Are" w/Emily Parker

Please join us for a special event next Thursday - a discussion with noted author and former State Department official, Emily Parker.  Emily will be discussing her new book, “Now I Know Who My Comrades Are,” which features her own on the ground reporting on Internet-based activists challenging the authoritarian regimes in China, Cuba and  Russia. For more on this terrific and timely new book, please see below.  

Our book talk will take place next Thursday at NDN, 729 15th St, NW 1st floor.  Lunch will be served at noon, and the discussion will begin at 12:15p.  You can RSVP here.   I hope you will join us for what will be an insightful discussion. 

Praise for “Now I Know Who My Comrades Are” –

"Emily Parker’s book Now I Know Who My Comrades Are: Voices from the Internet Underground is a rigorously researched and reported account that reads like a thriller . . . It’s been a while since I have read a book that is so entertaining, not to mention one so encouraging for the culture of liberty.”—Mario Vargas Llosa, Nobel Prize–winning author

“Although dissident use of the Internet is already part of the twenty-first-century story, Parker goes beyond the obvious headlines to the grinding daily battles of people and situations that receive only passing media notice. . . Some of what she reveals is stunning (2012 estimates find that only 5 percent of Cubans have regular access to the web), but the book’s greatest strength is the intimacy with which she describes the lives of her subjects. . .Parker profiles fascinating people and effectively shows why, in hands like theirs, social media is one of the most important tools for conducting positive political and social change around the world.”—Colleen Mondor, Booklist (starred review)

 “Now I Know Who My Comrades Are is a timely and necessary book. Story by story, Emily Parker shows how the Internet has changed lives and social realities in three oppressive countries. The clarity, honesty, and intelligence of her writing make this book both admirable and enjoyable.”—Ha Jin, National Book Award–winning author of Waiting and War Trash

"Emily Parker tells us enthralling and beautifully detailed stories about bloggers and Internet activists in China, Russia, and Cuba, showing us the power of human connection even as she describes and analyzes it. The combination of her humanism and keen insight illuminates dimensions of the Internet that we so often miss, the ways it can create the personal ties and trust that are the foundation of collective action. A great read for both the nightstand and the scholar's shelf.”—Anne-Marie Slaughter, president and CEO of the New America Foundation

“The heroes of this terrific book are ‘Internet foot soldiers,’ not the usual foreign ministers and businessmen, and those soldiers are changing Russia, China, and Cuba . . . and the world. Emily Parker is among a handful of the most promising new foreign policy commentators who weave together technology, culture, society, and politics with hard facts and clear analysis.”—Leslie H. Gelb, president emeritus of the Council on Foreign Relations

“This book is about twenty times better reported or written than any book ever written about the Internet, period.”—Tim Wu, author of The Master Switch: The Rise and Fall of Information Empires

“In this fascinating book, Emily Parker shows that the Internet affects politics by affecting the psychology of its users. Now I Know Who My Comrades Are demonstrates how much it can matter for citizens to have a voice, and to discover that they are not alone.”—Clay Shirky, author of Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations

Invite: Thurs, 7/17 - "Raising Our Game" - A Presentation About the US Economy in the 21st Century

For the past 4 years, I’ve been fortunate to make presentations on the US economy to important policy makers here in Washington.   Every time I’ve been asked to present, I’ve always come back to a power point presentation I first presented at a meeting at the House Democratic Caucus in the fall of 2009 called “Raising Our Game.”  It is a big sweeping look at what has happened to the American economy over the past generation, and it offers some ideas on how policy makers can best address what has been far too tough a time for every day Americans.   At the core of the presentation is an effort to create a rallying cry, a narrative which can guide us in the years ahead: “The rest of the world is raising its game; it is time for us to raise ours.”  

This work draws heavily on the economic work Dr. Rob Shapiro has been doing here at NDN and other venues for years.   To get a better sense of where we are going with this, please review this backgrounder which showcases the Time Magazine piece which talked about the influence of this deck and it’s analysis on politics in the US and the UK. Be sure to also read my most recent essay which connects the President’s current effort to expand exports and liberalize trade to the work of FDR and Truman in building the current global economic system, one which has done so much good for so many.

I've been making this presentation in 2014 each month at our Washington, DC offices.  The next presentation will take place on Thursday, July 17th, from noon to 1:15 p.m. here at NDN, 729 15th St, 1st floor. Please reserve your spot here.  And feel free to invite colleagues or staffers to come along as well.

Invite: Fri, 4/4 - "Raising Our Game" - A Presentation About the US Economy in the 21st Century

For the past 4 years, I’ve been fortunate to make presentations on the US economy to important policy makers here in Washington.   Every time I’ve been asked to present, I’ve always come back to a power point presentation I first presented at a meeting at the House Democratic Caucus in the fall of 2009 called “Raising Our Game.”  It is a big sweeping look at what has happened to the American economy over the past generation, and it offers some ideas on how policy makers can best address what has been far too tough a time for every day Americans.   At the core of the presentation is an effort to create a rallying cry, a narrative which can guide us in the years ahead: “The rest of the world is raising its game; it is time for us to raise ours.”  

This work draws heavily on the economic work Dr. Rob Shapiro has been doing here at NDN and other venues for years.   To get a better sense of where we are going with this, please review this backgrounder which showcases the Time Magazine piece which talked about the influence of this deck and it’s analysis on politics in the US and the UK. Be sure to also read my most recent essay which connects the President’s current effort to expand exports and liberalize trade to the work of FDR and Truman in building the current global economic system, one which has done so much good for so many.
 
We will offer this presentation on Friday, April 4th, from noon to 1:15 p.m. here at NDN, 729 15th St, 1st floor. Please reserve your spot here.  And feel free to invite colleagues or staffers to come along as well.

On Trust and “Enforcing the Laws” in the Immigration Reform Debate - A Response to Speaker Boehner

Today, Speaker Boehner once again repeated the new Republican excuse for inaction on immigration reform – the President has failed to enforce immigration laws, and cannot be trusted to see through commitments on border security and other enforcement objectives.  

Let’s take a quick look at both these claims.  
 
On the issue of border security, a new pragmatism has begun to break out in many quarters in what has long been a contentious issue.   In its introductory paragraph, the Senate Gang of 8 framework included these words:
 
 “And while border security has improved significantly over the last two Administrations…”
 
The Senate Judiciary Committee added more customs agents to the border to help facilitate our exploding trade relationship with Mexico, and no additional border guards.  The recent 2014 budget resolution made smart investments in border infrastructure, added more customs agents, and did not add more border patrol.  
 
The reason that as a nation we’ve begun to move beyond the “enforcement only” approach to the border is that after a decade of significant investment, better strategies and much greater cooperation with Mexico, the border is far safer than it was, net migration of unauthorized immigrants has dropped to zero all while trade with Mexico has more than doubled.  A reasonable look at the data would lead one to conclude that the border is on track to be safe and largely under control, with the main effort now modernizing a trade and tourism infrastructure designed for a trade relationship at levels hundreds of billions of dollars less than it is today.    
 
The Obama Administration deserves far more credit for managing the tough realities and politics of the border than they have gotten.  Our border is 2,000 miles long, it extends across four states, and the threat of cartel violence on the Mexican side is very real.  It is one of the busiest borders in the world, with billions of dollars of trade and millions of people crossing each week.  That the two largest border cities on the US side of the border, El Paso and San Diego, are the two safest large cities in America today is simply an extraordinary accomplishment.  4 of the 5 high traffic migration corridors are at or close to the widely accepted goal of a 90% effectiveness rate, spillover violence is rare, and just in the past few months Mexico has announced unprecedented efforts on their northern and southern borders which should do much to improve the situation in the years ahead.   More, of course, can be done, and the Senate bill invests in the things most border experts think is most needed now – better technology and more customs agents.  
 
Coming out of their retreat last week, the House leadership has adopted a very hard line on “securing the border,” and has repeatedly said the Obama Administration cannot be trusted on the issue.  Given its new centrality to their reform approach, the House leadership simply must put a real plan and budget for “securing” the border on the table immediately.  Their rhetorical rejection of the very real progress made on the border in recent years is a worrying sign about their lack of seriousness; and if they insist border security is a trigger even for legal status, no negotiations with the House should begin until they come to the table with an actual plan.  Trust works both ways.  The House leadership cannot expect the Senate to accept triggers on legal status/citizenship if the metrics and funding levels are not spelled out in great detail.   
 
The mischaracterization of the progress made by the Obama Administration impacts the interior enforcement portions of the “Standards” document as well.  At the root of the GOP’s concern is the Administration’s decision to prioritize criminal migrants for deportation, known as “prosecutorial discretion.”  In what is a tortured ideological position, the House GOP opposes this practice, preferring that law enforcement just round up everyone, and remarkably, NOT prioritize criminals.  The President used this rationale to authorize DACA, the 2012 executive order which gave DREAM-eligible youth relief from deportation.  The simple idea is that if the President can prioritize the front of the deportation line, he can also prioritize the back of it – determining that there is a class of unauthorized migrant who should not be deported.   
 
Thus by using DHS’s limited resources to get rid of the most dangerous of the unauthorized population, the Administration is, by this GOP logic, not enforcing immigration law.  Yes, this is a little hard to believe.  
 
One would not know from the “Standards” that President Obama has deported migrants at a higher rate than any other modern President, and has, in recent years, deported criminal migrants at double or triple the rate of previous Presidents.  It will be interesting to see how the House GOP can improve upon that record without providing billions in new resources, or rolling over local elected officials and law enforcement who will strenuously oppose the appropriation of local resources to enforce what is a federal responsibility.  
 
Given this track record, why exactly are the House Republicans walking from immigration reform?  The border is safer today, net migration is zero, deportations of criminal migrants are at all time highs while trade with Mexico has exploded, creating millions of jobs on both sides of the border.  There is a strong argument to be made that no President in American history has been more committed to enforcing our immigration laws and improving border security than President Obama.  If they are going to walk away from immigration reform for the 3rd time in the last decade, the House leadership are going to have find a far better set of excuses.  
 
For more information see the following backgrounders:
 
The Administration's Border Strategy Has Yielded Very Strong Results
 
NDN/NPI Background on Mexico Prior to Feb Visits by Pres Obama, Sec Pritzker
 
 

Thoughts On The President's Trade Agenda

Last week I offered my thoughts about why Members of Congress should proudly work with the President in his final three years to pass his ambitious trade agenda, extending our reach throughout Asia, Latin America and Europe.  While there have been some bumps in that process this week, I still remain optimistic that the President will be able leave office having completed both TPP and TTIP, as they are called. 

But to do so we are learning a few things.  The President will have to continue to sell his broader economic agenda with vigor to the American people, giving them a strong belief that he has a plan that can make their lives better in this new age of globalization.  He will have to find a way to work with Congress to provide more consultation and transparency in the fashioning of these and future trade agreements.  And USTR will have to demonstrate, through the agreements themselves, that we are indeed modernizing our approach to trade, raising standards and making our global system better and more responsive to the realities of the world as it is today. 

As I wrote in my piece, the geopolitical case for these agreements, and for the President's desire to strenghten the liberal international order in a time of great transformation, are compelling.   But to get these done in the next three years, the White House and its allies have an awful lot of work to do.  We at NDN welcome this debate as I think we have a good argument to make, and the issues at play here are perhaps the most important the Obama Administration will be involved in over the next three years.  But this will be a long process, a complicated one, and those who agree with us need to take this time and get very serious about marshalling our arguments and making our case over years, not just days, weeks and months.

One word of caution to my fellow advocates for the President’s trade agenda.  2014 isn’t the 1990s.  We are attempting to sell these far reaching arrangements not during a period of extraordinary growth, when median incomes went up more than $8,000 a family.  Workers today haven’t received a raise in 14 years, and have become far more skeptical that technology advances and globalization have been good for them and their families.  Way back in 2005 Rob Shapiro, current Rep. Joe Garcia and I wrote a landmark paper arguing that to continue to keep domestic support for global economic liberalization at 1990s levels, we need to do far more for workers and their families.  The President’s economic agenda this year, coupled with previous actions like health care reform, are the kinds of things we will need to enact if we are to pass these trade agreements with broad support from the American people. 

One area that we advocates also have to confront is the remarkable decline in public investment the US has seen in recent years.  At a time when we have the largest school-age population in US history moving through our schools, and global competition is more virulent than it has ever been, we are lowering our level of public investment, exactly the wrong response to what the American people need.  Public investment is half of what it was in the 1960s, and lower than it has been since the late 1940s.  One doesn’t have to have a PhD to know what happens if this trend continues – it is a guarantor of national decline for the United States.  See the graph below. 

We are already seeing warning signs about our competitive position which should be alarming policy makers.  The most recently released PISA study of adult skills from the OECD documents that our workers and students are falling far behind the rest of the developed world.  Even among a measure one would assume we would lead – problem solving in a technology dense environment for 16 to 24 year olds – the US is dead last in the OECD.  Dead last.  (see p93 here).

So we at NDN are saddling up for a three-year effort to make the case that needs to be made about the President’s trade agenda.  But we advocates will have to approach this effort in far different ways than we did in the 1990s.  More must be done, by both parties, for the American people themselves or we should not expect this effort to be easy, or successful.

Syndicate content