Hispanic/Latino

Backgrounder: Trump and Immigration

Donald Trump and immigration are back in the news. We’ve assembled our most recent and most relevant work to help shine a light on a dark chapter.

Simon's Interviews

Some Getting Sense of Deja Vu With Trump's Policies, SB 1070, Mark Brodie, The Show, KJZZ 91.5 FM, 2/24/17.

Imagen News, Ana Maria Salazar, Imagen Radio, 2/21/17.

NDN Materials

New immigration policies hurting tourism, disrupting US companies, breaking up families, Simon Rosenberg, Twitter Thread, 3/5/17. With the return of of the travel ban, Simon reminds us that WH's new immigration policies already hurting tourism, disrupting US companies, and breaking up families.

The 'Shackles' Are Off, Simon Rosenberg, US News & World Report, 3/3/17. Simon considers the dangers of Trump's new immigration policies for all Americans not just immigrants.

Steve Bannon, Meet Russell Pearce, Simon Rosenberg, US News & World Report, 2/21/17. Simon examines why potential blowback from Trump's immigration plan should worry Steve Bannon.

Trump's New Immigration Line is Consistent - Not Inconsistent - With His Arizona Speech, Simon Rosenberg, NDN.org, 9/2/16. Trump made it clear: supersized deportation force, national round 'em raids, everyone leaves, no legalization ever. No way to wiggle out of that.

Key passages from Trump Immigration Speech, Chris Murphy, NDN.org, 9/2/16. Several passages from Trump's speech are critical to understanding what Trump actually means and has proposed as future US immigration policy. We have compiled the passages we believe demand closer scrutiny. 

Trump's Mass Deportation Strategy Explained, Simon Rosenberg, NDN.org, 9/1/16. While there has been a great deal of confusion around Trump’s immigration wiggle and concepts like "mass deportation" in the past few weeks, his strategy towards the 11m and others here without authorization is very clear.

All They Have Is Fear Itself, Simon Rosenberg, NDN.org, 11/23/15. The one upsmanship for who could be harder on Muslims we saw among Republican President candidates this past week was a powerful reminder that the GOP has long ceased being a “conservative” party and has descended into a far more pernicious “reactionary” period.

On Immigration Enforcement, The GOP's Decade of Blocking Sensible Reform, Simon Rosenberg, NDN.org, 7/21/15. During the summer of 2015 we saw a breathtaking level of cynicism from the national Republican Party on the issue of immigration enforcement.

The state of immigration, Simon Rosenberg, MSNBC, 1/19/15. While the GOP’s latest rejection of immigration reform has dominated the headlines in recent weeks, the reality is that the United States is already undergoing a major societal shift as a result of significant Hispanic migration.

Questions About Melania's Immigration Path

4 Questions About Melania's Immigration Path That Still Need Answers, Simon Rosenberg, NDN.org, 8/10/16. Weeks after the Melania Trump immigration story broke, 4 key questions we still need answered.

Video of Trump Promising Presser, Saying It Is "So Documented"

NDN in the Press

"Melania Turmp, through a lawyer, details immigration history," Ben Schreckinger and Gabriel Debenedetti, Politico, 9/14/16.

"Trump returns to his old standbys: Xenophobia, hate, lies, and yes, mass deportations," Greg Sargent, The Washington Post, 9/1/16.

"TRUMP doubles down -- 'Angry reincarnation of Pete Wilson' -- DIAPER vouchers and cap-and-trade bills," Carla Marinucci and Andrew Weber, Politico, 9/1/16.

"After Mexico trip, Trump delivers tough talk on immigration," John Wildermuth, San Francisco Chronicle, 8/31/16.

"Stop getting played by Trump's scam job on immigration," Greg Sargent, The Washington Post, 8/30/16.

Simon's interview on AM Joy, Joy Reid, MSNBC, 8/27/16 (Video)

"Trump's new ad indavertently reveals the core absurdity of his whole campaign," Greg Sargent, The Washington Post, 8/19/16.

Steve Bannon, Meet Russell Pearce

US News and World Report has published Simon's fourteenth column, "Steve Bannon, Meet Russell Pearce," in his weekly Op-Ed series that will now appear every Tuesday.

This piece was the focus of a recent interview Simon did with KJZZ 91.5, the public radio station in Phoneix, AZ.

Be sure to also read his recent column, "Has Donald Trump Already Abandoned the Fight Against the Islamic State?"

An Excerpt from "Steve Bannon, Meet Russell Pearce"

As the White House returns this week to immigration and travel bans, it would be wise for them to do a deep dive on the story of former Arizona State Sen. Russell Pearce. Pearce was the legislative leader of Arizona's virulent anti-immigrant wave of a few years ago, culminating in his passing of the famous "papers please" SB1070 bill that became a model for states across the country. Pearce rode these politics hard, using it to become in 2011 the Arizona Senate president, the most powerful legislative position in Arizona.

The core of Pearce's strategy, aided by many of the same people advising Donald Trump, was to create a climate so harsh for undocumented immigrants that they would "self-deport." The anti-immigrant "restrictionists" behind this approach had moved on from seeking direct deportation of all 11 million undocumented immigrants, pragmatically realizing that the cost of direct deportation and the tolerance of Americans for what would be years of raids and broken families made deportation politically impossible. Arizona was the testing ground for this new, refined self-deportation strategy, one that at its core required the terrorizing of immigrant communities to be successful. The more fear, the faster the folks would go and the cheaper and more politically palatable this would all be. Fear, lots of fear, was (and remains) critical for self-deportation to work.

To continue reading, please refer to the US News link. You can Simon's previous US News columns here.

Column: "The GOP Should Be Worried About Texas"

US News and World Report has published Simon's fourth column, "The GOP Should Be Worried About Texas," in his weekly Op-Ed series that will every Thursday or Friday through the end of the year.

Be sure to also read his recent column, "Why Democrats Dominate," in which Simon considers what perhaps may be the most important political story of the past generation: the transformation of Democratic Party into a successful governing party with popular leaders well regarded by the American people. 

An Excerpt from "The GOP Should Be Worried About Texas"

Responding to a series of recent polls showing Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton within striking distance in Texas, Real Clear Politics has moved it from a "lean red" to "toss up" state. In this memorable political year, the apparent move of Texas from red to purple state has to be considered one of the more significant and unexpected developments, particularly since Clinton and the Democratic National Committee have made no effort to put the state in play.

It is hard to overstate the importance of Texas to the national Republican Party. It is the only big state left in the country that Republicans regularly win at the presidential level. It produced the only two Republican presidents since Reagan, and has produced many more important national Republicans, such as Tom DeLay, Ted Cruz, Rick Perry and John Cornyn. It exports hundreds of millions of dollars to GOP organizations and candidates across the country. And perhaps most importantly, there are more Republicans in Congress from Texas than any other state, and many of them are in positions of leadership. Losing Texas, or even having it become competitive, would be a significant blow to the national GOP.

They better get ready.

Key to President George W. Bush's narrow victories was his success in heavily Hispanic states. Over the course of two elections he won Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Nevada and Texas twice, and New Mexico once. As the Hispanic population has surged throughout the country, and become about two to one Democratic along the way, these states – with the exception of Texas – have drifted away from the GOP.

Today, Clinton leads in the five states other than Texas, and the Trump campaign isn't even competing in Colorado or New Mexico. And we all know the story of California, the first state to go through this demographic transformation. The state which helped birth the modern conservative movement and gave us the two Republican presidents prior to the Bushes – Reagan and Nixon – is on the verge of seeing its Republican Party go out of business.

To continue reading, please refer to the US News link. You can Simon's previous US News columns here.

NDN Statement on US vs Texas Supreme Court Decision

Like many, we are disappointed with the Supreme Court’s Decision today. But as we move forward, a few things to keep in mind:

Hispanics Are Upbeat About Their Future – Despite rising anti-immigrant rhetoric and insufficient progress on immigration reform, Hispanic Americans are optimistic about their future and have made substantial economic gains in recent years. 81% of Hispanic families believe their family’s economic situation will improve this year. Millions of Hispanics have jobs who didn’t a few years ago; millions have health insurance who didn’t a few years ago; and millions of Hispanics have seen their wages rise in recent years. These last few years have been good ones for Hispanic families in America, and it is testament to the work ethic and grit of this community that they continue to make such valuable contributions to our country when the political climate has grown so hostile.

For more on this subject, see this recent memo.

The 5m Who Would Have Been Covered Should Not Fear Deportation w/Democratic Presidents – Since changes made in our in enforcement strategy in 2011, the United States government has prioritized the deportation of two classes of undocumented immigrants – recent border crossers and those with criminal records. Since 2011 the number of undocumented immigrants who have been deported outside those classes has been very small. To be clear – it has been the policy of the United States government for five years now to not deport long settled immigrants without criminal records who would have been covered in the new Obama Administration rules blocked by the Supreme Court today.  Advocates and the media need to work a little harder to get this part of the story right. 

It is very unlikely that a President Hillary Clinton would change these new far smarter enforcement priorities. However, if Donald Trump becomes President, those 5m, and another 6m not covered by the new Obama rules, should fear immediate efforts to remove them from the country. For these families and their relatives in the United States, this has now become a very consequential election.

For more on Obama’s reforms of our immigration enforcement system, see this recent memo.

Republicans Continue to Block Democratic Efforts to Reform the Immigration System – In the 11 years since John McCain and Ted Kennedy introduced what is known as Comprehensive Immigration Reform, GOP hard liners have repeated blocked legislative efforts to reform the immigration system. GOP-led Houses refused to take up bi-partisan Senate passed bills in 2006 and 2013; Senate hard liners tanked efforts in the Senate in 2007 and 2010; Republican elected officials led the lawsuit that blocked the President’s reform today; and of course Republicans passed a bill to deport all 11m undocumented immigrants through the House in 2005, and in 2012 and now again 2016 the GOP Presidential nominee has called for all 11m undocumented immigrants to leave.

For 11 years, one party has tried to reform and modernize our immigration system in America; the other has unfortunately lost its own internal battle to hard liners who have ended up repeatedly, and successfully, blocking the efforts of reformers in both parties.

On Immigration Enforcement, The GOP's Decade of Blocking Sensible Reform

This week we will see, even by Washington standards, a breathtaking level of cynicism from the national Republican Party on the issue of immigration enforcement (the data backing up the arguments in this piece can be found here, here and here).

For a decade now there has been broad consensus that the huge wave of undocumented immigrants who came into the United States from the early 1990s to the later part of 00s needed federal legislation to resolve; that this enormous influx has overwhelmed law enforcement and immigration courts responsible for managing domestic immigration enforcement, degrading the integrity of a system built for a much lower level of unauthorized migration; that local enforcement desperately wanted to spend their limited resources on going after serious criminals and not law-abiding, job holding undocumented immigrants; that enforcing immigration law is a federal not a local responsibility, something reinforced repeatedly in the courts over the past decade; that the passage of comprehensive reform would have created an orderly process allowing law enforcement agencies at all levels to better focus on the imprisonment and deportation of serious criminals.

As we head into a week of significant debate then on immigration enforcement, it is important to remember a few things:

- Since Comprehensive Immigration Reform was first introduced by Senators Ted Kennedy and John McCain in 2005, Republicans in Congress have blocked its passage on four separate occasions. The most significant instances came in 2006 and 2013/4, when the House Republicans refused to even consider sensible bi-partisan bills passed by the Senate and supported at the time by President Bush and then President Obama. Each of these bills would have helped unclogged an overwhelmed immigration enforcement system in the United States, making incidents like what happened in San Francisco far less likely.

- In 2010, recognizing that the primary method we had for helping unclog the overwhelmed immigration enforcement system – CIR – was not going to happen in the President’s first term, DHS implemented new enforcement priorities known as the “Morton Memos” which prioritized illegal border crossers and undocumented immigrants with serious criminal history for deportation. These reforms brought immediate change to the huge immigration enforcement system in the US, and have resulted in the deportation of more serious criminals and has helped keep illegal entries into the US at historic lows.

- In 2013 and again in 2014, the House Republicans passed legislation designed to overturn these smart reforms, making it impossible for example for DHS to prioritize felons like the suspect in the San Francisco shooting for rapid removal through the immigration enforcement system. And the House doubled down on this approach by threatening to shut all of DHS down earlier this year in a standoff over the implementation of these reforms, including the new Priority Enforcement Program. PEP as it is known was launched last year to forge a higher level of cooperation between federal and local law enforcement to more rapidly remove serious criminals from the country.

Finally, it must be said that the attacks on President Obama’s immigration enforcement record are ridiculous. The President has deported more unauthorized immigrants than any President in American history; after a decade and a half of the US absorbing half a million new undocumented immigrants into the county, the net flow of new immigrants on this President’s watch has dropped to zero (an extraordinary public policy achievement); crime along the entire US side of the border is way down, and the two safest large cities in the US today sit on the border, El Paso and San Diego; reforms initiated by DHS throughout the Obama Presidency, including a new round in late 2014, have made the deportation of violent criminals the highest priority for our immigration system. All of the policies used to achieve these outcomes have been opposed by the House Republicans, and further reform, comprehensive immigration reform, has been repeatedly blocked.

So a proper read of the last decade has been one party, the Democrats, have repeatedly advanced proposals and policy that have strengthened our immigration enforcement system and made the rapid deportation of criminals a priority. The other party, has repeatedly block sensible bi-partisan reforms which would strengthened our immigration enforcement system, and have passed additional legislation preventing DHS from continuing policies which have clearly made our border safer and immigration system far more focused on deporting murderers and not moms. If there is a national Party to blame for the tragic event in San Francisco it is far more the fault of the Republicans than the Democrats.

The national GOP’s effort to politicize the tragic shooting in San Francisco is an act of breathtaking and insulting cynicism. For a decade now they have blocked reforms and legislation designed to make incidents like this one far less likely. The new legislation being discussed to crack down on “Sanctuary Cities” will only make a terribly broken system worse, it will generate enormous political ill-will between local and federal law enforcement making the management of our entire national system far more difficult. These bills are hasty, political and ill-thought out. They will only make a serious national problem far worse and seemed far more designed to change the subject from Donald Trump’s recent attacks on legal, law abiding immigrants to the US than to solve a vexing national problem made far worse by their refusal to advance sensible reform over a decade of intense debate. 

If indeed the national Republican Party is serious about building on the extraordinary gains we’ve made in immigration enforcement in recent years, it can:

1) Pass comprehensive reform. HR15 introduced by the Democrats last year included the GOP’s Homeland Security Committee’s package of immigration enforcement provisions. CIR will help allow law enforcement and immigration courts to better target and more rapidly remove serious threats to public safety

2) Fully fund and support the post Morton era reforms by DHS, including the expansion of PEP. These reforms have already produced real results and improvements in border security and domestic enforcement.

3) Fund the Administration’s Central America proposal to help staunch the flow of unauthorized migrants from nearby El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. Last summer the House GOP deeply politicized the border crisis, and is now unwilling to follow through on sensible investments which will make future events like this far less likely while improving regional security and economic growth.

This latest focus on "Sanctuary Cities" is another disappointing episode in the GOP's decade long commitment on immigration reform to put politics over smart, sound solutions to a vexing national challenge. 

Backgrounder: The GOP, Trump and Hispanics

With Donald Trump putting the issue of our changing demography front and center in the 2016 Presidential election, we’ve put together some of work in this area to help our community make better sense of it all.

Polling/Analysis

"Donald Trump and the Cattle Car Caucus," Greg Sargent, Washington Post, 7/30/15. 

"Unintended consequences: Could Trump wake sleeping Latino vote?" Carla Marinucci, San Francisco Chronicle, 7/19/15. Marinucci writes on the impact of Trump on the GOP primary, coming from a historical perspective of how the GOP lost Latinos in California for a generation, and interviews Simon on the political fallout for the Republicans. 

"Poll finds Hispanic disapproval of Trump rhetoric on illegal immigrants," Dan Balz and Peyton Craighill, Washington Post, 7/16/15. 

Univision: The Latino Vote, Bendixen & Amandi International for Univision Noticas, 7/16/15. 

"How Durable Is The Democratic Advantage Among Latinos?" Greg Sargent, Washington Post, 7/7/15. Sargent interviews Simon on the Hispanic Vote and potential GOP tickets for 2016.

NDN Materials

Memo: On Immigration Enforcement, The GOP's Decade of Blocking Sensible Reform, Simon Rosenberg, 7/21/15.

Hispanic Uninsured Rate Plummets, Millions Gain Coverage, Corey Cantor, 7/15/15.

"Gallup: 1/4th of Hispanics adults gained insurance in the past 18 months thanks to the ACA," Simon Rosenberg, 7/10/15. 

NDN Memo on "Hispanic Unemployment Rate Bushes vs. Obama/Clinton," Corey Cantor, 7/7/15. As in the broader population, for Hispanics things have gotten far better under recent Democrats and far worse under recent Republicans.  

"The GOP's Hispanic Problem - The Hole Is Very Deep,"Simon Rosenberg, 5/5/15. While the GOP may be able to put a promising candidate on the ticket in 2016, the hole they've dug with Hispanic voters is very deep, and will be hard to dig out of next year.

"The State of Immigration in America," Simon Rosenberg, MSNBC, 01/18/15. After 50 years, it is time to declare Hispanic immigration into the US a success? 

""Thoughts on the New ICE Enforcement and Removals Report," 12/19/14. A  report released by ICE contains another year of data showing how Obama era policies have made our immigration system better and border safer.

"The Battle over Immigration Action is Just Beginning," Simon Rosenberg and David Leopold, MSNBC, 11/19/14.  Simon and David write about the steps that President Obama took to improve the US immigration system and the legal battles ahead.  

NDN Report on Central American Migrants, Obama Border/Immigration Enforcement Record, 7/18/14. NDN/NPI's report finds that the Obama Administration has made the border safer, the immigration system better while dramatically expanding trade with Mexico.  

Related Issues

"NDN Offers a Path Forward on Puerto Rico," Simon Rosenberg and Rob Shapiro, Fusion/Univision, 7/8/15. We tried to look beyond the short-term, limited fiscal measures at hand, and towards a longer term strategy for the Island that can help reverse its current, economic “death spiral.” 

"A New Day for the United States and Cuba," Simon Rosenberg, 12/17/14. The Obama Administration’s historic policy changes towards Cuba will be good for the US, the Cuban people and for the hemisphere.  

Classic Articles

""Forward, or Backward?" My Letras Libres Article on The Choice America Faces," Simon Rosenberg, Letras Libres, 10/25/12. The English language version of my major essay about the 2012 elections which originally appeared in the October issue of the Mexico City based Spanish language journal, Letras Libres.

"On Obama, Race, and the End of the Southern Strategy," Simon Rosenberg, Huffington Post, 1/8/08. Liberating American politics from the pernicious era of the Southern Strategy should be one the highest strategic priorities for left-of-center politics.

"The 50 Year Strategy: A New Progressive Era (No, Really!)" Simon Rosenberg and Peter Leyden, Mother Jones, 11/07. The article lays out a grand strategy for how today's Democrats could build a lasting electoral majority and today's progressives could seize the new media, build off new constituencies like Hispanics and the millennial generation, and solve the urgent governing challenges of our times.

Thoughts on the New ICE Enforcement and Removals Report

A new report released earlier today from ICE, ICE Enforcement and Removal Operation Reports FY 2014, contains another year of data showing how Obama era policies have made our immigration system better and border safer. 

As background, the undocumented immigrant population in the United States swelled from 3m in the early 1990s to 12m by 2007. After 9/11, and accelerating in the middle part of the last decade, there became a bi-partisan effort to both stop the flow of unauthorized migrants and reform a domestic immigration system badly out of date and inadequately equipped to deal with a undocumented immigrant population of this size. After legislative efforts to reform the system failed for the 3rd time in 2010, DHS pragmatically initiated a series of reforms designed to help the immigration enforcement/justice system cope with a population far beyond what is funded and equipped to deal with. Known as the Morton Memos, these reforms among other things directed the immigration enforcement/judicial system to prioritize two types of unauthorized immigrants for deportation from this vast pool of more than 10 million – those caught entering the country without authorization, and those apprehended in the interior with criminal records.

As the charts and graphs below show, these reforms brought swift and significant reform to the system. The prioritization of border removals has helped keep the net flow of undocumented immigrants to zero after 15 years of gains of on average 500,000 or more, while also helping bring the crime rate down along the US side of the US-Mexico border. In the interior, prioritizing felons not families, the system has become far more focused on removing criminals and leaving law abiding, tax-paying families alone. These reforms have neither “ratcheted up” nor weakened enforcement. They have made our enforcement system smarter, more effective and better. And, as we learned this spring and summer, the many years of investment in capacity building and far better use of limited resources enabled the US government to successfully manage an extraordinary crisis when it hit our border.  

The success of the changes begun by DHS in 2010 laid the groundwork for the Executive Actions the President took a few weeks ago. As the President said, his answer for what to do about our broken immigration system was to pass Comprehensive Immigration Reform. But after nine years of trying that path and being blocked, the President simply had to act. The immigration system we have today was never designed or built to handle an unauthorized population of more than 10m people, many long settled and with deep family ties to the community. By even further refining the enforcement priorities to the border and serious criminals in the interior, the Executive Actions will maintain our successful border policies, make it far easier to remove true criminal threats from the interior rapidly, unclog our badly clogged and unjust immigration judicial system, while freeing up law abiding immigrant with deep family ties to make even greater economic contributions to their country.

Reviewing this new ICE data it is clear that the reforms made by DHS a few years ago were smart and effective. Our immigration system is better and our border safer. The recent Executive Actions built on these reforms, and will in the coming years, even without Congressional action, make our nation safer and our immigration system far better and more humane.

For a much deeper dive on these issues, be sure to read our recent report: “NDN/NPI Report on Central American Migrants and President Obama’s Immigration/Border Enforcement Record.”

New NDN Report on Central American Migrants, Obama Border/Immigration Enforcement Record

Today, NDN/NPI’s 21st Century Border Project is releasing a new report looking the Central American migrant crisis and reviewing the Obama Administration’s border and immigration enforcement record.   The subjects covered in this new report, released in a PDF/Powerpoint format, are at the center of the current debate about how to best fix the US immigration system.   You can find the report at the bottom of this post in pdf format. 

Among the report’s key findings:

On Border/Immigration Enforcement – The Border is Safer, Immigration System is Better, While Trade With Mexico Is Soaring

  •  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. 
  • Out of the five high-traffic migration corridors across the US-Mexico border, four are already at or near the Senate bill’s goal of 90% effectiveness rate.
  • The flow of undocumented immigrations is way down, at net zero today.  Under Pres. Bush the undocumented immigrant population grew by over 3m, an average of almost 400,000 a year.  Under Obama there has been no growth in the undocumented immigration population – a sea change from the Clinton and Bush years.   
  •  The new prioritization of removals begun by ICE director John Morton in 2011 known has “prosecutorial discretion” has brought significant changes to the immigration/border enforcement system.  In 2013, all but 10,336 of those removed from the country were either criminals in the interior of the US or caught entering the country illegally.  The result of these policy changes is that the threat of deportation has been lifted from the vast majority of undocumented immigrants in the US,  while simultaneously providing more effective border deterrence - flow has remained low even while the US economy has recovered. 
  • In 2012, the Obama Administration implemented Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), allowing  over 1m DREAMers, unauthorized immigrants brought to US as youths, to work and study legally in the US.
  • Trade with Mexico has jumped from $340b in 2009 to about $550b in 2013.  Mexico is America’s 3rd largest trading partner, 2nd largest export market.  $1.3 billion worth of goods and 1m people cross the 2000 mile US-Mexico border each day.

On The Central American Migrant Crisis - A Review Of The Data, and Thoughts On The Path Forward

On the Central American migrant crisis, the report goes through data on the significant challenge of an overwhelmed immigration court system, and the recent increase in unauthorized arrivals in the Rio Grande Valley.  It then offers recommendations of what needs to be done to stem the tide, with a particularly emphasis on passing Comprehensive Immigration Reform - the most powerful tool in the toolbox the United States government has at its disposal today to bring the crisis to a humane and rapid end.     

Additional NDN Resources 

On Immigration, the House GOP has one answer: Deport the Kids, MSNBC, 7/15/14

The Border Migrant Crisis is a Big Test for the GOP, NDN, 7/7/14

What Congress Can Do To Help with the Central American Migrant Crisis, NDN, 6/24/14

GOP Attacks on Obama Enforcement Record are Ridiculous, NDN, 4/25/14

Backgrounder, The Surge of Central American Migrants at the U.S.-Mexico Border

The Border Migrant Crisis Is A Big Test for the GOP

The crisis at the border has already started impacting the broader debate over immigration reform.   The most interesting immediate change we are seeing is that the crisis is making it much harder for the House Republicans to maintain their current position that the status quo is preferable to some set of legislative fixes.   With GOP House Members starting to introduce bills to address the border crisis, we have stumbled now back into a debate over what Congress can do to fix the broken immigration system.  The White House and the Senate have a powerful answer to that question, Senate Bill 744 and other requests which will come from the President this week.   What will the GOP response be?  

Will the GOPs’ answer to the latest manifestation of a broken immigration system really be limited to just giving the President expedited authority to remove minors at the border?  No fixes to the legal immigration system? No legalization process for undocumented immigrants here prior to 12/31/11 as the Senate bill provides?  No additional money for more humane detention centers?  No additional monies for the immigration courts to help remove the judicial backlog which is contributing to the crisis?  No additional money for Central America to help stabilize and improve conditions there?  

It is our view that the single most powerful thing Congress can do now to help bring an end to the border migrant crisis is to pass the Senate bill in the House.  It will send a loud and clear signal to Central America and Mexico that our Congress, our parties and our President are united in improving our immigration system.  It will make clear that those who’ve come or will come after 12/31/11 will not be able to stay.   It will help alleviate the growing judicial backlog which has contributed so much to the current crisis.  It will give DHS even more powerful tools to make an already improved border even safer.   All of these things will be critical to bringing a rapid and humane end to the crisis. 

The Obama Administration is taking prudent and smart steps to bring an end to the border migrant crisis, including making clear that passing the Senate bill is a needed and important piece of what is required.  But the House GOP cannot continue to cry that the house is on fire and then prevent the Administration from using all the water we have to put the fire out.  While the border migrant crisis is clearly a test for the Administration, it is also an important test for the House GOP – and our hope is that they will work with the President in the days to end the migrant crisis while bringing long needed reform to our broader immigration system.  Failure to do so means that they will be acting to extend the crisis, worsen human suffering, slow our economic recovery, add to the deficit and strengthen the cartels profiting from the increased human trafficking from Central America.  America deserves better than that.

Update: See our recent essay, "What Congress Can Do To Help With the Central American Migrant Crisis;" and this one from earlier this year, "GOP Attacks on Obama's Immigration Enforcement Record Are Ridiculous." 

What Congress Can Do To Help with the Central American Migrant Crisis

Last Friday the Obama Administration took a series of smart and sure footed steps designed to bring an end to the Central American migrant crisis we are now experiencing on our Southern Border.  While we all welcome Congress’s attention to the issue this week, the discussions should be focusing on what Congress can and should be doing to support the Administration’s aggressive actions to date.  I offer up four things in particular Congress can do to help bring this crisis to a more rapid close:

  • Allocate necessary resources to ensure safe temporary detention facilities, expedited adjudication for unaccompanied minors and sufficient legal representation for those requiring it.  Other measures which will hasten adjudication or give temporary authority to the President should be considered. 
  • Publically support the Administration’s short and long term efforts in Central America designed to prevent reoccurrences of this recent surge.   Should include short term measures to ensure repatriation is both rapid and humane, and longer term efforts to bring more economic opportunity, citizen security and rule of law to the region.   A whole of government approach to combating the growing regional influence of trans-national organized crime should be developed and implemented.
  • The House should pass something akin to the Senate Immigration Reform bill in the next few weeks.  There is no doubt at this point that confusion about our immigration system has played a role in the recent surge.   The single most effective way our government has of clearing up this confusion is by passing immigration reform swiftly so it can be enacted by the end of this year.   The rules of the road will be clear as day at point, ensuring that all in Central America understand that no migrants arriving here after Dec 31st, 2011 will eligible for legalization. 
  • Speak with one voice.   Again, by Congress passing a plan like the one outlined here and showing their support for the Administration, the United States government will be sending a loud and clear signal to those South of us that the US is determined to bring a swift and humane end to the crisis.  This unaminity will itself be a powerful deterrent, and help us bring an immediate slowing of the northbound flow.

This week the House Republicans have spent far more energy beating up on the Administration about this crisis than acting as a responsible partner in bring the crisis to a close.   In the coming weeks they and all of Congress will have an opportunity to do their part in bringing this unfortunate chapter in our immigration system to a close.   The Administration has taken smart and aggressive first steps.   They have done their part.  It is now time for Congress to do its part.  Failure to act will prolong the crisis, worsen human suffering and strengthen the cartels south of the border prospering from the enlarged flow. 

For more information on the migrant crisis, please look at the new "backgrounder" we at NDN have put together. In particular, Greg Sargent has a great piece outlining how Congress can approach this issue. 

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