“After the first day of Senate Judiciary Mark-Up, it is clear the Senate Immigration Bill (S.744) retains significant bipartisan momentum. Some smart amendments were added to the bill, but more importantly bad ones were rejected. The thoughtful bipartisan core of the bill remains intact. The adept management of this early stage of the Committee process leaves us optimistic about the bill’s passage. Some additional observations:
The Grassley amendment Extending the Higher Border Apprehension Goals To The Whole Border – The Gang of Eight Bill called for new border security targets of 100% surveillance and 90% apprehension rate of people attempting to cross the border in what are called “high traffic” corridors where most of the north-bound flow lies. Senator Chuck Grassley’s amendment #1 adopted yesterday extended that goal to the entire border.
It remains to be seen if this is a good idea. The original target appears achievable with the amount of money allocated, the time required (5 years) to achieve these goals, and taking into account where these apprehension rates are today. A December report from the Government Accountability Office reported that of the Border Patrol’s nine southwest-border sectors, five had more than 30,000 apprehensions in fiscal 2011, making them a “high traffic” corridor. Of these five, San Diego, CA had a 92% apprehension rate, El Centro, CA 91%, Tucson, AZ 87%,Laredo, TX 84 % and the Rio Grande corridor in Texas was 71%.
Given where things stand now, it seems reasonable that with the time allotted and additional resources the 5 high traffic corridors, where the overwhelming majority of the north bound flow lies, can hit the new 90% apprehension rate target. Whether it is prudent to extend that goal to areas where far fewer migrants pass, and in places that are often remote and difficult to police, is something that deserves debate in the coming months.
The Feinstein Infrastructure amendment - We were further heartened to see that Senator Diane Feinstein’s amendment #10, was adopted. This important amendment would allow the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security and the Secretary of Transportation, in consultation with the governors of the States in the Southwest border region and the Northern border region to establish a grant program “to construct transportation and support infrastructure improvements at existing and new international border crossings necessary to facilitate safe, secure, and efficient cross border movement of people, motor vehicles, and cargo.”
Coupled with the far-sighted commitment in the Senate Bill to add an additional 3,500 new customs agents, the improved legislation makes a truly significant commitment to investing in expanding legal trade and travel with Mexico. As our new paper, Realizing the Strategic National Value of our Trade, Tourism and Ports of Entry with Mexico details, the economic relationship between the US and Mexico has become one of the most important in the world. In just the past 4 years, trade between US and Mexico has grown from $300 billion to $536 billion last year. Mexico is now our 3rd largest trading partner, 2nd largest export market. 23 states in the US count Mexico as their number 1 or 2 export market of all the countries in the world. The smart investments in this bill directed towards border infrastructure investment will help ensure that this explosive trade relationship continues to expand, and jobs on both sides of the border continue to be created.
On Thursday, April 4th, Simon debated noted restrictionist Mark Krikorian on in an extended segment on Betty Liu's morning show on Bloomberg TV. He argued: "the politics of this are not impossible... I'm very optimistic we're going to get something done this year." He then continued to defend the progress on the border, explaining "Crime is way down along the entire US side of the border... There's been tremendous progress made... and to disregard that is just lying," largely crediting the Adminsitration for this success. It is a spirited segment, well worth a watch.
Your Daily Border Bulletin is up! Today's stories include:
Homeland Security Today: No furloughs for CBP. Continuing Resolution to Provide CBP Boosts to Maintain Staffing: President Barack Obama is set to sign a continuing resolution (HR 933) to fund the federal government for the rest of fiscal year 2013, ostensibly increasing funding for border security efforts for the year. The appropriations bill allocated $39.6 billion to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), detailing DHS spending while keeping the overall budget within the caps set by the Budget Control Act of 2011 — at $984 billion overall for FY 2013. The White House has not yet announced if Obama will sign the consolidated appropriations bill Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday.
Politico – Business balks at immigration deal A deal between the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and labor groups on visas for low-skilled workers was supposed to clear a path for an immigration reform package in the Senate. Instead, some business groups are grumbling about the deal and they’re gearing up for a lobbying battle on Capitol Hill — where powerful interests helped doom immigration reform over the same issue before.
New York Times Op-Ed: Priced Out of Citizenship by Rahm Emanuel and Rep. Luis V. Guttierez AS Congress debates creating a path to citizenship for 11 million undocumented immigrants, it must at the same time remove one of the biggest obstacles on that path: the cost of applying for citizenship. Citizenship and Immigration Services, part of the Department of Homeland Security, charges $680 (including a mandatory $85 “biometric fee” to cover fingerprinting) to apply for naturalization. This steep fee, which can amount to more than two weeks’ wages for some immigrants, is so high that it effectively denies legal permanent residents a chance to become citizens.
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Senate immigration deal close to Obama plan: The nation’s 11 million illegal immigrants would have to wait a full decade for a green card but could earn citizenship just three years after that, under a provision being finalized by a bipartisan group of eight senators working to devise an overhaul of immigration law, several people with knowledge of the negotiations said. Taken together, the two waiting periods would provide the nation’s illegal immigrants with a path to United States citizenship in 13 years, matching the draft of a plan by President Obama to offer full participation in American democracy to millions who are living in fear of deportation.
Negotiations continue for business and labor Talks led by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the AFL-CIO over a new guest-worker program for lower-skilled immigrants are stalled, prompting members of the bipartisan group of eight senators to get personally involved to try to nudge the negotiations toward a resolution. Business and labor groups have been meeting for weeks in an attempt to put together a system that would allow employers to find foreign labor when American workers are not available and that would allow foreign workers into the country. The idea is to create a new “W” visa category for lower-skilled guest workers. No such visas exists right now, leaving a vacuum that undocumented workers have been filling.
Arizona Border More Secure Because of Enforcement Flying low along the Mexican line in a Black Hawk helicopter, the United States Border Patrol officer saw surveillance towers rising above the cactus. He saw his agents’ white and green trucks moving among the mesquite, scouting for illegal crossers. Far overhead, a remotely guided drone beamed images of the terrain to an intelligence center in Tucson. Pilots cruised in reconnaissance planes carrying radars and infrared cameras that could distinguish a migrant with a backpack from a wild animal from many miles away.
Today, I released the following statement. For press inquiries, please contact Anjani Nadadur at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We are pleased to see both President Obama and the Senate taking such serious steps towards passing immigration reform in this Congress.
As we move forward on this debate, it is critical to recognize how much circumstances have changed since we began the process of reforming our immigration system back in 2005.
A few examples:
Success on the Border - Additional resources, better strategies, and enhanced cooperation with Mexico have brought about significant improvement in the border region. Net migration of undocumented immigrants into the US has dropped from 500,000 a year a decade ago to zero today, crime on the US side of the border has plummeted, all while legal trade and tourism with Mexico have grown at very rapid levels.
Mexico Is Growing, Modernizing - The Mexican "baby boom" which encouraged so many Mexicans to migrate into the US has ended, and the Mexican economy is producing far more better paying jobs. The birth rate per Mexican woman had fallen from 7.3 in 1960 to almost 2 today. Mexican economic growth is equally significant: by 2010, Mexican GNI per capita had risen to nearly $9,000, up from $3,250 in 1991. Today Mexico is the 13th largest economy in the world, is America’s 3rd largest trading partner and 2nd largest export market. If current trends continue, Mexico will be the 5th largest economy in the world by 2050. The result of these developments is that the enormous flow of undocumented immigrants from Mexico into the U.S. we saw in the decade of the 2000s is almost certainly never going to be replicated.
The Immigration System Is Better - While Congress failed to act, the Obama Administration has taken a series of steps to improve the legal immigration system in the US in recent years, including: prioritizing criminal migrants for deportation, making it easier for families to stay together during the legalization process, replacing work place raids with more targeted and effective I-9 audits and removing the threat of deportation from deserving undocumented youth.
For those in Washington working on a 2013 Immigration Reform legislative package, it is essential that they take into account how much safer the border region is today, how much better the legal immigration system is, and how much Mexico itself is changing.
We are optimistic that the two parties can come together this year, building on the success of recent years, and take the critical next steps to reform the immigration system in America.
For more, see here for important NDN work on immigration reform and please find recent press on immigration reform here.
Daily Border Bulletin is up! Today's stories include, please click here for the full stories:
USA Today – Rep. Gowdy selected to head key immigration committee - House leaders chose a vocal opponent of illegal immigration to head up the chamber’s immigration subcommittee, which will play an integral role in the upcoming debates on how to reform the nation’s immigration laws.
BBC – Mexico to create new police force in drugs policy shift - Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto, has announced the creation of a new national police force as part of efforts to tackle crime and violence.
National Journal – Opinion: New Year’s Resolution for Congress Should Be Passing Immigration Reform - Amid all the talk of the fiscal cliff and debt ceiling, White House and congressional staffers are working behind the scenes on negotiating some consensus on another major issue: immigration reform. If they can deliver a Christmas present in the form of avoiding the fiscal cliff, then passing immigration reform should be their New Year’s resolution.
One of the more curious developments in American politics over the last two decades is the political malpractice of Republicans in dealing with Hispanic-Americans. Indeed, it now appears that the 2012 election may well be determined by the share of the Latino vote that Governor Mitt Romney is able to keep from falling into President Barack Obama’s column.
According to the Investor’s Business Daily tracking poll, Hispanics prefer Barack Obama by a greater than 2:1 margin (61% to 29% on October 25). Hispanic-Americans have tilted toward the Democrats for decades, so it is hard to blame the Republican Party’s current predicament on just the political tactics of this year’s campaign.
But unlike the African-American vote since the 1960s, which has remained rock solid Democratic, history indicates that on occasion the GOP has competed for and won a significant share of the Latino vote. Hispanics tend to be family oriented and somewhat entrepreneurial, which should make them potential Republicans.
But deliberate, conscious decisions by Republican leaders focused on the short run gains from immigrant bashing have done severe damage to the long term health of their party. Attacks on immigrants have caused Hispanics to desert the GOP in droves, particularly in the two most recent presidential elections. And, because the Latino population is relatively youthful, if this concern is not dealt with, it may become even more acute for the Republican Party in the years ahead. Among Millennials, America’s youngest adult generation, about one in five is Latino as compared with about one in ten among Baby Boomers and one in twenty among seniors. Among the even younger Pluralist generation (children 10 years old and younger) between a quarter and 30% are Hispanic. Between these two up-and-coming generations, it’s likely that Hispanics will represent nearly 30% of the nation’s population within the next few decades. This suggests that the Republican Party has little hope of winning national elections in the future unless it reverses its current policies to bring them more in alignment with the attitudes and beliefs of this key voter group.
Some have estimated that Ronald Reagan won 37% of the Hispanic vote in his successful 1984 re-election campaign. Since then the presence of Hispanic voters in the electorate has grown by 400%, but the Republican share of their votes has risen above the level at which Latinos supported Reagan only once. That occurred in 2004 when Karl Rove’s strategic focus on Latinos enabled President George W. Bush’s re-election effort to win upwards of 40% of the Hispanic vote. In every other presidential election since 1984, Republicans have struggled to win the votes of even one out of three Hispanics.
Recent data from Pew Research demonstrates that the Hispanic rejection of the GOP was not pre-ordained. Their recent survey showed 70% of Hispanics now identify themselves as Democrats, but that this percentage falls to just 52% among Evangelical Hispanics, a fast growing group whose cultural attitudes are more conservative than those of the overall Hispanic population. In 2004, President Bush actually won a majority of the Hispanic Protestant vote even as his support among Catholic Hispanics failed to improve from his showing in 2000.
Catholic Hispanics, who comprise about 60% of all Latinos, are more likely to vote based on perceived loyalties to their social-economic class than their attitudes on social issues. Bertha Gallegos, who is Catholic, pro-life and the Vice President of the Colorado Society of Hispanic Genealogy, a nonprofit and nonpartisan organization that researches the state’s Latino history, typifies the attitude among members of her faith toward the Republican Party. “I still don’t get how Hispanics can be Republicans. The only time they’re nice to us is when they want our vote. Republicans work to make the rich richer. They don’t care about the poor.”
Since the virulently anti-immigrant campaign in favor of Proposition 187 in California that attempted to bar immigrant access to basic social services the Republicans have continued to play exactly the wrong tune for Hispanics. In this year’s Republican primary, there was much emphasis on removing undocumented immigrants from American soil through self-deportation or other more draconian means, Republicans have allowed economic resentment and cultural fears to get in the way of positive voter outreach to America’s fastest growing minority population. After all, many Latino legal residents and citizens also have relatives and friends who are undocumented.
Yet studies as far back as the 2000 presidential election have shown that when properly engaged, Hispanics have an open mind on which party deserves their support. Latinos in that election were statistically more likely to support Bush over Gore if they were contacted by Latino rather than Anglo Republicans. Clearly the election in 2010 of Latino Republican governors, Susana Martinez of New Mexico and Brian Sandoval of Nevada, suggests that the community remains open to such appeals in the future.
Before such efforts can be successful however, Republicans will have to reverse course on their attitudes toward comprehensive immigration reform, a cause which traces its historical lineage to Ronald Reagan and which was a key part of Karl Rove’s re-election strategy for George W. Bush. Only when the Republican Party’s message changes will their messengers deserve and be able to gain a respectful hearing from America’s Hispanics.
Last night’s debate presented Republican Presidential nominee Mitt Romney with yet another opportunity to turn his back on the "attrition through enforcement" model of Self Deportation, best embodied by Arizona’s anti-immigrant legislation SB 1070. Once again, Romney did not in any way distance himself from his long-held immigration plan, the objective of which would be to make life so miserable for undocumented immigrants that they would simply leave the country. But don’t take my word for it—below are Romney’s own words on the subject.
"Now, let me mention one other thing, and that is self-deportation says let people make their own choice. What I was saying is, we're not going to round up 12 million people, undocumented illegals, and take them out of the nation. Instead let people make their own choice. And if they -- if they find that -- that they can't get the benefits here that they want and they can't -- and they can't find the job they want, then they'll make a decision to go a place where -- where they have better opportunities. But I'm not in favor of rounding up people and -- and -- and taking them out of this country."
While it may be true that Romney says (he has a habit of changing his mind) that he is not for rounding up undocumented immigrants and removing them from the country, according to the Immigration Policy Center what he is proposing in "self deportation may actually be worse:
"Mr. Romney explains how he thinks "self-deportation" would work by saying “if people don’t get work here, they’re going to self-deport to a place they can get work.” "Self-deportation" - or, more accurately, "attrition through enforcement" - goes far beyond denying unauthorized immigrants work. The strategy is currently embodied in state laws that include provisions denying education, transportation, and even basic services like water and housing to anyone who cannot prove legal immigration status. So far, the states that have attempted to roll out this plan have done little more than undermine basic human rights, devastate local economies, and place unnecessary burdens on U.S. citizens and lawful immigrants. "
Romney also went on at great length to distance himself from the idea that he believes that Arizona's self deportation law SB 1070 is a model for the country. Does this mean that he does not support an Arizona-style law for the country as a whole?
Absolutely not. The President rightly pointed out that Romney’s head immigration campaign advisor, Kris Kobach, actually wrote SB 1070, demonstrating the ridiculous nature of Romney’s denial.
"I do want to make sure that -- I do want to make sure that we just understand something. Governor Romney says he wasn't referring to Arizona as a model for the nation. His top adviser on immigration is the guy who designed the Arizona law, the entirety of it; not E-Verify, the whole thing. That's his policy. And it's a bad policy. And it won't help us grow."
That last point in the President’s statement is important, and illustrates that at the end of the day these two candidates could not differ more on the issue of immigration. The President believes that immigrants will help our country grow, as evidenced by his landmark Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. This smart and fair move to grant targeted temporary reprieve for young undocumented immigrants is exactly the type of leadership that is missing from the Republican Party on this issue.
Last night that could not have been more clear. Video of the Immigration Exchange is below:
For background information on NDN's work in this space please make sure to check out NPI Fellow Rob Shapiro's outstanding report,"The Impact of Immigration and Immigration Reform on the Wages of American Workers."
Also be sure to read the following reports by NDN/NPI’s 21st Century Border Initiative: Realizing the Value of Crossborder Trade with Mexico,examines the rising importance of the export sector and how to strengthen our relationship with Mexico, our nation’s number two export market and Realizing the Full Value of Tourism from Mexico to the United States, a tourism report that outlines five steps to help unlock the tremendous economic value of Mexican tourism into the United States.
Check back daily for the latest news and reports in the 21st Century Border Initiative’s Daily Border Bulletin, and follow us on Twitter, @21border.