Last May, the White House realeased the report National Travel & Tourism Strategy, which highlights the importance of investing in border infrastructure as a way to increase tourism and transportation from Mexico. After the fact, the Border Mayors Association as well as the Mayor of Yuma, Arizona, Alan Krieger, sent thank you letters to the White House for taking into consideration their needs and desires on the National Travel and Tourism report. Here you can read both letters:
Daily Border Bulletin is up! Today's stories include:
U.S. House debates today Holder’s role in Operation Fast and Furious- The U.S. House of Representatives was expected on Thursday to debate Attorney General Eric Holder’s role in “Operation Fast and Furious” and possibly charge him with contempt for failing to turn over some documents related to a failed probe of gun-running along the U.S.-Mexico border.
Migration to the U.S. fell in 2010 and rose in Mexico, OECD says-Migration to the United States fell by 8% in 2010. It dropped by 3% to European OECD countries – excluding intra-European movements – and rose by more than 10% to Canada, Korea and Mexico, according to the 2012 International Migration Outlook published on June 27, 2012.
Agency recommends changes to DHS to ease backlog on immigration courts- Government officials have adopted a series of recommendations to streamline federal immigration courts, where a record-high number of backlogged cases has brought the “fairness and effectiveness” of the courts into question
Since John McCain and Ted Kennedy built the framework for what is called Comprehensive Immigration Reform in 2005, the policy and political landscape has changed a great deal. Pieces of CIR have been enacted, others stalled, others need updating. In the aftermath of a tumultuous few weeks in the immigration reform debate we found ourselves asking – so if a bill were to move in the next Congress, what would it look like? What problems are we trying to solve now, and where should the emphasis be? Is the original McCain-Kennedy framework still applicable to just something else need to be constructed?
To take a look at these questions NDN/NPI is launching a new series of events we call “Rethinking Immigration Reform.” Our first in the series is with a terrific and thoughtful group of experts and advocates from across the political spectrum, including:
Tamar Jacoby, President and CEO, ImmigrationWorks USA Thomas A. Saenz, President and General Counsel, Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF) Frank Sharry, Executive Director, America's Voice
The first in our series of events will take place July 18th, at NDN/NPI's event space, 729 15th St, NW. Lunch will be served at noon and the program will begin at 1215pm. Seating is very limited for this event so please RSVP today.
Below please find some of our recent commentary on the state of the current immigration debate:
With President Obama Our Immigration System Is Better, Our Border Safer/Romney Offers Thin Gruel, Embrace of SB1070/Brewer/Self Deportation/Attrition Approach
In his 2008 campaign President Obama promised to fix our broken immigration system through a strategy we’ve come to know as comprehensive immigration reform (CIR). CIR’s approach was to improve the system in three ways: 1) deter undocumented immigrants through better enforcement in the workplace and on the border; 2) design a better system for the future flow of immigrants so fewer undocumenteds would enter the country; 3) create a path to legal status for the 11 million undocumented immigrants living and working among us.
Despite significant efforts by the Administration to pass CIR in 2010, the Republicans refused to go along and using the Senate filibuster blocked passage, as their party didin previous attempts to pass CIR in 2006 and 2007.
While CIR may not have passed, due to firm leadership from the Obama Administration over the past few years, more of the elements of CIR have been enacted then many realize, leaving our border safer and immigration system better than it was prior to 2009.
Let’s review what has been done:
Border Safety, Stopping the Flow of Undocumented Immigrants – The Administration has adopted the most aggressive set of border safely initiatives in US history. More money has been allocated, and personnel dispatched to the border and there has been much greater cooperation with Mexico in tackling these common challenges than any time in our nations history. The result today is that despite violence on the Mexican side of the border the communities on the US side have some of the lowest crime rates in the US; there has been virtually no spilloverviolence; progress has been made in stopping the southbound flow of guns and bulk cash; the net flow of undocumented immigrants from Mexico to the US has dropped from 500,000 a year just a few years ago to zero today.
While the border has become much safer, importantly these efforts have not stifled legal commerce with Mexico. Trade with Mexico, despite our economic recent downturn, has grown significantly in recent years. Mexico is now the US’s third largest trading partner, second largest export market and second largest source of foreign tourists of any country in the world. New ports of entry have been opened for the first time in a decade, and other ports have been modernized.
Better Workplace Enforcement – After extensive consultation with businesses the Obama Administration transitioned from large-scale workplace arrests of undocumented workers to a far more effective electronic I-9 audit system. Under the Obama Administration, cases against employers are up sharply: Immigration and Customs Enforcement quadrupled the number of employer audits after Obama took office, increasing the number of inspections and arrests against those who knowingly hire illegal immigrants. Businesses were fined $6.9 million in fiscal 2010, up from $675,000 in 2008. Additionally, the administration has been an aggressive proponent of a national employer verification system, an idea not supported by the current Republican House majority.
Making Deportation of Criminals A Priority – The Administration has made the deportation of criminal undocumented immigrants the primary deportation priority. In retrospect, it is hard to believe that this wasn’t the priority of previous Administrations. Due to the negotiation of unprecedented federal, state and local cooperation on immigration enforcement, this policy has worked. Net number of deportations of undocumented immigrations are up in the Obama Administration, as are the removal of criminals as a percentage of deportations.
Temporary Legal Status for DREAMers – The President’s decision to grant deportation relief to DREAM act eligible immigrants was a bold and dramatic act of Presidential leadership, one that should be welcomed by all those who want a better immigration system in America. The move was targeted, legal and the right thing to do. It will affect about 800,000 of the best and brightest immigrants caught up in a broken system for decisions not of their making.
Despite Republican opposition, the Obama Administration has made the border safer and the immigration better, while also ensuring a significant increase in trade with Mexico through our common border. Those who argue that the President’s decision last week to grant two year visas to DREAM eligible youth was election year politics don’t understand that this was just the latest step in a long series of steps to fix our broken immigration – efforts which have seen real and tangible improvement in America’s immigration system.
Romney’s Approach – Thin Policy Gruel, Embrace of Arizona/SB1070 “Self-Deportation.”
Seen through this light, the Romney immigration outline released yesterday looks like very thin policy gruel. The enforcement section of his outline lists things already enacted by the Obama Administration. The reforms in family re-unification, high-end visas and temporary workers are all initiatives already proposed by Democrats, and which do not represent a true redesign of the system necessary to meet the needs of our modern economy and deter future un-documented from entering the country.
And finally, of course, the outline never addresses the most pressing problem facing our immigration system, the presence of 11 million undocumented immigrants. From this omission one can only conclude that Governor Romney is sticking with the “self-deportation/attrition” strategy he embraced in the Republican Primaries, a strategy supported by national leaders like Jan Brewer, Joe Arpaio, Kris Kobach and many other Republicans.
One heard commentators on television this morning praising Governor Romney for softening his tone on immigration. Perhaps that is the case. But the only olive branch we saw is in areas of this debate frankly peripheral to fixing the system itself. On the two big issues – what to do with the undocumenteds and the 800,000 DREAM eligible kids who will have legal visas if Romney were to become President - we are left to assume that they would be subject to the same SB1070/Arizona/Arpaio approach the Governor embraced in the primaries and which will return to the national stage when the Supreme Court rules next week.
Friday’s incredible announcement that the White House will be deferring the deportation of DREAM Act students, that is younger undocumented immigrants who came to the US as children and have since led law-abiding lives, is the latest in a series of moves initiated by President Obama to fix a broken immigration system.
A system which Congressional Republicans have steadfastly refused to help reform.
The administration’s most recent move cannot be seen as an isolated instance in an election year because it is just one of many times when the president has stepped up to fix an inherited, broken system.
Simply put, without the legislative work the White House utilized in introducing prosecutorial discretion in August of last year, the current relief for "DREAMers" would be impossible.
These actions are merely the tip of the iceberg.
Here are the facts: the president has invested in our border to increase safety, increased legal immigration and trade, and has lowered the number of undocumented immigrants entering the country. Quite simply this administration has done a lot to fix an anachronistic immigration system which no longer works for our country.
The Republican Party has not been able to pass a single piece of legislation that would do anything to fix our immigration system. They have tried to pass mandatory E-Verify, a national employment verification system; the leadership in the House could not even bring this to the House floor.
On the issue of immigration, when it comes to actually pro-actively coming up with ideas to make the legal system of immigration into the country the Republican Party is utterly impotent.
Currently Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney will not even utter the word “immigration” in public. Forever living in mortal fear of angering Tea Party activists or further alienating Hispanic activists, has effectively boxed Romney in on this issue.
Romney has consistently said that he would veto the DREAM Act as president. On the other hand Florida Republican Senator Marco Rubio has thus far been unable to get any support from his party for a Republican version of the DREAM Act, and has yet to release any legislation.
In reality the deferment of deportation of our best and brightest undocumented immigrants is smart, fair policy. In no way does it give a pathway to legal citizenship, IT merely offers those who were brought to the United States as young children, who do not present a risk to national security or public safety, an opportunity to continue to contribute to our society as a whole.
The deferment of deportation of our best and brightest undocumented immigrants is smart, fair policy
Furthermore, any immigrant with a criminal background is ineligible for this deferment. This will prevent the deportation of as many as 800,000 of our best and brightest undocumented immigrants.
Let us be clear: we are NOT talking about millions of people. Still, this has not prevented Texas Republican Rep.Lamar Smith from stating: “President Obama’s decision to grant amnesty to potentially millions of illegal immigrants is a breach of faith with the American people.”
This is not only false, it also highlights a highlights a very real divide between the president’s vision for our country. It is a question of progress versus the stagnation presented in the “enforcement only” version of our immigration system as espoused by the Republican Party.
The reality is that this latest move is very much consistent with President Obama's overall vision of fixing our immigration system. This move by the administration is fair. It will not lead toward citizenship but will remove the threat of deportation and grant those who have been in the United States most of their lives the ability to work here legally.
Cecilia Munoz, White House Domestic Policy Adviser, characterizes this as a next step in a series of administration moves to fix our broken immigration system. One could argue that this is one of the most significant steps in recent immigration reform in recent memory. It is this type of bold leadership which will eventually lead to broader reforms of our broken immigration system.
Mexicans are the largest number of business owners in the U.S.- Immigrants born in Mexico make up 12 percent of immigrant small business owners, followed by immigrants born in India, Korea, Cuba, China, and Vietnam, according to a new report by the Fiscal Policy Institute.
Border landowners oppose two bills in Congress- A farmer from Montana and a rancher from Arizona wrote an op-ed in Los Angeles Times to express their opposition to bills pending in Congress that would give unrestricted power to the Department of Homeland Security on all public lands within 100 miles of the U.S. borders.
Foreign visitors' spending is up- The US Department of Commerce’s International Trade Administration today released tourism data revealing that international visitors spent an estimated US$14 billion on travel to, and tourism-related activities within, the United States in April 2012 - US$1.5 billion more (12 percent) than was spent in April 2011.
Rubio´s DREAM Act bill is inexistent- Three months after U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio announced an alternative to the Dream Act, he has yet to produce a written proposal.
Austin launches partnership to lure Mexican entrepreneurs- The University of Texas through its IC2 Institute and the Greater Austin Hispanic Chamber of Commerce plan to hold the Instituto de Empresarios de Austin to provide information to Mexican business owners about starting a business in Austin, Texas.
Arizona governor prepares for Supreme Court rule- While awaiting for the U.S. Supreme Court rule on the future of Arizona's controversial immigration law Senate Bill 1070, Gov. Jan Brewer of Arizona issued an executive order requiring the Arizona Peace Officer Standards and Training Board to redistribute to all law enforcement agencies by Friday a training video originally sent out when the law passed two years ago.
Federal initiative aimed to increase loans in border communities- The U.S. Departments of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), of Agriculture, and of the Treasury’s Community Development Financial Institutions Fund (CDFI Fund) announced a joint “Border Community Capital Initiative” (Border Initiative), designed to increase access to capital in the U.S./Mexico border region which includes some of the poorest communities in the country. The announcement is part of a series of initiatives delivered through the White House Rural Council to help create jobs and expand opportunities in rural communities.
Business leaders demand an immigration reform- Nearly 200 business owners from Alabama, Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Georgia, ended up on Tuesday, June 12, urging Congress to pass a comprehensive immigration reform during the summit “Forging a New Consensus on Immigrants and America.”
Chicago suburb rejects a detention center- Village leaders unanimously rejected plans for a proposed immigrant detention center in Crete, outside of Chicago.
How to make U.S. agriculture stronger?- Opening pathways for temporary seasonal workers and fixing the immigration system are the answer to drive agriculture in the U.S.
House bans abortions for undocumented immigrants- The GOP-led House approved a Homeland Security spending bill that includes a provision barring Immigration and Customs Enforcement from providing abortions for undocumented immigrant detainees, a measure that has little chance of surviving in the Democratic-controlled Senate.
The U.S. no longer is a role model on immigration policies- The U.S. immigration policies do not attract more talented people than other countries, but still immigrants to this country have better assimilation than anywhere else.
American expats move to Tijuana- More expatriates are leaving the US and calling Tijuana home. Younger, hipper and speak Spanish, they are attracted by the Mexican city’s culture and affordable housing since homicide rates in Tijuana have dropped 40 percent.
Border Patrol lauches TV campaign in Mexico to prevent immigrants’ deaths- The U.S. Border Patrol, in coordination with the Mexican government, launched the “Border Safety Initiative”, a campaign that includes TV and radio ads as well as a norteño song to prevent the deaths of immigrants along the Southwest border.
Arizona sheriff stops special immigration patrols- Joe Arapaio, the Arizona sheriff known for his hardline stance on illegal immigration has gone months without using his most controversial law enforcement tactic.