NDN Blog

Video: Expert Panel on Obama Immigration/Border Enforcement Record

With the topic of immigration very much in the news, and the release of more specific data from DHS’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) this year, NDN/NPI put together a panel discussion on the Obama Administration’s immigration and border enforcement record. 
Marc Rosenblum, Deputy Director of the US Immigration Policy Program at the Migration Policy Institute, Edward Alden of the Council of Foreign Relations, and Tamar Jacoby, President and CEO of ImmigrationWorks USA shared their latest findings and analyses of the current state of affairs. The discussion aimed to help unpack what this new DHS data means, allow experts to weigh in on the Obama Administration’s enforcement record, and take questions from the audience.  We think it was a terrific discussion.  Please find the C-SPAN and NDN video footage of the event below. 

For more on NDN's work in this area of late, please see this recent, comprehensive backgrounder.

Video: Simon on Obama Administration Border/Imm Enforcement Record

On Thursday, April 17th Simon recorded this six minute video offering his thoughts on the current debate over the Administration’s border and immigration enforcement record.   His basic take: Obama has made the border safer, the immigration system better and more humane, while simultaneously expanding trade with Mexico. On a tough issue with even tougher politics, the current Administration has done a good job.

See here for a roundup of our recent analyses, and links to other helpful news articles, videos and think tank reports.

Note: At one point in the video, Simon says that both sides need to give the President more credit than he deserves. Of course, what he meant to say is that the President deserves more credit than all sides are currently giving him.



Backgrounder: The Administration’s Progress on Immigration and Border Enforcement

In light of the current public discussion of the Obama Administration’s record immigration enforcement, we offer up the following background materials compiled in the last two months from years of work on this topic.  While there is still more to be done, the Administration has made tremendous efforts over the last five years to secure the US border with Mexico, and to smartly prioritize enforcement resources for the removal of unauthorized immigrants with criminal convictions or who have recently crossed the border without permission.

Additional Resources:


We hope you find these useful, and please reach out with questions.

NDN Analysis on Deportations Picked Up by the Media

NDN's latest analysis on the Obama Administration's Immigration Enforcement Record got picked up by the media, here are some of the latest stories:

-Griselda NevarezAmid calls to halt deportations, progressive group defends Obama,  VOXXI, 4/10/14 (also running on La Opinión English home page)

-Laura MecklerNDN Defends Obama’s Deportation Record,  Wall Street Journal, 4/9/14

-María PeñaDemocratic group says the amount of deportations have decreased under ObamaLaOpinión, 4/10/14


Under Obama, Trade Deficits Way Down

In 2013, our trade deficit was $472b, down from $535b in 2012.   The total trade deficit represents 2.8% of US GDP, a number far lower that what saw a decade ago.  These new number speaks to an important trend – that under President Obama the trade deficit has come way down (see the chart below).  

For comparison, the average trade deficit under President Bush was $592b, or 4.5% of GDP.  Under Obama the trade deficit has averaged $489b, or 3.1% of GDP.  And it is dropping.

Source: You can find this data at the US Department of Commerce, Bureau of Economic Analysis. 

Statement from NDN's Rob Shapiro on New Jobs Report

 “Today’s upbeat jobs news is, simply put, quite good news.  Yes, the sharp dip in unemployment from 7.3 percent in October to 7.0 percent in November, with gains of 203,000 nonfarm jobs, reflects in part the return of furloughed federal workers and those whose jobs depend on them.  But the November gains were so substantial, because the government shutdown obscured steady improvements in the jobs market through both October and November. That’s why the jobless rate dropped three-tenths of a percent even as labor force participation rose, average working hours increased, and the number of part-time workers who want full-time work declined steeply.  And this is the second encouraging report in two days -- we found out yesterday that GDP grew at a 3.6 percent rate in the third quarter.  All of this helps explain why the largest employment gains last month came not in government, but in consumer-sensitive areas such including manufacturing, health care and transportation and warehousing.”

Dr. Robert Shapiro, 12/6/2013

There’s Real Economic Development Gold in El Dorado—Arkansas

By Morley Winograd and Michael D. Hais. October 19, 2013.

For centuries, explorers searched for the legendary golden city of El Dorado, seeking instant wealth in the jungles of South America. But today’s treasure trove may be found much closer to home; cities like El Dorado, Arkansas, for example, that have successfully linked their economic development strategy to improving the educational attainment of their residents.

El Dorado, a city of about 20,000 people that was at the heart of Arkansas’s oil boom in the 1920s has been hard pressed to reprise that economic growth experience in this century.  Instead of chasing after the fool’s gold of becoming cool, it has found a way to attract new residents and increase its economic vitality by promising its public school students a free college education if they graduate from high school with good grades. That promise has the potential to provide the critical glue in holding together a broad based economic recovery not just for cities such as El Dorado but for entire states or even the country.

The El Dorado Promise is a scholarship program established and funded by Murphy Oil Corporation, the town’s largest employer. Modeled after a similar program in Kalamazoo, MI, It provides graduates of the city’s high school a scholarship covering tuition and mandatory fees that can be used at any accredited two- or four-year, public or private, educational institution in the US up to an amount equal to the highest annual resident tuition at an Arkansas public university.

Since its inception in 2007, 1239 students have taken advantage of the offer. Over 90% of them have completed at least one year of college. The first high school class to enjoy this benefit has graduated after five years from college at a rate almost 40% greater than the state’s higher education student population. These gains in acquiring the skills necessary to be competitive in today’s global economy have been achieved by virtually all of the city’s high school students, over 90% of whom graduated from high school last year.

Furthermore the culture of a college-bound student population is now permeating throughout the school district, with a recent study finding that students in grades three through eight in the city scored significantly higher than their matched peers in nearby school districts in both math and literacy. The greatest gains have come from those who were the youngest when the Promise was announced.

The goal of the El Dorado Promise was not just greater educational attainment, however. The visionaries who established the program also wanted to use this program to improve the community’s economic vitality and quality of life. They have clearly done that.  Enrollment in the city’s schools was up 5% in just the first four years of the program’s existence. As the Promise website says, “the prospect of an increasingly educated workforce gives economic development leaders new tools to attract businesses to the region.”

The first such Promise was made in Kalamazoo, Michigan in 2005 by still anonymous benefactors seeking to restore the reputation of a city made famous in 1942 by the Glenn Miller Orchestra’s hit tune about a “gal” who lived there. Rather than raise taxes to balance the city’s budget, those who established the Kalamazoo Promise offered a fully paid four-year scholarship to any public institution of higher education in Michigan to any student who went to the city’s high schools for all four years. Under the terms of the Kalamazoo Promise, students have no obligation to repay the money or even to reside in Kalamazoo after they graduate from college.

The results are very similar to those of El Dorado. Kalamazoo’s student population is up 17.6% and dropout rates have been cut in half. Ninety percent of the city’s female African-American high school graduates have gone on to college. On the economic front, the proportion of residential construction in the city rose sharply from around 30% to nearly 50% of all permits issued in the greater Kalamazoo area. The community’s careful tracking of the results has identified 1600 families who say they are living in the city because of the Promise.

The economic challenges that caused El Dorado and Kalamazoo to up their game in getting local residents to graduate from high school and go on to college are no different than the challenge facing the country as a whole  in trying to create a competitive workforce in today’s increasingly global and technology driven economy.  For example, the Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce estimates that 62% of the jobs in the United States by the year 2018 will require at least some college education – for example a certificate for a specific skill – and that more than half of those jobs will require a bachelor’s degree. Unless the nation wants to fill those jobs with immigrants from other countries, it will have to do a much better job of giving each American who graduates from high school a chance to pursue a two year skill certificate or a baccalaureate degree. 

A promise that rewards good academic performance in high school with a scholarship that pays for four years of college tuition has demonstrated it can make a major difference in achieving our educational and economic goals. Now it’s time for the rest of the country to find the gold that Kalamazoo and El Dorado have already discovered. Just as the country, as part of its overall economic development strategy, once expanded access to a universal free education first for primary schools and later for high schools, it must now find ways to make these two pioneering cities’ promise to their young people America’s Promise to all of its youth.

Morley Winograd and Michael D. Hais are co-authors of the newly published Millennial Momentum: How a New Generation is Remaking America and Millennial Makeover: MySpace, YouTube, and the Future of American Politics and fellows of NDN and the New Policy Institute.


Shutdown - The Latest from the NDN/NPI Team

Recent articles relating to the shutdown from team NDN/NPI:  

- "A Special Note About the Current Crisis in Washington." Oct 16, 2013. Simon Rosenberg. Rosenberg identifies the steps needed to bring concrete solutions and better politics to our country, contrary to the GOP-led gridlock we witnessed this month in Congress.

- "Will Tea Party Insanity Cost America $3 trillion and 2.75 million jobs?" Oct 16, 2013. Dr. Robert Shapiro. Shapir explores the economic consequences of the government shutdown and argues that Congress' reckless behavior threatens access to the low-cost capital on which the economy depends. 

- “The Shutdown Endgame: Getting to a Budget Deal, Protecting our Democracy."  Oct 2, 2013. Simon Rosenberg.  As the governenment shutdown takes on day 3, Simon Rosenberg makes the case that President Obama should focus on getting a budget deal to fund the government for next year and refuse to negotiate on any other item.

"Are Republican Leaders Suffering from Stockholm Syndrome?" Oct 1, 2013. Dr. Robert Shapiro.  Shapiro analyzes the economic implications of the House GOP's strategy of holding normal government operations hostage to a variety of demands tied to the Affordable Care Act.

"Confrontation and Crisis will Create New Millenial Era Civic Ethos."  Oct 1, 2013. Mike Hais & Morley Winograd. Mike and Morley explore how older politicians will have to get beyond their ideological blinders to recognize the opportunity waiting with both halves of the Millennial era civic ethos paradox.

- "GOP's attack on ACA May Harm Party with Latinos As Much As Immigration Reform."  Sept 19, 2013. Simon Rosenberg. Simon points out that more Hispanics will be elibigible for health insurance under the ACA than are undocumented Hispanic immigrants in the country. His take: debate over the ACA is going to have a deep impact on the GOP brand with Hispanics.

"The Biggest Risks to the U.S. Economy Now Come from Congress and China" Sept. 4, 2013. Dr. Robert Shapiro.  Shapiro warns us that the most clear and present threat to growth lies in the looming fight over the debt ceiling and China's economic heft to materially affect the path of the American economy.


- "Forward or Backward?" October 25th, 2012. Simon Rosenberg. In a flashback to 2012, we revisit Rosenberg's analysis that a new coalition of progressive leaders must rise to address the political, cultural, social, and demographic changes affecting our nation in response to an aging, reactionary American right.



Confrontation and Crisis will Create New Millenial Era Civic Ethos

By Mike & Morley. October 1st, 2013.

Confrontation and Crisis will Create New Millenial Era Civic Ethos

Depending on one’s partisan leanings, the desire of House Republicans to shut down the federal government if the Democrats don’t agree to repeal ObamaCare may seem to be either a courageous ideological stand or a kamikaze mission sure to destroy its proponents, if not the country. However, from a generational perspective it is not only a predictable but a necessary step in the country’s search for a new consensus on the role and size of government.

Nor is it coincidental that the current confrontation is coming to a head just as the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is about to be implemented nationwde. The roles that the legislation assigns to the federal government, states and individuals in securing every citizen access to medical insurance is such a departure from the existing civic ethos it has become the touchstone for the debate about the nation’s civic ethos in the  Millennial Era. Yet, ironically, the law everyone wants to argue about actually provides a blueprint to any politician willing to go beyond their current ideological comfort zone and solve a range of challenges in ways that respond to the beliefs and behaviors of the emerging Millennial Majority in the electorate.

As finally passed by a Democratic Congress in 2010,  ACA creates a relationship between the federal government and the nation’s adult population similar to the role Millennials’ parents have played in their young children’s lives.  Parents pronounced rules to guide their children’s behavior with consequences (“time outs”) if the rules were broken. Similarly, the ACA requires each individual to purchase health insurance and provides penalties (taxes) for failing to do so, an approach the Supreme Court ruled lawful under Article I, Section 8 of the United States Constitution. And, just as parents and other members of the extended community helped Millennials succeed within the boundaries of the rules they established, ACA envisioned a series of state by state health insurance exchanges that would help each state’s residents find the type of insurance they wanted at a cost they could afford. As those exchanges open for business in about half of the states this week, this new configuration of American democracy will be put to a practical test, but the fundamental concept is likely to be recognized in the future as the basis for a new civic ethos as distinct from the Reagan era of limited government as was the New Deal  from its laissez faire predecessor.

History suggests, however, that the country must go through a crisis as bad as the one it is facing today before this happens. The New Deal was born out of the perils of the Great Depression. Reagan’s tough love solution of lower taxes and less government regulation required years of economic stagflation before it became conventional political wisdom. Today, neither of those ideas has proven equal to the task of breaking the country out of the economic doldrums of the Great Recession.

Older politicians will have to get beyond their ideological blinders to recognize the opportunity waiting for any candidate or political party that can embrace both halves of the Millennial era civic ethos paradox. Members of the Millennial generation are as suspicious of large government bureaucracies as any libertarian but as dedicated to economic equality and social justice as any liberal. To resolve the crisis, the GOP should embrace ObamaCare as a great example of how government can encourage individual responsibility and accountability and Democrats should sign up for President Obama’s commitment to creating a smarter, smaller less bureaucratic government.  Only when the crisis becomes so bad that a few brave leaders break out of their ideological bunkers and discover a new civic ethos that embodies both collective action and individual responsibility will the Millennial Era civic ethos emerge from the chaos created by a Congress so out of step with the beliefs and behaviors of the  future leaders of the country.

New NDN Op-Ed in The Hill – A Way Forward in Syria

Bradley Bosserman published an article in The Hill this morning analyzing the implications of the proposed agreement over Syrian chemical weapons. The piece argues that the seemingly contradictory aims of securing chemical weapons and ushering in a transitional government can best be achieved by focusing US policy toward the goal of quickly ending the conflict.

"Effectively securing these weapons in the midst of a civil war will be functionally impossible and setting the precedent that gassing your citizens can be a strategy for extracting powerful concessions would weaken norms against chemical weapons use, not strengthen them. The stated policy of the United States is to aid the opposition, support the transition to a post-Assad government, and secure the country’s vast stockpile of weapons of mass destruction. The only way to reconcile these objectives is to actively seek an end to the conflict and usher in a more responsible, transitional government. As the White House has said, Assad must go."

Read the full article here.

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