NDN Blog

Simon's Op-Ed in The Hill: "On the Border, DHS Has Earned Congress' Trust"

Simon recently penned an op-ed in The Hill, "On the Border, DHS Has Earned Congress' Trust," that was first published on June 18th. A version can also be found below: 

On The Border, DHS Has Earned Congress’s Trust

As the state of the US-Mexico border moves front and center in the national debate over immigration, a little perspective is needed. 

What is apparently driving Republican efforts to alter the border security provisions of the Senate immigration bill is a distrust of the Obama Administration and DHS’s commitment to the effective management of the US-Mexico border.   At the core, this concern is misplaced, and Republicans are simply going to have to find a better argument for their proposed changes to the Senate immigration bill.

Let’s review some data from the last decade or so.  Crime on the US side of the border has plummeted, dropping from just over 19,000 incidents of violent crime in 2004 to just over 14,000 in 2011. In the five high traffic corridors which experience most of the flow of unauthorized migrants, two already have achieved a 90% effectiveness rate, and two are over 80%.  Due to both the drop in flow and significant increase in the border patrol (10,650 in 2004, 21,300 in 2012) the apprehension rate per border patrol agent has dropped from 327 in 1993 to just 19 in 2012. With such improvements in enforcement, the normal churn of immigrants returning home, and record levels of deportations (400,000 in 2012), the total population of unauthorized immigrants in the US has dropped from its peak of 12 million in 2007 to roughly 11 million today.  The average annual inflow of unauthorized immigrants is now nearly half of what it was at its height, declining from 550,000 or more to 300,000 over the last decade.  Unauthorized migrants from Mexico, the largest sending country, have decreased from 7 million in 2007 to 6.5 million in 2010, and net migration with Mexico has dropped to zero or less.  The numbers suggest that, in fact, overall unauthorized immigration must be hovering around a net value of zero if the average influx is 300,000 per year and the administration is deporting 400,000.

Importantly, this enforcement success has not come at the expense of trade with Mexico, which is rising at extraordinary rates.  In 2009, US trade with Mexico was $300 billion; in 2012 it was $536 billion, and we are on track this year to see it hit close to $600b – a doubling in just four years.  Six million US jobs are dependent on this exploding trade, and Mexico has become the US’s second largest destination for our exports, buying almost double what China purchases from our businesses every year.

The Senate immigration bill establishes ambitious enforcement targets to build on DHS’s recent success.   The bill calls for a 90 percent effectiveness rate across the entire border;  it requires a new exit visa system at air and sea ports of entry; and it nationalizes our worker verification system, giving businesses better tools to ensure their workers are legal.   Achieving any one of these three objectives in the next decade would be ambitious; doing all three together is going to require significant bipartisan cooperation, adequate funding levels and strong leadership from DHS in the years to come.   None of the current Republican border amendments, including the one being offered by Senator John Cornyn, do much to alter this strategy.  They move the enforcement timetable up a bit, which would be expensive and given the already ambitious targets, make the overall strategy much more likely to fail.  Many of the other recommended additions are unnecessary and often terribly expensive flourishes which may sound strong and tough but do little to alter the strategic trajectory the Senate has already agreed to.  In almost every case these new GOP provisions make the Senate bill more expensive and worse, not tougher and better. 

What the Cornyn Amendment gets right, however, is the need for additional investments in our ports of entry.  The explosion of our trade relationship with Mexico in recent years has made the need to modernize and update our 47 ports of entry along the border a national economic priority.  The current Senate bill makes a nod in this direction, adding 3,500 customs agents to facilitate the movement of more goods and people, and establishes a grant program to upgrade our ports.  But Cornyn goes further, committing $1b a year for six years to improve infrastructure and add personnel at our land ports of entry, and calls for changing the law to allow DHS to enter public-private partnerships along the border to help mobilize private capital to improve these ports.  While we think much of the enforcement side of the Cornyn Amendment is unnecessary and unrealistic, the ports of entry investment provisions should be adopted on the Senate floor and woven into the final Senate bill.  They will help create good jobs here in the US while improving security at the border. 

To be adopted, Republican proposals to alter the current Senate immigration bill’s ambitious border enforcement provisions should have to demonstrate two things: 1) they make the current Senate Bill better 2) they acknowledge the significant success the Administration has had in managing the border.   You can’t really have it both ways on this last one – the reason the Senate bill has set such ambitious targets for enforcement in the coming years is because DHS has shown it can manage the border effectively.  If you think DHS has failed, and is not to be trusted, as some have suggested, then why in the world would you make the border provisions even more ambitious and harder to achieve?   

The answer, of course, is that these Amendments are not designed to make the bill better, or the border safer, but to derail the process altogether.  You can’t have a “tougher” bill without also trusting DHS to carry it through.   

Update - See here for a comprehensive ppt deck which offers up the data cited in here, and more.

Invite: Thurs, 12:15 - Immigration Reform and Border Webinar w/ Simon

Join us tomorrow as Simon will be conducting a live webinar about the border and immigration debate this Thursday at 12:15pm.  He will be reviewing our acclaimed power point presentation, "How Improvements Along the Border, In Our Immigration System and In Mexico Are Impacting the National Immigration Debate." To join the webinar, please click this link before 12:15 tomorrow to view the webinar. You will need to download a free trial of Go To Meeting prior to joining.

This is part of a new weekly series here at NDN where Simon will discuss immigration reform and the border every Thursday during lunch.  

Simon Discusses NSA Leaks, Snowden, and Global Surveillance on Fox and Al Jazeera America

Simon recently appreared on Megyn Kelly's show to discuss the NSA leaks, Snowden, and the greater political implications. He explained that "we'll have to establish new norms so people have faith in government... [and] we have to do more to ensure that countries like Russia and China... are not also using their power to interfere with things going on here in the U.S..." He also touched on the political ramifications of the leaks: "The timing of the leaks seem to be maximally designed to undermine" the discussions with the Chinese.

Additionally, Simon appeared on Al Jazeera's Inside Story Americas debating the same topic. Joining him was Michael Riley of Bloomberg News and Trevor Timm of the Electronic Frontier Foundation. Simon extrapolated greater geopolitical meaning from this, explaining "This is not just a condition that's unique to the United States, governments all around the world have much more powerful tools to surveil their people - this is the condition of the modern world ..."


Advancing Manufacturing Means Advancing Jobs

John recently published a new blog, "Advancing Manufacturing Means Advancing Jobs" on GE's Ideas Lab. Below are some excerpts from his latest: 

"Even with all of these positive trends, unemployment is still stubbornly high. Yes, unemployment is at a four year low – and that’s a good thing. And, yes, unemployment is slowly creeping downward. But a 7.5-percent national unemployment rate can only be considered good news in comparison to our near term high unemployment rate of 10 percent in October 2009. At our current rate of reduction, it could take years to get unemployment down to pre-recession levels. That doesn’t even count the number of people that are underemployed.In short, of the various factors that caused the economic turmoil in the last four years, most have turned around. But we still have a jobs crisis in America."

He continues, explaining that Americans understand we need a strong return from the manufacturing sector in the 21st century. Though he elaborates upon these ideas, below is a summary:

"The Obama Administration’s manufacturing initiatives are a great place to start. The suite of efforts promoted by the Administration are designed to promote regional centers of manufacturing innovation, retooling skills for a workforce that needs 21st century skills, and helping to develop the overall ecosystem needed for manufacturing to thrive. Expanding the National Network for Manufacturing Innovation will help pair cutting edge university research with emerging companies in the advanced manufacturing space.  A recently announced effort by the Economic Development Administration called the Investing in Manufacturing Communities Partnership addresses the workforce retooling and infrastructure investments needed to broaden and deepen manufacturing ecosystems in cities across America.   An exciting new initiative spearheaded by the Department of Energy combines advanced manufacturing with another critical emerging sector of the economy – the clean energy sector – to bolster both at once while increasing America’s competitiveness in the race to become a global leader in  cleaner energy. (You can read more about the range of manufacturing initiatives undertaken by the Obama Administration here.)"

He then details innovative metro policies like the Lousville-Lexington corridor, and this integral aspect of their improving their local economies. In conclusion, he writes, "The manufacturing sector is growing across the country. As noted here, a range of metro areas – from Texas to Washington state to Michigan to Virginia – have created hundreds of thousands of jobs since 2010 by focusing on manufacturing. As a nation, we need to build things. It’s in our DNA as Americans. We may not build the same things as our grandparents or produce them in the same way, but we will continue to build. The emerging importance of advanced manufacturing for job creation – and the economy at large – is too important for policymakers to ignore. And it can get a jumpstart from smart policy from Washington to City Hall."

New Hais/Winograd Op-Ed, "Will Democrats Repeat Their 2012 Success in 2014?"

NDN Fellows Mike Hais and Morley Winograd, millennial experts, recently wrote this op-ed that was published on Politix. The original can be found here

"As we document in our newest book, Millennial Majority: How a New Coalition Is Remaking American Politics, whether by stratagem or sheer luck, the Democratic Party has become the beneficiary - at least at the presidential level - of a new, dominant coalition comprised primarily of Millennials, minorities and women. Less clear is if and when this coalition will return congressional majorities to the party that became accustomed to ruling Capitol Hill for much of the twentieth century.

Just as Democrats were able to hold onto their majority status in both houses of the Congress until 1994, even as Republicans became the dominant party at the presidential level after 1968, the GOP is in position to retain its current majority in the House and take back the Senate in 2014, two years after Barack Obama's sweeping re-election victory. But that future is less predestined than many pundits are currently predicting.

What ultimately happens is likely to depend on which party does a better job of turning out its vote in 2014. If the electorate next year looks like it did in the 2010 midterm election, with a far higher percentage of older and white voters than in 2012, the Republicans will likely be celebrating on Election Night. Certainly, that is what happened to the Democrats in 2010. For example, the contribution of Millennials dropped from 18 percent in 2008 to 12 percent in 2010, while that of seniors rose from 16 percent in 2008 to 21 percent two years later.

On the other hand if the Democrats are able to maintain their ground game advantage and build enthusiasm among their larger base of supporters to generate an electorate that represents the country's 21st century demographics, they should be able to hold their own in the Senate and at least cut into the Republicans' gerrymandered advantage in the House. For both parties, media and message will have more to do with their prospects in 2014 than most of the current debates in Washington.

Even Republicans admitted in their 2012 election post-mortem "Growth and Opportunity" report that they had failed miserably to maintain competitiveness with Democrats on the technology front. Advantages in campaign technology are notoriously short-lived, however. In 1960, it was the cool and crisp performance by the telegenic John Kennedy against the pale, sweaty, and haggard Richard Nixon in the first televised president debate in U.S. history that put Kennedy narrowly ahead for the first time in a closely-contested election. But by 1968, Nixon and the Republicans had become the masters of campaigning on television, an advantage that Ronald Reagan solidified.

Up until the disastrous performance of the Romney campaign, it appeared that the GOP had also closed the gap with Democrats in the use of internet-based social media campaigning that had first opened up in 2004. The determination of the RNC to spend tens of millions of dollars to catch up again, makes it unlikely that this advantage alone will be enough to given the Democrats a victory in 2014. Instead, to generate sufficient enthusiasm to ensure that demographic groups that favor Democrats turn out in sufficient numbers next year, the Democratic Party will have to hone its message to reflect the needs of the party's new Millennial majority.

However, outside of immigration reform, the issues that might generate real voter interest are not currently being debated in Washington. Although it is possible that GOP ideological rigidity on social issues like gay marriage and gun control will work to the advantage of Democrats in some senatorial contests and a few House seats, these issues are unlikely to be the key to many Democratic victories in 2014. Instead, Democrats will need to emphasize what Vice President Joe Biden likes to call "kitchen table" issues to inspire the components of their majority coalition and achieve major election victories next year.

One such issue, Obamacare will be a reality, not a plan, in 2014. Democrats will need to hit hard on its advantages for young people, and women and minorities, all of which favor the Affordable Care Act, rather than cower in fear of potential implementation hiccups.

For Millennials, specifically, no concern is greater than the enormous debt the nation is asking them to incur in order to finance the higher education that remains their best ticket to a good job. Never before in this country's history has a generation been asked to pay for the education the nation's changing economy needed. Democrats should embrace the cause of eliminating cost as a barrier to higher education in every congressional campaign in the country. One way to do that would be to follow the lead of one of the Democratic gubernatorial primary candidates in Arkansas, Lt. Governor Bill Halter, who is promising to provide every young person in the state enough money to pay for the cost of their instate college tuition.

By focusing on messages that speak to the new Millennial majority's economic needs, Democrats could alter the traditional fall off in turnout in midterm elections by the presidents' party and, in so doing, reshape American politics, not just at the presidential level but in congressional campaigns as well. However, if instead Democrats decide to play defense and duck the issues critical to their new Millennial majority, the natural tendencies of Democratic voters to pay less attention to midterm elections will likely result in Republican gains next year.

The Democratic Party has the choice of running toward or away from its new Millennial majority coalition. Which path it chooses to follow, more than anything that is going on now in Washington, will determine the outcome of the 2014 elections."


Today: Join the #iMarch at 6pm w/Simon, Joe Trippi and Craig Newmark

This Thursday from 6-7pm, Simon will participate in a Twitter Chat for the March for Innovation with Joe Trippi, Democratic strategist, and Craig Newmark, founder of Craigslist. The March for Innovation, using the hashtag #iMarch, is a virtual march on Washington to highlight and underscore the need for Congress to pass immigration reform.

Simon, @SimonWDC, will be sharing his thoughts on the vital importance of passing immigration reform, sharing some of our recent work on the subject, and responding to other participants during this event. Our particular event will be using the hashtag #NDN. Be sure to follow @MarchForInnov for more updates on this exciting effort!  

NDN Hosts Experts Discussing Plan About How to Build A "21st Century Postal Service"

Ealier today NDN hosted an event focused on postal service reform with George Gould, former National Legislative and Political Director for the National Association of Letter Carriers, and John Nolan, former Deputy Postmaster General. These two experts are also two of the four co-authors of a recently released paper urging the Postal Service to concentrate on what it does best -- final mile delivery -- and establish a charge for that service. A final mile delivery charge already exists for packages and standard mail. The authors call for extending that system to all mail.

Prior to the event, Simon penned this short essay on the topic, for background. In it, he contends that we should consider modernizing the postal service through public/private partnerships, like many other integral systems to the modern economy. 

In case you couldn't join us for this event, please see the recorded version here.  It is a very thoughful discussion of a tough issue facing this and future Congresses.

Hais and Winograd Release New Book, "Millenial Majority"

Last night at a reception in our Washington DC headquarters, we celebrated the release of Morley Winograd and Mike Hais's third book, "Millenial Majority: How a New Coalition is Remaking American Politics."  Dozens of people mingled and talked to the authors, and we closed the evening with a presentation by Morley and Mike and a discussion lead by National Journal's Ron Brownstein.  For a video of the night, including their presentation and the discussion, visit here.

This subject of demographic shifts and realignment is one of NDN’s most consequential areas of thought leadership over the past decade.  Perhaps no other organization and network of thinkers has done more to identify, research and socialize how the changing demography of America has birthed a new and different kind of politics in the US. 

In 2002, our team did the first major poll of Latino voters ever released by a center-left group; in 2004, we pioneered the first center-left national advocacy campaign in the Spanish language, developing a new idiom for our values and politics; in 2006, along with Morley and Mike we introduced the concept of the Millennial generation to American politics, giving a generational understanding to the less accurate concept of “the youth vote;” in 2007 we wrote a landmark essay, “The 50 Year Strategy: A New Progressive Era” which more than any other publication spelled out in great detail the emergence of what Ron Brownstein has called the “Coalition of the Ascendent;” and in 2008, we along with noted author Tom Schaller, popularized the idea that a new Post Southern Strategy era of American politics was upon us, and more was possible for the center-left today than in any time since the 1930s.  

We're incredibly proud of this body of work, and significant far-sighted thought leadership of dozens of NDNers, collaborators and friends who helped bring these critical insights to so many.  The latest from Mike and Morley – the big arguments behind it – are compelling, provocative, important and full of hope. 

The ebook is now available - buy it today! And please let us know what you think. 

Mike and Morley also appeared on a Today Show segment covering millennials you can watch here

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