NDN Blog

Invite: Tue, April 23rd - Simon to Deliver New Immigration/Border Presentation

Please join us on Tuesday April 23rd for a special presentation: "Immigration Reform: How The Landscape Has Changed Since the House Last Voted in 2005 – Our Border Is Safer, Our Immigration System Is Better and Mexico Is Modernizing and Growing."  It is a presentation our staff has been showing in high-level policy circles here in DC for some months now, and is a terrific primer for any one wanting to learn more about the coming immigration debate. 

This presentation again analyzes how immigration, the safety along the border, and the complex economic relationship between the U.S. and Mexico have all changedin recent years. This in-person presentation by NDN President Simon Rosenberg will be followed by a Q&A session also featuring 21 Century Border Director, Kristian Ramos.  To see an earlier version of the presentation, and Simon's related op-ed, visit here

The presentation will take place Tuesday, April 23rd at the NDN event space.  Lunch will be served at noon, and the presentation will begin at 12:15pm.  To RSVP for this event, please click here.  We hope to see you on the 23rd!

"The Border is Safer, Our Immigration System is Better, and Mexico Is Modernizing and Growing"

Over the last couple of months the NDN/NPI team has been making an argument about how the landscape had changed since the last time a serious effort to pass immigration reform almost a decade ago.  It's called "Our Border Is Safer, Our Immigration System is Better, and Mexico is Modernizing and Growing." 

You can access this data-filled argument three ways: through Simon's latest op-ed in the Huffington Post.  In a GoTo meeting live presentation with a power point deck Simon presented on April 2nd, which is above.  And through an updated version of that deck, attached.  

Many have this presentation in the last few months.  We hope you find it helpful as we all get ready for the Senate "Gang of Eight" bill to be introduced.  If you would come to see the presentation in person, and join Simon and Kristian Ramos for a discussion about the presentation and the broader immigration reform debate, please join us here at our event space on April 23rd.


Postponed - Live Web Video Briefing on Violence in America

Following the tragedy at Newtown Elementary this past December, gun violence has undergone increased scrutiny in America. As the Senate introduces legislation in an attempt to curb this violence, many have decried or blamed what they coin as America's "culture of violence," and castigate this culture as responsible for Newtown, and other recent mass shootings including Columbine and Aurora.  Neglected in the current debate is the reality that in two decades, the rate of violent crime in America has been halved. In many cities across America, the rate has fallen by more than sixty or seventy percent. There are many explanations for this decline, and it is certainly multi-dimensional or multi-causal. However, it also deserves commendation and consideration in the current debate.

To help explain and understand this decline in crime rates, as well as the various cultural inputs that are often mentioned as the perpetrators of cultural violence, NDN will host a web briefing with Dr. John Roman and Dr. Douglas Gentile. Dr. Roman is currently a senior fellow at the Urban Institute where he studies crime policy and justice programs. He is additionally the executive director of the District of Columbia Crime Policy Institute. Dr. Gentile is currently a Psychology professor at Iowa State University, and is a world-renowned expert on the effect of video games and media. He has spoken at the White House and in many other policy-oriented briefings on this subject.

The decline of violent crime in America is multi-causal and complex, and requires analysis through multiple disciplines. This web video briefing is uniquely suited to help explain this decline, and what can be done in the future to further decrease violence in America.

We at NDN recently published this op-ed in the Hill titled "America the Violent? No More" that discusses the fall of the rate of violent crime in America.

This event has been temporarily postponed. We will revise this post when the event is rescheduled.

Kristian Ramos: "Want To Make The Border Safer? Pass Gun Violence Legislation"

This article, by Kristian Ramos, ran in NBC Latino earlier this week.  You can find that version here.  

According to press reports, the Senate’s “Gang of Eight” immigration bill will make improving safety in the U.S.-Mexico border region one of its highest priorities.  For those looking to increase the security of the border region, there will be another bill coming up in the Senate that can also do a great deal to make the border region safer: an anticipated bill to curb gun violence in the United States. The legislation contains provisions which will slow the illegal flow of guns from the U.S. to Mexico. These guns provide lethal, cheap and accessible firepower to violent organized crime organizations south of our border.  Taking steps to prevent guns from illegally crossing into the Mexican side of the border will help reduce the violence there and make an increasingly safe region even safer.

Sadly, arming cartels is big business for thousands of gun shops in the U.S.  A new study reports that on average about 250,000 guns are illegally smuggled from the U.S. to Mexico each year, netting U.S. gun sellers close to $127 million annually.  Shockingly, these gun sales represent over 2 percent of all gun sales in the U.S. today.   U.S. officials have long reported that the majority of weapons found at organized crime scenes can be traced back to the U.S.  Former Mexican President Felipe Calderon repeatedly asked the U.S. Congress to slow the flow of guns to Mexico, saying it was his highest bi-lateral priority with the United States.  It is hard to overstate how important slowing the illegal gun flow is to our Mexican neighbors, and more can and should be done.

The Senate gun violence bill will strengthen two areas of American law which can do a great deal to slow the flow of guns into Mexico: background checks and anti-trafficking and straw purchaser provisions.  At an event the think tank NDN conducted with Rep. Adam Schiff and then-Mexican-Ambassador Arturo Sarukhan, both pointed out that there simply aren’t sufficient penalties in current American law for knowingly selling a gun to a criminal or a person with criminal intent.  The trade of guns into Mexico is fueled by these straw purchasers; Americans legally buying guns in the U.S. and then knowingly selling those guns to representatives of Mexican organized crime.  Experienced prosecutors believe that making that intermediary act a much more serious crime will do a great deal to interrupt this illegal flow of guns.  And then of course, a more universal background check system will ensure that these convicted straw purchasers have a much harder time ever plying their trade again.

A modest program by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) started in 2011 shows how powerful this approach can be.  The Multiple Sales Reporting (MSR) program requires gun shops in Arizona, California, New Mexico and Texas to submit reports of multiple sales of semi-automatic weapons to unlicensed individuals within five consecutive business days. Since the program’s inception the ATF has opened more than 120 criminal investigations based on multiple sales reports. More than 25 cases have been recommended for prosecution, representing more than 100 defendants with various firearms-related charges. The provisions in the Senate gun violence bill would enhance the already existing work that ATF is doing and could very well make a real dent in the southbound flow of illegal guns without doing anything to infringe on the Second Amendment rights of U.S. gun owners.

In recent years, with unprecedented cooperation, more resources and a far better strategy, the U.S. and Mexico have made the U.S. side of the border far safer and significantly slowed the flow of undocumented immigrants into the U.S. while dramatically expanding trade and legal tourism with Mexico.  Mexico also has some of the strictest gun laws in the world, and limiting the flow of guns from our country into theirs would do a great deal to bring further stability to the region.

Passing a common-sense gun violence bill with background checks, straw purchaser and anti-trafficking provisions would address the one area that remains a real black spot on the U.S. Mexico region: violence on the Mexican side of the border. Proponents of doing more for border security should be enthusiastic backers of these provisions of the Senate gun violence bill when it is introduced later this month, and work to secure its passage. The legislation will complement what appears to be a strong and thoughtful Senate bipartisan immigration bill which seeks to build upon the success already made in the region.

For more on our thinking about gun violence, be sure to read this Hill op-ed, "America The Violent? No More," by Simon Rosenberg and Chris Bowman. 

Invite: April 15 Event with Mexican Ambassador Eduardo Medina-Mora Icaza and Doris Meissner

Thanks to those who participated in our on-line webinar with Simon on Tuesday which looked at how the border is safer today, the immigration system better and Mexico itself is modernizing and growing. To continue to explore these important themes, we held an interactive web video briefing with experts Ambassador Arturo Sarukhan and mexican economist Jorge Suarez-Velez. This event was recorded and is now available to be watched here.

Additionally, we have another very exciting event featuring two of the foremost leaders in the immigration and border areas. On Monday, April 15 at 12:30-2:00pm join us for a trade, immigration, and border discussion with Mexican Ambassador Eduardo Medina-Mora Icaza, and Migration Policy Institute Senior Fellow Doris Meissner here at NDN's offices. This event will also feature a Q&A period with these immigration and border issues experts. Please rsvp to Chris at cbowman@ndn.org. 

Also be sure to read Kristian's recent op-ed in NBC Latino, "Want to make the border safer? Pass Gun Violence Legislation" Simon’s recent Huffington Post Op-ed, “The Border is Safer, Our Immigration System is Better;” see our round-up of our most important work on these issues; and stay in touch with us via our website 21border.com.

Release: Changing US Demographics Is Worsening Senate's Small State Bias

NDN and the New Policy Institute released the following statement after increased press coverage of what we consider to be an increasingly undemocratic Senate:

"In the last few days national reporters in several major newspapers have been discussing a subject the team at NDN/NPI has recently researched and published – how the changing demography of the country is worsening the “small state bias” of the Senate, and weakening our democracy.  As The New York Times’s Adam Liptak's article "Smaller States find Outsize Clout Growing in Senate" spurred dialogue on Twitter and coverage from other reporters like the Washington Post's Ezra Klein, we wanted to release a refresher on our previous research. 

NDN's Simon Rosenberg and researcher Leslie Ogden studied the subject extensively and have published several pieces, including Ogden's op-ed "Another Reason to Reform the Senate" from April of 2012, and a collection of resources featuring a video presentation of Ogden's research on demographic shifts and Senate's imbalance from a panel titled "Renewing our Democracy." Additionally, Simon has analyzed the political ramifications of this democratic imbalance in his post, "Leaving the Reagan Era Behind" from December 2012 that posits the disparity has paralyzed immigration reform, gun control measures, and gay marriage legislation, among others. In a companion essay written last fall, Simon used the increasingly undemocratic nature of Senate to call for a political reform agenda that would renew our democracy. 

Rosenberg explained that he is "pleased this issue of the fundamentally undemocratic Senate is gaining attention in the press. With population and demographic shifts, the Senate has grown increasingly unrepresentative of the American electorate." As fifty percent of the U.S. population is concentrated in only nine states, these citizens are "inadequately represented in the upper chamber," especially as "the other fifty percent of the population is awarded 82 Senators." 

He also noted that states with more concentrated populations are "generally more diverse" than sparsely populated states, and tend to have younger constituents. Accordingly, this system pulls the Senate to represent not just specific states but disproportionately represent certain demographic groups."


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