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From The White House: The President on Sending Troops to the Border and SB1070

Yesterday President Obama engaged in a very interesting question and answer session with reporters regarding his decision  to send National Guard troops to the border, and his opinion on the current boycott of Arizona as a result of SB1070. The full text of the exchange is below.

 Question: Mr. President, you announced -- or the White House announced two days ago that you were going to send 1,200 people to -- 1,200 members of the National Guard to the border.  I want to -- if you could precise what their target is going to be, what you’re planning to achieve with that -- if you could clarify a bit more the mission that they're going to have.

And also on Arizona, after you have criticized so much the immigration law that has been approved there, would you support the boycott that some organizations are calling towards that state?

THE PRESIDENT:  I’ve indicated that I don't approve of the Arizona law.  I think it’s the wrong approach.  I understand the frustrations of the people of Arizona and a lot of folks along the border that that border has not been entirely secured in a way that is both true to our traditions as a nation of law and as a nation of immigrants.

I’m President of the United States; I don't endorse boycotts or not endorse boycotts.  That's something that the private citizens can make a decision about.  What my administration is doing is examining very closely this Arizona law and its implications for the civil rights and civil liberties for the people in Arizona, as well as the concern that you start getting a patchwork of 50 different immigration laws around the country in an area that is inherently the job of the federal government.

Now, for the federal government to do its job, everybody has got to step up.  And so I’ve tried to be as clear as I could this week, and I will repeat it to everybody who’s here:  We have to have a comprehensive approach to immigration reform.  The time to get moving on this is now.  And I am prepared to work with both parties and members of Congress to get a bill that does a good job securing our borders; holds employers accountable; makes sure that those who have come here illegally have to pay a fine, payback taxes, learn English, and get right by the law. 

We had the opportunity to do that.  We’ve done -- we’ve gotten a vote of a super majority in the Senate just four years ago.  There’s no reason why we shouldn’t be able to recreate that bipartisan spirit to get this problem solved.

Now, with respect to the National Guardsmen and women, I have authorized up to 1,200 National Guardspersons in a plan that was actually shaped last year.  So this is not simply in response to the Arizona law.  And what we find is, is that National Guardspersons can help on intelligence; dealing with both drug and human trafficking along the borders; they can relieve border guards so that the border guards then can be in charge of law enforcement in those areas.  So there are a lot of functions that they can carry out that helps leverage and increase the resources available in this area.

By the way, we didn’t just send National Guard.  We’ve also got a package of $500 million in additional resources, because, for example, if we are doing a better job dealing with trafficking along the border, we’ve also got to make sure that we’ve got prosecutors down there who can prosecute those cases.

But the key point I want to emphasize to you is that I don’t see these issues in isolation.  We’re not going to solve the problem just solely as a consequence of sending National Guard troops down there.  We’re going to solve this problem because we have created an orderly, fair, humane immigration framework in which people are able to immigrate to this country in a legal fashion; employers are held accountable for hiring legally present workers. 

And I think we can craft that system if everybody is willing to step up.  And I told the Republican Caucus when I met with them this week, I don’t even need you to meet me halfway; meet me a quarter of the way.  I’ll bring the majority of Democrats to a smart, sensible, comprehensive immigration reform bill.  But I’m going to have to have some help, given the rules of the Senate, where a simple majority is not enough.

Immigration Roundup

And we are back.... It has been a while since my last post on Immigration news. A lot has happened since then, in particular the New Policy Institute has released a new report on the effects of immigration and what the passage of comprehensive immigration reform legislation could have on the economy.

It can be read in its entirety here, and there is a pretty awesome appendices which visualizes the report here, finally if you have not read Dr. Shapiro's blog post The Economics of Immigration are Not What You Think, shame on you, it is quite good and raises excellent questions about the way that the economics of immigration are currently being discussed.

Lets now turn our focus to immigration news.

There are excellent stories in both The New York Times and the Washington Post which highlight some of the more recent developments regarding immigration reform and border security.

The New York Times story focuses on the repercussions of President Obama sending the National Guard to the border. The full story, Immigration Overhaul Activists Question Troops can be read here. I have pulled some excerpts below.

On why the White House decided to deploy the troops:

The White House says it is sending the troops solely to combat drug smuggling, a problem highlighted by the recent killing of an Arizona rancher. But any move toward border security invariably raises passions in the immigration debate, and on Wednesday advocates for overhauling the system were questioning the president’s intentions.

They said that in focusing first on border security, Mr. Obama might be giving up his best leverage for winning approval of broader but more politically contentious steps to address the status of the millions of immigrants already in the United States illegally, and the needs of employers who rely on their labor.

The article also highlights the frustration of activists in reconciling the Presidents statements and actions:

“I’m trying to reconcile the stated belief of this president when he was a candidate, what he has said publicly — as recently as a naturalization ceremony last month — and what his actions are,” said Angela Kelley, vice president for immigration policy at the Center for American Progress, a left-leaning organization that is a close ally of the Obama administration. “I think there’s a big gap there."

Finally the story showed how the President's actions and the recently passed SB1070 have affected the state of play in passing comprehensive immigration reform:

The Arizona bill put immigration squarely back on the Congressional agenda, but Mr. Obama has been having trouble persuading Republicans to sign on. During a Cinco de Mayo celebration in the Rose Garden last month, Mr. Obama told an audience of Hispanic leaders that he was determined to pass legislation, but that he could not do so without Republican support.

The decision to send troops could be an attempt to get that support. At a testy meeting with Senate Republicans on Tuesday, before the White House disclosed its decision about the National Guard deployment, Mr. McCain pressed Mr. Obama on what he was doing to improve border security. Mr. Obama did not reveal his border security plan, but did ask for Republicans’ help in passing immigration legislation.

“The president told the Republican caucus yesterday that he wants to move forward; he feels that this problem has festered too long and needs a solution,” said David Axelrod, Mr. Obama’s senior adviser, adding that the decision to send troops was “not related to the meeting.”

The Washington Post story by contrast offers a much stronger view on what is happening in the Senate. In particular it shows how President Obama's move to send troops to the border may have been an attempt to preempt Senator McCain's amendment to the War Supplemental which would have requested 6,000 National Guards troops be sent to the Border. The Washington Post story Senate Defeats McCain Border Security Amendment can be read here. Excerpts are below:

There is a good overview of McCains proposed amendment:

The McCain measure, which needed 60 votes to be considered approved, fell short on a 51-46 vote as part of the Senate's broader consideration of a $59 billion spending bill that funds the troop surge into Afghanistan and other emergency measures. The border-security battle has become the most politically contentious issue surrounding what has otherwise become a routine passage of the war supplemental bill.

The article shows the political side of President Obama's actions:

Sensing the shifting ground, Obama proposed Tuesday a plan that would increase funding by $500 million and temporarily send 1,200 members of the National Guard to the border to help shore up the Border Patrol's efforts to clamp down on illegal immigrants and on security developments with Mexican drug cartels.

And finally the Political fall out:

Republicans rejected Obama's effort as insufficient to deal with something they consider a national crisis. "While it's important to have additional resources there, even on a temporary basis, even on a limited basis, there's a whole lot more that we need to do. We need permanent solutions, not temporary solutions," Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), a member of GOP leadership and co-sponsor of McCain's amendment, told reporters Wednesday.

"....You've got to laugh, in the spirit of bipartisanship," McCain said.

Most Democrats rejected the GOP offer of 6,000 more troops as unnecessary given the latest Obama proposal. "It's sort of throwing an enormous amount of money at the problem that is not as carefully thought out, not as targeted and as effective, quite frankly, as President Obama's plan," Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) said moments before the vote.

Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), the chamber's lone Latino senator, criticized the McCain plan as "militarizing the border" and the "definition of insanity," because it continued the previous efforts at building up a troop presence even as the flow of illegal immigrants continued to flow in from Mexico. "It's a recipe for failure," Menendez said,

What both of these article highlight is the incredible willingness on Congresses part to begin work on an immigration overhaul. The fact that Senator McCains attempt to add his amendment to a War Supplemental, coupled with other enforcement amendments from Senator Cornyn and Senator Hutchison shows that there is movement on immigration reform. It just seems that lately the only movement from both parties has been on enforcement heavy legislation. One has to wonder when there will be movement in Congress on something other then enforcement only immigration measures.

More news clips below

Immigration Round Up:

Washington Post Blog - For Gods Sake: The Bibles Immigration Policy: The Post's religion blog weighs in on the immigration debate with some Biblical verses and observations about immigration.

Los Angeles Times - Justice Department Poised to Challenge Arizona Immigration Law: Rumblings continue to eminate from Justice that they may challenge SB1070.

ABC News - Sandra Day O'connor weighs in on Immigration: A transcript of George Stephanopoulos interview with retired Supreme Court Justice O'connor, her thoughts on SB1070 are actually pretty surprising.

Fox News - Police Chiefs Slam Arizona Law after Meeting with Holder: This is a huge story that I wish more news organizations picked up on. Police Chiefs from all over the country have come out to denounce SB1070. This is an important story because it is local law enforcement who are meant to enforce this law.

Washington Post - The Truth About Arizona's Immigration Law: An op-ed written by Kirk Adams the Republican Speaker of the House in Arizona. Unsurprisingly it is a passonate defense of SB1070.

MSNBC - First Thoughts: G.O.P. and Immigration - Looks like Chuck Todd finally got around to reading Hispanic Rising 2010, this is a great article that shows just how much damage the Republican party has done to its relationship with the Hispanic community.

Los Angeles Times - A Step Towards Border Security- This editorial, begrudgingly credits President Obama with stepping up border enforcement.

AP - Ballot Measure Proposed on Arizona Immigration Law - And here come the ballot measures to repeal or keep the controversial SB1070 law are in the early stages.


New NPI Report - The Impact of Immigration and Immigration Reform on the Wages of American Workers

Yesterday the New Policy Institute (NPI) released a new report on the impact of immigration and comprehensive immigration reform on the wages of the American worker. The report written by NPI Fellow and Former Under Secretary of Commerce Dr. Robert J. Shapiro, accomplishes five important things.

1. It gives an accurate portrait of America's Immigrant Population.

2. It dispels many misconceptions regarding undocumented immigrants.

3. It provides economic analysis on the impact of immigration on wages.

4. It examines the wage impact of reforms to provide a path to legal status for undocumented immigrants.

5. It also examines the other economic effects of immigration

What is most impressive about this report is its comprehensiveness. Quite simply there is alot of data to wade into. Which is why NPI has also included an appendices which highlights some of the important data within the report.  Finally to get another view on the paper, Dr. Shapiro has written a blog post, The Economics of Immigration Are Not What You Think, discussing what he considers the most important aspects of the paper. 

All are must reads, the links to all three, are below:

The Impact of Immigration and Immigration Reform on the Wages of American Workers, May 27, 2010, Robert Shapiro and Jiwon Vellucci: NPI's new report provides a much needed look at the intersection of America's economy and immigration system.

Appendices to the Impact of Immigration Report, May 27,2010, Robert Shapiro and Jiwon Velluci: Provides a visual representation of the data presented in the NPI report The Impact of Immigration and Immigration Reform on the Wages of American Workers.

The Economics of Immigration Are Not What You Think, May 27,2010, Robert Shapiro: Blog post which highlights important data points to look for in the larger NPI report.

From The White House: Declaration on 21st Century Border Management

In anticipation of our Monday, May 24th event featuring Mexican Ambassador Arturo Sarukhan and U.S. Commissioner Customs and Border Protection Alan Bersin which will be webcast live starting at 12:15 p.m., you may want to read the following Memorandum of Agreement between the United States and Mexico, which was signed today, May 20th, by President Obama and President Calderon. 

The event will be taking a deeper look at this idea of a "21st Century Border."  We hope you will join us live on the web for this important conversation about this exciting new initiative.

Declaration by The Government Of The United States Of America and The Government Of The United Mexican States Concerning Twenty-First Century Border Management

The Government of the United States of America and the Government of the United Mexican States, hereinafter referred to collectively as the “Participants,”

Acknowledging their shared interest in creating a border that promotes their economic competitiveness and enhances their security through the secure, efficient, rapid, and lawful movement of goods and people;

Expressing a desire to fundamentally restructure the way in which the shared border between Mexico and the United States is managed to enhance public safety, welcome lawful visitors, encourage trade, strengthen cultural ties, and reduce the cost of doing business in North America;

Recognizing the importance of securing and facilitating the lawful flow of goods, services, and people between their countries;

Understanding that joint and collaborative administration of their common border is critical to transforming management of the border to enhance security and efficiency;

Recognizing the potential value, both in terms of enhancing security and reducing congestion, of shifting certain screening and inspection activities, traditionally performed at the immediate border, to geographic departure and transit zones away from the border and of considering other non-traditional border crossing concepts;

Appreciating that enhancing the flow of information needed for effective shared border management requires professionalism in law enforcement, strong institutional capacity, and effective interagency coordination in and between both countries;

Recognizing that transnational criminal organizations threaten the economies and security of both the United States and Mexico and that both countries share responsibility for the conditions that give rise to these criminal organizations and that allow them to endure, as well as shared responsibility for remedying those conditions;

Understanding that law enforcement coordination between the Participants is essential to preventing crime and to disrupting and dismantling transnational criminal organizations;

Sharing an interest in ensuring a legal, orderly system for managing migration between their countries and developing coordinated procedures for managing repatriation and ensuring that it remains safe and humane;

Hereby express their commitment to strengthen cooperation in:

  • Enhancing economic competitiveness by expediting lawful trade, while preventing the transit of illegal merchandise between their two countries,
  • Facilitating lawful travel in a manner that also prevents the illegal movement of people between their two countries,
  • Sharing information that enhances secure flows of goods and people, and
  • Disrupting and dismantling transnational criminal organizations and punishing their members and supporters.


In light of these mutual understandings, the Participants expect to work in a collaborative and coordinated fashion across a wide-range of border-related activities, including:

  • Programs focused on reducing congestion and delays in cross-border traffic entering both Mexico and the United States, building a foundation for efficient border and expanded economic growth, improving community safety and quality of life, and reducing unhealthy emissions from idling vehicles;
  • The creation, expansion, or mutual recognition of “trusted shipper” programs such as FAST and C-TPAT and “trusted traveler” programs such as SENTRI and Global Entry, allowing enforcement authorities to concentrate their efforts where they are most needed to stop illicit border flows; 
  • Pre-screening, pre-clearance, and pre-inspection of people, goods, and products, particularly where such activities increase the Participants’ abilities to intercept dangerous individuals, hazardous goods, and contraband before they cause harm and to alleviate congestion at ports of entry;
  • The enhancement of the repatriation processes through the exchange of information and close bilateral cooperation, with special attention to vulnerable people such as unaccompanied minors, pregnant women, and the sick and elderly.
  • The improvement of bilateral mechanisms to share information related to aviation security and border security.
  • The development of complementary risk management strategies aimed at separating high-risk and low-risk shipments, as well as high-risk and low-risk individuals, including specific procedures for repatriation of individuals with criminal records;
  • The standardized collection and single entry of trade data, so that importers and exporters are asked for a given piece of information only once, reducing the administrative burden of compliance and therefore the cost of trade;
  • Improved bi-national coordination in planning, financing, permitting, designing, building, and operating ports of entry, as well as optimal staffing of ports of entry;
  • Promotion of a closer partnership with the private sector, the trade community, and international partners to secure supply chains;
  • Development of shared priorities for public investments in ports of entry along the border, planned in coordination with the infrastructure feeding into them, as well as funding mechanisms for such projects, including private sector participation;
  • Joint assessments of threats, development of a common understanding of the operating environment, and joint identification of geographic areas of focus for law enforcement operations;
  • Augmentation of their collection, analysis, and sharing of information from interdictions, investigations, and prosecutions to disrupt “criminal flows” and enhance public safety; and
  • Bringing together border communities and relevant stakeholders as partners in efforts to, protect public safety by integrating law enforcement efforts with other government functions including social assistance, community outreach, and responsiveness to citizen concerns.


To coordinate and facilitate work aimed at furthering the goals noted in this Declaration, the Participants intend to establish a Twenty-First Century Border Bilateral Executive Steering Committee (ESC) composed of representatives from the appropriate federal government departments and offices.  For the United States, this includes representatives from the Departments of State, Homeland Security, Justice, Transportation, Agriculture, Commerce, Interior, Defense, and the Office of the United State Trade Representative, and for Mexico includes representatives from the Secretariats of Foreign Relations, Interior, Finance and Public Credit, Economy, Public Security, Communications and Transportation, Agriculture, and the Office of the Attorney General of the Republic.  Each Participant should integrate its own section of the ESC section into the relevant interagency processes to achieve better bilateral coordination.

It is expected that the inaugural meeting of the ESC, to be convened no later than August 19, 2010, will develop a mutually accepted action plan to realize the goals of this Declaration and identify working groups, drawing, wheere appropriate, upon existing bilateral, border-related groups, to implement the action plan.


This Declaration represents an understanding between the Participants and does not constitute a legally binding agreement.  The Participants understand that activities in support of the goals mentioned in this Declaration are to be carried out in accordance with the laws and regulations of the Participants’ countries, and applicable international agreements to which the Participants’ countries are parties.  The Participants are expected to bear their own costs in engaging in any such activities.  All such activities are subject to the availability of funds and human resources. 


Political Ramificatons of SB1070

Michael Gerson's op-ed in the Washington Post today is chock full of all sorts of goodness. I have pulled out some highlights below, the full op-ed can be seen here:

He starts with this:

Has the Republican Party become, as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid recently charged, the "anti-immigrant party"?

Then moves on to this:

.....it would be absurd to deny that the Republican ideological coalition includes elements that are anti-immigrant -- those who believe that Hispanics, particularly Mexicans, are a threat to American culture and identity. When Arizona Republican Senate candidate J.D. Hayworth calls for a moratorium on legal immigration from Mexico, when then-Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-Colo.) refers to Miami as a "Third World country," when state Rep. Russell Pearce (R), one of the authors of the Arizona immigration law, says Mexicans' and Central Americans' "way of doing business" is different, Latinos can reasonably assume that they are unwelcome in certain Republican circles.

Then this which, I personally quite enjoyed:

Sen. John McCain, a long-term supporter of humane, comprehensive immigration reform, has run a commercial feeding fears of "drug and human smuggling, home invasions, murder" by illegal immigrants.

Never mind that the level of illegal immigration is down in Arizona or that skyrocketing crime rates along the border are a myth. McCain's tag line -- "Complete the danged fence" -- will rank as one of the most humiliating capitulations in modern political history.

Then makes this excellent point:

Republicans have now sent three clear signals to Hispanic voters:

California's Proposition 187, which was passed in 1994 and attempted to deny illegal immigrants health care and public education before being struck down in court; the immigration debate of 2006, dominated by strident Republican opponents of reform; and now the Arizona immigration law. According to a 2008 study by the Pew Hispanic Center, 49 percent of Hispanics said that Democrats had more concern for people of their background; 7 percent believed this was true of Republicans. Since the Arizona controversy, this gap can only have grown. In a matter of months, Hispanic voters in Arizona have gone from being among the most pro-GOP in the nation to being among the most hostile.

And ends with some good demographic information which  really contextualizes the political ramifications of SB1070. Also it allows me to work in a shameless plug for the New Politics Institute report Hispanics Rising 2010 which also highlights the Republican parties move further and further to the right on the immigration issue:

Immigration issues are emotional and complex. But this must be recognized for what it is: political suicide. Consider that Hispanics make up 40 percent of the K-12 students in Arizona, 44 percent in Texas, 47 percent in California, 54 percent in New Mexico. Whatever temporary gains Republicans might make feeding resentment of this demographic shift, the party identified with that resentment will eventually be voted into singularity. In a matter of decades, the Republican Party could cease to be a national party.

Finally, in case you missed it, Sen. John McCain is a big old flip flopper on immigration. The two videos below show  Sen. McCain's before and after transformation on the issue. Wait till the end of the first video to see him speak eloquently on immigration:

If you believe that the only answer to our immigration problems is to build a bigger wall then i would argue that you are not truly aware of the conditions of the human heart.

Fast forward to now and we see in the second video, that his once principled stance has been reduced to this trite soundbite:

Complete the danged fence.

Another Ridiculous Arizona Law:

Not to be outdone by the Arizona state Senate, the state House recently passed HB-2281, legislation that outlaws public and charter schools from teaching ethnic studies programs. Text from HB-2281 is below; the full legislation can be read here:

15-112.  Prohibited Courses and Classes: Enforcement







Reaction to the law is below:

The Nation: Sees this as another reason to boycott the D-Backs, and move the MLB All Star game out of Arizona.

The Los Angeles Times: Has a piece up that gives a fairly detailed outline of what is in the legislation.

KGUN 9 ABC AZ Affiliate: Condemnation of SB-1070 and HB-2281 has gone international. The United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights issued a statement expressing serious concern over laws recently enacted by Arizona.

Fox 11 AZ Affiliate: Has video up of students from the Tucson Unified School Districts protesting the enactment of HB-2281.

Arizona Republic: Despite being openly critical of the ethnic studies programs taught in Tucson the Arizona Republic has an op-ed up condemning HB-2281.

The Washington Post: Is not a fan of the legislation, and does a good job of outlining the  political ramifications of the passage of the bill.


Immigration Roundup


Hello all, I am just starting up here at NDN, I do research on immigration and Hispanic demographics. I am a native Arizonan and am passionate about all things immigration related.  Please check back here for news and commentary on immigration and Hispanic demographics.

Immigration Roundup:

University of Arizona Udall Center for Studies in Public Policy: Arizona currently facing a $3 billion state budget deficit, stands to lose an addional $29 billion in economic output.

AP: Phoenix alone is projected to lose close to $ 90 million on SB1070.

ABC KGUN-9: Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials note that with or without SB1070 giving local law enforcement officials the authority to arrest immigrants because they are in the country illegally, Undocumented Immigrants have always had to be turned over to federal authorities.

Arizona Republic: While the Arizona State Legislature has focused on allowing local law enforcement officials to arrest undocumented immigrants, the ability to track immigration visa overstays continues to be a failure.  As many as 5.5 million immigrants enter the country legally but do not leave after their visa's expire.

New York Times: A little background information on Russell Pearce, the Arizona state Senator who sponsored SB1070.

AP: And some information on the man who actually wrote the legislation, Washington D.C. Republican Federation of American Immigration Reform (FAIR) lobbyist Kris Kobach.

Seattle Times: Senator Robert Menendez has called on Major League Baseball players to boycott the 2011 All Star Game as long as it is held in Arizona.

CBS News: Calfornia Governor Arnold Schwarzenager has a sense of humor.

Opposing Views: Chuck D, of the rap group Public Enemy on SB1070. He is not a fan.

Los Angeles Times: The Obama administration continues to tip toe around legislative action on immigration reform...

Derechos Humanos: And in Arizona, as the summer heat begins to pick up, 86 immigrants have died in the desert as they attempt to enter the country.

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