Fixing Our Broken Immigration System

Since 2007, NDN has a demonstrated commitment to achieving a sensible immigration system that reflects the needs of the 21st century. NDN began to fight for reform by investing in a Spanish-language radio and television media campaign designed to counter anti-immigrant campaigns.  In addition to reaching out to media outlets, NDN has regularly hosted forums with members of Congress to discuss proposals to fix our current broken immigration system. Through research and polling, conducted most recently among voters in Colorado, Florida, Nevada, and New Mexico, NDN has found that a majority of Americans support a legislative overhaul to fix the broken immigration system, as opposed to passing limited enforcement measures.  

Below, please find some past highlights of our work on immigration reform:



NDN's Immigration Blog

2010 Highlights

Senator Robert Menendez's Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2010 Summary

NDN Statement on New Immigration Framework

Immigration Reform Enters a New Phase by Simon Rosenberg

Commentary on Arizona Bill by Alicia Menendez

2009 Highlights

Presentation: Making the Case for Passing Comprehensive Immigration Reform this Year

7 Reasons Why Congress Should Pass Comprehensive Immigration Reform this Year by Simon Rosenberg

Video: Simon Rosenberg makes his case on why congress should pass CIR

Event: Politics & Policy: What to Expect from the Immigration Debate

Video: NDN Forum on Immigration Reform

The Census and Immigration Reform by Simon Rosenberg

Senator Kennedy and CIR by Andres Ramirez

2007 - 2008 Highlights

Event: "Immigration Reform and the Next Administration" - at the DNC in Denver

Polling: Immigration Polling in battleground states

A Responsible Immigration Policy by Simon Rosenberg

Can Democrats Seize the Opportunity the Immigration Debate Offers Them? by Simon Rosenberg

Event: NDN Bicameral Event for CIR


Border Mayors Featured on NPR's Weekend Edition Talking Immigration Reform

Recently NDN/New Policy Institute was proud to host the latest in a series of events on the U.S.-Mexico relationship and developments in our border region.

This event, titled “Perspectives from the U.S.-Mexico Border Region, featured a panel of key mayors from the region and focused on opportunities and challenges unique to the border region. For those who missed the event, you can watch CSPAN’s live recording here.

We are happy to report that two of the mayors at our event have been featured on NPR's Weekend Edition talking about the soutwest border region and immigration reform. Excerpts on the conversation between NPR's Rachel Martin, John Cook the Mayor of El Paso, Texas and Raul Salinas, the Mayor of Laredo Texas on border security below:

MARTIN: If you don't mind me just interjecting there. Both President Obama plan and the Senate bipartisan plan, both require that the border, quote, "be secured," before anything else can happen, before any other reforms can happen. So clearly there is this perception - in the White House and on Capitol Hill - that the border isn't secured. So...

COOK: I would disagree with that, and here's why. President Obama is trying to pacify the Republicans that would say that the border is not secure right now. But if border security is the very first step that has to happen, if it's a trigger that triggers a comprehensive immigration reform, then somebody's going to have to define it.

Do you define it by the number of people that are caught trying to cross the border? If you're catching them then the border is secure.

SALINAS: Well, Mayor Cook, I think that one thing that needs to be pointed out that illegal immigration has gone down. The enforcement along the border, the surveillance along the border has been very effective. I think that this is a politically-motivated issue. I mean, obviously. But, you know, the reality is that no longer can 11 or 12 million people live in the shadows. And we have people that behaved themselves and contribute to the American dream. What isn't some of the legislators don't understand?

Invite: Today, Friday, Jan 18th 4:00 PM - Perspectives from the US-Mexico Border Region/Now Live on C-Span

The NDN/NPI "21st Century Border Initiative" is proud to convene the latest in our series of events examining the opportunities and challenges in the U.S.-Mexico border region.  Joining us today, Friday, January 18th at 4 p.m. for a public event are a terrific group of leaders and experts:

Eduardo Olmos, Mayor of Torreon, Coahuila, Mexico

Ken Miyagishima, Mayor of Las Cruces, NM

Raul G. Salinas, Mayor of Laredo, TX

Greg Stanton, Mayor of Phoenix, AZ

Alan Bersin,  Assistant Secretary of International Affairs, Department of Homeland Security (who will be delivering opening remarks).

The discussion will take place at NDN's event space, just a block from the White House, at 729 15th Street, NW, Washington, DC at 4:00 p.m. Please RSVP here, and we look forward to seeing you next Friday (the event has been moved from its original time on Jan 17th).

If you cannot make the event today watch live on C-Span at 415pm.

Also make sure to check out our 21st Century Border Initiative website with fresh content daily on the border region and immigration issues here.

Thursday, Oct 4 - 21st Century Border Initiative Policy Director to Speak at LULAC Immigration Summit

Tomorrow, Kristian Ramos, the Director of the 21st Century Border Initiative, will be speaking at the National LULAC Immigration Summit in the Dirksen Senate Office Building in Room 106 at 11:00 a.m.

The LULAC Immigration Summit will offer insight into the Administration’s advancements in immigration reform and engage in dialogue with other immigration advocates, policy makers, community activists, and LULAC members.

The summit aspires to develop an action plan for comprehensive immigration reform by fostering progressive dialogues among policy makers, community leaders, immigration advocates, LULAC members, and legal minds alike.

Elmy Bermejo, Deputy Director of Intergovernmental Affairs
Making the Economic Case Dirksen Senate Office Building in Room 106 at 11:00 a.m.

•    Multicultural Foodservice & Hospitality Alliance (MFHA) (tentative)
•    Jeremy Robbins, Partnership for a New American Economy
•    Kristian Ramos, NDN & New Policy Institute

For background information on NDN's work in this space please make sure to check out NPI Fellow Rob Shapiro's outstanding report The Impact of Immigration and Immigration Reform on the Wages of American Workers.

This report presents an accurate portrait of our immigrant population, dispels misconceptions about undocumented immigrants, and reviews the evidence and analysis regarding the wage and other economic effects of both immigration and reforms to provide undocumented immigrants a path to legal status.

Progress report on National Travel and Tourism Strategy highlights investments in Southwest Border region

This week, the White House unveiled a progress report from their National Travel & Tourism Strategy from the Task Force on Travel & Competitiveness. This report highlights progress that has occurred over the last 180 days. NPI is proud of our work highlighting the pivotal role the southwest border region of the United States and Mexico have played in enhancing tourism and travel into the United States. The core of our argument may be seen in the following excerpts from the progress report.

For more from NPI on this please read our report Realizing the Full Value of Tourism from Mexico to the United States, here. This timely and important report from NPI and the North American Center for Transborder Studies out lines the importance of investing in our southwest border infrastructure to increase our travel and tourism potential. That and highlights from the report can be seen here.

Recognizing the importance of tourism from Mexico

  • Travel from Mexico accounts for more revenue to the U.S. economy than travel from any other country other than Canada (whose citizens are largely visa exempt).
  • In 2011, Mexican visitors spent over $9.2 billion dollars in the United States, and 8.5 million Mexican citizens have valid U.S. tourist and/or business visas.

Border Infrastructure

  • Under the 2012 Action Plan, efforts will continue to focus on expanding border crossing infrastructure at high priority locations such as the Mariposa port of entry in Nogales; supporting and institutionalizing the Regional Master Planning processes to jointly plan new border crossings; establishing pilot pre-inspection and pre-screening programs for cargo in the U.S. and Mexico; building complementary trusted traveler and trusted shipper programs; collaborating to combat transnational criminal organizations; and planning and executing joint patrols to prevent violence in the border region.

Visa Tourism

  • Consular officers at State’s ten visa-issuing posts in Mexico issued 837,596 visas and border crossing cards from January through June 2012, an increase of almost 32 percent from the same time period in the previous year.
  • State is improving the visa applicant experience for Mexicans through a variety of efficiency measures.  Mexican consular sections have introduced a nationwide appointment system that allows applicants to find and utilize the next available appointment among all of the 10 consular sections in Mexico, and introduced fee payment by credit card online or over the phone—giving applicants more convenience and more options.
  • State also opened a new consulate general building in Ciudad Juarez in 2008, another in Tijuana in 2011, and will open a third in Monterrey in 2014. All of these facilities dramatically expanded the size and efficiency of consular operations. In Monterrey, the number of visa interview windows will increase from 27 to 41.

Wed Sept 5th, DNCC - Celebrating our Progress: Perspectives on Immigration and The US-Mexico Border

Please join us for a remarkable event with prominent leaders offering their perspectives on the progress made in recent years in making our immigration system better, our border safer and in expanding trade and commerce with our neighbor, Mexico.  .  Please RSVP here to join us, and feel free to invite a guest or two.

Each speaker will give remarks for 10 minutes starting at 9:10.  The order of the speaers is as follows:

Arturo Sarukhan, Mexican Ambassador to the United States
Bill Richardson, Former Governor of New Mexico
Charlie Gonzalez, Congressman and Chair Congressional Hispanic Caucus
Greg Stanton, Mayor of Phoenix, AZ
Tony Martinez, Mayor of Brownsville, TX
Richard Durbin, Senator of Illinois and Democratic Majority Whip
Jose Antonio Vargas, Pulitzer Prize Winning Journalist and Founder of Define America
Gabby Pacheco, United We Dream Leader

This program will be moderated by Maria Cardona, CNN Commentator and Simon Rosenberg.  It will will take place at the Duke Energy Theater at Spirit Square, 345 North College St, Charlotte.  9-11am.

Kristian Ramos in The Huffington Post - Pres Obama's Deferred Action: A Fair Compromise

President Barack Obama's move to prioritize the deportation of criminal immigrants, while giving exemplary undocumented immigrants the ability to remain in the country through deferred action, is smart and fair enforcement policy.

In the face of increasingly clogged deportation courts, constrained budgets and pressure to fix our broken immigration system, the Department of Homeland Security and the President have come to a sensible middle ground with their Deferred Action policy. This bold policy move achieves the rarest of feats in modern politics: a compromise.

Yes, the President's action does allow a finite number of the best and brightest undocumented immigrants to remain in the country. Yes, it gives these Americans, in every sense of the word but their citizenship status, the ability to continue to contribute to the country. Deferred action also creates a streamlined system of immigration enforcement which will help unclog our deportation courts and allows this administration to better target high priority criminal immigrants.

According to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS),

Deferred action is a form of prosecutorial discretion created to ensure that enforcement resources are not expended on low priority cases, such as individuals who came to the United States as children and meet other key guidelines.

Deferred action does not in any way provide lawful permanent resident status or a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. Moreover, it does not excuse undocumented immigrants on American soil of any previous or subsequent periods of unlawful presence.

According to UCSIS, to apply for deferred action immigrants must be younger than 31 as of the June 15th announcement, and must have entered the U.S. before the age of 16. Applicants must also have resided continuously in the country since June 15th, 2007, and must have been in country at the time of the June 15th announcement and when submitting their application. To be eligible, applicants must have entered the U.S. without inspection OR have lost their lawful immigration status before June 15th of this year.

In addition, candidates must be currently enrolled in or recently graduated from school. Alternately, applicants may provide a certificate of completion from high school or a general education development (GED) certificate. Honorably discharged veterans of the Coast Guard or Armed Forces of the United States are also eligible for deferred action. Immigrants who have been convicted of a felony, significant misdemeanor, three or more other misdemeanors, or pose a threat to national security or public safety are disqualified from the program.

Individuals may request consideration of deferred action for childhood arrivals for a period of two years, subject to renewal, beginning August 15th. Applicants may be eligible for employment authorization for the period of deferred action provided they can demonstrate "an economic necessity for employment."

For those wondering how deferred action can possibly strengthen and streamline the enforcement capabilities of the Department of Homeland Security, consider this: our immigration court back logs are completely overwhelmed. Today's immigration courts simply cannot focus their efforts on deporting actual criminal immigrants while also struggling to handle the deportation proceedings of low priority undocumented individuals.

According to Reuters, under the Obama Administration deportations have risen to a record 400,000 individuals each year. This increase has directly impacted our immigration courts. The University of Syracuse's Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) states that more than 314,000 deportation cases awaited a resolution in the month of June, a 5.6 percent increase from 2011 and a 20 percent increase from 2010.

In light of the House GOP's recent efforts to cut DHS enforcement by $484 million, a 1.2 percent cut for the 2013 budget year, the Obama Administration has had to work to streamline DHS enforcement capabilities. While actual immigration legislation remains stalled in the House, Deferred Action is a step forward in fixing our broke immigration system. At the very least it provides a way to allow the best and brightest undocumented immigrants to remain here while enhancing the enforcement capabilities of the the federal government. In an era when partisanship is at an all-time high, Deferred Action is a compromise and that is not such a bad thing.

This piece originally ran in the Huffington Post 

Daily Border Bulletin- Details on Deferred Action Announced, Attempting to Prevent Migrant Deaths in Arizona, and more

Daily Border Bulletin is up! Today's stories include:

Details on deferred action announced- Federal officials announced on Friday that immigrants can apply to a new federal program known as deferred action beginning August 15th.

Attemping to prevent migrant deaths in Arizona- According to the U.S. Border Patrol, the remains of 191 people have been found along the Arizona-Mexico border in the 2010-2011 fiscal year. Arizona human rights groups are working to prevent deaths by placing water in the desert and providing medical assistance and food to migrants.

Avatar officer installed at Arizona-Mexico border station- The U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is installing a virtual, kiosk-based border patrol officer in Nogales, Arizona. According to Scientific American, this avatar is currently being tested in order “to streamline applications for frequent traveler benefits, freeing up human officers to catch drug smugglers.”

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