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


Poll Shows Support For ATF Measure To Improve Regulations Which Would Help Stop American Guns From Going To Mexican Drug Cartel

A new poll released yesterday by the bi-partisan Mayors Against Illegal Guns shows that there is widespread support for giving the Bureau of Alchohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives  (ATF) emergency powers to require gun dealers in border states such as Arizona, New Mexico, Texas and California to flag anyone who purchases more then three long guns.

The full poll can be seen here, and the proposed new regulations can be seen here, below is the polling data on tracking guns used by Mexican Drug Dealers:

Question: Do you favor or oppose tracking bulk purchases of assault rifles, which have become the weapon of choice of Mexican drug cartels?

What is significant about this particular poll is that the total population, and the gun owner population both give 80 percent support to tracking the bulk purchases of assault rifles. This is about as close to consensus on an issue as you are going to get.

According to the Mayors Against Illegal Guns, the Obama administration is set to give the ATF the necessary powers to better regulate the flow of American guns into the United States.

More on this as it develops.


Military Leaders Say DREAM Act Would Benefit Armed Forces

With all eye's on Congress next week, as a vote on the DREAM Act is expected in both chambers, Military leaders have come out in support of passing the legislation as it will help increase recruitment for the armed forces.

Marcos Restrepo of the Florida Independent has the full story here:

Restrepo cites, a Think Progress post written by Andrea Nill. Nill notes that on a national conference call in which both retired and current military personnel waged their support.

Louis Caldera, former Director of the White House Military Office and United States Secretary of the Army, stated: The DREAM Act will materially expand the pool of individuals qualified, ready and willing to serve their country in uniform. Of the 50,000 youth coming of age every year in the terrible predicament of being ineligible to work, enlist,  or receive federal financial aid to attend college, many of those are not yet ready to pursue full time education. Military service is a highly appealing way to better themselves, give back to their country and earn their residency and eventually citizenship. I have no doubt many of these enlistees will be among the best soldiers in our Army.

On the same call:

Major General Alfred Valenzuela echoed Caldera’s call to action: I’ve seen the sacrifice that these immigrant men and women make  to this country. They come here with the dream of becoming citizens and sign up to die for the country they call home but yet are never granted citizenship. We should pass the DREAM Act so that those individuals willing to give their lives to the U.S. can also be called citizens of the U.S.

Restrepo notes that military personel are keen to pass the legislation because there is currently a shortage in military recruitment:

Margaret Stock, a retired lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army Reserve, and a former professor at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, who said,  ”In a time when several military services are experiencing difficulties recruiting eligible enlisted soldiers, passage of this bill could well solve the Armed Forces’ enlisted recruiting woes and provide a new source of foreign-language-qualified soldiers.”

Restrepo also cites a recent Pentagon report which cites the DREAM Act as a means for increasing military retention and recruitment:

The Strategic Plan for Fiscal Years 2010-12 of the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness released in December 2009 supports the DREAM initiative.



President Obama Interview On Sabado Gigante

President Barack Obama recently appeared on Sabado Gigante, with living legend Don Francisco. The interview is below:

Part 2 is below <


Alicia on MSNBC to Discuss One Nation March And Midterms

NDN Senior Advisor Alicia Menendez was on MSNBC this weekend to talk about the One Nation March and the Mid-Terms, video is below:

More Illegal Immigrants Detained Indefinitely at Greater Expense To Tax Payers

As it turns out indefinitely jailing immigrants, is not only questionable from a civil rights perspective, but also costly to tax payers.

With an increased emphasis on enforcement nationally and an un-equal focus on creating infrastructure to  process the removal of illegal immigrants, detention centers are filling up at an alarming rate.

Jeremy Redmon of The Atlanta Journal Constitution has the full story in his article Growing illegal immigration Backlog In Court More detained indefinitely at Greater Expense.

Immigrants suspected of being in the United States illegally are being held in a detention center in southwest Georgia for months at taxpayer expense, and others remain free on bond for years here amid a severe backlog in the nation’s immigration courts, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has learned.

While the example above is Atlanta specific, the lack of judges available to process immigration related cases is a national problem:

The nationwide court backlog is documented in a recent study by Syracuse University’s Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, a research organization that monitors the federal government. The study says the number of pending cases in Georgia reached an all-time high of 7,046 this summer. The vast majority of those were deportation cases. Nationwide, there were 247,922 immigration cases pending as of June 21, another all-time high. Georgia ranks 10th among states based on its pending caseload.

In Atlanta, it takes more than a year to process one deportation case, this creates costs on the back end for tax payers who have to pay for immigrants to be detained indefinitely:

Atlanta’s immigration court is so flooded with deportation cases that it takes more than a year — 450 days — to resolve one on average. Cases for inmates at the Stewart Detention Center in Lumpkin are pending for 63 days on average.

Meanwhile, it costs taxpayers $60.50 a day on average to house an inmate at the Stewart County facility. As of Sept. 17, the center was holding 1,890 inmates. That works out to a daily cost of $114,345, based on the average expense.

Basing the success of immigration enforcement on the metric of arrests listed above, by all accounts the administrations current posture, has been a success.

At this point, perhaps it is time to concentrate on creating the infrastructure necessary to not only process the huge numbers of immigrants in detention centers, but also create a system to allow those who want to come to work and then leave.

Republicans Refuse to Support DREAM Act Imperiling Important Procedural First Vote

With a vote on the motion to proceed to Defense Re-Authorization coming as early as Tuesday, Republican Senators have indicated that they would not vote to move forward because the legislation contains The DREAM Act and other controversial amendments.

J. Taylor Rushing of The Hill has the full story here.

Among the Republicans who will not vote to proceed, Senator Lindsay Graham (NC) has become an outspoken critic of passing the legislation as an amendment to the Defense Re-Authorization bill.

“This is rank politics,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who has previously been an ally to Democrats on immigration reform. “There’s no way I’m going to vote for the DREAM Act in isolation on the defense bill. And if they think I’m the problem, they’re wrong. I will support good, comprehensive immigration reform, but not like this.”

Republican Senator Robert Bennett (UT) feels similarly on the issue:

“I support the DREAM Act as free standing legislation, but putting it in a bill that has a number of objectionable aspects is not something I support,” Bennett said in a statement. “If [Senate Majority Leader] Harry Reid [D-Nev.] brings it to the floor as a stand-alone bill, I will vote for it.”

Add Senator John Cornyn (TX) to that list. Despite the fact that he represents a state that is 36.9% Hispanic and has constituents who would benefit from the DREAM Act, he too opposes the bill:

“I’m for comprehensive reform, and it’s a mistake just to carve out one little piece of that and pass it independently,” Cornyn said. “Frankly, that’s one of the most sympathetic portions of immigration reform, and I’ve always thought it’s one of the engines that helps pull the train when it comes to other aspects of the issue. If it passes as a stand-alone, it will take the wind out of the sails to do other things we need to do on immigration.”

Republicans are not alone in being skittish about passing the DREAM Act key Democrats have indicated that they are not sure how they will vote on the legislation:

Democrats helped block the bill three years ago when it fell eight votes short on a procedural motion. While some Republicans supported that motion, eight Democrats voted no, including the late Sen. Robert Byrd (W.Va.) and Sens. Max Baucus (Mont.), Mary Landrieu (La.), Mark Pryor (Ark.), Kent Conrad (N.D.), Claire McCaskill (Mo.), Jon Tester (Mont.) and Byron Dorgan (N.D.).

Five of those senators — Conrad, Dorgan, McCaskill, Pryor and Landrieu — told The Hill this week they haven’t made up their minds about this week’s vote.

10% of Illegal Immigrants Held In Detention Centers Have No Access To Legal Aid

According to Ken Dilanian of the Los Angeles Times Illegal immigrants held in isolated jails struggle for legal help.

A survey finds The majority are in facilities beyond the reach of legal aid groups, resulting in caseloads of 100 detainees per attorney, a rights group reports. An additional 10% have no access to any legal aid.

The Chicago-based National Immigrant Justice Center has released a survey of immigration detention facilities nationwide, and found that:

1. More than half did not offer detainees information about their rights

2. 78% prohibited private phone calls with lawyers

3. More than 80% of detainees were in facilities that were isolated and beyond the reach of legal aid organizations

4. This has created heavy caseloads of 100 detainees per immigration attorney, the survey found

5. Ten percent of detainees were held in facilities in which they had no access at all to legal aid groups.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement has increased the numbers of immigrants detained which has created a need for an increase numbers of detainee centers:

The Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, or ICE, detains about 400,000 immigrants annually at a cost of $1.7 billion this fiscal year, its budget documents say. Agency head John Morton has pledged to overhaul the detention system after years of news reports spotlighting poor treatment and deaths of detainees.

This has stretched the network of lawyers who provide legal counsel to immigrant groups:

Illegal immigrants facing deportation proceedings have no guaranteed right to a lawyer, but a network of nonprofit organizations offers legal help to immigrants in detention. That network is overstretched, and immigrants are often moved to facilities that are far from legal support groups, said the report by the justice center. The report surveyed 150 immigration detention facilities that accounted for 97% of the detention beds.

According to the Migration Policy Institute providing legal counsel to immigrants would actually save citizens money:

Granting immigrants better access to counsel could even save taxpayer money, the immigrant justice group argues, because detainees often would be released sooner, saving the $122-a-day cost of detention.

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