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


The Perils of Crossing the Border: Mexico Discovers Mass Graves

There has been much written about violence on the border between the United States and Mexico.

What has not been reported with nearly the same frequency is the increase in violence to immigrants who cross into the United States along the southern border.

With increased resources and more focus on enforcement the border is more safe on the American side. Examples of this can be seen here, here, here and here.

The only people who are really suffering death in great numbers on the border is immigrants who are increasingly the target of violence from drug cartels.

As enforcement has increased and the border has become more militarized, the channels with which drug smugglers and human traffickers has been joined. The joining of the drug smugglers and human trafficking has led to an increase in deaths. Mostly the increase in deaths has been to immigrants who are trying to come into the United States.

Sacha Feinman of the LA Times wrote about this growing problem in his report entitled Drug Cartels Imperil Immigrants in the Desert:

.....migrants and drugs once occupied separate worlds. But tougher border enforcement has pushed the groups into the same obscure parts of the desert. The close company adds a new element of danger to migrants' already perilous journey, and may be responsible for a drop in immigration and economic decline in towns that depend on the migrants.

The combination of drug smuggling and human trafficking has now become common place:

Mexico's drug cartels have become a more formidable presence here, taxing the coyotes and threatening their human cargo as they make their way to the border.

As drug smuggling groups find their profits pinched by tighter border enforcement, they have moved into human smuggling, according to U.S. law enforcement officials. And with good reason: The average migrant pays about $1,300 to $1,800 to be smuggled past the bolstered Border Patrol as well as fences, surveillance towers and other new security measures. What once was a wildcat operation with marginal profits has become big business.

This has created a deadly situation for immigrants crossing the desert. Max Fisher of The Atlantic Magazine has a story up showing just how deadly it has become. In his article Mexico Discovers Mass Grave, Yielding 4 Hard Lessons does a great job of contextualizing what has happened on the border.

1. Journey to America Increasingly Dangerous  The Christian Science Monitor's Sara Miller Llana writes, "With attention focused on the US tightening its borders and stepping up deportations, mostly of undocumented Mexicans, the plight of migrants crossing through Mexico is often overlooked. ... The journey through Mexico has become more and more treacherous as suspected drug traffickers branch out into other businesses, including human trafficking.

2. Why Cartels Are Getting More Violent  The Washington Independent's Elise Foley explains, "It's not the first mass killing by drug cartels, but it may be the largest. Mexican authorities discovered 51 bodies in mass graves in July, and uncovered 55 bodies in a mine in May.

3. Mexican Cartels Pushing South Into New Countries   Reuters' Sarah Grainger reports a "southward push" by the notorious cartels. "Central America is struggling to contain rising violence as powerful Mexican drug cartels, facing an escalating government crackdown at home, expand southward and intensify operations in neighboring nations.

4. War Against Cartels Is Not Going Well  The U.K. Independent's Guy Adams writes, "The discovery on Tuesday afternoon marked a new low in a brutal conflict that has taken the lives of an estimated 28,000 Mexicans since the President, Felipe Calderon, declared 'war' on the nation's wealthy and extraordinarily well-armed drug cartels in 2007. ...

Alicia on Fox News: With Most of SB1070 Gone, What's Next?

Yesterday, an Arizona judge ruled that the most controversial portions of Arizona's immigration law SB 1070 were unconstitutional. The controversy isn't going anywhere, though. Alicia went on Fox News this morning to talk about what might come next from Arizona and the Obama administration.

Alan Bersin and John Morton: What We Are Doing to Secure Our Border

Alan Bersin, Commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection and John Morton, director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement have written an opinion piece today on securing our border. 

The full article can be read here, but if you do not have a WSJ subscription you can read it here. As always excerpts are below:

What we have seen on the border, at workplaces, and in communities across America in the past 18 months represents the most serious approach to enforcement we have witnessed in our careers.

At the border we have concentrated unprecedented amounts of manpower, infrastructure and technology. Today, the Border Patrol is better staffed than at any time in its history—nearly doubling in personnel since 2004 to more than 20,000 today. ICE has a quarter of all its personnel in the Southwest border region, also the most ever. There is more fencing and other infrastructure than ever before. And more technology, improving the ability to detect illegal movements at all times of day and night.

Much has been written on this blog about the unprecedented resources that The White House has allocated for securing the border, what has not been covered as much here is the new emphasis on U.S. - Mexico co-operation on border security.

We have engaged in high levels of cooperation with Mexico to crack down on smuggling. And we have provided more funding than ever before to local law enforcement in border communities to deal with border-related crime.

As a result, the numbers are clearly moving in the right direction: Last year, illegal crossings along the Southwest border were down 23%, to a fraction of their all-time high. Seizures of contraband rose significantly across the board in 2009—illegal bulk cash, illegal weapons and illegal drugs. By all measurable standards, crime in U.S. border towns has remained flat for most of the last decade.

While the emphasis on a renewed concentration on U.S. - Mexico cooperation is a welcome improvement to border security.

The real story here continues to be President Obama's allocation of huge sums of resources to securing our border

This administration knows that more can be done. That is why the president authorized the deployment of up to 1,200 National Guard troops to support federal law enforcement on the border. He has also asked Congress for $600 million in supplemental funding, which reflects the administration's understanding that the assets we have must be a permanent part of a long-term, systematic effort to deny, disrupt and defeat the activities of transnational criminal organizations that smuggle illicit drugs, people, weapons and bulk cash across our border with Mexico.

NDN Backgrounder - More On the Immigration Reform Debate, SB1070 and A Look Ahead to the 2010 Elections

With the debate over SB1070 and immigration reform now certain to continue through the fall elections, NDN/NPI offers up a quick set of background materials for those looking to do a deeper dive on this complicated issue.


Simon's Statement on SB1070 Court Decision by Simon Rosenberg 7/28/2010


The Evolving Politics of SB1070, Arizona and Immigration Reform by Simon Rosenberg 7/8/2010

Simon's take on the politics of SB1070 and the decision by the Department of Justice to declare the law unconstitutional.  The national GOP has gone into big time spin mode on this, declaring from the reporters I've spoken to the DOJ suit is political death for "Democrats in the West."   While that scenario is possible of course,  Simon looks at what we know about how this debate has played out in recent years.

Is Immigration a Desert Mirage for the GOP?  by Kristian Ramos, 7/27/2010

The report acts as an excellent primer on the politics around SB1070. It also explores the idea that many Republican's see the popularity of SB1070 as an opportunity to create a wedge issue out of immigration. The report also focuses on the potential political gains and losses for Democrats in the fall.


New Polling Data Shows Comprehensive Immigration Reform has Broad Support by Kristian Ramos6/18/2010

Analysis and commentary on recent polling data on SB1070 and CIR. While polling shows support for the Arizona law, a deeper examination shows even more broad support for passing CIR.


New Policy Institute: The Impact of Immigration and Immigration Reform on the Wages of American Workers by Robert Shapiro 5/26/2010

An economic report written by NPI Fellow and Former Under Secretary of Commerce Dr. Robert J. Shapiro, presents an accurate portrait of America's immigrant population, dispels certain misconceptions about American Immigration and offers economic analysis regarding the impact of immigration, and proposed immigration reforms on wages and the economy.

The Economics of Immigration Are Not What you Think by Robert Shapiro 5/26/2010

NPI Fellow Robert Shapiro highlights some of the important facts featured in his economic report on immigrants and the wages of American Workers. An important primer for the economic realities of immigration reform.

Not In Competition: Data Underscores Differences Between Immigrant and Native Born Workers by Kristian Ramos 6/16/2010

The Immigration Policy Center has released a report on the difference between immigrant and native born workers. The data demonstrates—as have other, more detailed analyses—that most foreign-born workers differ from most native-born workers in terms of what occupations they work in, where in the country they live, and how much education they have. What this means in practical terms is that most native-born workers are not directly competing for jobs with immigrant workers because they are in different labor markets.


Deportation of Criminal Immigrants increases under President Obama's Administration by Kristian Ramos

Under the Obama Administration deportation of criminal immigrants has increased, the full story can be read here. The Obama administration is deporting record numbers of illegal immigrants and auditing hundreds of businesses that blithely hire undocumented workers.  Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) expects to deport about 400,000 people this fiscal year, nearly 10 percent above the Bush administration's 2008 total and 25 percent more than were deported in 2007. The pace of company audits has roughly quadrupled since President George W. Bush's final year in office.

Arizona Violent Crime Down Except Under Anti Immigration Sherriff By Kristian Ramos 7/17/2010

Even before Arizona attempted to pass SB1070 crime had been down along the border. However Crime in Sheriff Joe Arpaios county has actually risen as he continued to divert state resources to racially profiling immigrants.

Violence on the Border: Perception Often Trumps Reality By Kristian Ramos 6/24/2010

An FBI report shows that the rate of violent crime at the border, and indeed across Arizona, has been declining, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, as has illegal immigration, according to the Border Patrol. While thousands have been killed in Mexico’s drug wars, raising anxiety that the violence will spread to the United States, F.B.I. statistics show that Arizona is relatively safe.


Talked Immigration, Arizona and "Anchor Babies" on Fox Today By Simon Rosenberg 7/6/2010

Simons take on Anchor Babies and well known anti-immigrant crusader Dan Stein from FAIR who wants to change the 14th Amendment.

Anti-immigration lobbyists' "field study" funded by taxpayer dollars By Simon Rosenberg

A video from documentary 9500 Liberty,  that show anti-immigrant extremist group FAIR coming forward as the driving force behind Manassas, Virginia's recent draconian immigration policing laws.  

Deportation of Criminal Immigrants increases under President Obama's Administration

Peter Slevin of the Washington Post has a story up showing that under the Obama Administration deportation of criminal immigrants has increased, the full story can be read here.

The Obama administration is deporting record numbers of illegal immigrants and auditing hundreds of businesses that blithely hire undocumented workers.

The Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency expects to deport about 400,000 people this fiscal year, nearly 10 percent above the Bush administration's 2008 total and 25 percent more than were deported in 2007. The pace of company audits has roughly quadrupled since President George W. Bush's final year in office.

The emphasis oon deportation is part of President Obama's broader project to "make our national laws actually work."

A June 30 memorandum from ICE director John Morton instructed officers to focus their "principal attention" on felons and repeat lawbreakers. The policy, influenced by a series of sometimes-heated White House meetings, also targets repeat border crossers and declares that parents caring for children or the infirm should be detained only in unusual cases.

"We're trying to put our money where our mouth is," Morton said in an interview, describing the goal as a "rational" immigration policy. "You've got to have aggressive enforcement against criminal offenders. You have to have a secure border. You have to have some integrity in the system."

A graphical break down of the increase in deportation's is below:

Arizona Challenges DOJ Lawsuit on SB1070

With oral arguments set to be heard on the federal lawsuit against SB1070 in a district court on Thursday, Arizona has filed an objection claiming that the state is acting within its powers.

Tim Gaynor of Reuters has the full story:

Arizona on Tuesday urged a federal judge to reject the U.S. government's bid to quash its strict new immigration law, arguing the border state is acting within its powers.

The law takes effect on July 29. It requires state and local police to investigate the immigration status of anyone they reasonably suspect of being an illegal immigrant.

Lawyers for Governor Brewer are confident that the lawsuit will be struck down:

"Arizona merely seeks to assist with the enforcement of existing federal immigration laws in a constitutional manner," lawyers for Arizona Governor Jan Brewer said in documents filed with the court late on Tuesday.

"It is (the Obama administration) that is attempting to impose immigration policies and priorities that contravene and conflict with federal law and unambiguous congressional intent."

The full article can be read here.

SB1070 Will Seperate Children From Their Families

Congressman Raul Grijalva (D-AZ) has been in the news a lot recently, he has been an outspoken critic of SB1070 and called for a boycott of the state until the law is repealed.

He recently held an Ad-Hoc hearing in Congress on the adverse effects that SB1070 will have on families. It was the contention of the witnesses at the hearing that SB1070 will separate families. In particular American children of illegal immigrants will be separated from their parents, and become wards of the state.

Two witnesses in particular brought this reality home.

Heidi Ruby Portugal is a 12 year old who had to learn to cook for her brothers and sisters when she was ten because her mother has been detained by Sherriff Joe Arpaio.

At only 10 years of age I had a sad awakening the day of February 11. When I woke up, I found out that my mother had been arrested.  I thought “Was she in a wreck? Or what happened?  But I could not understand was why she was arrested working.  My biggest preoccupation was my 2 little brothers and sister.  What was going to happen to them?  And what about my little brother that my mother was breast feeding? 

I ask myself “Why did I have to suffer so much and I had to take on a huge responsibilities and charge? Waking up early and getting my little sister ready and with great agony having to leave my 2 little brothers.

Maybe you are saying “We have heard this before, but have you thought about the great damage that you have done to my mind, completely going through this personal suffering.

Mathew Perea an 11 year old born in the United States representing thousands of children from migratory families.

The laws in Arizona are just unjust and make me fear for my family.  I am always worried when my family leaves the house that something might happen to them.  I think about it when my dad goes to work that he might not come back or when I go to school that there might not be someone to pick me up when I get out.

SB 1070 is all about hate.  This is something that we don’t need.  I feel mad that they are already separating kids from their parents. I feel mad when Arpaio goes out to our parents jobs or through our neighborhoods.  Why does Arpaio arrest our parents, it is not the kids fault or their parents either.  I don’t know what happens to kids left alone when their parents are deported.  I have heard that they take them away too. 

Video of the hearing is below, the children's testimony begins 2 minutes in.






Obama Strong on Enforcement of Federal Immigration Law

A common talking point for those that criticize the current Administrations stance on Immigration reform is that they do not currently enforce Federal Immigration laws.

However, according to Garance Burke, of the Associated Press, for better or worse federal prosecutions of immigrants, has actually increased under President Obama's administration, full article can be read here:

Federal prosecutions of immigrants soared to new levels this spring, as the Obama administration continued an aggressive enforcement strategy championed under President George W. Bush, according to a new study released Thursday.

The 4,145 cases referred to federal prosecutors in March and April was the largest number for any two-month stretch since the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency was created five years ago, the Syracuse University-based Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse found. They ranged from misdemeanor illegal entry to prosecutions of immigrants with criminal records.

The government's heavy focus on immigration investigations already is creating a heavy burden for the swamped courts along the U.S.-Mexico border, whose judges handle hundreds more cases than most of their counterparts in the rest of the country.

From a process standpoint, this article presents an interesting counterpoint to the current immigration debate over enforcement.

While there has been a heavy emphasis on enforcement, and an overall increase in the number of enforcement personnel, there has not been a similar increase in the number of judges who can actually process the large number of cases brought up with increased enforcement.

While there is debate over whether federal law enforcement officials should be the sole enforcers of immigration laws, it is common knowledge that only federal immigration judges can process immigration cases.

So while the number of cases has increased there are around the same number of judges. So undocumented immigrants, often have to wait long periods of time to be deported.

This is yet another reason why the conversation should not just center on enforcement but around passing Comprehensive Immigration Reform, which could address the number of immigration judges.

Va., Eight Other States Legally Side with Arizona on Immigration

As the country continues to debate the political wisdom of the federal lawsuit against SB1070, Virginia has filed an amicus brief siding with Arizona. Rosalind Helderman, of the Washington Post, has the full story here..

Virginia is formally siding with Arizona against the federal government on immigration, Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli announced today.

Cuccinelli said the state has joined eight others in filing an amicus brief supporting Arizona's immigration laws. The federal government has sued Arizona over the law, arguing that the state has overreached its authority because immigration is regulated by federal law. Other states that also signed the brief are Michigan, Florida, Texas, South Carolina, Pennsylvania, Alabama, Nebraska and South Dakota. The effort is being led by the attorney general of Michigan.


In Arizona, the state is preparing to defend against of the first law suit filed by a Phoenix police officer.   Jaques Billeaud of the Associated Press has the full story here:

A federal judge is scheduled to hear arguments Thursday over whether Arizona's new immigration law should take effect later this month, marking the first major hearing in one of seven challenges to the strict law.

U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton also will consider arguments over Gov. Jan Brewer's request to dismiss the challenge filed by Phoenix police Officer David Salgado and the statewide nonprofit group Chicanos Por La Causa.

The judge said last week she wasn't making any promises on whether she will rule on the officer's request to block enforcement of the law before it takes effect July 29.



No A La Ley De Arizona - Meg Whitman

Republican California gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman has provided evidence that at least one GOP candidate understands the value of the Hispanic vote.

Joe Garofoli of the San Francisco Chronicle, has a story up today highlighting Whitman's Hispanic outreach campaign. He notes:

The billboard, spotted on Highway 99 about 2 miles north of Earlimart in Tulare County, says:

"NO a la Proposicion 187 y NO a la Ley de Arizona -- Meg Whitman."

Thomas Holyoke, an associate professor of political science at California State University-Fresno, told us that according to Wednesday's Field Poll, Whitman's outreach is paying early dividends.

It appears to have helped, Holyoke said, that Whitman said she would have opposed Arizona controversial new immigration law. She said that even as GOP primary rival Steve Poizner was veering hard right on immigration.

Read the full story here, and check out a screen grab of a billboard that Whitman's campaign has put up in California.

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