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


SB1070 and The Hispanic Electorate in Arizona

There have been a couple of stories highlighting the impact of SB1070 on the Hispanic electorate in Arizona.

Nicolas Riccardi of the Los Angeles Times has a piece up entitled, Arizona's SB1070: Turning Anger on Immigration Law Into Votes, full article can be read here.

Rafael Robles has been eligible to vote ever since he became a U.S. citizen 23 years ago, but nothing has spurred him to register until two young activists visited his house here last week.

......Activists hope that SB 1070, which Republican Gov. Jan Brewer signed into law in April and is scheduled to take effect July 29, will generate enough angry new Latino voters like Robles to reshape this state's hard-line approach to immigration.

The article  also focuses on the similarities between the voter drive initiated by activist groups after Prop 187 was passed in California.

......Many analysts and political scientists predict a similar outcome — eventually — in Arizona. Latinos, 30% of the population, are the fastest-growing and youngest demographic group in the state.

"It's the same energy I saw with 187," said Ben Monterroso, a Service Employees International Union official who spearheaded voter registration in California in 1994 and now oversees the Arizona operation. "People are saying enough is enough."

However Arizona, is not the same as California, in demographics or politics:

And Stan Barnes, a lobbyist and former Republican legislator in the Arizona Senate, said the state's crackdown on illegal immigrants would bring out other new voters — ones who support sealing the border.

"The average guy in Arizona believes that Mexico has become a narco state and that is coming to Arizona," Barnes said. "The fact that the Arizona government has rallied to confront that has energized a whole new electorate."

It's obvious which way the political wind is blowing in the state that has become the favorite illegal entry point from Mexico. Few candidates for statewide office here, even Democrats who opposed SB 1070, are openly sympathetic to illegal immigrants.

Activists are going after registered Hispanic voters, who have not voted in the past, but may vote because of SB1070:

Polls show that SB 1070 is popular in Arizona, except among Latinos; in the most lopsided survey, as much as 81% opposed it. The get-out-the-vote campaign, launched in June by a coalition of labor, community and religious groups, is trying to channel that outrage in November.

The canvassers target Latinos who are already registered but rarely vote. Latino voter turnout hovers about 35%, and about 60% of all Arizona voters went to the polls in the last off-year election. Sixteen percent of registered voters in the state are Latino.

Local news station KBHO CBS has a story up from Sarah Buduson entitled SB1070 Galvanizes Ariz. Latino Voters, full story here:

Arizona’s controversial immigration law has sparked a surge in interest in politics and the voting process among Latino voters, according to Francisco Heredia, the Arizona director of Mi Familia Vota.

"It did help us kind of create the momentum that we need to make sure we get Latinos out and vote this year,”

Heredia said he immediately noticed a difference in political participation after Gov. Jan Brewer signed Senate Bill 1070 into law April 23.

"We've seen a tremendous increase by young people and people that have graduated college already. It kind of strikes an emotional chord with them that it goes too far,” Heredia said.

"We see in our office, we're ramping up our campaign every day, we see young people coming in volunteering, talking to people on the phone, going out canvassing.”

The article also highlights some of the challenges facing such a voter registration drive:

In Arizona, nearly half of eligible Latino voters are not registered to vote, Heredia said.

Heredia blamed Proposition 200, a voter-approved referendum that passed in 2004 and requires voters to present certain forms of identification to register, and apathy.

"I think it's a just a communitywide problem that we haven't emphasized civic participation as much as we should,” he said.

Mi Familia Vota and eight other Latino organizations are working together to ramp up voter participation in Arizona this fall because of SB 1070.

Heredia said it will work.

Simon Talks About Federal Immigration Reform on Fox News

This morning on Fox News, Simon engaged in a contentious debate with Dan Stein, the president of FAIR, over the proper role of the federal government in regulating immigration. He stated the case we've been making for awhile at NDN: only a comprehensive, federal immigration-reform bill can help us solve the current crisis.


David Axlerod Weighs in on Immigration Ahead of President Obama's Speech

Leading up to President Obama's speech on immigration at 10:45 a.m. EDT, Senior Adviser to the President David Axelrod has put out a press release on the importance of passing cir. Excerpts are below:

The President believes that we must have a practical, common-sense approach that reflects our heritage and our history -- as a nation of immigrants and a nation of laws. Government must be accountable for enforcing the law, businesses that seek unfair advantages over competitors must be accountable for exploiting the system, and those who break the law must be accountable as well.

For more information on the speech check out the White House blog.

UPDATE - White House Signals Movement on Comprehensive Immigration Reform

UPDATE - The White House has formally announced that President Obama will be giving a major speech on the importance of passing Comprehensive Immigration Reform.

Sam Stein of the Huffington Post, has the full scoop here.


Big news today on CIR, yesterday the White House held a meeting with Immigration Activists and formally announced that President Obama will be making a  speech on the need to pass Immigration Reform. The announcement is below with important information highlighted:


Office of the Press Secretary



June 28, 2010

Readout of the President’s Meeting with Grassroots Leaders to Discuss Comprehensive Immigration Reform

Today, the President met with representatives from a broad range of community groups to discuss the ways in which his Administration is working with stakeholders around the country as well as members of Congress to craft a comprehensive approach that will finally fix our broken immigration system.  The President reiterated that he wants to see a bipartisan process based on the proposal presented in the Senate and building on the Schumer-Graham framework, which thoughtfully addresses the need to further secure our borders and demands accountability from both workers who are here illegally and unscrupulous employers who game the system.

During the meeting the President also reiterated that truly securing our border requires comprehensive immigration reform, said that his Administration will continue to work with Congress to act at the earliest possible opportunity and he announced that he would be delivering a speech soon on the importance of passing comprehensive immigration reform. 

He also thanked the community groups for their support and hard work on this issue as this important process moves forward. In addition, the President once again made clear his views on the recent law passed in Arizona and noted that the Department of Justice was reviewing it.

Erica Warner of the AP has a story up on the meeting which can be read here, excerpts are below:

President Barack Obama is enlisting activists and labor leaders in a push for comprehensive immigration legislation that will showcase Republican opposition and include a speech by the president.

The strategy was discussed during a meeting Monday by a range of prominent labor leaders and activist groups. Participants said Obama reiterated his support for immigration legislation but noted the political realities that have stalled it in Congress.

Latino leaders say they will work in coming months to pressure Republicans to give way and support an immigration bill — and make opponents pay at the ballot box if they don't.

"We're going to make absolutely crystal clear who's at fault here," said Eliseo Medina, a leader of the Service Employees International Union.


SB1070 and Field Preemption

As the rumors that the federal government will file a lawsuit against Arizona regarding SB1070 continue to grow, there have been rumors that the federal suit will focus on a legal precedent known as 'Field Preemption.'

Arizona State Attorney General, Terry Goddard, who is also a candidate for Governor, has removed himself from his responsibility of defending the state from any lawsuits regarding SB1070. The full story on this latest development can be read at the Arizona Daily Sun here.

In a recent television interview with KGUN 9 ABC's local news affiliate (which can be seen here) Attorney General Goddard noted that the federal lawuit would be based on the Field Preemption precedent. A portion of the interview is below:

To date there are five lawsuits pending against SB1070. They argue the state violates the constitution because federal law supersedes state law and, therefore, only federal agents have the jurisdiction to enforce immigration laws. Goddard said, "That is the argument. It's called field preemption. Does the federal law command the field to such an extensive degree that no state law is permitted."

Field Preemption is not something anyone other than legal scholars are usually familiar with. I was fortunate enough to be a part of a briefing from MALDEF National President Tom Saenz on and the legal frame work that was being used in lawsuits against SB1070.

MALDEF and several other civil rights advocacy organizations have filed a law suit against SB1070 and Field Preemption is one of the clauses cited in the brief. The full suit can be seen here.

According to my notes from the briefing Field Preemption comes from the Supremacy Clause in Article VI Clause II of the Constitution. Essentially the clause notes that federal laws made in keeping with the Constitution and treaties made with foreign nations are under the strict sovereignty of the federal government.

Within this clause comes the idea that if the government has established a field of command or has passed legislation that has established federal jurisdiction then a state cannot write a similar law.

Also established in the Supremacy Clause is that only federal law can regulate legislation between the United States and foreign entities. Immigration law is federal because it  concerns dealings with a foreign country.  Under this clause a state cannot pass legislation that deals with a foreign country. That right is clearly delineated under the constitution to the federal government.

SB1070 is incredibly similar to the 287 (g) program, not to mention that it is already a federal offense to be in the country illegally.

Interestingly enough in the same interview Attorney General Goddard opines that the Arizona law does not breach the Field Preemption clause.

Goddard says the state has a strong case against the legal challenges filed against the constitutionality of SB1070. Nine On Your Side's Steve Nunez asked, "Based on what you do know do you feel confident that Arizona could win any legal challenge against SB1070?" Goddard said, "It's a very tough issue but I think, yes, the state could win the challenge on the jurisdiction angle."

He then continues on to note that:

SB1070 is written as an alternative law that's consistent with federal immigration law. Goddard said, "The standard is incredibly high. Courts, federal courts especially, do not like to stop state's who are trying to implement a particular program and so they very seldom unless they can see a clear jurisdictional bar or on its face civil rights violation they're very unlikely to interfere."

Ironically, Attorney General Goddard indicated that if he was elected Governor he would overturn the law, saying that he would instead focus state resources on securing the border.


NDN's Alicia Menendez on The O'Reilly Factor Talking Border Security

NDN's own Alicia Menendez was once again the voice of reason on the O'Reilly factor last week.

In this segment O'Reilly went out of his way to characterize the situation as violent and pointed out repeatedly that the federal government needed to secure the border. O'Reilly was extremely critical of the White House, saying that it had not done enough to secure the border.

The White House has repeatedly pushed back on this narrative. Below are statistics provided by the White House to show increased border security. These statistics appeared first at the Fox News Website:


Over the past year since the Southwest Border Initiative was launched:

• Doubled the personnel assigned to Border Enforcement Security Task Forces by deploying 110 additional special agents.

• Tripled the number of ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) intelligence analysts along the Southwest border in April 2009 by deploying 28 additional personnel.

• For the first time, the Department of Homeland Security began screening 100% of southbound rail shipments for illegal weapons, drugs, and cash.

• Deployed 13 additional cross-trained canine teams, which identify firearms and currency, to the Southwest Border to augment the five teams already in place.

• Deployed 116 additional Border Patrol Agents to augment CBP (Customs and Border Protection) officers during inspections operations—particularly outbound inspections.

• Deployed five additional Z-Backscatter Units, which help CBP identify anomalies in passenger vehicles, to the Southwest border to augment the six already there.

• CBP and ICE combined have seized $85 million in illicit cash along the Southwest border—a 22 percent increase over the same period during the previous year.

• CBP and ICE together have seized 1,404 firearms and 1.62 million kilograms of drugs along the Southwest border—increases of 22 and 14 percent respectively over the same period during the previous year.

• CBP seized $29.5 million in illicit southbound cash along the Southwest border—a 39 percent increase over the same period during the previous year.

Additionally, the San Diego DHS Maritime Unified Command, comprised of U.S. Coast Guard, CBP, ICE and other law enforcement partners, saw a more than six-fold increase in maritime drug interdictions in the Pacific waters extending from the Southwest border—seizing 57,437 lbs. of drugs in fiscal year 2009 compared to 8,884 lbs. seized in fiscal year 2008. Already in fiscal year 2010, the Coast Guard has seized 11,500 lbs. of drugs across the San Diego sector.

Since 2004:

• the Border Patrol has doubled in size to approx 20,000 Border Patrol agents on board.

CBP statistics show that illegal immigration into the United States is down with apprehensions between points of entry having dropped 23 percent in FY09. During FY09 the Border Patrol apprehended 556,041 compared with 723,825 during FY08. El Paso Sector saw a 51 percent reduction in apprehensions, the Tucson Sector saw a 24 percent reduction in apprehensions, and the Rio Grande Valley Sector saw a 19 percent reduction in apprehensions. Those statistics reflect a reduction in the number of people attempting to illegally cross our borders.

• And as part of his comprehensive plan to secure the Southwest border, President Obama will request $500 million in supplemental funds for enhanced border protection and law enforcement activities. The president will also deploy up to an additional, requirements-based 1,200 National Guard troops to the border to provide intelligence; surveillance and reconnaissance support; intelligence analysis; immediate support to counternarcotics enforcement; and training capacity until Customs and Border Patrol can recruit and train additional officers and agents to serve on the border. Funds will be utilized to enhance technology at the border, share information and support with State, Local, and Tribal law enforcement, and increase DoJ and DHS presence and law enforcement activities at the border, to include increased agents, investigators, and prosecutors, as part of a multi-layered effort to target illicit networks trafficking in people, drugs, illegal weapons, and money.

The video is below:


Justice Department Will Fight Arizona Law

There has been rumblings since last week that the Obama Administration would be filing a law suit to fight Arizona on the passage of SB1070. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton let the cat out of the bag in an interview with an Ecuadorean television studio, the full story on that can be read here. As enticing as Secretary Clinton's statements were, at the time they were un-confirmed by the White House.

As of Friday, the Justice Department still had not formally announced plans to file suit. 

However many senior administration officials have felt the need to speak off the record indicating that they would be filing a lawsuit to strike down SB1070 before the legislation became law. The full article can be read here. As always some highlights below.

A spokesman for the Justice Department said the matter was still under review, but other senior administration officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said a decision had indeed been made and only the details of the legal filing were still being worked out.

These officials said several government agencies were being consulted over the best approach to block the statute, which, barring any successful legal challenges, takes effect July 29. At least five lawsuits have already been filed in federal court, and civil rights groups have asked a federal judge to issue an injunction while the cases are heard.

Stay tuned here, for more information as it develops.


SB1070 Copy Cat Laws

Much has been written (here and elsewhere) about the many policy and economic defects of Arizona's anti-immigrant SB1070 legislation, what has not been so readily covered is the spread of copy cat laws.

As of the time of this posting, there are 5 states that have SB1070 copy cat laws currently in the legislative pipeline. 17 more states have expressed an interest in taking up laws when the legislative calendar begins again in January.

The fact that SB1070 is spreading is not surprising, what is interesting is where the copy cat laws are being proposed.

Albuquerque, NM, Mayor Richard J. Barry recently passed a law that would require federal agents to check the immigration status of every person arrested in Albuquerque.

New Mexico is 44.9% Hispanic, with such a large population it is hard to believe any anti immigrant legislation would pass so easily. In fact the Mayor's decision has caused quite an uproar, the full story can be read here. Stay tuned to see if this legislation is not repealed.

Democratic stronghold Pennsylvania also has an SB1070 copy cat bill in the pipeline. House Bill 2479, would direct a police officer "to attempt to verify the immigration status of suspected illegal aliens."

But wait, this legislation goes a step further than SB1070, from a Post Gazette Newspaper article:

The bill also would create a new third-degree misdemeanor "for illegal aliens who violate federal law by either willfully failing to register as an alien or failing to possess proper proof of such registration when stopped for another primary offense, such as a traffic violation."

SB1070 does not create a new third-degree misdemeanor. HB2479 would also:

attempt to crack down on employers who hire illegal aliens without first checking to see if they had registration papers and are in the state legally. It also would create a new third-class felony "for intentionally smuggling illegal aliens (into the state) for profit" and would let police officers "impound any vehicle driven by an illegal alien or used to transport illegal aliens.''

Employer sanctions are another "improvement" on SB1070.

Not to be outdone the South Carolina state Judiciary committee has been holding hearings on H4919. The text of the legislation can be found here.  An excerpt is below.


This is essentially adds federal immigration law to the state code of laws in order to give local law enforcement officers the ability to arrest and profile any one who they may suspect to be an undocumented immigrants. An article from The State a local South Carolina newspaper can be read here.

There has been allot of talk about Texas passing similar SB1070 legislation. So much so that the Texas state Republican convention split in two over the idea. A great summary of the schizm can be found at read at the New Mexico Independent.

Texas Governor Rick Perry, a staunch Republican, strongly opposes passing SB1070 copy cat legislation in the state. Fox News has a good summary up here.

There are sure to be more states who will be adding to the list of SB1070 copy cat legislators, please check back here for all the latest developments.


Not In Competition: Data Underscores Differences Between Immigrant and Native Born Workers

The Immigration Policy Center has released a report on the difference between immigrant and native born workers.

The paper examines  the idea that during an economic downturn, working immigrants, take jobs from native born workers.

The findings of the paper show that this idea is empirically false. Immigrants and native born workers do not compete for the same jobs overall.

The report notes that:

The data demonstrates—as have other, more detailed analyses2—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.

The concept that immigrant and native born workers often exist in completely seperate labor markets is an important distinction to make. This distinction in the type of work that immigrants and native born workers engage in shows that they are not ever in direct competition for jobs.

Please read the full report here.

More News On Arizona

A couple of interesting developments in Arizona.

First, the Arizona state legislature has started work on legislation that would target the children of undocumented immigrants.

Traditionally anyone born on United States soil is automatically a citizen.

However according to Time magazine, the Arizona state legislature is working on a law designed "to make the citizenship process so difficult that illegal immigrants pull up their anchors and leave." The full Time article is here.

The second important development is a growing acceptance that SB1070 is going to have a negative economic impact on Arizona.

The Arizona Republic has published an article on the possibly devastating impact that a mass migration of immigrants would have on the already fragile housing industry.  The full article can be read here. An excerpt is below.

An exodus of people - both legal and illegal residents - could be one more drag on a housing-market recovery. Departures from a state where growth is the economic foundation could add to the number of foreclosures and vacant houses and apartments, all of which will hurt the housing industry just as signs of recovery are starting to appear.

Driving illegal immigrants out of Arizona is one stated purpose of the new immigration law. But the law, experts say, could also drive out legal residents and deter potential new residents - people who are afraid of what might happen to them or who simply object to the law.

Undocumented Immigrants have long been home buyers in Arizona. As the total cost to the state continues to rise, members of the real estate business community find the passage of the law puzzling at a time when the economy of the state is so fragile.

"Many people in real estate operated with a 'don't ask, don't tell' policy when it came to certain homebuyers and borrowers. We didn't feel like it was our job to be an enforcement agency," said Margie O'Campo de Castillo, a Phoenix real-estate agent. "I always tell people if they aren't legally here, it may not be in their best interest to buy a home. But it's not my decision."

She is trying to help a friend who owns a small business and who had a Phoenix home but is not a legal U.S. resident.

"He never missed a payment, but his business has slowed down," O'Campo said. "He found a buyer to do a short sale on his home, but his lender wouldn't work with him because he isn't here legally. He lost his house to foreclosure."

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