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


Virtual Seminar: Making the Case for Immigration Reform

Thursday, June 4, 12:15 p.m.
Online Only

Tune in at 12:15 this Thursday as Simon Rosenberg offers a virtual seminar making the case for immigration reform. The seminar will offer a compelling argument for passing comprehensive immigration reform legislation this year, and will include new polling data illustrating that reform is not just an economic and moral imperative, but politically feasible as well.

As you know, the push for comprehensive immigration reform has been one of NDN's signature issues in recent years. As we look forward to a major White House meeting next week on the issue, Simon's presentation will help you get up-to-date on the debate and the latest arguments supporting comprehensive.  Check regularly this week for more content on immigration reform!

You can watch the seminar here.

Monday Buzz: Immigration, ObamaNet, Una Latina en la Suprema Corte, and More

NDN was one of the first organizations in Washington to explain and celebrate the growing influence of Hispanics in American politics. So it's no surprise that we drove the narrative on Judge Sonia Sotomayor's nomination in many of the nation's largest media outlets. Simon discussed the impact of Sotomayor's nomination in the USA Today, the San Francisco Chronicle, the Chicago Tribune, Salon, Politics Daily, and the Mexican paper Excelsior. Here are a few excerpts. From the SF Chronicle article, which also makes extensive use of NDN polling data:

But the president's decision to nominate a daughter of Puerto Rican immigrants will have impacts far beyond the court, said Simon Rosenberg, who heads NDN, the Washington, D.C., think tank formerly known as New Democrat Network.

Rosenberg called it "an acknowledgement and affirmation of the great demographic changes taking place in America today. The percentage of people of color in the United States has tripled in just the past 45 years, and America is now on track to become a majority-minority nation in 30 to 40 years."

Andres Ramirez, NDN vice president of Hispanic programs, said the demographic wave has reshaped voting patters and elections and will recast the look of Congress - and the fortunes of the two major political parties - in the next decade.

In the USA Today piece, Simon talks about how Obama will use his online advocacy machine to push his Supreme Court pick:

"Look, the Obama team is using all the tools every day, and we should expect that," said Simon Rosenberg, president of the New Democratic Network, and a pioneering advocate of the use of new media in politics. "This (nomination rollout) had clearly been in the works for some time. They were prepared. They were firing on many cylinders. This is going to be a full, frontal battle over the next several months and the administration is ready and confident."

But that doesn't mean it will be clear sailing.

"It won't be the old pitched battles where there would be 20 or 30 traditional groups fighting it out in Washington," Rosenberg said. He said "amped up" communications through blogs and social networks make a more complicated debate with more actors and activists involved.

And from Salon:

"The Republicans are going to have to be extremely careful," Simon Rosenberg, who's spent a long time analyzing the role of Hispanics in American politics as president of the New Democrat Network, told Salon. "After years of demonizing Hispanics, if they oppose her and it looks political, they're risking further injury with this fast-growing segment of the electorate... There's no road back for the Republican Party that doesn't have them repudiating what they've done on race over the last generation."

Andres also weighed in on Channel 13 Action News in Las Vegas on Sotomayor's nomination, and discussed how Nevada figures into the immigration reform fight in the Las Vegas Sun:

The Republican Party’s stance puts it “in a delicate position” with the increasingly important Hispanic electorate in Nevada and nationwide, according to Andres Ramirez, vice president of Hispanic programs at NDN, a Washington, D.C.-based research and advocacy organization.

In Nevada, three of four Hispanic voters supported Obama in the general election, according to exit polls — the second-highest show of support among Hispanics nationwide, after New Jersey. In the same election, Hispanics cast 15 percent of all votes in Nevada, a 50 percent increase compared with 2004’s tally.

Immigration, Ramirez said, is a litmus test for Hispanic voters — if they think a candidate, or party, is hostile on the issue, they will show less interest in the candidate’s or party’s overall platform. This occurred in the 2008 election, analysts say.

So the party could “risk alienating Hispanic voters more” by opposing a comprehensive bill, Ramirez said.

Finally, Simon was the kicker quote in a story in the Boston Globe on business warming to the Democrats.

What Sotomayor Means for Immigration Reform

While it is still early in the effort to put Sonia Sotomayor on the Supreme Court, my sense is that if she does make it, the prospects for passing immigration reform this year will improve. 

Part of the reason why has to do with how the White House has introduced her to all of us. The emphasis on her hard-scrabble roots, the classic immigrant struggle, her father who never spoke English, her own incredible success, is itself a deeply powerful repudiation of the other less than flattering narratives about Hispanic immigrants we've seen in the media these past few years.  As I wrote the other day, her nomination - along with many other moments - Bill Richardson's candidacv, President Obama's own story - is one more step in the American people's coming to terms with, and largely accepting, our emerging, much more diverse racial and ethnic demographic construct of the early 21st century.  

The acceptance of these new demographic realities, driven by the vast waves of immigration in the United States in recent years, is at the very core of our ability to pass an immigration reform bill along the lines of what we passed in 2006. As we have reported to you many times, in poll after poll taken over the past four years, a strong majority of Americans, between 55 and 70 percent, are willing to allow the 11 million undocumented immigrants living and working among us to stay, and build lives for themselves and their families here. For many Americans, this act of allowing the undocumenteds to stay is not just about fairness, and making sure taxpayers are not unduly burdened, but about accepting another huge traunch of Hispanic immigrants, accelerating even further the already dramatic demographic changes under way. 

For there should be no mistake about this - any civil society would have a hard time accepting the level of demographic change America is undergoing right now. That only 15-20 percent of the nation is up in arms about it shows once again, at its heart, what a good and generous nation America is.

Months of discussion of Sotomayor's inspiring story will be a daily and powerful antidote to Lou Dobbs and the other racial scapegoaters who have come to occupy the airwaves.  If she joins the court for the fall term, in September, it will be a powerful affirmation of our new direction, and an elegant table setter for a fall effort to pass comprehensive immigration reform before the end of the year. 

Kudos once again to President Obama. Few politicians in recent history have been as comfortable taking risks, of not taking the easy path, as he. And for that I am, once again, very proud of our President, that self described "mutt" we have leading us today, with grace, to a better place.

Monday Buzz: Much Ado about Millennials, Heritage Disagrees with Us (gasp!), and More

NDN fellows Morley and Mike had a big week in the media leading up to tomorrow's event in San Francisco, "The Progressive Politics of the Millennial Generation." They had a major op-ed published in Sunday's Los Angeles Times, entitled "The Republican Party Ignores Young 'Millennials' at Its Peril." It begins:

If the Republican Party thinks it has problems now, just wait. The party's incredibly poor performance among young voters in the 2008 election raises questions about the long-term competitiveness of the GOP.

The "millennials" -- the generation of Americans born between 1982 and 2003 -- now identify as Democrats by a ratio of 2 to 1. They are the first in four generations to contain more self-perceived liberals than conservatives.

Morley and Mike were quoted in the Boston Phoenix and the New York Observer on millennials. Here's an excerpt from the Phoenix:

Conventional wisdom suggests that getting bogged down over environmental legislation would distract Democrats from important issues like the economy and foreign policy. But that shows how little politicians have taken to heart the importance of the Millennials, say Michael Hais and Morley Winograd, co-authors of Millennial Makeover.

To this generation, this fight is not only about climate change — it is about creating green jobs and increasing national security by reducing dependence on foreign oil.

Simon's piece in the Huffington Post from last week had a particularly long tail, and was picked up by blogs on the left and the right, appearing in both MyDD and the Heritage Foundation's blog, "the Foundry."

Is Immigration Overhaul Vital To U.S. Recovery?


Simon Rosenberg of the Democratic think-tank NDN says legalizing immigrants would go a long way toward ending unfair competition for low-wage American workers.


Reflecting on How Our Concept of Race Is Changing

The Times has a wonderful piece today which takes a deep look into how the concept of race is evolving in America today:

MILWAUKEE — Although the civil rights movement gave Samuel Sallis equality under the law a long time ago, he was left wanting most of his life, he says, for the subtle courtesies and respect he thought would come with it. Being a working-class black man downtown here meant being mostly ignored, living a life invisible and unacknowledged in a larger white world.

Then Mr. Sallis, 69, noticed a change.

“I’ve been working downtown for 30 years, so I’ve got a good feeling for it,” Mr. Sallis said. “Since President Obama started campaigning, if I go almost anywhere, it’s: ‘Hi! Hello, how are you, sir?’ I’m talking about strangers. Calling me ‘sir.’ ”

He added: “It makes you feel different, like, hey — maybe we are all equals. I’m no different than before. It’s just that other people seem to be realizing these things all around me.”

As the readers of this blog know well we believe this nation is in the midst of perhaps its most profound demographic transformation since the arrival of the Europeans here in the 15th, 16th and 17th centuries.   Due to large waves of non-white immigration over the past 45 years, America has seen its minority population triple, ending what was America's longstanding white-black, majority-minority racial construct.  Current projections have American becoming a majority minority country in the next 30 years. 

It was inevitable, given how our population was changing, that the America of the 21st century would end up having a very different - and much more tolerant - attitude towards race than any America that had come before. But the election and early success of our remarkable President, Barack Hussein Obama, the self-described "mutt," has hastened this process, allowing this nation to begin to truly realize, perhaps more than any time in our history, the radical promise of equality of opportunity offered by our Founding Fathers.

I was born in 1963, the last years of an America before the changes brought about by the Civil Rights, Voting Rights and Immigration Acts of the mid 1960s.   The legacy of this period, of Lyndon Johnson and JFK, of Martin Luther King Jr. and so many others is so profound that sometimes I am literally overwhelmed by all this.  But this week, as we saw images of President Obama horsing around in the Oval Office with Caroline Kennedy, we are reminded that the two beautiful children of our President today are not John-John and Caroline but Malia and Sasha - and what a different, and better world, this is today.

Updated Weekly on Immigration: Mexico Leans Into Immigration Issue; More on Immigrants and the Economy

Last Updated 2:22 pm, 4/27/09

I. U.S. Citizens Caught in the Broken Immigration System – A USA Today op-ed follows my post on individuals ICE has detained illegally.

II."There Will Be Immigration Reform With the U.S.," Mexican Ministry of Foreign Affairs  - In a move that has not been seen since the early days of the Fox Administration, the Mexican Minister of Foreign Affairs, Patricia Espinosa, openly discussed the issue of immigration and provided assurances that Mexico will reach agreements with the U.S. on the issue of immigration reform thanks to the renewed relationship between the two countries.  This is an important departure from the Mexican government's traditional stance - it has consistently held that immigration reform is strictly a U.S. domestic issue, and as such it is not its place to intervene in this area of U.S. legislation.   However, binational Mexican citizens in the U.S. are putting increasing pressure on Mexico to work with the U.S. and push for a functional immigration system.  Milenio - a widely circulated national periodical in Mexico - reported Secretary Espinosa "will insist on immigration reform that meets the demands of Mexicans who live abroad."  A large majority of Mexicans in the U.S. are permanent residents or citizens who remain concerned about solving the broken immigration system.  The Secretary delivered these comments before the 13th Annual Meeting of the Advisory Board to the Institute for Mexicans Abroad held April 21-25; she highlighted that Mexico is making progress on the immigration front, including enacting reforms to its own General Law on Population. 

III. More on Foreign Workers and the Economy -  Following last week’s discussion on foreign workers and the economy, this week we have more on H-1B legislation introduced by Sens. Durbin and Grassley.  The legislation is specifically damaging to Indian companies because it prohibits firms that have over 50% of staff on H-1B and L-1 visas from hiring more people on these two visas. This would affect all large IT companies, which have branch offices and subsidiaries in the US that are staffed largely by H-1B visa holders.  IT companies are speaking out in opposition to the move, Economic Times reports:

Criticizing the move, commerce & industry minister Kamal Nath said it will restrict the ability of Indian IT companies to compete in the US. “This is certainly not in line with the US President’s stand against protectionism at the recent London G20 meeting and our desire to mainstream development in the Doha negotiations,” Mr. Nath said in a statement on Friday.

Kamal Nath pointed out that besides being the fast-growing market for US exports, Indian IT firms have also helped American companies become globally competitive. “I would, therefore, urge that the lawmakers, administration and the US business community ensure that the contents of the bill do not come in the way of the growing India-US trade partnership,” he said.

Many of the big Indian IT exporters have started recruiting locally but the numbers are still small. Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), for instance, has stepped up its local recruitment in recent years but the number of locals employed by the firm is still around 10,000 globally. 

“What the US needs is comprehensive reform. The number of H-1B visa holders is very small compared to the number of tech and other jobs in the US. It should not be related to job losses in the US,” said Nasscom president Som Mittal. He said the Nasscom was willing to work with US authorities and help them if there was abuse of visas.

An interview on the Satellite radio Bob Edwards show discussed a recent study that found: America's Loss is the World's Gain as the U.S. resists highly talented and skilled foreign professionals.  Researcher Vivek Wadhwa led a group that surveyed 1200 Indian and Chinese immigrants who had worked in the US for a year or more, or had received their education here, only to return to their home countries.  Wadhwa argues that if these skilled workers felt welcomed and stayed here, they would launch companies and create far more jobs for American workers than they leave by heading home or by never coming to the US in the first place.

Reuters writes about how legalizing the undocumented would affect the economy, and a Wall Street Journal op-ed today on Why We Need an Immigration Stimulus:

The pace of lower-skilled migration has slowed due to higher unemployment. This could make it less contentious to ease the path to legalization for the 12 million undocumented workers and their families in the U.S. It's also a good time to ask why we turn away skilled workers, including the ones earning 60% of the advanced degrees in engineering at U.S. universities. It is worth pointing out the demographic shortfall: Immigrants are a smaller proportion of the U.S. population than in periods such as the late 1890s and 1910s, when immigrants gave the economy a jolt of growth. Immigrants have had a disproportionate role in innovation and technology. Companies founded by immigrants include Yahoo, eBay and Google. Half of Silicon Valley start-ups were founded by immigrants, up from 25% a decade ago. Some 40% of patents in the U.S. are awarded to immigrants. A recent study by the Kauffman Foundation found that immigrants are 50% likelier to start businesses than natives. Immigrant-founded technology firms employ 450,000 workers in the U.S. And according to the National Venture Capital Association, immigrants have started one quarter of all U.S. venture-backed firms.

IV. Timing of Immigration Reform - An article by Georgetown University Law Center Dean Aleinikoff:

The Obama administration recently signaled interest in beginning a discussion on comprehensive immigration reform before year's end. It might seem that a severe economic downtown is not the best time for a major legislative initiative on immigration. But starting this conversation now makes sense for several reasons…

The legislative initiative discussed in this article is not precisely CIR.  Dean Aleinikoff believes that Congress should hold off on passing comprehensive legislation and first develop a credible E-verify system and then a legalization program.

V. Latin America Has the Highest Levels of Migration – According to a recent study by the World Bank, Latin America and the Caribbean have the highest levels of net migration among all developing regions.  Migration from these countries to developed countries totaled 18.5 million persons between 2000 and 2005.  The World Bank also found that remittances sent to developing countries totaled $300 billion last year - Latin American countries received 63 billion dollars in remittances in 2007, second only to the region of East Asia and the Pacific.  Mexico received 43% of total remittances in 2007.  As the world faces a severe financial crisis, developing countries that had enjoyed a period of consistent growth and prosperity now face the same challenges that affect developed nations.

VI. Lawyer Makes Case Against Immigrant Myths – Dallas Morning News covered a new book, Hispanic Heresy: What Is the Impact of America's Largest Population of Immigrants? – released in January and written by a Dallas lawyer and two Texas Tech University business professors.   The book aims to dispel many of the myths about immigrants and Hispanics that have received too much air time on TV talk shows other media:

While politicians may debate the merits of immigration reform, many economists and researchers have already made up their minds: Immigrants contribute far more to the U.S. economy than they take.

NDN at the DNCC - 4 Days of Exciting Events, Discussions and Leaders

I am excited to announce that NDN is planning four days of compelling events at the Democratic National Convention, August 25-28. If you are coming to Denver, I hope you will plan on joining us during this important week. To learn more and RSVP, see below. And be sure to sign up for our events as soon as you can - space is limited.

As we get closer to the Convention, please check our site for updates. We expect to be adding a few more events in the next day or so. See you in Denver!

Monday, August 25, 1:30 p.m. - 3:30 p.m.
Immigration Reform and the Next Administration

NDN will kick-off its Convention programming with a discussion of the contentious issue of immigration reform. Joining NDN Director of Hispanic Programs, Andres Ramirez, will be the Chair of the U.S. House of Representatives Subcommittee on Immigration, Citizenship, Refugees, Border Security and International Law, Rep. Zoe Lofgren, National Council of La Raza (NCLR) President Janet Murguia and America’s Voice Executive Director Frank Sharry.

To RSVP for Immigration Reform and the Next Administration at the Hilton Garden Inn: 1400 Welton St. -  Platinum Room, 5th Floor, please click here, and for more information on this event, please click here.

Tuesday, August 26th, 2 p.m. - 4 p.m.
Two Million Strong, and Growing

Join me for a discussion of how a new set of media and technology tools are creating a much more decentralized, people-based model for campaigns and advocacy in the 21st century. Joining me will be Internet pioneer Joe Trippi and Google’s Peter Greenberger.

To RSVP for Two Million Strong at the Westin Tabor Center: 1672 Lawrence St. - Tabor Auditorium, 3rd Floor Mezzanine Level, please click here, and for more information on this event, please click here.

*Please note this is the campaign hotel and may take you extra time to get through security as you will need to go through metal detectors - elevators will not work, only escalators*

Wednesday, August 27th, 11 a.m. - 2 p.m. (lunch will be served)

A Better Tomorrow

Join NDN for a dynamic series of presentations and discussions from some of America’s most interesting thought-leaders about how to best tackle some of our toughest challenges.  U.S. Rep. Adam Smith (D-WA), author of the Global Poverty Act, will offer some thoughts on how to help conquer global poverty; Robert Hormats, Vice Chairman of Goldman Sachs, will talk about strengthening America’s much-neglected infrastructure; Cecile Richards, President of Planned Parenthood, will talk about the pivotal role women will play in the election this year; Rey Ramsey, CEO of One Economy, will look at how to close the digital divide; San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom will offer his insights on how to tackle some of our toughest challenges, all from a very California perspective; and journalists/commentators Arianna Huffington and Jonathan Alter will reflect on this extraordinary political year, and take a spirited look at where American politics is headed. Moderating and guiding us through this compelling luncheon event will be Dr. Rob Shapiro, Chairman of NDN’s Globalization Initiative, and Michael Moynihan, Director of NDN's Green Project.  

To RSVP for A Better Tomorrow at the Westin Tabor Center: 1672 Lawrence St. - Tabor Auditorium, 3rd Floor Mezzanine Level, please click here, and for more information on this event, please click here.

*Please note this is the campaign hotel and may take you extra time to get through security as you will need to go through metal detectors - elevators will not work, only escalators*

Thursday, August 28, 11 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.

The Dawn of a New Politics

Join me for a lively and data-filled presentation about where American politics is heading in the 21st century. This engaging presentation, seen by many progressive leaders and groups across the country, takes an in-depth look at the big changes in media, technology, demography, race and governing agenda which are making the politics of the 21st century very different from the one just past.

To RSVP for The Dawn of a New Politics at the Hilton Garden Inn: 1400 Welton St. - Titanium & Zirconium Rooms, 5th Floor, please click here, and for more information on this event, please click here.

Check back tomorrow and the days after for any updates to our robust set of events, including the announcement of a new set of events at the Big Tent.

If you have any questions about any of NDN's events at the Democratic National Convention please feel free to contact Tracy Leaman at or 202-215-2224.

Syndicate content