Latin America Policy Initiative

Building on its years of work advocating for a modern approach to America's growing Latino community, NDN developed a robust inter-American policy program to focus on issues affecting countries in Latin America. The Latin America Policy Initiative (LAPI) has three parts: the Latin America Policy Seminar, the Latin America Policy Studies Program and the Latin America Policy Forum.

LAPI is a product of the work conducted at NDN and the New Policy Institute, and it educates and empowers leaders in policy, politics, and social and economic development to take on the challenges of Inter-American policy by providing a forum to discuss modern issues affecting Latin American countries. The program also aims to give its participants an enriching cross cultural experience, immersing them in a selected Latin American country, which will help guide their future leadership decisions.

2010 Highlights

Event Video: Colombian Ambassador Barco Addresses NDN on US-Colombian Relations

Event: Panamanian Ambassador and Congressman Engel discuss Bilateral Relations

Debrief on Obama's meeting with President Mauricio Funes by Sarah Sanchez

2009 Highlights

Flu Crisis Brought U.S., Mexico Together By Nelson Cunningham in the Houston Chronicle

Event Video: Preview of the Summit of the Americas Ambassador Carolina Barco

Event Video: Preview of the Summit of the Americas Former VP of Panama, Samuel Lewis Navarro

Video: Nelson Cunningham on the State of US-Latin American Relations

Hearing 'Friend' in Trinidad By Nelson Cunningham in the Chicago Tribune

Update on the Situation in Honduras by Zuraya Tapia-Alfaro

Zelaya's Return to Honduras by Zuraya Tapia-Alfaro

2008 Highlights

Announcing LAPI

NDN Hosts Chilean Ambassador, Arturo Fermandois on Wednesday, October 27th

The Latin America Policy Initiative (LAPI) is excited to host the Ambassador of Chile to the United States, Arturo Fermandois on Wednesday, October 27th at 12:30 pm.  This event is open to the public.  To RSVP, please click here.  If you would like to instead register for our live webcast, we still ask that you RSVP.

The global spotlight has been focused on Chile these past weeks, as people around the world were energized and captivated by the miraculous and heroic efforts of the Chilean government to rescue 33 trapped miners.  Yesterday, The Washington Post shed light on the new Chilean Ambassador to the United States, the Hon. Arturo Fermandois, and the party thrown at the Embassy's front lawn this past week:

"The new ambassador, who arrived in Washington just four months ago, erected a jumbo screen outside the embassy on Massachusetts Avenue so everyone could watch the live broadcast of Chilean miners being rescued. Fermandois set up a guest book for people to write messages for the men.. Quite a debut for the rookie diplomat, who left his life as a lawyer and professor of constitutional law (after stints as a Fulbright scholar and at Harvard Law School) to become ambassador. His first few weeks were packed with his country's earthquake recovery efforts, its bicentennial and a visit from new President Sebastián Piñera. Just when he expected things to slow down, news broke of the trapped miners."

But the rescue isn't the only noteworthy news; Chile's recent invitation to join the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development is recognition of the sound fiscal leadership and policies that have elevated Chile to be a regional economic power.  The Ambassador will explore all of this and more at NDN. We look forward to seeing you here at NDN!

Ambassador Arturo Fermandois
October 27, 12:30 pm.  Lunch to be served
NDN Event Space 729 15th Street, NW First Floor, Washington, DC

Live Webcast

Mexican Ambassador Advocates for New Approach to Border Enforcement

The Mexican Ambassador to the United States, Arturo Sarukhan, told The Dallas Morning News that Mexico must focus more resources and efforts on border enforcement measures.

Regardless of what happens on this side of the border, Mexico has got to be able to do two things it has either been unable or unwilling to do in the past," he said. First, it must boost economic growth and job creation "to anchor those women and men with well-paying jobs in Mexico." Second, it must "ensure that every single Mexican that crosses the border into the United States does so with papers, through a designated port of entry, and legally.

According to Ambassador Sarukhan, border enforcement can already be executed under existing law:

Until now, Mexican authorities have not enforced laws requiring citizens to use only legal ports of entry and departure. The consequences of lax enforcement are increasingly evident. At $3,000 to $5,000 a person, smuggling rings reap big profits, and drug cartels have begun a violent campaign to seize control of the business. There has been an explosive increase in kidnapping and extortion targeting migrants at the border. When ransoms aren't paid, hostages are forced into the service of drug cartels. Criminality feeds on itself, and Mexico pays an ever-steeper social price

This new approach would help the American government move forward with comprehensive immigration reform. It would also immediately benefit Mexico by reducing violence and in the long term it would set the proper conditions for economic growth in Mexican border states. Moreover, credibility and trust could be slowly restored in a government trying to take on a stronger role in national security.


Read full editorial here

Immigration News Round Up

A lot of immigration news this week, enjoy:

Washington Post - Headless bodies and other immigration tall tales in Arizona - Dana Milbank

The Arizona governor, seemingly determined to repel every last tourist dollar from her pariah state, has sounded a new alarm about border violence. "Our law enforcement agencies have found bodies in the desert either buried or just lying out there that have been beheaded," she announced on local television.

But those in fear of losing parts north of the neckline can relax. There's not a follicle of evidence to support Brewer's claim.

The Arizona Guardian Web site checked with medical examiners in Arizona's border counties and the coroners said they had never seen an immigration-related beheading. I called and e-mailed Brewer's press office requesting documentation of decapitation; no reply.

Two months ago, the Arizona Republic published an exhaustive report that found that, according to statistics from the FBI and Arizona police agencies, crime in Arizona border towns has been "essentially flat for the past decade." For example, "In 2000, there were 23 rapes, robberies and murders in Nogales, Ariz. Last year, despite nearly a decade of population growth, there were 19 such crimes." The Pima County sheriff reported that "the border has never been more secure."

Arizona Republic - Violence is not up on Arizona border despite Mexican drug war- Dennis Wagner

FBI Uniform Crime Reports and statistics provided by police agencies, in fact, show that the crime rates in Nogales, Douglas, Yuma and other Arizona border towns have remained essentially flat for the past decade, even as drug-related violence has spiraled out of control on the other side of the international line. Statewide, rates of violent crime also are down.

Los Angeles Times - Opinion - What do they really think about immigration? Don't ask

NPR - GOP Faces Internal Divide On Changes To Immigration - Mara Liasson

Some prominent conservatives are speaking out in favor of the kind of comprehensive immigration bill that many Republicans oppose — one that would include border security and then a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.

As a leading evangelical conservative, Richard Land's credentials are impeccable. He heads the public policy arm of the Southern Baptist Convention, and from that influential perch he's been urging his fellow conservatives to rethink their opposition to the immigration overhaul.

Colbert Report - Arturo Rodriguez President of UFW

The Colbert Report Mon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Arturo Rodriguez
Colbert Report Full Episodes 2010 Election Fox News


Arizona Daily Star - Tucson firms oppose SB 1070 - Kimberly Matas

Nearly 90 Tucson business owners are showing their resistance to SB 1070 - the immigration law set to take effect July 29 - through a new "We Mean Business" campaign.

Participating business owners demonstrate their opposition to the new law with "We Mean Business" signs in the windows of their establishments. Many of the owners agree there is a need for immigration reform; however they do not think the new law is the most effective approach.

NY Daily News - Activists outside MLB offices urge Bud Selig to take stand, move 2011 All-Star Game from Arizona - Michael O'Keeffe

Arizona Daily Star - Fight SB 1070, artists urged - Rhonda Bodfield 

A group of artists, backed by U.S. Rep. Raúl Grijalva, unveiled a new coalition to fight Arizona's new immigration law Thursday, offering an alternative for acts that might otherwise cancel performances in protest.

Grijalva, who called for a limited boycott to pressure the state to reconsider the law, said artists have historically been at the forefront of social change through words and images.

Arizona Republic - Fund tied to SB 1070 nears $500,000 Donations pour in to Brewer's legal-defense repository from across U.S. - Ginger Rough

Residents throughout the United States have contributed nearly half a million dollars to a legal-defense fund set up by Gov. Jan Brewer to help fight lawsuits related to Senate Bill 1070.

As of Thursday, the fund had a nearly $500,000 balance - the result of thousands of contributions from all 50 states and the District of Columbia. The bulk of the money, more than $330,000 of it, has rolled in this week, in the days following the federal government's decision to sue Arizona over the new immigration law.

The Daily Show - Arizona 911 -

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Latino 911!
Daily Show Full Episodes Political Humor Tea Party

Asst. Secretary Valenzuela Spoke to NDN About New Era of Parternship & Respect for US-Latin America

Monday afternoon NDN had the privilege to host Arturo Valenzuela, Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs. He spoke about a new era of partnership and respect between the US and the Americas.

NDN’s Latin American Policy Initiative Chairman, Nelson Cunningham, opened by reminding us that Latin America is a key neighbor which is frequently ignored by Americans. According to Assistant Secretary Valenzuela, in 2010 the Department of State has visited many countries in this region.

The Assistant Secretary noted that on his trips with Secretary Hilary Clinton to Uruguay, Argentina, Chile, Brazil, Costa Rica and Guatemala he observed that many citizens of those nations were willing to engage with the US.  In his trip to Barbados, he was told by the participating nations of the region’s basin security initiative that they were "glad the US was back with the Caribbean."  These examples demonstrate a friendly desire to communicate lays the foundation for  new era of Latin American foreign policy.

Asisistant Secretary Valenzuela and his team recognized that there is no single formula for a region so diverse and that challenges still lie ahead. That same day marked the anniversary of the government overthrow in Honduras and he expressed how lots must be done by Latin American countries themselves in order to work with the US as partners.

The audience asked a variety of questions which included topics such as Cuba’s embargo, Colombia’s recent presidential elections, Panama’s Free Trade Agreement, Bolivia-US relations, Venezuela’s economic influence, and more.

Valenzuela summarized the Administration's vision for the upcoming years in his blog post for Americas Quarterly:

We are interested in thinking outside the box and working with partners everywhere in the Americas to make our common home safer, more democratic, greener, and more full of opportunities for all of its citizens.

We at NDN look forward to continuing to contribute to this the vital partnership between the U.S. and Latin America.

The Gipper, Immigration and Labor

Peter Robinson, has written a noteworthy WSJ editorial on immigration. Before delving into the substance of this editorial let's focus on two quotes.

These quotes offer a clear alternative narrative to the current focus on enforcement and border security. While enforcement and border security are certainly relevant this editorial presents a third issue as equally important: labor.

The quotes are as follows:

XXXX dismissed "the illegal alien fuss," arguing that we need immigrant labor. "One thing is certain in this hungry world," he said. "No regulation or law should be allowed if it results in crops rotting in the fields for lack of harvesters."

The second quote is a bit more uplifting:

[a]nd if there had to be city walls, the walls had doors and the doors were open to anyone with the will and the heart to get here.

The quotes come from President Ronald Reagan, the title of the editorial is "Immigration: What Would Reagan Do."

In the first quote, President Reagan acknowledges that the current draw and advantage of immigrants coming into this country, is and has been, labor. President Reagans quote is important because in it he very clearly acknowledges that Immigrants bring a positive economic impact into the country.

The second quote speaks to the more philosophical aspect of the debate over border security and immigration.

In this second quote President Reagan raises the specter of what makes our country great: the all inclusive, all encompassing acceptance of those who have journeyed from far and wide to make a better life for themselves.

According to the editorial, President Reagan was a man firmly against an America closed off by borders, real or otherwise.

The idea that anyone could come to America, make a better life for themselves and be able to contribute to the country is something President Reagan believed deeply in.

With the current anti-immigrant hysteria sweeping the country I have to wonder if this belief is still something that all Americans, especially those in Arizona,  believe in.

The full Editorial can be read here.

Ambassador Arturo Sarukhan and Commissioner Alan Bersin: A Conversation on a "21st Century Border"

On May 24 NDN/NPI was proud to host Mexican Ambassador Arturo Sarukhan and Chairman of U.S. Customs and Border Protection Alan Bersin to discuss the first joint U.S.-Mexico vision for a "21st Century Border."

Reaching an agreement on the "21st Century Border" was one of the most important achievements of the recent visit by President Calderon. The NDN/NPI event allowed both Ambassador Sarukhan and Chairman Bersin to take a much deeper look at what this new agreement means for our two countries.

We are excited to present in its entirety the event, which in addition to discussing the "21st Century Border, also touches on border security, comprehensive immigration reform and the economics of immigration.  Please watch and enjoy.

From The White House: Declaration on 21st Century Border Management

In anticipation of our Monday, May 24th event featuring Mexican Ambassador Arturo Sarukhan and U.S. Commissioner Customs and Border Protection Alan Bersin which will be webcast live starting at 12:15 p.m., you may want to read the following Memorandum of Agreement between the United States and Mexico, which was signed today, May 20th, by President Obama and President Calderon. 

The event will be taking a deeper look at this idea of a "21st Century Border."  We hope you will join us live on the web for this important conversation about this exciting new initiative.

Declaration by The Government Of The United States Of America and The Government Of The United Mexican States Concerning Twenty-First Century Border Management

The Government of the United States of America and the Government of the United Mexican States, hereinafter referred to collectively as the “Participants,”

Acknowledging their shared interest in creating a border that promotes their economic competitiveness and enhances their security through the secure, efficient, rapid, and lawful movement of goods and people;

Expressing a desire to fundamentally restructure the way in which the shared border between Mexico and the United States is managed to enhance public safety, welcome lawful visitors, encourage trade, strengthen cultural ties, and reduce the cost of doing business in North America;

Recognizing the importance of securing and facilitating the lawful flow of goods, services, and people between their countries;

Understanding that joint and collaborative administration of their common border is critical to transforming management of the border to enhance security and efficiency;

Recognizing the potential value, both in terms of enhancing security and reducing congestion, of shifting certain screening and inspection activities, traditionally performed at the immediate border, to geographic departure and transit zones away from the border and of considering other non-traditional border crossing concepts;

Appreciating that enhancing the flow of information needed for effective shared border management requires professionalism in law enforcement, strong institutional capacity, and effective interagency coordination in and between both countries;

Recognizing that transnational criminal organizations threaten the economies and security of both the United States and Mexico and that both countries share responsibility for the conditions that give rise to these criminal organizations and that allow them to endure, as well as shared responsibility for remedying those conditions;

Understanding that law enforcement coordination between the Participants is essential to preventing crime and to disrupting and dismantling transnational criminal organizations;

Sharing an interest in ensuring a legal, orderly system for managing migration between their countries and developing coordinated procedures for managing repatriation and ensuring that it remains safe and humane;

Hereby express their commitment to strengthen cooperation in:

  • Enhancing economic competitiveness by expediting lawful trade, while preventing the transit of illegal merchandise between their two countries,
  • Facilitating lawful travel in a manner that also prevents the illegal movement of people between their two countries,
  • Sharing information that enhances secure flows of goods and people, and
  • Disrupting and dismantling transnational criminal organizations and punishing their members and supporters.


In light of these mutual understandings, the Participants expect to work in a collaborative and coordinated fashion across a wide-range of border-related activities, including:

  • Programs focused on reducing congestion and delays in cross-border traffic entering both Mexico and the United States, building a foundation for efficient border and expanded economic growth, improving community safety and quality of life, and reducing unhealthy emissions from idling vehicles;
  • The creation, expansion, or mutual recognition of “trusted shipper” programs such as FAST and C-TPAT and “trusted traveler” programs such as SENTRI and Global Entry, allowing enforcement authorities to concentrate their efforts where they are most needed to stop illicit border flows; 
  • Pre-screening, pre-clearance, and pre-inspection of people, goods, and products, particularly where such activities increase the Participants’ abilities to intercept dangerous individuals, hazardous goods, and contraband before they cause harm and to alleviate congestion at ports of entry;
  • The enhancement of the repatriation processes through the exchange of information and close bilateral cooperation, with special attention to vulnerable people such as unaccompanied minors, pregnant women, and the sick and elderly.
  • The improvement of bilateral mechanisms to share information related to aviation security and border security.
  • The development of complementary risk management strategies aimed at separating high-risk and low-risk shipments, as well as high-risk and low-risk individuals, including specific procedures for repatriation of individuals with criminal records;
  • The standardized collection and single entry of trade data, so that importers and exporters are asked for a given piece of information only once, reducing the administrative burden of compliance and therefore the cost of trade;
  • Improved bi-national coordination in planning, financing, permitting, designing, building, and operating ports of entry, as well as optimal staffing of ports of entry;
  • Promotion of a closer partnership with the private sector, the trade community, and international partners to secure supply chains;
  • Development of shared priorities for public investments in ports of entry along the border, planned in coordination with the infrastructure feeding into them, as well as funding mechanisms for such projects, including private sector participation;
  • Joint assessments of threats, development of a common understanding of the operating environment, and joint identification of geographic areas of focus for law enforcement operations;
  • Augmentation of their collection, analysis, and sharing of information from interdictions, investigations, and prosecutions to disrupt “criminal flows” and enhance public safety; and
  • Bringing together border communities and relevant stakeholders as partners in efforts to, protect public safety by integrating law enforcement efforts with other government functions including social assistance, community outreach, and responsiveness to citizen concerns.


To coordinate and facilitate work aimed at furthering the goals noted in this Declaration, the Participants intend to establish a Twenty-First Century Border Bilateral Executive Steering Committee (ESC) composed of representatives from the appropriate federal government departments and offices.  For the United States, this includes representatives from the Departments of State, Homeland Security, Justice, Transportation, Agriculture, Commerce, Interior, Defense, and the Office of the United State Trade Representative, and for Mexico includes representatives from the Secretariats of Foreign Relations, Interior, Finance and Public Credit, Economy, Public Security, Communications and Transportation, Agriculture, and the Office of the Attorney General of the Republic.  Each Participant should integrate its own section of the ESC section into the relevant interagency processes to achieve better bilateral coordination.

It is expected that the inaugural meeting of the ESC, to be convened no later than August 19, 2010, will develop a mutually accepted action plan to realize the goals of this Declaration and identify working groups, drawing, wheere appropriate, upon existing bilateral, border-related groups, to implement the action plan.


This Declaration represents an understanding between the Participants and does not constitute a legally binding agreement.  The Participants understand that activities in support of the goals mentioned in this Declaration are to be carried out in accordance with the laws and regulations of the Participants’ countries, and applicable international agreements to which the Participants’ countries are parties.  The Participants are expected to bear their own costs in engaging in any such activities.  All such activities are subject to the availability of funds and human resources. 


Special Event: MON 5/24 - Ambassador Sarukhan and Commissioner Bersin on US-Mexico Relations

On Monday, May 24th at Noon, NDN will host Ambassador of Mexico to the United States, Arturo Sarukhan and Commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Alan Bersin for a discussion of the unprecedented cooperation between the United States and Mexico in both seizing opportunities and better managing the challenges of the region along the common border.

In addition to their general remarks, Ambassador Sarukhan and Commissioner Bersin will reflect upon the discussions this week between the U.S. and Mexican governments during President Calderon's State Visit this week.

While this is a private event, you may watch via our live webcast beginning at 12:15pm.  The event is open to the press.


McCain on Immigration

McCain continues to be pulled further and further right of where he once was on immigration.  This ad speaks for itself.

New Policy Institute Releases New Report, "Hispanics Rising, 2010"

Yesterday, our affiliate New Policy Institute released a report by Andres Ramirez and Kristian Ramos on the rapid increase of the Hispanic population, fueled by recent waves of immigration to the United States.  You can find the Executive Summary here and the full report here.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me at

Hispanics Rising 2010 Executive Summary

Hispanics Rising 2010 Full Report


Syndicate content