More on the DHS citizenship application backlog

The Times editorial page continues their strong advocacy for a more sensible American immigration policy with an editorial today calling on our nation's leaders to fix one piece of the broken immigration system - the astonishing backlog of citizenship applications of legal immigrants. They write:

About the only point of agreement on immigration in this country is that newcomers who play by the rules — fill out their forms, pay their fees and wait their turn — are welcome. But that great American dogma is being sorely tested by the inability of the federal government’s feeble citizenship agency to deal with a flood of applications that arose this summer.

The agency, Citizenship and Immigration Services, is telling legal immigrants that applications for citizenship and for residence visas filed after June 1 will take about 16 to 18 months to process. The agency was utterly unprepared for the surge, and so tens of thousands of Americans-in-waiting will have to keep on waiting. Many, gallingly, may have to sit out next November’s election, even though that civic act was what prompted many of them to apply in the first place...

After the collapse of the Senate immigration bill earlier this year, there has been pressure on Congress to do something about our broken and unacceptable immigration system. A good place to start would be for Congress to add additional one time funds to the Department of Homeland Security to clear this backlog when it returns next week.

It will be interesting to see how the GOP Presidential field handles this question at their Univision Debate on December 9th. For more on this issue check out the Washington Post's detailed account.

Markos weighs in on immigration

Over at Daily Kos Markos weighs in on the immigration reform fight.  He concludes:

The solution is easy enough -- comprehensive immigration reform with stronger workplace and border enforcement, but with a clear path to citizenship for the nation's millions of undocumented, hard-working immigrants. Bush and Rove wanted exactly this, and had they been successful, the Latino vote would've remained a highly contested swing vote. Instead, Republicans are all but begging them to vote Democratic.

Salena Zito on new NDN poll

Syndicated columnist Salena Zito wrote this week on NDN's new poll, conducted by Pete Brodnitz, on the economy and globalization.  She noted that the economy was bound to be a defining issue in the 2008 race, something that is becoming increasingly evident as we look at recent polls.

Please visit our website for more on NDN's Globalization Initiative.

Senator Obama embraces key NDN proposal - computer training through our community college system

Yesterday was a proud day for us here at NDN. Senator Barack Obama included one of NDN’s signature ideas – free computer training for all Americans through our community college system - in his exciting new plan "to strengthen America’s community colleges and make it easier for high school graduates to go on to college and get the skills they’ll need to succeed in the 21st century economy.”

Earlier this year NDN released two papers which called for a new national commitment to help our workers and kids acquire the kind of technology skills required in the much more competitive global economy. At the time we argued:

…the emergence of a single global communications network, composed of Internet, mobile, SMS, cable and satellite technology, rapidly tying the world’s people together, has become one of the seminal events of the early 21st century.

Increasingly, the world’s commerce, finance, communications, media and information are flowing through this network. Half of the world’s 6 billion people are now connected to this network, many through powerful and inexpensive mobile phones. Each year more of the world’s people become connected to the network, its bandwidth increases, and its use becomes more integrated into all that we do.

Connectivity to this network, and the ability to master it once on, has become an essential part of life in the 21st century, and a key to opportunity, success and fulfillment for the people of the world.

We believe it should be a core priority of the United States to ensure that all the world’s people have access to this global network and have the tools to use it for their own life success. There is no way any longer to imagine free societies without the freedom of commerce, expression, and community, which this global network can bring. Bringing this network to all, keeping it free and open and helping people master its use must be one of the highest priorities of those in power in the coming years.

This belief about the centrality of this global network to our lives and those of our workers and kids in the 21st century led us to produce these two papers, which lay out a piece of what can be done – providing a wireless laptop for every American school child, and grants to keep our community college computer labs open 2-3 nights a week for any American to gain free computer training.

We are very proud that Senator Obama has embraced our second idea, and is committed to putting the powerful community college system at the very center of his plan to restore broad-based prosperity in the United States. As he said yesterday:

An ever-expanding American Dream: this is the legacy and the promise of the community college system in America. It's a system based on the principle that we all have a stake in one another's success. Because when we invest in one another's dreams, our communities benefit, our states benefit, and ultimately our entire nation is lifted up.

We, of course, agree.

For more on NDN’s thinking on how to make globalization work for all Americans, visit our Globalization Initiative at To see the first post we made on this, visit our blog.


NDN Statement on Barack Obama's Agenda to Strengthen Community Colleges

Today the Presidential campaign of Senator Barack Obama unveiled an exciting new plan "to strengthen America’s community colleges and make it easier for high school graduates to go on to college and get the skills they’ll need to succeed in the 21st century economy.”

We are proud that Senator Obama’s campaign is advancing a plan that includes key elements of an innovative idea recently proposed by NDN’s Globalization Initiative – federal grants to U.S. community colleges to provide all American workers free access to Internet and computer training.

This idea was recently set forth by Robert Shapiro, Chair of NDN’s Globalization Initiative, in his NDN paper, Tapping the Resources of America’s Community Colleges. Dr. Shapiro has proposed providing federal grants to America ’s 1200 community colleges to defray the costs of keeping on-site computer labs open and staffed by computer instructors for an additional 30 hours a week, during evenings and weekends. Free computer or Internet instruction would be provided to any adult visiting the lab during those hours.

We, like Senator Obama, believe this plan is essential to ensuring that globalization works for all Americans. According to Dr. Shapiro, “Tens of millions of Americans graduated high school or even attended college in the years before computers and the Internet became ubiquitous. Many of them are now entering, or are already in, what should be their most productive and highest-earning years. But without basic information technology skills, many workers are trapped in dead-end jobs, and as non-wired employment becomes obsolete, they face being locked out of the mainstream workforce entirely.”

We look forward to working with Senator Obama to help promote this innovative, cost-effective, ready-to-deploy plan that utilizes our country’s existing educational infrastructure to provide all Americans access to the skills they need for 21st century success.

The Post takes on the driver's license issue - intelligently

For those struggling to make sense of the driver's license issue, a new Washington Post editorial is a must read. The title tells the story:

Posturing and Driver's Licenses - Illegal immigrants already drive. The real question is whether to promote safety.


More players join the global laptop for kids campaign

The Globe has an interesting article today on two private companies are providing new - and i think vital - competition to Nicholas Negroponte's remarkable One Laptop Per Child effort. 

Be sure to check out NDN's recent paper calling for laptops for all America's children, A Laptop in Every Backback.

GOP throws in the towel on immigration reform?

Just three days after their second consecutive election where a massive investment in demonizing immigrants did not pay off for the Republican Party, the leading GOP Presidential candidates have agreed to participate in a December Univision debate in Miami. There is simply no way to read this action as anything but a national repudiation of their extreme anti-immigrant strategy of recent years, and a desperate attempt to beg the Hispanic community for forgiveness.

Perhaps the GOP reviewed NDN's analysis of how the immigration issue played in the last two elections. (Learn more about how the growing Hispanic vote will be the key to either Party's 21st century majority in our new study on the Hispanic electorate and immigration, Hispanics Rising, and in a new piece we just published in Mother Jones.) Or perhaps they read former White House speechwriter Michael Gerson's column in the Washington Post which argued:

I have never seen an issue [immigration] where the short-term interests of Republican presidential candidates in the primaries were more starkly at odds with the long-term interests of the party itself. At least five swing states that Bush carried in 2004 are rich in Hispanic voters -- Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada, Colorado and Florida. Bush won Nevada by just over 20,000 votes. A substantial shift of Hispanic voters toward the Democrats in these states could make the national political map unwinnable for Republicans … Some in the party seem pleased. They should be terrified.

Or this Washington Post report from Virginia about Tuesday's big GOP loss there:

The one point on which moderates and conservatives seem to agree is that their party overplayed the illegal immigration issue. "They went for a magic bullet with immigration, and it didn't work," says a conservative strategist who doesn't want his name used because his clients don't agree that immigration is a losing issue. Prince William County board Chairman Corey Stewart, the strategist says, "won last year as the anti-tax and anti-growth candidate, and he ended up in the same place this year. He pushed hard on immigration, but it didn't move his numbers" in his reelection victory Tuesday.

Moderates say harsh rhetoric on immigration repelled independent voters. Northern Virginians "know this crackdown on illegal immigration was posturing," Potts says. "The only entity in the world that could solve that problem is the federal government."

Or this analysis from Roll Call's executive editor Morton Kondracke from yesterday:

For the umpteenth time, American voters this year have rejected a nativist approach to illegal immigration. It ought to be a warning to Republicans: Don’t make this your 2008 wedge issue.

Election results on Tuesday, especially in Virginia and New York state, also should encourage nervous Democrats that they can support comprehensive immigration reform — stronger enforcement plus earned legalization — and prevail.

Kondracke noted that, while the GOP's general strategy poses a threat, their insistence upon using the issue is even worse:

Even though past election results overwhelmingly indicate that enforcement-only campaigns don’t succeed — indeed, by offending Hispanics, pose a long-term threat to the GOP — Republicans seem bent on making illegal immigration a centerpiece of their 2008 campaigns.


Despite all that evidence, House GOP leaders have staged vote after vote on amendments designed to restrict benefits to illegal immigrants — even where the law already restricts them — and Senate Republicans led the way, joined by nine Democrats, in filibustering the DREAM Act, which would have allowed young people brought to the U.S. by illegal immigrants to earn citizenship.

If Republicans want to destroy their future prospects in increasingly Hispanic, once-Republican states like Colorado, Florida, New Mexico, Nevada and Arizona, it’s their option. But the process could be very nasty.

Or this recent editorial in the Wall Street Journal - "Hispanics and the GOP."

Either way, the GOP's decision to go to Miami next month is a good one for the country. Let us hope it signals a new era for the Republican Party, one that ends both their demonization of immigrants and their strategy of blocking all common sense immigration reform legislation. In 2006 it was the House Republicans who blocked the big immigration reform package. In 2007 it was the Senate Republicans. Perhaps their admission of defeat will allow a new era where the two parties can come together and design a new 21st century immigration system that reflects the strong values of our great nation and meets the needs of the changing modern American economy.

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