Hispanic / Latino

Kristian Ramos On Fox Talking About Alabamas Immigration Law

This week the Justice Department filed suit on Alabama's SB1070 copy cat law. Today I was on Fox News debating the merits of the suit the clip is below:

In The Huffington Post: The GOP's Debt Ceiling Gambit Is Destructive To The Hispanic Community

Recently the Republican party has woken from its populist stupor and realized that it cannot be politically relevant in the long term without making major inroads with the Hispanic community. This is a good thing; the more representation and voting choices Hispanics have, the better the country is as a whole. Never mind that the GOP has long tried to pass laws which would harm this community; if they were serious about making inroads to this group they would think long and hard about what a default on our debt would do to Hispanics.

More then any other group in the country have been hit the hardest by this recent recession. This is a fact. The New York Times notes:

Hispanic families accounted for the largest single decline in wealth of any ethnic and racial group in the country during the recession, according to a study published Tuesday by the Pew Research Center.

Given the deep hits that Hispanics took in the recession, any stoppage of benefits (an increasingly likely scenario given Tea Party resistance to pass the current Boehner plan which was going to cut $1.8 trillion from Medicare and Social Security to begin with) would be disastrous to this community.

This is especially the case with Social Security, Hector Sanchez of the Labor Council For Latin American Advancement notes:

Social Security is central to the economic security of all Latinos, young and old alike. For 75 years it has played a vital role in providing a safety net for the protection millions of retirees, disabled workers and aged widowers.

EPI's Daniel Costa puts it a different way:

A 2010 report by the AARP (PDF) detailed the percentage of Latinos 45 and older who were having trouble paying for certain basic needs, and identified those needs. As a result of the recession, 33 percent of Latinos in this age group reported having trouble paying their rent or mortgage, 35 percent had to cut back on medications, 35 percent stopped contributing to their 401(k)s, a whopping 56 percent had problems paying for gas, and grimly, 43 percent had problems paying for food and utilities.

As Republican members in the House look increasingly likely to take the fragile American economy to the precipice and perhaps beyond, one has to wonder with their resurgent interest in Hispanics as a voting block, how could they even think of defaulting on our debt.

Given how Hispanic families have already been hit hard by the recession, if the GOP were serious about courting this group, they would stop putting up misleading advertisements in Spanish. If they were serious about actually doing something help Hispanic families who are already struggling to make ends meet, they would stop wasting their time with anti-Hispanic legislation like the HALT Act, and they most certainly would not be willing to take our country to the brink of economic disaster.

The President's Balancing Act On Immigration Reform

In the midst of increasingly frantic debt limit negotiations, it is telling that President Barack Obama took the time to speak at the NCLR Conference. With the 2012 campaign season revving up, Obama’s willingness to take time out from the furious negotiations occurring on Capitol Hill to speak before a capacity crowd of Hispanic leaders shows that he understands exactly how important the Hispanic vote will be.

The stakes were high for the President’s speech. Secure Communities and the deportation of DREAM Act students have dulled some of the initial luster that the President had when he first took office. That is not to say that the President has not been deaf to these complaints. The President has advised the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to show greater discretion in what types of undocumented immigrants to deport. DHS has also created an internal working group within the agency to find ways to improve the many problems associated with Secure Communities.

Today, Obama talked talked up his accomplishments with placing Hispanics in his administration, the recent White House Hispanic Policy Day and the work he is doing for the country as a whole. He spoke of opportunity, the economy, the recession, tax relief, trade and the work facing his administration. He spoke of sacrifice, the debt limit, the economy, energy, the rich, the poor and everything in between. The crowd sat in deferential silence as he discussed the difference between his candidacy and his Presidency.

Only when he began to talk about immigration did the crowd come alive with a monstrous roar. The speech became one of the economic benefit of immigrants, one that sought to bridge the divide between what is and what should be for the immigrant population in the country. When talking about bypassing Congress to grant deferrals for immigrants, was met with raucous chants of “yes we can.”

The President held his own, taking the full brunt of the crowd and spoke frankly: “Keep the heat on me, keep the heat on the Democrats,” he told the crowd. ”But know this we are with you. And never forget who we need to move, Republicans.”

This, surprisingly was also met with applause. The speech went on predictably from there, ending with polite applause and the sporadic chanting of DREAM activists to stop the deportation of DREAMers.

This speech was no game-changer. The President has always (mostly) said the right things on immigration. The problem has always been the expectations of what the President, should do and what he can do. The tension of what people want from him and the reality of his office has bedeviled him for his entire Presidency. This remains true after his speech today. The President knows that the he cannot win without Hispanics coming out big for him. So yes, he has checked the NCLR box, he has shown his willingness to engage. But now he has a little under a year to deliver.

In Huffington Post: The Flow of Undocumented Migrants Entering The US Has Nearly Stopped But Not for the Reasons You May Think

Undocumented Migration into the United States has all but stopped, and not entirely for the reasons you may think. It is not just because the United States has put unprecedented levels of resources along the border, but, and this may come as a shock to some, mostly because Mexico's economy is improving.

One of the general arguments as to why there are so many undocumented immigrants in America is that Mexico is a developing nation and the lure of jobs is too hard for migrants from all over Latin America to resist.

None other than George Will, conservative writer made just this argument the other day. His full quote was, and this I believe is a fairly standard talking point for the GOP these days: "It's very different when you are the only developed nation in the world with a 2,000-mile border with a developing nation." Very broadly he was arguing that the lure of jobs has been the reason that immigrants have come to our country for generations.

George Will is a really smart guy, and his statement is partly correct, migrants have been coming to the U.S. to work for a long time, but he is dead wrong when he calls Mexico a developing nation.

According to Census data, Mexico is currently the United States' third largest trading partner. Last year the United States did more trade with Mexico then it did with Great Britain, France and Germany combined.

Additionally, according to prominent economist Robert Newell the per-capita gross domestic product and family income have each jumped more than 45 percent since 2000. Which is to say that Mexico's economy is doing better than it has in a long time, which ultimately has led to the decline in illegal crossings of migrants.

The common Republican refrain for why they cannot move forward on a comprehensive solution to our broken immigration system is that the border must be secured to stop migrants from coming to America and stealing jobs from legal citizens. If illegal migration into the United States has nearly stopped, then this argument simply no longer holds.

Yet, the GOP continues to use the border and the jobs argument to not come to the table on broader immigration reforms. Majority Leader of the House John Boehner was recently asked about whether or not he would support administrative relief for DREAM Act students, he said: "We really can't deal with other issues until it (the border) is secure. House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith is equally guilty of this, as he loves to say that the border must be secured to stop migrants from coming and taking American jobs.

There is just one problem with this conflation: Illegal migration to the United States has all but stopped in recent years. As Mexico's economy has improved, the willingness to pay large fees to cross the desert in 125 degree heat to work in an underground economy with no rights and doing back-breaking work for little pay has actually dropped. Who would have thought?

A recent New York Times article by Damien Cave shows that there is in fact: "A growing body of evidence suggests that a mix of developments -- expanding economic and educational opportunities, rising border crime and shrinking families -- are suppressing illegal traffic as much as economic slowdowns or immigrant crackdowns in the United States."

According to experts at Princeton's Mexican Migrant Project: "...research showed that interest in heading to the United States for the first time had fallen to its lowest level since at least the 1950s. "No one wants to hear it, but the flow has already stopped," Mr. Massey said, referring to illegal traffic. "For the first time in 60 years, the net traffic has gone to zero and is probably a little bit negative."

As it turns out, Mexico is not a failed state, the great American job magnet is no longer as lucrative as it once was, and the National Guard Troops and unprecedented numbers of Border Patrol agents along the border are actually acting as a deterrent to illegal migration along our borders.

One would think that the House GOP would be happy. When the Democrats where in power in Congress, literally the only immigration legislation the Republicans would play ball on was those that sent resources to secure the border. Which is to say that Democrats have done their part, the border is safer, and illegal migration has in fact dropped to next to nothing. If the House GOP wants to claim victory on this, all the better since maybe then we could get on with something other than enforcement only immigration legislation and hopefully lay to rest the idea that Mexico is a failed state and that the border is porous.

Cross Posted at the Huffington Post.

Southwest Border Task Force Member Ray Borane on Why There Is a Perception Of Violence Along The Border

Once again NDN has gone west, and we have been fortunate enough to again be able to sit down with local law enforcement and elected officials to chat about there views along the border. We have several videos and we will be putting them up daily so please stay tuned.

First up is Ray Borane who served as Mayor of Douglas, Ariz., a border community from 1996-2008. Borane was also an FBI Special Agent and served as a Policy Advisor to the Governor of Arizona on border and immigration issues.

Before you watch the video there are a couple of key points that Borane addressed which are worth highlighting:

1. Violence in border communities tend to be relatively small compared to other big cities. Mostly however the violence that does occur tends to have nothing to do with the border in an of itself. Which is to say when violence does occur it happens amongst American citizen's over mundane everyday things, and not say narco-trafficante related stuff.

2. Borane registered very real skepticism about violence further up in Arizona like Pinal County. Mostly because of the nature of the Mexican drug cartels. They absolutely do not want to get caught along their smuggling routes and Pinal county is far enough in land and away from the border that the Drug and Human smugglers generally have dispersed. Meaning that there is no need for them to travel in large groups which would produce the type of gun fights which the Sheriff of Pinal County suggests.

That is just a taste of what is in the video, so please check it out in full below:


Overwhelming Evidence That Illegal Entry Of Migrants Along Southwest Border Is Declining

Over the last week there have been several stories about the dramatic drops in the illegal entry of migrants across the southern border. Ordinarily I start these posts with excerpts from the stories in this case I am going to lead with a couple of graphics highlight the drop in illegal entry of migrants. Then next week go into greater detail, highlighting how and why this dramatic drop has occurred.

Both of these graphics are made by the Mexican Migration Project from Princeton University, and they show 1) the dramatic drop in the number of illegal entries by migrants along the southern border 2) the skyrocketing cost of entrance illegally into the United States, both of these graphs and some other very helpful ones can be seen at the New York Times website here:


This graphic shows how the cost of entering the country illegally has also sky rocketed. This has contributed to the drop in the number of illegal crossings:


Stuff You Missed Over the Long Weekend: Immigration As An Economic Competitiveness Resource

Just two real quick video hits that came out over the long weekend, both discuss how immigration should be viewed as an component of economic components. The first is an interview with Steve Case, AOL Founder on CNN's State of The Union with Candy Crowely.

Over the course of the interview  Case talks about the importance of immigrants as an active part of growing our economy.

The second video is a roundtable discussion with George Will, Michelle Rhee, Mel Martinez, Jose Antonio Vargas on This Week with Christiane Amanpour. The round table is notable for the fact that everyone on the panel is in agreement that immigration is a long term economic competitiveness resource.

Even George Will who in the video is initially quite skeptical of the low skilled immigration into the country, admits that it makes no sense to allow people to come to the United States and get degrees from our greatest colleges then throw them out.

Obama Says E-Verify Should Be Passed With Comprehensive Immigration Reform

Yesterday President Obama held a press conference, during the press conference he was asked if he would sign a standalone Mandatory E-Verify bill. His answer is below:

Cornyn Opposes DREAM As Napolitano Says Solution to Immigration Crisis Is Reform, Not Deportations

Yesterday the Senate Judiciary Committee held its first ever hearing on the DREAM Act. The hearing held many surprises. Chief among them was Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) rejection of the DREAM Act and his utter fabrication of current immigration votes.  This is surprising given the popularity of the legislation among Hispanic's who comprise a whopping 38 percent of the population in Texas.

Senator Cornyn did not mince his words on The DREAM Act, from the Houston Chronicle:

Texas Sen. John Cornyn criticized the DREAM Act Tuesday at the measure’s first-ever Senate hearing, calling it a move that could spur illegal immigration and fraud in the absence of comprehensive immigration reform. “I have been a supporter of a version of the DREAM act for many years,” said Cornyn, R-San Antonio, who voted for the bill in 2003. But he added that the legislation offers too few protections against fraud and could lead to “chain migration’’ if it is not paired with comprehensive immigration reform.

Fortunately, neither did Jose Dante Para Spokesmen for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid who promptly noted Senator Cornyn's hypocrisy on the issue:

“Sen. Cornyn really earned his ‘Biggest Hypocrite on Immigration’ award today. If he spent a little less time talking out of both sides of his mouth and more time working with us, we could actually pass comprehensive immigration reform. He claims he wants solutions and expresses ‘sympathy’ for those caught in our broken immigration system, yet he consistently votes against fixing the system, and even voted against the DREAM Act twice within the past year."

In other news from the hearing Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano noted that the solution to the current immigration problem is reform not deportations:

Napolitano said the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) does not have the resources necessary to remove the estimated 11 million people who are in the country illegally. The DREAM Act, she said, would grant conditional citizenship to people who pose little or no threat to society and allow DHS to pursue the most harmful illegal immigrants.

Fox News puts it a different way DHS Not Looking to Deport 'DREAM Act Students', McClatchy noted that Obama officials call for passage of DREAM Act and finally a video from CNN below

Stuff You Missed Over The Weekend: Hispanic's Protest Texas Governor Perry Stance On Immigration

Texas Governor Rick Perry has landed in hot water with the Hispanic community in his home state over his outrageous statements regarding the border and sanctuary legislation.

Texas Governor Rick Perry was met by noisy protesters outside and a lukewarm welcome inside a hotel where he made on Thursday his first major address to a Hispanic group since he said last month that he is thinking of running for president.

In other news Georgia is feeling the effects of passing their anti immigration legislation that mandated the use of E-Verify, an employer verification program which has resulted in much of the migrant farm workers leaving the state.

This has left the Governor with the unenviable task of hiring probationers to pick crops in the field... They lasted 3 hours. The state stands to lose close to a billion dollars if nothing is done.

Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal’s program to replace fleeing migrant farm workers with probationers backfired when some of the convicted criminals started walking off their jobs because field work was too strenuous, it was reported Wednesday. And the state’s farms could lose up to $1 billion if crops continue to go unpicked and rot, the president of the Georgia Agribusiness Council warned.

Finally the Associated Press has released a report showing that over the last 10 years the government has spent 9 billion dollars on the border.  Among the expenses:

■ Deployment of 1,200 National Guard soldiers for one year: $110 million

■ One rail cargo X-ray screening machine: $1.75 million

■ Average annual salary of a Customs and Border Protection officer: $75,000

■ Cost of a drug-searching dog: $4,500

Finally, if you have not seen this video of Jose Antonio Vargas, talking about his life as a Pulitzer Prize winning undocumented immigrant, you should. It is amazing.


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