Jerry Kammer's blog

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California, Illegal Immigration, and the Damaged Social Contract on Immigration

By Jerry Kammer, September 26, 2013

Three decades ago, during the long national debate that finally produced the ill-fated Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986, there was broad agreement that uncontrolled illegal immigration was undermining public support for all immigration. Prominent voices warned of danger to an implicit social contract that maintained that public support in return for effective control through the rule of law.

In a 1983 editorial headlined "Time to Turn the Illegal Tide", The New York Times said that while the country needed immigration, "What it does not need is such an uncontrollable flood of illegal migrants that it tries public patience and foments a backlash against all newcomers." Read more...

Thoughts about American Identity During Hispanic Heritage Month

By Jerry Kammer, September 18, 2013

As part of its coverage of Hispanic Heritage Month, Tiempo Latino, a Spanish-language weekly newspaper, has published a front-page essay that made me realize how different our current wave of immigration is from past waves. It was written by Milagros Melendez-Vela, a member of the editorial staff at the paper, which is owned by the Washington Post.

The essay appears under the headline "A family voyage to identity". Read more...

More on the Environment, Population, Immigration, and the SPLC

By Jerry Kammer, September 16, 2013

Last week this blog noted the work of long-time environmental reporter Tom Horton, an expert on the Chesapeake Bay who wrote for many years at the Baltimore Sun and now writes for the Bay Journal. We cited Horton's projection that the Senate immigration reform bill, if passed, would increase the population of the multi-state Chesapeake Bay watershed to 24 million by 2050, up from the current level of 17 million. Read more...

U.S. & Mexican Scholars Call for "Comprehensive Immigration Enforcement at the Workplace"

By Jerry Kammer, September 13, 2013

One of the most salient features of U.S. immigration policy for more than 35 years has been the inability of Congress and the executive branch to establish an effective, fraud-resistant system to verify that employees are authorized to work here.

That long-running failure — due to resistance from ethnic interest groups, business organizations, and civil libertarians as well as a lack of federal commitment — doomed the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986. Read more...

Immigration and the Chesapeake, and Environmentalists' Failure to Acknowledge the Connection

By Jerry Kammer, September 10, 2013

The Chesapeake Bay has been the center of Tom Horton's long and remarkable career as a journalist and author. Last week he wrote a compelling essay for the Baltimore Sun on the relationship between the health of the bay and the immigration reform bill that passed the Senate in June. Read more...

McCain, Others Keep Misrepresenting S.744 & Press Accounts Keep Failing to Correct the Record

By Jerry Kammer, August 29, 2013

Tuesday's blog post was about Sen. John McCain's (R-Ariz.) factual errors at a forum on immigration reform. McCain made incorrect assertions about requirements in the Senate immigration reform bill regarding payment of taxes and participation in an English language course. The senator probably keeps repeating the mistakes because news accounts have repeatedly reported the inaccurate assertions and failed to correct the record. Read more...

McCain, Pitching for the Gang of 8 Bill, Is Juuust a Bit Outside with His Facts

By Jerry Kammer, August 27, 2013

Appearing at a public forum Tuesday in Arizona, Sen. John McCain made a pitch for the immigration reform bill passed by the Senate in June to provide a pathway to citizenship for millions of illegal immigrants. But he cited public support for conditions regarding payment of back taxes and English language acquisition that are not in the bill. Read more...

Katherine Vargas on the State of Play in Immigration Reform

By Jerry Kammer, August 26, 2013

Katherine Vargas, the White House director of Hispanic media, was interviewed yesterday on "Al Punto", Univision's Sunday morning talk show. Here are some excerpts of her responses to questions from host Jorge Ramos (my translations from Spanish): Read more...

Univision Reports Pressure on Obama to Take Direct Action on Immigration

By Jerry Kammer, August 20, 2013

"Under immigration pressure" read the graphic that showed a photograph of President Obama on Univision's evening news Monday. It was the theme of a story that Univision anchor Jorge Ramos introduced by noting that "some activists want the president to do much more for the undocumented." Read more...

A Mexican Actor's View of Hollywood's Projection of Illegal Immigration to 2154

By Jerry Kammer, August 19, 2013

The current issue of Tiempo Latino, the Spanish-language weekly paper that the Washington Post distributes for free, has an article in which Mexican actor Diego Luna talks about the warning issued by "Elysium", the new movie about illegal immigration on a cosmic scale. Read more...

Mark Zuckerberg's Clever Response to Steve King

By Jerry Kammer, August 14, 2013

Sure, Mark Zuckerberg is advancing his own economic interests with an ad campaign that expresses concern only for fairness and the national interest. Sure, he would rather hire young foreign computer experts than similarly skilled Americans over 30. But give him some credit. The organization he founded to advocate for Gang of Eight-style immigration reform, FWD.us, is a lot more effective at messaging than Republican Iowa Rep. Steve King. Read more...

The Speechifying of Charlie Rose and Concerns of an Immigrant's Grandson

By Jerry Kammer, August 12, 2013

Two comments in different media venues last week grabbed my attention. The first came from PBS interviewer Charlie Rose. The second on C-SPAN's "Washington Journal", came from the grandson of an immigrant from Mexico.

Rose's comment came in an interview with Max Levchin, the Internet entrepreneur and co-founder of PayPal whose family immigrated to the United States from the Ukraine when he was a young boy. Read more...

Burying the Lede: The L.A. Times Shows How It's Done

By Jerry Kammer, August 2, 2013

This week's winner of the Bury-the-Lede Award goes to Seema Mehta of the Los Angeles Times for her story about the discussion of immigration policy at a town hall meeting held by Democratic Rep. Karen Bass.

Mehta spent the first 480 words of her 620-word story summarizing Rep. Bass's concerns about the future of the Senate bill, giving special attention to her denunciation of Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) for his notoriously wrong-headed remarks about illegal immigrants. Read more...

Figuring the Damage Done by Detached Elites? Add Youth Unemployment to the List

By Jerry Kammer, July 30, 2013

A story on Monday night's "PBS News Hour" reported on an effort in Boston to confront the crisis of youth unemployment. Despite that effort, said correspondent Paul Solman, there are many fewer jobs available in Boston today than there were in the late 1990s.

Solman described the dimensions of the problem, reporting that 12 million Americans in the 16-19 age cohort are unemployed. One of his interviewees said American employers need to be mobilized to hire young workers for whom job experience is a vital part of preparation for adulthood. Read more...

Calling President Obama: A Black Man Seeks Action on Jobs

By Jerry Kammer, July 29, 2013

I have spoken with President Obama once, for about 10 seconds. It was the spring of 2006. He was a senator. I was a reporter. As he walked past my position off the senate floor, I asked his response to those who say illegal immigration has displaced many young black men from the workplace.

Sen. Obama said this as he kept moving: "Well, there are a lot of other issues facing young black men."

Yes, but this is an issue, as a call yesterday from a black man in Georgia to C-SPAN's "Washington Journal" showed. Read more...

Former GAO Official Talks Straight on Finding a Balance Between Border Security and Interior Security

By Jerry Kammer, July 26, 2013

My favorite government agency is the Government Accountability Office. Not only are they frequently the smartest people in the room, they have no political agenda. So they don't have an eye on the next election, and they don't give a damn about the exploding heads on cable TV. Read more...

Reviewing the Daily Beast's Story on the March for Jobs

By Jerry Kammer, July 18, 2013

Michelle Cottle is a fine writer. A scribe for the Daily Beast, she writes vividly and with fervor, especially when she rips conservatives. Of the Tea Party, for example, she has written that "the movement's anarchic, bottom-up structure may give its gatherings tons of snap, crackle, and pop, but it is lousy for formulating and delivering a coherent message."

So when the Black American Leadership Alliance this week teamed up this with Tea Partiers for a rally demanding that Congress "recognize the devastating effects illegal immigration and amnesty have on low-skilled workers, particularly those in minority communities," maybe it was inevitable that Cottle would ignore the message and slash the cracklers. Read more...

Black Leaders at March for Jobs Invoke Civil Rights Struggle and the 1963 March Led by Martin Luther King, Jr.

By Jerry Kammer, July 16, 2013

One of the least covered stories involving illegal immigration to the United States is its effect on American workers. As the March for Jobs made clear Monday, young blacks have been especially affected by job displacement as employers have hired millions of illegal immigrants. Those who addressed the problem included members of Congress and other immigration activists. But the most poignant and powerful voices were those of black leaders. Here is a look at some of their comments. Read more...

Frank Morris Calls Rep. John Conyers "Blind" to the Negative Effects of Immigration on Workers

By Jerry Kammer, July 14, 2013

Frank Morris, a CIS board member who will be one of the featured speakers at Monday's March for Jobs in downtown Washington, has sharply criticized Michigan Democratic Rep. John Conyers's stance on immigration. Morris charges that Conyers, whose immigration positions are especially significant because he is ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee, is willfully "blind" to immigration's negative effects on his constituents. Read more...

Castaneda Blasts Border Fence
Wants More Work Visas for Mexicans

By Jerry Kammer, June 30, 2013
Wants More Work Visas for Mexicans

In an interview broadcast Sunday on Univision's "Al Punto" program, former Mexican Foreign Minister Jorge Castaneda sharply criticized the just-passed U.S. Senate bill's provisions to lengthen the border fence and limit the number of temporary worker visas. His comments, together with those of Univision anchor Jorge Ramos, contradicted the claim by many advocates of the Senate bill that emigration from Mexico is declining rapidly. Read more...

A Critical Look at What the Senators Said

By Jerry Kammer, June 28, 2013

Before yesterday's vote on the Senate immigration bill (which passed 68-32), many senators made final comments to wrap up the discussion. Here's a look at some of the more interesting comments, followed by some commentary:

Chuck Schumer: "If the bill passes, anyone who wants to try to cross the border illegally will have to get over an 18-foot steel pedestrian fence, past border agents standing every thousand feet apart from Brownsville to San Diego. Future waves of illegal immigration will be prevented if this bill is passed. And that’s not a wish. It's not a hope. It's a fact." Read more...

For Sen. Portman, an Uneasy Sense of 1986 Deja Vu

By Jerry Kammer, June 27, 2013

Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), whose bipartisan amendment to fortify E-Verify was blocked Wednesday in a partisan quarrel over Senate procedure, described its purpose with the urgency of a man on a mission to avert a disaster he has seen before.

"I'm passionate about this," Portman said on the Senate floor. He insisted that his amendment was essential to the Gang of Eight's announced commitment to avoid another wave of illegal immigration with their bill for comprehensive immigration reform. Read more...

Former Immigration Court Judge Blasts Senate Bill

By Jerry Kammer, June 27, 2013

During Wednesday afternoon's debate of the immigration reform bill, Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) read a guest column in the Des Moines Register that blasted the bill for failing to address weaknesses in the nation's immigration courts. The column was written by former immigration court judge Mark H. Metcalf. You can read it here. Read more...

Away from the Phony Surge, Praise for Durbin and Sessions

By Jerry Kammer, June 26, 2013

It has been depressing to listen to Sens. Schumer (D-N.Y.) and McCain (R-Ariz.) talk about the "border surge" they hatched in order to con — er, persuade — reluctant Republicans to vote for the immigration reform bill.

"This is the toughest, strongest, most expensive border provision that we have had," huffed Sen. Chuck Schumer, pretending to believe that the surge will actually become law and double the size of the Border Patrol while doing little to improve interior security. Read more...

Schumer Contradicts Himself: He Was Against the "Border Surge" Before He Was for It

By Jerry Kammer, June 25, 2013

During the Senate immigration debate last Friday, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) enthusiastically described the breakthrough he had brokered with Republican senators who wanted tougher border security measures. In outlining the deal laid out in the Corker-Hoeven amendment, Schumer contradicted the arguments he presented nine days earlier in opposition to the border-security amendment proposed by John Cornyn (R-Texas). Read more...

For Dealmaker Schumer, Memories of 1986

By Jerry Kammer, June 24, 2013

Last Friday on the Senate floor, Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) gratefully acknowledged the role Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) had played in forging an amendment that Corker was sponsoring with fellow Republican John Hoeven of North Dakota. The amendment was an effort to win Republican support for the immigration reform bill with a massive increase in spending on border security.

Said Corker in a tribute to Schumer, "My last call last night, at 12:33, was with him. And my first call early, early this morning was with him. I thank him for the way he has worked with us to try to work through Republican sensibilities." Read more...

Sen. Begich Angles to Bring Home Some S.744 Bacon: Low-Wage Foreign Workers to Process Alaska Salmon

By Jerry Kammer, June 23, 2013

Sen. Mark Begich, D-AK, is determined to bring home some bacon from the Senate immigration bill. Actually, it would be closer to the truth to say that he's bringing home some salmon filets. To be precise, his mission to bring home the foreign college students for which his state's powerful seafood-processing industry has developed a dependence that comes mighty close to addiction.

Begich, leveraging his vote with the Gang of Eight, has managed to insert in the Senate bill a provision that would nullify the State Department's decision to put seafood processing off-limits to the Summer Work Travel program. Read more...

A Virtual Debate with Sen. Pat Toomey, Champion of the World's Unskilled (but Not Our Own)

By Jerry Kammer, June 23, 2013

Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) took up the cause of the unskilled workers of the world on Thursday when he declared that the Senate immigration bill's provisions for low-wage, non-agricultural guest worker visas are "wildly inadequate" to the needs of the American economy.

Toomey, of course, is a former president of the Club for Growth, which recently hailed him as "a fighter for free markets and limited government". In Thursday's speech on the Senate floor, Toomey made it clear that he doesn't believe in limited foreign competition for low-skilled and unskilled jobs in the United States. Read more...

CBO Report as S.744 Rorschach Test

By Jerry Kammer, June 20, 2013

The Congressional Budget Office's report on the Senate immigration reform bill quickly served as a Rorschach test for the opposing sides in the Senate debate. Here are excerpts from two very different reactions to the report Wednesday on the Senate floor. The first is from Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) and the second from Jeff Session (R-Ala.).

Menendez Read more...

Sanders: S.744 Tramples Young Americans in Rush to Bring in Foreign Workers

By Jerry Kammer, June 19, 2013

One of the most interesting elements of the Senate's immigration reform debate is the contrast between the many who tell family stories as they urge passage of the legislation and the few who warn that the bill could have devastating consequences for young Americans. Vermont independent Bernie Sanders took to the floor again Tuesday. He defended the interests of young job-seeking Americans, saying they are being trampled in the rush to satiate employers' appetite for foreign workers.

Said Sanders: Read more...