Jerry Kammer's blog

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NBC Story Shows Border Reality

By Jerry Kammer, May 6, 2013

Thursday night's NBC Nightly News featured a strong story by Mark Potter that came straight from the just-the-facts-ma'am school of reporting. In less than three minutes Potter presented the familiar border-security assurances of the Border Patrol and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, then showed graphic footage from Arizona and Texas — some of it recorded by hidden cameras — that contradicted those assurances. San Juan, Texas, Police Chief Juan Gonzalez told Potter the influx of illegal immigrants into his community on the Rio Grande is happening "every single day." You can see Potter's story here And you can see the 2010 CIS video from the same Arizona border region here. Read more...

Excerpts from "The Righteous Mind", Part 1

By Jerry Kammer, May 6, 2013

This blog reported the other day that a recent Senate hearing on immigration provided a demonstration of the liberal/conservative divide that is explored in Jonathan Haidt's book The Righteous Mind. Today we present the first of two sets of excerpts from the book, which The Guardian called "a compelling study of the morality of those on the left and right [that] reaches some surprising conclusions." Haidt, by the way, describes himself as a life-long liberal whose research has led him to respect the values of social conservatives. Read more...

National Review Editor Discusses "Rubio's Folly" on Morning Joe

By Jerry Kammer, May 3, 2013

This morning's "Morning Joe" program featured a discussion of "Rubio's Folly", the National Review cover story written by CIS Executive Director Mark Krikorian. Host Mika Brzezinski launched the conversation — which included National Review editor Jay Nordlinger, Huffington Post correspondent Sam Stein, and Donny Deutsch, by reading this excerpt from the article: Read more...

"Morning Joe" Talks about Republican Skepticism

By Jerry Kammer, May 2, 2013

On this morning's "Morning Joe" program, co-host Willy Geist began a conversation with Politico's Mike Allen and Jim VandeHei by noting the growing skepticism of some Republicans about the Gang of Eight immigration reform legislation. Here is how the conversation unfolded.

GEIST: This is no sure thing before the end of the year, is it? Read more...

"The Righteous Mind" at Senate Hearing

By Jerry Kammer, May 1, 2013

If Jonathan Haidt, whose book The Righteous Mind is the best explanation of the liberal/conservative divide I have ever seen, ever makes a documentary film based on the book, video of the April 22 Senate hearing on immigration would provide an excellent opening scene. Read more...

The President's Laugh Line: The Joke's on MSNBC

By Jerry Kammer, April 29, 2013

If you believe that reporters need to play it straight with their reporting and pundits have an obligation to rise above cheap disdain toward those with whom they disagree, you can only shake your head at MSNBC's coverage of the immigration policy debate. Read more...

Wanted: More Reporting on K Street's Influence

By Jerry Kammer, April 26, 2013

The Hill, the Capitol Hill newspaper, has noted in an editorial that the new immigration reform bill was produced by a "bipartisan group of eight senators [who claim it] will both secure the border and create a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants." The paper said that accomplishment "follows months of difficult negotiations in which the Gang of Eight sought to address weaknesses that have killed prior immigration bills."

True enough, as far as it goes. But there has been little reporting on efforts to shape the bill for purely commercial purposes. The public needs to understand what is being done along the axis of influence that ties K Street and Capitol Hill. There, dozens of lobbyists are representing the interests of a myriad of employers who want to shape the bill to suit their purposes. They also perform the complementary duty of raising money for the politicians whose opinions they seek to shape — and for whom many of the lobbyists previously worked. Read more...

Schumer Corrects Rubio on Immigration Bill Trigger

By Jerry Kammer, April 22, 2013

In an interview broadcast Sunday morning on the Univision news program "Al Punto", Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) corrected an erroneous description of the new Senate immigration reform legislation by Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.).

Sen. Rubio, who has emerged as one of the most outspoken and widely quoted advocates of the bill, has published a detailed analysis of the bill on a webpage that describes it as providing "the toughest border security and enforcement measures in U.S. history". Read more...

McCain and Napolitano Clash: The Battle of Border Metrics

By Jerry Kammer, April 22, 2013

A recent Senate hearing featured a confrontation between two Arizonans known for strong wills and large egos.

They were Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, who as governor of Arizona in 2005 declared a state of emergency on the state's southern border and now insists that the border is secure; and Sen. John McCain, who as a member of the House of Representatives in 1986 voted for the notorious Immigration Reform and Control Act and now vows that its failure will not be repeated. Read more...

Was Bad News for Gun Control Good for Immigration Bill?

By Jerry Kammer, April 18, 2013

A report from NBC's Kelly O'Donnell suggests that yesterday's defeat of gun control legislation in the Senate might be good for the Gang of Eight's immigration reform bill.

Reporting on yesterday's vote for the "Morning Joe" program on MSNBC, O'Donnell said: "The politics was about more than gun rights. Later today a bipartisan group of senators will roll out immigration reform. Democrat Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), who fought hard to get enough votes on background checks, found that with two politically hard votes, some senators chose immigration over guns." Read more...

Senate Bill: New Promised Land, or Son of IRCA?

By Jerry Kammer, April 18, 2013

Three of the leading congressional advocates of the comprehensive reform legislation that will be debated in the Senate and House over the next several months made solemn pledges this week about what the bill would offer. If what Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), and Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-Calif.) promised matches up with what the bill actually provides, it would represent an historic compromise to resolve our long-simmering immigration policy crisis. It will meet a key test. It will be hard-headed, but not hard-hearted. Read more...

Mexican Columnist Calls U.S. Economy a Migrant-Eating Beast

By Jerry Kammer, April 8, 2013

The Saturday edition of Mexico City's Reforma newspaper published a bitter description of what its author sees as a long chain of exploitation suffered by Central American migrants on their journey to the United States. Read more...

The Guestworker Debate: Views from the Right and the Left

By Jerry Kammer, April 5, 2013

What I most enjoy about my work here at CIS is the opportunity to do to the sort of research I did in the good old days when I was an investigative reporter and had weeks or months to dig into a story.

This week I got two fascinating views of the ongoing debate over guestworkers. One came from the right, via C-Span's website. The other came from the left, via Audible.com. Read more...

On Don Young, Chuck Todd, and the "W" Word

By Jerry Kammer, April 2, 2013

I've got nothing good to say about Don Young, the Republican congressman from Alaska who last week stumbled into the headlines with his reference to "wetbacks" who picked tomatoes at the Young farm in California many years ago.

Young's comment shows that he is as thoughtless now as he was reckless when he plundered the federal treasury for pork-laden projects known as earmarks. He was responsible for the most infamous earmark of them all: Alaska's Bridge to Nowhere. Read more...

NBC's Chuck Todd Serves Up Some Moralistic Mush on U.S. Immigration History

By Jerry Kammer, April 1, 2013

On Sunday's "Meet the Press", NBC's Chuck Todd engaged in the sort of moralistic preening and poorly informed right-mindedness that sometimes makes me want to throw a history book at the television.

With Olympian disdain and pained disbelief, shaking his head sadly and smiling ruefully, Todd declared: "We have the same debate every two generations, with another immigrant group. It was the Chinese in the nineteenth century." Read more...

As Congress Talks Reform, Public Trust at Risk

By Jerry Kammer, March 29, 2013

As I read news reports of congressional efforts to forge agreement on immigration reform, I have the queasy feeling that in their determination to get something done our elected representatives will repeat the mistakes of 1986.

That was the year when Congress passed the poorly named Immigration Reform and Control Act. Now, I fear, they will once again pass a law that will deliver sweeping legalization while failing to deliver credible worksite enforcement. Read more...

Calling C-Span: A Border Patrol Agent in Texas and a Contractor in Massachusetts

By Jerry Kammer, March 25, 2013

This morning C-SPAN’s "Washington Journal" included a pair of calls, one right after the other, expressing frustration with immigration-law enforcement at opposite ends of the country. The first came from a man who identified himself as Gil, a Border Patrol agent from Hebronville, Texas. The second came from Sam in Boston, who said he is a small contractor. Here is some of what they said. Read more...

Vicente Fox Says Mexico Will Not Act to Stop Illegal Immigration

By Jerry Kammer, March 21, 2013

On March 5 this blog reported that a commission of prominent Americans and Mexicans has suggested that Mexico should establish its own border patrol after the United States adopts "comprehensive immigration reform". Once the reform is in place, they said, "Mexico should actively prevent unauthorized northward migration by ensuring that people who leave the country to enter the United States do so at designated crossing points and with the required documents." Read more...

Powerful Response to a Harper's Article

By Jerry Kammer, March 20, 2013

In January this blog expressed surprise that a Harper's magazine article hostile to Nebraskans who mobilized against illegal immigration had little to say about the ruthless, wage-slashing strategy of Hormel that had driven Americans from the local meat-processing plant in the town of Fremont. The plant, like many others in recent decades, hired a workforce that drew heavily from illegal immigrants. Read more...

Fighting Words for Republicans from Notre Dame Sociology Professor

By Jerry Kammer, March 7, 2013

As the Republican Party looks to improve its image among Hispanics, it probably shouldn't consult Notre Dame sociology professor and immigration expert Jorge Bustamante.

In a column last month for La Reforma, one of Mexico's most prominent newspapers, Bustamante said those who hope Congress will approve legislation to legalize illegal immigrants are in for a disappointment when the debate reaches the Republican-dominated House of Representatives. Read more...

Illegal Immigration Meets the Wisdom of Juarez

By Jerry Kammer, March 6, 2013

In 2001, when Jorge Castaneda was the foreign minister in the administration of Mexican President Vicente Fox, he developed a plan that he hoped would encourage the United States to provide legal status for his countrymen living illegally in the United States. Read more...

A Mexican Border Patrol? Former U.S. Ambassador Is Skeptical

By Jerry Kammer, March 5, 2013

As we noted last week, former Mexican deputy foreign minister Andres Rozental says the problem of illegal immigration would be solved "if immigration reform functions and we get to the point where it becomes easy to legally cross the border to get a job."

Rozental, whose comment came at a Wilson Center discussion of the report of a binational commission on which he serves, supports "comprehensive immigration reform". CIR would — among other things — provide legal status for illegal immigrants and a guest worker program for future migrant flows. Read more...

Binational Task Force Offers Common Sense and a Leap of Faith at the Border

By Jerry Kammer, March 1, 2013

There has been a lot of noise and confusion in Congress and in the press about the meaning of "border security". But in today's blog I want to highlight a statement about the connection between border security and immigration reform legislation that was made at the Wilson Center on Thursday.

The statement by MIT professor Chappell Lawson was provocative in two respects. Read more...

Univision Reports on High Costs of Migrant Deaths on Texas Rangeland North of the Border

By Jerry Kammer, February 25, 2013

The Spanish-language Univision televison network normally ignores stories about the costs that illegal immigration imposes on U.S. communities. It frames the story of illegal immigration as a melodrama in which the illegals have a right to come to the United States and demand full incorporation into American civic life. Read more...

Univision Discussion Plots a Course for Comprehensive Reform Bill

By Jerry Kammer, February 25, 2013

A discussion on Univision's Spanish-language "Al Punto" program on Sunday showed how advocates of "comprehensive immigration reform" think they can achieve passage of their legislation this year. Read more...

Alaska's Begich Ties Immigration Vote to Access to Cheap Labor for Canneries

By Jerry Kammer, February 22, 2013

Last year the State Department announced its intention to prohibit foreign students who come to the United States with the Summer Work Travel program to be employed in the Alaska seafood-processing industry.

But the powerful industry quickly brought in some heavy political guns, especially Sen. Mark Begich (D-Alaska), who prevailed upon State to postpone the ban for the 2012 season. Read more...

While Nobody Was Reporting, the Border Was Declared Secure

By Jerry Kammer, February 22, 2013

Bloomberg Businessweek has now joined the cheering section for "comprehensive immigration reform". This week it features a story under a headline that proclaims "While Nobody Was Looking, The Border Got Secured".

But this declaration – which is ridiculed as absurd by residents of U.S. side of the Mexican border – is more the fault of the editors who wrote the headline than it is of reporter Elizabeth Dwoskin, who wrote it. Read more...

Jon Stewart Truth-Squads John McCain on Immigration Reform

By Jerry Kammer, February 19, 2013

On Monday, this blog conducted a truth-squad exercise, citing Sen. John McCain's (R-Ariz.) refutation of Univision anchor Jorge Ramos's assertions about the advanced state of border security. McCain correctly pointed out that despite improvements in the effort to stem illegal immigration "thousands and thousands" of illegal immigrants still make it across the border. Read more...

McCain to Ramos: "You Don't Get It" on Border Security

By Jerry Kammer, February 18, 2013

After returning from our annual, week-long CIS trip to a portion of the U.S.-Mexico border, I watched an interesting discussion on border security between Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Univision anchor Jorge Ramos. Their interview originally aired on the February 10 "Al Punto" program. Here is an excerpt. It begins as McCain tells Ramos that he has long insisted that the border be secured before the U.S. changes its immigration law: Read more...

As Mexico Improves, Central America Struggles

By Jerry Kammer, January 31, 2013

Mexico's improving economic situation has received a great deal of press recently, raising hopes that fewer Mexicans will feel compelled to cross the U.S. border illegally.

Meanwhile, deteriorating economic and social conditions in much of Central America have received little attention in the English-language press. Read more...