Jerry Kammer's blog

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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

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:

The Beauty and Danger of Sen. Klobuchar's Speech

By Jerry Kammer, June 19, 2013

Yesterday on the Senate floor, Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) gave a speech that was a fine illustration of how the emotion of immigration complicates the job of policy-making. The emotion was especially poignant in the last 400 words of her 2,300-word speech, in which she told her family's own story and projected it onto the current policy debate. I reproduce her comments here as she actually delivered them, not as they appear in the Congressional Record, which apparently relied on a written text. Then I offer a brief comment. Read more...

NYT Highlights Border Insecurity in Texas

By Jerry Kammer, June 18, 2013

Reporters Eric Lipton and Julia Preston of the New York Times produced a fine story from South Texas for the Sunday paper, putting the surge in illegal immigration in the context of the immigration reform debate in the Senate.

But it seems to me they buried the lede, placing it at the mid-point of the story with this remarkable revelation about the state of border security in the Rio Grande Valley. Lipton and Preston reported: Read more...

Bulletin: NYT Editorial Shows Concern for American Workers

By Jerry Kammer, June 18, 2013

The New York Times published a remarkable editorial on Sunday. It made me wonder if the editorial board is beginning to feel that U.S. immigration policy-makers and business leaders should be more concerned with the fate of American workers and less interested in expanding the alphabet-soup of visa categories that every year brings hundreds of thousands of lower-wage foreign workers to every level of the American economy.

Here is an excerpt from the editorial:

2 Weeks in a Row, Rubio Produces an Awkward Sunday Disconnect

By Jerry Kammer, June 17, 2013

Senator Rubio's people need to talk to Senator Rubio's people about the senator's principles regarding character assassination.

The past 48 hours have made clear that there is a severe disconnect between what the senator claims to believe and what his supporters are saying in their attacks on organizations critical of the Senate immigration reform bill. Read more...

Reid and Goodlatte Press Opposite Agendas

By Jerry Kammer, June 14, 2013

While Harry Reid (D-Nev.) was using the Democrat majority Thursday to shut down a Republican effort to toughen the immigration reform bill, Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) was using the Republican majority in the House to tout a fix for problems he has with the Senate bill.

"Unfortunately, the Senate bill actually weakens interior enforcement in many areas or is simply ineffectual," Goodlatte said at a hearing on legislation called the Strengthen and Fortify Enforcement Act, or the SAFE Act. Read more...

Sanders and Sessions: Odd Couple of Immigration Debate

By Jerry Kammer, June 14, 2013

Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) have become the odd couple of the immigration reform debate.

Until Thursday's Senate session on the immigration reform bill, the most outspoken defender of American workers against low-wage foreign competition had been the Alabama Republican.

But late Thursday afternoon, Vermont independent Bernie Sanders, who is widely regarded as the most liberal member of the Senate, weighed in with a full-throated condemnation of guest worker programs which he condemns as a betrayal of American workers. Read more...

Portman Takes on Gang of Eight's Flawed Version of E-Verify

By Jerry Kammer, June 13, 2013

Press attention on yesterday's Senate debate has focused on the battle over the amendment proposed by John Cornyn to tighten border security metrics. It is an important discussion that will continue for some time. But I was more impressed with the strong performance of Ohio Republican Rob Portman in exposing the problems with the Gang of Eight's proposal for a new E-Verify system. Read more...

Sen. Schumer's Reach Exceeding His Grasp

By Jerry Kammer, June 12, 2013

As I listened to Sen. Chuck Schumer's (D-N.Y.) speech Tuesday on the Senate floor, some famous words of the poet Robert Browning came to mind: "Ah, but a man's reach should exceed his grasp, or what's a heaven for?"

Sen. Schumer seems to think that comprehensive immigration reform should serve the same purpose — inspiring sweeping promises that have scant chance of being fulfilled. Read more...

Obama on Immigration, Now and Then

By Jerry Kammer, June 12, 2013

In his Tuesday speech on immigration reform, President Obama ignored the Senate bill's proposal for a major expansion of unskilled immigrants into the U.S. economy. Read more...

From 2002, a Cautionary Tale for the Gang of Eight

By Jerry Kammer, June 11, 2013

The enforcement flat-liners at the New York Times editorial board are at it again. On Saturday they again denounced critics of the Gang of Eight reform bill. This time, instead of labeling them "hardliners" as it so often does, the board classified their bad guys as "die-hard obstructionists" and "dead-enders". Read more...

Rubio, McCain, Reid Talk Strategy on Reform Bill

By Jerry Kammer, June 10, 2013

Some excerpts from Sunday morning's "Al Punto" program on Univision, where Sens. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), John McCain (R-Ariz.), and Harry Reid (D-Nev.) responded to questions from host Maria Elena Salinas:

Salinas to Rubio: You said this week that you would be inclined to vote against the legislation that you yourself helped to write unless there were some amendments that would strengthen even more the security of the border. Would you be willing to throw everything overboard? Read more...