Jerry Kammer's blog

Senior Research Fellow


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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...

Awards for Commentary on Reform Proposal

By Jerry Kammer, January 30, 2013

Most Sweeping Statement. Univision anchorman Jorge Ramos: "It's the most important immigration news since the amnesty 27 years ago." Read more...

Harper's Magazine Gives the Free Market a Pass on Immigration

By Jerry Kammer, January 21, 2013

Unlike many of my CIS colleagues, I consider myself a liberal. One reason is that I believe government regulation is necessary to curb abuses of the free market. Another is that I think government should be involved in checking the free market's tendency to devalue the work of those at the bottom and to concentrate too much wealth at the top.

I believe that we need to restrict immigration, especially of the unskilled and poorly educated, in order to protect the social safety net and limit the ability of employers to displace American workers or drive down their wages. Read more...

Immigration Vox Populi on C-SPAN, Part Two

By Jerry Kammer, January 11, 2013

Read "Immigration Vox Populi on C-SPAN, Part One"

More comments from callers to Thursday's Washington Journal: Read more...

Immigration Vox Populi on C-SPAN, Part One

By Jerry Kammer, January 10, 2013

When I was an immigration reporter, I learned that C-SPAN's Washington Journal frequently provides a valuable national cross-section of public reaction to immigration. Today and tomorrow, I want to reproduce excerpts from callers to Thursday's program. (You can watch the whole program here.) I am not including comments from the studio guests, which included our own Mark Krikorian, as well as Clarissa Martinez of the National Council of La Raza, Dan Stein of the Federation for American Immigration Reform, Ali Noorani of the National Immigration Forum, and National Journal reporter Fawn Johnson. Read more...

Grover Norquist and Reporters Without Questions

By Jerry Kammer, January 4, 2013

I've decided to bring an occasional feature to this blog: a look at the job my former colleagues in the press do covering immigration. I'm sure there will be plenty of opportunities in the coming months. But my first look will be back in time—to a story that ABC posted on its website last October. I came across it recently. Read more...

Mexico's El Universal Says Latinos in U.S. Have No Civil Rights

By Jerry Kammer, December 26, 2012

An article last week in Mexico´s largest newspaper passed a remarkable judgment on the civil rights of Latino immigrants in the United States. It said they don´t exist.

"For more than half a century, the civil rights of the immigrants of Latino origin have been non-existent, which has made them the slaves of the modern era," reported El Universal, in an analysis that was also published elsewhere in Latin America. Read more...

NPR Fudges the Facts on Border Security

By Jerry Kammer, December 22, 2012

Ted Robbins, NPR’s fine reporter in Arizona, used some hard numbers in his recent story about border security.

Said Robbins: “Since the mid-1980s, the U.S. Border Patrol has quintupled in size — growing from about 4,000 to more than 20,000 agents. The government has built some 700 miles of fencing and vehicle barriers. It has placed thousands of ground sensors, lights, radar towers and cameras along the border.” Read more...

Notre Dame Professor: Upwardly Mobile Mexican-Americans Not Moving Right

By Jerry Kammer, December 5, 2012

Professor Jose E. Limon, director of the Institute for Latino Studies at Notre Dame, made an interesting contribution to the discussion of the Latino vote Monday night at the Mexican Cultural Institute in Washington. He suggested that identification with the Democratic Party has solidified as an enduring feature of Mexican-American identity. Read more...

Carlos Gutierrez, Bush-Era Commerce Secretary, Rips the Republican Party

By Jerry Kammer, November 13, 2012

Carlos Gutierrez, Secretary of Commerce during President George W. Bush's administration, made no attempt to hide his frustration with the Republican Party during his appearance on the Univision program "Al Punto". Gutierrez claimed that the party's extremism was the reason for Mitt Romney's resounding defeat last week. Read more...

Migrant Advocate Cites Increasing Exodus from Central America to el Norte

By Jerry Kammer, October 24, 2012

Among the many immigration stories that are going untold by our steadily shrinking corps of newspaper reporters, one of the most important is the unrelenting exodus of Central Americans heading northward in hopes of crossing illegally into the United States. Univision's reporter in El Salvador had a brief story about the phenomenon on yesterday's evening news. Read more...

People for the American Way Takes the Low Road with Romney Ad

By Jerry Kammer, October 3, 2012

A new 30-second political spot that People for the American Way has launched on Spanish-language television distorts Mitt Romneys views on Latinos in order to encourage Latino voters not to vote for Romney. The ad is part of a $1 million ad buy in the key election states of Virginia, Ohio, and Wisconsin. I saw it on last night's Univision evening news and during the telenovela "Refugio Para el Amor".

The centerpiece is Romney's infamous comments about the "47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what … . who are dependent upon the government". Read more...

The Executioner's Men, a Review

By Jerry Kammer, September 7, 2012

When I was a reporter covering U.S. Mexico relations, I often looked to George Grayson for expert commentary. Here at CIS, where he is a member of the board, I have come to admire not just his expertise, but also his courage in reporting the stories he has told in The Executioner's Men, a new book he has written with investigative reporter Samuel Logan. This is a brief review. Read more...

Dissing American Kids: Genuine Problem or Employer Cop-Out?

By Jerry Kammer, August 24, 2012

An e-mail about last week's PBS NewsHour story that drew from our work on the State Department's Summer Work Travel (SWT) program posed a big question: "What do you think about the idea that was put forward that U.S. students don't work as hard as their foreign counterparts?" Read more...

Lithuanian SWT Workers Sweat Their Way Across the USA

By Jerry Kammer, August 23, 2012

The most interesting e-mail I've received since the PBS NewsHour story last Friday about the Summer Work Travel (SWT) program came from a friend who just moved from Baltimore to State College, Pa. It began with a wry comment about my failure to wear a tie for my on-camera interview and ended with a painfully candid description of the program's sweat-shop charms for American employers. Read more...

A Wish List for the State Department's Management of the Summer Work Travel Program

By Jerry Kammer, August 21, 2012

As I walked near Farragut Square on Monday, I could have sworn that the warm breeze from the southwest was the accumulation of all the sighs of relief wafting from the State Department as administrators of the Summer Work Travel program discussed the story that aired on Friday night's PBS "NewsHour".

State — whose years of egregious mismanagement of the program have been chronicled by the GAO, its own inspector general, the Associated Press, the Economic Policy Institute, and by us at the Center for Immigration Studies — got off easy. Read more...

PBS NewsHour Takes a Look at Summer Work Travel

By Jerry Kammer, August 20, 2012

The PBS NewsHour on Friday covered a lot of ground with its story about the State Department's Summer Work Travel (SWT) program, which over the past decade has brought more than a million foreign college students to the United States for low-wage seasonal jobs.

At the end of his nine-minute piece, economics correspondent Paul Solman said his reporting left him feeling ambivalent about the program, which is intended to engender good will in U.S. relations with foreign countries. Read more...

On Nationwide Tour, Documentary Film Stirs Discussion in a Washington, D.C., Suburb

By Jerry Kammer, August 9, 2012

Dennis Lynch, the director of a provocative documentary about illegal immigration, led a brief but spirited discussion last night in the Washington suburb of Rockville, Md.

First came the 100-minute film, They Come to America, which is decidedly against illegal immigration but also respectful of the issue's complexity and mindful of its swirling human cross currents. Its main characters are Americans upset by illegal immigration and a young Latin American man who works as a day laborer on Long Island, N.Y. Read more...

"On Point" on the Federal Betrayal of American Workers, Part 2

By Jerry Kammer, August 7, 2012

Last week, we published part one of a synopsis of a recent "On Point" radio program out of public radio station WBUR in Boston. The program concerned federal programs that allow employers access to cheap foreign labor and drive down the wages of American workers.

Today, we bring you the comments of two Americans who called in to the program to tell their stories. Read more...

"On Point" on the Federal Betrayal of American Workers, Part 1

By Jerry Kammer, August 3, 2012

As a former reporter, I regard the paucity of journalistic attention to the growth of federal programs that bring in foreign workers for temporary employment as an egregious failure of American journalism.

But a recent edition of the "On Point" radio program, which is produced at Boston public radio station WBUR, was a noble effort to fill the information void. In conversation with host Tom Ashbrook, who seemed to grow more incredulous with each example of our government's fecklessness, Ross Eisenbrey of the Economic Policy Institute staked out the story. Then two American contractors called in with details of the ongoing assault on their ability to earn a decent living. Read more...

Israel and Arizona: Similarities, Differences, Questions

By Jerry Kammer, July 25, 2012

In the July 25 Washington Post, columnist Ruth Marcus writes about the uproar in Israel over what she describes as a "flood" of refugees who have crossed the border illegally from Egypt at the end of the long trek from their homelands in Eritrea and Sudan. Read more...

Una Poca de Gracia — A Little Grace — for the Immigration Debate

By Jerry Kammer, June 29, 2012

"La Bamba", a Mexican folk song that in 1958 was turned into a pop hit by Richie Valens, observes that in order to climb to heaven you need "a big ladder, and another smaller one". It adds that to dance "La Bamba" you need "a little grace". This week, I received a message from Cornell law professor Stephen Yale-Loehr that provided a measure of both of those wondrous tools. They will be necessary if there is to be compromise in the national battle over immigration policy.

Let me explain. Read more...