Jerry Kammer's blog

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A Few Words of Wisdom for Republicans

By Jerry Kammer, November 25, 2014

Leslie Sanchez, a Republican strategist who worked for President George W. Bush, made a critically important statement on yesterday's Diane Rehm Show on NPR. It was so important and so fundamental that it should be written up in boldface capital letters and posted on the office wall of all Republicans who want to participate in the national immigration debate without offending and alienating Latinos.

Said Sanchez: Read more...

Chris Wallace Presses for Answers, but Asks the Wrong Questions

By Jerry Kammer, November 24, 2014

Chris Wallace pressed for answers on Fox News Sunday as he probed the practical meaning of President Obama’s executive order of last week. In a tone that suggested a determination to get down to brass tacks, Wallace asked: “Is he sending more agents to border? Is he building more fences? Is he creating more virtual technology to patrol the border? Is he doing any — what specifically is she doing to crack down on illegal border crossings?"

Wallace’s sense of urgency was impressive, but his questions were not. What is most needed is what Congress and presidents have been promising since 1986 but have failed — comprehensively and miserably — to deliver. What is needed is a serious, credible program of worksite enforcement, including strong civil and criminal punishment of employers who hire those who are not authorized to work in the U.S. Read more...

Jorge Ramos and Brooke Gladstone Need to Look at Oregon Driver's License Vote

By Jerry Kammer, November 17, 2014

My weekend reading brought up two very different statements about illegal immigration that I think say a great deal about the dimensions of the national debate. I found the first in the transcript of a recent NPR interview with Univision anchor Jorge Ramos, a passionate advocate of illegal immigrants. The second was the resounding vote in Oregon that rejected legislation to issue driver's licenses to people not authorized to be in the United States. Read more...

Note to the DCCC on Obstructionism
A master of the craft is the president's top immigration advisor

By Jerry Kammer, November 10, 2014
A master of the craft is the president's top immigration advisor

Over the weekend, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee sent out an email to boost partisan spirits with this explanation of last week's election debacle: "[T]he Republicans broke Washington. Then, they spent millions of dollars of secret money running against a broken Washington."

The email included an observation by Paul Krugman that "the biggest secret of the Republican triumph surely lies in the discovery that obstructionism bordering on sabotage is a winning political strategy." Read more...

Morning Joe on Immigration

By Jerry Kammer, November 5, 2014

This morning's "Morning Joe" program on MSNBC offered several interesting observations on the future of immigration policy in the aftermath of Tuesday's election. Here are four: Read more...

Questioning Obama on Cynicism, Hope, and Immigration

By Jerry Kammer, November 3, 2014

In today's blog, I want to juxtapose an excerpt from President Obama's comments November 2 in Philadelphia with related thoughts, first from conservative writer Reihan Salam in Slate, and second from liberal law professor Peter Schuck's essay in the 1985 book Clamor at the Gates. I'll try to broaden the discussion in future blogs. Read more...

Colbert Provides a Revealing Look at the Political Divide at the Border

By Jerry Kammer, October 9, 2014

Stephen Colbert, the true-blue Democrat who plays a truly wacky Republican on his Comedy Central faux news show, provided a revealing insight into the political divide Tuesday. It came during his "Better Know a District" interview with U.S. Rep Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.).

Colbert asked for Duckworth's position on border security before providing his own border demands: "Wall, moat filled with flames, fire-proof alligators." Read more...

Maryland's Governor, His Eye on a 2016 Presidential Bid, Goes All-In for Immigration

By Jerry Kammer, September 25, 2014

El Tiempo Latino, the Spanish-language weekly owned by the Washington Post, was so impressed by a recent speech by Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley that it ran a story about it twice in its September 19 issue.

There it was on the front page, under the banner headline that translates as "Solidarity with children immigrants". And there it was on page 6, under the headline: "O'Malley asks attorneys to help migrant kids". For some reason, both times the story itself was published in English. Read more...

Guatemalan Police Reportedly Shaking Down Northbound Central Americans

By Jerry Kammer, August 11, 2014

Stories of predatory Mexican police, soldiers, and immigration authorities are common among Central Americans who pass through Mexico on their way to an illegal border crossing into the United States. When I was in the Rio Grande Valley in June, a Salvadoran man told he had been shaken down "maybe 15 times" on his way to the U.S. border and the friendly arms of the Border Patrol. I met him at the bus station in McAllen, where the Border Patrol had just dropped him and his son off with an order to appear in immigration court in Los Angeles, where they hoped to settle. Read more...

At Conference of Latino Officials, Calif. Gov. Jerry Brown Hailed the Rise of Brown Power

By Jerry Kammer, August 7, 2014

Earlier in the week, this blog noted that 2014 is the 20th anniversary of California's Proposition 187, a controversial effort to curtail illegal immigration. That anniversary was cited at the recent conference of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO), part of which was shown on C-SPAN Thursday morning.

NALEO President Alex Padilla referred to pro-Proposition 187 television ads that showed illegal immigrants streaming across the Texas border as a narrator sounded the alarm: "They keep coming!" Read more...

Barbara Jordan Made 1994 a High-Water Mark in the Effort to Stop Illegal Immigration

By Jerry Kammer, August 5, 2014

Read part 1: "20 Years after Fighting Barbara Jordan's Reforms, Cecilia Munoz Writes Script for Obama Executive Action"


In a 1994 speech at the National Press Club to discuss her plans for a worksite identification program pivotal to efforts to stop illegal immigration at the worksite, Barbara Jordan claimed the moral high ground for that effort. "If we are to preserve our immigration tradition and our ability to say yes to so many of those who seek entry, we must also have the strength to say no when we must," she said. Read more...

20 Years after Fighting Barbara Jordan's Reforms, Cecilia Munoz Writes Script for Obama Executive Action

By Jerry Kammer, August 4, 2014

In her position as director of the Domestic Policy Council at the White House, Cecilia Munoz is a key figure in the planning for President Obama to decree major changes in U.S. immigration policy that could benefit millions of illegal immigrants.

As the Associated Press noted last week, Munoz, along with other top officials in the Obama administration, is "working to chart a plan on executive actions Obama could take, hosting frequent meetings with interest groups." Read more...

Gangs and Migration: The Long Chain of Cause and Effect

By Jerry Kammer, July 31, 2014

Immigration policy isn't rocket science. It's far more complex.

Rocket science, after all, is about precision in the application of mathematic and scientific principles. Immigration policy is about the behavior of millions of human beings and the politics of entire nations. It is shaped by considerations of politics, economics, culture, history, and ethics.

Consider, for example, the relationship between immigration and Central American gangs. Read more...

Responding to George Will's 'Welcome to America' Proposal

By Jerry Kammer, July 28, 2014

In the mid-1990s, when the collapse of the Mexican economy produced a wave of illegal immigration to Arizona, I did volunteer work at a Phoenix school that was struggling to meet the needs of a few hundred Mexican children who spoke only Spanish. Even as I sought to help ease the transition for both sides, I thought it would be better for everyone if the influx subsided.

That explains my contradictory reactions of appreciation for and disagreement with George Will' s open-arms pronouncement on "Fox New Sunday" regarding Central Americans streaming across the Mexican border into Texas. It is burning up the blogosphere, drawing delight from the left and dismay from the right. Read more...

Hondurans Denounce Their Own Government for Corruption, Indifference

By Jerry Kammer, July 25, 2014

The website of Honduran newspaper La Tribuna received a remarkable series of readers' comments to its June 18 story about demands from the Honduran Human Rights Commissioner that the United States guarantee the rights of Hondurans who were fleeing to the United States to seek asylum there. The readers expressed anger at the Honduran government, accusing them of corruption, incompetence, and indifference to the suffering of the people who decide to leave the country. Here are excerpts. Read more...

News Clips from the 1989 "Other than Mexican" Crisis in the Rio Grande Valley

By Jerry Kammer, July 24, 2014

Twenty-five years ago South Texas experienced a similar, albeit much smaller, surge of illegal immigration from Central America, mainly Nicaraguans fleeing civil war. Here are excerpts from some of the news coverage: Read more...

How the Feds Stopped the Illegal Brazilian Influx of 2005

By Jerry Kammer, July 23, 2014

Americans have been stunned by report of the chaotic movement of tens of thousands of Central Americans across the Rio Grande. Instead of law and policies that discourage illegal immigration by arresting and deporting unauthorized border crossers, the public has learned of a system that encourages the massive influx by providing illegal crossers with permission to join family members or friends across the country. The system has turned the Border Patrol, long regarded as a formidable border barrier, into a Welcome Wagon.

The story is bizarre. But it is not unprecedented. As Congress surveys the chaotic border landscape and considers a legislative fix, it could learn a great deal from a similar situation that developed in the same part of the Texas border just nine years ago. Read more...

Honduran Paper: Young People, Fleeing Neglected Schools, Head for U.S.

By Jerry Kammer, July 22, 2014

The Honduran newspaper El Heraldo has just published a story about schools so badly neglected by the Honduran government that they are increasingly abandoned by young people, who then choose to go to the United States: Read more...

Salvadoran Smuggler Disputes Story of Thousands of Children Traveling Solo: "They don't go. They are taken."

By Jerry Kammer, July 21, 2014

Along the east Texas border, in towns like Brownsville, children – including very young children – are coming out of the Mexico desert, alone. They've fled their towns and cities in Central America. Alone, they've run a gauntlet across Mexico, of bandits, corrupt police, and drug gangs. Robbed, beaten, sometimes raped, kidnapped. They're the ones who survived. Others died on the way. At least 60,000 are expected this year. ... Can you imagine being 8, 10, 14 years old, fleeing your home town – Tegucigalpa, Guatemala City, San Salvador – and traveling alone on top of a train across Mexico?

— Tom Ashbrook, introducing the June 9 edition of his program "On Point", broadcast on public radio stations across the country. Read more...

El Salvador Plays for Time, Demands Due Process

By Jerry Kammer, July 17, 2014

From La Prensa Grafica, El Salvador

An airplane with 30 Hondurans — 22 children and eight mothers — arrived at San Pedro Sula, Honduras, this week. They are the first group of Central Americans repatriated in the ongoing crisis. ... The director of the Salvadoran Office of Migration, Hector Rodriguez, said that the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement planned to use the same airplane to deport to El Salvador children and their accompanying adults.

Guatemalan Paper: U.S. Turns over 97% of Border Crossers to Relatives in the U.S.

By Jerry Kammer, July 16, 2014

From Prensa Libre

Ninety-seven percent of the Guatemalan minors who have gone illegally to the United States have been turned over to relatives in that country, as the law provides.

Nevertheless, this program, which is administered by the U.S. Department of Health, does not guarantee that the children will not be deported in the future.

“Those who do not stay in the U.S. are very few,” said Jose Barillas, Guatemalan consul in Houston. “Of the 240 children I interviewed last week in a shelter, I only met one who was not going to reunify with a family, and that was because he had no relative here.”

Mexico Promises to Stop Central Americans from Boarding 'the Beast'

By Jerry Kammer, July 15, 2014

If you want to know why the train that every year carries an estimated 200,000 Central American illegal immigrants through Mexico is called "The Beast", consider the description provided this week by AFP. Read more...

Central American Press on the Border Crisis

By Jerry Kammer, July 14, 2014

La Prensa Grafica (El Salvador)

Little girls in braids, boys with cowboy hats and tennis shoes — with their parents they came to the court of immigration judge Frank Travieso in Los Angeles to learn how long they could stay in the United States. ... He told them to come back in February.

This scene could become more frequent because the immigration courts, already overwhelmed with their work backlog, are preparing to receive the wave of Central American immigrants who have crossed the border from Mexico in recent months.

Excerpts from Central American Newspapers on the U.S. Border Crisis

By Jerry Kammer, July 10, 2014

El Heraldo (Honduras)

The United States Secretary of Homeland Security said he will continue to deport Central American children, closing the door on the calls of governments in the region that the youth be allowed to stay in the U.S. "We are going to act in accordance with the applicable laws" of the United States, which provide that persons arrested by the Border Patrol as they attempt to enter illegally will be returned "regardless of their age," Johnson said at a press conference at the end of a two-day visit to Guatemala.

Single Mothers Flee Poverty on the Roof of the Train Called 'The Beast'

By Jerry Kammer, July 10, 2014

The young mother smiled shyly as she responded to the Univision reporter's question about where she was headed.

"To the United States," she said. And why was she going there. "Necessity," she answered. Read more...

Henry Cuellar, Morning Joe, and the President's Katrina Moment

By Jerry Kammer, July 9, 2014

I hope that this doesn't become President Obama's Katrina moment. I'm sure that President Bush thought the same thing, that he could just look at everything from up in the sky, and then he owned it after for a long time. So I hope this doesn't become the Katrina moment for President Obama, saying that he doesn't need to come to the border. He should come down.

Munoz's Folly, White House Fiction

By Jerry Kammer, July 9, 2014

Cecilia Munoz, the former vice-president of the National Council of La Raza who now works in the White House as director of the Domestic Policy Council, is in charge of the Obama administration's response to the mounting crisis on the Texas border. In an attempt to put a positive spin on the chaos, she has become a serial fictionalist. She's engaged in a game of politically expedient make-believe. Read more...

NewsHour Asks "Why Are They Coming?"

By Jerry Kammer, July 8, 2014

Last night on the PBS "NewsHour", anchor Judy Woodruff led a discussion about the reasons for the dramatic exodus of tens of thousands of Central Americans to the United States. She heard competing views from the Center for Immigration Studies' Jessica Vaughan and Marshall Fitz of the Center for American Progress.

Fitz took the position that "the real reason people are leaving those countries is because of the violence and the conditions that they're experiencing in their home country." Read more...

Two Scenes from Univision on the Border Crisis

By Jerry Kammer, July 7, 2014

As someone who tries to follow how the story of illegal immigration is presented in Spanish-language media, I found two recent scenes on Univision news programs to be especially interesting.

The first provided a rare and fleeting acknowledgement of the fact that many Latinos, including some illegal immigrants, are astonished at how easy it can be to enter the United States illegally. The other, far more common on Univision, presented a lengthy diatribe by a popular Mexican-American singer who denounced resistance to illegal immigration as anti-Latino racism. Read more...

Unsecured Border: Interview with Brooks Co. Chief Deputy Sheriff

By Jerry Kammer, July 2, 2014

Read and view our entire Unsecured Border Series

Brooks County, Texas is mostly a vast semi-desert range-land and sits 65 miles north of the Mexican border. But Chief Deputy Sheriff Benny Martinez says 80-85 percent of his force’s time is spent on problems related to the border, from illegal immigration to drug smuggling. Read more...