May 22, 2013
House immigration negotiators have given themselves until the end of the week to hash out language on what kind of health benefits should be available to undocumented immigrants seeking U.S. citizenship, a crucial issue for the talks. If they can’t resolve this issue, the four-year immigration negotiations could come to a crashing halt. Top Democrats said late Tuesday they do not think Republicans will walk away from the talks.
It was only less than a week ago that the bipartisan House group announced it had reached a tentative agreement on a proposal “in principle” to be introduced in June. The provision, in essence, said immigrants seeking citizenship must provide their own health care — and if any government entity provides them with services, they would be ineligible for permanent citizenship. The language was aimed at assuaging Republican concerns that the immigration bill would plunge the nation further into debt.
May 2, 2013
New York Times, 5/1/2013
Tens of thousands of immigrants, Latinos and other supporters of an overhaul of the immigration system turned out on Wednesday for marches, rallies and prayer vigils, hoping to show Congress that momentum is building for a path to citizenship for 11 million immigrants in the country illegally.
Instead of concentrating on large May Day demonstrations, organizers said they had chosen to hold smaller actions in more than 100 cities nationwide to draw more local supporters.
April 30, 2013
More than a year after the United States and Mexico signed a much-lauded deal that would remove obstacles to expanding deepwater drilling for oil in the Gulf of Mexico, the agreement still has not been finalized by the United States. The delay, for which people close to the administration blame Congress while Republicans in Congress blame the administration, is certain to be discussed when President Barack Obama visits Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto in Mexico City on Thursday.
Mexico immediately ratified the pact in April 2012, but the United States has so far been unable to pass a simply worded, one-page law to put the agreement into force. The deal, formally known as the Transboundary Hydrocarbons Agreement, provides legal guidelines for deepwater drilling in the 1.5 million acres of the Gulf that straddle the U.S.-Mexico boundary.
April 24, 2013
Associated Press, 4/23/13
The lower house of Mexico’s congress voted Tuesday to loosen longstanding restrictions on foreigners buying property along the coast and the nation’s borders, a proposal that drew stiff criticism from some quarters. The measure, which passed 356-119 in the Chamber of Deputies, still needs approval from the Senate and a majority of the country’s 32 state legislatures to become law.
For decades, foreigners have had to use real-estate trusts or Mexican front companies to buy beachfront properties, because Article 27 of the constitution prohibits non-Mexicans from directly owning land within 31 miles (50 kilometers) of the coast and 62 miles (100 kilometers) of the nation’s borders. The trusts and front companies have provided a lucrative income for banks, lawyers and notaries who are required to operate them, and the extensive paperwork has discouraged many foreigners from buying.
April 15, 2013
Tech Crunch, 4/14/13
“When the geeks go marching in, good stuff can happen, but if everyone joins in, real change can take place.” That’s what the hackers and team behind Codeando México, a civil innovation platform where government and organizations publish projects, thought when they launched the #app115 challenge, an app competition that aimed to prove that great code can be very inexpensive if motivated by the right reasons.
What motivated them? A couple of weeks ago, the Mexican House of Representatives announced that they were planning to pay $9.3 million to have an app developed. The app would work on mobile devices and would monitor what went on in the sessions: bills, context, statements and media analysis. According to one of Mexico’s most widely read newspapers, they had hired a company called Pulso Legislativo (a company that allegedly has questionable relations with current and former legislators from the party in power) and had agreed to 32 monthly payments of about $290,000.
April 11, 2013
By Rep. Jared Polis, Rep. Joaquin Castro and Rep. Joe Garcia, Politico, 4/11/13
For over a decade, Congress has failed to fix what we all agree is a broken immigration system. Congress has been complacent – standing by as families are torn apart and important business sectors go without the workers they need to grow our economy. While both the House and Senate are hammering out immigration reform legislation, the members of the New Democrats Coalition believe it is important to outline the needed building blocks for meaningful immigration reform.
As members of the New Democrat Coalition, we believe successful immigration reform begins with four basic principles: growth, efficiency, fairness, and inclusion. If we want to compete in a global economy, we must understand how immigration can benefit and grow our economy. Those who decide to leave their country in search of a better future for themselves and their families are risk-takers. We should embrace those risk-takers, because it is them and their children who are growing small businesses and have established 40 percent of today’s Fortune 500 companies.
April 2, 2013
Financial Times, 4/2/2013
Perhaps it is the blossom in the air. But Washington may be about to agree on an overhaul of America’s dilapidated immigration system. A final deal is not yet complete. However, the bipartisan “group of eight” senators to whom the White House has outsourced negotiations is confident there will be a draft soon. The prospect should be welcomed. At the very least, it would reassure us that Washington is capable of taking a break from its chronic dysfunction. However, doubts remain whether a bill could get through the Republican House of Representatives. And concerns also remain on whether the bill would do enough to lift high-skilled immigration.
First, the bill’s big positives. Since the 2007 recession, the great wave of Mexican immigration to the US has broken. It has dropped from a roughly 500,000 annual inflow a decade ago to zero in the past three years. Mexico’s rising economic prospects and declining population growth suggest that shift may be for keeps. Now is an ideal time to redress the status of the 11m undocumented Hispanics in the US. Enough Republicans have signed up to the “pathway to citizenship” to suggest Washington may finally be about to grasp the nettle. It would be a big breakthrough at a time of increasingly dynamic US economic relations with Mexico. It would also help to put a floor under the low-wage portions of the US economy.
March 28, 2013
Los Angeles Times, 3/27/13
Some of the most important civic groups in Mexico are imploring President Enrique Peña Nieto to let Congress debate the wisdom of creating a new paramilitary police force, or gendarmerie, to combat the persistent scourge of violence here. The civic groups are concerned that Peña Nieto will create the new force by presidential decree, instead of introducing a bill in the Legislature. Without a vigorous debate in Congress, the groups fear, the gendarmerie may suffer from an ill-defined mandate and lack important human rights protocols, among other things.
“There are meaningful and legitimate doubts about the project,” security analyst Alejandro Hope of the Mexican Competitiveness Institute said in an interview Wednesday. “So I think it’s fair to ask for a discussion.”
March 28, 2013
ABC News/Univision, 3/27/13
President Obama expects an immigration bill to come before the Senate next month and voiced optimism that a final bill could pass through Congress this summer. A bipartisan group of senators, known as the “Gang of Eight,” missed a self-imposed deadline to submit a comprehensive immigration reform bill by the end of March, sparking concern that the group had reach an unsolvable impasse. But Obama said on Wednesday that the group is “actually making progress” and that they are very close to reaching a final agreement on a bill.
“I’m actually optimistic that when they get back they will introduce a bill,” Obama said during an interview with Univision. “My sense is that they have come close and my expectation is that we’ll actually see a bill on the floor of the Senate next month.” The president has repeatedly said that he would propose his own immigration bill should negotiations in Congress grind to a halt. But Obama refused to say that he would take such action even if the lawmakers fail to introduce a bill in April.
March 26, 2013
The Washington Post, 3/25/2013
President Obama helped swear in 28 new U.S. citizens at the White House on Monday, hailing them as examples of the nation’s strong immigrant history and demanding that Congress “finish the job” on a comprehensive overhaul of immigration laws. “Immigration makes us stronger — it keeps us vibrant, it keeps us hungry, it keeps us prosperous,” Obama said during a ceremony in the East Room that included 13 immigrants who are members of the U.S. military.
We need to do a better job welcoming them,” the president continued. “We’ve known for years that our immigration system is broken. . . . After avoiding the problem for years, the time has come to fix it once and for all.” Obama has participated in a naturalization ceremony at the White House for each of the past four years, but Monday’s event took on heightened symbolism. He read a list of countries that the immigrants hailed from — including Afghanistan, Germany, Mexico, Nigeria and Peru — and some wore their U.S. military uniforms.