"Liberty on the Rocks" is a no-host happy hour discussion and information-sharing session.
Liberty on the Rocks will be held at Scalo Northern Italian Grill which is located in Nob Hill at 3500 Central Avenue SE in Albuquerque. A private room has been reserved for this event. In August, Liberty on the Rocks will take place on Thursday, September 18th from 6:00 to 7:30PM.
There is no cost for this public event, but attendees are encouraged to have dinner or drinks. Registration is not required but is much appreciated. Click here to register online … it's fast and it's free!Come celebrate liberty with us!
By Rob Nikolewski │ New Mexico Watchdog
SANTA FE — Sheriffs along the U.S. border with Mexico don’t like what they’re seeing.
Describing the immigration crisis as “spiraling out of control,” a coalition of five sheriffs’ organizations in the Southwest released a three-page statement calling on the federal government to resist “outright amnesty” for people in the country illegally.
The document obtained by New Mexico Watchdog called for increased funding for border security programs, including removal programs supervised by Immigration and Customs Enforcement and DNA samples, fingerprinting and iris scans for people apprehended for entering the U.S. without documentation.
“The immigration crisis has overwhelmed the capabilities of U.S. Customs and Border Protection and all the federal agencies attempting to assist in the efforts to secure our borders,” said the statement, approved by the boards of the Western States Sheriffs’ Association, the Texas Border Sheriff’s Coalition, the Southwestern Border Sheriffs’ Coalition, the New Mexico Sheriffs’ Association and the National Sheriffs’ Association.
The sheriffs are meeting in Santa Fe through Wednesday.
“We’re not just saying we have problems,” said Donald Reay, executive director of the Texas Border Sheriff’s Coalition, based in El Paso. “We’re saying we have solutions to those problems.”
The sheriffs’ statement went on to say the coalition is willing to form a “united security zone in sufficient depth along the border” to ensure safety.
That prompted criticism from the American Civil Liberties Union.
“Sheriff’s deputies may need more resources to do their jobs, but enforcing federal immigrations laws is not one of them,” said Vicki Gaubeca, director of the Regional Center for Border Rights of the ACLU of New Mexico.
Two months ago the border issue made national headlines after tens of thousands of unaccompanied children— largely from Central America — entered the U.S. Yet, Senate Majority leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., told reporters, “the border is secure.”
Sen. Martin Heinrich, D-N.M., took to the Senate floor one day later.
“The border today is more secure than it has ever been,” Heinrich said, adding, “There are more border patrol agents on the ground and more resources and technology deployed on the border than in any time in our nation’s history. These resources have been effective.”
“We’ve never been in more disagreement with them,” Reay said. “It’s an open border. It’s not supposed to be, but it is. And when people cross the border other than (through) a port of entry, they have committed a violation of federal law.”
The sheriff’s coalition statement says, “Amnesty is not the answer.”
But it’s been estimated at least 11 million people without documentation are living in the U.S.
“We’re not talking about a roundup,” Reay said. “Our sheriffs realize that would be virtually impossible to do because it would have a huge economic impact on the communities they represent.”
Instead, Reay said, the sheriffs favor having undocumented workers come forward and take part in a pathway to legalization.
“We believe the rule of law has a process in effect that should be followed,” Reay told New Mexico Watchdog. “Citizenship should not be automatic. Citizenship should be earned.”
The statement makes nine recommendations calling for collaboration between federal, local and tribal law enforcement, including $1.1 billion for a justice assistance grant, $280 million in funding for high-intensity drug trafficking areas, $100 million for a readiness program along the border called Operation Stonegarden and unspecified funding for ICE’s criminal removal program.
“The government has already spent a great deal of money on border enforcement resources, last year alone spending close to $11 billion,” Gaubeca said in an email to New Mexico Watchdog. “CBP (U.S. Customs and Border Protection) is already the largest law enforcement agency in the nation. It doesn’t need more help. In addition, DHS (the Department of Homeland Security) and CBP are already taking additional steps to build new detention facilities, including wrongly building more facilities for family detention when effective and cheaper alternatives exist.”
The sheriffs offered five solutions to the border crisis, including required fingerprints, DNA swabs and iris scans for everyone apprehended while trying to enter the U.S. illegally.
Wouldn’t that be expensive to administer?
“When you weigh the expense versus the benefit, absolutely not,” said Reay, who didn’t offer an estimate of the cost. “Because you are saving lives, you are identifying people later who are possibly criminals.”
Reay said the statement will go to Capitol Hill.
“This will be put out to every member of Congress,” Reay said. “We’re hoping to get some of their attention so they can take action on it.”
Click here to read the sheriffs’ coalition document.
Here’s the New Mexico Watchdog interview with Reay:
By Rob Nikolewski │ New Mexico Watchdog
For nearly 40 years, there’s a been a ban on exporting crude oil from the United States to other nations in the world.
Now, a just-released study says lifting the ban could boost the U.S. economy between $600 billion to $1.8 trillion and save motorists up to 12 cents a gallon at the pump.
Researchers for the Energy Security Initiative of the Brookings Institution called the ban “an anachronism that has long outlived its utility and now threatens to impair, rather than protect, U.S. energy, economic, and national security” and cites modeling that predicts broad-based economic benefits that include more jobs, better wages and higher gross domestic product if the ban got ditched.
The study from Brookings, which is considered a left-of-center think tank, claims the sooner the ban is lifted, the greater the economic impact.
“What is most important is our finding that in all these modeling scenarios, there are positive gains for U.S. households,” the analysis said.
For example, the Brookings study says lifting the ban would increase domestic oil production, which would increase gasoline supply. That would lead to a drop of the price of gas. The study estimated a reduction of nine cents per gallon for about five years up to as much as 12 cents a gallon if oil supplies are more abundant.
Furthermore, according to the Brookings modeling done by National Economic Research Associates, lifting the export ban reduces unemployment by 200,000 each year between 2015 and 2020.
“Allowing crude oil exports is in the national interest,” wrote the study’s authors. “Our analysis shows a direct correlation between increased U.S. oil production, net benefits to society, and lower gasoline prices.”
Bernard Weinstein, economist and associate director of the Maguire Energy Institute at Southern Methodist University, agrees with the study’s findings.
“It’s not just the oil-producing states that benefit, everybody benefits in the form of lower gasoline prices,” Weinstein said. “It holds down power costs and heating costs in other parts of the country.”
U.S. oil production has boomed in recent years, largely due to technological advancements that allow companies to drill “tight oil” in places such as the Bakken formation in North Dakota, the Eagle Ford formation in south Texas and the Permian Basin in west Texas and eastern New Mexico.
Lifting the crude oil ban would further boost production in those areas, and that figures to mean more money for the general funds in those states through increased severance tax revenue and royalty payments made by oil companies.
“That goes without question,” Weinstein said. “The greater level of production, the more revenue is generated.”
But more production means more use of hydraulic fracturing, commonly known as “fracking,” and that’s something environmental groups are dead-set against.
“I think the last thing we need to be talking about is exporting fossil fuels,” said Jeremy Nichols, climate and energy program director for WildEarth Guardians. “We’re struggling to try to rein in carbon pollution as a nation … The American people want to see action and are concerned about the costs in increased pollution or a failure to reduce carbon pollution effectively. If we’re talking about exporting oil, we’re just talking about burning it somewhere else.”
The Brookings Institution study didn’t address environmental issues and concentrated on the economics of the crude oil ban. “We do agree these issues need to be recognized, though the impact on global emissions (in comparison to U.S. coal exports) is likely to be negligible,” the study’s authors said.
“This wasn’t a report based on proffering an energy policy based on climate change,” Nichols said. “This was based purely on (national) security. Fair enough, we have security issues. Those don’t trump climate change.”
“If we wish to have more power and influence in the world, in support of our security interests, and in support of our values,” Summers said at a presentation at the Brookings Institute, “and if we wish to have an influence that we pay for with neither blood nor taxes, I do not see a more constructive approach than permitting the export of fossil fuels.”
The ban was first put in place in 1975. In the wake of the Arab oil embargo, Congress passed the Energy Policy and Conservation Act that included a ban on crude oil exports in an effort to avoid price spikes.
But price controls were eliminated in 1981 and opponents of the export ban say that with the energy business now booming in the United States, the time is right for a change.
The crude oil export ban can be lifted either by a sitting president or through congressional action.
While the Brookings study says the economic gains will be felt most strongly the faster the ban is lifted, Weinstein doesn’t think it will happen soon.
“Not this year,” Weinstein told New Mexico Watchdog in a telephone interview. “Maybe in 2017, depending on how the midterm elections go and how the (2016) presidential election goes … Who knows what the President will do? Right now, he’s not doing anything that’s energy related like the Keystone pipeline. He says the administration won’t authorize any offshore lease sales between now and 2017.”
Click here to read the entire 65-page report from the Brookings Institution, called “Changing Markets: Economic Opportunities from Lifting the U.S. Ban on Crude Oil Exports.”
Here’s video of Summers calling for the end of the ban: