Immigration and America's Future: A New Chapter
By Doris Meissner, Deborah Meyers,
Demetrios G. Papademetriou,
and Michael Fix
Paperback, 153 pages
The report and recommendations of the Independent Task Force on Immigration and America’s Future, co-chaired by former Sen. Spencer Abraham (R-MI) and former Rep. Lee H. Hamilton (D-IN), address the dilemmas of illegal immigration but also reconcile the need to meet strong economic and social demands for legal immigration with the imperative to strengthen enforcement and safeguard national security.
The report articulates a vision that promotes US global competitiveness in the context of post-9/11 security imperatives, while grappling with many of the technical details that are frustrating reform efforts. Among its recommendations, the Task Force calls on Congress and the President to:
- Redesign and simplify the immigration system by establishing three streams for immigration – temporary, provisional and permanent. The new provisional category provides a way to align immigration with current economic realities by creating visas for immigrants of all skill levels who have an offer of employment to enter the country legally. The number of nonimmigrant visa classifications would be reduced from 24 to 7 to streamline and make the system more transparent.
- Create an independent body in the Executive Branch that would introduce flexibility into the system by making regular recommendations to Congress and the President for adjusting immigration levels. Its recommendations would be based on ongoing analysis of labor market needs and changing economic and demographic trends.
- Provide employers with a verification mechanism that allows them to comply with requirements for hiring only authorized workers, and develop a new, secure Social Security card that enables individuals to readily establish their work eligibility.
- Accelerate implementation of “Smart Border” measures that use equipment, personnel and cutting-edge technology more effectively and strengthen accountability by establishing measures of effectiveness and an annual progress report on meeting them.
- Establish a national office to promote the integration of immigrants and provide a focal point at the federal level for state, local and private sector integration initiatives.
- Provide a path to legal status for unauthorized immigrants who can demonstrate steady employment, knowledge of English, payment of taxes, and passage of a background security check, among other requirements.
What People are Saying About Immigration and America's Future:
Editorial in The Oregonian:
"Much as the Federal Reserve sets monetary policy, an independent federal commission should adjust immigration levels or make recommendations to Congress to adjust them, based on an analysis of labor market trends, unemployment and other economic factors.
"That's one key recommendation that emerged in September from the Independent Task Force on Immigration and America's Future. Its report, prepared by the Migration Policy Institute, is the most thoughtful analysis yet completed on immigration.
"It's nothing less than a blueprint for rebuilding American immigration policy, based on the needs of our economy. With this blueprint in hand, some of the nation's emotions cleared away, and the politics of the illegal immigration issue tabled, at least temporarily, Congress should be able to get to work."
Editorial in the San Francisco Chronicle:
"The report of the Independent Task Force on Immigration and America's Future issued two weeks ago offers a wide-ranging blueprint for reform of all parts of our immigration system. For that reason, it deserves close attention…
"Convened by the Migration Policy Institute, a nonpartisan research institute in Washington D.C., the task force was co-chaired by Spencer Abraham, a former Republican senator and President Bush's first energy secretary, and Lee Hamilton, president of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and a former Democratic congressman from Indiana.
"The report shows compellingly how our system of legal immigration is completely out of whack with the future labor needs of the U.S. economy."
Editorial in The New York Times:
"…These are only a few reasonable solutions. A host of others is offered in a new report by the Migration Policy Institute, in which Lee Hamilton, the former congressman, and Spencer Abraham, the former senator and energy secretary, argue that immigration needs to be seen as an integral element of a national economic policy. It is a resource to be embraced and managed, with a lawful, orderly flow of workers governed by flexible quotas set by a national commission advising Congress.
"It’s a comprehensive approach and then some. It offers a new way of framing a stalled debate. The wall builders have made their point, and it’s a lousy one. Now it is time for those who want serious immigration reform to look beyond them."
Table of Contents
List of Task Force Members
II. Why is Immigration Important?
III. What is Wrong with US Immigration Policy and Practice?
IV. An Immigration Policy and System for the 21st Century
V. Attracting the Immigrants the United States Wants and Needs
VI. Enforcing the Rules
VII. Immigrant Integration
VIII. Strengthening Institutional Capacity
IX. The Regional Context of Immigration
Task Force Member Biographies
About the Convening Institutions