E.g., 06/26/2024
E.g., 06/26/2024
Independent Task Force on Immigration and America's Future: Members

Independent Task Force on Immigration and America's Future: Members

The Task Force was convened by MPI and co-chaired by former Senator Spencer Abraham (R-MI) and former Congressman Lee Hamilton (D-IN). MPI Senior Fellow Doris Meissner directed the panel’s work. Members of the bipartisan group included leaders of key immigration stakeholder groups, experienced senior public policy actors, elected officials, and immigration experts, with ex-officio participation from Mexico, Canada, the European Commission, and executive branch agencies.

*Please note that the biographies of the members reflect the point in time that the Task Force published its report recommendations.


Co-Chair Spencer Abraham

Spencer Abraham is the Chairman and CEO of the Abraham Group, LLC. From 2001 to 2005, he served as the tenth Secretary of Energy. Prior to becoming Secretary of Energy, Mr. Abraham represented Michigan in the US Senate from 1995 to 2001. He served on the Budget, Commerce, Science and Transportation, Judiciary, and Small Business Committees. Secretary Abraham was a key Senate leader on such issues as technology, manufacturing, and immigration, having served as Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration as well as Chairman of the Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Manufacturing and Competitiveness. As a U.S. Senator, Mr. Abraham was a forceful voice for the business community and free enterprise. Mr. Abraham endorsed policies and practices that promoted and enhanced America’s competitiveness and global leadership. Among other things, Mr. Abraham led the support on free trade, legal and regulatory reform, and tax reform in the Senate.

Before his election to the Senate, Mr. Abraham served as Co-Chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee from 1991 to 1993. He was also Chairman of the Michigan Republican Party from 1983 to 1990 and Deputy Chief of Staff to Vice President Dan Quayle from 1990 to 1991.

Mr. Abraham is a FOX News analyst and a periodic contributor of op-ed articles to the Financial Times, The Weekly Standard , and other publications. He is on the Board of Directors of Occidental Petroleum and also serves as a Distinguished Visiting Fellow at the Hoover Institution. Mr. Abraham holds a law degree from Harvard University and is a native of East Lansing, Michigan.

Co-Chair Lee Hamilton

Lee H. Hamilton is President and Director of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, and Director of The Center on Congress at Indiana University. Mr. Hamilton served for 34 years in Congress representing Indiana’s Ninth District. During his tenure, he served as Chairman and ranking member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs (now the Committee on International Relations), chaired the Subcommittee on Europe and the Middle East, the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, and the Select Committee to Investigate Covert Arms Transactions with Iran. Mr. Hamilton also served as Chair of the Joint Economic Committee, working to promote long-term economic growth and development. As Chairman of the Joint Committee on the Organization of Congress and as a member of the House Standards of Official Conduct Committee, Mr. Hamilton was a primary draftsman of several House ethics reforms.

Since leaving the House, Mr. Hamilton has served as a Commissioner on the U.S. Commission on National Security in the 21st Century (the Hart-Rudman Commission), and was Co-Chair with former Senator Howard Baker of the Baker-Hamilton Commission to Investigate Certain Security Issues at Los Alamos.

Recently, Mr. Hamilton served as Vice Chair of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States (the 9/11 Commission) and he cochaired, with Governor Tom Kean, the 9/11 Public Discourse Project, which monitored implementation of the 9/11 Commission’s recommendations. Mr. Hamilton was also recently a member of the Carter-Baker Commission on Federal Election Reform.

Mr. Hamilton is currently a member of the President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board, the President’s Homeland Security Advisory Council, the Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Advisory Board, the Director of Central Intelligence’s Economic Intelligence Advisory Panel, the Secretary of Defense’s National Security Study Group, and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Task Force on Preventing the Entry of Weapons of Mass Effect on American Soil. Mr. Hamilton is a graduate of DePauw University and Indiana University law school, as well as the recipient of numerous honorary degrees and national awards for public service. Before his election to Congress, he practiced law in Chicago and Columbus, Indiana.


Doris Meissner

Doris M. Meissner , former Commissioner of the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS), is a Senior Fellow at the Migration Policy Institute (MPI), where her work focuses on U.S. immigration policy, immigration and national security, the politics of immigration, administering immigration systems and government agencies, and cooperation with other countries.

In 1993, President Clinton tapped her to serve as Commissioner of the INS, then a bureau in the U.S. Department of Justice. She held the post through 2000. Her accomplishments included reforming the nation’s asylum system; creating new strategies for managing U.S. borders; improving naturalization and other services for immigrants; shaping new responses to migration and humanitarian emergencies; strengthening cooperation and joint initiatives with Mexico, Canada, and other countries; and managing growth that doubled the agency’s personnel and tripled its budget. Prior to serving as Commissioner of the INS, Ms. Meissner served as a special assistant to the Attorney General; assistant director of the Office of Policy and Planning; executive director of the Cabinet Committee on Illegal Aliens; deputy associate attorney general, and executive associate commissioner of the INS; and a senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Ms. Meissner created the Endowment’s Immigration Policy Project, which evolved into the Migration Policy Institute in 2001.

Ms. Meissner’s board memberships include CARE-USA, the Association of International Educators, the U.S.-New Zealand Council, and the University of Wisconsin-Madison Memorial Union. She is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, the Inter-American Dialogue, the Pacific Council on International Diplomacy and the National Academy of Public Administration. Ms. Meissner earned her BA and MA degrees from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Task Force Members

T. Alexander Aleinikoff

T. Alexander Aleinikoff is the Dean of the Law Center and the Executive Vice President for Law Center Affairs at Georgetown University. He has been a Senior Associate at the Migration Policy Institute and the International Migration Policy Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. From 1994-1997, Mr. Aleinikoff served as the General Counsel and then Executive Associate Commissioner for Programs of the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS). Prior to joining the Clinton Administration, he was a full Professor of Law at the University of Michigan Law School. He has published numerous articles in the areas of immigration, race, statutory interpretation, and constitutional law, and he is also the author of the principal text and casebooks on U.S. immigration, refugee, and citizenship law.

Howard Berman*

Congressman Howard Berman is a senior member of the International Relations Committee and the Judiciary Committee. He has gained increasing influence on such issues as foreign aid, arms control, antiterrorism, human rights, technology policy, trade legislation, copyright legislation, and immigration reform. As Ranking Member of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Courts, the Internet and Intellectual Property, Mr. Berman plays a key role in shaping the copyright, trademark, and patent laws that are of vital importance to the entertainment, biotechnology, broadcasting, pharmaceutical, telecommunication, consumer electronics, and information technology industries. Prior to his election to the U.S. Congress in 1982, Mr. Berman served in the California State Assembly where he was named Assembly Majority leader and served as Chair of the Assembly Democratic Caucus and the Policy Research Management Committee.

Oscar A. Chacón

Oscar A. Chacón has been Director of Enlaces América, a project of the Chicago-based Heartland Alliance for Human Needs and Human Rights, since August 2001. Enlaces América is dedicated to the empowerment of Latino immigrant organizations in the United States and is committed to fostering a just, dignified, and sustainable way of life for their communities in the United States and in their countries of origin. Mr. Chacón has worked, in different capacities, with Latino immigrant communities in the United States for over 20 years. Mr. Chacón was a founder of the Salvadoran American National Network (SANN), an advocacy umbrella organization of Central American community-based organizations founded in 1992. He served as SANN’s president for several years. He is also a founding member of the National Alliance of Latin American and Caribbean Communities, an umbrella organization founded in 2004.

Thomas J. Donohue

Thomas J. Donohue is the President and CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Prior to his current post, Mr. Donohue served for 13 years as President and CEO of the American Trucking Association. Mr. Donohue has built the U.S. Chamber of Commerce into a lobbying and political force with expanded influence across the globe. Under Mr. Donohue’s leadership, the chamber has emerged as a major player in election politics, helping elect congressional pro-business candidates through financial support, voter activism, and turnout generated through the chamber’s grassroots organization, VoteForBusiness.com. Mr. Donohue is also President of the Center for International Private Enterprise, a program of the National Endowment for Democracy dedicated to the development of market-oriented institutions around the world. In addition, he is a member of the President’s Council on the 21st Century Workforce as well as the President’s Advisory Committee for Trade Policy and Negotiations.

Jeff Flake*

Jeff Flake is serving his third term in Congress representing the Sixth Congressional District of Arizona. The district includes parts of Mesa and Chandler and all of Gilbert, Queen Creek, and Apache Junction. Congressman Flake serves on the Committee on the Judiciary, the Committee on International Relations, and the Committee on Resources. Mr. Flake started his career at a public affairs firm in Washington, DC, in 1987. Soon after, he moved to the southern African nation of Namibia. As the Executive Director of the Foundation for Democracy, a foundation monitoring Namibia’s independence process, he saw the nation usher in freedom and democracy. In 1992, Mr. Flake and his family moved back to Arizona where he was named Executive Director of the Goldwater Institute. In this role, he worked to promote a conservative philosophy of less government, more freedom, and individual responsibility. 

Fernando Garcia

Fernando Garcia is Founding Director of the Border Network for Human Rights (BNHR). The BNHR supports immigrant border communities in the promotion of their human rights and demands humane immigration reform that is consistent with human rights. As Director, Mr. Garcia is responsible for facilitating the creation of Human Rights Community-Based Committees and the training of Human Rights Promoters in Southern New Mexico; West Texas; Arizona; Houston; Dallas; San Jose, CA; and New Jersey. In 2001, he became the National Coordinator of the National Movement for Legalization and Human Rights, an alliance of community based immigrant groups and organizations in the United States. Under Mr. Garcia’s coordination, the Border Network for Human Rights has also worked closely with local elected officials and community organizations to develop city council resolutions in El Paso, Texas to oppose the militarization of the border, a call for comprehensive immigration reform, and against the presence of groups in the border region such as the minutemen.

Bill Ong Hing

Bill Ong Hing is a Professor of Law and Asian American Studies at the University of California at Davis, and also serves as the Director of Asian American Studies. He teaches Judicial Process, Negotiations, Public Service Strategies, Asian American History, and directs the law school’s clinical program. Throughout his career, he has pursued social justice by combining community work, litigation, and scholarship. He is the author of numerous academic and practice-oriented books and articles on immigration policy and race relations. His books include Defining America Through Immigration Policy (Temple Univ. Press, 2004), Making and Remaking Asian America Through Immigration Policy (Stanford Press, 1993), Handling Immigration Cases (Aspen Publishers, 1995), and Immigration and the Law—A Dictionary (ABC-CLIO, 1999). His book, To Be An American, Cultural Pluralism and the Rhetoric of Assimilation (NYU Press, 1997), received the award for Outstanding Academic Book in 1997 by the librarians’ journal Choice. He was also co-counsel in the precedent-setting Supreme Court asylum case, INS v. Cardoza-Fonseca (1987). Professor Hing is the founder of, and continues to volunteer as General Counsel for, the Immigrant Legal Resource Center in San Francisco. He is on the board of directors of the Asian Law Caucus and the Migration Policy Institute. He also serves on the National Advisory Council of the Asian American Justice Center in Washington, DC.

Tamar Jacoby

Tamar Jacoby is a Senior Fellow at Manhattan Institute and writes extensively on immigration, citizenship, ethnicity, and race. Her 1998 book, Someone Else’s House: America’s Unfinished Struggle for Integration, tells the story of race relations in three American cities. Her newest book, Reinventing the Melting Pot: The New Immigrants and What It Means to Be American, is a collection of essays that argues that we as a nation need to find new ways to talk about and encourage assimilation. From 1987 to 1989, she was a Senior Writer and Justice Editor for Newsweek. Between 1981 and 1987, she was the Deputy Editor of The New York Times op-ed page. Before that, she was Assistant to the Editor of The New York Review of Books. In 2004, she was confirmed by the U.S. Senate to serve on the National Council on the Humanities, the advisory board of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Juliette Kayyem

Juliette Kayyem is a Lecturer in Public Policy and faculty affiliate at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government. Since 2001, Ms. Kayyem has been a resident scholar at the Belfer Center, serving most recently as Executive Director for Research, overseeing the center’s substantive activities in international security, environment, and energy policy. She is an expert in homeland security and terrorism, with a particular focus on the intersection of democracy and counterterrorism policies. From 1999-2000, she served as House Minority Leader Richard Gephardt’s appointee to the National Commission on Terrorism. She also served as a legal adviser to then Attorney General Janet Reno, in which capacity she worked on a variety of national security and terrorism cases.

Edward Kennedy*

Senator Edward M. Kennedy has represented Massachusetts in the U.S. Senate since he was elected in 1962 to finish the term of his brother, President John F. Kennedy. Re-elected seven times, he is the second most senior member of the Senate. Recent achievements include the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 and the law that created the Children’s Health Insurance Program in 1997. Mr. Kennedy is the senior Democrat on the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee in the Senate. He also serves on the Judiciary Committee, where he is the senior Democrat on the Immigration Subcommittee, and the Armed Services Committee, where he is the senior Democrat on the Seapower Subcommittee.

John McCain*

Senator John McCain is the senior Senator from Arizona. He was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1986. After graduating from the Naval Academy in 1958, Mr. McCain began his career as a Naval aviator. In 1982, he was elected to Congress representing what was then the first congressional district of Arizona. In 2000, Mr. McCain ran unsuccessfully for the Republican nomination for President of the United States. He is currently the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, and serves on the Armed Services, and Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committees.

Janet Murguia

Janet Murguía is the President and CEO of the National Council of La Raza. Ms. Murguía began her career in Washington, DC, as Legislative Counsel to former Kansas Congressman Jim Slattery, serving for seven years. She then worked at the White House in various capacities from 1994 to 2000, ultimately serving as Deputy Assistant to President Clinton and Deputy Director of Legislative Affairs, the senior White House liaison to Congress. She also served as Deputy Campaign Manager and Director of Constituency Outreach for the Gore/Lieberman presidential campaign.

Leon Panetta

Leon Panetta chairs the board and co-directs the Leon & Sylvia Panetta Institute for Public Policy with a particular focus on inspiring young men and women to lives of leadership and public service. He represented the central coast area of California in the U.S. Congress for sixteen years. During much of that time he also served as a member and Chair of the House Budget Committee. President Clinton appointed him Director of the U.S. Office of Management and Budget from 1993 to 1994, and he served as Chief of Staff to the President from 1994 to 1997. He serves on many public policy and corporate boards, including as Co-Chair of the California Council on Base Support and Retention; Chair of the Pew Oceans Commission; membership on the Fleishman-Hillard International Advisory Board; the Board of Directors of Blue Shield of California; IDT Telecom,Inc.; Zenith Insurance Company; Connetics; and Santa Clara University.

Steven J. Rauschenberger

Steven J. Rauschenberger was elected in 1992 to the Illinois State Senate. Now the Deputy Republican leader, he specializes in tax relief and welfare reform. He is the former Chairman of the Illinois State Senate Appropriations committee. Senator Rauschenberger has recently finished his term as the President of the National Conference of State Legislatures. As the first freshman legislator ever appointed Chairman of the Appropriations Committee, Senator Rauschenberger negotiated multi-billion-dollar budgets that provided funds to schools, senior citizen services, infrastructure improvements, and other vital programs—all without a tax increase. An advocate for taxpayers, Senator Rauschenberger has supported tax caps and increasing the income tax exemption. He also has been the Senate negotiator of KidCare, the state health insurance program for children of low-income, working families.

Robert Reischauer

Robert D. Reischauer began his tenure as the second President of the Urban Institute in February 2000. From 1989 to 1995, he served as the Director of the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO), and is a nationally known expert on the federal budget, Medicare, and Social Security. Mr. Reischauer served as the Urban Institute’s Senior Vice President from 1981 to 1986. He is a member of the Harvard Corporation and serves on the boards of several educational and nonprofit organizations. He serves as Vice Chair of the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission. He was a Senior Fellow of Economic Studies at the Brookings Institution from 1995 to 2000.

Kurt L. Schmoke

Kurt L. Schmoke serves as Dean of the Howard University School of Law. Elected in 1987, he served three terms as Mayor of Baltimore, becoming the first African American voted into that office. During his terms, Mayor Schmoke established a cabinet-level agency and a private foundation to fund, coordinate, and expand adult literacy programs throughout the city. He also strongly supported educational innovation and led a successful campaign to win more state funding through a landmark city – state partnership. In addition to education, Mayor Schmoke made housing a top priority of his administration. Baltimore became a national model for neighborhood revitalization. Mayor Schmoke also worked aggressively to retain and expand existing businesses, while working to attract new businesses to spur economic development.

Frank Sharry

Frank Sharry is the Executive Director of the National Immigration Forum. The Forum’s mission is to embrace and uphold America’s tradition as a nation of immigrants. Since becoming the Forum’s Executive Director in 1990, Mr. Sharry has emerged as a leading spokesperson for pro-immigrant policies in the United States. Prior to joining the Forum, Mr. Sharry was Executive Director of Centro Presente, an agency that helps Central American refugees in the Boston area. He also led efforts to resettle refugees from Vietnam, Cuba, and elsewhere for a national organization now called Immigration and Refugee Services of America. In 1994, Mr. Sharry took a leave of absence from the Forum to work in the campaign against Proposition 187, the anti-immigrant California ballot initiative.

Debra W. Stewart

Debra w. Stewart is President of the Council of Graduate Schools, the leading national organization dedicated to the improvement and advancement of graduate education. Until July 2000, Dr. Stewart was Vice Chancellor and Dean of the Graduate School at North Carolina State University. She also served as Interim Chancellor at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Dr. Stewart has been an active leader in higher education nationally as Chair of the Board of Directors of the Council of Graduate Schools, the Graduate Record Examination Board, the Council on Research Policy and Graduate Education, and the Board of Directors of Oak Ridge Associated Universities. She also served as Vice Chair of the Board of Trustees of the Educational Testing Service and as a trustee of the Triangle University Center for Advanced Studies.

C. Stewart Verdery

C. Stewart Verdery, Jr. , joined Mehlman Vogel Castagnetti in March 2005, following over a decade of high-level positions in the Executive Branch, Congress, and the private sector. Mr. Verdery has extensive experience delivering public policy results to clients and the public in a wide range of fields, including homeland security and law enforcement, technology and telecommunications, intellectual property, election law and legal reform. Prior to joining MVC, Mr. Verdery served as Assistant Secretary for Homeland Security, following his confirmation by the U.S. Senate in 2003. Mr. Verdery led efforts by the Department of Homeland Security to develop and implement policies related to immigration, visas, and travel facilitation; cargo security and international trade; transportation security; and counternarcotics and other law enforcement priorities. Prior to his service at DHS, Mr. Verdery served as General Counsel to Sen. Don Nickles (R-OK), the Assistant Senate Majority Leader, from 1998 until 2002. He served as counsel to Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-UT) on the Judiciary Committee’s crime unit in 1998, and, while at the Committee on Rules and Administration from 1996–1998, he worked for Chairman John Warner (R-VA) to investigate the contested Louisiana Senate election. In addition to his government service, Mr. Verdery was the Senior Legislative Counsel for Vivendi Universal Entertainment, focusing on telecommunications and intellectual property issues. He was also an associate at the Washington office of the law firm Baker & Hostetler, concentrating on antitrust and litigation. Mr. Verdery is a graduate of Williams College and the University of Virginia School of Law.

John Wilhelm

John w. Wilhelm is President/Hospitality Industry of UNITE HERE, an organization created by the merger in 2004 of the Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees International Union (HERE) and UNITE. Mr. Wilhelm began working with HERE as an organizer and business agent, and was elected President in 1998. During his presidency, HERE furthered its reputation as an organizing union, and achieved net growth after more than 25 years of membership decline. The union also substantially diversified its national leadership and became the first union in the modern era to be released from government supervision. Previously, Mr. Wilhelm served as AFL-CIO Vice President; and from 1999 to 2005, he chaired the AFL-CIO Immigration Committee, which achieved unanimous approval from the AFL-CIO Executive Council in 2000 for a historic reversal of the AFL-CIO’s policy on immigration. The new policy developed by the Immigration Committee calls for legalization for immigrant workers in the United States, repeal of the dysfunctional I-9 employer sanction system of workplace immigration enforcement, criminalization of willful employer recruitment of illegal immigrants, whistleblower protection for immigrants who assert their workplace rights, and expanded training for immigrants and other workers. Since then, Mr. Wilhelm has been a leader in pressing for reform of U.S. immigration law.

James W. Ziglar

James Ziglar has served in a variety of positions in the federal government, totaling more than sixteen years. Most recently, he was appointed by President George W. Bush to serve as Commissioner of the Immigration and Naturalization Services (INS), where he faced some of the INS’s greatest challenges in the wake of September 11. Prior to this appointment, Mr. Ziglar was unanimously elected Sergeant of Arms of the U.S. Senate, where he served as the Senate’s Chief Administrative, Protocol, and Security Officer. He also served in the Reagan Administration as Assistant Secretary of the Interior for Water and Science. Mr. Ziglar began his legal career as law clerk to U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Harry A. Blackmun during the Supreme Court’s 1972 term. He practiced law for seven years and was in the investment banking business for more than sixteen years, including over ten years as a Managing Director of UBS Financial Services in New York City. He also has been a fellow at the John F. Kennedy School’s Institute of Politics at Harvard University, and a Distinguished Visiting Professor of Law at The George Washington University Law School. Mr. Ziglar presently serves as President and CEO of Cross Match Technologies, Inc., a multinational biometrics technology company headquartered in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida.

* Because of their legislative roles, currently serving members of Congress were not asked to endorse the Task Force recommendations.