You are here
Independent Task Force on Immigration and America's Future: Final Recommendations
The Task Force, chaired by former Sen. Spencer Abraham (R-MI) and former Rep. Lee Hamilton (D-IN), undertook a careful analysis of the economic, social, and demographic factors driving today’s large-scale immigration. Concluding that immigration is essential to U.S. national interests and will become even more so in the years ahead, the Task Force recommended that the United States fundamentally rethink its policies and overhaul an outdated system to better reflect current realities. Here are its recommendations.
Attracting the Immigrants the United States Wants and Needs
Recommendation #1: The Task Force recommends the simplification and fundamental redesign of the immigration system of the United States. Immigration should take place through three new streams: temporary, provisional, and permanent. A redesigned system is the best way to meet the nation’s current and future labor market needs.
Recommendation #2: The Task Force recommends creating an independent federal agency to be called The Standing Commission on Immigration and Labor Markets. The Standing Commission would make regular recommendations to Congress for adjusting admissions levels in the temporary, provisional, and permanent immigration streams based on labor market needs, unemployment patterns, and changing economic and demographic trends.
Enforcing the Rules
Recommendation #3: The Task Force recommends that mandatory employer verification and workplace enforcement be at the center of more effective immigration enforcement reforms. DHS should create a Workplace Enforcement Advisory Board to help build support for new employer enforcement policies and monitor the progress of new measures.
Recommendation #4: The Task Force calls for a secure, biometric Social Security card and a plan for replacing existing cards. The secure Social Security card, “green” cards, and immigration work authorization cards should become the only documents that verify work eligibility.
Enforcement at U.S. Borders
Recommendation #5: The Task Force recommends accelerated implementation of “smart border” measures that combine personnel, equipment, and technology to reduce illegal immigration and protect against terrorist entry. The Task Force calls upon the administration to submit an annual report to Congress and the American people that lays out measures of effectiveness for border enforcement and reports progress in meeting them.
Recommendation #6: The Task Force recommends strengthening immigration enforcement in other areas of border security, especially legal ports of entry (air, land, and sea) and overseas visa issuance. Visa and legal immigration admissions procedures must not be the “weak links” in border protection, and legitimate crossings must be facilitated to promote trade and travel.
Recommendation #7: The Task Force calls for systematic protection of the human and civil rights of immigrants and for including border community perspectives in border enforcement operations. Such efforts must include active steps by the government to disband vigilantism of any form along the border.
Immigration Enforcement and National Security
Recommendation #8: The Task Force recommends that detecting, disrupting, and dismantling terrorist travel and its supporting infrastructure be treated with the same depth and urgency as efforts devoted to terrorist communications and finance.
Recommendation #9: The Task Force recommends replacing the existing case-by-case labor certification system with one that provides for pre-certified employers, designates shortage occupations for blanket certifications, and uses a streamlined individual certification process for non-shortage occupations.
Recommendation #10: The Task Force recommends that temporary and provisional workers have the right to change employers without jeopardizing their immigration status and have worker protections that are comparable to those of similarly employed U.S. workers.
Recommendation #11: The Task Force recommends that the role of state and local police in immigration enforcement be limited to identifying, holding, and transporting removable aliens who are legitimately arrested for involvement in non-immigration offenses during normal police work. State and local police should be able to submit ID information to DHS officials qualified to make an independent determination regarding a person’s legal status and any potential terrorist connections.
Recommendation #12: The Task Force recommends the creation of a National Office on Immigrant Integration to provide leadership, visibility, and a focal point at the federal level for integration policy as a critical national challenge.
Recommendation #13: The Task Force recommends an earned path to permanent legal status for unauthorized immigrants currently in the United States as an essential element of policies to address current illegal immigration.
Recommendation #14: The Task Force recommends that a policy for earning legal status include a state impact aid program administered by the federal government. Impact aid should be allotted as a block grant with strict accountability for state spending.
Strengthening Institutional Capacity
Recommendation #15: The Task Force recommends that the president: 1) name a White House coordinator for immigration policy; 2) issue an executive order establishing an interagency cabinet committee for immigration policy; and 3) strengthen the capacity of executive branch agencies to implement major new immigration mandates.
The Regional Context of Immigration
Recommendation #16: The Task Force recommends that the United States engage Mexico and Canada in longer-term initiatives directed at management of labor flows in the context of regional economic interdependence, growth, and security.