E.g., 10/01/2023
E.g., 10/01/2023
Independent Task Force on Immigration and America's Future

Independent Task Force on Immigration and America's Future

Immigration and America's Future: A New Chapter

Amid continuing inability to fix the nation’s overburdened immigration system, in 2005 MPI convened the Independent Task Force on Immigration and America’s Future to conceptualize and promote policies that would result in a new and simplified immigration architecture positioned to more effectively meet the country’s needs.  

The final report of the Task Force, which was co-chaired by former Sen. Spencer Abraham (R-MI) and former Rep. Lee H. Hamilton (D-IN), offers recommendations that 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.

It drew from research commissioned for the Task Force, which can be found here

Full Report
Full Recommendations
Executive Summary
Resumen Ejecutivo
Press Release
Task Force Members
Preparatory Research
Partner Institutes
         Manhattan Institute
         Wilson Center

The final 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 called 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 will align immigration with current economic realities by creating visas for immigrants of all skill levels who have an offer of employment.​
  • 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.
  • Provide employers with a verification system so they can comply with requirements for hiring authorized workers, and develop a secure Social Security card that lets individuals establish their work eligibility.
  • Implement “Smart Border” measures that use equipment, personnel and cutting-edge technology more effectively and strengthen accountability.
  • 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.


Going Forward

The report was released in Washington, DC in September 2006. Members presented the report in various cities across the country and worked with policymakers at all levels of government as well as other stakeholders to broaden the scope of the national dialogue on immigration reform.

The report serves as a durable foundation upon which to build the discourse and policies that can meet the challenges and opportunities posed by immigration for the 21st century. Congress failed to pass comprehensive immigration reform legislation in 2006 and 2007, but the politics and the policy issues of immigration have not become any less difficult, complex, or contentious in the years since.

It is more important than ever that policymakers and the American public have solid information, fact-based analysis, and sound policy ideas on which to base their discussions, and, ultimately, their decisions. MPI is uniquely suited to contribute this knowledge because of the work that went into the report of its Independent Task Force on Immigration and America’s Future.

The Division of United States Studies and the Mexico Institute of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and Manhattan Institute collaborated with MPI in convening the Task Force.


The Response to Immigration and America's Future

Editorial in The New York Times, October 9, 2006:

"…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."

Editorial in the San Francisco Chronicle, October 1, 2006:

"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 Oregonian, November 24, 2006:

"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."