Rethinking U.S. Immigration Policy: New Realities Call for New Answers
The U.S. immigration system is in desperate need of an overhaul—and has been for many years. What has been missing is an alternate vision for a path forward that treats immigration as a comparative advantage and strategic resource, while also accounting for heightened security and rule-of-law imperatives, that can together further U.S. interests, values, and democratic principles as a society.
This concept note outlines a new MPI initiative, Rethinking U.S. Immigration Policy, that seeks to fill this gap. The multiyear initiative will generate a big-picture, evidence-driven vision of the role immigration can and should play in the future of the United States, acknowledging policymakers are operating against a backdrop of globalization challenges, tech-induced disruptions reshaping the future of work, growing competition for talent, and national polities increasingly skeptical of government’s ability to manage migration.
The initiative's starting point is to recognize that there are new realities facing the United States that should drive immigration policymaking in the coming period, not a return to the tired debates of the past 20 years that have foundered again and again amid rising partisanship and polarization. Among these new realities: a rising old-age dependency ratio, changing challenges at the U.S.-Mexico border, need for greater flexibility in the immigration systems as other countries have modernized their immigrant-selection systems, and a shattering of the bipartisan consensus that for decades has seen legal immigration as a positive.
Historically, immigration policymaking and legislation have only succeeded through across-the-aisle cooperation and a search for common ground. This initiative is committed to re-energizing such bipartisanship and recapturing a new center in formulating and advancing fresh, feasible solutions.