Since November 2008, I have been participating in roundtable discussions on immigration policy with a group of academics, policy analysts, community leaders, and former government officials brought together by the Brookings Institution and the Kenan Institute for Ethics at Duke University. The participants ranged across the political spectrum and had different perspectives on immigration. But over the course of 10 months, we were able to converge on a set of broad recommendations that we believe can win political support and bring about long-delayed reform in immigration policy.
Below are some of the report’s most noteworthy proposals:
- It unequivocally sets a goal of dramatic reduction in illegal immigration, and creates a mechanism to achieve that.
- It offers a carefully synchronized plan for stricter enforcement in workplace. It would establish a mandatory verification system and legalization regime simultaneously. This “trust but verify” approach is intended to avoid a repeat of what happened after the last major reform in 1986: there was legalization but not a sustained effort to identify undocumented workers, so that there was no effective deterrent against further illegal immigration.
- It begins to shift the basis on which immigrants are admitted from reunification of extended families to skills, and increases visas for skilled immigrants.
- It replaces temporary work visas with provisional, five-year ones. The point is to require that foreign workers go home after five years or get on track for legal permanent resident status.
- It calls for an immigration commission that would make specific recommendations to Congress on how many immigrants to admit. It’s an action-forcing mechanism: Congress would have to adopt, amend, or replace the recommendations within a set period of time.
- It puts a new office in the White House to oversee efforts to assimilate new Americans.
- It acknowledges the special case of Mexico as by far the biggest source of illegal immigrants, and calls for new ways to promote regional cooperation on immigration, guns, and drugs.
To read the report, click here.