Well-Intentioned Brookings Report Falls Short on Solutions

immigrant crossingFollowing a series of roundtable meetings that brought together persons with very diverse opinions on immigration policy, Brookings Institute and the Kenan Institute for Ethics at Duke University recently released Breaking the Immigration Stalemate: From Deep Disagreements to Constructive Proposals. After witnessing the national immigration debates of the past few years, the lead authors—William Galston of Brookings, Noah Pickus of Duke, and Peter Skerry of Boston College—explained that they wanted to “address the problem rather than exploit the politics of the problem” and bring together academics and other experts with divergent perspectives to work through the differences in the room and reach a consensus. Furthermore, the group aimed to start its policy discussion in a different place than Congress has started, and hone in on the problems of past proposals as well as fill in the gaps and make linkages between policy issues. The results are mixed.

The report that emerged from this process focuses on six principles:

  • Reduce Illegal Immigration by Linking Workplace Verification and Legalization. The Roundtable proposed a legalization program for unauthorized immigrants who had been in the U.S. 5 years or longer, and a mandatory employment verification system with a secure ID. By linking the issues of workplace enforcement and legalization, the Roundtable believed that both those who want legalization and those that want additional enforcement would be incentivized to cooperate with one another.
  • Reorient Immigrant Admissions Criteria. The Roundtable focused on maintaining the current level of legal immigration; however the balance of future immigration must be shifted away from family-based immigration and toward high-skilled employment-based immigration. They propose to limit family immigration to the “nuclear family” which does not include adult children or siblings. They also recommend the diversity visa program be eliminated.
  • Rationalize Temporary Worker Programs. The Roundtable recommends replacing temporary visas with non-renewable, 5-year provisional visas that do not tie workers to a single employer. Provisional visa holders would have the option to obtain permanent status after 5 years.
  • Establish an Independent Standing Commission on Immigration. The report recommends creation of a commission “to provide the deliberative forum that immigration policy has lacked.” It would allow for immigration to be dealt with on a regular basis and to escape the adversarial culture that has emerged.
  • Promote the Assimilation and Integration of New Americans. The authors recommend the creation of a new Office of New Americans to oversee and coordinate efforts to integrate and assimilate immigrants into American society.
  • Engage Mexico. The Roundtable called for enhanced cooperation with Mexico on issues ranging from law enforcement to immigration.

Despite their valiant efforts, the Brookings/Kenan report falls short in its analysis of the current immigration dilemma. In several ways, the impact of the report’s recommendations would be inconsistent with the very principles the authors put forward. For example:

  • Maintaining current levels and being flexible: The Roundtable acknowledges that “America needs an immigration policy that responds to the labor requirements of employers…” Yet while calling for a more flexible system, the authors also insist on maintaining current levels of legal permanent immigration without any explanation of why the current number is the correct number.
  • Legalization and ending undocumented immigration: An arbitrary 5-year cutoff date for the legalization program guarantees that a large number of immigrants—30%—would not qualify and would therefore remain unauthorized or try to legalize despite not having proper evidence of residency, thus failing to resolve the problem. A legalization program that invites fraud and leaves a large undocumented population is hardly a recipe for success.
  • Integration and the family: The authors dedicate an entire section of their report to integration and assimilation, yet their recommendations to severely cut family immigration fly in the face of successful integration. Researchers have shown that immigrant families provide vital emotional, psychological, and cultural resources that shelter and sustain family members and aid in their integration into U.S. society. Shifting the balance from family to employment-based immigration would remove one of the most important ways we have of integrating immigrants.
  • False dichotomy between family- and employment-based immigration: By trading family-based visas for highly-skilled employment-based visas, the authors fail to acknowledge that immigrants who come on family visas are workers and contribute to the economy. Research shows that the incomes of family-based immigrants tend to grow more rapidly than the incomes of employment-based immigrants. In fact, the incomes of the two groups tend to equalize over time. Because of their unique backgrounds and abilities, family-based immigrants are more likely to adapt to the evolving demands of the labor market and less likely than employment-based immigrants to compete with the native-born for jobs. Family-based immigrants are also entrepreneurial; broad family linkages are critical because they provide immigrants with the “social capital” to pool financial resources and to start and manage a wide range of small- and medium-sized businesses that would otherwise not be economically viable.
  • Future immigration and enforcement: The authors clearly want to reform the immigration system in a way that ends undocumented immigration as we know it. However, the way they envision future immigration would appear to invite future unauthorized immigration, thus failing to resolve our current dilemma and making future enforcement even more difficult. By eliminating, or failing to include, legal channels for close family members and lower-skilled workers, the incentive for these individuals to immigration illegally increases, thus repeating the problems of IRCA.


According to Galston, Pickus and Skerry, “During our deliberations, we came to recognize that we would never resolve our principled disagreements. Nonetheless, progress at the policy level turned out to be possible, and the results fruitful.” If the Brookings/Kenan report proves one thing, it is that immigration policy is extremely complex, and even the best intentions could have harmful unintended consequences.

Michele Waslin

Republished with permission from Immigration Impact.

LA Progressive


  1. Brittancus says

    Sen.Harry Reid D-NV, Nancy Pelosi D-CA, are the drum majors who failed in their objective to stifle the E-Verify law, as continued public outcry positively terminated any chance of that? E-Verification is a sophisticated tool to indirectly deport the 20 to 30 million plus from America? What’s the good of hanging around, if you are going to be verified through a government data base? Simply put! It has a self-deportation mechanism. It’s time to hold your own governments feet to the proverbial fire? US workers should push to make it mandatory for every business operation, so that if caught employing illegal foreigners they should go to prison. Right now the battle lines have been drawn between–THE AMERICAN WORKERS Vs. A MULTITUDE OF PARASITE BUSINESS ORGANIZATIONS AND THE OPEN BORDER LOBBYISTS. The public need to know that Opponents have a vested interest in nullifying E-Verify, so they can resume hiring discount illegal labor

    Even our law enforcement is under constant attack, such as Sheriff Joe Ariapo’s illegal immigrant removal program. Any kind of federal or state legislation is mostly designed to be weakened, so it looks as though our government agencies are working for the US job seeker or even the whole population. Sheriff Joe of Maricopa County, Arizona acknowledged he would finally be ripped away from using 287 G fed law, because its working too good throughout this nation. As citizens and legal residents we must insist of our money-vulnerable politicians that 287 (g) is mandatory for every state and county police agency, that the No-Match-Letter to disclose illegal aliens working in procured US worker jobs and no cut back on ICE workplace sweeps remain in operation indefinitely? The feeble excuse is that Joe is racial profiling, but then we must take into consideration that the whole Southern border has been–ILLEGALLY COLONIZED by foreign nationals, costing states billions of dollars. Such as Obama’s Democratic leadership secretly trying to enclose language in the public option health care available to illegal immigrants. In the end we all know that illegal immigrants will wheedle their way into health care, because Hillary Clinton, Diane Feinstein, Rep.Charles Schumer and the majority Dem’s cater to them. It’s a sorry story when these people get preference over our own people, so it will be a battle all the way? Emergency care! Yes! But not filtering into the American people’s one chance at Universal health care?

    The feral business organizations have been unable to state that E-Verify is racist or profiling by religion or any other adverse criteria, as this piece of software is unable to discriminate In previous court appearances the ACLU, Council of Foreign Relations, the Associated Builders and Contractors, Immigration attorney Associations, the Society for Human Resource Management, the American Council on International Personnel, and the HR Policy Association, and a mishmash of open border groups has stumped themselves for some way to delay implementation of the E-Verify program? The 15 million unemployed citizens and legal residents now know who are the enemy that we are up against? The American public must stop the demand for the unceasing influx of impoverished labor for these companies?

    Everybody who needs to hire illegal labor should be identified, just as large businesses are exposed by ICE agents.
    Mandatory implementation of E-Verify should not just for federal contractors/subcontractors are should be propagated for everybody who wields a wrench, a pen, a computer or anything else in the diversified working space? In other words–IT SHOULD BE FOR EVERY WORKER, MANAGER, and SUPERVISOR OR EXECUTIVE IN THIS COUNTRY? The magnet is businesses that draw the illegal cheap job-hunters across the borders into the clutches of exploiting employers. I have heard from countless US workers, who have been dropped to make way for cheaper labor in every category of jobs, including higher career positions. Even day labor sites such as Home Depots, Lowes or anywhere these people congregate should be also verified through an E-Verify portable application. Small contractors or a
    American employers should–ONLY–be able to solicit for highly skilled tradesman and proven scientists and engineers, under the eye of government labor departments. Europe has adopted a method of selecting specialty workers through a points system that is also being used by other industrialized nations.

    United Kingdom first introduced a point’s based system in 2002 called the Highly Skilled Migrant Programme (HSMP). Immigrants can come to the British Islands under this scheme without a sponsor or previous job offer if they can score enough points based on age, education, and past earnings. Australia uses its General Skilled Migration program to attract migrants from across the globe to help alleviate labor shortages, both in trade occupations and highly skilled professional occupations. Canada Potential immigrants can score points based on previous education (both University and Trade school qualifications). New Zealand immigration authorities assess immigrants chances of success based on their occupation and whether it conforms to what the country deems to be future growth areas and sectors experiencing labor shortages. Other countries, such as Germany and France, require a job offer and other stringent requirements for migrants from outside the European Union.

    American workers have been paying a price for at least two decades, because thousands of companies had resisted paying for health care? Instead maimed workers especially in manual forms of labor are carted to the nearest emergency hospital for treatment, so the outcome being the employer is resolved from any responsibility and the taxpayer absorbs the medical debt. WHEN THE AMERICAN PEOPLE FORCE OUR INCOMPETENT POLITICIANS TO INTRODUCE E-VERIFY AS A PERMANENT ADDITION TO THE IMMIGRATION ENFORCEMENT ARSENAL, ILLEGAL ALIENS WITHOUT JOBS WILL LEAVE IN DROVES. But their must be substantial penalties for–NOT–using E-Verify, such as heavy fines and prison for many violations.

    Internal ICE enforcement on a grand scale must become a daily event, as they investigate violations within the working communities. ONE CERTAIN WAY TO HALT THE ILLEGAL ALIEN INVASION, IS BY CHANGING THE CIVIL LAW TO CRIMINAL AS A CLASS ONE FELONY FOR ENTERING AMERICA WITHOUT PERMISSION AS IN SENSIBLE FOREIGN COUNTRIES?

    A new poll by Zogby International has found people across our border believe an amnesty that would grant legal status to illegal immigrants would prompt more people to enter the U.S. illegally, the Center for Immigration Studies (CRS) stated. Another new survey conducted by Rasmussen Reports reveals that 56% of Americans say that federal immigration policies encourage illegal immigration, and 64% believe that local law enforcement should conduct raids in places where illegal aliens gather to find work. Only 19% opposed the raids compared to 24% who opposed such raids back in April.


    Then we have Representative Luis V. Gutierrez, a Democrat from Chicago, has been on the road most weekends since last December trying to beckon people towards forging a favorable immigration reform package. However, it seems –IF–the bill ever becoming a reality while millions of Americans are without work or given up hoping to find a job, the financial impact will be overpowering–as well as insane. VIEW THE LIST OF LAWMAKERS WHO HAVE SIGNED ON TO COMPREHENSIVE IMMIGRATION REFORM AT http://tinyurl.com/CIR-letter-to-POTUS. THESE CONGRESSMAN/ WOMEN WANT TO STEAL YOUR JOB AND GIVE IT TO ILLEGAL ALIENS? KEEP THEM EMBOSSED IN YOUR MEMORY AND UNSEAT THEM WHEN THEY COME FORWARD FOR RE-ELECTION.

    Call and blast your Senators and Representative at 202-224-3121 in Washington. Jamming the switchboard with your calls, as it is having an outstanding effect of–MILLIONS of angry voters on legislators. THEY ARE BEGINNING TO LISTEN AND REACT? INFORM THEM TO DO THEIR DUTY OR SUFFER THE CONSEQUENCES ON RE-ELECTION DAY? Tell them you want PERMANENT E-Verify for–EVERY WORKER, a secure double layer fence and–REAL–enforcement against sanctuary state policies. Only citizens and legal residents–MUST–be counted in the 2010 Census–ILLEGAL ALIENS MUST BE EXEMPT. Read undisclosed facts, statistics and lawmakers immigration enforcement grades of politicians at NUMBERSUSA. UNEARTH the corruption in government at JUDICIAL WATCH. Your voice is needed to halt OVERPOPULATION and American Worker survival. Demand NO-MORE-AMNESTIES. They should–GO–home and come through the front door, like millions of honest legal immigrants? Report any irregularities in your workplace to ICE. Be a patriotic American, Whistle-Blower and inform of illegal activity to ICE. Your job–COULD BE NEXT?

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