The U.S. Commission on Immigration Reform was the most far-reaching body charged with examining immigration legislation during the last decade of the twentieth century.
In 1990, the U.S. Congress sought to establish a more inclusive immigration policy than existed at that time, one that would correct some of the inequities in current immigration legislation. Barbara
•reuniting immigrant families
•building pools of workers in areas where they were needed
•providing humanitarian respite for those seeking
When Congress created the commission, it made every attempt to ensure that its membership would be bipartisan. Three of the commission’s eight members were appointed by the Republican leadership in both houses of Congress and three were appointed by the Democratic leadership. Two members,
The commission was charged with making a critical study of U.S. immigration policies then currently in effect and with making recommendations for sweeping changes in such policies. As was intended, it made interim reports in 1994, 1995, and 1997, prior to submitting its final report in December, 1997. The commission’s first interim report emphasized means of controlling
The second interim report, in 1995, focused on legal immigration, emphasizing the goals of family reunification, employment-based immigration, and the admission of refugees fleeing despotic regimes. The report urged the simplification of immigration categories and recommended that no more than 550,000 legal immigrants be admitted to the United States annually.
The third interim report, in 1997, was much concerned with refugee status and granting
Although the United States is a nation built by immigrants, immigration policy has long been a thorny issue in the country. Early American settlers were prejudiced against Irish immigrants. As the Irish were assimilated into American society, they in turn became prejudiced against southern Europeans, notably Italians. As Italians were assimilated, they had their own prejudices against members of such ethnic minorities as African Americans, Jews, and Latinos.
The Commission on Immigration Reform had to view realistically the prejudices that its reports would elicit in Congress, whose members must take into account the biases of the constituents who elect them to office and keep them there. The commission expressed its official distress with the hordes of undocumented immigrants who were entering the United States and who were not being deported. It urged more stringent enforcement of existing immigration laws. It also recommended that the
As desirable as many of the recommendations of the commission were to some people, they were never acted upon, and the INS remained intact. Later, such extreme measures as erecting a huge
Hing, Bill Ong. Immigration and the Law: A Dictionary. Santa Barbara, Calif.: ABC-CLIO, 1999. Comprehensive, alphabetical listing of terms relating to immigration. An outstanding quick reference for those studying immigration. Joppke, Christian. Selecting by Origin: Ethnic Migration in the Liberal State. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2005. Study that considers international migration in the light of a world composed of individual nation-states. LeMay, Michael C. Guarding the Gates: Immigration and National Security. Westport, Conn.: Praeger, 2006. Thorough consideration of U.S. immigration policies from 1820 through the late 1990’s. LeMay, Michael C., and Elliott Robert Barkan, eds. U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Laws and Issues: A Documentary History. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1999. Based on documents regarding immigration, the scope of this study is impressive. Highly recommended. Motomura, Nikoshi. Americans in Waiting: The Lost Story of Immigration and Citizenship in the United States. New York: Oxford University Press, 2006. Thorough and up-to-date account of barriers to legal immigration that face people seeking U.S. citizenship. Smith, Rogers. Civic Ideals: Conflicting Visions of Citizenship in U.S. History. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1997. Revealing overview of how attitudes toward immigration and immigrants have changed over time in the United States. Wong, Carolyn. Lobbying for Inclusion: Rights Politics and the Making of Immigration Policy. Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press, 2006. Interesting account of the role politics play in immigration enforcement and reform.
Border Patrol, U.S.
Bureau of Immigration, U.S.
Center for Immigration Studies
Federation for American Immigration Reform
Immigration and Naturalization Service, U.S.
Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986
A Nation of Immigrants
9/11 and U.S. immigration policy