At a Crossroad; Reform Immigration Policy

Article excerpt


The last of two excerpts of the book "Real Change: From the World That Fails to the World That Works."

Our current immigration troubles are almost entirely problems of success. Our challenge is to seize that success and turn it into a boon for America, rather than allow bureaucrats to turn it into yet another failure.

America has the best economy in the world. America has the greatest opportunity for hardworking people to be upwardly mobile and to dream that their children can have even better lives. America creates jobs on a scale that Europe and Japan envy. In fact, America creates more jobs than there are Americans to fill them.

For four hundred years, since the first European immigrants landed at Jamestown, America has attracted energetic, ambitious people from all over the world. If we adopt the right economic policies and the American economy continues to be the most productive and prosperous, we will continue to draw people from around the world.

This is a good challenge. It is better to be the country people want to join than the country people want to leave. It is better to have the highest standard of living in the neighborhood than the lowest. It is better to have hardworking, energetic, ambitious people clamoring to join you than to have them seeking desperately to leave.

However, this opportunity requires a level of honesty from our political elites that they have not delivered. There has been more demagoguery and less honest dialogue about immigration than about any other topic in the last six years. The elites desperately try to ignore the needs of the American people and close their ears to demands for reform. The American people are furious at the elites because they have lied about immigration and lied about what we need to do to fix our immigration system.

In 1986 I voted for the Simpson-Mazzoli immigration bill because we were told it would solve the problem of massive illegal immigration. In his diaries, President Ronald Reagan said he was going to sign the bill because we had to regain control of our borders. The Simpson- Mazzoli bill contained three promises:

1. The government would make a concerted effort to control the borders.

2. An effective employer verification program would ensure that only legal workers were hired.

3. One-time amnesty would be granted for people illegally in the United States.

All three promises were broken. The government has made no serious effort to control our borders. It has made no serious effort to develop and implement an effective employer verification program. There are millions more in our country illegally today (twelve to twenty million) than there were in 1986. And we are now facing yet another flurry of amnesty proposals. Today's popular anger with the elites stems from the twenty-year failure of the government to keep the promises made in the Simpson-Mazzoli bill.

There is a clear path to an effective immigration solution that is better for America and better for immigrants. The challenge is to get the elites to listen to the American people.

I owe a lot to Helen Krieble and the Krieble Foundation for their groundbreaking work in listening to the American people and trying to find a solution that meets our values and would be acceptable to the vast majority of Americans. …