Proposals for Change
in U.S. Immigration Law
In the first section of this chapter, I provide data on the attitude of the American population toward immigration as revealed by recent public opinion polls. I believe this is a necessary preliminary to a critique of current immigration law. Following that introductory section, is a nutshell summary of my own proposals for change in immigration law. In the final sections of this chapter I discuss in more detail my own and alternative proposals concerning (1) the proper volume of immigration; (2) a new status I suggest be created; (3) ways for dealing with undocumented immigrants, refugees, and asylees; and (4) the criteria by which nonrefugee immigrants and legal entrants should be admitted.
To be very brief, the American public believes that current levels of immigration are too high and that illegal immigration is a serious problem. Consider the results of a Roper poll taken in March 1990. Commissioned by the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), the poll contained a large number of questions concerning public attitudes to immigration. It is significant that this survey was taken just prior to the passage of the Immigration Act of 1990, which substantially raised the limits of legal immigration to the United States. It was also taken just prior to a severe economic downturn that left the economy in a depressed state until 1994. The March 1990 poll was based on interviews with a nationally representative cross-section of 1,144 adults aged eighteen and older. Among respondents with an opinion, 55.8 percent believed that the number of immigrants allowed into the United States each year was too many. Only 33.7 percent thought the actual number was about right, and a small 10.5 percent thought the actual number was too few. Fully 86 percent of all respondents expressed an opinion on this question, an indication that the issue was salient to the great majority of respondents. The poll revealed some differences in attitude by age. Respondents under thirty were more favorable to a larger volume of immigration than were older respondents. Among respondents under