Only the federal government can fix what's wrong with the immigration system – and any federal fix must include three indispensible elements.

  • Match visa supply with U.S. labor needs. Every year, economic need draws some 1.5 million foreign workers to the United States, but the government issues only approximately one million new immigrant visas. The result: a full third of the foreign workers we need to sustain the economy enter the country illegally.

Unless demographic trends shift abruptly, U.S. labor needs will continue to attract foreign workers to our shores. Far better for Americans if these workers enter the country legally. An increased supply of worker visas must be the centerpiece of any immigration reform – effective immigration enforcement will be impossible without it.

  • Restore the rule of law through effective enforcement. The U.S. must regain control of who enters the country. The government must add manpower and technology on the border. It must create an accurate, reliable electronic employment verification system. And it must impose tough sanctions against employers who continue to hire unauthorized workers when an adequate supply of authorized workers becomes available.
  • Address workers already here. More than 20 years of unrealistic immigration quotas have produced a vast unauthorized population living amongst us and vital to the economy but beyond the rule of law. Amnesty is not an acceptable answer for this group, but neither is mass deportation or attrition through enforcement. We must deal realistically with these workers and their families – vet them for security purposes, bring them under the rule of law, require them to pay taxes and encourage them to participate in American society.


Read about the 2013 Senate comprehensive bill
Foreign Affairs Immigration Nation by Tamar Jacoby, November/December 2006