News Tip: Immigration Experts Available to Comment on Reform Proposal

Noah Pickus, Jacob Vigdor on what successful reform requires

A bipartisan group of leading senators announced Monday an agreement on the principles for reforming the United States' immigration laws. Noah PickusDirector of the Kenan Institute for Ethics, associate research professor of public policy, Duke University.pickus@duke.edu specializes in immigration policy, academic integrity and global ethical challenges. He co-directed the Brookings-Duke Immigration Roundtable, which issued its report, "Breaking the Immigration Stalemate," in 2009 (downloadable at Quotes: "To succeed in becoming law -- and in actually fixing our nation’s broken immigration system -- reform will have to clearly address three distinct challenges and one overall doubt.  "First, it will have to clarify how workplace enforcement measures, particularly the expansion of E-Verify, will be linked to a program of legalization, as well as how success in enforcement measures are assessed.  "It will also have to address whether creating a probationary status for legalizing immigrants will create facts that can’t be changed regardless of enforcement outcomes, and whether and how legalizing immigrants who have to 'go to the back of the line' can actually become citizens. "Second, reform must create a system for determining future flows of both high-tech and low-wage workers that does not rely on failed guest worker or 'temporary' visa programs.  "Third, reform must establish a coherent and funded strategy for integrating and assimilating into American society, for those legalizing their status and applying for citizenship and all immigrants. "Underlying all of these specific issues is the question of trust -- can the administration and Congress convince the American people that they are capable of implementing an enormously complicated set of reforms in ways that serve immigrants and the nation, rather than specific interest groups?" Jacob L. VigdorProfessor, Sanford School of Public Policy; professor of economics, Duke University. jacob.vigdor@duke.edu Vigdor specializes in immigration and migration, and racial and ethnic segregation. Quotes:"In a very real sense, the immigration problem has actually solved itself, thanks to demographics and the weak economy. "Hispanic voters, a growing percentage of the electorate, are too important to ignore, and this issue means a lot to them. Meanwhile, opinion polls indicate that immigration has fallen off the radar screen as a concern for American voters more broadly, displaced by continuing economic worries. "What's ironic is that immigration is actually less problematic now than it has been for decades. The flow of immigrants across the U.S.-Mexico border has slowed to a trickle. Demographic change in Mexico, where the birth rate has declined precipitously over the past generation, forecasts that we will never again witness migration waves as intense as the past quarter-century. "To do reform the right way, though, Congress will have to stop obsessing about last decade's problem -- the porous Mexican border -- and focus on the future, when the United States will be competing with other developed countries to attract the most talented, entrepreneurial workers."