Tuesday, September 25, 2018

September Classic of the Month: Becoming an American

"We are a nation of immigrants, dedicated to the rule of law. That is our history - and it is our challenge to ourselves....It is literally a matter of who we are as a nation and who we become as a people. E Pluribus Unum. Out of many, one. One people. The American people..."

— Barbara Jordan, Chairwoman of the U.S. Commission of Immigration Reform, 1995

During this time of upheaval, migrant children separation, and the unknown governing surrounding ICE and the border patrol, we thought it was a good time to showcase Becoming an American: Immigration and Immigrant Policy, Including Executive Summary of U.S. Immigration Policy: Restoring Credibility as our Classic of the Month this September. 

Since President Ronald Reagan's 1986 amnesty of millions of illegal immigrants, immigration has been on the political agenda without any meaningful progress. The United State's illegal immigrant population increased to over 11 million. Economic inequality worsened, and crime and terrorism have entered the immigration conversation. In this contentious environment, President Trump proposed a wall at the Mexican border and decided a review of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), a program that offers protection to those brought to the U.S. illegally as children.

Politicians who again are speaking of "comprehensive immigration reform" should read Becoming an American: Immigration and Immigrant Policy from the U.S. Commission Of Immigration Reform (a.k.a. the Barbara Jordan Commission), headed by the late Barbara Jordan. This 1997 report contains many guiding principles that are still relevant:

- The rule of law is paramount, therefore illegal immigration is unacceptable and must be deterred;
- Lawful immigrant admission needs to be reduced;
- Call for the Americanization of new immigrants, i.e. the cultivation of a shared commitment to the American values of liberty, democracy, and equal opportunity.

Students of immigration, politicians, journalists, and anyone interested in the history of U.S. immigration and solutions for 21st century America will find this vital background reading.

About the Author
Barbara Jordan (1936-1996), a national icon of the Democratic party, the first African-American woman in the Texas Senate (1966), and the first woman to represent Texas in Congress (1972), was the driving force behind this report. Unfortunately, she died just before the release of this report and few of her Commission's recommendations were implemented. Now twenty years later, it is time is to honor her legacy and learn from this report.

Other Jordan Commission's reports are: U.S. Immigration Policy: Restoring Credibility (1994) and Legal Immigration: Setting Priorities (1995)--executive summaries are included in this publication--and U.S. Refugee Policy: Taking Leadership (1997).

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