This article was written by Crosscurrents, a small group of liberals and conservatives who convene regularly for discussion of current policy issues. Our aim is finding common ground and reaching agreement on recommendations we can share publicly.
Crosscurrents chose immigration as the next timely topic for a variety of reasons, including:
• There are historically high numbers of immigrants seeking asylum at our Southern border, and this number is expected to increase further once public health restrictions are lifted.
• The number of refugees from Afghanistan, Ukraine and other countries has risen sharply with accompanying increased demand for support services.
• Baby Boomers are reaching past 65 years of age, U.S. deaths are exceeding births, and we are facing the labor shortages characteristic of an aging population.
In developing our statement, we emphasized the use of data and concepts from objective sources rather than opinion or advocacy-driven material.
The evidence on the impact of immigration has been examined in detail by the National Academies of Science Engineering and Medicine in two reports over the past decade. They concluded that immigration has an overall positive impact on long-run economic growth in the U.S., and it contributes to a vibrant and ever-changing culture.
Immigrants who have become Americans serve in its military, foster technological innovations, invigorate the economy, harvest its crops, help build its infrastructure, provide hard-to-find services and skills, and enrich American culture in many ways, from the nation’s cuisine to its universities, music and art.
Our group was quick to point out with pride that the U.S. is a nation of immigrants, and we noted the central role of immigration in our own family histories. Our members have a strong desire for the United States to continue playing its historic role as a welcoming destination for people facing persecution or seeking a better life.
But in seeking to be generous and welcoming to immigrants, we must also recognize that under current law, there is no limit to the number of asylum seekers that we obligate ourselves to receive and support. We believe there are practical limits to the resources – economic, social, environmental, and political – and capacity for assimilation that we can muster for this purpose year over year.
There is widespread agreement that the current U.S. immigration system is seriously broken. Negative impressions about immigration circulate widely on mainstream and social media despite evidence of its positive impact and its being compatible with American values. These attitudes arise because we manage our immigration system so poorly, and we have failed to set needed limits for some categories of immigrants.
Our Crosscurrents group has identified what we believe would be the essential components of a reformed immigration system. They are designed to enhance the positive aspects of immigration and mitigate any negative consequences which may arise. The key components, in no particular order, include:
• A secure border that encompasses all ports of entry and blocks or apprehends anyone seeking to enter the country illegally and intercepts the movement of weapons, drugs, human trafficking, contraband, and people with criminal records.
• A timely and fair processing system