This paper surveys the history of nativism in the United States from the late nineteenth century to the present. It compares the current surge in nativism with earlier periods, particularly the decades leading up to the 1920s, when nativism directed against southern and eastern European, Asian, and Mexican migrants led to discriminatory national origin quotas and other legislative restrictions on immigration.
US immigration policy has serious limitations, particularly when viewed from an economic perspective. Some shortcomings arise from faulty initial design, others from the inability of the system to adapt to changing circumstances. In either case, a reluctance to confront politically difficult decisions is often a contributing factor to the failure to craft laws that can stand the test of time. This paper argues that, as a result, some key aspects of US immigration policy are incoherent and mutually contradictory — new policies are often inconsistent with past policies and undermine their goals. Inconsistency makes policies less effective because participants in the immigration system realize that lawmakers face powerful incentives to revise policies at a later date. It specifically analyzes US policies regarding unauthorized immigration, temporary visas, and humanitarian migrants as examples of incoherence and inconsistency. Lastly, this paper explores key features of an integrated, coherent immigration policy from an economic perspective and how policymakers could better attempt to achieve policy consistency across laws and over time.
Supporting and investing in the integration of immigrants and their children is critically important to US society. Successful integration contributes to the nation’s economic vitality, its civic and political health, and its cultural diversity. Although the United States has a good track record on immigrant integration, outcomes could be better. This paper argues that a robust national integration policy infrastructure is needed. This infrastructure must be vertically integrated to include different levels of government, and horizontally applied across public and private sector actors and different types of immigrant destinations. The resultant policy should leverage public-private partnerships, drawing on the work of community-based nonprofit organizations, and the support of philanthropy, business, education, and faith-based institutions. If the federal government will not act, then cities, states, and civil society organizations must continue to work together to build an integration infrastructure from the bottom up.
The CMS US Immigration Reform Project seeks to look beyond current immigration debates to offer analysis, ideas and proposals that: Address the range of conditions driving and likely to drive international migration into the foreseeable future; Consider the impact of...