National Interests and Potential Common Ground in the US Immigration Debates: Legal Immigration Reform v. Mass Deportation and the Wall

Thursday, April 27, 2017
11:15AM to 12PM EDT
Credit: Africa Studio/Shutterstock

National Interests and Potential Common Ground in the US Immigration Debates: Legal Immigration Reform v. Mass Deportation and the Wall

Event Date and Time April 27, 2017 11:15 am
Event Ends April 27, 2017 12:00 pm
Venue Webinar


Event Types:

This briefing covered two competing visions of US immigration policy; one characterized by legal immigration reform, and the other by mass deportation policies and a proposed 2,000 mile border wall. These visions are analyzed in three recent papers by Donald Kerwin and Robert Warren of the Center for Migration Studies (CMS). The papers cover the consequences of mass deportation policies on US families and critique the idea of a 2,000 mile border wall. The briefing also described a vision of reform set forth in the paper titled  “National Interests and Common Ground in the US Immigration Debate: How to Legalize the US Immigration System and Permanently Reduce Its Undocumented Population.” This paper outlines the elements of a legal immigration system that can serve the interests and values that the United States seeks to advance through this system. The paper also offers a sweeping, historical analysis of how the US undocumented population emerged, why it has grown and contracted, and how estimates of its size have been politically exploited. It argues that effective legal immigration policies will be essential to establishing an enforcement system that upholds US ideals and values, and advances the nation’s core interests. It includes a series of policy recommendations to reform the legal immigration system and substantially decrease the undocumented population.

“The US immigration system does not reflect the vast, mostly unanticipated changes in the nation and the world since Congress last overhauled the legal immigration system more than a half century ago,” said Donald Kerwin. “With legal immigration reform, it would be possible to advance the nation’s interests and to construct a legalization program, which avoids the mistakes of past programs and leads to a permanently reduced undocumented population. By contrast, border wall and mass deportation policies will undermine core US values and interests.”

The paper is available at It is part of CMS’s US Immigration Reform Initiative, which looks beyond current immigration debates to offer analysis, ideas and proposals on reforming US immigration laws and policies. The paper also discusses CMS’s recent work on the impact of mass deportation policies and the increasing rate of visa over-stayers among newly undocumented residents. For more information, please contact Rachel Reyes, CMS’s Director of Communications, at [email protected].