Recent efforts at passing the proposed Comprehensive Immigration Reform legislation will not, any more than the 1986 IRCA legislation, end illegal immigration. As long as immigration restrictions remain in force, illegal entry will persist.
At the same time, in their attempts to bring the skeptics on board for a comprehensive "top-down" bill, pro-immigration politicians have been forced into draconian measures that have made matters worse for illegal immigrants. Thus, President Clinton militarized the border, driving illegal immigrants into crossing the desert and risking their lives. President Obama has overseen the highest-ever number of deportations. None of this has served to reduce the number of illegal immigrants in a significant way: We harmed the illegal immigrants without any gain in reduced inflows.
Instead of being driven by pursuit of the impossible, that is an America free of illegal immigrants, we need to accept the reality that they will always be in our midst. Treating them with humanity is therefore the shift in focus that is now required. The Lecture will consider several ways in which this objective could be advanced, without involving Washington.
Welcome John Coatsworth, Provost, Columbia University Presiding Michael Doyle, Harold Brown Professor of International Affairs, Law and Political Science, Columbia University
Discussants Guillermina Jasso, Silver Professor of Sociology, New York University; Director of Research, U.S. Select Commission on Immigration and Refugee Policy; Author (with Mark Rosenzweig) of The New Chosen People: Immigrants in the United States
Peter Spiro, Charles R. Weiner Professor of Law, Temple University; Author of Beyond Citizenship: American Identity After Globalization
Presented in collaboration with Columbia Law School and the Center on Global Economic Governance (CGEG), Columbia | SIPA.