A Wising Up Citizen/Scholar Report Charles D. Brockett, PhD
In his first days and weeks in office President Joe Biden issued a series of executive orders reversing many of the highly controversial immigration policies of his predecessor, Donald Trump. He also sent to Congress an ambitious comprehensive immigration reform. His legislative proposal represents a sharp break with the prior administration. It is ambitious not only because of its scope but also given the failures of the three preceding administrations to gain approval for their immigration legislative initiatives. Will President Biden succeed where they failed?
Current public preferences concerning immigration provide sound guidance for the construction of a resilient compromise on many aspects of the 2021 immigration debate. These include legalization of the status of both the “Dreamers” (young people brought to the country without authorization when they were children) as well as the millions more of adult undocumented immigrants. Given the political reality that the Democrats’ control of both chambers of Congress is so slim, other reforms supported by the public provide opportunities for the compromises necessary to gain approval of a comprehensive immigration reform. These include enhanced border security (but not the wall along the border with Mexico) and changes to policy governing legal immigration, such as leaning away from family unification toward a more merit-based system and better limiting overall immigration levels.
President Biden and Prospects for Immigration Reform draws on the results of a wide variety of questions asked of the public about immigration across the broadest time spans possible, in some cases stretching over decades. These results are presented in 21 easily read graphs, many of which extend into late 2019 and some through 2020. This report also relates these trends in public opinion to their broader context, such as the successful immigration reforms of 1965 and 1986 and the failures during the administrations of George W. Bush, Barack Obama, and Donald Trump. The often sharp differences between Democrats and Republicans that are portrayed through the report highlight the difficulties that face compromise in this area. But it can be done if we let the public show the way.
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