Newly introduced legislation by Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) and Sen. David Perdue (R-Ga.) would reduce legal immigration by nearly half. This proposal is likely to be portrayed by open border supporters and business interests as draconian and anti-immigrant. But, you don’t have to search far to find support for these reforms from national figures with liberal credentials.
Foremost among those figures was former U.S. Representative (D-Texas) Barbara Jordan. She was a Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient and two-time keynote speaker at the Democratic National Convention as well as chair of the U.S. Commission on Immigration Reform (USCIR). Her role in leading that multi-year study was noted by President Clinton at her funeral.
“After I became President, I asked her to chair the United States Commission on Immigration Reform. And she made us listen again when she reminded all sides on that delicate and difficult issue that we must remain both a nation of immigrants and a nation of laws.”
The proposed immigration reform measures proposed in the Cotton-Perdue legislation come out of the Jordan-led USCIR. Like the legislation, it recommended for scaling back legal immigration to a level of 550,000 per year and setting an annual base level of refugee admissions at 50,000. The reduction would be accomplished by narrowing family sponsorship of new immigrants to immediate family members and opening opportunity for increased skilled immigrants. Like the USCIR proposals, the visa lottery visas would be eliminated. The legislation, like the USCIR proposal, also includes a provision for entry of aged parents to be cared for by a U.S. resident child.
According to the Washington Post of June 8, 1995, “President Clinton yesterday endorsed the recommendations of a congressional commission calling for a substantial reduction in the number of legal immigrants allowed to enter the country.”
So, why is adoption of immigration reduction still pending? When Congress debated legislation to implement those recommendations and others dealing with tightening controls against illegal immigration, business interests and ethnic advocacy groups convinced the Senate to split off the legal immigration reforms from the illegal immigration reforms and enact the latter while deferring action on the legal reforms for a later date. Although those legal immigration reforms have resurfaced in Congress periodically, to date no action has resulted.
With a new interest in immigration reform in the Trump administration, the time has come to fulfill to legacy of Barbara Jordan by implementing the USCIR recommendations included in the Cotton-Perdue legislation.