The late Barbara Jordan not only was a pioneer in politics and a life-long crusader for civil rights, but she also advocated for an immigration policy “…where the national interest comes first, last and always.”
Jordan is often remembered as the first African-American woman elected to the Texas Senate (1966), the first woman to represent Texas in the U.S. Congress (1972), and the first African-American woman to deliver the keynote address at a Democratic National Convention (1976), but her final act of public service was to advocate for true immigration reform as the chair of the U.S. Commission on Immigration Reform from its start in 1993 until her death on January 17, 1996.
To commemorate what would have been her 78th birthday, FAIR released a new report on the findings of the Jordan Commission and how they are still relevant for the current debate.
Jordan was appointed by President Clinton to head the bi-partisan U.S. Commission on Immigration Reform, which was mandated by the Immigration Act of 1990 to examine U.S. immigration policies and then send a report back to Congress. Given her history as a trailblazer in elected office and work on civil rights and women’s issues, Jordan’s appointment gave the Commission instant credibility, and it quickly became known as the Jordan Commission.
Under her leadership, the U.S. Commission on Immigration Reform published three reports: Restoring Credibility in 1994, Setting Priorities in 1995 and Becoming an American: Immigration & Immigrant Policy in 1997, which was published nearly two years after her death.
Three key principles can be drawn from the Jordan Commission:
- Illegal immigration undermines America’s tradition as a nation of immigrants; it is in direct violation of the rule of law and must be deterred.
- Legal immigration needs to be properly regulated and its numbers reduced to serve the interests of the nation.
- Admission policy is not a sufficient immigration policy; attention must also be given to immigrants beyond their entry.