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Edward Alden

Bernard L. Schwartz Senior Fellow

Expertise

U.S. economic competitiveness; U.S. trade policy; visa and immigration policy.

Bio

Edward Alden is the Bernard L. Schwartz senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), specializing in U.S. economic competitiveness. In addition, Mr. Alden is the director of the CFR Renewing America publication series and co-author of the recent CFR Working Paper Managing Illegal Immigration to the United States. The former Washington bureau chief of the Financial Times, his work focuses on immigration and visa policy, and on U.S. trade and international economic policy.

Mr. Alden was the project co-director of the 2011 Independent Task Force on U.S. Trade and Investment Policy, which was co-chaired by former White House chief of staff Andrew Card and former Senate majority leader Thomas Daschle. He was also the project director for the 2009 Independent Task Force on U.S. Immigration Policy.

Mr. Alden is the author of the book The Closing of the American Border: Terrorism, Immigration, and Security Since 9/11 (HarperCollins), which was named a 2009 finalist for the J. Anthony Lukas Book Prize for nonfiction writing. The judges called it "a masterful job of comprehensive reporting, fair-minded analysis, and structurally sound argumentation."

Mr. Alden was previously the Canadian bureau chief for the Financial Times based in Toronto, and before that was a reporter at the Vancouver Sun specializing in labor and employment issues. He also was the managing editor of the newsletter Inside U.S. Trade, widely recognized as the leading source of reporting on U.S. trade policies. He has won several national and international awards for his reporting. Mr. Alden has done numerous TV and radio appearances as an analyst on political and economic issues, including NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, McLaughlin Group, NPR, the BBC, CNN, and MSNBC. His work has also appeared in Foreign Policy, Foreign Affairs, the Japan Times, the San Jose Mercury News, and the Toronto Globe and Mail. He is the coauthor, with Franz Schurmann, of Democratic Politics and World Order, a monograph published by Berkeley's Institute of International Studies in 1990.

Mr. Alden holds a master's degree in international relations from the University of California, Berkeley, and pursued doctoral studies before returning to a journalism career. He also has a bachelor's degree in political science from the University of British Columbia. He was the winner of numerous academic awards, including a Mellon fellowship in the humanities and a MacArthur Foundation graduate fellowship.

Restoring America's Economic Competitiveness

Over the past half century, the United States has gone from being a relatively self-sufficient economy to one that is far more deeply integrated into the global economy. That transformation means that the prosperity and ultimately the security of the United States now depends far more on America's success in global markets. Yet government policy, especially at the federal level, has not adapted well to this new reality. In my forthcoming book, Competitiveness: America's Obsession and Why We Have Done So Little About It, I argue that the federal government has repeatedly failed to respond effectively to the competitive challenges of this new era on such issues as trade, currency, worker re-training, education, infrastructure and support for innovation. I am also pursuing these topics through the Renewing America Publication Series, which includes policy papers and progress reports on critical issues related to the competitiveness of the U.S. economy, blog posts, and a roundtable series on American competitiveness.

This project is made possible through the support of the Bernard and Irene Schwartz Foundation.

Immigration Reform: Prospects and Challenges

The U.S. government has tried and failed over the past decade to reform its outdated and ineffective policies on immigration. The current system, based largely on a law passed by Congress in 1965, fails to attract immigrants needed by the U.S. economy and is ineffective at discouraging unauthorized immigration. Beginning with my book The Closing of the American Border on how the September 11 attacks affected U.S. immigration policies and continuing through the Independent Task Force on U.S. Immigration Policy, for which I was the project director, I have been examining the substantive challenges of creating an immigration system that boosts the U.S. economy while securing its borders. One critical piece of that challenge is better data and research that improves the measurement of enforcement effectiveness, and enhances public understanding of what enforcement can and cannot do to prevent unauthorized immigration. My work on immigration includes a recent CFR Working Paper on border enforcement, speeches, articles and congressional testimony related to immigration reform, as well as a roundtable series on U.S. immigration and visa policies.

This project is made possible through the support of the Bernard and Irene Schwartz Foundation.

Featured Publications

All Publications

Article Author: Edward Alden
World Politics Review

Edward Alden writes that skilled workers, frustrated by the tight U.S. quotas on work visas and the long waits for permanent residency, are being lured by other countries that have overhauled their immigration laws and promise a smoother transition to a new life.

See more in Immigration

Ask CFR Experts

Will “sequestration” affect U.S. education, especially in the STEM fields?

Asked by Mariecor Ruediger

American policymakers have long been concerned about the eroding U.S. advantage in educating science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) students. With much of the assembly work for lucrative high-technology products having moved to Asia, future U.S. prosperity depends increasingly on innovating new products and techniques—innovation that requires training (or importing) a new generation of scientists and engineers.

Read full answer

See more in United States; Education; Budget, Debt, and Deficits

Ask CFR Experts Asked by Fagner Dantas, from Universidade Federal da Bahia

Globalization refers to the increasing ease with which goods, services, capital and people can move across the world, which has been accelerated by advances in technology and government policies to reduce barriers. In terms of reducing poverty in as many countries as possible, there is no question that globalizationcontinues to be beneficial, even after the 2008 financial crisis. Poverty continues to fall worldwide at a rapid rate, and countries most integrated into the world economy have seen the biggest reductions in poverty. But it is also true that even before the crisis, the gains from globalization were not spread evenly. Though millions have been lifted out of poverty and everyone benefits from cheaper consumer goods and the opening of new export markets, there are still winners and losers.

Read full answer

See more in Global; Globalization; Financial Crises

Recent Activity from Renewing America

CFR Events

Roundtable Meeting ⁄ Washington

The Trade Deficit: Is It a Problem or Not?

This meeting is on the record.

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Media Conference Call

Assessing Obama's Executive Action on Immigration

This meeting is on the record.

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Academic Conference Call

Immigration Reform

This meeting is not for attribution.

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Media Conference Call

Edward Alden and Shannon K. O'Neil on Immigration and Border Security

This meeting is on the record.

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General Meeting

Update on the CFR-Sponsered Independent Task Force Report on U.S. Immigration Policy

This meeting is on the record.

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General Meeting ⁄ New York

U.S. Trade and Investment Policy: Report of a CFR-Sponsored Independent Task Force

This meeting is on the record.

ListenWatch

General Meeting ⁄ Washington

U.S. Trade and Investment Policy: Report of a CFR-Sponsored Independent Task Force

This meeting is on the record.

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Conference Panel Session

Trade Tensions: Challenges and Opportunities after the Midterm Elections

This meeting is not for attribution.

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Conference Panel Session

Trade Tensions: Challenges and Opportunities After the Midterm Elections

This meeting is on the record.

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Conference Panel Session

The United States and Japan at 50: Where We Are Today

This meeting is not for attribution.

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General Meeting ⁄ New York

U.S. Immigration Policy: Report of a CFR Sponsored Independent Task Force Report

This meeting is on the record.

ListenWatch

General Meeting ⁄ Washington

U.S. Immigration Policy: Report of a CFR-Sponsored Independent Task Force

This meeting is on the record.

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General Meeting ⁄ Washington

The President's Inbox: Asia and the Economy

This meeting is on the record.

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Academic Conference Call

The Closing of the American Border

This meeting is not for attribution.

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Corporate Meeting

The Closing of the American Border

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Guest Event ⁄ Washington

The Closing of the American Border

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Symposium

CFR Symposium: The International and the Domestic - Latin America and U.S. Policies and Politics, Session Two

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Symposium ⁄ Mineapolis

2008 Foreign Policy Symposium: Foreign Policy Challenges Facing the Next Administration

This meeting is on the record.

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Symposium ⁄ Denver

2008 Rocky Mountain Roundtable on International Relations: Luncheon Discussion: Foreign Policy Challenges Facing the Next Administration

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General Meeting ⁄ Washington

U.S. Trade Policy at a Crossroads: What the People Really Want

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Press/Panels

Article

Don't Blame Nafta

In The New York Times, Edward Alden discusses the danger of making definite judgements about trade agreements.

Article

Can Congress Strike A Deal On Trade?

In his blog the Daily Dish, Andrew Sullivan highlights Edward Alden's assessment of the benefits and drawbacks of opening the United States to more international trade.

Video Interview

Opinion: Rhetoric vs. Reality on Immigration

On the Wall Street Journal's "Market Watch," Edward Alden discusses the gap between rhetoric and reality in the current immigration debate and its role in the 2012 presidential election.

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Panel

Immigration Policy, Deportations, and National Security

At this Princeton University event, "Immigration Policy, Deportations and National Security," Edward Alden discusses the changed relationship between U.S. national and border security after the attacks on September 11, 2001.

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Panel

Panel on Border Security

At this National Journal Conference on Border Security panel, Edward Alden offers commentary on current security and trade issues associated with the U.S.-Canada border.

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Panel

In Search of Secure Borders

Edward Alden offers commentary on the fruitless and potentially harmful quest for a perfectly secure U.S. border as a panelist at the Center for American Progress event, "In Search of Secure Borders."

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