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Brookings: Breaking the Immigration Stalemate

Speakers: Noah Pickus, and Peter Skerry
Panelists: James Gimpel, Angela Kelley, and Reihan Salam
Moderator: William A. Galston
October 6, 2009


This Brookings Institution Governance Studies Event examines the difficulties of immigration reform and proposes a number of policy changes.

We could, in fact, tell much of America's story through the prism of successive waves of immigration over the past two centuries and the social and political controversies that they have sparked, when, indeed, these controversies have gone a long way towards defining who we are as a people and as a nation. In short, the stakes are very high. And in this context, we may be dismayed, but I think we should not be overly surprised at the high ratio of heat to light in the debates of recent years, which brings me to my second point.

Our report represents a determined and at least in one respect unique effort to improve the heat to light ratio, and, if possible, to help break the current stalemate over immigration policy. It is unique, we suggest, because in constituting our group, we cast a very wide net. We did not narrow the range of opinions in order to reach any kind of prefabricated agreement. It was a broad and genuinely deliberative group, and when we put it together, we honestly did not know where things would come out at the end, and we weren't even sure at the beginning that we would come out anywhere, to be quite frank.

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