A Realistic Approach
At present, the U.S. immigration system is burdened both by policy and implementation challenges. It is barely able to meet the commitments required by law and policy and is ill-prepared to address new challenges and mandates. Agreement that the system is broken may be the only point of consensus among many diverse stakeholders. The Task Force believes that immigration laws and policies are broken in four ways:
There is an increasing disconnection between law and reality that undermines the rule of law, breeds disrespect for American values and institutions, and makes it more difficult to garner domestic support for immigration and advance U.S. values overseas.
Some immigration policies hamper rather than encourage economic growth, impeding responses to global economic changes and cyclical industry needs.
Immigration policies have not adequately addressed threats to national security.
Immigration integration policy is nearly nonexistent, especially at the federal level, leaving state and local governments to absorb the consequences of federally established immigration policy. According to Chicago Council on Foreign Relations, immigrants long have been part of the American landscape, reflecting our country's values and traditions. During the last decade the Midwest has seen a resurgence of its long-established tradition of immigration. Nine of twelve Midwest states had foreign-born populations that grew faster than the national average during the 1990s. These immigrants are preventing population decline, reinvigorating economic growth, and contributing to cultural diversity.
Unfortunately, most immigration discussions tend to overlook the heartland of the country and our long and continuing experience with immigrants. Some in the Midwest believe that immigration here, important in itself, also is a microcosm for what is occurring across the