SPEAKERS CONTENTS INSERTS
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FINAL REPORT OF THE COMMISSION ON IMMIGRATION REFORM
IMMIGRATION AND CLAIMS
COMMITTEE ON THE JUDICIARY
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
ONE HUNDRED FIFTH CONGRESS
NOVEMBER 7, 1997
Serial No. 82
Printed for the use of the Committee on the Judiciary
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For sale by the U.S. Government Printing Office
Superintendent of Documents, Congressional Sales Office, Washington, DC 20402
COMMITTEE ON THE JUDICIARY
HENRY J. HYDE, Illinois, Chairman
F. JAMES SENSENBRENNER, Jr., Wisconsin
BILL McCOLLUM, Florida
GEORGE W. GEKAS, Pennsylvania
HOWARD COBLE, North Carolina
LAMAR SMITH, Texas
STEVEN SCHIFF, New Mexico
ELTON GALLEGLY, California
CHARLES T. CANADY, Florida
BOB INGLIS, South Carolina
BOB GOODLATTE, Virginia
STEPHEN E. BUYER, Indiana
SONNY BONO, California
ED BRYANT, Tennessee
STEVE CHABOT, Ohio
BOB BARR, Georgia
WILLIAM L. JENKINS, Tennessee
ASA HUTCHINSON, Arkansas
EDWARD A. PEASE, Indiana
CHRIS CANNON, Utah
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JOHN CONYERS, Jr., Michigan
BARNEY FRANK, Massachusetts
CHARLES E. SCHUMER, New York
HOWARD L. BERMAN, California
RICK BOUCHER, Virginia
JERROLD NADLER, New York
ROBERT C. SCOTT, Virginia
MELVIN L. WATT, North Carolina
ZOE LOFGREN, California
SHEILA JACKSON LEE, Texas
MAXINE WATERS, California
MARTIN T. MEEHAN, Massachusetts
WILLIAM D. DELAHUNT, Massachusetts
ROBERT WEXLER, Florida
STEVEN R. ROTHMAN, New Jersey
THOMAS E. MOONEY, Chief of Staff-General Counsel
JULIAN EPSTEIN, Minority Staff Director
Subcommittee on Immigration and Claims
LAMAR SMITH, Texas, Chairman
ELTON GALLEGLY, California
SONNY BONO, California
WILLIAM L. JENKINS, Tennessee
Page 4 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCEDWARD A. PEASE, Indiana
CHRIS CANNON, Utah
ED BRYANT, Tennessee
MELVIN L. WATT, North Carolina
CHARLES E. SCHUMER, New York
HOWARD L. BERMAN, California
ZOE LOFGREN, California
ROBERT WEXLER, Florida
CORDIA A. STROM, Chief Counsel
EDWARD R. GRANT, Counsel
GEORGE FISHMAN, Counsel
MARTINA HONE, Minority Counsel
C O N T E N T S
November 7, 1997
Gallegly, Hon. Elton, a Representative in Congress from the State of California
Smith, Hon. Lamar, a Representative in Congress from the State of Texas and chairman, Subcommittee on Immigration and Claims
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Hufstedler, Hon. Shirley M., Chair, U.S. Commission on Immigration Reform
Martin, Susan, Executive Director, U.S. Commission on Immigration Reform
Teitelbaum, Michael, Vice Chair, U.S. Commission on Immigration Reform
Morrison, Hon. Bruce A., Commissioner, U.S. Commission on Immigration Reform
Hill, Robert Charles, Commissioner, U.S. Commission on Immigration Reform
LETTERS, STATEMENTS, ETC., SUBMITTED FOR THE HEARING
Hufstedler, Hon. Shirley M., Chair, U.S. Commission on Immigration Reform: Prepared Statement
Smith, Hon. Lamar, a Representative in Congress from the State of Texas and chairman, Subcommittee on Immigration and Claims: Prepared Statement
FINAL REPORT OF THE COMMISSION ON IMMIGRATION REFORM
FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 7, 1997
House of Representatives,
Subcommittee on Immigration
Page 6 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCand Claims,
Committee on Judiciary,
The subcommittee met, pursuant to notice, at 9:40 a.m., in Room 2226, Rayburn House Office Building, Hon. Lamar Smith (chairman of the subcommittee) presiding.
Present: Representatives Lamar S. Smith, Elton Gallegly, Ed Bryant, Chris Cannon, and Melvin L. Watt.
Staff Present: Judy Knott, Staff Assistant; Jim Wilon, Counsel; and Martina Hone, Minority Counsel.
OPENING STATEMENT OF PRESIDING CHAIRMAN GALLEGLY
Mr. GALLEGLY [presiding]. I call the hearing to order. Good morning, I have been asked by Chairman Smith to start our hearing this morning. He, unfortunately, is mandatorily detained in an Ethics Committee hearing this morning. He wanted me to assure you that he was not the respondent[Laughter]but as a member of that committee he has a responsibility.
He should be here, hopefully, within the next 15 or 20 minutes. So that we don't hold folks back anymore, we'll start the hearing. I welcome all of you here this morning and look forward to hearing your testimony. We'll start with Chairwoman Hufstedler.
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STATEMENT OF HON. SHIRLEY M. HUFSTEDLER, CHAIR, U.S. COMMISSION ON IMMIGRATION REFORM
Ms. HUFSTEDLER. Thank you. I want to thank Chairman Smith and the members of the committee for inviting the Commission to testify today.
On behalf of the whole Commission, we deeply appreciate the opportunity to provide Congress with our recommendations for reforming our immigration policy and laws to serve the national interest. The Immigration Act of 1990 gave this bipartisan group a comprehensive mandate to examine immigration policy and we have done our best to fulfill the responsibilities that Congress has assigned to us.
The axiom is that government creates commissions to avoid divisive issues. Clearly, that is not what this Commission was asked to do and it is not what we have done. Some may have wished that our proposals would be somewhat less controversial. But, emotional and economic differences are inherent in immigration policy and practice.
The Commission has not shirked the tasks that Congress gave us, controversial as those tasks are. As the Commission prepares to complete its work, I also want to thank the committee for the thorough process of hearings that have been held on earlier reports to the Congress.
We know that you will continue to hear from all points of view on these important issues. Individual commissioners and staff will make themselves available to the extent possible as the committee considers the details of these proposals in later hearings.
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In my testimony today I want to explain why the Commission's assessment of immigration and our recommendations to Congress are interconnected. As the committee has requested, I will focus this morning on three areas in particular: the economic impact of immigration, the restructuring of the immigration system, and what we call ''Americanization.''
Mr. WATT. Good Morning.
Ms. HUFSTEDLER. An independent evaluation of immigration by a panel of eminent social scientists at the National Research Council, sponsored by the Commission, found that immigration has positive economic impact at the national level. However, the NRC panel's findings confirm the common conclusion that there are tangible costs to certain sectors of the labor market in certain communities. This reinforces the Commission's recommendations for a well-regulated system of immigrant admissions as well as the need to improve the integration of immigrants and to reduce friction between newcomers and established residents.
The NRC panel estimates that immigrants may add over a billion dollars directly to the national economy each yeara small, but positive amount in a $7.6 trillion economy. Many consumers, business owners, and investors benefit from the immigrant labor force. Many immigrant entrepreneurs expand trade with foreign countries from which they come. The language and cultural expertise of many immigrant employees are valuable to United States companies doing business abroad.
Immigrants also contribute to the economic revitalization of the communities in which they live. As middle-income, native-born Americans have left the innercity, immigrant newcomers have settled, established businesses, bought homes, and otherwise invested in these areas. But, immigration is not without economic costs. Those costs fall most heavily on some Americans who have the fewest resources to bear them. The NRC panel finds that workers with less than 12 years of education are the most adversely affected by low-skilled immigrant workers. Most often it is the foreign-born worker, particularly in labor markets with large numbers of immigrants, who experience the greatest competition.
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The fiscal effects of immigration are also complicated. Generally, the impacts on the Federal Government are favorable compared to those of state and local government. Most studies show that at the Federal level, foreign-born workers pay more in taxes than they receive in services.
At the local level, however, immigrants often represent a net fiscal lossin some cases, a substantial one. In general, much of the negative effect is related to school costs that are considerable because of the larger size of many immigrant families, and because immigrant children often need help that native born children do not.
Although funds spent on education should be considered an investment, not just a fiscal burden, the payoff is not realized for many years. The same thing, of course is true, for education of children of citizens, no matter how long their residence in the country may be.
Education affects economic and fiscal impacts in other ways. Ultimately, the economic success and fiscal contributions of our immigrants are determined by their educational level.
Immigrants who complete high school and beyond generally represent a more favorable balance of fiscal costs and contributions than do those with little or no education. English language ability also affects the economic success of immigrants. Individuals with poor English language skills tend to be confined to the lowest level of the United States job market. By contrast, ability in spoken English markedly improve immigrants' earnings especially for Hispanic and Asian adult immigrants.
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Those factors have implications both for policies on immigration, that is to say: who is admitted, and for immigration and immigrant policy that is to say; what happens to new arrivals after entry? Clearly, the national interest would be served by moderating the entry of unskilled immigrants except where other values prevail, notably, nuclear family reunification, and by increasing the skills of those who have arrived.
In our final report, the Commission reiterates our recommendations for reform of legal admissions criteria. We also detail new recommendations regarding the entry of persons for limited duration stays. We will, of course, be pleased to answer any questions you have about those recommendations.
Let me turn now to the second issue on the agenda today: the restructuring of the immigration system. An effective immigration system requires both credible policy and sound management. Good management cannot overcome bad policy to be sure, but poor structures, lack of professionalism, poor planning, and failure to set priorities will foil even the best policies.
The Commission identified two systemic flaws that we believe will undermine any reform effort unless remedied. First, mission overload. Some of the agencies that implement our immigration laws have so many responsibilities that they are unable to manage all of them effectively.
Between congressional mandates and administration policies, these agencies must give equal weight to more priorities than any agency can handle. When everything is supposed to be a priority, the truth is that nothing is really a priority.
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Second, the diffusion of responsibilities among agencies. Contrary to what some have said, the Commission's proposal is to consolidate functions that are now scattered across the Federal Government.
Fragmentation of responsibility leads to conflicting messages from the various agencies involved; to unnecessary delays in making decisions; and redundancies in actual implementation. The Commission considered a range of ways to reorganize roles and responsibilities including proposals to establish a Cabinet-level Department of Immigration Affairs or an independent agency along the lines of the Environmental Protection Agency.
We concluded that neither is practical nor desirable particularly at a time when Congress and the Executive Branch are streamlining government operations rather than creating large new agencies. But this political reality is not the basic reason to recommend against a new superagency.
Rather, we have come to the conclusion, that no one agency is likely to have the capacity to undertake equally well the enforcement and the service functions of our immigration system. While some have argued that enforcement and benefits are complementary functions, we find that the opposite is true.
Both functions are harmed, not helped by being linked. Having incompatible service and enforcement within one agency creates problems, competition for resources, lack of coordination and cooperation, and personnel practices that create confusion about mission and about responsibility.
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Combining responsibility for enforcement and benefits also blurs the distinction between illegal immigration and legal immigration. As a matter of public policy, it is important that that distinction be maintained.
The Commission has meticulously examined the functions of this system instead of merely trying to draw new flowcharts around existing boxes. Based on this analysis, we recommend a restructuring of the system to separate and then consolidate each function as follows:
First, immigration enforcement at the border and in the interior of the United States in a Bureau for Immigration Enforcement at the Department of Justice;
Second, adjudication of eligibility for immigration-related applications in the Department of State, under the jurisdiction of an Under Secretary for Citizenship, Immigration, and Refugee Admissions;
Third, enforcement of immigration-related employment standard in the Department of Labor; and
Fourth, appeals of administrative decisions, including exclusion, deportation, and removal hearings, in an independent Agency for Immigration Review.
The blueprint for structural reforms builds on existing strength, assigns clear responsibility, and, most importantly, makes clear which agency is accountably for which results.
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The responsibility now rest with the Executive Branch and with Congress to take the next steps. We look forward to discussion and planning to implement this proposal in the months to come.
The Commission also sets out management goals that apply regardless of which agency is responsible for implementing policies. Perhaps the most important, we emphasize the need to set manageable, fully-funded priorities and to develop the systems to hold managers accountable for the results of their activities. Issues surrounding the removal of illegal aliens particularly highlights the need for management reforms.
We make specific recommendations to improve our removal capacity and we would be pleased to discuss those as well with the committee.
Let me pick up one theme now: The Commission urges Congress to clarify the provisions of the legislation adopted in 1996 to make evident that those provisions do not apply retroactively to cases pending when the new policies and procedures went into effect. Retroactive application undermines the efficiency and the credibility of the system making it all the more difficult to establish a smoothly functioning prioritized removal system.
Now, let us turn to Americanization, our third issue today. After 5 years at the center of a tumultuous national debate, this bipartisan Commission has concluded its work by unanimously calling for policies for immigrants that will fulfill the goals of our immigration policies. In that spirit, we are calling for a new Americanization movement. That is, we are calling on Congress to initiate an immigrant policy, a national effort to cultivate a shared commitment to the American values of liberty, democracy, and equal opportunity.
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The Commission proposes that the principles of Americanization be made more explicit through the covenant between the immigrant and the Nation. We have not always abided by its terms, but immigrants do become part of us and we, as a nation and a people, grow and become stronger for having embraced newcomers.
We make specific recommendations for developing greater capacity to orient both newcomers and the communities that receive them. We're calling for a very modest Federal grants program to invest in this process. We ask to educate newcomers in English language and our core civic values, and we call upon Congress to help revisit the meaning and conferral of citizenship to ensure the integrity of the naturalization process.
We see a strong Federal role in supporting immigrant policy but ultimately we must reinvigorate the public-private partnership that defines the best in our earlier Americanization efforts.
While immigration is always national policy, the actual process of Americanization takes place in local communities. We urge a renewed commitment to educating immigrant children. Rapid acquisition of English should be the paramount goal of any language instruction program.
We also recommend enhanced educational opportunities for adult immigrants. As I earlier stated, education is the key predictor of the economic success of immigrants as well s their fiscal impact on states and localities in the Nation.
Page 15 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC We regard naturalization as an essential element of the Americanization experience as a means by which we can enhance the appreciation of newcomers for the core values of the United States. The Commission believes that the current legal requirements for naturalization are appropriate. There is no need to make those requirements any easier or any harder than they now are. But we need a more efficient naturalization process with higher quality.
We set out recommendations to improve the mechanisms used to demonstrate knowledge of United States history, civics, and English competence. The tests should be standardized and aimed at evaluating a common core of knowledge to be understood by all new citizens.
We recommend that the Federal Government have more direct control over the process through a single English and civics testing service. We also believe that only service providers under the direct control of the Federal Government should be authorized to take fingerprints.
The Commission believes that a more expeditious approach to the swearing-in ceremony should be adopted. Congress should restore to the Executive Branch the sole jurisdiction for naturalization to ensure that we have ceremonies that are timely as well as fittingly solemn and dignified.
Finally, the Commission recommends that the naturalization oath be revised to make it more comprehensible, solemn and meaningful. We have provided to each member of the subcommittee, as a supplement to my written testimony, copies of the current oath as it appears in Federal regulations and our proposed revision. We have not and do not recommend altering the statutory requirements of the oath, but we do believe that this new language is clearer and, therefore, more solemnly meaningful than the archaic language of the old.
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We will, of course, be happy to answer all the questions that the Congress and this committee may wish to address to us, and with thanks for your attention, I await your questions.
[The prepared statement of Ms. Hufstedler follows:]
PREPARED STATEMENT OF HON. SHIRLEY M. HUFSTEDLER, CHAIR, U.S. COMMISSION ON IMMIGRATION REFORM
I want to thank Chairman Lamar Smith for inviting the Commission to testify today. On behalf of the whole Commission, we deeply appreciate the opportunity to provide the Congress with our recommendations for reforming our immigration policy and laws to serve the national interest. The Immigration Act of 1990 gave this bipartisan group a comprehensive mandate to examine immigration policy. We have done our best to fulfill the responsibilities that Congress assigned.
The axiom is the government creates commissions to avoid divisive issues. Clearly that is not what this Commission was asked to do, and that is not what we have done. Some may have wished that our proposals had been a little less controversial. But emotional and economic differences are inherent in immigration policy and practice. The Commission has not shirked the tasks that Congress gave it, controversial as those tasks are.
In five years of work, we have presented the Congress with four detailed reports that, taken as a whole, are a comprehensive blueprint for immigration reform and policies for immigrants that will, we believe, fulfill the goals of our policies on immigration. We have contracted for a number of research papers that have helped us and we hope, you assess the impact of U.S. immigration policy. As the Commission prepares to complete its work, I want to thank this Committee for the thorough process of hearings that you have held on our earlier reports to Congress. We know that you will continue to hear from all points of view on these important issues. Individual Commissioners and staff will make themselves available, to the extent possible, as the Committee considers the details of these proposals in later hearings.
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In my testimony today, I want to explain why the Commission's assessment of immigration and our recommendations to Congress are interconnected. As the Committee has requested, I will focus on three areas in particular: the economic impact of immigration, the restructuring of the immigration system, and what we call ''Americanization'', the most important of all.
EFFECTS ON THE ECONOMY
An independent evaluation of immigration by a panel of eminent social scientists at the National Research Council [NRC], sponsored by the Commission, found that immigration has a positive economic impact on the national level. However, the NRC panel's findings confirm the common conclusion that there are tangible costs to certain sectors of the labor market and certain communities. This reinforces the Commission's recommendations for a well-regulated system of immigrant admissions, as well as the need for attention to means of improving integration and reducing friction between newcomers and established residents.
The NRC panel estimates that immigrants may add $1-10 billion directly to the national economy each year, a small but positive amount in a $7.6 trillion economy. Many consumers, business owners, and investors benefit from the immigrant labor force. Recent newcomers may be willing to work for lower wages than other U.S. workers, although, with the exception of many immigrants with less than a high school education, most immigrants tend to earn as much as natives after a decade. Many others in the economy benefit, particularly those who do work that is complementary to that performed by immigrants. Immigrants provide the labor that has kept viable entire segments of certain labor-intensive industries, such as garment and shoemaking. Many immigrant entrepreneurs expand trade with foreign countries from which they come, and the language and cultural expertise of many immigrant employees are valuable to U.S. companies doing business abroad.
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Immigrants also contribute to the economic revitalization of the communities in which they live. As middle-class native-born Americans have left the inner cities, immigrant newcomers have settled, established businesses, bought homes, and otherwise invested in these areas. Gateway cities, such as New York and Los Angeles, have benefited particularly from this urban renewal. At the same time, these cities face new challenges related to immigration. Growing immigrant communities require local school systems (some of which may have otherwise faced declining enrollments) to provide sufficient classroom space and teachers. They must also develop programs to teach children who are without English skills or prior education. Overcrowded housing, drug trafficking, gang violence, sweatshops, and public health problems also may be found in many of these inner-city communities.
But immigration is not without economic costs. Those costs fall most heavily on some Americans who have the fewest resources to bear them. Immigration particularly affects certain U.S. workers. The NRC panel finds that workers with less than twelve years of education are the most adversely affected by low-skilled immigrant workers. Immigrants may have reduced substantially the wages of high school dropouts, who are about one-tenth of the workforce, by 5 percent nationwide. This is a sizable impact on a group that was already poorly paid before the loss in real earnings it experienced over the past two decades. Most often, it is the foreign-born worker, particularly in labor markets with large numbers of immigrants who experience the greatest competition. While the education and skill level of most U.S. workers differs significantly from those of most immigrants (and therefore they are not competing for the same jobs), the new arrivals are often direct substitutes for immigrants who arrived a short time before them.
Page 19 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The evidence on the impact of immigration on native-born minorities nationwide is less clear. The NRC concluded that in the aggregate, the economic opportunities of African Americans are not reduced by immigration because African Americans and immigrants tend to be in different labor markets and reside in different cities. Other research finds small, adverse effects on African Americans. These effects are found most strongly when low-skilled minority workers compete with low-skilled immigrant workers in the same industries and the same geographic areas.
The fiscal effects of immigration also are complicated. Generally, the impacts on the federal government are favorable compared to those on state and local governments. Most studies show that at the federal level, foreign-born persons pay more in taxes than they receive in services. When spread across all taxpayers, this characteristic represents a very small, but positive, benefit. At the local level, however, immigrants often represent a net fiscal cost, in some cases a substantial one. Research on the resident illegal alien population finds the clearest examples of fiscal costs to states and localities. In general, much of the negative effect is related to school costs because of the larger size of many immigrant families and because immigrant children often need help that native-born children do not. Although funds spent on education should be considered an investment, not just a fiscal burden, the payoff is not realized for many years.
Education affects economic and fiscal impacts in other ways. Ultimately, the economic success and hence, fiscal contributions of immigrants are determined by their educational level. The NRC panel found that immigrants who complete high school and beyond generally represent a more favorable balance of fiscal costs and contributions than do those with little or no education. Even over their lifetimes, immigrants without education are unlikely to contribute sufficient tax revenues to offset their use of services. Both groups of immigrants tend to use public services in a similar fashion, particularly as related to the schooling of their children, but the more educated immigrants tend to earn more and pay higher taxes.
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Educational differences also explain why certain states and localities are more adversely affected economically by immigration than are others. California immigrants represent a sizeable tax burden (estimated at almost $1,200 per native-headed family per year) while New Jersey immigrants represent a more modest tax burden (estimated to be $232 per native-headed family per year). The difference can be explained largely by the differences in the average educational level of the immigrants residing in these states.
English language ability also affects the economic success and fiscal impacts of immigrants. In the 1990 Census, 47 percent of the foreign-born more than 5 years of age reported not speaking English ''very well.'' Individuals with poor English language skills tend to be confined to the lowest levels of the U.S. job market. By contrast, ability in spoken English markedly improves immigrants' earnings, especially for Hispanic and Asian adult immigrants. English reading comprehension also has been found to improve the earnings of young immigrant adults.
Those factors have implications both for policies on immigrationthat is, who is admittedand for immigrant policythat is, what happens to new arrivals after entry. Clearly, the national interest would be served by moderating the entry of unskilled immigrants, except where other values prevail, notably nuclear family reunification, and by increasing the skills of those who have arrived. In our Final Report, the Commission reiterates our recommendations for reform of legal admissions criteria. We would be pleased to answer any questions you have about these recommendations.
We also detail new recommendations regarding the entry of persons for limited duration stays. More foreign workers enter under these categories each year than do for permanent admissions. In keeping with the analysis presented of the economic impact of immigration, we propose that the admission standards for foreign workers be commensurate with their educational achievements. In other words, stricter labor market protection standards should be applied to admissions of lesser skilled workers since they pose greater potential problems than do higher skilled workers, in terms both of displacement and exploitation.
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RESTRUCTURING TO ACHIEVE IMMIGRATION POLICY GOALS
Let me turn to the second issue on the agenda today: the restructuring of the immigration system. An effective immigration system requires both credible policy and sound management. Good management cannot overcome bad policy, to be sure. But poor structures, lack of professionalism, poor planning and failure to set priorities will foil even the best policies. We identified two systemic flaws taht we eblieve will undermine any reform effort.
First, mission overload. Some of the agencies that implement the immigration laws have so many responsibilities that they have proved unable to manage all of them effectively. Between Congressional mandates and administration policies, these agencies must give equal weight to more priorities than anyone can handle. When everything is supposed to have priority, nothing is really a priority.
Second, the diffusion of responsibilities among agencies. Contrary to what some have said, the Commission proposal is to consolidate functions that are now scattered across the Federal government. Three agencies must sign off on a single application for a skilled immigrant visa. Two different agenciesthe INS and the Department of Laborhave responsibilities for worksite enforcement of immigration-related labor standards. Fragmentation of responsibility leads to conflicting messages from the various agencies, to unnecessary delays in making decisions, and redundancies in actual implementation.
The Commission considered a range of ways to reorganize roles and responsibilities, including proposals to establish a Cabinet-level Department of Immigration Affairs, or an independent agency along the lines of the Environmental Protection Agency. We concluded that neither a new department nor an independent agency is practical or desirable, particularly at a time when Congress and the Executive Branch is more interested in streamlining government operations rather than creating large new agencies.
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But this political reality is not the basic reason to recommend against a new superagency. Rather, we came to the conclusion that no one agency is likely to have the capacity to accomplish all of the enforcement and service functions of the immigration system. Immigration law enforcement requires staffing, training, resources, and a work culture that differs from what is required for effective adjudication of benefits or labor standards regulation of U.S. businesses. While some argue that enforcement and benefits are complementary functions, we find that the opposite is true. Both functions are harmed, not helped, by being linked. Having incompatible service and enforcement functions within one agency creates problems: competition for resources; lack of coordination and cooperation; and personnel practices that create confusion about mission and responsibilities.
Combining responsibility for enforcement and benefits also blurs the distinction between illegal immigration and legal admissions. As a matter of public policy, it is important to maintain the distinction.
The Commission meticulously examined the functions of the system, instead of merely trying to draw new flow charts where we would move existing boxes around. We concluded that there are four basic functions of the immigration system: enforcement, immigration and citizenship benefits, labor standards, and review. Based on this analysis, we recommend a restructuring of the system to separate, and then consolidate each function, as follows:
1) Immigration enforcement at the border and in the interior of the U.S. in a Bureau for Immigration Enforcement at the Department of Justice;
Page 23 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC 2) Adjudication of eligibility for immigration-related applications in the Department of State, under the jurisdiction of an Undersecretary for Citizenship, Immigration, and Refugee Admissions;
3) Enforcement of immigration-related employment standards in the Department of Labor; and
4) Appeals of administrative decisions, including exclusion, deportation, and removal hearings, in an independent Agency for Immigration Review.
We believe that these structural reforms are necessary to improve the implementation of the immigration policies set by Congress. The Commission recommendation is to separate the basic functions and then assign responsibility for each to the agency that can most effectively and efficiently carry it out. We have drafted a blueprint for structural reforms that builds on existing strengths, assigns clear responsibility, and, most important, makes it clear which agency is accountable for which results. The responsibility now rests with the Executive Branch and the Congress to take the next steps. We look forward to discussions and planning to implement this proposal in the coming months.
The Commission also sets out management goals that apply regardless of which agency is responsible for implementing policies. Perhaps most important, we emphasize the need to set manageable, fully-funded priorities and to develop the systems to hold managers accountable for the results of their activities. The Commission's discussion of the removal of illegal aliens particularly highlights the need for such management reforms.
Page 24 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Our current removal system does not work effectively. The Commission urges immediate reforms to ensure that aliens with final orders of deportation, exclusion, or removal are indeed removed from the United States. We particularly recommend priorities and numerical targets for the removal of both criminal and noncriminal aliens; local oversight and accountability; Federal funding to provide legal rights and representation to improve efficiency; guidelines on prosecutorial discretion; and a Last-In, First-Out strategy to establish the credibility of the removal system as a whole.
The Commission also urges Congress to clarify that the provisions of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 and the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 do not apply retroactively to cases pending when the new policies and procedures went into effect. Retroactive application undermines the efficiency and credibility of the system, making it all the more difficult to establish a smoothly functioning, prioritized removal system.
Let me turn to Americanization. After five years at the center of a tumultuous national debate, this bipartisan Commission has concluded its work by unanimously calling for policies for immigrants that will fulfill the goals of our immigration policies.
In that spirit, we are calling for a New Americanization Movement. That is, we are calling on the Congress to initiate an immigrant policy, a national effort to cultivate a shared commitment to the American values of liberty, democracy, and equal opportunity. We are calling for a modest Federal grants program to invest in this process. After all, this Congress invests more than $3 billion a year in the vital effort of regulating immigrationkeeping illegal aliens out and bringing legal immigrants in. Surely it makes sense to invest $30 million in the equally-important cause to help immigrants become Americans.
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The Commission proposes that the principles of Americanization be made more explicit, through the covenant between the immigrant and nation. We have not always abided by its terms, but immigrants do become part of us, and we, as a nation and a people, grow and become stronger for having embraced newcomers. We believe that the covenant between newcomers and the nation is:
Mutual and Reciprocal, and
Individual, not Collective.
What do we mean by this, and what does it mean for immigrant policy?
Voluntary means that we as a nation do not have to admit immigrants. We choose to do so.
Likewise, no one requires immigrants to come here. No one forces them to become citizens. They choose to come and, if they naturalize, they choose to become a part of our polity.
Mutual and reciprocal. Because it is a free choice on both sides, immigration presents mutual obligations. Immigrants must obey our laws, pay taxes, and respect other cultures and ethnic groups. At the same time, citizens incur obligations to provide an environment in which newcomers can become fully participating members of our society. We must not exclude them from our community nor bar them from joining the polity after admission.
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Thus, we assume an obligation on those whom we choose to admit, as they assume an obligation to the new nation they have chosen. As you know, this Commission recommended legal enforcement of the responsibilities of immigrant sponsors. But the Commission also believes that, having affirmatively admitted an immigrant, the Federal government necessarily extends civic and societal rights. We recommended against excluding immigrants from the social safety net until naturalization, because we believe that this will make it harder for both immigrants and the communities in which they live.
Individual, not collective. The United States is a nation founded on the proposition that each individual is born with certain rights and that the purpose of government is to secure those rights. We admit immigrants as individuals, or as individual members of families. As long as we continue to emphasize the rights of individuals over those of groups, the diversity brought by immigration will not lead to ethnic division or disunity. Naturally, the right to assemble and join with others is a fundamental right of all Americans, immigrants included. But unlike many other countries, the United States does not define rights by ethnicity, religion, or membership in any group; nor can immigrants be denied rights because they are members of a particular ethnic, religious, or political group.
So those are the principles of Americanization. What are the policies, the programs, to carry it out? We make specific recommendations for:
Developing greater capacities to orient both newcomers and the communities that receive them, including a modest Federal grant program to help states establish information clearinghouses;
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Educating newcomers in English language skills and our core civic values; and
Revisiting the meaning and conferral of citizenship to ensure the integrity of the naturalization process.
We see a strong federal role in supporting immigrant policy, but ultimately we must reinvigorate the public-private partnership that defined the best in our earlier Americanization efforts. While immigration is always a national policy, the actual process of Americanization takes place in local communities. Every town hall, school, business, church, synagogue, mosque; every foundation, charity, and ethnic associationincluding both the older ones founded to help immigrants of generations past, and the new onesshould play an important role in helping newcomers adjust.
We urge a renewed commitment to educating immigrant children.
We emphasize that rapid acquisition of English should be the paramount goal of any immigrant language instruction program. We therefore urge making funding contingent on performance outcomesthat is, English language acquisition and mastery of regular subject matter by students. We urge that immigrant education funding be based on a more accurate assessment of the impact of immigration on school systems and be sufficient to alleviate these impacts. We urge enhanced educational opportunities for adult immigrants, since the educational level of the parent is a reliable indicator of the success of the child. AsI stated above, education is the key predictor of the economic success of immigrants as well as their fiscal impact on states and localities.
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We recommend the revival and emphasis on instruction of all kindergarten through twelfth grade students in the common civic culture that is essential to citizenship. Civics instruction in the public schools should be rooted in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitutionparticularly the Preamble, the Bill of Rights, and the 14th amendment. Emphasizing the ideals in these documents is in no way a distortion of U.S. history. Instruction in the history of the United States, as a unique engine of human liberty notwithstanding all our faults, is an indispensable foundation for solid civics training for all Americansnot just immigrants.
Let me turn to naturalization. The Commission believes the current legal requirements for naturalization are appropriate. There is no need to make the requirements either harder or easier than they are.
But we believe that the mechanisms used to demonstrate knowledge of U.S. history, civics, and English competence can be improved.
We believe that the tests should be standardized, and aimed at evaluating a common core of knowledge to be understood by all new citizens. They should not be trivia tests. It is more important that a new citizen understand what it means to have freedom of speech or the right to a trial by jury than that they can tell us which state was the 48th admitted to the Union. Let us have a meaningful citizenship test. Frankly, many of us who were born here might learn something from immigrants who come from less happy lands, when they speak about the meaning of these rights that we may take for granted.
Page 29 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC We recommend that the Federal government have more direct control over the process, through a single English and civics testing service. We also believe that only service providers under the direct control of the Federal government should be authorized to take fingerprints. We believe that we can have a more efficient naturalization process with higher quality.
The Commission believes that a more expeditious approach to the swearing-in ceremony should be adopted. Congress should restore the Executive Branch's sole jurisdiction for naturalization, to ensure that we have ceremonies that are timely, as well as fittingly solemn and dignified.
Finally, the Commission recommends that the naturalization oath be revised to make it comprehensible, solemn and meaningful. We have provided to each member of the Subcommittee, as a supplement to my written testimony, copies of the current Oath as it appears in Federal regulations, and our proposed revision. We do not recommend altering the statutory requirements of the Oath, but we do believe that this new language is clearer, and therefore more solemnly meaningful, than the archaic language of the old.
We will of course be glad to answer all the questions you may have.
Mr. GALLEGLY. Thank you very much, Ms. Hufstedler. Mr. Teitelbaum, did you have testimony?
[Mr. Teitelbaum shakes head to indicate no.]
Page 30 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. GALLEGLY. Fine. They are resources today.
We welcome all of you. A couple of things: In the early part of your statement you get at the issue of the economic effects on immigrants. You made mention, I believe, that on the national level immigrants provide a net benefit in dollars to the Federal coffers. Yet, in many cases, and of course, I think in my State of California, many would yield that at the state and local level, some of the cases have been financially devastating at best.
I didn't hear you make a differentiation between legal and illegal immigrants. However, as it relates to the economic aspect both at the Federal and the local level. Was there a difference, or did I just miss it?
Ms. HUFSTEDLER. Of course, there's a difference, but, in terms of legal immigration, to which that set of statistics is involved, we have confined our attention primarily to the affects of legal immigration because that is the primary concern with respect to who should be admitted legally. We have not created endorsements for illegal admission.
Mr. GALLEGLY. I respect that. I didn't know whether there had been any studies though on the illegal affect.
Ms. HUFSTEDLER. Yes, there have been. I'll have Ms. Martin address that.
Mr. GALLEGLY. Susan.
Page 31 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCSTATEMENT OF SUSAN MARTIN, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, U.S. COMMISSION ON IMMIGRATION REFORM
Ms. MARTIN. Yes, actually our full testimony, I believe, does indicate that the studies demonstrate that illegal migrants certainly have greater costs at the state and local level than the average legal immigrant would. It's very much related to educational level because the typical unauthorized migrant who comes in is coming in with very, very low skill levels and working in areas where there are very low wages. Often they are paid under the table.
So, their contributions into the revenue system are very, very low. Yet, when families come, there's a high use of educational services and a variety of other services though very low use of welfare services.
Mr. GALLEGLY. Would you say its safe to say that even on the national level illegal immigrants are not a financial boon to our economy?
Ms. MARTIN. Well, the Commission actually, rather than focus on that aspect, believing that under no circumstances, should we tolerate illegal migration
Mr. GALLEGLY. Right.
Ms. MARTIN [continuing]. Thought that in some ways that shouldn't be a consideration in the debate. It's illegal; therefore, it is wrong.
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Mr. GALLEGLY. One of the things that we have found, howeverand I really do respect the fact that you've kind of stayed away from illegal because you don't even recognize that as something that we should be condoninghowever, I think that one would have to recognize that in many cases, illegal immigration can be converted to legal immigration, whether it be an amnesty program a few years ago, or whether we are looking at 245-I today or whether we are looking at the situation in Central America where we have seven or eight hundred thousand people in this country that are now deemed here illegally although they are in the process, through the administration, of trying to find a conduit to make what is illegal legal. So, you can't just ignore that issue when you are talking about legal immigration.
Ms. HUFSTEDLER. We, of course, have not ignored it, but at the same time our mission is to look forward. Our mission is not to be critical of what many think have been some mistakes in the past. We intend to try to do our best to say how it should be.
Mr. GALLEGLY. I appreciate that and I assume you are referring to programs, whether it be amnesty or others, as mistakes in the past.
Ms. HUFSTEDLER. I don't give any label to them and neither have any of the other members of the Commission. We have bipartisan good sense.
Mr. GALLEGLY. We have people on both sides of the aisle that don't always have good sense, so it is not a one-way street, believe me. Depending on which side of the street you're on, I think those on our side have been accused, and many times rightly so, as has the other side. So, I don't think this is necessarily a partisan issue.
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Just one more quick question for the chairwoman, and then, if Mr. Teitelbaum would like to add something: Education, of course, you focused a great deal on that and whether it be immigrants, or whether it be naturalized citizens, or whether it be natural-born citizens; education, without question, I think, on all our minds is paramount to the future of this country.
You made reference to learning English as rapidly as possible. Yet, I didn't hear you use the term ''bilingual.'' I'd like to know what the Commission's position is on that.
Ms. HUFSTEDLER. What the Commission firmly believes is that the United States Government should not dictate what the methodology is. You dictate outcome and hold people accountable for what they promise to do.
All of us recognize that children do not always learn anything in precisely the same way. It is necessary to get teachers and administrators an opportunity to give people the means without holding them back, or being overly-prescriptive, to reach children in a way that is the most meaningful to the children to learn English as rapidly as possible.
That is the effort. We are not picking the methodology because dictating methodology doesn't do very much to help the teacher in the classroomhe or she has got to reach the children.
Good morning, Mr. Chairman.
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Mr. GALLEGLY. I want to thank you very much Ms. Hufstedler, and as you can see, our able chairman has returned. With that I will turn this hearing back over to his able hands.
Mr. SMITH. Thank you, Mr. Gallegly. My friend from California did not tell me what alibi he gave me in my absence.
Mr. GALLEGLY. I said you were not the respondent. [Laughter.]
Mr. SMITH. Okay.
Ms. HUFSTEDLER. Actually, he said you were hearing, not being heard.
Mr. SMITH. Very few meetings around here are mandatory, but I'm afraid I was at such a meeting until just a couple of minutes ago. Thank you all for being here. I am going to give my opening statement in a minute, but I am told that we are in the middle of questions. If that is the case, is it time for the gentleman from North Carolina? Mr. Watt.
Mr. WATT. It's time. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I want to commend the manor in which Mr. Gallegly conducted this hearing in your absence. He was a fine substitute for you.
Mr. SMITH. Are you suggesting that he was a better substitute? [Laughter.]
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Mr. WATT. No, I wouldn't dare to do that.
Let me start by making a comment on something that probably is perceived as being more symbolic than substantive. The Commission has dedicated this report to the memory of the former Chair of the Commission, Barbara Jordan. All of your service on the Commission and the dedication, time and sacrifice that you have made to bring a number of different perspectives to the table, explore them fully, and release a report that you can all stand behind and defend in this public venue is a fine tribute to Barbara Jordan. I think it's a wonderful gesture that the Commission has dedicated its Final Report to Barbara Jordan as well.
I remember the first time I met Barbara Jordan. I had seen her on television and heard so much about her. Of course, she was no longer a Member of Congress when I came here.
The very first time I met her was in the context of one of the earlier interim reports of the Commission. She was here and then almost overnight, she was gone. So, while this dedication may not have a direct substantive impact on the Report, although I'm sure she had substantive impact on every member of this Commission, I think we all would be remiss not to use this opportunity to give Barbara Jordan the credit that the Commission has indicated she deserves by virtue of dedicating this report to her. I commend you for that.
I'm sorry, I didn't mean to get off onto something that really didn't deal with the substance of your testimony, but I think we would be remiss if we didn't make note of the dedication in the record.
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Let me raise a couple of questions, the first one of which picks up with the last point that Mr. Gallegly was making about the Americanization part of your report. You have emphasized the necessity and desirability of every immigrant learning English and being conversant in English.
It occurs to me that you have studiously avoided the English-only issue that was rampant for a while in this body. Did you all have occasion to discuss that at all in your meetings and has the Commission a position on that?
Ms. HUFSTEDLER. Certainly, there have been plenty of occasions. There's a Secretary of the Education in the United States, of course, and I've been through those wars a lot. In terms of the Commission, I would think it most appropriate to call on Dr. Teitelbaum who was the co-chairman of the Americanization Committee.
STATEMENT OF MICHAEL TEITELBAUM, VICE CHAIR, U.S. COMMISSION ON IMMIGRATION REFORM
Mr. TEITELBAUM. Well, thank you, Judge Hufstedler. We did not really discuss the issue of English-only because our focus was on the successful and expeditious integration and embracing of legal immigrants to the United States. So, our focus was on what could be done to make sure that whatever happensin some cases it's not even happeningbut, more particularly, happen rapidly and humanely. You'll find our recommendations deal entirely with how to approach that kind of goal.
Page 37 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. WATT. Mr. Chairman, I have some other questions but, in fairness to other people, I think it would probably be more appropriate to let them go ahead in turn.
OPENING STATEMENT OF CHAIRMAN SMITH
Mr. SMITH. Thank you, Mr. Watt. I'm sure there will be several rounds of questions. If the subcommittee doesn't object, I'll have my complete opening statement made a part of the record, but I would like to give a short opening statement, and then we'll go to Mr. Bryant for questions.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Smith follows:]
PREPARED STATEMENT OF HON. LAMAR SMITH, CHAIRMAN, SUBCOMMITEE ON IMMIGRATION AND CLAIMS, HOUSE COMMITTEE ON THE JUDICIARY
Mr. SMITH OF TEXAS. The bi-partisan Commission on Immigration Reform(see footnote 1) was established by the Immigration Act of 1990 to review and evaluate the United States' immigration policies, and report its conclusions to the Congress.(see footnote 2) The Commission is composed of nine members, including a chairperson appointed by the President, and two members each appointed by the Speaker of the House, the House Minority Leader, the Senate Majority Leader, and the Senate Minority Leader.
Page 38 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The Commission submitted a number of important and influential reports to Congress, and most recently, at the end of September, we received the Commission's final report. Now, having completed its work, the Commission is set to disband at the end of this year.
The Commission was initially led by the late Barbara Jordan, who set a high standard; and then by the equally dedicated Shirley Hufstedler, who has finished the job with distinction. I congratulate the members of the Commission and their hard-working staff, especially Executive Director Susan Martin, for all their accomplishments over the years. Rest assured that you have helped to transform the ongoing debate about United States immigration policy in a positive and enduring manner.
Pursuant to its statutory obligation under the Immigration Act of 1990,(see footnote 3) the Subcommittee is holding a public hearing to begin examining some of the Commission's findings and recommendations.
First, as it has done in previous reports, the Commission once again recommended that Congress foster and promote the Americanization process, whereby immigrants from all over the world are assimilated into the national political, economic and cultural community, and eventually become United States citizens. The Commission's final report emphasizes the importance of educating immigrants in the English language, and in United States history and government, so that they can become Americans in the fullest sense of the word. The federal government, working with state and local governments and with the private sector, has a responsibility to enhance the assimilation and Americanization of new immigrants.
The Commission also emphasized the corresponding, reciprocal obligation on the part of each new immigrant to work towards assimilation. New immigrants should work to educate themselves in the language, culture and politics of the United States, so that they may participate fully in the American economy, culture and civic life.
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Second, the Commission's report, along with a recent National Academy of Sciences study sponsored by the Commission, presents a number of important conclusions on the economic impact of legal immigration. Briefly, the Commission has concluded that the current system of legal immigration causes a number of significant negative economic impacts. These negative economic impacts are often suffered by the poorest and most vulnerable Americans, especially minorities and immigrants themselves.
According to the reports, the United States economy has in recent years become more and more a high-skill economy. Lower-skilled Americans on the lowest rungs of the socio-economic ladder have experienced increasing difficulty in finding jobs with wages and benefits that will allow them to support themselves and their families. Unfortunately, at the same time, the one million legal immigrants who come to the United States every year are, as a group, increasingly comprised of lower-skilled, lower-education individuals who directly compete for jobs with America's lower-skilled workers. This job competition results in a number of negative effects which are caused by the predictable interaction of the forces of supply and demand, and which have been substantiated by rigorous statistical research.
(1) The influx of low-skilled immigrant labor causes unemployment and dislocation among lower-skilled American workers, especially minorities and previous immigrants, who find it more difficult to find employment when new immigrants are plentiful and willing to work for extremely low pay in substandard working conditions. According to the reports, these workers are often forced to rely on the social welfare net, or to uproot their families and move to other parts of the country in search of employment.
Page 40 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC (2) The reports state that unfair competition from a continuing influx of low-skilled immigrant labor drives down wages and working conditions in many industries, so that the people working in those industries, whether immigrant or native-born, find it more difficult to attain an acceptable standard of living for themselves and their families. (For example, the meat- packing and garment industries, which used to be a source of attractive and secure middle-class jobs, generally no longer provide such jobs.) In addition, the new immigrants who take such jobs are increasingly victimized by abusive working conditions.
(3) According to the reports, the influx of low-skilled immigrant labor further exacerbates the growing economic inequality and division within the United States. This ever-increasing ''wage gap'' is harmful to the unity and cohesiveness of our society. In addition, the reports show that recent immigrants are not gaining skills and education as fast as previous immigrants did, so that the new immigrants are often ghettoized in economic and cultural enclaves which are increasingly isolated from the mainstream of American economic, cultural and political life.
(4) The Commission found that many low-skilled immigrants arriving in the United States are unable to find jobs and must rely on social welfare programs. Together with American workers displaced by immigration, they become a significant drain on public funds which must be diverted from other budget priorities, especially in high-immigration states like California. The resulting poverty and dependence contribute to crime and other social ills.
Furthermore, according to the reports, even those low-skilled immigrants who do find jobs tend to use more resources in the form of government services than they contribute in taxes, which adds an additional burden to the fiscal budgets of high-immigration states.
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In short, the Commission's final report, and previous reports, suggest that Congress should examine closely the continuing negative economic effects of legal immigration upon American workers, both immigrant and native-born. The Commission concludes that efforts to reform the U.S. legal immigration system should be driven by concern for American workers and their families, particularly the poorest and most vulnerable, who are currently adversely impacted by unfair competition from the continuing flood of low-skilled immigrants. Thus, it recommends that U.S. legal immigration policy be changed to admit a substantially higher percentage of high- skilled workers and a correspondingly lower percentage of low-skilled workers, and that the specific category for admission of unskilled immigrant workers be eliminated.
Third, the Commission has recommended that the federal agencies responsible for immigration-related functions be radically restructured. In the opinion of the Commission, the Immigration and Naturalization Service is currently overloaded with an enormous number of inherently conflicting duties. In addition, the current scheme of organization, under which many immigration-related duties are distributed among the INS, the Department of State, and the Department of Labor, is often duplicative and inefficient. Thus, the Commission recommends that the INS be dismantled and that all immigration-related duties be parceled out to four different functionally-organized federal agencies.
The Commission would separate the law enforcement function from the function of granting benefits. The law enforcement function would be carried out by the newly-created Bureau for Immigration Enforcement, which, as a law enforcement agency, would be located within the Department of Justice. The Bureau for Immigration Enforcement would carry out immigration enforcementi.e., prevention and deterrence of illegal immigration, removal of illegal immigrants, dealing with criminal aliensat the border and in the interior.
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Under the Commission's proposal, all immigration-related benefitsincluding admission of immigrants, temporary admissions, refuge and asylum, adjustment of status, and naturalizationwould be adjudicated by the Department of State, which already administers many immigration benefits though its domestic and foreign offices. These immigration-related duties would be directed by a newly-created Undersecretary for Citizenship, Immigration, and Refugee Admissions.
The Department of Labor, which already enforces some immigration-related employment standards, would assume responsibility for enforcing all such laws. These include sanctions on employers who fail to verify employment authorization, hire illegal aliens, or use alien workers to undercut American wages and employment.
All immigration-related decisions would be administratively reviewed by a newly-created Agency for Immigration Review. To preserve the integrity of its review function, the new agency would be independent of any existing agencies.
Mr. SMITH. The bipartisan Commission on Immigration Reform was created by Congress in 1990 to investigate and report on the consequences of U.S. immigration policy and to make recommendations for immigration reform. The Commission submitted a number of important and influential reports to Congress, and most recently, at the end of September, we received the Commission's final report. Now, having completed its work, the Commission is set to disband at the end of this year.
The Commission was initially led by the late Barbara Jordan, who set a high standard, and then by the equally dedicated Shirley Hufstedler, who has finished the job with distinction.
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I congratulate the members of the Commission and their hard-working staff, especially Executive Director Susan Martin, for all their accomplishments over the years. Rest assured that you have helped to transform the ongoing debate about United States immigration policy in a very positive and enduring manner.
The Commission's final report is as thorough and thoughtful as their previous efforts and it addresses many crucial issues, three of which I hope to explore today.
First, the Commission has reiterated the overwhelming importance of the Americanization process. Providing immigrants with education in the English language and in United States history and government helps them to become Americans in the fullest sense of the word.
The Commission has suggested ways for the Federal Government, working with state and local governments and the private sector, to enhance the assimilation of new immigrants. Just as important, the Commission has emphasized the obligation of each new immigrant to work to become an American.
Second is the negative economic impact of low-skilled immigration. The Commission has identified a number of significant harms to the poorest and most vulnerable Americans, especially minorities and immigrants themselves.
The problem is that the United States economy has become a high-skilled economy where low-skilled workers have difficulty finding decent jobs that pay a living wage. The one million legal immigrants who come here every year are increasingly comprised of low-skilled individuals.
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Predictably, this leads to heavy competition for a limited number of jobs, which, in turn, causes unemployment and worsens wages, benefits, and working conditions. It also contributes to economic inequality and welfare dependency.
Unfortunately, these negative effects are especially concentrated in high immigration states like California, where the burden on each individual taxpayer is very high. Even when they are working, low-skilled immigrants use more in government services than they pay in taxes over their lifetimes.
These problems call for a response. The Commission has recommended positive steps to protect the economic well-being of America's poorest and most vulnerable workers who are adversely impacted by the continuing flood of low-skilled immigrant labor.
Third, the Commission has recommended that the Federal immigration agencies be radically restructured. The Immigration and Naturalization Service is overloaded by an enormous number of conflicting duties, and many tasks are inefficiently shared by the INS, the State Department, and the Labor Department. The Commission's detailed reorganization proposal may provide the basis for substantial reform in the future.
I thank the Commission members and their Chair again for their contributions and, of course, I look forward to hearing not only your testimony, but your answers to our questions.
One final note: What has impressed me as much as anything else about the Commission's work is that, to my knowledge, you are literally the only entity that is truly bipartisan in every sense of the word and that represents such a diversity of viewpoints. For you all to have reached unanimous, or near unanimous, agreement on every recommendation is a tribute not only to you, but to the substance and acceptability of your ideas. That's why, to me at least, what you recommend is more credible than what is recommended by many organizations that might not be as truly bipartisan, or maybe we should say non-partisan, in their recommendations.
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So, I thank you again for all you've done, and I will now go to Mr. Bryant, the gentleman from Tennessee, for his questions.
Mr. BRYANT. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Let me add my appreciation for the work that your entire committee has done and apologize in advance for leaving shortly. I, like everyone else up here, have other commitments that I have to attend.
If I might just askMr. Morrison and Mr. Hill have been awfully quiet on the end. I'd like to bring you all into this discussion and answer the question I'm about to propose, if you have thoughts on it. Again, I just pick on you two because you all haven't said anything yet and I know you have a lot to say.
Your Commission report indicates, among other thingsI think its very solid that our efforts to reform our legal immigration system should be driven by concern for American workers and their families. In particular, the poorest and most vulnerable who are currently losing tens of billions of dollars to unfair competition from the continuing flood of low-skilled immigrants.
You recommend that our policy, again with regard to legal immigration, should be changed to admit a substantially higher percentage of high-skilled workers and a correspondingly lower percentage of low-skilled workers and that the specific category for admission of unskilled immigrant workers be eliminated. I agree with that. My question is something tied to, although not directly, another comment that you makethat this is resulting in an ever-increasing wage gap which is harmful to the unity and cohesiveness of our American society.
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In addition, the reports show that recent immigrants are not gaining skills and education as fast as previous immigrants did. So that the new immigrants are often ''ghetto-ized'' in economic and cultural enclaves which are increasingly isolated from the mainstream of American economic, cultural, and political life.
A question for you gentlemen, and others if we have time: What do you believe is the cause of this ''ghetto-ization,'' the fact that these folks coming in today aren'tand I realize this is an opinion that might be debatedthat aren't becoming Americanized as quickly as others in the past? Because I think that is a factor in this overall problem of some of these people being victimized by employers who would take advantage, and so forth.
Mr. CANNON. Would the gentleman yield just a moment?
Mr. BRYANT. Sure.
Mr. CANNON. Then I will be happy to yield some of my time back. Because you asked the question that I really would like to hear and I'd like to hear from the panel on that.
You could add also that there are some regional differences in my area. We produce software in mammoth amounts and we have almost an insatiable demand for foreigners who are capable either of producing software or translating into other languages.
Page 47 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC So, we have a huge disparity from region to region both with the nature of immigration and who is coming. We are an interior state, in Utah. So if you could address the disparity, and in practical terms, whether the issues that Mr. Bryant raised are real, I would appreciate that. Thank you.
Ms. HUFSTEDLER. Mr. Morrison, how about your taking on the first go around?
STATEMENT OF HON. BRUCE A. MORRISON, COMMISSIONER, U.S. COMMISSION ON IMMIGRATION REFORM
Mr. MORRISON. I think Bob and I are surprised, for the first time, of being accused of being quiet. [Laughter.]
The Commission confronted many things about immigration, but something that always united it was to maximize the benefits and minimize the harms of immigration generally. Clearly, one of the major focuses of potential harm or actual harm was unfair competition.
Certainly, one of the issues that arises with respect to illegal immigration, in addition to the fact that it's wrong per se, is that it forms a very pernicious, generally low-skilled, unregulated and exploitive kind of economic competition. That adds to the intensity of the importance of having effective means to combat illegal immigration. We've made some very significant recommendations to internal enforcement and worksite enforcement which we believe are indispensable if you want to rid the society of substantial illegal migrants. That is one source of the problem you are talking about. The most difficult and most problematic competition for low-skilled American workers is those who are not here legally at all.
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Secondly, you ask why things are different and I would say two things. One, they probably aren't quite as different as we may romanticize these problems in terms of the difficulties that immigrants have had over the decades in integrating to the society. The economy into which immigrants must now integrate is very different, and the skill level demands on workers to be successful economically are much greater and the educational demands on people, and on our system to provide them, are very different.
So, those who come here without skills that easily integrate into the current workplace, and the workplace moving forward, are more likely to be left behind. It is for that reason that we focused on real priorities. Skilled workers, and, in that term, skills that fit into the workplace needs, and that really goes into the demand of the software industry or others that find themselves with shortages. We've dealt with how to deal with those shortages in a way which we believe would be better than the current system in terms of using market forces to determine who will come and who is really needed.
Secondly, that we should abolish the category for unskilled workers, not believing that there are shortages that cannot be met by training and recruiting Americans. Some are already here, whether they be permanent residents or citizens.
Going further, we understand that one source of lower-skilled immigrants are the more extended family categories. Family immigration ought to be focused on the nuclear family, regardless of skill level. No one would deny a family being together in terms of the spouse and the minor children. But it gets to be a much different question when you go beyond the nuclear family and ask whether lower-skilled individuals should be coming in the extended family category, rather than putting the priority on the nuclear family.
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So, in a variety of ways, we've responded to that, and we would say it is harder to compete economically in America today because the skills demanded by the economy of the world are greater, and therefore, the immigrants need to be better prepared. We need to pay more attention to them when they get here to see to it that they don't fall behind in terms of English education and all that.
Mr. BRYANT. Mr. Chairman, could I ask for 2 additional minutes?
Mr. SMITH. Sure.
STATEMENT OF ROBERT CHARLES HILL, COMMISSIONER, U.S. COMMISSION ON IMMIGRATION REFORM
Mr. HILL. Thank you very much. If I may just add a brief comment from the right, as I've had a tendency to do here over the last 5 years.
This has been a central concern of the Commission throughout our existence: the impact of large numbers of lower-skilled and unskilled workers on similarly situated or disadvantaged populations in the United States. I cut my political teeth out of law school, working 8 years in an administration that, among many accomplishments, unfortunately, was never able to accomplish a central goal in this regard, which was to persuade Congress at that time to adopt meaningful welfare reform. So, I regard one of the great accomplishment of this Congress as having achieved that very important goal. But with it comes the obligation to ensure that the people that we are now asking to move from public assistance to meaningful opportunities in work is to make sure that they have those opportunities. To now put them in situations where they are competing for entry level and other kinds of lower-skilled jobs with increasing numbers of low-skilled immigrants is counterproductive, in my view.
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We have heard testimony throughout the last 5 years, on the impact of immigration in certain sectors of the economy: low-skilled jobs in the inner cities, on the lower educational levels, if you will, the high school dropouts, as well as high school graduates who do not go on to further educational levels. It seems to us that that is one area that immigration policy must take account of, and that's why we have recommended the elimination of the unskilled worker category.
We have in our limited duration admissions recommendations recommended, shall we say, an enhanced level of protection for unskilled workers who may be competing with unskilled migrants, and we consistently said that unless there are very overriding other public policy values which we believe to be the reunification of the nuclear family, that immigration policy should not bring in large numbers of unskilled workers.
Mr. SMITH. Thank you, Mr. Bryant. The gentleman from Utah, Mr. Cannon, is recognized.
Mr. CANNON. Thank you, and let me just ask a couple of questions.
Is it true, taking the legal immigrants as a whole, that their educational and other skills are less today than they have been in the past? Or, are they tending to decline?
Ms. HUFSTEDLER. This is relative, but you have to look at what the economic situation of the country was. Before I turn to Dr. Martin, I will simply remind people that in 1950 only 23 percent of adult Americans had ever been through high school and the American economy could not have absorbed a much higher-skilled labor force.
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That situation has changed dramatically, and with it, it requires addressing more carefully what the immigration policy should be to deal with that immense change in the national economy and, of course, the international economy.
On a particular question on this point, I will turn to Dr. Martin.
Ms. MARTIN. Just quickly, there are two tiers of immigrants coming in now through the legal system. There is a group that is actually better educated than ever before, and they're probably coming into the industries that you're very familiar with. There's a group that has not only very, very low levels of education, but the gap between their levels and the United States average has grown. It's not that they're less educated than the turn of the century immigrants were, but as the Chair was saying, the difference between a sixth grade education and the U.S. average now has grown tremendously over the last number of years.
Mr. CANNON. We're going to have to go for a vote. Just let me just ask one more follow-up question. Ms. Hufstedler, do you think that the reason we're bringing in so many more of the second, the lower-educated group, is because the economy is demanding it? In other words, is this a demand-driven thing, or are we bringing in people that are actually competing with others that are here whose lives are deteriorated because of immigration, that is lower level immigration?
Ms. MARTIN. If I could answer, and perhaps the Commissioners would have something to add, but I see it as now very much as a self-perpetuating process. Having had a large-scale amnesty program in the 1980's, where we legalized about 3 million illegal aliens, most of whom were very, very low-skilled, we're still on a process of consolidating that amnesty and continuing to admit others who have either been here illegally, or who are the family members of the amnesty group.
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So, that process will take some time to get through, and one of the concerns is that it not open up still more avenues with extended families and still more and more and more unskilled immigrants coming into the country.
Mr. CANNON. Thank you very much.
Mr. SMITH. Thank you, Mr. Cannon.
You all have heard the bells, and we think we only have one vote, in which case we will stand in recess for about 15 minutes and return. Thank you all for waiting.
Mr. SMITH [presiding]. The subcommittee will reconvene. Thank you all again for waiting for us. I was glad to be able to visit and say hello to our witnesses a little bit more personally just a minute ago.
Let me go to my questions; then I'm going to have some more in a subsequent round and try to cover a lot of territory simply because the report covers a lot of territory as well.
I guess we will direct all of our questions to you, Ms. Hufstedler? Is that correct?
Page 53 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Ms. HUFSTEDLER. I will simply distribute the questions because I think it's important that all the members of the committee know that the diversity throughout the Commission is present today, and each one of them is not suffering from a bad case of shyness.
Mr. SMITH. I do know that.
Mr. WATT. Mr. Chairman, can I make a request that I think will accommodate both you and me since I must leave in 5 minutes?
Mr. SMITH. I'll be happy to yield my time to the gentleman from North Carolina.
Mr. WATT. Then, that way you will be able to have the continuity of being ablenot to take rounds.
Mr. SMITH. Continue. The gentleman from North Carolina is recognized.
Mr. WATT. That's wonderful. Thank you. And, I apologize to the Commissioners. I had hoped that we'd be able to do this in some kind of order where I wouldn't get forced into this dilemma, but I had set up another meeting at 11 o'clock and it's one that I must attend. Not like the Ethics meeting, but it's almost like that, this meeting.
I just wanted to touch a couple of other areas maybe. There is a part in your report that basically suggests that there can be a credible system for removing illegal immigrants that is consistent with constitutional safeguards. You kind of say that without giving us much to go beyond that.
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One of the things that I have had some concern about is the so-called expedited removal process that we enacted last year. Was there discussion of the existing expedited removal process, and would you care to talk a little bit about how those two interests that appear to be competing might be reconciled?
Ms. HUFSTEDLER. We most certainly did talk about it, and I think it would be useful to call on Commissioner Morrison to give a little more detail about that.
Mr. MORRISON. We certainlywe considered the whole panoply of issues in removal and, with specific respect to expedited removal, were quite critical of that new initiative for the reason that we believe that it was directed at a past problem. There was a serious past problem of asylum abuse and the arrival of people with false or nonexistent documents making claims for asylum, and thereby being able to pass into the country and be put into lengthy proceedings and get work authorization. That was a problem, but by a combination of asylum reform, that is, that the Immigration Service made administratively in terms of processing those applications, and the judicious use of detention, for those who could not present valid entry documents and could not justify their release into the country, those numbers of inappropriate arrivals had dropped dramatically.
So the evil that that legislation was drafted initially to confront had really been solved by less drastic means. We are concerned not so much for the narrow scope that Congress really was looking at when it first went after that problem, but the fact that expedited removal is very broadly applicable to a lot of people about whom there may be a question, but there are a lot of good answers. Those answers may or may not emerge in that expedited process. So we do have concerns that while the initial motivation was a valid one, that the remedy may well be worse than what it was that it sought to be cured.
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Just, generally on removals, the perspective of the Commission is that the problemand there is a problem in the removal systemthe problem is not the rights that respondents have. The problem is the management of the process that, in fact, the removal process is sorely mismanaged and that people are put into the removal system and they come out the other end and they don't get removed. They just go back into the streets. That is really the problem we ought to be focused on, not taking away more of their rights because, when you take away their rights, people who do have valid claims get ignored.
Mr. WATT. Mr. Chairman, let me ask one more question, if you don't mind. And again, I'm reluctant to draw the Commission into controversial territory. [Laughter.]
Mr. MORRISON. That's the briar patch approach.
Mr. WATT. Especially when I'm leaving the room. [Laughter.]
But I'm sure the chairman will dig out of some of these questions that I'm asking.
Mr. SMITH. In anticipating the next question, I should remind the gentleman that his time has expired, and it's 11 o'clock and they're waiting. [Laughter.]
Mr. WATT. Well, I'll ask this one and then I'll leave. Then I'll read the record.
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The Commission was critical of the retroactive application of certain provisions of the new immigration law. I was thinking that it might be appropriate to have you all address some of the more egregious examples of consequences of the retroactive application, so that you can help me buttress some of the arguments I've been having with my chairman.
Mr. SMITH. Will the gentleman yield for just a minute?
Mr. WATT. Yes.
Mr. SMITH. I'd like to reaffirm that that word ''retroactive'' should be used accurately. What we did in last year's bill that is oftentimes called ''retroactive''which, in fact, was upheld by courts and by the Board of Immigration Appealswas not retroactive, at least in the legal sense of that word.
Mr. WATT. You didn't think the Commission was going to tell me that?
Mr. SMITH. Well, I just wanted to make sure that it was on the record. It won't interfere with the questioning.
Ms. HUFSTEDLER. The question not only addresses constitutionally-based retroactivity, but applications, regardless of how the constitutional environment is treated, to which I think the Commission has very specifically addressed its attention. For that reason, I'll again call on Commissioner Morrison to give you a little broader and more particularized picture of what the picture is, and why.
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Mr. MORRISON. We spent quite a bit of time on this retroactivity question. There were a range of views in the Commission, but we all came to consensus on what is in the recommendation, and that is, that in proceedings that have already commenced, changing the substantive rules under which people might get relief from those proceedings is a bad idea. It is thought to be a bad idea not only on the grounds of fairness to a particular litigant, a particular respondent, but in terms of the management of the removal process.
In a system which has 300,000 or more unexecuted removal orders that have turned a court into an issuer of meaningless paper, it makes no sense to burden the system with more people to be removed who would not otherwise have been removed but for the change of the law. Rather, we should look prospectively and remove people effectivelyeveryone who is put into proceedings and who loses ought to expect to be removed promptly.
Achieving that standard is very important. That's why, in addition to looking at retroactivity, we've said there should be a last-in, first-out approach to this backlog. Because if we are going to get control of this system, we're going to have to have the expectation that if you go into proceedings and you don't have a good defense, you're out of herepromptly. That's not the case now. Anything that makes it longer and more difficult to get, that being the case, is counterproductive.
So for both those reasons, the fairness issues and this doesn't go to the constitutional question which may or may not be decided a certain way, but on the practicalities of applying substantive rules that were different before the proceedings that already were in progress, that was the standard we used for retroactivity, to respond to the chairman's point.
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Ms. HUFSTEDLER. I'll add this: It also is an illustration of what the Commission means when it talks about having credible policy. This Nation ought to have credibility as a watchword of how we conduct our affairsthis is a Nation that needs to teach fairness by being fair.
Mr. WATT. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I apologize again for having to leave. It may be the chairman will still be going and I can get back, but it depends on how prompt other people are to this other meeting. It really won't last more than 10 or 15 minutes, if people come on time. So, I may get back.
Mr. SMITH. Good. We'll look forward to your return. Thank you, Mr. Watt.
Let me proceed with my questions.
The first is, how does your analysis of the economic impact of immigration support your recommendations as far as that new Americanization program?
Ms. HUFSTEDLER. We think it supports it very well, and I will turn to Dr. Teitelbaum to comment more extensively on that issue.
Mr. TEITELBAUM. The question, Mr. Chairman, is how does the economic analysis relate to the Americanization recommendations? Is that correct?
Page 59 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. SMITH. Yes, that's correct, economic impact related to the Americanization program.
Mr. TEITELBAUM. Well, you've heard a description of the basic conclusions of the study by the National Academy of Science on economic impacts. The findings, as correctly stated by the Chair, were that in the aggregate the effects on the economy of the United States of immigration were positive, but small. I think we should put the scale into the discussion here. We need to keep in mind the scale of the effect.
Our Chair said a billion dollars or more per year. I believe that's the low side of the estimate from these complex analyses. It was really, as I remember, $1 to $10 billion net per year from the study. These studies are necessarily very imperfect, but there is a lot of error surrounding that range, as you might expect. It is always important to remember the problem of the zeros, which is a classic problem. When I worked on the Hill, it was inevitable that somebody would say ''million'' when they meant ''billion,'' and in this case, we're talking trillion versus billion.
So let's keep in mind exactly what $1 to $10 billion per year means in a $7.6 trillion economy. One percent of that $7.6 trillion economy would be $76 billion. One-tenth of 1 percent would be $7.6 billion. So we are talking about a positive effect somewhere in the range of one one-hundredth to one-tenth of 1 percent of the U.S. economy.
It's very important to keep this scale factor in mind. Now, to the question of how the Americanization recommendations relate to this: The more rapid is the successful integration and embracing of newcomers into the United States economy, the more productive they are likely to be; the more taxes they are likely to be able to pay because they will be more productive and have higher earnings; and the fewer resources they will need, and their children will need, in terms of expenditures on the expenditure side of Federal, state, and local governments.
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So, I believe that the recommendations on Americanization are entirely consistent with the findings on the economy, particularly if you combined them with the recommendations about the proportionality of low-skilled or poorly-skilled immigrants versus high-skilled immigrants.
Mr. SMITH. Let me go back. You mentioned that the finding was perhaps a positive impact on the economy of one-one hundredth to one-tenth of 1 percent. That, to me, sounds almost insignificant, and given the plus or minus errors, probably pretty close to a wash. Is that the case?
Mr. TEITELBAUM. Yes, but it's important that it be seen to be positive. I think the sign on it is important. It is notthere is not a terrible drain on the U.S. economy from immigration. There is probably not a terrible burden or huge boon to the economy.
Mr. SMITH. I think the point that you all are making in your recommendation is that, even though the net impact today is almost nothing, there is still a way to have a much more positive impact.
Mr. TEITELBAUM. Correct.
Mr. SMITH. And that gets into the priorities that you want to give to legal immigration. Given the adverse economic impact of some types of legal immigration, how would you restructure legal immigration so as to minimize the adverse and maximize the positive?
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Ms. HUFSTEDLER. We have discussed that very thoroughly, and I will call on Dr. Martin again to give you a little crisp picture of that. I will only introduce by saying that if Congress should adopt the recommendations, the United States will have far fewer legal immigrants of very low skill while at the same time preserving what we believe is very important for the health and well-being of immigrants with respect to the Nation, as well as to their personal lives, by uniting the most intimate members of the family.
Ms. MARTIN. Yes, the Commission in this final report reiterated the recommendations that it earlier made that our first emphasis in terms of a legal admission system is to re-prioritize our admission's categories. Largely, with this type of economic analysis in mind, that we benefit greatly as a country with the entry of higher-skilled immigrants, with the reunification of nuclear families regardless of skill levels; with having a humanitarian program that allows us to fulfill our international commitments, and that if we re-prioritize our admissions categories to ensure that everyone who meets those priorities are able to come in rapidly and in relationship to the contributions that they make, we'll have a plus-plus situation, a win-win situation out of our legal immigration system.
So, our recommendations are for nuclear family reunification; entry of high-skilled immigrants with labor market testing that's very commensurate with the skill level. The higher the skills, the more likely the contribution economically; the less scrutiny should be given. The lower the skills, the more scrutiny; and a continued humanitarian admissions program. If we have those three things, we fulfill the requirements.
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Mr. MORRISON. If I could just add something, Mr. Chairman, because the subject of legal immigration reform, obviously, is a matter that you took up with a good deal of seriousness in the last Congress and that, unfortunately, did not result in final legislative action. But it is very important, the specifics of our recommendation. There have been very nice things said from up there about the way in which this group has reached consensus on very difficult issues. We've done so because of the details, not because of the generalities. We've made quite detailed, if you will, compromises among competing interests and concerns in order to try to forge a broad, centrist agreement among people from different points of view.
I would hope that as you approach, as I imagine you will, legal immigration reform down the road, that you take account very much of the details. The details are that we should use a large number of currently used visas to rapidly reduce the backlog among nuclear families because that backlog is pernicious in its effects on the system. A failure to do that in order to achieve lower numbers now will just prolong a lot of difficulties and will not have the kind of decisive character that allowed us to reach consensus here. So I just commend that to you in your considerations.
Mr. SMITH. Thank you.
Let me follow up on a couple of things that you mentioned. I am working through the Commission report sequentially here. I'll start off with some of your conclusions and read some of them to you and ask you to respond.
The first is this statement: Those workers most at risk in our restructuring economylow-skilled workers in production and service jobsare those who directly compete with today's low-skilled immigrants.
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Can you be more specific about who is really being hurt? I think in trying to reform immigration we sometimes make the mistake of painting with too broad a brush.
So, tell me, if you will, in a little bit more detail, who are the ones being harmed? Where are they? How many are they?
Ms. HUFSTEDLER. Well, we can give you more detail than you've time to hear. But a way to respond without taking up the whole rest of the time, I'd like Dr. Teitelbaum to talk about this because Dr. Teitelbaum is not only a demographer, he is also a person who has worked intensely on these issues during the life of the Commission.
Mr. TEITELBAUM. Well, as you know, Mr. Chairman, there's a very heavy geographical concentration of immigration to the United States. It is not a national kind of distribution. It's very heavily concentrated in five or six states and ten metropolitan areas and some rural areas as well. One would have to expect that the major impact, the largest impacts, would be upon U.S. workers with similar sets of skills to the inflow of low-skilled immigrants into those areas of very high density of immigration.
Mr. SMITH. So you're talking about specific states and specific cities?
Mr. TEITELBAUM. Yes. Now, of course, what is happening more recently, and one sees it in the press on a regular basis, is a spreading now of these concentrated groups of immigrants more broadly across the country to areas that are small towns, rural areas, that have not seen foreign migrants in a century. In those cases, there can be very significant local effects. So I don't want to say there no effect in North Carolina; it's only in Californiathat is not truebut it is concentrated, and you have to look at the skill levels of the U.S. workers, the educational levels, and what they're doing relative to the inflow of immigrants.
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Mr. SMITH. Okay. Ms. Hufstedler, you mentioned in yourunless someone else wanted to respond?
Ms. MARTIN. Yes, I'd just add one element to it, which is that the group that every piece of research shows is the most adversely affected are the immigrants who came a short while ago
Mr. SMITH. Right.
Ms. MARTIN [continuing]. And have established themselves. They're the closest substitutes. They tend to live in those heavily affected areas and it's part of the reason that we concluded that we need reform, not only in our immigration criteria, but also this Americanization program, because if we're to get at the immigrants who came in before, we need to be addressing their skill levels and raising them.
Mr. SMITH. You get the impression from various public opinion polls, in fact, that they are very much aware of that because I noticedand it was to me somewhat astoundingthat in a poll taken a year or two ago even first-generation immigrants themselves wanted to reduce illegal and legal immigration, which was kind of amazing, I thought. So, they know first-hand about competition for scarce jobs or wages being depressed.
Which leads me to my next question, based upon a statement in your report that immigrants may have reduced substantially the wages of high school dropoutswho are about one-tenth of the workforceby 5 percent nationwide. This is a sizable impact on a group that was already poorly paid before the loss in real earnings it experienced over the past two decades. And there are other studies. There was an important study done by the Department of Labor that actually says that immigration is responsible for 50 percent of the reduction.
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Ms. MARTIN. Yes, actually, it's basically the same figure. That 40 percent or 50 percent by the Labor Department of the decline in wages was estimated to be due to immigration. That translates into a 5 percent absolute.
Mr. SMITH. Five percent overall. Good to know that. So, there is not any discrepancy there?
Ms. HUFSTEDLER. Same number differently expressed.
Mr. SMITH. Okay. Good. The next statement in your report that caught my eye was this: that the principal losers are the low-skilled workers who compete with immigrants and whose wages fall as a result. You've just mentioned that these high fiscal impacts are due particularly to the presence of sizable numbers of lesser-skilled immigrants whose tax payments, even over a lifetime, are insufficient to cover their use of services.
Now, is that to say that immigrants who have less than a high school education overall have a substantially negative impact on the taxpayers and on the economy?
Ms. HUFSTEDLER. It isn't quite that easy a translation. Let me askwe'll give this one to Michael Teitelbaum.
Mr. SMITH. Okay.
Mr. TEITELBAUM. Mr. Chairman, you're asking some of the most difficult questions about this subject. I don't think we have great clarity that we can provide to answer that kind of question because the question is: What will be the net cost and benefits of an additional low-skilled migrant entering today? That assumes we know what will happen to the U.S. economy and the U.S. benefit structure and the U.S. tax structure over that lifetime.
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Mr. SMITH. Maybe I'd like for you to expand upon this statement that the lesser-skilled immigrants do not pay in taxes over their lifetime what they receive in benefits. Is that a fair statement?
Mr. TEITELBAUM. What we can say, I think, is that the ratio of tax payments to benefits received is far less favorable from the U.S. economy, U.S. polity point of view for a low-skilled migrant than it is for a high-skilled migrant. But coming up with whether they pay as much, or less or more, is I think beyond the capacity of our
Mr. SMITH. But it's a fair statement to say that, overallI'm just reading from your own reportoverall they don't pay in taxes what they receive in benefits?
Ms. MARTIN. Yes. Generally, the findings of most of the studies are that use of services doesn't vary that much from a higher-skilled to a lower-skilled immigrant. That remains fairly constant, but taxes are related to income and income is related to education. So the higher-skilled immigrants tend to pay so much more in taxes that they will end up generally in the positive column. Lower-skilled pay very little in taxes because of their low incomes.
Mr. SMITH. To me, the touchstone here is to maximize the benefits and minimize the harm. That that is applicable to Americanization; it's applicable to legal immigration; and it's applicable to restructuring the INS. It's a good goal and a good methodology to have.
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The next question I have goes to this recommendation in your report: That the U.S. revamp its legal immigration policies by shifting priorities for admissions away from extended family and toward nuclear family, and away from unskilled and toward skilled immigrants. How specifically would you shift priority to the nuclear family and to skill-based immigration?
Ms. HUFSTEDLER. I think we also have debated that issue extensively, and I'll call on Commissioner Hill to give you a little more detail.
Mr. HILL. Mr. Chairman, I think it's very important that we recognize that, although extended family members are very important to their relatives and to society as a whole, we have to put a higher priority on the unification of mothers, fathers, and small children in our immigration policies. Now this means giving them priority in bringing them here in a lawful status, but it also means giving them the admissions numbers needed to reduce the waiting time that are now imposed upon these people simply because of this unwillingness to set priorities and to deliver on them.
Instead, we want to please everyone, if you will, by allowing admissions numbers to extended family that ultimately then will turn around and use numbers, for themselves for more extended family members as time goes on. We are saying this is a matter of national interest, that we want to have the husbands, wives, and children of families here together in a lawful status, and we want to do it promptly so that they are granted that right to be here lawfully in the year that they petition, but it involves making choices.
Mr. SMITH. As I understand it, the wait for nuclear families to be united is increasing. I think it's gone from an average of 3 years to 4 years.
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Ms. HUFSTEDLER. Appalling.
Mr. SMITH. What?
Ms. HUFSTEDLER. It's appalling, particularly when you think about what happens to young children. Four years may not seem like forever.
Mr. SMITH. As I understand it, part of your solution to the problem is to transfer the numbers from the extended family to the nuclear family and not only increase the numbers, but also expedite the process. Is that the case?
Ms. HUFSTEDLER. Yes. It requires both. Do you want to expand on that?
Mr. HILL. That's correct; we would recommend doing that, yes.
Mr. SMITH. An extraordinarily large waiting list for siblings of U.S. citizens, and to a lesser extent, adult children, undermines the integrity of the legal immigration system. This is a concept that some people find hard to understand. So would you explain why it is detrimental to the integrity of the system to have the backlogs in the extended family member categories?
Mr. HILL. Well, indeed, it doesn't make sense to have categories of people waiting in some cases more than a decade to lawfully immigrate to the United States. Managing the system by backlogs and waiting lists doesn't enhance the credibility of the system.
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Mr. SMITH. In the case of the Philippines, isn't the wait something like 20 or 30 years?
Mr. HILL. That's right. It can be over 20 years for brothers and sisters now petitioning for relatives in the Philippines.
But even more important, there is evidence that it encourages people who have an approved petition but that are in this very long waiting list, for whatever reason, to decide that they are going to come to the United States and reside here with the family members while they're waiting. And, therefore, it undermines credibility and the idea that there is a lawful process by which you are selected and then have a reasonable expectation of becoming a permanent resident, immigrating to the United States in a prompt manner.
Indeed, this whole idea, in my view, of a system that doesn't deliver on priorities, that has these terribly long waiting periods, and the sort of unwillingness to deal with this situation creates the kind of circumstances where you then find that there is a need to address, through extraordinary pieces of legislation, specific situations that would not arise were there a credible system that set clear priorities and then delivered on them.
Ms. HUFSTEDLER. Commissioner Morrison would like add a few words about this.
Mr. SMITH. Yes.
Page 70 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. MORRISON. Throughout our report, we have used the word ''priorities'' with very specific meaning, not like ''preferences'' in the current system. In that sense, if we have a priority, we're supposed to accomplish the result not do a little of it, and a little of something else and a little of something else. You'll find that in our management and removal recommendations, and you'll find that also here, and the notion that all of the citizens, spouses, and children should come in first.
All of the parents of U.S. citizens should come in and then we should have enough so that we get to the point that all of the nuclear family members of legal immigrants should come in, and since we don't perceive a willingness to have more categories, more numbers than that, we ought not to create categories which will hand you a few visas and you could wait. That really is the credibility issue. If you've got a priority, why are you going to say, ''We really think you should be reunited, but we can wait a year or two, or five.''
Mr. SMITH. One other question on the economic impact: You say that unskilled foreign workers present the greatest potential for adverse impact because they are competing with some of the most vulnerable of American workers. Is there any more elaboration to be made on who you consider to be the most vulnerable?
Ms. HUFSTEDLER. Well, the most vulnerable, as we've pointed out, are the more recent immigrants who have entered this country who are in low-skilled categories. They are the most vulnerable. The next most vulnerable are those who are lower-skilled, native-born persons who have not completed high school. Of course, in addition, you have the impact on those vulnerable groups, especially in urban areas, with the highest amount of immigrants who will feel the impact first. That does not mean that there is no impact beyond that, but that that is the individuals who are the most hurt.
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Now, to be sure, there are jobs for which many of our lower-skilled American-born workers do not particularly want to compete because they are not high-wage jobs and they do not have the kind of prestige that some others do. Anyone who looks at the picture from the perspective of work in homes and child care knows that's true. But, that doesn't resolve the issue because you've still got exactly the same problems, especially with those who are male immigrants with low levels of education and low skills.
Mr. SMITH. Ms. Hufstedler, let me return to that phrase that you just used about jobs that native-born individuals might not want. I know that the Department of Labor says that those categories of jobs that many people consider to be unfillable, or for which there are not sufficient native-born candidates, are in fact filled by native-born individuals to the extent of two-thirds of those jobs.
I think that the Department of Labor would argue that there is no such thing as a job for which those in the country are not interested because, in fact, people in the country fill two-thirds of those jobs. The answer may be in paying a little bit more, making sure that the minimum wage law is enforced, and so on.
I happen to agree with the Department of Labor in regard to that, so I guess I might just disagree with you a little bit. I'm not sure that there is a quantity of jobs that Americans don't want or can't do.
Ms. HUFSTEDLER. Well, you see, I think you have to put my remarks together with your own to understand what each of us is talking about. That is to say, the Commission does not want to have an importation of more low-skilled labor. That's very clear.
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The second is, why are the jobs that have been competed for that are very low-skilled now sometimes in demand? The more demand there will be, and that will increase constantly, if you have the enforced labor terms which the Labor Department should be enforcing. That's one of the reasons we want to have the enforcement mechanisms in the Department of Labor.
Mr. SMITH. Would you not agree that, if we do that, there won't be very many jobs that Americans won't take?
Ms. HUFSTEDLER. I couldn't agree more and the whole Commission agrees on that.
Mr. SMITH. Did the Commission come to any conclusion about how the current influx of unskilled or poorly-educated immigrants might affect the unemployment rate of those in the United States now?
Ms. MARTIN. Well, right now, as you know, of course, the unemployment rate is very low. We were more concerned in that analysis that as welfare reform goes into effect, and as larger numbers of those in the welfare system are going into that same labor market, that we provide an environment for them.
Mr. SMITH. That is a point that I have made as well. Over the course of the next 5 years, our welfare reform bill of last year will require about two million people to leave the welfare rolls and find jobs. I think we are going to find out that those two million people are exactly the same types of individuals who are going to be competing with so many of the new arrivals. Over the course of the next 5 years, when we are asking two million people in this country to find jobs, we will be admitting exactly that same number of individuals with few skills and little education. I wouldn't be surprised if we find that they are competing for the same relatively fixed number of jobs.
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Let me go to your recommendations on restructuring the INS. It seems that the easiest way to consolidate enforcement services would be take the services out of the INS but keep them within the Department of Justice. Why did you not recommend doing so?
Ms. HUFSTEDLER. We have had significant discussions about that, and I will turn first, because we have our two co-chairs of management here, I will call first on Commissioner Hill.
Mr. HILL. In developing our analysis with respect to restructuring of the government agencies involved in the immigration system, we looked first at the functions, identified the specific functions involved in the system and those involved, of course, broadly speaking: enforcement, benefits, enforcement of labor standards, and appeals or reviews.
We began by looking at the idea of consolidating all of these functions in a new Cabinet-level agency or independent agency on the EPA model. For reasons that our Chair mentioned in her opening statement, we concluded that this was, for both political as well as the reasons of effectiveness and efficiency, not the way to go. We believe very strongly that the functions needed to be separated. The functions now being performed by the INS in terms of enforcement and benefits adjudication very much need to be separated.
Was it sufficient to separate them but keep them within one agency, the Justice Department? We concluded it was not for both reasons of efficiency as well as policy grounds in terms of the need to treat legal immigration and illegal immigration from different perspectives and not perpetuate the blurring of the distinctions, which would, in our view, continue if they were to be separate, but, if you will, just two different offices within the Justice Department.
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The Justice Department is primarily a law enforcement agency. Our premise was to let the Justice Department do what it does well, but give them the resources and the stature within that agency to do that job effectively. The only way we concluded that that could be done was to make the enforcement operation within the Justice Department a bureau on the level of the FBI or other agencies within the Justice Department and give it that stature within the Department.
For too long, the INS has suffered within the Justice Department the reputation of being the stepchild. On the other hand, we felt that the benefits adjudication needed to bebecause it dealt with those people that we want to be here, be it on a temporary basis, be it lawful permanent residence or ultimately naturalized citizens in our communityneeded to be separated from being seen as a law enforcement problem or a law enforcement function.
Then we looked at the structure of the government as it exists and where that particular kind of expertise could be found, and, in fact, the State Department appeared to be, although there is no perfect agency for any of these, appeared to be the best suited. They already adjudicate and issue visa applications for over six million visas a year; they have a passport function which in many instances not only involves just the issuance of a particular document, but actually adjudicating questions of citizenship in overseas. They have, more important in our view, the policy expertise on international migration issues, which has been sorely lacking from one administration to the next.
So, we concluded that that was the best way to accomplish this goal of separating benefits and enforcement. In fact, in many respects, we came down to the simple, but telling argument that you don't need to have state police issuing drivers' licenses to have an effective system of regulating who drives and who doesn't in the United States.
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Ms. HUFSTEDLER. Commissioner Morrison may wish to add a word or two.
Mr. MORRISON. I think that's very comprehensive and only would add
Mr. SMITH. He answered at least three of my questions in that one answer.
Mr. MORRISON. Right. It's very comprehensive, and if you were to ask your colleagues on the Appropriations Committee about what the chances are that they would give the INS or the Justice Department a relatively free hand to expend the money that comes in from fees for benefits compared to how they treat the State Departmentit's the same subcommittee; Appropriations has jurisdiction of bothyou will learn that they are much more confident that the State Department knows how to take in fees and reprocess them to more expeditiously serve the clientele in the passport area. We were led from that to believe that that's a practical reason for this separation as well.
Mr. SMITH. As you all know, there are many Members of Congress who would like us to restructure the agency in the way you suggest, and I suspect that that will be the subject of future discussions and hearings.
We need to stop, because we have a vote going on. Let me thank you all again. It's impossible for me to thank you adequately for all you have done not only for immigration discussion, but also for all your recommendations that, if implemented, would be in the best interest of America.
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I will say, speaking only for myself, that I would be happy for any of your reports, and especially this final one, to be implemented in toto. Even though there might be some things I disagree with, I would be happy to make adjustments on those in order to have the entire report implemented. That is not necessarily going to happen. However, no matter what, your recommendations are going to be consideredI hope for many years to comeby Congress. I hope many of them will be implemented as well. Thank you all again.
Ms. HUFSTEDLER. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
[Whereupon, at 11:45 a.m., the subcommittee adjourned.]
(Footnote 1 return)
The Commission is also sometimes referred to as the ''Jordan Commission,'' after the late Barbara Jordan, who was its original chairperson.
(Footnote 2 return)
See Immigration Act of 1990, Pub. L. 101-649, Section 141.
(Footnote 3 return)