Immigration and America's Future

A New Chapter

The report and recommendations of the Independent Task Force on Immigration and America's Future, co-chaired by former Sen. Spencer Abraham (R-MI) and former Rep. Lee H. Hamilton (D-IN), address the dilemmas of illegal immigration but also reconcile the need to meet strong economic and social demands for legal immigration with the imperative to strengthen enforcement and safeguard national security.

The report articulates a vision that promotes US global competitiveness in the context of post-9/11 security imperatives, while grappling with many of the technical details that are frustrating reform efforts. Among its recommendations, the Task Force calls on Congress and the President to:

  • Redesign and simplify the immigration system by establishing three streams for immigration—temporary, provisional and permanent. The new provisional category provides a way to align immigration with current economic realities by creating visas for immigrants of all skill levels who have an offer of employment to enter the country legally. The number of nonimmigrant visa classifications would be reduced from 24 to 7 to streamline and make the system more transparent.
  • Create an independent body in the Executive Branch that would introduce flexibility into the system by making regular recommendations to Congress and the President for adjusting immigration levels. Its recommendations would be based on ongoing analysis of labor market needs and changing economic and demographic trends.
  • Provide employers with a verification mechanism that allows them to comply with requirements for hiring only authorized workers, and develop a new, secure Social Security card that enables individuals to readily establish their work eligibility.
  • Accelerate implementation of "Smart Border" measures that use equipment, personnel and cutting-edge technology more effectively and strengthen accountability by establishing measures of effectiveness and an annual progress report on meeting them.
  • Establish a national office to promote the integration of immigrants and provide a focal point at the federal level for state, local and private sector integration initiatives.
  • Provide a path to legal status for unauthorized immigrants who can demonstrate steady employment, knowledge of English, payment of taxes, and passage of a background security check, among other requirements.