Immigration is a foundation of America. No other nation has as large an immigrant population as does the United States. With the important exception of those descended from Native peoples and/or enslaved Africans, few people in this country cannot trace at least part of their ancestry to an immigrant—either recently or centuries ago.
But even though we are a nation comprised largely of immigrants and their descendants, immigration remains one of the most fraught social and political issues of modern times. Who can enter this country, who can work here, who can create a family here, and who can become Americans are questions that continue to roil our politics. And yet most Americans would agree on the basic premise that immigration is good and necessary for the continuing vibrancy and growth of America’s economy and society.
In this special five-part series on the Brookings Cafeteria podcast, John Hudak, a senior fellow in Governance Studies, explores the facts and tackles the myths that underpin the current immigration policy debate. He talks with a range of people who share their insights and experiences on the issues—including elected leaders at the national, state, and local levels; immigrants and children of immigrants; policy experts; and advocates for better immigration policy—and discovers significant common ground on which to craft a smarter immigration policy.
Who are the immigrants that we hear so much about? Where are they coming from, why are they coming to the United States and where are they going once they arrive?
- William Frey, senior fellow, the Brookings Institution
- Yanneli, a university student
Exploring the connections—social and economic—that span communities along the US-Mexico border, and getting a better understanding of issues from and rhetoric about border towns, such as crime and jobs.
- Michael Chertoff, former secretary, Department of Homeland Security
- Mayor Donald “Dee” Margo, El Paso, Texas
- Mayor Kevin Faulconer, San Diego, California
The economics of immigration, including the important role immigrants play in both developing and sustaining the American economy.
- Hugh Anderson, government affairs chair, Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce
- Dany Bahar, senior fellow, the Brookings Institution
- Governor Gary Herbert (R-Utah)
A deeper dive into the immigrant experience and the idea of belonging: what it means to uproot your life from one country and to try to build a home in the United States.
- Santiago, a university student
- Carlos Guevara, associate director of immigration initiatives, UNIDOS US
- Martine Kalaw, an author, speaker, and immigrant
- Clarissa Martinez de Castro, deputy vice president of policy and advocacy, UNIDOS US
- Saha, a university student
America’s immigration system is badly in need of reform. This episode explores the real opportunity for bipartisan solutions to the immigration challenges.
- Rep. Judy Chu (D-Calif.)
- Sarah Gardiner, policy director, Freedom for Immigrants