Losing Control

How a Left-Right Coalition Blocked Immigration Reform and Provoked the Backlash That Elected Trump

By Jerry Kammer on June 29, 2020

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Losing Control: How a Left-Right Coalition Blocked Immigration Reform and Provoked the Backlash That Elected Trump
By Jerry Kammer
ISBN: 1881290034


Losing Control is the story of how a peculiar left-right coalition of immigrant-rights groups, ethnic activists, business interests, and civil libertarians thwarted the immigration reform law enacted by Congress in 1986. Written by a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, it combines investigative reporting, on-the-ground-reporting, and historical narrative to show how Washington’s failure to control illegal immigration provoked the populist backlash that powered Donald Trump to victory in the 2016 presidential election. As this book tells the story of how the U.S. immigration system became dominated by special interests and entangled in ideological warfare, it also shows what it will take to repair the system so that it works in the broad national interest.

About the Author

Jerry Kammer, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, is a Senior Research Fellow for the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS).  As a fellow, he has produced several investigative reports on immigration policy subjects, including the Summer Work Travel Program and 2014 border security issues. He has also  written op-eds for numerous news organizations including the New York Times and PBS

Prior to joining the Center in 2009, Mr. Kammer spent over 30 years as a journalist. He began his work in journalism in 1974 as a reporter with the Navajo Times. In 1986, Mr. Kammer became the Northern Mexico correspondent for the Arizona Republic, where his work was honored with the Robert F. Kennedy Award for humanitarian journalism. As a member of the Republic’s investigative team, he received both the National Headliner Award and the Gerald Loeb Award for his coverage of the national savings and loan scandal, whose central figure was Phoenix financier Charles Keating.

In 2002 Mr. Kammer joined the Washington bureau of the Copley News Service, specializing in immigration and US-Mexico relations. He received the 2006 Pulitzer Prize for National Reporting and the George Polk Award for his work in helping uncover the bribery scandal whose central figure was Rep. Randy “Duke” Cunningham.

Immigration Newsmaker Interview

The Center for Immigration Studies streamed an Immigration Newsmaker conversation featuring the author, Jerry Kammer, and David Frum of The Atlantic.


Regaining Control
A new book seeks to rein in the rhetorical excesses on both sides of the immigration divide.
The American Interest, July 15, 2020
By Peter Skerry

How America Failed to Control Illegal Immigration
A new book tells an important story.
National Review, July 17, 2020
By Robert Verbruggen

Losing Control
Power Line, July 22, 2020
By Paul Mirengoff

The Immigration Problem Is Worse Than You Think
American Thinker, July 30, 2020
By Andrew E. Harrod

Is the Religion of Mass Immigration Hurting America?
Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Jerry Kammer investigates the connection between uncontrolled immigration, the fraying of the American social fabric, and the rise of Donald Trump
Tablet, August 13, 2020
By Emily Benedek

What the Unholy Left-Right Alliance Undermining Immigration Enforcement Means for the 2020 Election
American Greatness, August 22, 2020
By John Fonte


"An important book for anyone who wants to understand how we reached our current state of paralysis and what it will take to repair the system with sustainable reform." - Jeffrey Davidow, U.S. Ambassador to Mexico, 1998-2002.

"A perceptive account of the evolution of the backlash that found its hero in the 2016 election of Donald Trump—Philip Martin, Professor Emeritus, University of California-Davis and editor of Rural Migration News. Losing Control is an important book for our polarized country. Jerry Kammer explains why a liberal restrictionist immigration policy is in the national interest." - David Martin, general counsel of the Immigration and Naturalization Service in the Clinton administration.

"Jerry Kammer, an old-fashioned shoe-leather reporter, liberal but scrupulously objective, nuanced and thorough, has written a masterful history" - John Fonte, Senior Fellow, the Hudson Institute.

"This book may not change your mind, but it will certainly open it." - Daniel Okrent, author of The Guarded Gate, former public editor of the New York Times.