David North, 1929-2024

By CIS on April 30, 2024
David North

Our colleague David North passed away over the weekend.

David was the dean of immigration researchers in the United States, having first encountered the foreign worker issue at the state level, in New Jersey, in the late 1950s.

David served in the Labor Department in the Kennedy and Johnson administrations in several capacities that connected to immigration issues. After leaving government, he embarked on a remarkable 55-year career in public policy. He conducted research on a variety of migration-related topics for, among others, the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, the Ford Foundation, the German Marshall Fund of the U.S., and the governments of Haiti and Australia. He testified before Congress and before every immigration commission since the 1970s, and prepared a study that was included in the 1981 report of the Select Commission on Immigration and Refugee Policy (the Hesburgh Commission).

He wrote occasionally for the Center before becoming a Fellow in 2009. During his time with the Center, he published an astonishing 2,700 blog posts and reports, on a wide variety of issues, from the scandal-plagued EB-5 investor visa program to the Optional Practical Training program, from the taxing of remittances to for-profit schools devoted mainly not to education but to securing work permits for foreign students.

All his work for the Center – just one portion of his output over the years, most of it from the pre-internet era – is available here. His work ethic and productivity were legendary, and even at age 95 he didn’t slow down; he wrote his last blog post the week before his death.

But David wasn’t merely researching and writing – he was also a friend and mentor and colleague, generous with his time and knowledge. He was especially attentive to young interns, giving them substantive research assignments and directing their work. When he was more mobile, he would lead each summer’s batch of interns (as well as new junior staff) on an outing to immigration court to see the working of the immigration system for themselves.

David was among the last of what was once a common type: a liberal Democrat – active in politics at various times in his life at the local, state, and federal levels – driven by concern for mass immigration’s impact on his nation’s environment and on the least well-off and most vulnerable of his fellow citizens.

His death is a loss for the Center, of course, but also more broadly for the cause of sober, fact-based analysis of the immigration issue. America was better off for having David North as one of her sons.

Our deep condolences to his wife Ruth and to their family.