Who Was Barbara Jordan and Why Does Her Work Still Matter Today?

Parsing Immigration Policy, Episode 15

By Mark Krikorian and Eric Ruark on August 5, 2021

View Podcast Archive


Listen to "Who Was Barbara Jordan and Why Does Her Work Still Matter Today?" on Spreaker.


Few politicians have studied United States immigration and immigration policies as comprehensively as the late civil-rights icon, the first African American congresswoman to come from the Deep South, and chairwoman of President Clinton's Commission on Immigration Reform, U.S. Representative Barbara Jordan (D-Texas). The bi-partisan commission produced guiding principles for American immigration policies as well as specific recommendations -- all but one recommendation was unanimous.

This week Parsing Immigration Policy features Eric Ruark, director of research at NumbersUSA, an immigration advocacy organization that has become the unofficial steward of the Jordan Commission’s reports and research. Ruark discusses the Jordan Commission’s report, how the Commission defined the purpose of immigration laws and the key recommendations, including a reduction in legal immigration and ending illegal immigration. Jordan advocated for a system that was in the best interest of the American people and protected the most vulnerable U.S. workers as opposed to employers.

Jordan’s early death freed President Clinton from backing the Commission’s recommendations.

As a follow-up to the discussion of formulating U.S. immigration policy, this week’s closing commentary explains a different method of setting levels of Immigration. Mark Krikorian, the Center’s executive director and host of Parsing Immigration Policy, describes and advocates the Jordan Commission’s recommendation of emphasizing the desired categories of immigrants, rather than numerical caps.

Related Reports

Remembering Barbara Jordan and Her Immigration Legacy

The Unifying Voice We Need in the Immigration Debate

Barbara Jordan Made 1994 a High-Water Mark in the Effort to Stop Illegal Immigration

The Barbara Jordan Commission

Barbara Jordan’s Vision of Immigration Reform

The Americanization Ideal


Mark Krikorian is the Executive Director of the Center for Immigration Studies.


Eric Ruark, director of research at NumbersUSA.


Follow Parsing Immigration Policy on Ricochet, Apple Podcasts, Amazon MusicSpotify, StitcherGoogle Podcasts