Fixing Immigration: A Compendium of Legislative Options for the 117th Congress

By George Fishman on August 5, 2022

The late John Conyers, long-time Chairman/Ranking Member of the House Judiciary Committee, once said, “I love these members, they get up and say, ‘Read the bill.’ What good is reading the bill if it’s a thousand pages and you don’t have two days and two lawyers to find out what it means after you read the bill?” Well, I am one of those lawyers. I worked on the Committee’s immigration subcommittee for over two decades, from 1995-2018. I read a lot of immigration bills over those years and wrote a lot of them. Some were enacted, most not.

This compendium of legislative options is a treasure trove of what I consider to be the best immigration reform provisions yet to be enacted, and it is pretty much “shovel ready”. It includes a description of what each provision accomplishes, and in some instances offers a number of different options to achieve the same general goal. The Center for Immigration Studies offers this compendium to those interested in meaningful immigration reform legislation who don’t want to have to reinvent the wheel. Feel free to take what you like and discard the rest! Of course my colleagues and I are always available to discuss these provisions.

The provisions would help transform our immigration system into one that respects the desires of the American people and advances the national interest. If implemented, they would curtail today’s beyond-crisis-level wave of illegal immigration and abuse of our asylum system, protect Americans from criminal and terrorist aliens, protect American workers and taxpayers, facilitate the removal of illegal and criminal aliens, reduce immigration levels to more sustainable and historically appropriate levels, and curtail the immigration of those openly hostile to our national values of freedom and tolerance.

If there is one common denominator to these provisions, it was most aptly expressed by the late Barbara Jordan, Black stateswoman, patriot and civil rights pioneer: “Credibility in immigration policy can be summed up in one sentence: Those who should get in, get in; those who should be kept out, are kept out; and those who should not be here will be required to leave.”

I and others at the Center for Immigration Studies (most notably Andrew Arthur) helped draft some of these provisions from days working for Congress or the Trump administration up until the present day, and many were written by others. I am grateful for the guiding hands of the superb lawyers at the House Office of the Legislative Counsel, who taught me so much, prevented me from making many an embarrassing mistake, and can always be counted on to make legislative language achieve intended rather than unintended results and generally shine.