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February 2016 Brief: Volume 23, Number 5

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A Conservative Pro-American Plan for Immigration Reform


by John Hendrickson



Immigration policy is one of the major issues that is shaping not only the presidential election, but also national politics as a whole. Immigration is a defining issue and how immigration reform is handled will have a tremendous impact on the nation. As Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL) and Representative Dave Brat (R-VA) recently wrote: “Immigration affects every aspect of our constituents’ lives. It affects their jobs, wages, schools, hospitals, neighborhood crime, social stability, and community living standards.”[1] Immigration is also a serious national security concern, especially with the current debate over allowing refugees from Syria who might be terrorists into the country and not having enough security along our borders. As Senator Sessions and Representative Brat explained:


Yet our reckless refugee programs, lax green card and visa policies, utter failure to enforce rampant visa overstays, along with our wide open southern border, puts the U.S. at grave and needless risk. There are dozens of terrorists identified or apprehended in recent years whose presence in the United States stems exclusively from immigration policy…[2]


A conservative and pro-American approach to immigration reform would include policies to place the interests of American citizens first by securing the border, holding businesses accountable for hiring illegal immigrants, enforcing visa and green card rules, placing a moratorium on immigration, and not allowing refugees into the country. Europe provides an example of the failure of not only multiculturalism, but also uncontrolled immigration.


It is projected that immigration levels, unless changed, will continue to increase at dramatic levels. “Over the next five decades, Pew Research projects immigration will add another 103 million to the U.S. population…That would mean 100 straight years of uninterrupted record-breaking immigration growth,” note Senator Sessions and Representative Brat.[3] They call for slowing immigration or placing a moratorium on future immigration. As former Senator Rick Santorum wrote:


We should reduce legal immigration from its current level of 1,050,000 immigrants a year to about 750,000 annually. Our legal immigration system is broken, and we are allowing record-high numbers of legal immigrants to come to America. This has an impact on our economy and American workers who are competing with a million new immigrants each year for jobs.[4]


Policymakers should consider implementing an immigration policy modeled off the immigration laws passed during the 1920s. The impact of reduced immigration was a benefit to the nation both economically and in assimilating immigrants into American culture and traditions. Senator Sessions and Representative Brat argue that:


After the numerically-smaller 1880-1920 immigration wave, immigration was reduced for half a century. There was no net increase in the immigrant population over a fifty-year period — in fact, the foreign-born population declined substantially between 1920 and 1970. During this mid-century period of low-immigration, wages surged, incomes soared, the melting pot churned, and crucially millions of immigrant workers were now able to climb out of the tenements and into the middle class.[5]


Americans, especially those in the middle-class, are struggling in our economy, which is driven by slow economic growth and stagnant wages. The impact is described by Senator Sessions and Representative Brat:


Today, after five decades of record immigration, a record number of Americans are not working. The share of men in their prime working years who do not have jobs has tripled since the late 1960s…Median household incomes today are $4,000 less than they were fifteen years ago.[6]


It is vital that an immigration policy be implemented that will not only protect American sovereignty, borders, the rule of law, and American workers, but also emphasize assimilation. Policymakers should reject the open borders ideology that has dominated policy and replace it with an America-first immigration and trade policy. This was a successful policy during the 1920s as President Calvin Coolidge stated in his Inaugural Address in 1925:


Under the helpful influences of restrictive immigration and a protective tariff, employment is plentiful, the rate of pay is high, and wage earners are in a state of contentment seldom before seen.[7]


[1] Senator Jeff Sessions and Representative Dave Brat, “Sessions, Brat Deliver Letter to GOP: Side with Voters-Not Donors-on Immigration,” January 13, 2016, Office of United States Senator Jeff Sessions, <> accessed on January 15, 2016.
[2] Ibid.
[3] Ibid.
[4] Rick Santorum, “An Immigration Policy for Hard Working Americans,” Brietbart, May 6, 2015, <> accessed on January 15, 2016.
[5] Sessions and Brat.
[6] Ibid.
[7] Calvin Coolidge, “Inaugural Address,” March 4, 1925, Calvin Coolidge Presidential Foundation, <> accessed on January 15, 2016.


John Hendrickson is a Research Analyst with Public Interest Institute, Mount Pleasant, Iowa.Contact him at


Permission to reprint or copy in whole or part is granted, provided a version of this credit line is used:"Reprinted by permission from INSTITUTE BRIEF, a publication of Public Interest Institute." The views expressed in this publication are those of the author and not necessarily those of Public Interest Institute. They are brought to you in the interest of a better-informed citizenry.




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