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February 1982, Vol. 105, No. 2
Select commission suggests changes
in immigration policya review essay
Philip L. Martin
Many believe that immigration to the United States is out of control. Instead of the 450,000 immigrants anticipated in 1980, 808,000 legal immigrants, refugees, and special entrant were admitted, and an unknown number of illegal or undocumented workers, as many as 500,000, entered by various means. Immigration is at an alltime high, exceeding the previous high average of 880,000 per year between 1901 and 1910.1 The Select Commission on Immigration and Refugee Policy was created by Congress in 1978 and given 2 years to develop an immigration remedy. Its March 1981 report contains 67 recommendations designed to reassert control over immigration.2
Apparently, despite our immigrant heritage, Americans are opposed to more large-scale immigration. The Roper poll of June 1980 found that 91 percent of Americans support an "all-out effort" to stop illegal immigration and 80 percent want to reduce the number of legal immigrants and refugees. However, the commission believes that more legal immigrants could be admitted if illegal immigration were stopped. Its major recommendation was that the United States "close the back door to undocumented and illegal migration [and open] the front door a little more to accommodate legal migration."
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1 Leon Bouvier, The Impact of Immigration on U.S. Population Size (Washington, Population Reference Bureau, 1981), p. 1
2 U.S. Immigration Policy and the National Interest (Washington, Select Commission on Immigration and Refugee Policy, 1981).
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