Anti-immigration group NumbersUSA claimed that the late Barbara Jordan was its “spiritual godmother” [“Anti-immigration forces see hope under Trump,” front page, Dec. 21]. I was a member of the bipartisan, congressionally mandated Commission on Immigration Reform that she chaired. The group seeks to claim she advocated for cuts in legal immigration that neither she nor the commission supported.
The commission proposed a small increase in family immigration. Jordan’s actual testimony to Congress urged “150,000 [more] visas annually for the admission of the spouses and minor children of legal permanent residents who have been awaiting entry until such time as this backlog is eliminated.” Instead of prioritizing nuclear-family unity and deregulating green cards for skilled employees as Jordan recommended, Congress, egged on by restrictionists, enacted the punitive 1996 law to make legal immigration harder, which did not reduce illegal immigration.
The Jordan commission invented E-Verify; we did not take a back seat to anybody in advocating effective prevention of unauthorized presence. But we never confused illegal immigration with the legal immigration we do want, which restrictionists routinely do. As the author of the last permanent increase in annual green cards in 1990, I urge Congress to recall the Jordan commission’s actual legacy: “The credibility of immigration policy can be measured by a simple yardstick: people who should get in, do get in; people who should not get in are kept out; and people who are judged deportable are required to leave.”
Bruce A. Morrison, Bethesda
The writer was a member of the U.S. Commission on Immigration Reform from 1992 to 1997 and chair of the House subcommittee on immigration from 1989 to 1991.