Today, Cato published a new compilation of 30 short essays by 15 authors including some of the leading immigration law experts in the United States that explains executive actions that could improve and expand the legal immigration system. It is titled: Deregulating Legal Immigration: A Blueprint for Agency Action. Going into this project, we had the following goals:
- Each proposal goes beyond reversing Trump policies. Obviously, we support the wholesale and immediate reversal of nearly every Trump immigration policy since nearly all have been harmful, but we felt that the Biden officials will already have marching orders to reverse Trump policies, so there was more of a need for ideas to make the system better than it was before Trump. We hope that Trump policies get swept away quickly so officials can turn their attention to our ideas.
- Each proposal helps legal immigrants navigate our bureaucratic, outdated, and restrictive system. We adopted this focus mainly because we feel that the Biden team has already fully thought‐out proposals to address immigrants without legal status, and others were better equipped to flesh out those ideas. Thus, this compilation was about filling niche in the market of ideas for reforming the system, not giving every important idea for reform.
- Each proposal provides the legal authorities for action. We have many ideas for improving legal immigration (I have laid them out briefly here and here), but it was imperative for us that these executive actions have strong legal foundations under current law. These ideas are all legally actionable based on existing law and precedent, and this volume gives the administration almost everything that they need to implement them.
- Each proposal is concise and easily read by nonexperts. This last one was exceptionally important to us. Legal experts have spilled thousands of pages about problems with the legal system, but our goal was to provide a product that could be consumed by administration officials, advocates, and others who may not be experts on these matters but could take an interest in seeing these ideas across the finish line.
- Each proposal is authored by a legal expert: It was important to us that this was not simply a Cato‐only project. We wanted to introduce ideas from many of the leading immigration authorities in this country (as well as a few of my own). These included multiple past presidents of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, a former administration official, authors of the leading immigration law reference texts in the United States, and other well‐known immigration experts.
I hope that we accomplished these goals. I believe this is the most comprehensive and concrete, but also most consumable and concise compendium of legal immigration ideas for President Biden. The Biden administration should act quickly to undo as much of the damage of the last four years as possible. But he should go further and deregulate the legal immigration system to the greatest extent that the laws allow. Table 1 lists the ideas we included and their authors. The entire paper is available here.