The immigration issue affects virtually every American, directly or indirectly, often in deeply personal ways. This guide is designed to help people deliberate together about how we should approach the issue. The three options presented here reflect different ways of understanding what is at stake and force us to think about what matters most to us when we face difficult problems that involve all of us and that do not have perfect solutions.
The US government essentially shut down immigration, at least temporarily, during the coronavirus pandemic. But as our country begins to reopen, difficult questions remain:
Should we strictly enforce the law and deport people who are here without permission, or would deporting millions of people outweigh their crime?
Should we welcome more newcomers to build a more vibrant and diverse society, or does this pose too great a threat to national unity?
Should we accept more of the millions of refugees and asylum seekers fleeing gang violence and war, or should we avoid the risk of taking in people whose backgrounds may not have been fully checked?
Should our priority be to help immigrants assimilate into our distinctively American way of life and insist they learn English, or should we instead celebrate a growing mosaic of different peoples?
The concerns that underlie this issue are not confined to party affiliation, nor are they captured by labels such as "conservative" or "liberal."
The research involved in developing the guide included interviews and conversations with Americans from all walks of life, as well as surveys of nonpartisan public-opinion research, subject-matter scans, and reviews of initial drafts by people with direct experience with the subject.