Rational Middle Podcast “Trying to Find the Middle” with Theresa Cardinal Brown

Theresa Cardinal Brown returns to the Rational Middle of Immigration podcast to discuss “finding the middle” with immigration policies that Republican and Democrat lawmakers can agree on and that would be supported by the majority of Americans in both parties.  Theresa is Senior Advisor for Immigration and Border Policy at the Bipartisan Policy Center and focuses on issues such as border security, immigration enforcement, and legal immigration. Gregory Kallenberg, Founder of Rational Middle, conducted the interview.

Cardinal Brown explains that “we’re focused on what is it going to take for Congress to pass immigration legislation in a bipartisan way that can reform and update our immigration system,” and that the three pillars of that include:

  • The needs of the U.S. economy, especially in light of the U.S. birthrate forecasts
  • A way to better manage what’s happening at the border
  • The status of the long-time resident undocumented population in the U.S.

According to Cardinal Brown, “if we look at the last 7-8 years, both parties at some point or another had control of the legislative levers in Washington, the House, the Senate, and the White House, yet neither party has been able to on their own get their preferred solutions on immigration” and she points out that solutions are going to have to come from both parties.  “We actively support those who are willing to come together both publicly and behind the scenes with our policy work and try to expand that group as much as possible.” An important component of Theresa’s work is building trust among the parties on this issue.

Cardinal Brown outlined key points to focus on with regard to immigration:

I think to address the border we need to focus, ironically, less on the border itself, and more on what happens before people reach the border and what happens after they’re let into the country or not. So before they come to the border, can we expand the ways that people seek protection from the United States without coming to the border, or, can we help other countries in the region provide places where people find protection, if they really need it, without coming to the United States.

To address migration itself we need to focus on other ways that people who believe that they need protection from where they were can find it without coming to the border.  That means being able to adjudicate asylum claims remotely, or at other places, increasing our refugee processing in this hemisphere, working with other countries on their asylum process. That’s number one.

Number two, for those who do arrive at the border, we are adding people to an ever-increasing backlog of asylum and immigration court cases that is now years long. That’s unfair. It’s unfair to the migrants because it means that they may not actually be able to ask for protection for some years after they arrive; most of them don’t have the ability to support themselves in the interim, they’re relying on charities and local governments to help them out, it’s not fair to the American Public that is using resources where they arrive to help them.

We need to address that adjudicative function, when they arrive at the border and ask for asylum, how can we help decide those cases much more quickly, I would argue, closer to the border but with due process, allowing them to make sure they have a chance to ask their case.

And then we need to look at these other alternative legal pathways…can we expand the ways that people who may not have an asylum claim, but are looking for economic opportunity, can find it. Economically, the United States needs more people, we need more workers on a temporary or permanent basis. Can we expand that, and that’s going to require Congress…the solutions to what that looks like have been around for more than a decade.

…and then doing something about those who are here. People of both parties support it.

You can listen to the entire Rational Middle episode below:


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