Doris Meissner

Doris Meissner is a senior fellow at the Migration Policy Institute. She was the commissioner of the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service during the Clinton administration.

Recent Articles

Learning From History

As the temperature surrounding immigration issues rises, let's remember that our political system walked this road 20 years ago during the debate that led to the Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) of 1986. In its attempt to tackle illegal immigration, Congress struck a deal in which border control and employer responsibility were combined with amnesty. But the deal disintegrated in practice. Will Congress heed the lessons of IRCA as it revisits immigration reform? The core idea of IRCA was that it should be against the law to hire people illegally in the country and that employers who do so should be subject to penalties. Employer penalties were first proposed in the 1950s by Paul Douglas of Illinois, a liberal economist who became a great U.S. senator. In 1972, Peter Rodino, then chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, sponsored employer-sanctions legislation that died. In 1977, the Carter administration drafted an employer-sanctions bill. But the Judiciary Committee chair...