According to press reports, last week about 130 “reform” advocates and leaders were asked to come over to the White House and pow-pow on the way forward on immigration reform. “Today’s meeting on comprehensive immigration reform was an important opportunity to hear from stakeholders…” [Homeland Security Secretary Napolitano] said. “I look forward to working with President Obama, my colleagues in Congress and representatives from law enforcement, business, labor organizations, the interfaith community, advocacy groups and others as we work on this important issue.”
So in case you were wondering…no one from the Heritage Foundation was asked to be at the table. It is not clear why Heritage did not rate an invitation.
No think tank in Washington has written more comprehensively on immigration and border security reform issues. Heritage studies and statistics are frequently cited by Congressional members during floor debates. When the Bush administration tried to push through comprehensive reform in 2007, a senior team from the White House made a special trip to Heritage to discuss the bill with Distinguished Heritage Fellow, Former Attorney General Edwin Meese (who was a key player in the last major reform debate in 1986) and other Heritage scholars. After the bill crashed and burned, senior officials from the Department of Homeland Security came to Heritage to meet with conservative groups and assess how they had gotten it wrong.
Nor are Heritage scholars estranged from the current administration. They sit on various high level advisory groups for the Department of Homeland Security. Heritage scholars were even asked to brief the White House on the proposal to merge the National Security and Homeland Security Councils.
Nor is Heritage opposed to immigration reform. After the 2007 bill, Heritage analysts were quick to outline an alternative solution, an “honest plan” that was practical and compassionate, respected the rule of law, and did not require a mass “amnesty.”
By doing little more than holding a cheerleading session for a failed approach to immigration reform, the White House has done little to engage the American people in discussing real and honest solutions. Instead, they have only further polarized an already divisive issue.