Some of the most contentious and significant issues facing the United States today involve immigration. It’s not just, or even primarily, about the “dreamers” (undocumented people who were brought here as minors). The issues involve more basic questions, such as what the level of overall (legal and illegal) immigration should be and what categories of immigrants should be preferred, and the national-security and economic implications of various immigration policies.

Cathleen Farrell of the National Immigration Forum and Matt O’Brien of the Federation for American Immigration Reform spoke to the issues facing immigration policy makers today.

The National Immigration Forum is a network of faith, law enforcement, business and veterans that seeks to help new arrivals attain the opportunities, skills and status to reach their fullest potential. The Forum advocates for policies that keep us secure, respect the rule of law, help grow our economy and are compassionate.

The Federation for American Immigration Reform works for immigration policies that include better border management, lower levels of overall immigration (about 300,000 per year as opposed to the current more than a million) and a greater focus on highly skilled immigrants.

The program was moderated by SSV board member Terry Cooper.  The podcast of the meeting and Q&A is below.

Cathleen Farrell is The National Immigration Forum’s Director of Communications. Cathleen has more than 30 years’ experience in advocacy and strategic communications. She is a native of Canada and a graduate of Montreal’s McGill University.



Matt O’Brien is responsible for managing The Federation for American Immigration Reform’s research activities. He has an extensive background in immigration, including with the federal government. He holds a law degree from the University of Maine and a master’s in National Security Affairs from the Institute of World Politics.


Program Summary

Ms. Farrell observed that not a day goes by that immigration isn’t in the news. That is because candidate Donald Trump made it a centerpiece of his campaign, and also because immigration touches many aspects of our daily lives such as the economy, national security and culture. For many years we’ve heard about undocumented immigrants, border security, sanctuary cities, and the cost-benefit of immigrants to our country. Lately the news has covered family separation at the Southern border, asylum and vetting of refugees, the border wall with Mexico, and reducing levels of legal immigration. We are a nation of laws and grace, meaning that we respect the rule of law and we are compassionate and uphold our long cherished values in the writing and application of laws and policies.

Mr. O’Brien began his remarks by noting that he spent the majority of his career working directly in immigration enforcement, ending his career with the government as the chief of the National Security Division of the US Citizenship and Immigration Services. He also spent six or seven years as an immigration attorney representing people in all matters of immigration proceedings so he has seen this issue from both sides. In years past it has cropped up in the news when some controversial issue occurs but is otherwise ignored. President Trump’s campaign changed that completely with immigration becoming the primary issue in the American political realm, and we have the first president in 50 years who is taking immigration seriously.

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