Publication Date

March 1999


[Excerpt] It was Napoleon who said “policy is destiny.” There are few better examples of the direct link between the change-creating influences of public policies on subsequent societal outcomes than immigration policy. As with the early history of all nations of the Western Hemisphere, mass immigration played a major role in the acquisition of the population and labor force of the United States. The era of significance ranged from the colonial period up to the early years of the Twentieth Century. Beginning in 1914 and continuing for the ensuing 50 years, however, immigration steadily declined and immigration policy receded dramatically in terms of its importance. Without warning or anticipation, the process reversed itself again as the result of seemingly incidental policy changes initiated in 1965. The phenomenon of mass immigration was accidentally revived. Since then, immigration levels soared, and, once more, immigration policy has become a major factor in shaping the nation’s labor force and population.


Suggested Citation
Briggs, V. M., Jr. (1999). Reining-in a rogue policy: The imperative of immigration reform (CAHRS Working Paper #99-04). Ithaca, NY: Cornell University, School of Industrial and Labor Relations, Center for Advanced Human Resource Studies.