Representatives of grassroots immigration reform organizations from twelve states met in Chicago April 3, 1997, to discuss goals and strategies. One of the primary challenges faced by activist groups around the country is education, the delegates agreed. Except for persons located in the border states where the pressure on social services, schools, employment and culture is more evident, the American public is still largely ignorant of the severe negative consequences of the nation's present immigration policies.
The polls show that the vast majority of Americans favor reducing immigration, but only about 25 percent of the public ranks excessive immigration as a primary concern. Ironically, none of the issues that are rated above immigration - education, income inequality, crime, the environment, etc. - can be successfully resolved unless immigration is reduced to a sustainable level.
Assuming that the federal government could successfully close down illegal immigration, just what level of legal immigration could be construed as "sustainable" was the subject of much debate at the meeting. The majority of the conferees argued for a goal of 100,000 per year. The optimum number that some representatives could accept was 300,000, and these figures cover all categories including refugees and asylum-seekers. Even 300,000, which is somewhere near the long-term average, is far below the present level of 1.2 to 1.5 million legal and illegal immigrants entering the U.S. each year.
In addition to the adoption of this suggested cap, several other goals were generally endorsed by the conference participants
* implementation of significant employer sanctions and a work-eligibility verification system to halt the continued invasion of illegals.