"It is reason and not passion which must guide our deliberations, guide our debate, and guide our decision. " Barbara Jordan
"My faith in the Constitution is whole, it is complete, it is total and I am not going to sit here and be an idle spectator to the diminuation, the subversion, the destruction of the Constitution. " Barbara Jordan
The esteemable Ms. Barbara Jordan (1936-1996) would have been a heroine in any color. When she spoke, strong men willingly heard her voice. They say she carried a copy of the constitution in her purse. Her focus on using her talents to their fullest imbued her political career with integrity that enobled all Americans. Serving in the Texas Senate from 1966 through 1973, then elected to the US House of Representatives in 1972, 74 and 76, Barbara Jordan retired from elected service in 1979, returning to Texas to teach political ethics.
Her final contributions to American liberty came in her chairmanship of the United States Commission on Immigration, which issued the most significant report on the subject to date. Her deliberate and honest testimony before Congress in 1995 outlined the Commission's recommendations for Immigration Reform - which only 15 years ago still meant stopping illegal entry, and removing incentives by preserving jobs exclusively for citizens and foreign persons, approved to work, who came into the US through lawful channels.
In her February 1995 testimony, she called for rationality and the primacy of the best interests of the American citizens, who live under a common rule of law, in considering immigration policy:
"First, we set forth principles. We are a nation of immigrants committed to the rule of law. The Commission believes that legal immigration has strengthened the country and that it continues to do so. We as a Commission denounce the hostility that seems to be developing toward all immigrants.
"To make sense about the national interest in immigration, it is necessary to make distinctions between those who obey the law, and those who violate it. Therefore, we disagree, also, with those who label our efforts to control illegal immigration as somehow inherently anti-immigrant. Unlawful immigration is unacceptable."
She was blunt:
"Credibility in immigration policy can be summed up in one sentence: those who should get in, get in; those who should be kept out, are kept out; and those who should not be here will be required to leave. "
And she was practical:
"A border crossing fee, properly applied, would benefit the border towns immensely. It would be a kind of NAFTA fund, used along both borders, to ensure that legal crossings are convenient and secure. It is to fund the future prosperity of border towns like El Paso, Laredo, Nogales, and San Diego that depend so much on cross-border trade."
She concluded her testimony by praising the truly bipartisan Commission that developed these recommendations, and asking for time to develop consensus in a matter where it is essential that
" ....the national interest comes first, last, and always. ... I, for one, wish that we would do away with all the hyphenation and just be Americans, together."
She spoke with similar candor and intellectual consistency a month later, in March 1995, when she again reported to Congress on the recommendations for effectively
Barbara Jordan accomplished much of her life's work while suffering from multiple sclerosis, and from leukemia. When she passed away in 1996 from complications of these illnesses, the United States lost one of our great citizens, and one of the greatest voices of reason and sanity in the modern age.
As a model of honest dedication to elected service, as a champion of the Constitution and Americanization, as a clear-thinking, clear-speaking human being, Barbara Jordan was what she wanted for our country: unhyphenated.
The full archives of the work of the U.S. Commission on Immigration Reform (1990-1997) can be found on the University of Texas, Lyndon B Johnston School of Public Affairs, website.
Illegal immigration: A jobs issue for those here legally - Dave Gorak
As immigration rates rise, blacks' prosperity drops - Frank Morris April 18 2007
"Her Voice Stirred the Nation"
Barbara Jordan's Ideals