E.g., 11/20/2017
E.g., 11/20/2017

Doris Meissner

Experts & Staff

Doris Meissner

Senior Fellow and Director, U.S. Immigration Policy Program

Contact via email

Doris Meissner, former Commissioner of the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS), is a Senior Fellow at MPI, where she directs the Institute’s U.S. immigration policy work.

Her responsibilities focus in particular on the role of immigration in America’s future and on administering the nation’s immigration laws, systems, and government agencies. Her work and expertise also include immigration and politics, immigration enforcement, border control, cooperation with other countries, and immigration and national security. She has authored and coauthored numerous reports, articles, and op-eds and is frequently quoted in the media. She served as Director of MPI's Independent Task Force on Immigration and America's Future, a bipartisan group of distinguished leaders. The group's report and recommendations address how to harness the advantages of immigration for a 21st century economy and society.

Media Requests
Michelle Mittelstadt
+1 202-266-1910
MMittelstadt@MigrationPolicy.Org

General Inquiries
+1 202-266-1909

From 1993-2000, she served in the Clinton administration as Commissioner of the INS, then a bureau in the U.S. Department of Justice. Her accomplishments included reforming the nation's asylum system; creating new strategies for managing U.S. borders; improving naturalization and other services for immigrants; shaping new responses to migration and humanitarian emergencies; strengthening cooperation and joint initiatives with Mexico, Canada, and other countries; and managing growth that doubled the agency’s personnel and tripled its budget.

She first joined the Justice Department in 1973 as a White House Fellow and Special Assistant to the Attorney General. She served in various senior policy posts until 1981, when she became Acting Commissioner of the INS and then Executive Associate Commissioner, the third-ranking post in the agency. In 1986, she joined the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace as a Senior Associate. Ms. Meissner created the Endowment's Immigration Policy Project, which evolved into the Migration Policy Institute in 2001.

Ms. Meissner’s board memberships include CARE-USA and the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation. She is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, the Inter-American Dialogue, the Pacific Council on International Diplomacy, the National Academy of Public Administration, the Administrative Conference of the United States, and the Constitution Society.

Bio Page Tabs

Advances in U.S.-Mexico Border Enforcement: A Review of the Consequence Delivery System
Reports
May 2017
By Randy Capps, Faye Hipsman, and Doris Meissner
Policy Briefs
April 2017
By Faye Hipsman and Doris Meissner
Policy Briefs
March 2017
By Sarah Pierce and Doris Meissner
Policy Briefs
February 2017
By Sarah Pierce and Doris Meissner
Reports
August 2015
By Faye Hipsman and Doris Meissner
Reports
April 2014
By Marc R. Rosenblum and Doris Meissner
Reports
May 2013
By Demetrios G. Papademetriou, Doris Meissner, and Eleanor Sohnen

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Video, Audio
September 25, 2017

In a year when immigration has been prominent in the headlines, the 14th annual Immigration Law and Policy Conference provides timely policy and legal analysis, with expert discussion covering the shifting immigration policy priorities under a new administration, including changes in immigration enforcement, border enforcement, refugee resettlement, the treatment of unaccompanied minors and the

Video, Audio
May 4, 2017

In the midst of efforts to further ramp up enforcement at the U.S.-Mexico border even as illegal crossings are a fraction of what they were at their peak in 2000, MPI research sketches the changing realities at the border and offers data that should help inform the policy debate. As the Trump administration and Congress consider constructing a border wall, adding thousands of Border Patrol agen

Audio
April 24, 2017

As the 100-day milestone for the Trump administration approaches, MPI's Doris Meissner and Muzaffar Chishti are joined by the former Director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Julie Myers Wood, and former DHS Assistant Secretary for Policy and Planning C. Stewart Verdery for a discussion of the administration's track record to date on immigration, the policies articulated in its executive orders, legal challenges, reactions by publics and policymakers, and the possible long-term effects of these policies.

Video, Audio
January 27, 2017

As the Trump administration assumes office and the DACA program faces an uncertain future, University of California President Janet Napolitano; Donald Graham, cofounder of TheDream.Us; and Ike Brannon, Visiting Fellow at the CATO Institute join MPI's Doris Meissner for a discussion on the possible impacts of rescinding DACA, particularly in the areas of higher education, philanthropy, and the economy.  

Video, Audio
September 28, 2016

The 13th annual Immigration Law & Policy Conference offered policy and legal analysis on key immigration topics, including: the election and the future of immigration policy; refugee resettlement in the United States; immigration detention and enforcement; and the impacts of the Supreme Court opinion in the important U.S. vs Texas case

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Doris Meissner comments on Arizona immigration law
5 Myths about Immigration 
(Washington Post Op-Ed by Doris Meissner)
   
       

 

Testimony
April 2015
Testimony of Doris Meissner, Director of MPI's U.S. Immigration Policy Program, before the Senate Judiciary Committee's Subcommittee on Immigration and the National Interest regarding the Central American Minors Refugee/Parole Program that began in December 2014.
Testimony
March 2013

Testimony of Doris Meissner, Senior Fellow and Director, U.S. Immigration Policy Program, before the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, U.S. Senate.

Testimony
March 2011

Testimony of Doris Meissner, Director of MPI's U.S. Immigration Policy Program, before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.

Testimony
April 2010

Testimony of Doris Meissner, Director of MPI's U.S. Immigration Policy Program, before the Senate Judiciary Committee Subcommittee on Immigration, Border Security, and Citizenship, at its hearing: "Comprehensive Immigration Reform in 2009, Can We Do It and How?" 

Testimony
March 2005

Testimony of MPI's Director of U.S. Immigration Policy Doris Meissner before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration, Border Security and Citizenship and US Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Terrorism, Technology, and Homeland Security.

Testimony
January 2004

Testimony of MPI Director of U.S. Immigration Policy Doris Meissner, before the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States (9/11 Commission).

Immigration has contributed to many of the economic, social, and political processes that are foundational to the United States as a nation since the first newcomers arrived over 400 years ago. After brushes with immigration reform that began in 2001 and continued in 2006 and 2007, the United States seems to be on the threshold of overhauling the legal immigration system in the most substantive way since 1965. This article provides a comprehensive overview of major legislation and events affecting U.S. immigration throughout history, legal and illegal immigration flows, postrecession immigration trends, and more.
MPI's Muzaffar Chishti and Claire Bergeron report on the 25th anniversary of the signing of the Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) and the impact that law has had on past and present immigration policies.
Immigration to the United States continued steadily from the 1970s until the recent recession, which also diminished a sense of urgency to enact immigration reform legislation. MPI's Kristen McCabe and Doris Meissner provide a comprehensive look at major legislation and events affecting U.S. immigration, the size and attributes of the immigrant population, and policy changes under the Obama administration.
MPI Senior Fellow and former INS Commissioner Doris Meissner examines the challenges and opportunities, past and present, posed by temporary migrant labor programs.

Recent Activity

Commentary
August 2017

In this personal tribute, MPI Senior Fellow Doris Meissner honors Juan Osuna, who died in August 2017 after his recent retirement as Director of the Executive Office for Immigration Review, the nation's immigration court system. "As we at MPI ... contemplate work without his store of knowledge and fundamental human decency readily at hand, we mourn that his was a life cut too short, just as we honor him for a life well lived."

Reports
May 2017

In its first systematic attempt to track the effectiveness of different removal and enforcement strategies that migrants face after being apprehended at the U.S.-Mexico border, the Border Patrol in fiscal 2011 launched the Consequence Delivery System (CDS). This report examines the strengths and limitations of CDS, and finds that as stricter measures have been implemented, attempted re-entries have fallen.

Policy Briefs
April 2017

On January 25, 2017, President Trump signed an executive order laying out a series of border enforcement mandates, including constructing a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border and expanding the use of expedited removal. This brief summarizes and analyzes key provisions of the executive order and accompanying Department of Homeland Security implementation guidance, comparing them to earlier policy and practice.

Policy Briefs
March 2017

This brief examines President Trump's revised executive order issued in March 2017, replacing an earlier legally contested version suspending travel from certain majority-Muslim countries and pausing the U.S. refugee resettlement program. The brief compares the revised executive order to provisions of the original one, as well as to prior policy and practice.

Policy Briefs
February 2017

This brief examines key provisions of President Trump's recent executive order suspending travel from certain majority-Muslim countries and pausing the U.S. refugee resettlement program, comparing them to current and earlier policy and practice. Presented in an easy-to-use side-by-side chart, the brief gives context to the executive order, which has drawn major scrutiny.

Commentary
January 2017

The Obama administration has taken a bold action to end the decades-old "wet foot, dry foot" policies that have for too long drawn Cubans to the United States in dangerous ways and sizeable numbers. The time has come when building a more normal U.S.-Cuba relationship must include updating migration and immigration policies to reflect today's realities, as this commentary by MPI Senior Fellow Doris Meissner explains.

Reports
August 2015

The in-country refugee processing program launched in Central America by the Obama administration in December 2014 as a response to rising unaccompanied child migration may provide a legal, safe alternative to undertaking dangerous, unauthorized journeys to the United States, albeit a limited one. This report examines the Central American Minors Refugee/Parole Program, as well as the history and track record of prior U.S. in-country processing programs.

Testimony
April 2015
Testimony of Doris Meissner, Director of MPI's U.S. Immigration Policy Program, before the Senate Judiciary Committee's Subcommittee on Immigration and the National Interest regarding the Central American Minors Refugee/Parole Program that began in December 2014.

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