Experts & Staff
Director, MPI office at NYU School of Law
Muzaffar Chishti, a lawyer, is an MPI Senior Fellow and Director of the MPI office at New York University School of Law. His work focuses on U.S. immigration policy at the federal, state, and local levels; the intersection of labor and immigration law; immigration enforcement; civil liberties; and immigrant integration.
Prior to joining MPI, Mr. Chishti was Director of the Immigration Project of the Union of Needletrades, Industrial & Textile Employees (UNITE).
Mr. Chishti serves on the boards of the New York Immigration Coalition and the Asian American Federation. He has served as Chairman of the Boards of Directors of the National Immigration Forum and the National Immigration Law Center, as a member of the American Bar Association’s Coordinating Committee on Immigration.
Mr. Chishti has testified extensively on immigration policy issues before Congress and is frequently quoted in the media. In 1992, as part of a U.S. team, he assisted the Russian Parliament in drafting its legislation on forced migrants and refugees. He is a 1994 recipient of the New York State Governor's Award for Outstanding Asian Americans and a 1995 recipient of the Ellis Island Medal of Honor.
Mr. Chishti was educated at St. Stephen's College, Delhi; the University of Delhi; Cornell Law School; and the Columbia School of International Affairs.
Buoyed by initial successes challenging Trump administration immigration actions such as the travel ban in federal court, many critics expected the judiciary to act as a brake on major changes to the immigration system. Yet the Supreme Court has repeatedly shown a willingness to affirm the executive branch's immigration policies, most recently permitting what is arguably the most significant asylum policy change in four decades to proceed.
Ideological differences in the Democratic Party over immigration that were once masked by unity against President Trump’s border wall and immigration agenda are now being exposed as Democratic presidential candidates seek to stand out in a crowded field and amid controversy over an emergency border spending bill. As the 2020 electoral calendar accelerates, how the party navigates the gulf between its most liberal and conservative wings will become a greater challenge for its leaders.
Approximately 11,500 unaccompanied children were apprehended at the U.S.-Mexico border in May, putting this year on track to exceed 2014's surge. As the U.S. government struggles to care for these child migrants, with public outrage mounting over reports of unsafe, filthy conditions in initial Border Patrol custody, the failure of the executive branch and Congress to plan for increased shelter and care demands are increasingly apparent, as this article explores.
This discussion on the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) showcases MPI Fellow Charles Kamasaki's book, Immigration Reform: The Corpse That Will Not Die. Kamasaki is joined by other veterans of the IRCA debate for a conversation on the lessons, the intended and unintended consequences, and how the law’s legacy has shaped contemporary politics on immigration.
The Trump administration’s plan to create a "merit-based" U.S. immigration system, lessening the longstanding focus on family reunification in favor of more economic migrants, has met with a lackluster response from Democrats and Republicans alike. This Policy Beat article explores how the Trump proposal would reshape immigration to the United States, and how it compares to selection systems in other countries and past debates about changing the U.S. system.
Noncitizens have long served in the U.S. military, often encouraged by the promise of a fast track to U.S. citizenship. In recent years, however, Congress and the Defense Department have made it more difficult for noncitizens to enlist. This brief give context to these policy changes and explores ways the military could better balance concerns about national security and the need for recruits with key cultural and professional skills.
Though it has achieved success in some areas, the Trump administration’s many efforts to stiffen immigration enforcement in the U.S. interior and at the Southwest border are being consistently stymied by court injunctions, existing laws and settlements, state and local resistance, congressional pushback, and migration pressures that are beyond the government’s ability to swiftly address, as this article explores.
Remain in Mexico—the Trump administration policy aimed at deterring the rising numbers of migrants from Central America by requiring them to stay in Mexico through most of their U.S. asylum adjudication process—bears striking similarities to U.S. policy in the 1980s and 1990s that sought to discourage Haitians from making the sea journey to the United States. This article explores the parallels and differences between Remain in Mexico and the earlier narrowing of asylum for Haitians.