Experts & Staff
Sarah Pierce is a Policy Analyst for the U.S. Immigration Policy Program at the Migration Policy Institute (MPI). Her research expertise includes U.S. legal immigration processes and actors, the employment-based immigration system, and unaccompanied child migrants.
Prior to joining MPI, Ms. Pierce practiced immigration law with a Chicago-based law firm, practicing before the immigration court, Board of Immigration Appeals, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), and U.S. consulate offices abroad. Her common areas of practice included family- and employment-based immigration, such as nonimmigrant visas; waivers of inadmissibility; and employment-based permanent residency petitions. Ms. Pierce has also worked for and volunteered with a number of nonprofit organizations and government entities, including Human Rights Watch, the National Immigrant Justice Center, and the U.S. Department of Labor.
Ms. Pierce holds a master of arts in international affairs from the George Washington University, with a focus on migration and development. Her master’s research included travel to El Salvador and the United Arab Emirates, and work on remittances, outmigration policies, and the relationship between labor rights and remittances. She also holds a J.D. from the University of Iowa College of Law and a B.A. from Grinnell College.
The Biden administration's challenge to dismantle Trump-era barriers to asylum at the U.S.-Mexico border is akin to fixing a plane while flying it. This commentary examines actions taken to date and articulates a series of steps that could help establish an effective, humane asylum system that works in tandem with border management goals and efforts to reduce the drivers of migration through regional migration management measures with neighboring countries.
The Biden administration has set the pace for what could be the most active first 100 days on immigration policy by any White House in recent memory—even that of predecessor Donald Trump. The efforts, which represent a dramatic break from the Trump administration's view of immigration as threat, are likely to meet stiff opposition on Capitol Hill and elsewhere. This article evaluates Biden's early actions and what they suggest about the White House's ambitions on immigration.
Among the many executive action tools the Trump administration used to significantly rewrite U.S. immigration policy is an obscure but powerful legal authority known as the attorney general’s referral and review. This report examines how this power’s use and impact have changed over time, deep-rooted concerns about it that predate the Trump administration but that have grown due to its more frequent use, and ways to improve it going forward.
What actions might the incoming Biden administration take on immigration, whether to unwind some of the most restrictive Trump policies or advance an affirmative agenda of its own? And what challenges and opportunities will the Biden administration face? MPI experts analyze the campaign pledges and prospects ahead, for everything from reversing the Remain in Mexico program and cuts to legal immigration, ending border wall construction, and reviving DACA and refugee resettlement, as well as new policies such as legalization.
Before entering office, President Donald Trump promised to deport millions of unauthorized immigrants. Yet despite his general successes in creating a more restrictive and punitive immigration system, this goal has eluded his administration. So-called “sanctuary” policies implemented by state and local governments to limit their cooperation with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement have been a key reason why arrests and removals have not reached earlier peaks.
The Trump administration's changes to the H-1B visa program are the most significant in three decades, promising to end the practice of replacing U.S. workers with highly skilled immigrants. While the problems the administration has identified and the interest in protecting U.S. workers are legitimate ones, its approach may cripple the H-1B program itself, as this commentary explains.
Top legal scholars discuss the Trump administration’s substantial use of executive power to change the country’s course on immigration, how this compares to past administrations, and how the president’s role in immigration policy could be carefully considered and reimagined.
Now into its fourth year, the Trump administration has reshaped the U.S. immigration system in ways big and small via presidential proclamations, policy guidance, and regulatory change. This report offers a catalog of the more than 400 administrative changes undertaken in areas such as immigration enforcement, humanitarian admissions, DACA, and visa processing—including a look at measures put in places since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.