MPI Virtual Conference
17th Annual Immigration Law and Policy Conference
Immigration has been at the forefront of the policy agenda throughout the Trump administration. Using presidential proclamations, regulatory change, technical guidance, and other means, the administration has methodically reshaped the U.S. immigration system by sharply narrowing access to asylum, terminating the DACA program, cutting legal immigration, making enforcement more random in nature, and engaging other countries in reducing flows to the U.S. border. In a period of high polarization and vast societal change brought by the COVID-19 pandemic, facets of the immigration debate also are intersecting with the rising racial justice movement.
This year’s Immigration Law and Policy Conference, which has gone virtual for its 17th incarnation, addresses these topics and many others in advance of a consequential general election that offers starkly different choices with respect to U.S. immigration policy in the coming four years.
The conference, organized annually by the Migration Policy Institute, Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc., and Georgetown University Law Center, offers an excellent opportunity to go beyond the headlines with thoughtful analysis from leading experts. This virtual conference included two afternoons of engaging discussions with smart thinkers and expert analysis from leading government officials, attorneys, policy analysts, advocates, and others.
A Shift or Seismic Change? The State of Play for Immigration Policy and Politics
Immigration has occupied a more central role in U.S. policy and politics over the past several years than in any prior administration. The Trump White House has presided over a dramatic reshaping of virtually every corner of the U.S. immigration system. As a result, the United States appears on course to experience a marked—perhaps historic—decline in legal immigration. This is occurring against the backdrop of a national conversation on racial equity that features intersections with immigration politics and policies.
As the general election nears, this conversation with nationally renowned political analysts will examine the role of immigration in today’s presidential politics, how the parties’ immigration stances have evolved, and whether the currents buffeting the immigration debate represent a short-term reality or suggest a longer cycle of change may be emerging. The discussion also will focus on what the extraordinary shift in immigration policy and politics during the past four years signals for the future of the country.
- Moderator: Doris Meissner, Senior Fellow and Director, U.S. Immigration Policy Program, Migration Policy Institute
- A Conversation With:
- Ronald Brownstein, Senior Editor, The Atlantic
- Eduardo Porter, Economics Reporter, The New York Times; Author of American Poison
Policy in a Whirlwind: Building an Immigration System that Works for America
Building a fair, workable immigration system amid competing political, economic, and social priorities and interests may seem an almost unsurmountable challenge in today’s highly polarized environment. While sweeping changes to immigration policy and enforcement have occurred at the executive level over the past two administrations, Congress has been on the sidelines, unable to fashion a workable consensus around a comprehensive immigration overhaul since the start of the new millennium. The result has been piecemeal policy rather than a long-term vision to address U.S. economic and social needs in a rapidly changing world. Is there a path forward? And if so, what should the approach be and what components are necessary? Moreover, in a time when there is a push for a re-examination of policies through a racially sensitive lens, what should be considered by those who are crafting policies, examining data, and advocating for reform? In this conversation, speakers will explore what an effective, flexible system that advances both American interests and American values looks like, and whether and how such goals can be achieved.
- Moderator: Muzaffar Chishti, Director, MPI’s office at NYU School of Law, Migration Policy Institute
- Laura Collins, Director, Bush Institute-SMU Economic Growth Initiative, George W. Bush Institute
- Marielena Hincapié, Executive Director, NILC Immigrant Justice Fund
- Peter L. Markowitz, Professor of Law and Co-Director of the Kathryn O. Greenberg Immigration Justice Clinic, Co-Director, Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law
- Roberto Suro, Professor of Journalism and Public Policy, USC Annenberg
The Two Pandemics: How COVID-19 and Systemic Racism Affect Immigrants and Their Families
COVID-19 has had catastrophic effects for society, with disproportionate impacts on immigrant and minority communities in terms of illness, access to health care, and limited eligibility for safety-net benefits. Some of the hardest-hit communities are Latino and immigrant ones, which have reported a higher number of cases and deaths. The effects have also been particularly acute for Black communities, which have long confronted pervasive racism. Using the coronavirus pandemic to achieve long-held aims, the Trump administration has advanced more than five dozen immigration-related actions, including a public-health order that permits the expulsion of migrants arriving at the U.S.-Mexico border and bans on certain permanent and temporary worker categories. The administration and Congress also approved legislative packages that exclude millions of immigrants and their U.S.-citizen family members from pandemic relief payments. This panel will discuss the effects of these measures on immigrants, many of whom have been on the frontlines of the pandemic response. Among the issues: how a changed public-charge definition has chilled many from accessing much-needed health services; continuing detention and deportation practices amid the public health crisis; and the status of the Liberian Refugee Immigration Fairness program, the first immigration legalization program passed into law in a decade.
- Moderator: Anna Gallagher, Executive Director, Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc.
- Amaha Kassa, Founder and Executive Director, African Communities Together
- Leighton Ku, Professor of Health Policy and Management and Director of the Center for Health Policy Research, George Washington University
- Haeyoung Yoon, Senior Policy Director, National Domestic Workers Alliance; Senior Policy Advisor, Care in Action
Protection in Disarray: The Dismantling of the U.S. Asylum System
The Trump administration has walled off the asylum system at the U.S.-Mexico border, using a series of interlocking policies that range from narrowing the qualifying criteria for protection to a ban on asylum for those who have transited through another country to reach the U.S. border, implementation of the Migrant Protection Protocols (more commonly known as Remain in Mexico), establishment of extreme forms of expedited removal, and signing of asylum cooperation agreements with countries in Central America. Since March, under a pandemic-related emergency health order, the United States has expelled tens of thousands of asylum seekers at the border, including unaccompanied children. In June, the Department of Homeland Security and the Justice Department proposed a new regulation to secure the dismantling of the asylum system and tie up any future administration that tries to repeal any final rule’s restrictions. Speakers during this discussion will examine the dramatic narrowing of the U.S. asylum system, the further challenges to humanitarian protection introduced by the COVID-19 response, how these actions have particularly affected Latina and Black asylum seekers, and what the future of asylum in the United States looks like.
Moderator: Andrew I. Schoenholtz, Professor from Practice, Georgetown Law; Director, Human Rights Institute and Center for Applied Legal Studies
Paulina Olvera Cáñez, Founder and Executive Director, Espacio Migrante
Jaya Ramji-Nogales, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and the I. Herman Stern Research Professor, Beasley School of Law, Temple University
Douglas Stephens, former Asylum Officer, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services; Supervisory Attorney, Center for Immigration Legal & Support Services, Catholic Charities San Francisco
Accredited members of the media should email [email protected] to register.