Migration Policy Institute
Immigration Enforcement in the United States: The Rise of a Formidable Machinery
Doris Meissner, Senior Fellow and Director, MPI U.S. Immigration Policy Program
Muzaffar Chishti, Director, MPI Office at NYU School of Law
Donald M. Kerwin, Executive Director, Center for Migration Studies
Demetrios G. Papademetriou, President, Migration Policy Institute
Beginning with the passage of the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 (IRCA), Congress has attempted to deal with historically high levels of illegal immigration that started in the early 1970s and continued until the Great Recession in 2008. Since IRCA, illegal immigration and enforcement have been a dominant public concern that has driven policymaking by successive administrations and Congresses of each party, even as there has been deep ideological and partisan division over broader immigration reform during the past decade. The Migration Policy Institute released a major study that describes and analyzes today’s immigration enforcement programs, as they have developed and grown in the 25 years since IRCA launched the current enforcement era. Entitled Immigration Enforcement in the United States: The Rise of a Formidable Machinery, the work lays out, for the first time, the totality of immigration enforcement that is in place, and identifies and describes the six pillars that comprise the complex, cross-agency immigration enforcement system that has been built.