Governments around the world turned to border closures, travel restrictions, and in a few cases bars on asylum—initially in hopes of keeping the COVID-19 virus from entering their countries, and later at the pandemic stage as part of a wider suite of mobility restrictions. MPI's research, data, and commentary on the migration responses to the pandemic, including policies regarding health-care and seasonal workers, are collected here.
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.
The Trump administration's plan to exclude unauthorized immigrants from the 2020 Census data used to reapportion 435 congressional seats among the 50 states could misclassify as many as 20 million U.S. citizens, as the result of expected data-matching errors. The effects of this exclusion could be most pronounced in low-income urban and rural communities, reducing their voting power relative to more affluent ones, as this commentary explains.
Citing coronavirus-related disruptions, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services urged Congress to provide $1.2 billion to address its severe budget shortfall. Without this emergency infusion, the agency warned it might have to furlough up to 80 percent of its staff by mid-July 2020. Yet a deeper look at USCIS operations shows it was facing serious budget problems long before the pandemic—ones that are the logical results of actions undertaken by the Trump administration.
In a time of critical shortages of U.S. health-care workers during the COVID-19 pandemic, retired doctors are being called back to work and medical students are graduating on a fast track. There is another important pool that could be tapped: Immigrants and refugees who have college degrees in health fields but are working in low-skilled jobs or out of work. MPI estimates 263,000 immigrants are experiencing skill underutilization and could be a valuable resource.
Travel bans, border closures, and other migration management tools did not prove effective at blocking COVID-19 from spreading across international borders. Yet as governments have shifted from containment to mitigation with the coronavirus now in community transmission in many countries, these restrictions are a logical part of the policy toolkit in the context of social distancing and restricting all forms of human movement, as this commentary explores.