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.
Bio Page Tabs
Marking the release of an MPI brief, this webinar examines data on where unaccompanied child migrants are being placed in the United States, how they are faring in immigration courts, what services are available to them, and how U.S.
What President Trump calls a border crisis is in fact a crisis in the asylum system—one worsened at every turn by his administration’s harsh policies and rhetoric. Rather than spend $5.7 billion on a wall, it would be far more effective to use the money to retool an overwhelmed asylum system, adapt outmatched border enforcement infrastructure to respond to the changing composition of arrivals, and work cooperatively with Mexico to tackle the factors propelling Central Americans to flee.
The Trump administration’s latest effort to narrow the ability to apply for asylum at the U.S.-Mexico border hit a legal roadblock within days of implementation, as has been the pattern for much of its immigration agenda. This article examines the actions on asylum, which alongside deployment of active-duty military to the border, are among measures taken to seek to reduce the flow of Central Americans to the United States.
In less than two years as Attorney General, Jeff Sessions oversaw wide-reaching changes to the U.S. immigration system. Even as the zero-tolerance policy, fights with "sanctuary" cities, and DACA termination might be more visible, Sessions' enduring legacy may be his muscular use of a little-noted authority, which he wielded to significantly reshape immigration and asylum policy by referring immigration cases to himself.
As the Trump administration moves to be able to indefinitely detain parents and children intercepted at the U.S.-Mexico border, whether illegal border crossers or asylum seekers, recent apprehension trends and history suggest hardline policies might not be a slam-dunk deterrent with a Central American population often driven by the desire to escape gang or other violence, as this Policy Beat explores.
President Trump has made reshaping the U.S. immigration system a top priority. Yet the fragmented nature of policy-making in the United States—with power split between branches and levels of government—has made it difficult to pursue some of his most ambitious proposals. This report explores the evolution of migration policy under Trump, and what these changes may mean in the long run.
Though the Supreme Court handed the Trump administration a major victory by upholding its much-contested travel ban, less noted has been the fact that the ruling left an opening for future challenges to the policy of barring groups of foreign nationals from the country. This Policy Beat explores the evolution of the travel ban, the justices' arguments for and against, and changes in visa grants from travel-ban countries.
Even as some pundits assess President Trump's temporary end to family separation as a defeat, the deeper reality is being lost: The administration’s plan to detain all asylum seekers at the U.S.-Mexico border, including families, is now on its way to completion. The “catch-and-release” that Donald Trump rails against is, at least in part, effectively over for now, though the price tag is a long way from being tallied, as this commentary explains.
The House is set to vote on two bills that would largely dismantle the U.S. asylum system at the southern border by significantly narrowing grounds to apply for asylum, eliminating protections for the vast majority of unaccompanied minors, and unilaterally declaring Mexico a safe third country. The result would be a sharp reduction in the number of people permitted to seek humanitarian protection, as this commentary explains.