E.g., 04/13/2024
E.g., 04/13/2024
Migration Information Source - U.S. Policy Beat Articles

U.S. Policy Beat Articles

President Joe Biden in Mexico City.

The U.S. immigration enforcement system increasingly depends on other countries to help halt irregular movements through the Americas and accept the return of unauthorized migrants. Foreign governments play a crucial and yet underappreciated role in migration management, and can either aid or frustrate U.S. border-control aims, as this article explores.

A member of the Texas National Guard faces migrants in Eagle Pass, Texas.

Rising tensions between Texas and the federal government have sparked fears of a constitutional crisis after the state deployed its National Guard to prevent the U.S. Border Patrol from conducting operations in a city park in Eagle Pass, with Texas Governor Greg Abbott saying the “invasion” of migrants triggered the need for action. This article provides an overview of the standoff and the larger context of current and past state-federal tensions over immigration enforcement.

President Joe Biden signs an executive order.

In three years, President Joe Biden has surpassed the number of immigration-focused executive actions taken by the Trump administration throughout its entire four-year term, making his the most active U.S. presidency ever on immigration. Yet the Biden administration has been repeatedly accused of inaction at the U.S.-Mexico border, where record levels of migrant encounters have occurred. This article reviews the Biden track record on immigration.

Image of USCIS employees at work

The U.S. immigration system is notorious for persistent backlogs and antiquated processes. In recent months, under-the-radar changes have made a dent in the logjam and helped bring the system into the 21st century. But some pandemic-era changes are set to expire, potentially undoing the incremental reforms. This article details the quiet technological and efficiency improvements in U.S. immigration operations.

The U.S. Coast Guard interdicts a vessel with Cuban migrants.

Amid the highest Caribbean maritime migration levels in a generation, the Biden administration is relying on a carrot-and-stick strategy it honed amid record unauthorized migration at the U.S.-Mexico border. The approach, combining limits on asylum, expanded legal pathways, and international enforcement partnerships, could be increasingly important if maritime migration rises, as this article explains.

New York City Mayor Eric Adams meeting with asylum seekers.

U.S. cities have spent billions of dollars to provide shelter, health care, and other resources to migrants recently arrived from the U.S.-Mexico border. The exceptional costs, which the New York mayor has described as existential, are due to a unique combination of factors, this article explains, including the large numbers of migrants arriving without local connections and long waits for work permits.

Afghan parolees wait in line at Fort McCoy, Wisconsin.

An estimated 1.9 million migrants are in the United States or have been authorized to enter with a twilight immigration status that does not automatically lead to to permanent residence but temporarily shields them from deportation for at least one year. Use of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) and immigration parole has been a hallmark of the Biden administration as it seeks to address record border arrivals and protection needs.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis at a conference in Tampa.

Renewed U.S. state activism on immigration has echoes of the early 2010s, when Arizona’s SB 1070 defined a Republican-led push to increase enforcement that was ultimately muted by the courts and public backlash. Newer strategies rely on a novel array of tactics including migrant busing, litigation, and lawmaking. States are also moving in opposite directions, with some expanding rights for unauthorized immigrants, as this article details.

An abandoned shoe lies in the mud along the U.S.-Mexico border.

The United States entered a new era with the end of the pandemic-era Title 42 expulsions policy. The government’s hopes of maintaining order at the U.S.-Mexico border post-Title 42 may be complicated by factors including authorities’ limited capacity, ongoing litigation, and cooperation from other countries. This article reviews the Biden administration's changing border policies and possible challenges ahead.

A border checkpoint between Canada and the United States.

The revised U.S.-Canada Safe Third Country Agreement closes what critics call a loophole that incentivizes unauthorized border crossings of asylum seekers. While responding to Canadian concerns of increasing irregular arrivals from the United States, the change—taken in tandem with U.S. moves at the U.S.-Mexico border—suggests that the Biden administration increasingly wants to rely on neighboring countries to respond to rising asylum claims.

The U.S. Supreme Court.

Virtually all major U.S. immigration policy reforms have faced lawsuits in recent years, giving federal judges wide latitude to shape national policy. The situation, which began during the Obama administration and has escalated, is a byproduct of congressional inaction and the emergence of immigration as a political wedge issue. This article tracks the trend, which has added new volatility to the immigration system, and places it in context.

President Joe Biden in the White House.

Pandemic-related U.S. policies have led to more than 2.6 million migrant expulsions at the U.S.-Mexico border, expanded public benefits to cover millions more U.S. residents, and offered free COVID-19 vaccines and treatment. Many of these policies are now likely to end as the Biden administration in May 2023 formally declares the pandemic to be over, although what comes next remains unclear.

President Joe Biden at the U.S.-Mexico border.

At his term's midpoint, President Joe Biden has relied on executive action to advance his immigration agenda more than his predecessors, including Donald Trump. Yet many of the changes to interior enforcement, humanitarian protection, and other areas have been overshadowed by the record pace of arrivals at the U.S.-Mexico border, which has presented the administration with major policy and operational challenges.

A person walks with luggage in John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York City.

Legal immigration to the United States fell to its lowest level in years during the COVID-19 pandemic, but preliminary data suggest it is returning to previous levels, belying predictions that the public-health crisis had allowed the Trump administration to make lasting, deep cuts. Yet the patterns have changed and persistent case processing backlogs could spell long-term problems, as this article explores.

Venezuelan migrants at a reception center in Brazil.

The Biden administration’s policy to expel some Venezuelan border arrivals to Mexico marks a significant reversal. For the first time, the U.S. government is invoking the controversial Title 42 expulsions policy not on public-health grounds but as an explicit immigration enforcement measure. The expulsions are being paired with a new humanitarian parole program for up to 24,000 Venezuelans. This article assesses the policy and the uneven treatment of humanitarian migrants by nationality.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott speaks before a briefing on border security.

Operations by Texas, Florida, and Arizona to bus or fly asylum seekers and other migrants to Washington, DC, Martha's Vineyard, and other cities have succeeded in drawing attention to the unprecedented pace of U.S.-Mexico border arrivals. Described by some as political pawns, many migrants say the trips have upsides. Consequences aside, the transport of migrants by Republican governors raises the question whether a new era has begun: state-on-state fights over immigration.

Image of young Afghan girls.

The sluggishness of an overwhelmed U.S. immigration system and long lead times for refugee resettlement pushed government officials to use ad hoc pathways for Afghans and Ukrainians to enter the United States, with a two-year parole status given to most. This article examines the use of parole, the Uniting for Ukraine sponsorship program, and how the use of ad hoc statuses could evolve for future crises.

Image of aspiring pastor and DACA recipient speaking at DACA event in Minneapolis

The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program reached its 10th anniversary in June 2022. This article reviews the evidence on DACA’s impacts for Dreamers and the broader society, looks at the increased reliance on similar limited legal statuses to help segments of the unauthorized immigrant population, and examines the legal challenges the program has and is continuing to face.

Migrants from Haiti intercepted by U.S. authorities off the coast of Florida.

A recent uptick in the number of unauthorized migrants attempting to reach the United States by sea has been largely overshadowed by tensions on the southwest border but serves as an echo of eras past. This article explains why migrant interdictions have risen to recent highs, especially among Cubans and Haitians.

U.S. immigration officials walk by a courthouse in Seattle.

New Biden administration guidelines encourage immigration prosecutors to support dismissing many low-priority deportation cases and focus on criminals, threats to national security, and other priorities. This move could have a major impact on clearing backlogs in the overstretched U.S. immigration court system, resulting in quicker determinations in removal and asylum cases, where wait times can presently stretch for years.

U.S. Border Patrol agents prepare to transport unauthorized migrants to Mexico under Title 42.

The United States’ controversial Title 42 migrant expulsions policy will come to an end in May 2022, after more than 1.7 million expulsions over two years. The COVID-19-era public-health restriction ushered in an unprecedented period of mass expulsions, including of would-be asylum seekers, at the U.S.-Mexico border. Unwinding the policy will be complicated amid predictions of a significant increase in unauthorized migration.

A pile of documents on a desk.

President Joe Biden has made efforts to overhaul the U.S. immigration system, but could see his administration's agenda slowed by massive backlogs across the immigration system. Case application wait times and immigration court queues have swelled during the COVID-19 pandemic, slowing legal arrivals to the United States and undermining the entire immigration system.

Photo of U.S. President Joe Biden delivering remarks in front of White House.

While Donald Trump’s presidency is perceived as being the most active on immigration, touching nearly every aspect of the U.S. immigration system, President Joe Biden’s administration has far outpaced his predecessor in the number of executive actions taken during his first year in office—even as the pace of change has gone largely unnoticed, as this article explores.

Migrants enrolled in the Migrant Protection Protocols are processed by U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers.

The Biden administration's court-ordered restart of the controversial Migrant Protection Protocols, known informally as the Remain in Mexico policy, puts it in the awkward position of reviving a program it is simultaneously still trying to end. The Trump-era program forced tens of thousands of migrants to wait out the duration of their U.S. immigration court hearings in Mexico and was only questionably successful at deterring unauthorized arrivals.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers consult in New York City.

U.S. immigration arrests have declined to the lowest level in years. Going forward, new U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement guidelines could further shape how authorities arrest and deport unauthorized immigrants and noncitizens who have committed crimes. This article describes how the Biden administration prosecutorial discretion guidance marks a sharp turn from the approach taken by the Trump administration.

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