E.g., 01/22/2022
E.g., 01/22/2022

Migration Information Source

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

Mother and daughter from Middle Eastern background
iStock/Phynart Studio

Migration from the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region to the United States doubled between 2000 and 2019, yet these immigrants represented less than 3 percent of the overall U.S. foreign-born population as of 2019. MENA immigrants are more likely than other immigrants to be English proficient, have a college degree, and work in management, business, science, and arts occupations.

A Dutch family at Ellis Island between 1915 and 1920.
Library of Congress

As host to more immigrants than any other country, the United States has been shaped and reshaped by immigration over the centuries, with the issue at times becoming a flashpoint. This article covers the history of U.S. immigration and the major laws governing immigration, and provides a comprehensive overview of the present-day immigrant population.

Articles
Family members take a selfie at an airport in Greece.
IOM/Konstantina Mintzoli

The slow and uneven recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic prompted new patterns of movement in parts of the world in 2021. New conflicts also erupted, ongoing crises smoldered, and migrants were often stuck in the middle. Our annual Migration Information Source Top 10 countdown reviews what we consider to be the year's most important migration trends and events.

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

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.

Two boys pose in an informal settlement east of Johannesburg largely populated by immigrants.
John Hogg/World Bank

South Africa hosts the most immigrants of any African country. Yet it faces conflicting pressures, including the legacy of apartheid, a steady outflow of well-educated South Africans, and the need to juggle bilateral labor mobility schemes at a time of economic insecurity and high unemployment. This article traces these pressures and how they have developed over time.

Recent Articles

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For more than a century, Haiti was considered a prime destination for migrants from the United States and around the world. In the wake of the Haitian Revolution, Haiti marketed itself to freed slaves and others as an island haven where they could break free from the strictures of the United States and a global system of slavery. That changed in the 20th century. Now, there are roughly 1.6 million Haitians living in other countries.

Little_Haiti_party

The United States is the top global destination for Haitian migrants, who left Haiti in the wake of political instability and a series of natural disasters, including a 2010 earthquake that devastated the country. Haitian immigrants in the United States contribute an important flow of remittances to their country of origin, which is the second largest in the world as a percentage of gross domestic product (GDP). Remittances to Haiti have increased nearly sixfold since 2000.

Migrants_Med_Libya

Libya was once a prized destination for workers from around the world. But after Muammar Gaddafi’s overthrow in 2011, the country became the transit point for hundreds of thousands of Europe-bound asylum seekers and other migrants. Following Libya's 2017 deal with Italy to detain and return migrants caught at sea—which was renewed in February 2020—migrants became trapped in an unstable country, facing harrowing realities, as this article explores.

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A looming furlough of 70 percent of staff at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services could halt processing for tens of thousands of green cards, citizenship applications, and other immigrant benefits each month it is in effect. Alongside the long list of Trump administration policies slowing immigration to the United States before and during the COVID-19 pandemic, this could contribute to a precipitous—and likely historic—decline in new arrivals to the United States.

Filipinotown_PWC_Jeepney

Immigration from the Philippines to the United States has been taking place for more than a century, escalating towards the end of the 20th century. Filipinos now represent the fourth-largest U.S. immigrant group. Compared to all immigrants, Filipinos are more highly educated, are more likely to be naturalized U.S. citizens, have higher incomes and lower poverty rates, are less likely to be uninsured, and have greater English proficiency.

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Source Famine Migration

Despite long study of famine, there is a remarkable lack of research about the linkages between mass starvation and migration. Among the unanswered questions: Does migration mitigate starvation or worsen it? With famines returning, most notably in war-torn Yemen, after a period of decline, the need for knowledge is essential. This article examines the causes and migration patterns of great famines from the 19th century onward.

Coggio_Uganda SSudandeseRefugees Palorinya

Uganda is the third largest refugee-hosting nation in the world, with more than 1 million refugees arriving in the last two years. Amid strong public solidarity for displaced neighbors, the government has emphasized the right to employment, enterprise, and free movement for refugees despite the country's poverty and limited resources. Can this generous "Uganda model" be sustained? This article explores the challenges and opportunities.

TunisiaPort

In the face of an uptick in unauthorized arrivals in Italy from Tunisia in 2017, the European Union dusted off earlier policy proposals such as funding to increase Tunisia’s border-control capabilities and the creation of disembarkation platforms. This article explores why contemporary developments, including a fragile Tunisian political system, suggest the need for a different approach.

Source SenegalHTAs

For generations, migrants have emigrated from Senegal, particularly from in and around the Senegal River Valley. With France a key destination, French policy changes have had significant impact on Senegalese migrants and the hometown associations through which they support development in Senegal. This article explores how these policy shifts influence development and quality of life in the Senegal River Valley.

Source Hendow Crisis

Migrants displaced by crisis do not benefit from international protection the way that refugees do. This article examines the experiences of labor migrants amid manmade and natural disasters in the Central African Republic, Côte d’Ivoire, Lebanon, Libya, South Africa, and Thailand, as well as stakeholder responses. Research demonstrates the agency and resilience of migrants, who develop flexible solutions in the face of crisis.

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LittleSaigon JeremyBrooks Flickr

Now comprising the sixth largest foreign-born group in the country, the Vietnamese immigrant population in the United States has grown significantly since the end of the Vietnam War. Learn more about this population with the latest data in this Spotlight article.

IntlStudents SouthernArkansasU Flickr

The number of international students enrolled in U.S. colleges and universities has risen steadily since the mid-20th century. Today, the United States represents the top destination for international students worldwide. Learn more about where these students come from, which universities they attend, and the subjects they study in this Spotlight article.

WelcometoUS DanielSzwalkiewicz Flickr

Get all the latest and historical facts and figures on immigrants and immigration in the United States in this handy resource. With immigration often surfacing in public and political debates, learn the answers to such questions as: How do current immigration flows compare to earlier ones? How many unauthorized immigrants live in the United States? How many refugees are admitted annually? And get answers to many more questions.

MexicanMasks antifluor Flickr

Mexican immigration to the United States has slowed in recent years, and since the Great Recession more Mexican immigrants have returned to Mexico than have migrated to the United States. Mexicans, however, remain the largest origin group in the country, accounting for 28 percent of all immigrants. See how Mexican immigrants compare to the overall foreign- and U.S.-born populations on key indicators with this Spotlight article.

ThomasHawk CarnavalSF2015 Flickr

Growing rapidly from a population of 90,000 in 1960 to nearly 3 million in 2014, South American immigrants now represent 7 percent of all foreign born in the United States. Family-based immigration is the primary pathway for all South American groups, ranging from 45 percent of Venezuelan immigrants to 97 percent of those from Guyana.

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Social and economic factors are pushing Japan toward a more open immigration policy, while other concerns are prompting the country to adopt stricter immigration controls. Chikako Kashiwazaki of Keio University and Tsuneo Akaha of the Monterey Institute of International Studies provide an overview of Japan’s migration issues.

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As Ulf Hedetoft of Aalborg University and the Academy for Migration Studies in Denmark explains, the question of how to handle cultural and religious differences has come to dominate the Danish political agenda.
ir map

Iran has long connected the great civilizations of Asia, the Near East and the Mediterranean. But since the Islamic Revolution, hundreds of thousands of highly skilled Iranians have emigrated while millions of refugees from Afghanistan and Iraq have entered the country. Shirin Hakimzadeh takes a detailed look at Iran's past and present migration issues.

tajikistan map
One of the poorest countries in Central Asia and a former Soviet Republic, Tajikistan has dealt with Afghan refugees, experienced outward flows of ethnic Russians since its independence, and seen thousands of ethnic Tajiks leave for temporary employment in Russia. MPI’s Aaron Erlich investigates the migration issues facing this understudied country.
sw map
Although Sweden was once open to labor migrants from across Europe and refugees from all over the world, its policies have become increasingly restrictive over the last 35 years. Today, the country is wrestling with integration issues, as Charles Westin of the Centre for Research in International Migration and Ethnic Relations, Stockholm University, explains.

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KateSteinleImpromptuMemorial ShellyPrevost Flickr
The killing of a young woman in San Francisco by an unauthorized immigrant coincided with the Obama administration's rollout of the Priority Enforcement Program, a new vehicle for improving federal-local relations on immigration enforcement. The tragedy has rekindled debate over the role of "sanctuary" cities and propelled illegal immigration to the forefront of the 2016 presidential race.
Youngimmigrantslineupdeportation WBEZ flickr
As legal challenges continue to impede President Obama's deferred action programs to protect millions of unauthorized immigrants from deportation, it is becoming increasingly clear that the window of opportunity for implementation before the 2016 election is growing ever narrower. Even as advocates continue mobilizing immigrants to apply, attention is shifting to other new policies announced by the president last November.
MoreSoftwareEngineers1 SaadAkhtar Flickr
Mexico has lost its long-held status as the top source country of new immigrants to the United States, dropping to third place behind China and India. This historic shift is remarkable for the rapid decline in Mexican inflows combined with a steady rise in Asian immigration, largely through high-skilled visa programs. This Policy Beat explores the reasons behind these trends and their potential impact on U.S. demographics.
ShrimpProcessing PaulGoyette Flickr
The H-2B visa allows U.S. employers to bring in foreign workers to temporarily fill low-skill nonagricultural jobs across a wide range of states and industries. A series of recent legal challenges has exposed the presence of fraud and abuse, while stripping the program of its regulations and raising uncertainty about its future. This Policy Beat examines the implications in the debate surrounding temporary worker programs.
FundDHSMediaAvail DHS Flickr
Attention is now squarely focused on the U.S. federal courts where the legal battle over President Obama's executive actions on immigration continues. While congressional efforts to roll back the directives appear to have been put aside, at least temporarily, implementation of the signature deferred action programs announced in November 2014 remains blocked. The administration, however, is moving forward with other aspects of the executive order, as this article explores.

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