E.g., 01/26/2022
E.g., 01/26/2022
U.S. Immigration Policy Program

U.S. Immigration Policy Program

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.

Organic Blue Corn from a farm in New Mexico
USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service New Mexico

There is increasing recognition that the United States, Mexico, and migrant-origin countries in Central America will need to work together to address the large-scale, irregular movement of people through the region. While it is critical to improve humanitarian protection for those in need, expanding legal opportunities to take up employment abroad is another part of this equation, as this policy brief explores.

Photo of woman walking around a school campus.
iStock.com/RyanJLane

The number of U.S. adults who could benefit from efforts to boost postsecondary credential attainment is strikingly large. Nearly 96 million working-age adults lack a postsecondary credential, 28 million of them of immigrant origin, MPI estimates. This commentary examines how enabling immigrant-origin adults to attain credentials beyond a high school diploma is vital to both building a skilled workforce and closing equity gaps.

U.S. Border Patrol agents prepare to process migrant encountered near Arizona
Jerry Glaser/U.S. Customs and Border Protection

While there were more encounters of migrants seeking to cross the U.S.-Mexico border without authorization during fiscal 2021 than any prior year, this does not necessarily mean that more migrants were intercepted or illicitly entered the country than was the case 21 years ago, a new commentary explains.

A family with Congolese, Angolan, and Brazilian members arriving in Panama after crossing the Darien Gap
© UNICEF/William Urdaneta

The number of African migrants traveling through South and Central America in hopes of reaching the U.S.-Mexico border, many seeking asylum, is small but increasing. This report examines the factors driving African migration through the Americas, common routes and challenges, and how transit countries are responding.

The U.S. and DHS flags
U.S. Department of Homeland Security

Nearly two decades since the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) was founded in 2003, U.S. immigration governance is buckling from breakdowns in performance across key immigration components and partner agencies. This report advances ideas for DHS to fix its governance to manage immigration as a system, focusing on challenges in mission and structure, intra-DHS and interdepartmental collaboration, funding, and institutional culture.

Recent Activity

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Commentaries
July 2019
By  Andrew Selee, Silvia E. Giorguli-Saucedo, Claudia Masferrer and Ariel G. Ruiz Soto
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Commentaries
July 2019
By  Andrew Selee, Silvia E. Giorguli-Saucedo, Claudia Masferrer and Ariel G. Ruiz Soto
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Articles
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Reports
March 2010
By  Cristina Rodríguez , Muzaffar Chishti, Randy Capps and Laura St. John
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Reports
December 2009
By  Gordon H. Hanson
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Reports
November 2009
By  Pia M. Orrenius and Madeline Zavodny
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Reports
September 2009
By  Donald M. Kerwin and Serena Yi-Ying Lin
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Reports
July 2009
By  Demetrios G. Papademetriou, Doris Meissner, Marc R. Rosenblum and Madeleine Sumption
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Reports
July 2009
By  Doris Meissner and Marc R. Rosenblum

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With weeks to spare, the Obama administration met its goal of resettling 10,000 Syrian refugees by the end of September 2016, and announced plans to increase the overall refugee ceiling to 110,000 in fiscal 2017. However, opposition continues to mount in Congress, statehouses, and on the campaign trail, with Republicans citing security concerns in calling for lower numbers or additional screening, as this article explores.

CaribbeanFlags PaulStein Flickr

Approximately 4 million immigrants from the Caribbean resided in the United States in 2014, representing 9 percent of the country's total immigrant population. While 90 percent of Caribbean immigrants come from five countries, this population overall is very diverse in its skill levels, racial composition, language background, and immigration pathways. This Spotlight article provides information on the Caribbean immigrant population in the United States, focusing on its size, geographic distribution, and socioeconomic characteristics.

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More than 653,000 immigrants became U.S. citizens in fiscal year 2014, bringing the total number of naturalized U.S. citizens to 20 million—nearly half the overall immigrant population of 42.4 million. Over the past decade, naturalizations have ranged from about 537,000 yearly to just more than 1 million. Learn more about naturalization trends in the United States with this Spotlight article.

TrumpRNC IdaMaeAstute ABC

The stark contrast between the Republican and Democratic parties on immigration was codified in their 2016 party platforms, and showcased in the rosters of convention speakers—featuring victims of unauthorized immigrant crimes on the one hand, and unauthorized immigrants living in fear on the other. This article explores the evidence, even compared to earlier platforms, of two divergent universes regarding immigration.

VisaApplicant USConsulate GeneralChennai Flickr

As many as half of all unauthorized immigrants in the United States entered legally and overstayed a visa. This article explores a possible way to refine visa policies: Examine the economic growth of travelers' home countries. The author examines the correlation between economic growth and the rate at which a country’s nationals are denied visas, and explores how this might inform visa policy.

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EventPH 2014.4.29 The Deportation Story 3
Video, Audio
April 29, 2014

This MPI panel discussion examines the U.S. deportation system with analysis on migrant apprehensions, removals, returns, and criminal prosecutions, and launches the report, "The Deportation Dilemma: Reconciling Tough and Humane Enforcement."

EventPH 2014.03.20 Children on the Run An Analysis of First Hand Accounts from Children Fleeing Central America
Video, Audio
March 12, 2014

This event with UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres features findings from UNHCR’s report, Children on the Run, which examines the increasing numbers of children from Central America and Mexico who head off alone to find refuge in the United States, fleeing violence, insecurity, and abuse.

EventPH 2014.02.27 A Treacherous Journey   Child Migrants Navigating the U.S. Immigration System
Video, Audio
February 27, 2014

This panel discussion on unaccompanied minors focuses on a report by Kids in Need of Defense and the Center for Gender & Refugee Studies at UC Hastings College of the Law, whose primary conclusion is that children face a U.S. immigration system created for adults that is not required to consider the child’s best interests.

EventPH 2014.02.19 A Transatlantic Conversation Managing Migration in the Era of Mobility2
Video, Audio
February 19, 2014

This discussion explores how the 2014 Greek Presidency of the European Union and the United States can work to address the challenges of managing migration while meeting humanitarian obligations and nurturing economic growth.

EventPH 2014.2.14 Managing Borders in North America Charting the Future
Video, Audio
February 7, 2014

This panel discussion offers perspectives on border policy management from leading officials in the Canadian, Mexican, and U.S. governments, and showcases the MPI book, "Managing Borders in an Increasingly Borderless World."

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Recent Activity

Commentaries
July 2019

Dado el incremento de los flujos migratorios provenientes de Centroamérica, el pasado mes de junio de 2019, los Estados Unidos y México acordaron tomar una serie de medidas para reducir los flujos irregulares. Sin embargo, será muy difícil mantener estos esfuerzos de corto plazo, debido a una debilidad institucional crónica y a estructuras de política pública poco planificadas en ambos países. Este comentario ofrece cinco recomendaciones a ambos países considerando soluciones de mediano y largo plazo para disuadir la migración irregular y, al mismo tiempo, garantizar que aquellos que busquen protección tengan un proceso justo.

Commentaries
July 2019

Amid surging migration from Central America, the United States and Mexico in June 2019 agreed to a series of enforcement measures. Yet these near-term efforts will be difficult to maintain given chronic institutional weaknesses and poorly thought-out policy structures in both countries. This commentary, by the presidents of MPI and El Colegio de México, offers a set of long-term, collaborative solutions to dissuade illegal migration while ensuring fairness to those seeking protection.

Video
July 9, 2019

This event features a smart conversation by a range of experts on U.S.-Mexico border conditions, looking at policy responses by both countries and regional cooperation.

Articles

Approximately 11,500 unaccompanied children were apprehended at the U.S.-Mexico border in May, putting this year on track to exceed 2014's surge. As the U.S. government struggles to care for these child migrants, with public outrage mounting over reports of unsafe, filthy conditions in initial Border Patrol custody, the failure of the executive branch and Congress to plan for increased shelter and care demands are increasingly apparent, as this article explores.

Video, Audio
June 26, 2019

This discussion on the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) showcases MPI Fellow Charles Kamasaki's book, Immigration Reform: The Corpse That Will Not Die. Kamasaki is joined by other veterans of the IRCA debate for a conversation on the lessons, the intended and unintended consequences, and how the law’s legacy has shaped contemporary politics on immigration.

Commentaries
June 2019

While safe third-country agreements appear to hold the potential of deterring new asylum claims, experience suggests this may be a false promise. As the Trump administration explores the possibility of such agreements with Mexico and Guatemala, this commentary examines the evidence of safe third-country arrangements in Europe, finding them difficult to enforce and playing little role in deterring new claims.

Articles

The United States has historically been the top country for refugee resettlement, but was surpassed in 2018 by Canada amid record cuts to admissions by the Trump administration. Approximately 22,500 refugees were resettled in the United States during fiscal year 2018, as well as 26,500 asylees. This article examines where these newcomers came from and many other characteristics, including religious affiliation, age, and gender.

Articles

The Trump administration’s plan to create a "merit-based" U.S. immigration system, lessening the longstanding focus on family reunification in favor of more economic migrants, has met with a lackluster response from Democrats and Republicans alike. This Policy Beat article explores how the Trump proposal would reshape immigration to the United States, and how it compares to selection systems in other countries and past debates about changing the U.S. system.

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