E.g., 10/22/2021
E.g., 10/22/2021
U.S. Immigration Policy Program

U.S. Immigration Policy Program

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.

A man working at a lumber warehouse
iStock.com/Juanmonino

Immigrants, who lost jobs at a much higher rate than U.S.-born workers early in the COVID-19 pandemic, have since seen their unemployment rate drop below that of the U.S. born. Still, they are not well poised to take advantage of the economic recovery. This issue brief examines the extent of job losses and employment shifts for U.S. workers from mid-2019 to mid-2021, with trends broken down by nativity, gender, industry, and geographic region.

Immigrants in an outdoor space at Eloy Federal Contract Facility
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement

The U.S. immigration detention system is sprawling, expensive, and has long been criticized for its prisonlike conditions and health risks. The pandemic has brought these risks into even sharper focus. This report examines detention’s role in the U.S. immigration enforcement system and proposes a different approach centered on release with supervision and case management—tools that are less costly, more humane, and ensure compliance with immigration proceedings.

Jaime Rodriguez Sr./U.S. Customs and Border Protection

The Biden administration’s proposed asylum processing rule represents a fundamental retooling of the asylum system that preserves asylum as a bedrock element of the U.S. immigration system while also recognizing that a secure border and deterring unlawful crossings are legitimate and necessary attributes of an effective, credible immigration system, as this commentary explains.

Receptionist wearing personal protective equipment while interacting with a customer
iStock.com/Mustafa Gull

Immigrant workers have been hit hard by the pandemic-related economic crisis across the United States and in many states with the largest immigrant populations. This issue brief examines how workers in different states and different industries have fared, looking at how employment trends have been shaped by state-level factors such as the length and timing of stay-at-home orders and definitions of who is an “essential” worker.

Recent Activity

Pages

Cover image for African Migration through the Americas: Drivers, Routes, and Policy Responses
Reports
October 2021
By  Caitlyn Yates and Jessica Bolter
Cover image for Immigrants’ U.S. Labor Market Disadvantage in the COVID-19 Economy: The Role of Geography and Industries of Employment
Policy Briefs
September 2021
By  Randy Capps, Jeanne Batalova and Julia Gelatt
Cover image for Immigrant and Other U.S. Workers a Year into the Pandemic: A Focus on Top Immigrant States
Policy Briefs
June 2021
By  Julia Gelatt, Jeanne Batalova and Christopher Levesque
Cover image for Strengthening Services for Unaccompanied Children in U.S. Communities
Reports
June 2021
By  Mark Greenberg, Kylie Grow, Stephanie Heredia, Kira Monin and Essey Workie

Pages

A woman stands onboard the U.S. Navy vessel on which she was born after her parents had been rescued at sea while fleeing Vietnam in 1979.

Vietnamese immigrants are among the largest foreign-born groups from Asia in the United States. The first significant arrivals came at the end of the Vietnam War; more recent immigrants from Vietnam have been more likely to come through family sponsorship programs. This article examines different dimensions of this immigrant population.

A Haitian man hugs his daughter in Peru.

The chaotic arrival of thousands of Haitians at the U.S.-Mexico border in September 2021 was the culmination of a journey through the Americas that began for many a decade ago. This article examines how Brazil became a refuge for many after Haiti’s devastating 2010 earthquake, and how Haitians then moved on to Chile and other countries as conditions changed, and then onward again further north.

A U.S. Customs agent looks at wreckage following the 9/11 terror attacks

After the terror attacks of September 11, 2001 the U.S. immigration system was retooled to have a strong national security focus. This restructuring had dramatic effects on government operations and resource allocations, not to mention on the lives of immigrants and the U.S. born alike. Twenty years on from 9/11, this article examines the changes put in place or accelerated as a result of the attacks.

Niños nicaragüenses en la escuela sosteniendo la bandera de su país.

El número de inmigrantes centroamericanos en los Estados Unidos ha crecido dramáticamente. Pero las imágenes recientes de centroamericanos que llegan a la frontera entre Estados Unidos y México no cuentan toda la historia. Más de la mitad de la población llegó en 2000 o antes. Este artículo ofrece datos clave sobre los 3.8 millones de inmigrantes centroamericanos en Estados Unidos.

An Afghan refugee in the United States.

The dramatic evacuation from Afghanistan may bring more than 50,000 new Afghan immigrants to the United States, according to government predictions. These new arrivals would join a small but growing population of Afghans in the United States, most of whom have arrived since 2010. This article provides insights into this immigrant group, many of whom arrived on the Special Immigrant Visa.

Pages

Photo of Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken meeting with Afghan evacuees in Germany
Commentaries
September 2021
By  Mark Greenberg, Celia Reynolds and Essey Workie
Bhutanese refugee sits on bed in family's apartment in New York
Commentaries
June 2021
By  Essey Workie, Mark Greenberg and Lillie Hinkle
BreadforWorld_DACA_3
Commentaries
February 2021
By  Jeanne Batalova and Michael Fix
CBP_SanYsidro_smaller
Commentaries
February 2021
By  Doris Meissner and Sarah Pierce
HealthCare BrainWaste Commentary CDC
Commentaries
December 2020
By  Michael Fix, Jeanne Batalova and José Ramón Fernández-Peña

Pages

Explainer IllegalImmigration Art
Explainers
April 2019

How has the size of the unauthorized population in the United States changed over time? How is illegal immigration changing, and where do unauthorized immigrants come from? This explainer answers basic questions about illegal immigration, the changing patterns from Mexico, and more.

Explainer_LegalImmigrationSystem Legal Immigration Pie_small
Explainers
April 2019

Through which visa categories can immigrants move temporarily or permanently to the United States? What are the main channels by which people come, and who can sponsor them for a green card? Are there limits on visa categories? And who is waiting in the green-card backlog? This explainer answers basic questions about temporary and permanent immigration via family, employment, humanitarian, and other channels.

World of Migration podcast episode 3 tile
Expert Q&A, Audio
October 20, 2021

People on all sides of the policy debate largely agree that the current U.S. immigration system is broken. What should a 21st century immigration system that works in the national interest look like? And is this vision achievable amid current political realities?

World of Migration Episode 1
Expert Q&A, Audio
October 13, 2021

MPI co-founder Demetrios G. Papademetriou takes on many questions, including whether the role of think tanks has evolved over the last two decades, in this conversation with MPI’s Natalia Banulescu-Bogdan. They also look ahead to the challenges that will dominate immigration policymaking in the years ahead.

Changing Climate Changing Migration episode tile
Expert Q&A, Audio
October 1, 2021

In Western countries, a common narrative has developed that only poor or developing nations will have to confront human displacement caused by climate change. But communities in the United States and elsewhere have repeatedly moved because of environmental disasters such as flooding. This episode features a discussion on the U.S.

Video, Audio
September 27, 2021

The 2021 annual Immigration Law and Policy Conference featured a keynote conversation with Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro N. Mayorkas and analysis by top experts on the early months of the Biden administration and how immigration law and policy can respond to our changing world in a manner that is humane and in the national interest.

Video, Audio
September 2, 2021

The sprawling U.S. immigration detention system has long been controversial for its conditions of care, number of immigrants and asylum seekers detained, and costs. This discussion of a report provides a vision for a reimagined immigration custody system. 

Pages

Recent Activity

Expert Q&A, Audio
October 20, 2021

People on all sides of the policy debate largely agree that the current U.S. immigration system is broken. What should a 21st century immigration system that works in the national interest look like? And is this vision achievable amid current political realities? In this conversation, MPI Senior Fellow Doris Meissner speaks with Policy Analyst Ariel Ruiz Soto about how to build an immigration system that reflects today’s realities and builds in the flexibility to adapt to future developments.

Articles

Vietnamese immigrants are among the largest foreign-born groups from Asia in the United States. The first significant arrivals came at the end of the Vietnam War; more recent immigrants from Vietnam have been more likely to come through family sponsorship programs. This article examines different dimensions of this immigrant population.

Expert Q&A, Audio
October 13, 2021

MPI co-founder Demetrios G. Papademetriou takes on many questions, including whether the role of think tanks has evolved over the last two decades, in this conversation with MPI’s Natalia Banulescu-Bogdan. They also look ahead to the challenges that will dominate immigration policymaking in the years ahead.

Reports
October 2021

La cantidad de migrantes africanos que viajan por América del Sur y Central con la esperanza de llegar a la frontera entre Estados Unidos y México para buscar asilo es pequeña, pero está aumentando. Este informe examina los factores que impulsan la migración africana a través de las Américas, las rutas y los desafíos comunes, y las respuestas de países de tránsito en América Latina.

Reports
October 2021

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.

Reports
October 2021

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.

Video, Audio
September 27, 2021

The 2021 annual Immigration Law and Policy Conference featured a keynote conversation with Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro N. Mayorkas and analysis by top experts on the early months of the Biden administration and how immigration law and policy can respond to our changing world in a manner that is humane and in the national interest.

Expert Q&A, Audio
October 1, 2021

In Western countries, a common narrative has developed that only poor or developing nations will have to confront human displacement caused by climate change. But communities in the United States and elsewhere have repeatedly moved because of environmental disasters such as flooding. This episode features a discussion on the U.S. government’s responses to internal displacement, with Kavi Chintam and Chris Jackson, co-authors of an Issues in Science and Technology article analyzing the approach to managed retreat.

Pages