E.g., 07/02/2020
E.g., 07/02/2020

U.S. Immigration Policy Program

U.S. Immigration Policy Program

Gulbenk/Wikimedia Commons

Citing coronavirus-related disruptions, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services urged Congress to provide $1.2 billion to address its severe budget shortfall. Without this emergency infusion, the agency warned it might have to furlough up to 80 percent of its staff by mid-July 2020. Yet a deeper look at USCIS operations shows it was facing serious budget problems long before the pandemic—ones that are the logical results of actions undertaken by the Trump administration.

INM officials at the Mexico-US border
Mexican National Institute of Migration
The migration cooperation agreement signed by the Mexican and U.S. governments in June 2019 ushered in an intense period of policy change in Mexico, with effects at their shared border. One year on, this brief takes stock of changes in Mexico’s immigration enforcement and asylum systems. It also explores how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected the border and highlights opportunities for future policy development.
Sign on the window of an unemployment insurance claims office
Bytemarks/Flickr

Even as the pandemic-induced loss of tens of millions of jobs over a period of weeks dealt a devastating blow across the United States, its effects were most pronounced on certain demographic groups: Immigrant women and, regardless whether they were born in or outside the United States, Latinos and workers with less than a high school degree or under age 25.

Three health professionals wearing masks in a hospital
Erwin Jacob Miciano/U.S. Indo-Pacific Command

As millions of U.S. workers lose jobs and the health insurance associated with them, Medicaid and similar programs are increasingly important for people seeking COVID-19 testing and treatment. Yet many low-income uninsured noncitizens, including green-card holders, are excluded from such programs because of their immigration status, as this fact sheet explores.

CBP officers at the National Targeting Center
Glenn Fawcett/U.S. Customs and Border Protection

The U.S. government has made important progress in shoring up weaknesses at the nexus of immigration and national security since September 11, 2001. But as new threats emerge and evolve—including public-health emergencies such as the COVID-19 pandemic—the question is whether the post-9/11 system is up to the task of meeting these challenges, as this report explores.

Ryan M. Breeden/U.S. Pacific Fleet

In a time of critical shortages of U.S. health-care workers during the COVID-19 pandemic, retired doctors are being called back to work and medical students are graduating on a fast track. There is another important pool that could be tapped: Immigrants and refugees who have college degrees in health fields but are working in low-skilled jobs or out of work. MPI estimates 263,000 immigrants are experiencing skill underutilization and could be a valuable resource.

Recent Activity

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Policy Briefs
February 2017
By Sarah Pierce and Doris Meissner
Fact Sheets
December 2016
By Ariel G. Ruiz Soto, Jeanne Batalova, and Michael Fix
Reports
December 2016
By Jeanne Batalova, Michael Fix, and James D. Bachmeier
Fact Sheets
October 2016
By Randy Capps and Ariel G. Ruiz Soto
Policy Briefs
August 2016
By Faye Hipsman, Bárbara Gómez-Aguiñaga, and Randy Capps
Policy Briefs
July 2016
By Muzaffar Chishti and Stephen Yale-Loehr
Reports
February 2016
By Randy Capps, Heather Koball, James D. Bachmeier, Ariel G. Ruiz Soto, Jie Zong, and Julia Gelatt
Reports
January 2016
By Marc R. Rosenblum and Faye Hipsman

Pages

Legal and political controversy surrounds the Trump administration's decision to include a question on citizenship status in the 2020 decennial census, the first such inclusion since the 1950 census. This article examines the administration's conflicting statements about the genesis of the plan, concerns that the decision could affect the accuracy of the census, and legal challenges pending in a number of states.

Protest at an immigration detention facility

With the #AbolishICE movement catching fire among some on the left, critics of the Trump administration's immigration policies have seized on U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) as their main target—even condemning it for actions taken by other agencies. This article explores the evolution of ICE and resistance to it, as well as actions taken by the agency itself that have made its mission even more controversial.

A boy peers through fencing at the U.S.-Mexico border.

Frustrated by an uptick in migrant apprehensions at the U.S.-Mexico border in recent months, the Trump administration unveiled a set of sweeping changes, aiming to prosecute for federal immigration crimes every migrant apprehended crossing illegally. The policy will likely be hindered by legal challenges and capacity limitations, as this article explores.

Marine naturalization

While much attention has focused on President Trump's efforts to crack down on illegal immigration, the administration has moved, via a much wider scope of actions, to reduce legal immigration to the United States. This article explores changes including slowed processing of family- and employment-based visas, dramatic cuts in refugee admissions, and heightened vetting and evidence requirements for would-be immigrants.

Girl wearing flag

The United States is by far the world's top migration destination, home to roughly one-fifth of all global migrants. In 2016, nearly 44 million immigrants lived in the United States, comprising 13.5 percent of the country's population. Get the most sought-after data available on immigrants and immigration trends, including top countries of origin, legal immigration pathways, enforcement actions, health-care coverage, and much more.

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Video, Audio
December 7, 2016

A presentation of the first-ever U.S. estimates on the economic costs of brain waste for highly skilled immigrants, their families, and the U.S. economy. The researchers discuss their findings in terms of the billions of dollars in forgone earnings and unrealized taxes when college-educated immigrants are relegated to low-skilled work.

Video, Expert Q&A
December 6, 2016

Nearly 2 million college-educated immigrants in the United States are stuck in low-skilled jobs or are unemployed—a phenomenon known as brain waste. In this brief video, MPI researchers discuss their key findings on immigrant skill underutilization and the resulting billions of dollars in unrealized wages and forgone federal, state, and local tax receipts.

Video, Audio
October 20, 2016

A discussion featuring data on immigration trends and the agricultural workforce, and some of the adjustments that farm employers are making, including increased mechanization, improved wages and benefits, and the increased use of the H-2A program. University of California-Davis’s Phil Martin, along with researchers from the the U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Department of Labor, present their findings on the foreign agricultural workforce in the United States, which is followed by comments from the President of Farmworker Justice on some of the policy implications.

Video, Audio
September 28, 2016

The 13th annual Immigration Law & Policy Conference offered policy and legal analysis on key immigration topics, including: the election and the future of immigration policy; refugee resettlement in the United States; immigration detention and enforcement; and the impacts of the Supreme Court opinion in the important U.S. vs Texas case

Video, Audio
August 11, 2016

Marking the fourth anniversary of the implementation of the DACA program, this webinar presents findings on the most current estimates of potential DACA beneficiaries, trends in requests and application rates, and discussion of recent policy and political developments.

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Recent Activity

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.

Policy Briefs
May 2019

Noncitizens have long served in the U.S. military, often encouraged by the promise of a fast track to U.S. citizenship. In recent years, however, Congress and the Defense Department have made it more difficult for noncitizens to enlist. This brief give context to these policy changes and explores ways the military could better balance concerns about national security and the need for recruits with key cultural and professional skills.

Video, Audio
May 17, 2019

With the U.S. administration calling for the United States to adopt a more “merit-based” immigrant selection system, this conversation focused on what policymakers should consider in designing—and managing—immigrant selection systems in a time of intense labor-market and demographic change.

Articles

Approximately 530,000 foreign-born veterans of the U.S. armed forces resided in the United States in 2018, accounting for 3 percent of the 18.6 million veterans nationwide. Immigrant veterans tend to have higher education levels and household incomes compared to native-born veterans, and the vast majority are naturalized citizens, as this data-rich article explores.

Video, Audio, Webinars
May 9, 2019

At this discussion, experts from MPI and Southern Methodist University’s Texas-Mexico Center offer an overview of trends and key characteristics of highly skilled Mexican adults at the national level and for Texas, including educational levels by legal status and top industries of employment across Texas metro areas. They also discuss the policy implications of these findings.

Fact Sheets
May 2019

U.S. debates about immigration from Mexico often center on the low skilled, but this analysis shows a population in change. Nearly one in five Mexican immigrants arriving between 2013-17 had a college degree, compared to slightly more than 1 in 20 during the 1996-2000 period. Mexicans now make up the fourth-largest group of highly skilled immigrants. This fact sheet explores their characteristics at U.S. and Texas levels.

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