E.g., 02/28/2024
E.g., 02/28/2024
U.S. Immigration Policy Program

U.S. Immigration Policy Program

A man in a high-visibility jacket and gloves at work
Aaron Sussell/U.S. Department of Labor

U.S. employment-based visa policies, last updated in 1990, are not aligned with the country’s current and future labor market needs. This policy brief outlines MPI’s proposal for a new visa pathway that could help the United States better leverage immigration to meet its labor market needs, boost protections for both U.S.- and foreign-born workers, and flexibly adapt to future economic and demographic changes.

Inadmissible migrants, some seeking asylum, are processed by CBP officers
Mani Albrecht/CBP

The U.S. humanitarian protection system, known for its long history of assisting those in need, has come under incredible pressure in recent years. The asylum adjudications system, which is under-resourced, is struggling to keep up with record asylum seeker arrivals at the U.S.-Mexico border. This report examines the state of the asylum system, including changes under the Biden administration and potential lessons for other countries.

 A young nurse hugs an elderly patient in a wheelchair
iStock.com/PeopleImages

Immigrants’ eligibility for public benefits in the United States is governed by a complex patchwork of rules that make many groups of noncitizens eligible for some benefits but not others, while other noncitizens are excluded completely. This report provides an overview of immigrants’ eligibility for programs related to general assistance, health and nutrition, employment and income, education, housing, driver’s licenses, and more.

U.S.-Mexico border fence with Tijuana on the left
Josh Denmark/CBP

Unauthorized migration at the U.S.-Mexico border has been a high-profile and politically divisive issue for decades. But as the nature of migration at the border has changed profoundly, U.S. policy responses have struggled to keep up. This report explores the changing nature of migration flows and migration policy at the border from the early 1990s until today, highlighting key lessons for contemporary policy-making.

CBP officers screen border crossers at the San Ysidro Port of Entry
Jerry Glaser/CBP

All eyes are on the U.S.-Mexico border, where shifting migration trends and record migrant arrivals have stretched the U.S. border management system beyond its capabilities. As the Biden administration continues to implement its new regime of incentives for orderly arrivals and disincentives for unauthorized crossings, this report analyzes the rapidly changing policy and migration realities and outlines recommendations for a more effective, durable system of border control.

Aerial photo of the U.S. Capitol
Architect of the Capitol

The $13.6 billion border emergency supplemental spending bill the Biden administration is seeking lays out the elements for resourcing immigration functions to full capacity across the entire border enforcement system. Without resourcing the system across all its parts, including adjudications and management, no administration, present or future, will be able to effectively manage spontaneous border arrivals, this commentary argues.

Recent Activity

Cover image for COVID-19’s Effects on U.S. Immigration and Immigrant Communities
Reports
June 2022
By  Julia Gelatt and Muzaffar Chishti
Migrants from Haiti intercepted by U.S. authorities off the coast of Florida.
Articles
Instructors teach an African dance class in Miami.
Articles
U.S. immigration officials walk by a courthouse in Seattle.
Cover image for Leveraging the Skills of Immigrant Health-Care Professionals in Illinois and Chicago
Policy Briefs
April 2022
By  Jeanne Batalova and Michael Fix
A teacher leads a lesson on the Korean alphabet in a U.S. dual-language immersion class
Articles
Image of Central American migrant caravan passing through Chiapas, Mexico
Commentaries
April 2022
By  Ariel G. Ruiz Soto and Andrew Selee

Pages

Coverthumb_TCMTrumpSpring2018
Reports
July 2018
By  Sarah Pierce, Jessica Bolter and Andrew Selee
Coverthumb_ImmigrationEnforcement FullReport
Reports
May 2018
By  Randy Capps, Muzaffar Chishti, Julia Gelatt, Jessica Bolter and Ariel G. Ruiz Soto
Coverthumb_FamilyMigrationBrief
Policy Briefs
April 2018
By  Kate Hooper and Brian Salant
Coverthumb_H 1B BrinkofReform Brief
Policy Briefs
March 2018
By  Sarah Pierce and Julia Gelatt

Pages

Mother and daughter from Middle Eastern background

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.

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.

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.

New U.S. citizens take an oath during a naturalization ceremony.

More than half of all immigrants in the United States are naturalized citizens. The number of new naturalizations has fluctuated from year to year, hitting a decade-long low in fiscal year 2020, in part due to the COVID-19 pandemic and rising processing times. This article provides information on naturalized citizens in the United States, including historical trends and socioeconomic characteristics.

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.

Pages

129_Chicago_ERO_Repat_Plane_102115_JD
Video, Audio
January 16, 2019

This MPI webinar focuses on reception and reintegration services for returning migrants, along with the heightened pressure policymakers in Mexico and Central America are facing to design systems and programs that support both returnees and the communities in which they settle.

flickr   25944533204_cb4e9bcf7c_z (1)  United Way of the Lower Mainland
Video, Audio
December 13, 2018

On this webinar, MPI researchers and Utah and Colorado refugee coordinators explore promising practices to better serve refugee families, including education services for refugee youth, innovative efforts to secure better jobs for adult refugees, and other services designed to aid integration over time.

Francis Cissna keynotes 15th Annual Immigration Law and Policy Conference
Video, Audio
October 1, 2018

At the 15th annual Immigration Law and Policy Conference, held in October 2018, leading experts and government officials discussed the role that immigration is playing in the mid-term elections; how the courts are handling key immigration questions; and recent changes in the U.S. asylum system, border and interior enforcement, and regulations surrounding legal immigration.   

UACs CPB HectorSilva
Video, Audio
September 27, 2018

Speakers, including report authors, discuss the findings from an MPI report that analyzes the factors that have brought the U.S. asylum system to a crisis point. During the discussion, the authors propose common-sense steps that can be implemented now to jump-start the system's rescue.

EVENT PHOTO 2018.9.5 CORCHADO event
Video
September 5, 2018

A book discussion with author and veteran journalist Alfredo Corchado, MPI President Andrew Selee, and other experts on the nature of U.S.-Mexico immigration and the role of Mexican immigrants in the United States.

Pages

Recent Activity

Reports
June 2022

The COVID-19 pandemic and associated economic recession have affected the lives of all U.S. residents, but immigrants have been among the hardest hit, with evidence of disproportionately high rates of death as well as a particularly high spike in unemployment. This report takes a look back at how the COVID-19 crisis has affected U.S. immigration policies and levels and the country’s immigrant communities.

Articles

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.

Articles

The population of sub-Saharan African immigrants in the United States is relatively small, but it has grown substantially over the last four decades and is likely to continue to increase. This group of 2.1 million people is highly diverse, including individuals with a range of ethnic, linguistic, and other backgrounds, as this article explains.

Articles

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.

Video, Audio, Webinars
April 20, 2022

Experts on this webinar examined the scope and reality of skills shortages and the role of immigrants in the U.S. labor market, ways to address the underemployment of highly skilled immigrants, and how immigrants and immigration policy can be used to fulfil needs in the education sector, STEM occupations, and other skills needs. The webinar also marked the launch of Leveraging the Skills of Immigrant Health-Care Professionals in Illinois and Chicago,

Policy Briefs
April 2022

Immigrants play important roles across the U.S. health-care workforce, but not all of those with in-demand health and medical degrees are able to put their skills to work. Addressing this skill underutilization, or “brain waste,” has only become more important during the pandemic. This brief examines the extent of skill underutilization among immigrants with health degrees in Illinois, a state with a long history of immigration, and efforts to better leverage these skills.

Articles

Immigrants from the Korean peninsula are one of the ten largest foreign-born groups in the United States, but their numbers have actually shrunk in recent years. Immigrants from Korea tend to be older, better educated, and earn higher incomes than the overall immigrant and native-born populations.

Commentaries
April 2022

With migration from Central America increasing, the region from Canada to Panama faces an opportunity to build an effective regional approach to migration by focusing on several areas that are ripe for significant policy innovation. This commentary sketches a vision, offering a road map to more detailed research that outlines strategies for cooperation on legal pathways, humanitarian protection, migration management, and sustainable development.

Pages