E.g., 03/01/2024
E.g., 03/01/2024
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

Image of Central American migrant caravan passing through Chiapas, Mexico
Commentaries
April 2022
By  Ariel G. Ruiz Soto and Andrew Selee
U.S. Border Patrol agents prepare to transport unauthorized migrants to Mexico under Title 42.
Articles
Opening slide of video celebrating the life of Dr. Demetrios G. Papademetriou
Multimedia
March 28, 2022
An image of an immigration boarding line.
Articles
A construction crew works on a wall the U.S.-Mexico border.
Articles
A pile of documents on a desk.
Articles
A couple celebrating carnival at home.
Articles

Pages

Coverthumb TrumpFirstYearImmigrationPolicy
Reports
January 2018
By  Sarah Pierce, Jessica Bolter and Andrew Selee
Coverthumb_TrumpatOne
Policy Briefs
December 2017
By  Sarah Pierce and Andrew Selee
coverthumb DACA Recipients Work Education
Fact Sheets
November 2017
By  Jie Zong, Ariel G. Ruiz Soto, Jeanne Batalova, Julia Gelatt and Randy Capps
Cover_Differing DREAM FS October2017
Fact Sheets
October 2017
By  Jeanne Batalova, Ariel G. Ruiz Soto, Sarah Pierce and Randy Capps
coverthumb dreamact2017
Fact Sheets
October 2017
By  Jeanne Batalova, Ariel G. Ruiz Soto and Michelle Mittelstadt
coverthumb dacaoccupational
Policy Briefs
August 2017
By  Randy Capps, Michael Fix and Jie Zong

Pages

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.

A woman stands onboard the U.S. Navy vessel on which she was born.

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.

Pages

ICE ERO in Chicago   flickr
Video, Audio
July 12, 2018

Experts on this Spanish language webinar examine the operation of today’s interior immigration enforcement system and how state and local governments, civil society, and consulates are responding.    

FLICKR   Duane Reade food Stamps Benefits   419429614_f6c6bd7152_z
Video, Audio
June 12, 2018

This webinar highlights findings from an MPI report examining the potential impacts of expected changes to the public charge rule by the Trump administration. Leaked draft versions suggest the rule could sharply expand the number of legally present noncitizens facing difficulty getting a green card or extending a visa as a result of their family's use of public benefits. The rule likely would discourage millions from accessing health, nutrition, and social services for which they or their U.S.-citizen dependents are eligible.

Event PH 2018.6.5 Andrew Selee
Video, Audio
June 5, 2018

Marking the release of MPI President Andrew Selee's latest book, speakers explore emerging trends in migration, economic interdependence, technology innovation, and cultural exchange that are transforming the relationship between the United States and Mexico, and the policy implications

IMG_8034
Video, Audio
May 8, 2018

Discussion at this event focused on findings from MPI's report examining the interior immigration enforcement system in the United States, including ICE data on deportations and arrests, and the responses of state and local governments, civil society, and consulates.  

FLICKR   A LONG HUG HELLO 3125111043_537381b9db_z
Video, Audio
April 10, 2018

How does U.S. policy on family migration compare to that of other significant immigrant-receiving countries? MPI experts discuss the trends and policies for Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Sweden, and the United Kingdom.

Pages

Recent Activity

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.

Articles

The United States’ controversial Title 42 migrant expulsions policy will come to an end in May 2022, after more than 1.7 million expulsions over two years. The COVID-19-era public-health restriction ushered in an unprecedented period of mass expulsions, including of would-be asylum seekers, at the U.S.-Mexico border. Unwinding the policy will be complicated amid predictions of a significant increase in unauthorized migration.

Video
March 28, 2022

Colleagues from around the world gathered to celebrate the life and legacy of Demetrios G. Papademetriou, who was MPI's first president and the founder of MPI Europe. One of the world's pre-eminent scholars and lecturers on international migration, he developed a rich body of scholarship and advised numerous governments, international organizations, civil-society groups, and philanthropic organizations on immigration and immigrant integration issues.

Articles

Need information about U.S. immigration trends or the makeup of the country's immigrant population? This useful, stats-rich article answers the most common questions about the size, shape, and changing nature of the U.S. foreign-born population. It also offers data on immigration enforcement actions, backlogs, and other elements of the U.S. immigration system.

Commentaries
March 2022

Dating to the 1950s, Congress on multiple occasions has provided a direct path to permanent residence for Hungarians, Vietnamese, Cubans, and others fleeing upheaval in their countries. Given this precedent, this commentary suggests Congress should act to provide a more secure future for the more than 72,000 Afghans who were airlifted to the United States under an uncertain immigration status known as parole.

Articles

The number of border walls globally has multiplied at a rapid clip, from fewer than five at the end of World War II to more than six dozen now, with more under construction. Most of the world's border fortifications have been built since the turn of the millennium, and are intended to accomplish a range of functions. This article charts the remarkable growth and normalization of border walls globally.

Articles

President Joe Biden has made efforts to overhaul the U.S. immigration system, but could see his administration's agenda slowed by massive backlogs across the immigration system. Case application wait times and immigration court queues have swelled during the COVID-19 pandemic, slowing legal arrivals to the United States and undermining the entire immigration system.

Articles

South Americans make up a relatively small share of all U.S. immigrants. But their numbers have been growing in recent years and flows are diversifying, particularly with new arrivals from Venezuela. This article offers key statistics on the South American immigrant population in the United States.

Pages