E.g., 02/03/2023
E.g., 02/03/2023
U.S. Immigration Policy Program

U.S. Immigration Policy Program

President Joe Biden at the U.S.-Mexico border.
Tia Dufour/DHS

At his term's midpoint, President Joe Biden has relied on executive action to advance his immigration agenda more than his predecessors, including Donald Trump. Yet many of the changes to interior enforcement, humanitarian protection, and other areas have been overshadowed by the record pace of arrivals at the U.S.-Mexico border, which has presented the administration with major policy and operational challenges.

An FDA researcher stores stem cell samples for analysis
Michael J. Ermarth/FDA

College-educated immigrants are more likely to have advanced degrees than their U.S.-born peers with college degrees. But their educational levels have not always translated into similar occupational gains: They are more likely to be overeducated for their positions. Drawing on PIAAC data, this fact sheet sketches educational characteristics, monthly earnings, skill underutilization, and job quality for immigrant and U.S.-born college graduates alike.

A crowd of people outside a food pantry
iStock.com/Massimo Giachetti

Immigrants in the United States experience strong economic mobility overall. But for some, limited educational attainment and English proficiency, and the challenges of restarting life in a new country, can result in low incomes and economic hardship. This fact sheet looks at the origins, states of residence, demographic and socioeconomic characteristics, and employment of low-income immigrants.

Photo of individuals re-entering Mexico after U.S. expulsion
Jerry Glaser/U.S. Customs and Border Protection

Headlines focusing on the record-breaking nature of the 2.4 million migrant encounters at the U.S.-Mexico border in fiscal year 2022 overlook the much bigger story: Migrant and asylum seeker flows have rapidly diversified beyond Mexico and northern Central America and as a result, U.S. enforcement policies are misaligned. Today's reality sharply underscores the need for new regional approaches, this commentary argues.

A young woman operating an industrial drilling machine
iStock.com/Omar Osman

As the United States seeks to adapt to trends such as technological change and aging that are reshaping the labor market, increasing productivity and the number of high-skilled workers will be critical. This issue brief explores the characteristics of the 115 million adults without postsecondary credentials, 21 percent of them immigrant, as well as the prospects for credential acquisition for foreign-born subgroups.

Aerial views of Worthington, MN, and Houston, TX
iStock.com/Jacob Boomsma & iStock.com/simonkr

U.S. cities and towns have responded to COVID-19 in ways that are as diverse as the communities they aim to support. This report looks at how two very different locations—Worthington, MN, and the greater Houston area—incorporated immigrants into their relief efforts, through partnerships, strategic outreach, targeted assistance, and more. The report also highlights useful lessons for responses to future emergencies.

Recent Activity

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Fact Sheets
October 2015
By  Randy Capps and Michael Fix
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Reports
September 2015
By  Randy Capps, Heather Koball, Andrea Campetella, Krista Perreira, Sarah Hooker and Juan Manuel Pedroza
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Reports
September 2015
By  Heather Koball, Randy Capps, Sarah Hooker, Krista Perreira, Andrea Campetella, Juan Manuel Pedroza, William Monson and Sandra Huerta
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Reports
August 2015
By  Marc R. Rosenblum and Ariel G. Ruiz Soto
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Policy Briefs
August 2015
By  Angelo Mathay and Margie McHugh
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Reports
August 2015
By  Faye Hipsman and Doris Meissner

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Immigrants make up a disproportionately high number of U.S. health-care workers, from doctors and nurses to home health aides. In 2018, more than 2.6 million immigrants worked in the U.S. health-care field. In the face of the coronavirus pandemic, immigrants have played a key role in the frontline response. This article explores the demographics of this group of essential workers by occupation, origin, language, education, and more.

ImmigrantFarmWorker_LauraElizabethPohl_Bread fortheWorld

On the frontlines of responding to the COVID-19 pandemic yet also more disproportionately affected by the virus and with reduced health-care access, immigrants in the United States have largely found themselves blocked from federal economic relief. As states and philanthropic groups seek to plug the gap, this article examines conditions and changing policies around immigration and the coronavirus response.

A young Venezuelan girl

Until recently, the Venezuelan immigrant population in the United States was relatively small compared others from South America. But it has grown significantly, reaching 394,000 in 2018, as Venezuela's destabilization has driven large-scale emigration. Compared to other immigrants in the United States, Venezuelans have higher levels of education but are also more likely to live in poverty, as this Spotlight explores.

TravellersCoronavirus_FlickrChadDavis

The global COVID-19 pandemic has brought into sharp focus the intersection of U.S. immigration and public health policy, and the unique challenges that immigrants face. This article analyzes the Trump administration’s introduction of some of the most stringent immigration restrictions in modern times, the often disparate fallout of the outbreak on immigrant communities, the status of federal immigration agency operations, and more.

Digital fingerprint

As governments seek to push their borders out by amassing ever more data on travelers and migrants, their creation of increasingly complex border surveillance systems and use of risk-assessment technologies could ease mobility for some while rendering other groups immobile based on hypothetical risk profiles and decisions that are not publicly known and cannot be challenged, as this article explores.

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Video, Audio
January 13, 2016

This webinar offers a discussion of the economic, linguistic and educational disadvantage experienced by U.S. children with unauthorized immigrant parents. The MPI researchers discuss their finding that 86 percent of the 5.1 million such children in the United States have a parent who could potentially benefit from the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) program.

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Video, Audio
December 15, 2015

An MPI Leadership Visions discussion with the Foreign Minister of Mexico, Claudia Ruiz-Massieu, for her first public appearance in Washington, DC. 

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Webinars
December 11, 2015

A webinar releasing a report examining deportations to Central America and reception and reintegration services in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras.

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Video, Audio
December 8, 2015

A discussion marking the 25th anniversary of the 1990 Immigration Act, where experts examinine the history of the legislation, how it was accomplished politically, and the stakeholders and issues that were critical to its passage.

Event PH 2015.12.1 LA Live Tower Los Angeles California Ken Lund  Flickr
Video, Audio
December 1, 2015

A discussion on the U.S. EB-5 program, the motivations underpinning recent changes to other investor visa programs in North America, Europe, and elsewhere, and the implications for the future direction of these programs. 

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Recent Activity

Commentaries
February 2021

The Biden administration's challenge to dismantle Trump-era barriers to asylum at the U.S.-Mexico border is akin to fixing a plane while flying it. This commentary examines actions taken to date and articulates a series of steps that could help establish an effective, humane asylum system that works in tandem with border management goals and efforts to reduce the drivers of migration through regional migration management measures with neighboring countries.

Articles

President Joe Biden has grand ambitions to reshape the U.S. immigration system, but his administration has run into early stumbling blocks in rolling back the strict enforcement regime of his predecessor. Administrative resistance, a tangled web of legal agreements signed by the Trump administration, and anxieties about a possible uptick in immigrants and asylum seekers at the border have posed early challenges to Biden’s agenda.

Commentaries
February 2021

The DREAM Act of 2021 could represent one of the narrower legalization measures with better prospects for passage in a narrowly divided Congress. MPI's latest estimates of the DREAMers who could gain conditional and then permanent legal status are offered here, as are the share of DREAMers who feature in another ongoing conversation, around essential workers in the U.S. labor market overall as well as in the health-care sector.

Articles

Have a question about U.S. immigration trends and the country's immigrant population? This article collects in one place the most sought-after information about the world's largest immigrant population and how it has changed over time. Drawing from a wide array of authoritative data sources, this article provides an up-to-date snapshot of the immigrant population, visa and enforcement statistics, and information on emerging trends, including slowing immigration and changing origins.

Video, Webinars
February 4, 2021

Following President Biden's call on Congress to enact a sweeping immigration proposal that offers most unauthorized immigrants a pathway to citizenship, this discussion examines the prospects for any legislative efforts at immigration reform, what bipartisan support might develop, and the various legalization policy options. The event also showcases MPI estimates of subgroups within the unauthorized population, including DREAMers and essential workers. 

Reports
February 2021

With legalization of the U.S. unauthorized immigrant population back on the table, this report offers estimates and characteristics for subgroups that have particularly strong equities, including DREAMers, Temporary Protected Status (TPS) recipients, and parents and spouses of U.S. citizens. It also traces past legalizations and details the range and scope of legalization options that policymakers have.

Articles

The Biden administration has set the pace for what could be the most active first 100 days on immigration policy by any White House in recent memory—even that of predecessor Donald Trump. The efforts, which represent a dramatic break from the Trump administration's view of immigration as threat, are likely to meet stiff opposition on Capitol Hill and elsewhere. This article evaluates Biden's early actions and what they suggest about the White House's ambitions on immigration.

Reports
January 2021

Among the many executive action tools the Trump administration used to significantly rewrite U.S. immigration policy is an obscure but powerful legal authority known as the attorney general’s referral and review. This report examines how this power’s use and impact have changed over time, deep-rooted concerns about it that predate the Trump administration but that have grown due to its more frequent use, and ways to improve it going forward.   

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