E.g., 02/26/2024
E.g., 02/26/2024
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

Pages

cover_TFInsight18[1]
Policy Briefs
August 2006
By  Julie Murray, Jeanne Batalova and Michael Fix
cover TF19_Martin
Policy Briefs
July 2006
By  David A. Martin
cover TF17_Lowell
Policy Briefs
July 2006
By  Julia Gelatt, Jeanne Batalova and B. Lindsay Lowell
cover_TFInsight16[1]
Policy Briefs
July 2006
By  Michael Fix and Neeraj Kaushal
cover_terrorist_mobility[1]
Reports
February 2006
By  Susan Ginsburg
Cover TF 12 Meyers
Policy Briefs
January 2006
By  Deborah W. Meyers
cover TFI Batalova
Policy Briefs
January 2006
By  Jeanne Batalova

Pages

Salvadoran family

The Trump administration’s announcement that it will end Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for nationals of Haiti, Nicaragua, and Sudan has brought unprecedented attention to the program and its future. Established in 1990, TPS offers work authorization and deportation relief to foreign nationals already in the United States unable to return to countries embroiled in conflict or the effects of a natural disaster. This Policy Beat explores past and current TPS designations and debates surrounding the program.

Supporters of the DREAM Act at a September 2017 march in Los Angeles.

The Trump administration’s decision to terminate the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) deportation-relief program launched in 2012 has sparked new urgency to find a longer-term fix for "DREAMers," the unauthorized immigrants brought to the United States as children. This Policy Beat article examines movement in the courts and in Congress on the DREAM Act and similar proposals, exploring likely paths forward.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents take a man into custody.

Making good on campaign promises to toughen immigration enforcement, the Trump administration has acted swiftly to cast a wider net in the U.S. interior. The actions represent a sea change in enforcement practice, moving from a tight focus on high-priority individuals to an era in which all unauthorized immigrants may be subject to deportation. This article explores the shifts undertaken during President Trump's first six months.

Agricultural workers break for lunch on a cucumber farm in Virginia.

Although President Trump has repeatedly pledged to preserve "U.S. jobs for U.S. workers," employers are increasingly relying on temporary visas as a result of labor shortages in agriculture, high tech, and beyond. This article examines the increases occurring in key temporary worker programs, affecting seasonal agricultural and nonagricultural industries, as well as high-skilled tech jobs.

20100329_GSaitta_Salima_Boise6 IRC

The United States has historically led the world on refugee resettlement, and today remains the top country, having resettled approximately 85,000 refugees in fiscal 2016. It also granted asylum status to more than 26,000 individuals in FY 2015. This article examines characteristics of U.S. refugee and asylee populations, including top countries of origin, states of resettlement, age and gender, and more.

Pages

MI_UnaccompaniedMinors
Video, Audio
July 30, 2012

MPI is pleased to host a discussion with experts from both KIND and the Women’s Refugee Commission, focusing on the causes of the increase in unaccompanied minor migrants, the situation these minors face once detained or apprehended, and the challenges confronting both nongovernmental organizations trying to provide aid and the U.S. government agencies responsible for processing minors through the system. 

10 year anniversary
Video, Audio
April 19, 2012

The Migration Policy Institute celebrated its first decade as the authoritative, unimpeachable resource on immigration and immigrant integration analysis and policy design in the United States and internationally.

multimedia DMmilwaukee
Video
February 7, 2012
MPI Senior Fellow Doris Meissner discusses U.S. immigration policy during the Fireside Forum on Foreign Policy at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. The other participants are Christine Neumann-Ortiz, Executive Director of Voces de la Frontera and Douglas Savage, Assistant Director of the Institute of World Affairs, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.
_Airports
Audio
August 26, 2011

With the ten year anniversary of the September 11, 2001 attacks approaching, the Migration Policy Institute held a conference call to discuss the most significant changes that have occurred in the immigration arena in the decade since the attacks.

_ImmCleaners3
Audio
July 14, 2011

This Migration Policy Institute webinar discusses labor enforcement laws during the Clinton, Bush and Obama administrations and chronicles gaps in labor protection.

Pages

Recent Activity

Commentaries
June 2020

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.

Articles

Cuban immigration to the United States has slowed in recent years, rising by 2 percent from 2017 to 2018. Overall, Cubans represent 3 percent of all immigrants in the United States. Compared to the overall foreign- and U.S.-born populations, Cuban immigrants are less likely to be proficient in English, have lower educational attainment, and earn lower household incomes. Learn more about the 1.3 million Cuban immigrants in the United States with this data-rich article.

Video, Audio, Webinars
June 8, 2020

Amid rising Central American migration to the United States, the U.S. and Mexican governments in June 2019 signed a joint declaration pledging to work together to manage and reduce irregular migration. At the agreement’s one-year anniversary, MPI researchers engaged in discussion with former U.S. and Mexican Ambassadors and a veteran journalist about the changes sparked. 

Policy Briefs
June 2020

El acuerdo de cooperación migratoria firmado por los gobiernos de México y Estados Unidos en junio de 2019 marcó el comienzo de un intenso período de cambio en las políticas mexicanas, con efectos en su frontera compartida. Un año después, el informe examina cambios en los sistemas de control migratorio y protección humanitaria de México. También explora cómo la pandemia del COVID-19 ha afectado la frontera y destaca oportunidades para el desarrollo de políticas en el futuro.

Policy Briefs
June 2020
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.
Fact Sheets
June 2020

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.

Articles

The U.S. in April became the first country to explicitly justify immigration curbs not on grounds of COVID-19, but to protect the jobs of U.S. workers at a time of skyrocketing unemployment. A Trump administration proclamation limiting green cards for new arrivals was greeted coolly by the president's base, with many expecting the White House would issue new limits for nonimmigrant workers—which could have a more significant impact.

Articles

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.

Pages