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

Vice President Kamala Harris participates in a DACA roundtable
Commentaries
September 2023
By  Jennifer Van Hook, Julia Gelatt and Ariel G. Ruiz Soto
A sign for Calle Ocho in Miami's Little Havana neighborhood.
Articles
A nurse looks at a baby.
Articles
Afghan parolees wait in line at Fort McCoy, Wisconsin.
Articles
Cover image for At the Breaking Point report
Reports
July 2023
By  Muzaffar Chishti, Doris Meissner, Stephen Yale-Loehr, Kathleen Bush-Joseph and Christopher Levesque
Graphic image of man's hand touching screen with word skills
Commentaries
July 2023
By  Kate Hooper, Jeanne Batalova and Julia Gelatt

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Banderas de las naciones centroamericanas en una marcha en San Diego.

Los centroamericanos representan menos de una décima parte de la población de inmigrantes en Estados Unidos. Pero su número se ha multiplicado por diez desde 1980. Este artículo proporciona una mirada integral a esta población.

An abandoned shoe lies in the mud along the U.S.-Mexico border.

The United States entered a new era with the end of the pandemic-era Title 42 expulsions policy. The government’s hopes of maintaining order at the U.S.-Mexico border post-Title 42 may be complicated by factors including authorities’ limited capacity, ongoing litigation, and cooperation from other countries. This article reviews the Biden administration's changing border policies and possible challenges ahead.

People hold flags of Central American nations at a march in San Diego.

Central Americans comprise less than one-tenth of the overall U.S. foreign-born population, but their numbers have grown tenfold since 1980, amid economic challenges, political crises, and natural disasters in their region. This article provides a comprehensive look at this population.

A border checkpoint between Canada and the United States.

The revised U.S.-Canada Safe Third Country Agreement closes what critics call a loophole that incentivizes unauthorized border crossings of asylum seekers. While responding to Canadian concerns of increasing irregular arrivals from the United States, the change—taken in tandem with U.S. moves at the U.S.-Mexico border—suggests that the Biden administration increasingly wants to rely on neighboring countries to respond to rising asylum claims.

An intern examines a newborn baby in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.

Nearly 2.8 million immigrants worked in the U.S. health-care sector in 2021, representing disproportionately high shares of physicians, surgeons, and home health aides. This article offers a demographic and socioeconomic profile of foreign-born workers in health care.

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2020CensusOutreach USCensusBureau
Commentaries
July 2020
By  Randy Capps, Jennifer Van Hook and Julia Gelatt
USCISBudgetWoes WikimediaCommonsGulbenk
Commentaries
June 2020
By  Sarah Pierce and Doris Meissner
CoronavirusCommentary Art
Commentaries
March 2020
By  Natalia Banulescu-Bogdan, Meghan Benton and Susan Fratzke
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Commentaries
March 2020
By  Randy Capps, Julia Gelatt and Mark Greenberg
medical insurance
Commentaries
October 2019
By  Julia Gelatt and Mark Greenberg
ResettledRefugeesLA2016UN PhotoMarkGarten
Commentaries
September 2019
By  Mark Greenberg, Julia Gelatt and Amy Holovnia
SNAP commentary USDA Flickr
Commentaries
August 2019
By  Jeanne Batalova, Michael Fix and Mark Greenberg

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20th Anniversary Video Thumbnail
Video
November 8, 2021

As MPI celebrates two decades of providing essential research, policy analysis, and data on important immigration and immigrant integration issues, hear from members of the MPI community about what the institute has meant to them and how it has evolved.

World of Migration Podcast Episode 4
Expert Q&A, Audio
October 29, 2021

The architecture of the U.S. legal immigration system rests on a 1965 law and was last significantly updated in 1990. While there is widespread agreement that the existing framework does not align with the needs and realities of the 21st century, Congress has proven unable to enact significant legislative reform over the past two decades. How have debates on immigration changed and is achieving bipartisan consensus on this highly charged issue possible today?

World of Migration podcast episode 3 tile
Expert Q&A, Audio
October 20, 2021

People on all sides of the policy debate largely agree that the U.S. immigration system is broken. What should a 21st century system that works in the national interest look like? And is this vision achievable amid current political realities?

World of Migration Episode 1
Expert Q&A, Audio
October 13, 2021

MPI co-founder Demetrios G. Papademetriou takes on many questions, including whether the role of think tanks has evolved over the last two decades, in this World of Migration conversation with MPI’s Natalia Banulescu-Bogdan. They also look ahead to the challenges that will dominate immigration policymaking in the years ahead.

Changing Climate Changing Migration episode tile
Expert Q&A, Audio
October 1, 2021

In Western countries, a common narrative has developed that only poor or developing nations will have to confront human displacement caused by climate change. But communities in the United States and elsewhere have repeatedly moved because of environmental disasters such as flooding. This episode of our Changing Climate, Changing Migration podcast features a discussion on the U.S.

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Recent Activity

Commentaries
September 2023

The unauthorized immigrant population in the United States stood at approximately 11.2 million people in mid-2021, with larger annual growth than at any point since 2015, according to MPI's latest estimates. Even as the Mexican unauthorized immigrant population continued its decade-long decline, there were new entrants from a growing array of other countries.

Articles

Cubans comprise the largest Caribbean immigrant group in the United States, and for decades have benefitted from uniquely preferential immigration programs. The population is growing, as recent years have seen the largest wave of emigration in Cuba's modern history. This article offers key statistics about the 1.3 million Cuban immigrants in the United States.

Articles

Immigrants from the Philippines make up the fourth largest foreign-born group in the United States, numbering nearly 2 million people. Compared to other U.S. immigrants, Filipinos are more likely to have strong English skills, be naturalized U.S. citizens, and hold a college degree. This article provides statistics about these and other elements of the Filipino immigrant population.

Commentaries
August 2023

Eighty percent of the increase in U.S. college enrollment between 2000 and 2021 came from U.S.-born students with immigrant parents or first-generation immigrant students. This population, often overlooked, should receive significantly more focus as leaders in higher education and workforce development seek to deliver a skilled workforce for a rapidly changing U.S. labor market, this commentary argues.

Articles

An estimated 1.9 million migrants are in the United States or have been authorized to enter with a twilight immigration status that does not automatically lead to to permanent residence but temporarily shields them from deportation for at least one year. Use of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) and immigration parole has been a hallmark of the Biden administration as it seeks to address record border arrivals and protection needs.

Video, Webinars
July 20, 2023

As the U.S. immigration court system struggles with record case backlogs, decisions take years, immigration enforcement is delayed, and wait times incentivize unauthorized arrivals. This discussion examines the factors that have driven the system to the point of crisis and possible fixes.

Reports
July 2023

With a backlog of nearly 2 million cases, years-long wait times for decisions, and overwhelmed judges whose productivity has declined, the U.S. immigration court system is in urgent need of repair. This report examines the factors that have driven the courts to crisis. It then outlines recommendations that promise to advance the goal of delivering timely and fair decisions, and to support the health of the U.S. immigration system more broadly.

Commentaries
July 2023

Canada’s Tech Talent Strategy is highly unusual for its explicit targeting of visa holders in another country. Opening a dedicated stream specifically for high-skilled immigrants in the United States who hold an H-1B visa is the latest salvo in a growing global competition for talent—one in which some countries are racing ahead of the United States in terms of policy dynamism, as this commentary explores.

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