E.g., 01/27/2023
E.g., 01/27/2023
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

Articles
An Afghan man speaks to an interpeter working with the U.S. Marine Corps.
A woman holding an Iranian flag at sunset.
Articles
Cover image for Immigrant and Other U.S. Workers a Year into the Pandemic: A Focus on Top Immigrant States
Policy Briefs
June 2021
By  Julia Gelatt, Jeanne Batalova and Christopher Levesque
Texas Governor Greg Abbott speaks at a political event in Arizona.
Articles
Bhutanese refugee sits on bed in family's apartment in New York
Commentaries
June 2021
By  Essey Workie, Mark Greenberg and Lillie Hinkle

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Cover_Differing DREAM FS October2017
Fact Sheets
October 2017
By  Jeanne Batalova, Ariel G. Ruiz Soto, Sarah Pierce and Randy Capps
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Fact Sheets
October 2017
By  Jeanne Batalova, Ariel G. Ruiz Soto and Michelle Mittelstadt
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Policy Briefs
August 2017
By  Randy Capps, Michael Fix and Jie Zong
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Policy Briefs
August 2017
By  Philip Martin
How Are Refugees Faring? Integration at U.S. and State Levels
Reports
June 2017
By  Michael Fix, Kate Hooper and Jie Zong
New Brain Gain: Rising Human Capital among Recent Immigrants to the United States
Fact Sheets
June 2017
By  Jeanne Batalova and Michael Fix

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President Joe Biden signs executive orders on immigration in the White House.

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.

statistics us immigration immigrants data

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.

Joe Biden attends a pre-election event in Nevada.

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.

International students wave flags of their origin countries

For the first time in a decade, fewer international students were studying in the United States during the 2019-20 school year than the year before. This decline, brought about in part by changing U.S. policy, has been aggravated by the COVID-19 pandemic. This article profiles the international student population in the United States, including their origins and fields of study.

trump effect immigration

Despite a widespread perception that the Trump administration has drastically slashed legal immigration to the United States, a review of the data shows that temporary and permanent admissions during the period mostly followed previous trends—at least until the COVID-19 pandemic hit. This article examines trends in temporary, permanent, and humanitarian admissions during the administration, and the related policies that could take a more significant bite ahead if left unchanged.

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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.  

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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.

EVENT PHOTO 2018.3.19 Immigration Data option 2a
Video, Audio
March 19, 2018

With immigration increasingly visible in the news and the political space in the United States and internationally, getting access to accurate, high-quality data is essential to understand immigration’s demographic effects and impacts on the economy, education and labor systems, and communities. This event marks the release of the Immigration Data Matters guide.

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Audio
March 15, 2018

This discussion, featuring California's Labor Commissioner and the head of the Tennessee Bureau of Workers' Compensation, launched a report that examines state innovations in labor standards enforcement in low-wage, immigrant-dense industries. With wage underpayment, payroll fraud, and other violations widespread in industries such as construction and car-washing, the discussion focused on how targeted enforcement can deter practices that hurt native-born and immigrant workers alike, cost state tax revenue, and disadvantage law-abiding employers. 

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Video
February 14, 2018

Experts explore the significance of the Trump administration’s decision not to renew Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for the approximately 263,000 Salvadorans residing in the United States, including the social impact of terminating TPS and the likely effects on the U.S. and Salvadoran economies, migration, and criminal violence, as well as policy options to address the fallout from the decision.

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Recent Activity

Articles

The number of Central American immigrants in the United States has grown dramatically, amid political corruption, violence, and natural disasters in their native countries. But recent images of Central Americans arriving at the U.S.-Mexico border do not tell the whole story, with more than half the population arriving in 2000 or earlier. This article offers key data on the 3.8 million Central American immigrants in the United States.

Articles

The U.S. government is racing to speed up the evacuation and immigration of Afghan translators and others who provided assistance during the 20-year war in Afghanistan. The eleventh-hour moves are a response to long delays and backlogs that have plagued the Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) program since it was unveiled more than a decade ago. This article provides an overview of the SIV program and the rush to evacuate Afghan allies.

Video, Audio, Webinars
July 21, 2021

Featuring findings from a recent MPI report, speakers examined the process of releasing unaccompanied children to sponsors, the current structure of federal post-release services, and the most significant needs these children and their U.S. sponsors experience. The discussion also explored efforts by philanthropic, state, and local actors to address the needs of this population and their communities, what service gaps exist, and key recommendations to improve access to services.

Articles

The United States is home to the largest population of Iranian migrants in the world. More than half of Iranian immigrants in the United States live in California. This article explores key details of this immigrant population, which is older, more highly educated, and has significantly higher median household incomes than the U.S.-born and overall immigrant populations.

Policy Briefs
June 2021

Immigrant workers have been hit hard by the pandemic-related economic crisis across the United States and in many states with the largest immigrant populations. This issue brief examines how workers in different states and different industries have fared, looking at how employment trends have been shaped by state-level factors such as the length and timing of stay-at-home orders and definitions of who is an “essential” worker.

Articles

Texas seems set to become chief antagonist to President Joe Biden’s immigration agenda. This article explores Governor Greg Abbott's plans to build new barriers along the border, use state and local law enforcement to carry out arrests of unauthorized immigrants, and strip licensing from federally contracted shelters housing unaccompanied children.

Audio, Webinars
June 24, 2021

During this webcast, experts discuss findings from a report examining at U.S. and state levels the underemployment of college graduates by nativity and by race and ethnicity, in the process revealing patterns of economic inequality. The conversation includes immigrant and employer voices who explore the promising strategies that exist to mitigate this brain waste for the benefit of the U.S. economy, local communities, and the workers themselves.

Commentaries
June 2021

While asylees are eligible for many of the same public benefits and services as resettled refugees, including health care and employment assistance, there is no system to inform them of their eligibility and to help connect them to resources. MPI estimates that fewer than 20 percent of those granted asylum in recent years received Office of Refugee Resettlement benefits during their first year. The U.S. government could address this gap with a few simple measures.

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