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

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Coverthumb ImmigrantFamiliesChildWelfare
Reports
April 2019
By  Mark Greenberg, Randy Capps, Andrew Kalweit, Jennifer Grishkin and Ann Flagg
Coverthumb MPIPostsecondaryCredentials FactSheet
Fact Sheets
March 2019
By  Jeanne Batalova and Michael Fix
Coverthumb VenezuelansLegalPathwaysBrief Spanish
Policy Briefs
January 2019
By  Andrew Selee, Jessica Bolter, Betilde Muñoz-Pogossian and Miryam Hazán
Coverthumb VenezuelansLegalPathwaysBrief English
Policy Briefs
January 2019
By  Andrew Selee, Jessica Bolter, Betilde Muñoz-Pogossian and Miryam Hazán
Coverthumb ReceptionReintegration
Reports
January 2019
By  Ariel G. Ruiz Soto, Rodrigo Dominguez-Villegas, Luis Argueta and Randy Capps
Coverthumb TwoGen RefugeeIntegration
Reports
December 2018
By  Mark Greenberg, Julia Gelatt, Jessica Bolter, Essey Workie and Isabelle Charo
Coverthumb MPI PublicChargeImmigrationImpact
Policy Briefs
November 2018
By  Randy Capps, Mark Greenberg, Michael Fix and Jie Zong

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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.

An Afghan refugee in the United States.

The dramatic evacuation from Afghanistan may bring more than 50,000 new Afghan immigrants to the United States, according to government predictions. These new arrivals would join a small but growing population of Afghans in the United States, most of whom have arrived since 2010. This article provides insights into this immigrant group, many of whom arrived on the Special Immigrant Visa.

La gente lleva la bandera de la República Dominicana en un desfile en Washington, DC.

Los inmigrantes de la República Dominicana son el cuarto grupo de inmigrantes hispanos más grande de los Estados Unidos y suman casi 1.2 millones de personas. Esta población se ha multiplicado casi por diez desde 1960, pero sigue concentrada principalmente en unas pocas áreas metropolitanas. Este artículo proporciona una descripción general de los inmigrantes dominicanos en los Estados Unidos.

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.

An Afghan man speaks to an interpeter working with the U.S. Marine Corps.

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.

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2019.5.17EVENTPHOTO
Video, Audio
May 17, 2019

With the U.S. administration calling for the United States to adopt a more “merit-based” immigrant selection system, this conversation focused on what policymakers should consider in designing—and managing—immigrant selection systems in a time of intense labor-market and demographic change.

2019.5.17   EVENT PHOTO Mexicans in Texas
Video, Audio
May 9, 2019

At this discussion, experts from MPI and Southern Methodist University’s Texas-Mexico Center offer an overview of trends and key characteristics of highly skilled Mexican adults at the national level and for Texas, including educational levels by legal status and top industries of employment across Texas metro areas. They also discuss the policy implications of these findings.

Expert talks about child abuse prevention airforce
Video, Audio
April 23, 2019

Marking the release of an MPI report, this webinar examines what the growing intersection between U.S. immigration and child welfare systems means for protection agencies. Speakers also discuss promising child welfare policies and agency approaches to address the needs of children of immigrants and their families amid demographic change and rising immigration enforcement.

EventPH 2019.04.16 IsUSMexicoCooperationPossible
Video, Audio
April 16, 2019

Over recent months, the number of Central American migrants apprehended at the U.S.-Mexico border has surged, presenting a critical challenge in the relationship between the two neighboring countries. Experts from a Study Group on U.S.-Mexico Migration convened by El Colegio de México and MPI discuss current trends, policies, and politics surrounding migration from the Northern Triangle of Central America and the U.S.-Mexico relationship, ways to improve U.S. and Mexican asylum systems, possible new approaches to labor migration, ways to address smuggling networks, and modernize border management.

International vs. National Protection for Refugees Event - David Fitzgerald
Video, Audio
April 10, 2019

MPI's Kathleen Newland, Refugee Council USA's Mary Giovagnoli, and David Scott FitzGerald, author of Refuge beyond Reach, discuss how and why international and national responses to the rising challenge of refugee displacement are diverging.

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Recent Activity

Policy Briefs
November 2021

Es cada vez más claro que Estados Unidos, México y los países de origen de migrantes en Centroamérica tendrán que trabajar juntos para abordar el gran movimiento irregular de personas a través de la región. Este informe propone que además de mejorar la protección humanitaria para quienes la necesitan, ampliar las oportunidades legales para acceder a un empleo en el extranjero es otra parte de la ecuación.

Policy Briefs
November 2021

There is increasing recognition that the United States, Mexico, and migrant-origin countries in Central America will need to work together to address the large-scale, irregular movement of people through the region. While it is critical to improve humanitarian protection for those in need, expanding legal opportunities to take up employment abroad is another part of this equation, as this policy brief explores.

Commentaries
November 2021

The number of U.S. adults who could benefit from efforts to boost postsecondary credential attainment is strikingly large. Nearly 96 million working-age adults lack a postsecondary credential, 28 million of them of immigrant origin, MPI estimates. This commentary examines how enabling immigrant-origin adults to attain credentials beyond a high school diploma is vital to both building a skilled workforce and closing equity gaps.

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?

Articles

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.

Commentaries
October 2021

While there were more encounters of migrants seeking to cross the U.S.-Mexico border without authorization during fiscal 2021 than any prior year, this does not necessarily mean that more migrants were intercepted or illicitly entered the country than was the case 21 years ago, a new commentary explains.

Expert Q&A, Audio
October 20, 2021

People on all sides of the policy debate largely agree that the current U.S. immigration system is broken. What should a 21st century immigration system that works in the national interest look like? And is this vision achievable amid current political realities? In this conversation, MPI Senior Fellow Doris Meissner speaks with Policy Analyst Ariel Ruiz Soto about how to build an immigration system that reflects today’s realities and builds in the flexibility to adapt to future developments.

Articles

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.

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