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
November 2018
By  Julia Gelatt and Jie Zong
coverthumb MPI AsylumSystemInCrisis
Reports
September 2018
By  Doris Meissner, Faye Hipsman and T. Alexander Aleinikoff
Coverthumb HoustonImmigrantsProfile
Reports
September 2018
By  Randy Capps and Ariel G. Ruiz Soto
Coverthumb_TCMTrumpSpring2018
Reports
July 2018
By  Sarah Pierce, Jessica Bolter and Andrew Selee

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A woman holding an Iranian flag at sunset.

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.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott speaks at a political event in Arizona.

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.

The flags of the United States and Canada.

The United States and Canada share the world's longest land border and similar cultures. But Canadians account for a tiny and shrinking share of all U.S. immigrants. Canadian immigrants tend to have higher educations and be older than other immigrant groups. This Spotlight explores the history and features of the Canadian immigrant population in the United States.

Two men talk during a retiree luncheon

Results from the 2020 census show that the U.S. population has been growing at its slowest rate since the Great Depression. Reduced immigration has been one component of this sluggish population growth, which could pose a problem for the United States as people age and strain public retirement systems. This U.S. Policy Beat article examines how immigration fits into the country's demographic puzzle.

Rohingya families from Myanmar arrive in Bangladesh

The United States historically led the world in refugee resettlement, but was surpassed by Canada in 2018—and U.S. refugee admissions fell to a record low 12,000 in 2020. With the country now on course to rebuild resettlement capacity, this article examines the U.S. refugee and asylee populations and how they have changed over time, including key demographic characteristics.

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Video, Audio
March 8, 2019

This webinar discusses the first-ever profile of the 30 million immigrant-origin adults in the United States who lack a postsecondary credential and offers analysis of the significant payoff credentials could bring in terms of workforce participation and wages.

Olga Sánchez Cordero
Video, Audio
February 28, 2019

On her first official trip to Washington, DC, Secretary of the Interior Olga Sánchez Cordero offered a public address on Mexico’s new approach to migration policy at MPI. Her remarks and the event discussion were mostly conducted in Spanish, and this recording is of the simultaneous English interpretation. 

129_Chicago_ERO_Repat_Plane_102115_JD
Video, Audio
January 16, 2019

This MPI webinar focuses on reception and reintegration services for returning migrants, along with the heightened pressure policymakers in Mexico and Central America are facing to design systems and programs that support both returnees and the communities in which they settle.

flickr   25944533204_cb4e9bcf7c_z (1)  United Way of the Lower Mainland
Video, Audio
December 13, 2018

On this webinar, MPI researchers and Utah and Colorado refugee coordinators explore promising practices to better serve refugee families, including education services for refugee youth, innovative efforts to secure better jobs for adult refugees, and other services designed to aid integration over time.

Francis Cissna keynotes 15th Annual Immigration Law and Policy Conference
Video, Audio
October 1, 2018

At the 15th annual Immigration Law and Policy Conference, held in October 2018, leading experts and government officials discussed the role that immigration is playing in the mid-term elections; how the courts are handling key immigration questions; and recent changes in the U.S. asylum system, border and interior enforcement, and regulations surrounding legal immigration.   

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Recent Activity

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 conversation with MPI’s Natalia Banulescu-Bogdan. They also look ahead to the challenges that will dominate immigration policymaking in the years ahead.

Reports
October 2021

La cantidad de migrantes africanos que viajan por América del Sur y Central con la esperanza de llegar a la frontera entre Estados Unidos y México para buscar asilo es pequeña, pero está aumentando. Este informe examina los factores que impulsan la migración africana a través de las Américas, las rutas y los desafíos comunes, y las respuestas de países de tránsito en América Latina.

Reports
October 2021

The number of African migrants traveling through South and Central America in hopes of reaching the U.S.-Mexico border, many seeking asylum, is small but increasing. This report examines the factors driving African migration through the Americas, common routes and challenges, and how transit countries are responding.

Reports
October 2021

Nearly two decades since the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) was founded in 2003, U.S. immigration governance is buckling from breakdowns in performance across key immigration components and partner agencies. This report advances ideas for DHS to fix its governance to manage immigration as a system, focusing on challenges in mission and structure, intra-DHS and interdepartmental collaboration, funding, and institutional culture.

Video, Audio
September 27, 2021

The 2021 annual Immigration Law and Policy Conference featured a keynote conversation with Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro N. Mayorkas and analysis by top experts on the early months of the Biden administration and how immigration law and policy can respond to our changing world in a manner that is humane and in the national interest.

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 features a discussion on the U.S. government’s responses to internal displacement, with Kavi Chintam and Chris Jackson, co-authors of an Issues in Science and Technology article analyzing the approach to managed retreat.

Policy Briefs
September 2021

Immigrants, who lost jobs at a much higher rate than U.S.-born workers early in the COVID-19 pandemic, have since seen their unemployment rate drop below that of the U.S. born. Still, they are not well poised to take advantage of the economic recovery. This issue brief examines the extent of job losses and employment shifts for U.S. workers from mid-2019 to mid-2021, with trends broken down by nativity, gender, industry, and geographic region.

Articles

The chaotic arrival of thousands of Haitians at the U.S.-Mexico border in September 2021 was the culmination of a journey through the Americas that began for many a decade ago. This article examines how Brazil became a refuge for many after Haiti’s devastating 2010 earthquake, and how Haitians then moved on to Chile and other countries as conditions changed, and then onward again further north.

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