E.g., 11/26/2022
E.g., 11/26/2022
U.S. Immigration Policy Program

U.S. Immigration Policy Program

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.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and other leaders at the 2022 Summit of the Americas
Freddie Everett/State Department

The Los Angeles Agreement on Migration and Protection signed by leaders from 20 countries across the Western Hemisphere at the 2022 Summit of the Americas marks a significant step forward in creating a common language and a coherent set of ideas for more cooperatively managing migration movements across a region that has seen very significant mobility in recent years, as this commentary explains.

Three health-care workers wearing blue protective masks and gowns
iStock/Juanmonino

The COVID-19 pandemic and associated economic recession have affected the lives of all U.S. residents, but immigrants have been among the hardest hit, with evidence of disproportionately high rates of death as well as a particularly high spike in unemployment. This report takes a look back at how the COVID-19 crisis has affected U.S. immigration policies and levels and the country’s immigrant communities.

Recent Activity

Bhutanese refugee sits on bed in family's apartment in New York
Commentaries
June 2021
By  Essey Workie, Mark Greenberg and Lillie Hinkle
The flags of the United States and Canada.
Articles
Cover image for Strengthening Services for Unaccompanied Children in U.S. Communities
Reports
June 2021
By  Mark Greenberg, Kylie Grow, Stephanie Heredia, Kira Monin and Essey Workie
Two men talk during a retiree luncheon
Articles
Rohingya families from Myanmar arrive in Bangladesh
Articles

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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
Advances in U.S.-Mexico Border Enforcement: A Review of the Consequence Delivery System
Reports
May 2017
By  Randy Capps, Faye Hipsman and Doris Meissner
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Fact Sheets
April 2017
By  Sela Cowger, Jessica Bolter and Sarah Pierce

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The nearly 11 million Mexican immigrants in the United States represent almost one-quarter of the country’s entire immigrant population, and as such are the largest foreign-born group. But their numbers have been declining, shrinking by 7 percent between 2010 and 2019. Among recently arrived immigrants, those from China and India now outpace Mexicans for the first time.

Federal immigration officers make an arrest during an operation in Virginia.

Before entering office, President Donald Trump promised to deport millions of unauthorized immigrants. Yet despite his general successes in creating a more restrictive and punitive immigration system, this goal has eluded his administration. So-called “sanctuary” policies implemented by state and local governments to limit their cooperation with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement have been a key reason why arrests and removals have not reached earlier peaks.

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There are 2.7 million Indian immigrants in the United States, making them the second-largest immigrant group after Mexicans. This number has increased dramatically in recent years, growing 13-fold between 1980 and 2019. This article provides an overview of this population, which is more highly educated, more likely to work in management positions, and higher-earning than the U.S. born and overall immigrant population.

A supporter holds a sign reading "Finish the Wall" during a rally for President Donald Trump in Mesa, Arizona.

In the United States, Republicans and Democrats are deeply divided on immigration. President Donald Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden have offered sharply diverging policy positions, and the outcome of the election is sure to have profound consequences for the U.S. immigration system. Yet this partisan divide is relatively new. Just two decades ago, the parties were much more united on immigrants’ role in the U.S. economy and society.

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Nearly 13 million immigrants have a four-year college degree or better. But these highly educated immigrants are not spread evenly throughout the labor market. They make up disproportionate shares of certain jobs, especially in the science and technology fields, accounting for 45 percent of software developers, 42 percent of physical scientists, and 29 percent of physicians. Yet there are signs that the trends of this population might be changing, as this article explores.

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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.

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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

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.

Articles

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.

Commentaries
June 2021

As the United States embarks on a new strategy to address the root causes of migration and displacement from Central America, there is much that it can learn from Europe's experience in linking up migration and development aid. This commentary examines the experience of the EU Emergency Trust Fund for Africa (EUTF), drawing five key lessons directly applicable to the situation in Central America.

Reports
June 2021

While the educational credentials of recent immigrants to the United States have steadily risen, licensing and other barriers continue to prevent many college-educated immigrants from working at their skill level. This underutilization is particularly acute for Black and Latino college graduates, even after controlling for sociodemographic and educational characteristics. This report offers a U.S. and state profile of underemployment, and possible policy remedies.

Reports
June 2021

While record monthly arrivals of unaccompanied minors in early 2021 have drawn considerable attention, important questions surround what happens once the children are released from federal custody to parents or other sponsors. This report examines federal post-release services, support needs among children and sponsors, how service providers are meeting these needs, and ways to improve services—to the benefit of the children and the communities in which they live.

Articles

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.

Commentaries
May 2021

The federal government has made notable progress since March 2021 in getting unaccompanied children arriving at the U.S.-Mexico border out of Border Patrol facilities and into Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) custody, and then releasing them to parents or other sponsors. Yet there are serious concerns about standards of care and conditions in a new type of ORR facility: emergency intake sites, as this commentary explores.

Articles

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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