E.g., 12/07/2022
E.g., 12/07/2022
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

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Commentaries
September 2019
By  Mark Greenberg, Julia Gelatt and Amy Holovnia
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Reports
September 2019
By  Andrew Selee, Silvia E. Giorguli-Saucedo, Ariel G. Ruiz Soto and Claudia Masferrer
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Reports
September 2019
By  Andrew Selee, Silvia E. Giorguli-Saucedo, Ariel G. Ruiz Soto and Claudia Masferrer
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Articles
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Articles

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Policy Briefs
May 2007
By  Demetrios G. Papademetriou, Jeanne Batalova and Julia Gelatt
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Fact Sheets
May 2007
By  Julia Gelatt
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Fact Sheets
November 2006
By  Jeanne Batalova
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Reports
November 2006
By  Doris Meissner, Deborah W. Meyers, Demetrios G. Papademetriou and Michael Fix
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Fact Sheets
October 2006
By  Julia Gelatt and Deborah W. Meyers
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Policy Briefs
October 2006
By  Jeanne Batalova and Michael Fix
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Reports
September 2006
By  Doris Meissner, Deborah W. Meyers, Demetrios G. Papademetriou and Michael Fix
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Reports
September 2006
By  Doris Meissner, Deborah W. Meyers, Demetrios G. Papademetriou and Michael Fix

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The decision by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to halt President Trump's controversial executive order on immigration and refugee resettlement has strong legal parallels to an earlier injunction, which blocked a very different Obama administration initiative on immigration two years ago in a challenge mounted by Republican governors. The two cases have brought new focus to the limits of executive authority in the immigration arena.

Obama KellyKline Flickr

President Obama faced criticism over his administration's handling of immigration enforcement from both the left and the right, labeled "deporter in chief" even as he was also accused of lax enforcement. A closer examination of his administration's record paints a more nuanced picture. This article explores how immigration enforcement practices shifted to achieve two key goals over the course of the Obama era.

SyriansDallas CNeukum IRC

More than 18,000 Syrian refugees have been resettled in the United States since civil war broke out in Syria in 2011. Nearly half of Syrian refugees are under age 14, and this population is more dispersed geographically across the country than the overall Syrian immigrant population. This article offers a demographic profile of Syrian refugees, including age, gender, language, and religion, as well as top state and city destinations.

TrumpPhoenix GageSkidmore Flickr

Donald Trump has made a series of postelection statements suggesting he may backtrack on several campaign pledges on immigration, including building a wall across the entire U.S.-Mexico border and deporting all 11 million unauthorized immigrants. Still, his choice of top advisors points to a hard-line agenda. This Policy Beat article examines what some of the better known elements of Trump's immigration policy might look like.

SB1070Rally JacobRuff Flickr

Over the past decade, state and local policymakers have increasingly stepped into the void left by Washington over legislative reform of the immigration system and have enacted their own policies, particularly in regard to illegal immigration. This article explores this trend of increased activism and examines whether restrictive state immigration laws have had an effect on the size of immigrant populations at the state level.

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Video, Audio
March 27, 2013

With the prospects for immigration reform greater than they have been in more than a decade and the U.S. economy slowly shrugging off the effects of the recession, the United States may be on the cusp of historic changes that make the immigration system a more effective tool for innovation, economic growth and the competitiveness of its firms—large and small. 

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Video
March 26, 2013
MPI's President, Demetrios G. Papademetriou, and the Editor-in-Chief of The American Prospect, Kit Rachlis, engage in a lively Google Hangout discussion about the policies and politics that have created the United States' antiquated, inflexible immigration system and how to create a modern-day, flexible immigration system suited for the competitiveness of the 21st century.
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Video, Audio
March 19, 2013

This discussion covers some of the most difficult issues that must be addressed if the United States is to reform its immigration system in ways that work not only for today’s reality but tomorrow’s future.

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Video
March 14, 2013
Testimony of Demetrios G. Papademetriou, MPI President, before the Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security, Committee on the Judiciary, U.S. House of Representatives.
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Video, Audio
January 7, 2013

MPI has released a major study that describes and analyzes today’s immigration enforcement programs, as they have developed and grown in the 25 years since IRCA launched the current enforcement era.

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Recent Activity

Articles

With a backlog of more than 1 million removal cases, the U.S. immigration court system is in crisis. Pressure from external forces, internal challenges, and lagging resources for the courts at a time of massive increases in spending on immigration enforcement have contributed to the backlog. This article explores how the system got to the breaking point, and what opportunities for reform exist.

Articles

Buoyed by initial successes challenging Trump administration immigration actions such as the travel ban in federal court, many critics expected the judiciary to act as a brake on major changes to the immigration system. Yet the Supreme Court has repeatedly shown a willingness to affirm the executive branch's immigration policies, most recently permitting what is arguably the most significant asylum policy change in four decades to proceed.

Commentaries
September 2019

Even as refugee admissions have dropped sharply during the Trump administration, some countries and religions have been significantly more affected than others, as this commentary explores. In fiscal year 2019, 79 percent of refugees were Christian and 16 percent Muslim—as compared to 44 percent Christian and 46 percent Muslim in fiscal year 2016, which was the last full year of the Obama administration.

Reports
September 2019

La migración entre México y Estados Unidos ha cambiado dramáticamente en los últimos años, pero las políticas y la retórica política en ambos países no se han actualizado a este contexto a la misma velocidad. Este reporte explora esta nueva realidad migratoria y cómo los dos gobiernos podrían trabajar juntos para abordar los desafíos de políticas públicas que tienen en común.

Reports
September 2019

Migration between Mexico and the United States has changed dramatically in recent years, but policies and political rhetoric in both countries have not always kept up. This report, which draws from discussions of a high-level Mexico-U.S. study group convened by MPI and El Colegio de México, explores this new migration reality and how the two governments could work more closely together to address shared policy challenges.

Video, Audio
August 12, 2019

This discussion marked the launch of MPI's Rethinking U.S. Immigration Policy Initiative, which aims to generate a big-picture, evidence-driven vision of the role immigration should play in America’s future, as well as to build a bipartisan center so needed reforms can be enacted. The initiative's leader, MPI Senior Fellow Doris Meissner, joins in conversation with former Bush administration Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez and former Obama White House Domestic Policy Council Director Cecilia Muñoz about the prospects for action and what's needed.

Articles

Si bien se ha prestado mucha atención a los centroamericanos recién llegados a la frontera entre los Estados Unidos y México, casi la mitad de los aproximadamente 3.5 millones que vivían en los Estados Unidos en 2017 llegaron antes de 2000. Aproximadamente un tercio son ciudadanos estadounidenses y tienden a participar en la fuerza laboral con más frecuencia que otros extranjeros y estadounidenses. Descubra más en este artículo lleno de datos.

Articles

While much attention has been paid to recent Central American arrivals at the U.S.-Mexico border, nearly half of the approximately 3.5 million Central Americans resident in the United States in 2017 arrived before 2000. About one-third are naturalized U.S. citizens, and they tend to participate in the labor force at a higher rate than foreign- and U.S.-born adults. Discover more about this population in this data-rich article.

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