E.g., 09/22/2020
E.g., 09/22/2020

U.S. Immigration Policy Program

U.S. Immigration Policy Program

Girl sitting on a bench facing a wall
byronv2/Flickr

This study explores the relationship between immigration enforcement and the mental health of Latino high school students, finding that majorities surveyed in both high- and low-enforcement environments reported fear that someone close to them could be deported, with resulting symptoms of conditions such as depression and PTSD. The report provides examples of how schools are responding to support the mental health and engagement of these students.

President Trump emerges from the White House to deliver remarks
Delano Scott/White House

Now into its fourth year, the Trump administration has reshaped the U.S. immigration system in ways big and small via presidential proclamations, policy guidance, and regulatory change. This report offers a catalog of the more than 400 administrative changes undertaken in areas such as immigration enforcement, humanitarian admissions, DACA, and visa processing—including a look at measures put in places since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

U.S. Census Bureau

The Trump administration's plan to exclude unauthorized immigrants from the 2020 Census data used to reapportion 435 congressional seats among the 50 states could misclassify as many as 20 million U.S. citizens, as the result of expected data-matching errors. The effects of this exclusion could be most pronounced in low-income urban and rural communities, reducing their voting power relative to more affluent ones, as this commentary explains.

Dr.Farouk/Wikimedia

Across the United States, the skills of an estimated 263,000 immigrants and refugees with health-related degrees are going underutilized during a time of pandemic, with these health professionals either in low-skilled jobs or out of work. This fact sheet offers the first-ever state profiles of this population, including the states in which they live, the languages they speak, their fields of study, and legal statuses.

Immigrants at a U.S. naturalization ceremony
Jetta Disco/DHS

For the 9 million immigrants eligible to become U.S. citizens, changed naturalization adjudication practices and an agency mission shift undertaken by the Trump administration appear to be posing new hurdles. This report analyzes a survey of naturalization assistance providers from across the country, examining changes in how U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services interviews applicants, conducts the English and civics tests, requests additional evidence, and more.

Gulbenk/Wikimedia Commons

Citing coronavirus-related disruptions, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services urged Congress to provide $1.2 billion to address its severe budget shortfall. Without this emergency infusion, the agency warned it might have to furlough up to 80 percent of its staff by mid-July 2020. Yet a deeper look at USCIS operations shows it was facing serious budget problems long before the pandemic—ones that are the logical results of actions undertaken by the Trump administration.

Recent Activity

Policy Briefs
August 2019
By Harry J. Holzer
Commentaries
August 2019
By Jeanne Batalova, Michael Fix, and Mark Greenberg
Policy Briefs
August 2019
By Doris Meissner
Reports
August 2019
By Randy Capps, Doris Meissner, Ariel G. Ruiz Soto, Jessica Bolter, and Sarah Pierce
Nancy Pelosi and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez
Articles
Commentaries
July 2019
By Andrew Selee, Silvia E. Giorguli-Saucedo, Claudia Masferrer, and Ariel G. Ruiz Soto
Commentaries
July 2019
By Andrew Selee, Silvia E. Giorguli-Saucedo, Claudia Masferrer, and Ariel G. Ruiz Soto

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The First 100 Days: Summary of Major Immigration Actions  Taken by the Trump Administration
Fact Sheets
April 2017
By Sela Cowger, Jessica Bolter, and Sarah Pierce
Policy Briefs
April 2017
By Faye Hipsman and Doris Meissner
Policy Briefs
March 2017
By Sarah Pierce and Doris Meissner
Policy Briefs
February 2017
By Sarah Pierce and Randy Capps
Policy Briefs
February 2017
By Sarah Pierce and Doris Meissner
Fact Sheets
December 2016
By Ariel G. Ruiz Soto, Jeanne Batalova, and Michael Fix
Reports
December 2016
By Jeanne Batalova, Michael Fix, and James D. Bachmeier
Fact Sheets
October 2016
By Randy Capps and Ariel G. Ruiz Soto

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Hardline migration and asylum policies in the United States and Australia in 2018 hit turbulence when their effects on the most vulnerable—young children—provoked widespread public revulsion and prompted a retreat, at least temporarily. Still, public outcry over the treatment of child migrants and asylum seekers often runs up against the intractability of the problems facing governments and the lack of good solutions.

Migrant processing at San Ysidro port of entry

The Trump administration’s latest effort to narrow the ability to apply for asylum at the U.S.-Mexico border hit a legal roadblock within days of implementation, as has been the pattern for much of its immigration agenda. This article examines the actions on asylum, which alongside deployment of active-duty military to the border, are among measures taken to seek to reduce the flow of Central Americans to the United States.

In less than two years as Attorney General, Jeff Sessions oversaw wide-reaching changes to the U.S. immigration system. Even as the zero-tolerance policy, fights with "sanctuary" cities, and DACA termination might be more visible, Sessions' enduring legacy may be his muscular use of a little-noted authority, which he wielded to significantly reshape immigration and asylum policy by referring immigration cases to himself.

Legal and political controversy surrounds the Trump administration's decision to include a question on citizenship status in the 2020 decennial census, the first such inclusion since the 1950 census. This article examines the administration's conflicting statements about the genesis of the plan, concerns that the decision could affect the accuracy of the census, and legal challenges pending in a number of states.

Protest at an immigration detention facility

With the #AbolishICE movement catching fire among some on the left, critics of the Trump administration's immigration policies have seized on U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) as their main target—even condemning it for actions taken by other agencies. This article explores the evolution of ICE and resistance to it, as well as actions taken by the agency itself that have made its mission even more controversial.

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Video, Audio
May 4, 2017

In the midst of efforts to further ramp up enforcement at the U.S.-Mexico border even as illegal crossings are a fraction of what they were at their peak in 2000, MPI research sketches the changing realities at the border and offers data that should help inform the policy debate. As the Trump administration and Congress consider constructing a border wall, adding thousands of Border Patrol agen

Audio
April 24, 2017

As the 100-day milestone for the Trump administration approaches, MPI's Doris Meissner and Muzaffar Chishti are joined by the former Director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Julie Myers Wood, and former DHS Assistant Secretary for Policy and Planning C. Stewart Verdery for a discussion of the administration's track record to date on immigration, the policies articulated in its executive orders, legal challenges, reactions by publics and policymakers, and the possible long-term effects of these policies.

Video, Audio
January 27, 2017

As the Trump administration assumes office and the DACA program faces an uncertain future, University of California President Janet Napolitano; Donald Graham, cofounder of TheDream.Us; and Ike Brannon, Visiting Fellow at the CATO Institute join MPI's Doris Meissner for a discussion on the possible impacts of rescinding DACA, particularly in the areas of higher education, philanthropy, and the economy.  

Video, Audio
December 7, 2016

A presentation of the first-ever U.S. estimates on the economic costs of brain waste for highly skilled immigrants, their families, and the U.S. economy. The researchers discuss their findings in terms of the billions of dollars in forgone earnings and unrealized taxes when college-educated immigrants are relegated to low-skilled work.

Video, Expert Q&A
December 6, 2016

Nearly 2 million college-educated immigrants in the United States are stuck in low-skilled jobs or are unemployed—a phenomenon known as brain waste. In this brief video, MPI researchers discuss their key findings on immigrant skill underutilization and the resulting billions of dollars in unrealized wages and forgone federal, state, and local tax receipts.

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Recent Activity

Policy Briefs
August 2019

In the coming decades, the U.S. labor market will undergo major transformation. Automation, an aging workforce, and alternative staffing practices will change how, where, and by whom work is done. This think piece, by a former chief economist for the U.S. Labor Department, explores how immigrant workers fit into this changing landscape, and what immigration and workforce policy changes could help maximize their contributions to the U.S. economy.

Commentaries
August 2019

The public-charge rule issued by the Trump administration in August 2019 will have profound effects on future immigration and on use of public benefits by millions of legal noncitizens and their U.S.-citizen family members. Complex standards for determining when an immigrant is likely to become a public charge could cause a significant share of the nearly 23 million noncitizens and U.S. citizens in benefits-using immigrant families to disenroll, as this commentary explains.

Policy Briefs
August 2019

The U.S. immigration system is in desperate need of an overhaul. What has been missing is an alternate vision for a path forward that treats immigration as a strategic resource while also accounting for heightened security and rule-of-law imperatives, which together can further U.S. interests, values, and democratic principles as a society. This concept note outlines a new MPI initiative, Rethinking U.S. Immigration Policy, that seeks to fill this gap.

Reports
August 2019

How did the U.S. border enforcement picture go in the span of two years from the lowest levels of illegal immigration since 1971 to a spiraling border security and humanitarian crisis? This report draws on enforcement and other data as well as analysis of changing migration trends and policies to tell this story. The authors outline key elements for a new strategy that can succeed over the long term.

Commentaries
July 2019

The U.S. government is operating accelerated dockets to handle the rising number of cases of families in immigration court. While it is essential to have timely, fair case processing and removal of those who have truly had their day in court and been found to be removable, using “rocket” dockets to speed up proceedings only heightens the breakdowns that are a recurring feature of the court system on its best day, as this commentary explains.

Articles

Ideological differences in the Democratic Party over immigration that were once masked by unity against President Trump’s border wall and immigration agenda are now being exposed as Democratic presidential candidates seek to stand out in a crowded field and amid controversy over an emergency border spending bill. As the 2020 electoral calendar accelerates, how the party navigates the gulf between its most liberal and conservative wings will become a greater challenge for its leaders.

Commentaries
July 2019

Dado el incremento de los flujos migratorios provenientes de Centroamérica, el pasado mes de junio de 2019, los Estados Unidos y México acordaron tomar una serie de medidas para reducir los flujos irregulares. Sin embargo, será muy difícil mantener estos esfuerzos de corto plazo, debido a una debilidad institucional crónica y a estructuras de política pública poco planificadas en ambos países. Este comentario ofrece cinco recomendaciones a ambos países considerando soluciones de mediano y largo plazo para disuadir la migración irregular y, al mismo tiempo, garantizar que aquellos que busquen protección tengan un proceso justo.

Commentaries
July 2019

Amid surging migration from Central America, the United States and Mexico in June 2019 agreed to a series of enforcement measures. Yet these near-term efforts will be difficult to maintain given chronic institutional weaknesses and poorly thought-out policy structures in both countries. This commentary, by the presidents of MPI and El Colegio de México, offers a set of long-term, collaborative solutions to dissuade illegal migration while ensuring fairness to those seeking protection.

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