E.g., 01/27/2021
E.g., 01/27/2021

U.S. Immigration Policy Program

U.S. Immigration Policy Program

The U.S. Justice Department building in Washington, DC
iStock.com/wingedwolf

Among the many executive action tools the Trump administration used to significantly rewrite U.S. immigration policy is an obscure but powerful legal authority known as the attorney general’s referral and review. This report examines how this power’s use and impact have changed over time, deep-rooted concerns about it that predate the Trump administration but that have grown due to its more frequent use, and ways to improve it going forward.   

Margaret W. Nea for Bread for the World

The pandemic-recovery stimulus package that passed Congress in December rectified what many had viewed as a significant oversight in the earlier CARES Act: Its exclusion of U.S. citizens and legal immigrants in mixed-status families. MPI researchers estimate nearly 3 million U.S. citizens and legal immigrants excluded from the earlier legislation can receive the later relief, as well as qualify retroactively for the CARES Act payment, as this commentary explores.

iStock

Researchers, service providers, and others have long predicted that sweeping revisions by the Trump administration to the definition of who constitutes a public charge would deter large numbers of immigrant-led households from using federal means-tested public benefits for which they are eligible. Recently released Census Bureau data show they were right: During the administration's first three years, program participation declined twice as fast among noncitizens as citizens.

Map of the United States from the MPI Migration Data Hub
MPI

After decades of growth, the number of unauthorized immigrants in the United States has remained largely stable since the 2008–09 recession. The group's demographics are changing, though, with a shrinking number of Mexicans and rising Asian and Central American arrivals. This fact sheet presents a profile of these 11 million individuals, including top origin countries; U.S. destinations; and age, education, job, income, home ownership, English proficiency, and other characteristics.

Todd Jordan/Centers for Disease Control

With the U.S. health-care system buckling under the resurgent COVID-19 outbreak, policymakers could undertake efforts to enable skilled, underemployed international health-care professionals to practice. This would both make the health system more resilient and flexible, as well as introduce critical language and cultural skills important during the contact-tracing and vaccine rollout phases of the pandemic response, as this commentary explores.

Worker cleans hotel room
LanaStock/iStock

Working-age immigrant women in the United States entered the COVID-19-induced recession with unemployment rates similar to those of other groups. Yet they have been among the most affected by pandemic-related job losses. This fact sheet seeks to explain why they have been hit so hard by the coronavirus-induced recession.

 

Recent Activity

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Reports
June 2015
By  Randy Capps, Kathleen Newland, Susan Fratzke, Susanna Groves, Michael Fix, Margie McHugh and Gregory Auclair
Reports
March 2015
By  Randy Capps, Michael Fix and Chiamaka Nwosu
Reports
October 2014
By  Marc R. Rosenblum and Kristen McCabe
Policy Briefs
September 2014
By  Randy Capps and Marc R. Rosenblum
Reports
August 2014
By  Jeanne Batalova, Sarah Hooker and Randy Capps

Pages

Protesters demonstrate against immigration proposals outside the Texas State Capitol.

A new hardline immigration law in Texas marks the resurgence of state-level restrictionist activism that had stalled in 2012 amid adverse federal court rulings. The Texas law, SB 4, is designed to end sanctuary policies in jurisdictions across the state, and closely mirrors aspects of Arizona's controversial 2010 law, SB 1070. This article explores the parallels and new state momentum to crack down on illegal immigration.

A sign at the Quebec border advises travelers to turn back and report to a port of entry.

Amid a sense of declining welcome in the United States, growing numbers of asylum seekers have crossed into Canada in recent months, entering illegally to take advantage of a loophole in the Canada-U.S. Safe Third Country Agreement. The result? Refugee advocates and politicians in Canada are issuing growing calls to change or suspend the treaty. This article examines the treaty's history, effects, and current challenges.

Mujeres guatemaltecas asisten a misa en una iglesia en Los Ángeles.

La migración centroamericana a los Estados Unidos comenzó en gran números en los años ochenta, impulsada por la inestabilidad política, los desastres naturales y las dificultades económicas. Aproximadamente 3,4 millones de centroamericanos vivieron en los Estados Unidos en 2015, principalmente de El Salvador, Guatemala y Honduras. Dónde viven en los Estados Unidos, su competencia en inglés, su estado legal, las vías de inmigración, y más, están cubiertos en este artículo.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions in the White House briefing room.

While Donald Trump often pledged as candidate to strip federal funding from jurisdictions—known as sanctuary cities—that do not fully cooperate with federal immigration enforcement, no direct action blocking funding has yet occurred. Still, strong statements from the President and Attorney General have spurred a flurry of responses by state and local governments, some adjusting their policies to cooperate fully, others setting limits.

Beyond representing first steps on key campaign promises, President Trump's executive orders on immigration mandate sweeping data collection and reporting in ways that seek to underscore societal and economic costs with no countervailing attention to positive effects from immigration. This article explores the news-making machinery embedded in the orders and how the reporting requirements might help further the administration's agenda.

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Video
September 30, 2015

Commemorating the 50th anniversary of passage of the Immigration Act of 1965, this symposium focuses on the political and policy dynamics that came together to make the law possible and how it changed the U.S. legal immigration system, the country's demographics, and future.

Video, Audio
September 21, 2015

A report release where authors discuss the effects of parental deportation on the children of immigrants, the related needs for health and social services, and U.S. policy responses to protect these children.

Video, Audio
September 16, 2015

An expert discussion on the findings of the National Agricultural Workers Survey (NAWS) related to immigrants, along with an overview of farm labor in 2015 and discussion on how current and possible future immigration policies might impact immigrant workers in the agricultural sector.

Video, Audio
September 3, 2015

This webinar includes an overview of regional immigration enforcement trends, including U.S. and Mexican apprehensions and deportations of Central American migrants, along with a demographic, socioeconomic, and criminal profile of child and adult deportees.

Video, Audio
August 19, 2015

This webinar examines recent trends regarding the countries and regions of origin for the unauthorized immigrant population in the United States at national, state, and county levels.

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Recent Activity

Video
July 9, 2019

This event features a smart conversation by a range of experts on U.S.-Mexico border conditions, looking at policy responses by both countries and regional cooperation.

Articles

Approximately 11,500 unaccompanied children were apprehended at the U.S.-Mexico border in May, putting this year on track to exceed 2014's surge. As the U.S. government struggles to care for these child migrants, with public outrage mounting over reports of unsafe, filthy conditions in initial Border Patrol custody, the failure of the executive branch and Congress to plan for increased shelter and care demands are increasingly apparent, as this article explores.

Video, Audio
June 26, 2019

This discussion on the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) showcases MPI Fellow Charles Kamasaki's book, Immigration Reform: The Corpse That Will Not Die. Kamasaki is joined by other veterans of the IRCA debate for a conversation on the lessons, the intended and unintended consequences, and how the law’s legacy has shaped contemporary politics on immigration.

Commentaries
June 2019

While safe third-country agreements appear to hold the potential of deterring new asylum claims, experience suggests this may be a false promise. As the Trump administration explores the possibility of such agreements with Mexico and Guatemala, this commentary examines the evidence of safe third-country arrangements in Europe, finding them difficult to enforce and playing little role in deterring new claims.

Articles

The United States has historically been the top country for refugee resettlement, but was surpassed in 2018 by Canada amid record cuts to admissions by the Trump administration. Approximately 22,500 refugees were resettled in the United States during fiscal year 2018, as well as 26,500 asylees. This article examines where these newcomers came from and many other characteristics, including religious affiliation, age, and gender.

Articles

The Trump administration’s plan to create a "merit-based" U.S. immigration system, lessening the longstanding focus on family reunification in favor of more economic migrants, has met with a lackluster response from Democrats and Republicans alike. This Policy Beat article explores how the Trump proposal would reshape immigration to the United States, and how it compares to selection systems in other countries and past debates about changing the U.S. system.

Policy Briefs
May 2019

Noncitizens have long served in the U.S. military, often encouraged by the promise of a fast track to U.S. citizenship. In recent years, however, Congress and the Defense Department have made it more difficult for noncitizens to enlist. This brief give context to these policy changes and explores ways the military could better balance concerns about national security and the need for recruits with key cultural and professional skills.

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.

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