E.g., 02/24/2021
E.g., 02/24/2021

U.S. Immigration Policy Program

U.S. Immigration Policy Program

A U.S. green card and work authorization card
iStock.com/brazzo

With legalization of the U.S. unauthorized immigrant population back on the table, this report offers estimates and characteristics for subgroups that have particularly strong equities, including DREAMers, Temporary Protected Status (TPS) recipients, and parents and spouses of U.S. citizens. It also traces past legalizations and details the range and scope of legalization options that policymakers have.

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.

Recent Activity

Reports
May 2018
By  Randy Capps, Muzaffar Chishti, Julia Gelatt, Jessica Bolter and Ariel G. Ruiz Soto
Policy Briefs
April 2018
By  Kate Hooper and Brian Salant
Policy Briefs
March 2018
By  Sarah Pierce and Julia Gelatt
Marine naturalization
Articles
Immigration Data Matters
Reports
November 2020
By  Jeanne Batalova, Andriy Shymonyak and Michelle Mittelstadt

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Policy Briefs
October 2006
By  Jeanne Batalova and Michael Fix
Reports
September 2006
By  Doris Meissner, Deborah W. Meyers, Demetrios G. Papademetriou and Michael Fix
Reports
September 2006
By  Doris Meissner, Deborah W. Meyers, Demetrios G. Papademetriou and Michael Fix
Reports
September 2006
By  Doris Meissner, Deborah W. Meyers, Demetrios G. Papademetriou and Michael Fix
Policy Briefs
August 2006
By  Julie Murray, Jeanne Batalova and Michael Fix
Policy Briefs
July 2006
By  David A. Martin
Policy Briefs
July 2006
By  Julia Gelatt, Jeanne Batalova and B. Lindsay Lowell

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The outbreak of Ebola in West Africa, with three cases diagnosed in the United States, has generated tremendous public fear and anxiety in the United States and other countries. The Obama administration has restricted air travel from West Africa to five airports with enhanced screening, amid calls for a complete travel ban. The Policy Beat examines the use of U.S. immigration controls to halt the spread of disease.

When Congress returns from recess in September, lawmakers will need to pick up where they left off on approving an emergency spending bill to address unaccompanied migrant children at the border. This article previews upcoming battles in Congress and analyzes how the recent border crisis is changing the broader immigration debate in the United States.

The U.S. immigrant population—estimated at 40.8 million in 2012 — is the nation’s historical numerical high, and it is also the largest foreign-born population in the world. About 20 percent of all international migrants reside in the United States, even as the country accounts for less than 5 percent of global population. This article presents the latest, most sought-after data on immigrants in the United States—by origin, residence, legal status, deportations, languages spoken, and more—in one easy-to-use resource.

In a decision that received little notice, the Supreme Court in mid-March declined to review federal appellate decisions that struck down controversial local immigration ordinances in Hazleton, Pennsylvania, and Farmers Branch, Texas—bringing to a close a contentious chapter in immigration litigation. This article also explores President Obama’s decision to order a review of deportation policies, Chile’s admission into the Visa Waiver Program, and more.
The small window for enactment of a major U.S. immigration overhaul during 2014 seems to have closed. A trial balloon testing House Republicans’ willingness to proceed this year was quickly floated and dropped. Amid a focus on politics and timing, less noted was the reality that for the first time, House Republican leaders have affirmed support for a policy that would move the party closer to compromise over the most vexing question holding up immigration reform: what to do with the nation’s unauthorized immigrants.

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Video, Audio
July 30, 2012

MPI is pleased to host a discussion with experts from both KIND and the Women’s Refugee Commission, focusing on the causes of the increase in unaccompanied minor migrants, the situation these minors face once detained or apprehended, and the challenges confronting both nongovernmental organizations trying to provide aid and the U.S. government agencies responsible for processing minors through the system. 

Video, Audio
April 19, 2012

The Migration Policy Institute celebrated its first decade as the authoritative, unimpeachable resource on immigration and immigrant integration analysis and policy design in the United States and internationally.

Video
February 7, 2012
MPI Senior Fellow Doris Meissner discusses U.S. immigration policy during the Fireside Forum on Foreign Policy at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. The other participants are Christine Neumann-Ortiz, Executive Director of Voces de la Frontera and Douglas Savage, Assistant Director of the Institute of World Affairs, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.
Audio
August 26, 2011

With the ten year anniversary of the September 11, 2001 attacks approaching, the Migration Policy Institute held a conference call to discuss the most significant changes that have occurred in the immigration arena in the decade since the attacks.

Audio
July 14, 2011

This Migration Policy Institute webinar discusses labor enforcement laws during the Clinton, Bush and Obama administrations and chronicles gaps in labor protection.

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Recent Activity

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.  

Reports
May 2018

The Trump administration has significantly cranked up the immigration enforcement machinery in the U.S. interior. Yet even as arrests and deportations are up in the early Trump months, they remain less than half their peaks. This report demonstrates how pushback from California and other "sanctuary" locations makes it quite unlikely that ICE will be able to match record enforcement levels.

Video, Audio, Webinars
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. The webinar marks the release of an issue brief that finds family ties predominate even in countries such as Canada that place more emphasis on economic migration.

Policy Briefs
April 2018

As policymakers in a number of countries, the United States among them, debate limiting family-based immigration, this issue brief explores family-migration trends and policies in the United States, Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom, and several other European countries. Family admissions play a key role, even in countries that prioritize economic or other immigration streams.

Policy Briefs
March 2018

Though much attention focuses on the 85,000 temporary high-skilled visas issued each April through a computer-generated lottery, in reality far more H-1B visas are awarded outside the cap. This brief takes stock of changing trends in the program, finding that the largest H-1B dependent employers pay less and hire fewer foreign workers with advanced degrees than other top users that rely less on the temporary visa.

Articles

While much attention has focused on President Trump's efforts to crack down on illegal immigration, the administration has moved, via a much wider scope of actions, to reduce legal immigration to the United States. This article explores changes including slowed processing of family- and employment-based visas, dramatic cuts in refugee admissions, and heightened vetting and evidence requirements for would-be immigrants.

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.

Reports
November 2020

This useful online guide links users directly to the most credible, high-quality data on immigrants and immigration in the United States and internationally. The easy-to-use guide includes more than 250 data resources compiled by governmental and nongovernmental sources, covering topics ranging from population stock and flow numbers to statistics on enforcement, public opinion, religious affiliation, and much more.

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