E.g., 06/16/2024
E.g., 06/16/2024
U.S. Immigration Policy Program

U.S. Immigration Policy Program

Engineer holding a laptop outside a power plant
iStock.com/yanguolin

The level of education and training expected of workers in the United States has increased considerably in recent decades, and this trend looks set to continue. This report explores the forces driving this change and how the education levels of immigrant-origin and other workers compare to those likely to be needed in the future U.S. workforce, overall and in key occupational groups.

Image of female worker at the Boqueria market in Barcelona making a crepe
Marcel Crozet/ILO

Spain and the United States both receive their greatest number of immigrants from Latin America, and have worked collaboratively together on displacement crises and other migration issues. As shared immigration challenges dominate debate on both sides of the Atlantic, Spain can serve as a vital bridge in the policy conversation, this commentary notes.

A man in a high-visibility jacket and gloves at work
Aaron Sussell/U.S. Department of Labor

U.S. employment-based visa policies, last updated in 1990, are not aligned with the country’s current and future labor market needs. This policy brief outlines MPI’s proposal for a new visa pathway that could help the United States better leverage immigration to meet its labor market needs, boost protections for both U.S.- and foreign-born workers, and flexibly adapt to future economic and demographic changes.

Inadmissible migrants, some seeking asylum, are processed by CBP officers
Mani Albrecht/CBP

The U.S. humanitarian protection system, known for its long history of assisting those in need, has come under incredible pressure in recent years. The asylum adjudications system, which is under-resourced, is struggling to keep up with record asylum seeker arrivals at the U.S.-Mexico border. This report examines the state of the asylum system, including changes under the Biden administration and potential lessons for other countries.

 A young nurse hugs an elderly patient in a wheelchair
iStock.com/PeopleImages

Immigrants’ eligibility for public benefits in the United States is governed by a complex patchwork of rules that make many groups of noncitizens eligible for some benefits but not others, while other noncitizens are excluded completely. This report provides an overview of immigrants’ eligibility for programs related to general assistance, health and nutrition, employment and income, education, housing, driver’s licenses, and more.

U.S.-Mexico border fence with Tijuana on the left
Josh Denmark/CBP

Unauthorized migration at the U.S.-Mexico border has been a high-profile and politically divisive issue for decades. But as the nature of migration at the border has changed profoundly, U.S. policy responses have struggled to keep up. This report explores the changing nature of migration flows and migration policy at the border from the early 1990s until today, highlighting key lessons for contemporary policy-making.

Recent Activity

coverthumb_rethinking legalization 2021
Reports
February 2021
By  Jessica Bolter, Muzaffar Chishti and Doris Meissner
Joe Biden attends a pre-election event in Nevada.
Articles
International students wave flags of their origin countries
Articles
Unauthorized Immigrants in the United States: Stable Numbers, Changing Origins
Fact Sheets
December 2020
By  Randy Capps, Julia Gelatt, Ariel G. Ruiz Soto and Jennifer Van Hook
LatinoMentalHealth commentary December2020
Commentaries
December 2020
By  Randy Capps and Michael Fix

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Reports
March 2010
By  Cristina Rodríguez , Muzaffar Chishti, Randy Capps and Laura St. John
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Reports
December 2009
By  Gordon H. Hanson
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Reports
November 2009
By  Pia M. Orrenius and Madeline Zavodny
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Reports
September 2009
By  Donald M. Kerwin and Serena Yi-Ying Lin
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Reports
July 2009
By  Doris Meissner and Marc R. Rosenblum
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Reports
July 2009
By  Demetrios G. Papademetriou, Doris Meissner, Marc R. Rosenblum and Madeleine Sumption
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Reports
May 2009
By  Demetrios G. Papademetriou, Doris Meissner, Marc R. Rosenblum and Madeleine Sumption

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Outside of the Justice Department building

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.

An apprehended migrant sits in a truck with his hands in his face

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.

HonduranPride

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.

HonduranPride

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.

Nancy Pelosi and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

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.

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EventPH 2014.2.14 Managing Borders in North America Charting the Future
Video, Audio
February 7, 2014

This panel discussion offers perspectives on border policy management from leading officials in the Canadian, Mexican, and U.S. governments, and showcases the MPI book, "Managing Borders in an Increasingly Borderless World."

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Video, Audio
October 31, 2013

The 10th annual Immigration Law and Policy Conference featured keynotes by U.S. Senator John McCain (R-AZ) and former Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour, as well as panel discussions covering a range of key immigration topics.

2013.8.14 DACA google SarahHooker
Video, Audio
August 14, 2013

During this online chat, MPI researchers discuss their findings in an MPI brief, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals at the One-Year Mark: A Profile of Currently Eligible Youth and Applicants, that provides the most up-to-date estimates of the current and prospective DACA population by educational attainment, English proficiency, state of residence, country of origin, age, gender, labor force participation, poverty, and parental status.

multimedia HouseDivided
Video, Audio
August 7, 2013

MPI experts participate in a video chat shortly after the Migration Policy Institute released an analysis comparing the major provisions of the Senate bill to those of the individual House bills considered to date in House committees. 

Testimony DMeissner 3.2013
Video
August 2, 2013

Testimony of Doris Meissner, Senior Fellow and Director, U.S. Immigration Policy Program, before the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, U.S. Senate.

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Recent Activity

Reports
February 2021

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.

Articles

The Biden administration has set the pace for what could be the most active first 100 days on immigration policy by any White House in recent memory—even that of predecessor Donald Trump. The efforts, which represent a dramatic break from the Trump administration's view of immigration as threat, are likely to meet stiff opposition on Capitol Hill and elsewhere. This article evaluates Biden's early actions and what they suggest about the White House's ambitions on immigration.

Reports
January 2021

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.   

Articles

For the first time in a decade, fewer international students were studying in the United States during the 2019-20 school year than the year before. This decline, brought about in part by changing U.S. policy, has been aggravated by the COVID-19 pandemic. This article profiles the international student population in the United States, including their origins and fields of study.

Commentaries
January 2021

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.

Commentaries
December 2020

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.

Fact Sheets
December 2020

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.

Commentaries
December 2020

The prevalence of mental-health symptoms among Latino high school students, immigrant and U.S. born alike, is closely related to their fears of immigration enforcement. And the situation may have worsened since the researchers sampled this population, given the COVID-19 pandemic and associated economic hardship have increased the stress on Latino communities that have been hit disproportionately hard, as this commentary explores.

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