E.g., 04/05/2020
E.g., 04/05/2020

U.S. Immigration Policy Program

U.S. Immigration Policy Program

A doctor wearing a face mask performing a test
Radio Alfa/Flickr

Six million immigrant workers are at the frontlines of keeping U.S. residents healthy and fed during the COVID-19 pandemic, representing disproportionate shares of physicians, home health aides, and retail-store pharmacists, for example. They also are over-represented in sectors most immediately devastated by mass layoffs, yet many will have limited access to safety-net systems and to federal relief, as this fact sheet details.

Chad Davis

The global COVID-19 pandemic has brought into sharp focus the intersection of U.S. immigration and public health policy, and the unique challenges that immigrants face. This article analyzes the Trump administration’s introduction of some of the most stringent immigration restrictions in modern times, the often disparate fallout of the outbreak on immigrant communities, the status of federal immigration agency operations, and more.

Tacoma Community House

While the Trump administration public-charge rule is likely to vastly reshape legal immigration based on its test to assess if a person might ever use public benefits in the future, the universe of noncitizens who could be denied a green card based on current benefits use is quite small. That's because very few benefit programs are open to noncitizens who do not hold a green card. This commentary offers estimates of who might be affected.

Dipartimento Protezione Civile

Travel bans, border closures, and other migration management tools did not prove effective at blocking COVID-19 from spreading across international borders. Yet as governments have shifted from containment to mitigation with the coronavirus now in community transmission in many countries, these restrictions are a logical part of the policy toolkit in the context of social distancing and restricting all forms of human movement, as this commentary explores.

Seattle Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs/Alabastro Photography

While much attention has been given to the move by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to raise its application fees—including an 83 percent hike to apply for U.S. citizenship—the policy changes embedded in the proposed rule have been less scrutinized. The changes, including the elimination of most fee waivers for lower-income applicants, would likely reduce the number and shift the profile of those getting a green card or other immigration status.

A woman getting a vaccine
National Institutes of Health

Latinos and immigrants are at least twice as likely to lack health insurance coverage as the overall population in the Kansas City metropolitan area. This gap that has significant implications for the region, as Latinos and immigrants will form an ever-growing share of the area’s labor force and tax base amid anticipated declines in the native-born, non-Latino population.

Recent Activity

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Policy Briefs
August 2017
By Randy Capps, Michael Fix, and Jie Zong
Policy Briefs
August 2017
By Philip Martin
How Are Refugees Faring? Integration at U.S. and State Levels
Reports
June 2017
By Michael Fix, Kate Hooper, and Jie Zong
New Brain Gain: Rising Human Capital among Recent Immigrants to the United States
Fact Sheets
June 2017
By Jeanne Batalova and Michael Fix
Advances in U.S.-Mexico Border Enforcement: A Review of the Consequence Delivery System
Reports
May 2017
By Randy Capps, Faye Hipsman, and Doris Meissner
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

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U.S. Marine secures barbed-wire fencing at the California-Mexico border.

The Trump administration took sweeping action in 2018 to slow legal immigration, make life harder for some immigrants already in the United States, rebuff would-be asylum seekers, and reduce refugee resettlement. Shaping a narrative of crisis at the border, the administration significantly changed the U.S. asylum system, deployed troops and tear gas, and separated families—yet Central American migrants continued to arrive.

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.

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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.

Audio
March 15, 2018

This discussion, featuring California's Labor Commissioner and the head of the Tennessee Bureau of Workers' Compensation, launched a report that examines state innovations in labor standards enforcement in low-wage, immigrant-dense industries. With wage underpayment, payroll fraud, and other violations widespread in industries such as construction and car-washing, the discussion focused on how targeted enforcement can deter practices that hurt native-born and immigrant workers alike, cost state tax revenue, and disadvantage law-abiding employers. 

Video
February 14, 2018

Experts explore the significance of the Trump administration’s decision not to renew Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for the approximately 263,000 Salvadorans residing in the United States, including the social impact of terminating TPS and the likely effects on the U.S. and Salvadoran economies, migration, and criminal violence, as well as policy options to address the fallout from the decision.

Video, Audio
September 25, 2017

In a year when immigration has been prominent in the headlines, the 14th annual Immigration Law and Policy Conference provides timely policy and legal analysis, with expert discussion covering the shifting immigration policy priorities under a new administration, including changes in immigration enforcement, border enforcement, refugee resettlement, the treatment of unaccompanied minors and the

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

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Recent Activity

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.

Articles

Approximately 530,000 foreign-born veterans of the U.S. armed forces resided in the United States in 2018, accounting for 3 percent of the 18.6 million veterans nationwide. Immigrant veterans tend to have higher education levels and household incomes compared to native-born veterans, and the vast majority are naturalized citizens, as this data-rich article explores.

Video, Audio, Webinars
May 9, 2019

At this discussion, experts from MPI and Southern Methodist University’s Texas-Mexico Center offer an overview of trends and key characteristics of highly skilled Mexican adults at the national level and for Texas, including educational levels by legal status and top industries of employment across Texas metro areas. They also discuss the policy implications of these findings.

Fact Sheets
May 2019

U.S. debates about immigration from Mexico often center on the low skilled, but this analysis shows a population in change. Nearly one in five Mexican immigrants arriving between 2013-17 had a college degree, compared to slightly more than 1 in 20 during the 1996-2000 period. Mexicans now make up the fourth-largest group of highly skilled immigrants. This fact sheet explores their characteristics at U.S. and Texas levels.

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