E.g., 01/28/2023
E.g., 01/28/2023
U.S. Immigration Policy Program

U.S. Immigration Policy Program

President Joe Biden at the U.S.-Mexico border.
Tia Dufour/DHS

At his term's midpoint, President Joe Biden has relied on executive action to advance his immigration agenda more than his predecessors, including Donald Trump. Yet many of the changes to interior enforcement, humanitarian protection, and other areas have been overshadowed by the record pace of arrivals at the U.S.-Mexico border, which has presented the administration with major policy and operational challenges.

An FDA researcher stores stem cell samples for analysis
Michael J. Ermarth/FDA

College-educated immigrants are more likely to have advanced degrees than their U.S.-born peers with college degrees. But their educational levels have not always translated into similar occupational gains: They are more likely to be overeducated for their positions. Drawing on PIAAC data, this fact sheet sketches educational characteristics, monthly earnings, skill underutilization, and job quality for immigrant and U.S.-born college graduates alike.

A crowd of people outside a food pantry
iStock.com/Massimo Giachetti

Immigrants in the United States experience strong economic mobility overall. But for some, limited educational attainment and English proficiency, and the challenges of restarting life in a new country, can result in low incomes and economic hardship. This fact sheet looks at the origins, states of residence, demographic and socioeconomic characteristics, and employment of low-income immigrants.

Photo of individuals re-entering Mexico after U.S. expulsion
Jerry Glaser/U.S. Customs and Border Protection

Headlines focusing on the record-breaking nature of the 2.4 million migrant encounters at the U.S.-Mexico border in fiscal year 2022 overlook the much bigger story: Migrant and asylum seeker flows have rapidly diversified beyond Mexico and northern Central America and as a result, U.S. enforcement policies are misaligned. Today's reality sharply underscores the need for new regional approaches, this commentary argues.

A young woman operating an industrial drilling machine
iStock.com/Omar Osman

As the United States seeks to adapt to trends such as technological change and aging that are reshaping the labor market, increasing productivity and the number of high-skilled workers will be critical. This issue brief explores the characteristics of the 115 million adults without postsecondary credentials, 21 percent of them immigrant, as well as the prospects for credential acquisition for foreign-born subgroups.

Aerial views of Worthington, MN, and Houston, TX
iStock.com/Jacob Boomsma & iStock.com/simonkr

U.S. cities and towns have responded to COVID-19 in ways that are as diverse as the communities they aim to support. This report looks at how two very different locations—Worthington, MN, and the greater Houston area—incorporated immigrants into their relief efforts, through partnerships, strategic outreach, targeted assistance, and more. The report also highlights useful lessons for responses to future emergencies.

Recent Activity

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Policy Briefs
May 2007
By  Demetrios G. Papademetriou, Jeanne Batalova and Julia Gelatt
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Fact Sheets
May 2007
By  Julia Gelatt
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Reports
November 2006
By  Doris Meissner, Deborah W. Meyers, Demetrios G. Papademetriou and Michael Fix
cover FS14_MexicanBorninUSLaborForce
Fact Sheets
November 2006
By  Jeanne Batalova
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Fact Sheets
October 2006
By  Julia Gelatt and Deborah W. Meyers
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Policy Briefs
October 2006
By  Jeanne Batalova and Michael Fix

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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.

WatchingCity ICE

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.

Naturalization OldSalemInc Flickr

In 2015, 43.3 million immigrants lived in the United States, comprising 13.5 percent of the population. The foreign-born population grew more slowly than in prior years, up 2 percent from 2014. Get sought-after data on U.S. immigration trends, including top countries of origin, Mexican migration, refugee admissions, illegal immigration, health-care coverage, and much more in this Spotlight article.

NinthCircuit KenLund Flickr

The decision by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to halt President Trump's controversial executive order on immigration and refugee resettlement has strong legal parallels to an earlier injunction, which blocked a very different Obama administration initiative on immigration two years ago in a challenge mounted by Republican governors. The two cases have brought new focus to the limits of executive authority in the immigration arena.

Obama KellyKline Flickr

President Obama faced criticism over his administration's handling of immigration enforcement from both the left and the right, labeled "deporter in chief" even as he was also accused of lax enforcement. A closer examination of his administration's record paints a more nuanced picture. This article explores how immigration enforcement practices shifted to achieve two key goals over the course of the Obama era.

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MI_InvestingWiselyFuture
Video, Audio
March 27, 2013

With the prospects for immigration reform greater than they have been in more than a decade and the U.S. economy slowly shrugging off the effects of the recession, the United States may be on the cusp of historic changes that make the immigration system a more effective tool for innovation, economic growth and the competitiveness of its firms—large and small. 

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Video
March 26, 2013
MPI's President, Demetrios G. Papademetriou, and the Editor-in-Chief of The American Prospect, Kit Rachlis, engage in a lively Google Hangout discussion about the policies and politics that have created the United States' antiquated, inflexible immigration system and how to create a modern-day, flexible immigration system suited for the competitiveness of the 21st century.
MI_Pitfalls
Video, Audio
March 19, 2013

This discussion covers some of the most difficult issues that must be addressed if the United States is to reform its immigration system in ways that work not only for today’s reality but tomorrow’s future.

Testimony DP Mar2013
Video
March 14, 2013
Testimony of Demetrios G. Papademetriou, MPI President, before the Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security, Committee on the Judiciary, U.S. House of Representatives.
MI_FormidableMachinary
Video, Audio
January 7, 2013

MPI has released a major study that describes and analyzes today’s immigration enforcement programs, as they have developed and grown in the 25 years since IRCA launched the current enforcement era.

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Recent Activity

Video, Audio
October 7, 2019

With immigration a central plank of the Trump administration, the 16th annual Immigration Law and Policy Conference, held in October 2019, featured analysis by top experts regarding changing policies at the U.S.-Mexico border, narrowing of asylum, cooperation with migrant-transit countries, and actions that could reduce legal immigration, including revisions to the public-charge rule.

Articles

From online petitions to organized walkouts, corporate America is facing increasing employee activism over its business involvement with agencies implementing the federal government's immigration policies. This "cubicle activism," seen at companies ranging from Amazon and Google to Bank of America and Wayfair, has garnered mixed success to date, forcing divestiture from private prison contractors but fewer results in other contexts, as this article explores.

Articles

Growing numbers of African and Asian migrants are moving through Latin America, many hoping to reach the United States or Canada after expensive, arduous, and often dangerous journeys that can take months or even years. As more extracontinental migrants transit through South and Central America, Colombia, Panama, and Costa Rica have developed the most comprehensive policies to manage these flows, sometimes working in coordination with the U.S. government.

Articles

Nearly 50,000 asylum seekers have entered Canada irregularly via land crossing from the United States since spring 2017—contributing to a doubling in the overall number of asylum requests seen in 2016. Based on interviews with asylum claimants, this article analyzes their motivations for making the journey and the political implications of rising irregular migration to Canada.

Commentaries
October 2019

A new Trump administration action requiring intending immigrants to prove they can purchase eligible health insurance within 30 days of arrival has the potential to block fully 65 percent of those who apply for a green card from abroad, MPI estimates.

Articles

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.

Articles

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.

Commentaries
September 2019

Even as refugee admissions have dropped sharply during the Trump administration, some countries and religions have been significantly more affected than others, as this commentary explores. In fiscal year 2019, 79 percent of refugees were Christian and 16 percent Muslim—as compared to 44 percent Christian and 46 percent Muslim in fiscal year 2016, which was the last full year of the Obama administration.

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