E.g., 01/28/2021
E.g., 01/28/2021

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

Digital fingerprint
Commentaries
March 2020
By  Randy Capps, Julia Gelatt and Mark Greenberg
Commentaries
March 2020
By  Natalia Banulescu-Bogdan, Meghan Benton and Susan Fratzke
A man says goodbye to his partner through the border fence
Flags fly at the Chicago airport
Articles
Map of state consent or lack of consent for refugee resettlement
Articles

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Fact Sheets
October 2017
By  Jeanne Batalova, Ariel G. Ruiz Soto, Sarah Pierce and Randy Capps
Fact Sheets
October 2017
By  Jeanne Batalova, Ariel G. Ruiz Soto and Michelle Mittelstadt
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

Pages

Migrants on a boat

Remain in Mexico—the Trump administration policy aimed at deterring the rising numbers of migrants from Central America by requiring them to stay in Mexico through most of their U.S. asylum adjudication process—bears striking similarities to U.S. policy in the 1980s and 1990s that sought to discourage Haitians from making the sea journey to the United States. This article explores the parallels and differences between Remain in Mexico and the earlier narrowing of asylum for Haitians.

People take photos of the Statue of Liberty.

Immigrant arrivals to the United States and the makeup of the foreign-born population have been changing in significant ways: Recent immigrants are more likely to be from Asia than from Mexico and the overall immigrant population is growing at a slower rate than before the 2008-09 recession. This useful article collects in one place some of the most sought-after statistics on immigrants in the United States.

Eloy Detention Center

Though a faceoff between the U.S. executive and legislative branches is now in the courts, with President Trump's decision to declare a national emergency so he can allocate more money for construction of a border wall, a less-noted dispute has been taking place over the Department of Homeland Security's decision to add thousands more immigration detention beds than Congress provides annually, as this article explains.

Caribbean Day dancers

Caribbean immigrants represent 10 percent of the 44.5 million immigrants in the United States, with the vast majority coming from just five countries: Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Haiti, and Trinidad and Tobago. Depending on their origin country and period of arrival, immigrants from the Caribbean have varying skill levels, racial composition, language background, and motivations for migration, as this article explores.

A man holds a sign protesting the travel ban at an airport

Two years after the Trump administration’s much-litigated travel ban was created, the policy has demonstrated a significant impact on the admission of foreigners from the banned countries, while also reshaping U.S. security vetting procedures and the refugee resettlement process in enduring ways, as this article explores on the second-year anniversary.

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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

Audio
April 24, 2017

As the 100-day milestone for the Trump administration approaches, MPI's Doris Meissner and Muzaffar Chishti are joined by the former Director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Julie Myers Wood, and former DHS Assistant Secretary for Policy and Planning C. Stewart Verdery for a discussion of the administration's track record to date on immigration, the policies articulated in its executive orders, legal challenges, reactions by publics and policymakers, and the possible long-term effects of these policies.

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Recent Activity

Articles

As governments seek to push their borders out by amassing ever more data on travelers and migrants, their creation of increasingly complex border surveillance systems and use of risk-assessment technologies could ease mobility for some while rendering other groups immobile based on hypothetical risk profiles and decisions that are not publicly known and cannot be challenged, as this article explores.

Commentaries
March 2020

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.

Commentaries
March 2020

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.

Articles

Through a set of interlocking policies, the Trump administration has walled off the asylum system at the U.S.-Mexico border, guaranteeing that only a miniscule few can successfully gain protection. While the Migrant Protection Protocols, more commonly known as Remain in Mexico, have been a key part of throttling asylum applications, two newer, far less visible programs hold the potential to complete the job, as this article explores.

Articles

Interested in answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about immigration and immigrants in the United States? This incredible resource collects in one place top statistics from authoritative government and nongovernmental sources, offering a snapshot of the immigrant population, visa and enforcement statistics, and data on emerging trends, including the slowing of growth of the foreign-born population, changing origins, and increasing educational levels.

Articles

Forty-two governors, Republican and Democrat alike, have affirmed their consent for continued refugee resettlement, bypassing an invitation from the Trump administration to stop accepting refugees. These actions, which reportedly surprised the White House, suggest there may be limits to the Trump immigration agenda when it comes to refugees, as this Policy Beat explores.

Video, Audio, Webinars
January 23, 2020

On this webinar, experts and state refugee resettlement program leaders discuss activities that can be key parts of a broader strategy for sustaining and improving employment services for refugees, including partnerships with experts in workforce development strategies, access to federal workforce development funding, and other policies and resources.

Commentaries
December 2019

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.

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