E.g., 01/31/2023
E.g., 01/31/2023
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
July 2010
By  Jeanne Batalova and Margie McHugh
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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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Marine naturalization

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.

American SeanDavis Flickr crop

The United States is by far the world's top migration destination, home to roughly one-fifth of all global migrants. In 2016, nearly 44 million immigrants lived in the United States, comprising 13.5 percent of the country's population. Get the most sought-after data available on immigrants and immigration trends, including top countries of origin, legal immigration pathways, enforcement actions, health-care coverage, and much more.

Salvadoran family

The Trump administration’s announcement that it will end Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for nationals of Haiti, Nicaragua, and Sudan has brought unprecedented attention to the program and its future. Established in 1990, TPS offers work authorization and deportation relief to foreign nationals already in the United States unable to return to countries embroiled in conflict or the effects of a natural disaster. This Policy Beat explores past and current TPS designations and debates surrounding the program.

Supporters of the DREAM Act at a September 2017 march in Los Angeles.

The Trump administration’s decision to terminate the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) deportation-relief program launched in 2012 has sparked new urgency to find a longer-term fix for "DREAMers," the unauthorized immigrants brought to the United States as children. This Policy Beat article examines movement in the courts and in Congress on the DREAM Act and similar proposals, exploring likely paths forward.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents take a man into custody.

Making good on campaign promises to toughen immigration enforcement, the Trump administration has acted swiftly to cast a wider net in the U.S. interior. The actions represent a sea change in enforcement practice, moving from a tight focus on high-priority individuals to an era in which all unauthorized immigrants may be subject to deportation. This article explores the shifts undertaken during President Trump's first six months.

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EventPH 2014.02.27 A Treacherous Journey   Child Migrants Navigating the U.S. Immigration System
Video, Audio
February 27, 2014

This panel discussion on unaccompanied minors focuses on a report by Kids in Need of Defense and the Center for Gender & Refugee Studies at UC Hastings College of the Law, whose primary conclusion is that children face a U.S. immigration system created for adults that is not required to consider the child’s best interests.

EventPH 2014.02.19 A Transatlantic Conversation Managing Migration in the Era of Mobility2
Video, Audio
February 19, 2014

This discussion explores how the 2014 Greek Presidency of the European Union and the United States can work to address the challenges of managing migration while meeting humanitarian obligations and nurturing economic growth.

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.

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Recent Activity

Commentaries
April 2020

In a time of critical shortages of U.S. health-care workers during the COVID-19 pandemic, retired doctors are being called back to work and medical students are graduating on a fast track. There is another important pool that could be tapped: Immigrants and refugees who have college degrees in health fields but are working in low-skilled jobs or out of work. MPI estimates 263,000 immigrants are experiencing skill underutilization and could be a valuable resource.

Expert Q&A, Audio
March 31, 2020

Governments are facing urgent pandemic-related questions. One of the more pressing ones: Who is going to harvest crops in countries that rely heavily on seasonal foreign workers? In this podcast, MPI experts examine ways in which countries could address labor shortages in agriculture, including recruiting native-born workers and letting already present seasonal workers stay longer. Catch an interesting discussion as border closures have halted the movement of seasonal workers even as crops are approaching harvest in some places.

Fact Sheets
March 2020

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.

Articles

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.

Video, Audio, Webinars
March 24, 2020

This webinar, organized by MPI and the Zolberg Institute on Migration and Mobility at The New School, discussed migration policy responses around the globe in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and examined where migration management and enforcement tools may be useful and where they may be ill-suited to advancing public health goals. 

Video, Audio, Webinars
March 5, 2020

On this webinar, MPI experts discussed the public-charge rule and released estimates of the populations that could be deemed ineligible for a green card based on existing benefits use. They examined the far larger consequences of the rule, through its "chilling effects" and imposition of a test aimed at assessing whether green-card applicants are likely to ever use a public benefit in the future. And they discussed how the latter holds the potential to reshape legal immigration to the United States. 

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.

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