E.g., 06/19/2024
E.g., 06/19/2024
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

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Commentaries
July 2020
By  Randy Capps, Jennifer Van Hook and Julia Gelatt
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Fact Sheets
July 2020
By  Jeanne Batalova, Michael Fix and Sarah Pierce
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Reports
July 2020
By  Randy Capps and Carlos Echeverría-Estrada
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Commentaries
June 2020
By  Sarah Pierce and Doris Meissner
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Articles

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Policy Briefs
January 2006
By  Susan Martin
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Policy Briefs
January 2006
By  Deborah W. Meyers
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Policy Briefs
November 2005
By  Marc R. Rosenblum
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Fact Sheets
November 2005
By  Julia Gelatt and Deborah W. Meyers
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Fact Sheets
November 2005
By  David Dixon and Julia Gelatt
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Policy Briefs
November 2005
By  Kevin Jernegan

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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.

Protest at an immigration detention facility

With the #AbolishICE movement catching fire among some on the left, critics of the Trump administration's immigration policies have seized on U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) as their main target—even condemning it for actions taken by other agencies. This article explores the evolution of ICE and resistance to it, as well as actions taken by the agency itself that have made its mission even more controversial.

A boy peers through fencing at the U.S.-Mexico border.

Frustrated by an uptick in migrant apprehensions at the U.S.-Mexico border in recent months, the Trump administration unveiled a set of sweeping changes, aiming to prosecute for federal immigration crimes every migrant apprehended crossing illegally. The policy will likely be hindered by legal challenges and capacity limitations, as this article explores.

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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.

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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.

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Video
April 26, 2011
The conference offered law and policy analysis and discussion on cutting-edge immigration issues. Featured panelists included high-ranking government officials, academics, advocates, and other immigration experts.
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Video
March 30, 2011

Doris Meissner, Director of the U.S. Immigration Policy Program at MPI, offers her knowledge and expertise regarding border security in this testimony before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.

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Video, Audio
March 14, 2011

This discussion focuses on the MPI report, "Executive Action on Immigration: Six Ways to Make the System Work Better," which outlines administrative actions that can be implemented to improve the immigration system.

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Video, Audio
January 31, 2011

287(g) programs have surged into the public consciousness in recent years. Now operating in 72 jurisdictions, the 287(g) program authorizes state and local law enforcement officers to screen people for immigration status, issue detainers to hold unauthorized immigrants on immigration violations, and begin the process of their removal from the United States.

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Video, Audio
January 13, 2011

In a report by MPI's Labor Markets Initiative, noted economist and Georgetown University Public Policy Institute Professor Harry J. Holzer examines the economic reasoning and research on these questions and looks at the policy options that shape the impact of less-skilled immigration on the economy. The discussion is on what policy reform would best serve native-born American workers, consumers, and employers, as well as the overall U.S. economy.

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Recent Activity

Commentaries
July 2020

The Trump administration's plan to exclude unauthorized immigrants from the 2020 Census data used to reapportion 435 congressional seats among the 50 states could misclassify as many as 20 million U.S. citizens, as the result of expected data-matching errors. The effects of this exclusion could be most pronounced in low-income urban and rural communities, reducing their voting power relative to more affluent ones, as this commentary explains.

Fact Sheets
July 2020

Across the United States, the skills of an estimated 263,000 immigrants and refugees with health-related degrees are going underutilized during a time of pandemic, with these health professionals either in low-skilled jobs or out of work. This fact sheet offers the first-ever state profiles of this population, including the states in which they live, the languages they speak, their fields of study, and legal statuses.

Video, Audio, Webinars
July 16, 2020

Marking the launch of a report on changed USCIS procedures that appear to be adding hurdles to the citizenship process, this discussion featuring a former USCIS Director also examines the effects that the pandemic-related shutdown and a possible furlough of two-thirds of USCIS staff could have on the ability of would-be Americans to take the oath of citizenship.

Reports
July 2020

For the 9 million immigrants eligible to become U.S. citizens, changed naturalization adjudication practices and an agency mission shift undertaken by the Trump administration appear to be posing new hurdles. This report analyzes a survey of naturalization assistance providers from across the country, examining changes in how U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services interviews applicants, conducts the English and civics tests, requests additional evidence, and more.

Articles

Calls by activists to "defund the police," in the wake of a string of deadly encounters for Black community members, echo earlier demands to "abolish ICE" and reflect broader criticism of enforcement systems perceived as overly aggressive. Budgets have ballooned at federal immigration agencies and within the immigrant detention system as enforcement has become increasingly muscular in the post-9/11 period.

Commentaries
June 2020

Citing coronavirus-related disruptions, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services urged Congress to provide $1.2 billion to address its severe budget shortfall. Without this emergency infusion, the agency warned it might have to furlough up to 80 percent of its staff by mid-July 2020. Yet a deeper look at USCIS operations shows it was facing serious budget problems long before the pandemic—ones that are the logical results of actions undertaken by the Trump administration.

Articles

Cuban immigration to the United States has slowed in recent years, rising by 2 percent from 2017 to 2018. Overall, Cubans represent 3 percent of all immigrants in the United States. Compared to the overall foreign- and U.S.-born populations, Cuban immigrants are less likely to be proficient in English, have lower educational attainment, and earn lower household incomes. Learn more about the 1.3 million Cuban immigrants in the United States with this data-rich article.

Video, Audio, Webinars
June 8, 2020

Amid rising Central American migration to the United States, the U.S. and Mexican governments in June 2019 signed a joint declaration pledging to work together to manage and reduce irregular migration. At the agreement’s one-year anniversary, MPI researchers engaged in discussion with former U.S. and Mexican Ambassadors and a veteran journalist about the changes sparked. 

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