E.g., 08/05/2020
E.g., 08/05/2020

U.S. Immigration Policy Program

U.S. Immigration Policy Program

President Trump emerges from the White House to deliver remarks
Delano Scott/White House

Now into its fourth year, the Trump administration has reshaped the U.S. immigration system in ways big and small via presidential proclamations, policy guidance, and regulatory change. This report offers a catalog of the more than 400 administrative changes undertaken in areas such as immigration enforcement, humanitarian admissions, DACA, and visa processing—including a look at measures put in places since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

U.S. Census Bureau

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.

Dr.Farouk/Wikimedia

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.

Immigrants at a U.S. naturalization ceremony
Jetta Disco/DHS

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.

Gulbenk/Wikimedia Commons

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.

INM officials at the Mexico-US border
Mexican National Institute of Migration
The migration cooperation agreement signed by the Mexican and U.S. governments in June 2019 ushered in an intense period of policy change in Mexico, with effects at their shared border. One year on, this brief takes stock of changes in Mexico’s immigration enforcement and asylum systems. It also explores how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected the border and highlights opportunities for future policy development.

Recent Activity

Group of women and girls pose with Honduran flag
Articles
Policy Briefs
August 2019
By Pia M. Orrenius, Madeline Zavodny, and Stephanie Gullo
Policy Briefs
August 2019
By Harry J. Holzer
Commentaries
August 2019
By Jeanne Batalova, Michael Fix, and Mark Greenberg
Policy Briefs
August 2019
By Doris Meissner
Reports
August 2019
By Randy Capps, Doris Meissner, Ariel G. Ruiz Soto, Jessica Bolter, and Sarah Pierce
Nancy Pelosi and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez
Articles

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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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2018 proved a banner year for far-right populist movements in Europe and the Americas. They claimed the presidency of Brazil, sparked the collapse of the Belgian government, and—whether in or out of office—put a harder-edged stamp on migration and asylum policies in Austria, Denmark, Hungary, Italy, Sweden, and beyond.

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.

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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

While much attention has been paid to recent Central American arrivals at the U.S.-Mexico border, nearly half of the approximately 3.5 million Central Americans resident in the United States in 2017 arrived before 2000. About one-third are naturalized U.S. citizens, and they tend to participate in the labor force at a higher rate than foreign- and U.S.-born adults. Discover more about this population in this data-rich article.

Policy Briefs
August 2019

The U.S. economy is facing an uncertain future as an aging workforce, stagnating labor force participation, skill mismatches, and automation reshape the labor market. This issue brief explores these forces and the role that immigration could play in supporting future U.S. economic growth. It also examines how immigration affects workers already in the country, both native born and immigrant.

Policy Briefs
August 2019

In the coming decades, the U.S. labor market will undergo major transformation. Automation, an aging workforce, and alternative staffing practices will change how, where, and by whom work is done. This think piece, by a former chief economist for the U.S. Labor Department, explores how immigrant workers fit into this changing landscape, and what immigration and workforce policy changes could help maximize their contributions to the U.S. economy.

Commentaries
August 2019

The public-charge rule issued by the Trump administration in August 2019 will have profound effects on future immigration and on use of public benefits by millions of legal noncitizens and their U.S.-citizen family members. Complex standards for determining when an immigrant is likely to become a public charge could cause a significant share of the nearly 23 million noncitizens and U.S. citizens in benefits-using immigrant families to disenroll, as this commentary explains.

Policy Briefs
August 2019

The U.S. immigration system is in desperate need of an overhaul. What has been missing is an alternate vision for a path forward that treats immigration as a strategic resource while also accounting for heightened security and rule-of-law imperatives, which together can further U.S. interests, values, and democratic principles as a society. This concept note outlines a new MPI initiative, Rethinking U.S. Immigration Policy, that seeks to fill this gap.

Reports
August 2019

How did the U.S. border enforcement picture go in the span of two years from the lowest levels of illegal immigration since 1971 to a spiraling border security and humanitarian crisis? This report draws on enforcement and other data as well as analysis of changing migration trends and policies to tell this story. The authors outline key elements for a new strategy that can succeed over the long term.

Commentaries
July 2019

The U.S. government is operating accelerated dockets to handle the rising number of cases of families in immigration court. While it is essential to have timely, fair case processing and removal of those who have truly had their day in court and been found to be removable, using “rocket” dockets to speed up proceedings only heightens the breakdowns that are a recurring feature of the court system on its best day, as this commentary explains.

Articles

Ideological differences in the Democratic Party over immigration that were once masked by unity against President Trump’s border wall and immigration agenda are now being exposed as Democratic presidential candidates seek to stand out in a crowded field and amid controversy over an emergency border spending bill. As the 2020 electoral calendar accelerates, how the party navigates the gulf between its most liberal and conservative wings will become a greater challenge for its leaders.

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