E.g., 01/20/2022
E.g., 01/20/2022
U.S. Immigration Policy Program

U.S. Immigration Policy Program

Photo of U.S. President Joe Biden delivering remarks in front of White House.
Katie Ricks/White House

While Donald Trump’s presidency is perceived as being the most active on immigration, touching nearly every aspect of the U.S. immigration system, President Joe Biden’s administration has far outpaced his predecessor in the number of executive actions taken during his first year in office—even as the pace of change has gone largely unnoticed, as this article explores.

Organic Blue Corn from a farm in New Mexico
USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service New Mexico

There is increasing recognition that the United States, Mexico, and migrant-origin countries in Central America will need to work together to address the large-scale, irregular movement of people through the region. While it is critical to improve humanitarian protection for those in need, expanding legal opportunities to take up employment abroad is another part of this equation, as this policy brief explores.

Photo of woman walking around a school campus.
iStock.com/RyanJLane

The number of U.S. adults who could benefit from efforts to boost postsecondary credential attainment is strikingly large. Nearly 96 million working-age adults lack a postsecondary credential, 28 million of them of immigrant origin, MPI estimates. This commentary examines how enabling immigrant-origin adults to attain credentials beyond a high school diploma is vital to both building a skilled workforce and closing equity gaps.

U.S. Border Patrol agents prepare to process migrant encountered near Arizona
Jerry Glaser/U.S. Customs and Border Protection

While there were more encounters of migrants seeking to cross the U.S.-Mexico border without authorization during fiscal 2021 than any prior year, this does not necessarily mean that more migrants were intercepted or illicitly entered the country than was the case 21 years ago, a new commentary explains.

A family with Congolese, Angolan, and Brazilian members arriving in Panama after crossing the Darien Gap
© UNICEF/William Urdaneta

The number of African migrants traveling through South and Central America in hopes of reaching the U.S.-Mexico border, many seeking asylum, is small but increasing. This report examines the factors driving African migration through the Americas, common routes and challenges, and how transit countries are responding.

The U.S. and DHS flags
U.S. Department of Homeland Security

Nearly two decades since the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) was founded in 2003, U.S. immigration governance is buckling from breakdowns in performance across key immigration components and partner agencies. This report advances ideas for DHS to fix its governance to manage immigration as a system, focusing on challenges in mission and structure, intra-DHS and interdepartmental collaboration, funding, and institutional culture.

Recent Activity

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Articles
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Reports
September 2020
By  Randy Capps, Jodi Berger Cardoso, Kalina Brabeck, Michael Fix and Ariel G. Ruiz Soto
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Articles

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Policy Briefs
August 2016
By  Faye Hipsman, Bárbara Gómez-Aguiñaga and Randy Capps
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Policy Briefs
July 2016
By  Muzaffar Chishti and Stephen Yale-Loehr
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Reports
February 2016
By  Randy Capps, Heather Koball, James D. Bachmeier, Ariel G. Ruiz Soto, Jie Zong and Julia Gelatt
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Reports
January 2016
By  Marc R. Rosenblum and Faye Hipsman
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Fact Sheets
January 2016
By  Randy Capps, Michael Fix and Jie Zong
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Fact Sheets
January 2016
By  Marc R. Rosenblum and Isabel Ball
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Fact Sheets
November 2015
By  Jie Zong
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Fact Sheets
October 2015
By  Randy Capps and Michael Fix

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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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Approximately 11,500 unaccompanied children were apprehended at the U.S.-Mexico border in May, putting this year on track to exceed 2014's surge. As the U.S. government struggles to care for these child migrants, with public outrage mounting over reports of unsafe, filthy conditions in initial Border Patrol custody, the failure of the executive branch and Congress to plan for increased shelter and care demands are increasingly apparent, as this article explores.

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The United States has historically been the top country for refugee resettlement, but was surpassed in 2018 by Canada amid record cuts to admissions by the Trump administration. Approximately 22,500 refugees were resettled in the United States during fiscal year 2018, as well as 26,500 asylees. This article examines where these newcomers came from and many other characteristics, including religious affiliation, age, and gender.

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The Trump administration’s plan to create a "merit-based" U.S. immigration system, lessening the longstanding focus on family reunification in favor of more economic migrants, has met with a lackluster response from Democrats and Republicans alike. This Policy Beat article explores how the Trump proposal would reshape immigration to the United States, and how it compares to selection systems in other countries and past debates about changing the U.S. system.

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Approximately 530,000 foreign-born veterans of the U.S. armed forces resided in the United States in 2018, accounting for 3 percent of the 18.6 million veterans nationwide. Immigrant veterans tend to have higher education levels and household incomes compared to native-born veterans, and the vast majority are naturalized citizens, as this data-rich article explores.

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Video, Audio
January 27, 2017

As the Trump administration assumes office and the DACA program faces an uncertain future, University of California President Janet Napolitano; Donald Graham, cofounder of TheDream.Us; and Ike Brannon, Visiting Fellow at the CATO Institute join MPI's Doris Meissner for a discussion on the possible impacts of rescinding DACA, particularly in the areas of higher education, philanthropy, and the economy.  

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Video, Audio
December 7, 2016

A presentation of the first-ever U.S. estimates on the economic costs of brain waste for highly skilled immigrants, their families, and the U.S. economy. The researchers discuss their findings in terms of the billions of dollars in forgone earnings and unrealized taxes when college-educated immigrants are relegated to low-skilled work.

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Video, Expert Q&A
December 6, 2016

Nearly 2 million college-educated immigrants in the United States are stuck in low-skilled jobs or are unemployed—a phenomenon known as brain waste. In this brief video, MPI researchers discuss their key findings on immigrant skill underutilization and the resulting billions of dollars in unrealized wages and forgone federal, state, and local tax receipts.

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Video, Audio
October 20, 2016

A discussion featuring data on immigration trends and the agricultural workforce, and some of the adjustments that farm employers are making, including increased mechanization, improved wages and benefits, and the increased use of the H-2A program. University of California-Davis’s Phil Martin, along with researchers from the the U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Department of Labor, present their findings on the foreign agricultural workforce in the United States, which is followed by comments from the President of Farmworker Justice on some of the policy implications.

13th Annual Immigration Law  Policy keynotes
Video, Audio
September 28, 2016

The 13th annual Immigration Law & Policy Conference offered policy and legal analysis on key immigration topics, including: the election and the future of immigration policy; refugee resettlement in the United States; immigration detention and enforcement; and the impacts of the Supreme Court opinion in the important U.S. vs Texas case

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Recent Activity

Commentaries
October 2020

The Trump administration's changes to the H-1B visa program are the most significant in three decades, promising to end the practice of replacing U.S. workers with highly skilled immigrants. While the problems the administration has identified and the interest in protecting U.S. workers are legitimate ones, its approach may cripple the H-1B program itself, as this commentary explains.

Articles

In the United States, Republicans and Democrats are deeply divided on immigration. President Donald Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden have offered sharply diverging policy positions, and the outcome of the election is sure to have profound consequences for the U.S. immigration system. Yet this partisan divide is relatively new. Just two decades ago, the parties were much more united on immigrants’ role in the U.S. economy and society.

Articles

Nearly 13 million immigrants have a four-year college degree or better. But these highly educated immigrants are not spread evenly throughout the labor market. They make up disproportionate shares of certain jobs, especially in the science and technology fields, accounting for 45 percent of software developers, 42 percent of physical scientists, and 29 percent of physicians. Yet there are signs that the trends of this population might be changing, as this article explores.

Video, Audio, Webinars
September 10, 2020

Top legal scholars discuss the Trump administration’s substantial use of executive power to change the country’s course on immigration, how this compares to past administrations, and how the president’s role in immigration policy could be carefully considered and reimagined.

Articles

The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the effects of the so-called digital divide for U.S. immigrants and other groups with reduced online connectivity. Internet access and the skills to navigate digital environments have become even more critical for work, education, and health care during the public-health crisis, yet immigrants make up a disproportionately large share of U.S. residents unable to take advantage of these tools.

Reports
September 2020

This study explores the relationship between immigration enforcement and the mental health of Latino high school students, finding that majorities surveyed in both high- and low-enforcement environments reported fear that someone close to them could be deported, with resulting symptoms of conditions such as depression and PTSD. The report provides examples of how schools are responding to support the mental health and engagement of these students.

Video, Audio, Webinars
August 26, 2020

This conversation, featuring a former U.S. Census Bureau director and other top experts, examines how the many challenges facing the 2020 Census could affect the count and representation of immigrant communities, the difficulties inherent in data matching to determine legal status, and the legal and constitutional issues surrounding the administration’s actions.

Articles

The United States is the top global destination for Haitian migrants, who left Haiti in the wake of political instability and a series of natural disasters, including a 2010 earthquake that devastated the country. Haitian immigrants in the United States contribute an important flow of remittances to their country of origin, which is the second largest in the world as a percentage of gross domestic product (GDP). Remittances to Haiti have increased nearly sixfold since 2000.

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