E.g., 02/23/2024
E.g., 02/23/2024
U.S. Immigration Policy Program

U.S. Immigration Policy Program

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.

CBP officers screen border crossers at the San Ysidro Port of Entry
Jerry Glaser/CBP

All eyes are on the U.S.-Mexico border, where shifting migration trends and record migrant arrivals have stretched the U.S. border management system beyond its capabilities. As the Biden administration continues to implement its new regime of incentives for orderly arrivals and disincentives for unauthorized crossings, this report analyzes the rapidly changing policy and migration realities and outlines recommendations for a more effective, durable system of border control.

Aerial photo of the U.S. Capitol
Architect of the Capitol

The $13.6 billion border emergency supplemental spending bill the Biden administration is seeking lays out the elements for resourcing immigration functions to full capacity across the entire border enforcement system. Without resourcing the system across all its parts, including adjudications and management, no administration, present or future, will be able to effectively manage spontaneous border arrivals, this commentary argues.

Recent Activity

A mariachi band performing in Scottsdale, Arizona.
Articles
Cover image for Diverging Pathways
Policy Briefs
October 2022
By  Jeanne Batalova and Michael Fix
Attorney General William Tong
Multimedia
September 20, 2022
Texas Governor Greg Abbott speaks before a briefing on border security.
A tourist takes a selfie in New York City.
Articles
Image of the hands of two people at a desk going over paperwork
Commentaries
September 2022
By  Jonathan Beier and Essey Workie
 Close-up image of passport with third gender X marker

Pages

Coverthumb MPI Noncitizens Military
Policy Briefs
May 2019
By  Muzaffar Chishti, Austin Rose and Stephen Yale-Loehr
Coverthumb HighlySkilledMexicans TX
Fact Sheets
May 2019
By  Ariel G. Ruiz Soto and Andrew Selee
Coverthumb MPI ImmigrationIssues2019
Reports
May 2019
By  Doris Meissner and Julia Gelatt
Coverthumb UnauthorizedImmigrant HS Graduates FactSheet
Fact Sheets
April 2019
By  Jie Zong and Jeanne Batalova
Coverthumb ImmigrantFamiliesChildWelfare
Reports
April 2019
By  Mark Greenberg, Randy Capps, Andrew Kalweit, Jennifer Grishkin and Ann Flagg
Coverthumb MPIPostsecondaryCredentials FactSheet
Fact Sheets
March 2019
By  Jeanne Batalova and Michael Fix

Pages

U.S. immigration officials walk by a courthouse in Seattle.

New Biden administration guidelines encourage immigration prosecutors to support dismissing many low-priority deportation cases and focus on criminals, threats to national security, and other priorities. This move could have a major impact on clearing backlogs in the overstretched U.S. immigration court system, resulting in quicker determinations in removal and asylum cases, where wait times can presently stretch for years.

A teacher leads a lesson on the Korean alphabet in a U.S. dual-language immersion class

Immigrants from the Korean peninsula are one of the ten largest foreign-born groups in the United States, but their numbers have actually shrunk in recent years. Immigrants from Korea tend to be older, better educated, and earn higher incomes than the overall immigrant and native-born populations.

U.S. Border Patrol agents prepare to transport unauthorized migrants to Mexico under Title 42.

The United States’ controversial Title 42 migrant expulsions policy will come to an end in May 2022, after more than 1.7 million expulsions over two years. The COVID-19-era public-health restriction ushered in an unprecedented period of mass expulsions, including of would-be asylum seekers, at the U.S.-Mexico border. Unwinding the policy will be complicated amid predictions of a significant increase in unauthorized migration.

An image of an immigration boarding line.

Need information about U.S. immigration trends or the makeup of the country's immigrant population? This useful, stats-rich article answers the most common questions about the size, shape, and changing nature of the U.S. foreign-born population. It also offers data on immigration enforcement actions, backlogs, and other elements of the U.S. immigration system.

A construction crew works on a wall the U.S.-Mexico border.

The number of border walls globally has multiplied at a rapid clip, from fewer than five at the end of World War II to more than six dozen now, with more under construction. Most of the world's border fortifications have been built since the turn of the millennium, and are intended to accomplish a range of functions. This article charts the remarkable growth and normalization of border walls globally.

Pages

Cecilia Munoz and Carlos Gutierrez
Video, Audio
August 12, 2019

This discussion marked the launch of MPI's Rethinking U.S. Immigration Policy Initiative, which aims to generate a big-picture, evidence-driven vision of the role immigration should play in America’s future, as well as to build a bipartisan center so needed reforms can be enacted.

FOR WEB IMG_0496
Video
July 9, 2019

This event features a smart conversation by a range of experts on U.S.-Mexico border conditions, looking at policy responses by both countries and regional cooperation.

EVENTPHOTO2019.6.25 CharlesKamasaki DorisMeissner
Video, Audio
June 26, 2019

This discussion on the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) showcases MPI Fellow Charles Kamasaki's book, Immigration Reform: The Corpse That Will Not Die. Kamasaki is joined by other veterans of the IRCA debate for a conversation on the lessons, the intended and unintended consequences, and how the law’s legacy has shaped contemporary politics on immigration.

2019.5.17EVENTPHOTO
Video, Audio
May 17, 2019

With the U.S. administration calling for the United States to adopt a more “merit-based” immigrant selection system, this conversation focused on what policymakers should consider in designing—and managing—immigrant selection systems in a time of intense labor-market and demographic change.

2019.5.17   EVENT PHOTO Mexicans in Texas
Video, Audio
May 9, 2019

At this discussion, experts from MPI and Southern Methodist University’s Texas-Mexico Center offer an overview of trends and key characteristics of highly skilled Mexican adults at the national level and for Texas, including educational levels by legal status and top industries of employment across Texas metro areas. They also discuss the policy implications of these findings.

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Recent Activity

Commentaries
October 2022

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.

Articles

Mexicans are by far the largest immigrant group in the United States, accounting for nearly one-fourth of all immigrants. However their numbers have been declining and in 2021 there were 1 million fewer than a decade ago. At the same time, despite years in which more new migrants came from China and India, Mexicans once again count as the largest group of new arrivals. This article outlines the changing shape and composition of this immigrant population.

Policy Briefs
October 2022

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.

Video, Webinars
September 20, 2022

Focusing on top immigration policy issues at federal and state levels, this 2022 Immigration Law and Policy Conference featured keynotes by Connecticut Attorney General William Tong and Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson exploring the growing role states are taking in the national immigration debate. Multimedia of the day's panel discussions will be posted later.

Articles

Operations by Texas, Florida, and Arizona to bus or fly asylum seekers and other migrants to Washington, DC, Martha's Vineyard, and other cities have succeeded in drawing attention to the unprecedented pace of U.S.-Mexico border arrivals. Described by some as political pawns, many migrants say the trips have upsides. Consequences aside, the transport of migrants by Republican governors raises the question whether a new era has begun: state-on-state fights over immigration.

Articles

COVID-19 and restrictive policies from the Trump administration led to the most dramatic slowdown of temporary immigration to the United States in years, as fewer tourists, temporary workers, and international students arrived. This article reviews the trends in issuance of nonimmigrant visas and arrivals of temporary visitors, including the numbers issued annually over the past five years and the top countries of origin.

Commentaries
September 2022

The Biden administration public-charge final rule undoes deep restrictions imposed during the Trump era, codifying much of the policy in place from 1999 to 2019. Yet confusion and fear over triggering negative immigration consequences will continue to keep many immigrants and their U.S.-born relatives from accessing benefits and services for which they are eligible absent a robust educational campaign, this commentary explains.

Articles

In 2022, the United States joined a growing list of countries that allow for a third gender option (the “X” marker) in passports. This article examines the introduction of the X marker, the impacts of third gender markers for transgender and nonbinary travelers and migrants as well as border management systems, and the evolving policy landscape ahead.

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