E.g., 01/27/2021
E.g., 01/27/2021

U.S. Immigration Policy Program

U.S. Immigration Policy Program

The U.S. Justice Department building in Washington, DC
iStock.com/wingedwolf

Among the many executive action tools the Trump administration used to significantly rewrite U.S. immigration policy is an obscure but powerful legal authority known as the attorney general’s referral and review. This report examines how this power’s use and impact have changed over time, deep-rooted concerns about it that predate the Trump administration but that have grown due to its more frequent use, and ways to improve it going forward.   

Margaret W. Nea for Bread for the World

The pandemic-recovery stimulus package that passed Congress in December rectified what many had viewed as a significant oversight in the earlier CARES Act: Its exclusion of U.S. citizens and legal immigrants in mixed-status families. MPI researchers estimate nearly 3 million U.S. citizens and legal immigrants excluded from the earlier legislation can receive the later relief, as well as qualify retroactively for the CARES Act payment, as this commentary explores.

iStock

Researchers, service providers, and others have long predicted that sweeping revisions by the Trump administration to the definition of who constitutes a public charge would deter large numbers of immigrant-led households from using federal means-tested public benefits for which they are eligible. Recently released Census Bureau data show they were right: During the administration's first three years, program participation declined twice as fast among noncitizens as citizens.

Map of the United States from the MPI Migration Data Hub
MPI

After decades of growth, the number of unauthorized immigrants in the United States has remained largely stable since the 2008–09 recession. The group's demographics are changing, though, with a shrinking number of Mexicans and rising Asian and Central American arrivals. This fact sheet presents a profile of these 11 million individuals, including top origin countries; U.S. destinations; and age, education, job, income, home ownership, English proficiency, and other characteristics.

Todd Jordan/Centers for Disease Control

With the U.S. health-care system buckling under the resurgent COVID-19 outbreak, policymakers could undertake efforts to enable skilled, underemployed international health-care professionals to practice. This would both make the health system more resilient and flexible, as well as introduce critical language and cultural skills important during the contact-tracing and vaccine rollout phases of the pandemic response, as this commentary explores.

Worker cleans hotel room
LanaStock/iStock

Working-age immigrant women in the United States entered the COVID-19-induced recession with unemployment rates similar to those of other groups. Yet they have been among the most affected by pandemic-related job losses. This fact sheet seeks to explain why they have been hit so hard by the coronavirus-induced recession.

 

Recent Activity

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Reports
April 2019
By  Mark Greenberg, Randy Capps, Andrew Kalweit, Jennifer Grishkin and Ann Flagg
Immigrant-Origin Adults without Postsecondary Credentials: A 50-State Profile
Fact Sheets
March 2019
By  Jeanne Batalova and Michael Fix
Policy Briefs
January 2019
By  Andrew Selee, Jessica Bolter, Betilde Muñoz-Pogossian and Miryam Hazán
Policy Briefs
January 2019
By  Andrew Selee, Jessica Bolter, Betilde Muñoz-Pogossian and Miryam Hazán
Reports
January 2019
By  Ariel G. Ruiz Soto, Rodrigo Dominguez-Villegas, Luis Argueta and Randy Capps
Reports
December 2018
By  Mark Greenberg, Julia Gelatt, Jessica Bolter, Essey Workie and Isabelle Charo
Policy Briefs
November 2018
By  Randy Capps, Mark Greenberg, Michael Fix and Jie Zong

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Map of state consent or lack of consent for refugee resettlement

Forty-two governors, Republican and Democrat alike, have affirmed their consent for continued refugee resettlement, bypassing an invitation from the Trump administration to stop accepting refugees. These actions, which reportedly surprised the White House, suggest there may be limits to the Trump immigration agenda when it comes to refugees, as this Policy Beat explores.

DACA rally in front of Supreme Court

The fate of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program has ping ponged between all three branches of government. But with the Supreme Court poised to decide DACA's future in spring 2020, Congress may finally be forced to act to resolve the status of DREAMers after nearly two decades of considering various DREAM Act bills. Could this break the long stalemate Congress has had on passing substantive immigration legislation, and pave the way for other actions?

Protesters outside GEO Group detention facility

From online petitions to organized walkouts, corporate America is facing increasing employee activism over its business involvement with agencies implementing the federal government's immigration policies. This "cubicle activism," seen at companies ranging from Amazon and Google to Bank of America and Wayfair, has garnered mixed success to date, forcing divestiture from private prison contractors but fewer results in other contexts, as this article explores.

Boats along a river in the Darien Gap, Panama

Growing numbers of African and Asian migrants are moving through Latin America, many hoping to reach the United States or Canada after expensive, arduous, and often dangerous journeys that can take months or even years. As more extracontinental migrants transit through South and Central America, Colombia, Panama, and Costa Rica have developed the most comprehensive policies to manage these flows, sometimes working in coordination with the U.S. government.

Asylum seekers cross into Canada

Nearly 50,000 asylum seekers have entered Canada irregularly via land crossing from the United States since spring 2017—contributing to a doubling in the overall number of asylum requests seen in 2016. Based on interviews with asylum claimants, this article analyzes their motivations for making the journey and the political implications of rising irregular migration to Canada.

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Video, Audio
April 16, 2019

Over recent months, the number of Central American migrants apprehended at the U.S.-Mexico border has surged, presenting a critical challenge in the relationship between the two neighboring countries. Experts from a Study Group on U.S.-Mexico Migration convened by El Colegio de México and MPI discuss current trends, policies, and politics surrounding migration from the Northern Triangle of Central America and the U.S.-Mexico relationship, ways to improve U.S. and Mexican asylum systems, possible new approaches to labor migration, ways to address smuggling networks, and modernize border management.

International vs. National Protection for Refugees Event - David Fitzgerald
Video, Audio
April 10, 2019

MPI's Kathleen Newland, Refugee Council USA's Mary Giovagnoli, and David Scott FitzGerald, author of Refuge beyond Reach, discuss how and why international and national responses to the rising challenge of refugee displacement are diverging.

Video, Audio
March 8, 2019

This webinar discusses the first-ever profile of the 30 million immigrant-origin adults in the United States who lack a postsecondary credential and offers analysis of the significant payoff credentials could bring in terms of workforce participation and wages.

Olga Sánchez Cordero
Video, Audio
February 28, 2019

On her first official trip to Washington, DC, Secretary of the Interior Olga Sánchez Cordero offered a public address on Mexico’s new approach to migration policy at MPI. Her remarks and the event discussion were mostly conducted in Spanish, and this recording is of the simultaneous English interpretation. 

Video, Audio
January 16, 2019

This MPI webinar focuses on reception and reintegration services for returning migrants, along with the heightened pressure policymakers in Mexico and Central America are facing to design systems and programs that support both returnees and the communities in which they settle.

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Recent Activity

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 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. The conversation, featuring a former USCIS Director, also draws on a national survey of naturalization assistance providers.

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

Following months of rising Central American migration through Mexico to the United States, the U.S. and Mexican governments on June 7, 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 it has sparked. 

Policy Briefs
June 2020

El acuerdo de cooperación migratoria firmado por los gobiernos de México y Estados Unidos en junio de 2019 marcó el comienzo de un intenso período de cambio en las políticas mexicanas, con efectos en su frontera compartida. Un año después, el informe examina cambios en los sistemas de control migratorio y protección humanitaria de México. También explora cómo la pandemia del COVID-19 ha afectado la frontera y destaca oportunidades para el desarrollo de políticas en el futuro.

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