E.g., 08/13/2020
E.g., 08/13/2020

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

Nancy Pelosi and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez
Articles
Commentaries
July 2019
By Andrew Selee, Silvia E. Giorguli-Saucedo, Claudia Masferrer, and Ariel G. Ruiz Soto
Commentaries
July 2019
By Andrew Selee, Silvia E. Giorguli-Saucedo, Claudia Masferrer, and Ariel G. Ruiz Soto
Border Patrol agents and child migrants
Articles

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Policy Briefs
April 2017
By Faye Hipsman and Doris Meissner
Policy Briefs
March 2017
By Sarah Pierce and Doris Meissner
Policy Briefs
February 2017
By Sarah Pierce and Randy Capps
Policy Briefs
February 2017
By Sarah Pierce and Doris Meissner
Fact Sheets
December 2016
By Ariel G. Ruiz Soto, Jeanne Batalova, and Michael Fix
Reports
December 2016
By Jeanne Batalova, Michael Fix, and James D. Bachmeier
Fact Sheets
October 2016
By Randy Capps and Ariel G. Ruiz Soto
Policy Briefs
August 2016
By Faye Hipsman, Bárbara Gómez-Aguiñaga, and Randy Capps

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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.

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.

Marine naturalization

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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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.  

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.

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.

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.

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

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.

Commentaries
July 2019

Dado el incremento de los flujos migratorios provenientes de Centroamérica, el pasado mes de junio de 2019, los Estados Unidos y México acordaron tomar una serie de medidas para reducir los flujos irregulares. Sin embargo, será muy difícil mantener estos esfuerzos de corto plazo, debido a una debilidad institucional crónica y a estructuras de política pública poco planificadas en ambos países. Este comentario ofrece cinco recomendaciones a ambos países considerando soluciones de mediano y largo plazo para disuadir la migración irregular y, al mismo tiempo, garantizar que aquellos que busquen protección tengan un proceso justo.

Commentaries
July 2019

Amid surging migration from Central America, the United States and Mexico in June 2019 agreed to a series of enforcement measures. Yet these near-term efforts will be difficult to maintain given chronic institutional weaknesses and poorly thought-out policy structures in both countries. This commentary, by the presidents of MPI and El Colegio de México, offers a set of long-term, collaborative solutions to dissuade illegal migration while ensuring fairness to those seeking protection.

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.

Articles

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.

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.

Commentaries
June 2019

While safe third-country agreements appear to hold the potential of deterring new asylum claims, experience suggests this may be a false promise. As the Trump administration explores the possibility of such agreements with Mexico and Guatemala, this commentary examines the evidence of safe third-country arrangements in Europe, finding them difficult to enforce and playing little role in deterring new claims.

Articles

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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