E.g., 11/29/2022
E.g., 11/29/2022
U.S. Immigration Policy Program

U.S. Immigration Policy Program

A crowd of people outside a food pantry
iStock.com/Massimo Giachetti

Immigrants in the United States experience strong economic mobility overall. But for some, limited educational attainment and English proficiency, and the challenges of restarting life in a new country, can result in low incomes and economic hardship. This fact sheet looks at the origins, states of residence, demographic and socioeconomic characteristics, and employment of low-income immigrants.

Photo of individuals re-entering Mexico after U.S. expulsion
Jerry Glaser/U.S. Customs and Border Protection

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.

A young woman operating an industrial drilling machine
iStock.com/Omar Osman

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.

Aerial views of Worthington, MN, and Houston, TX
iStock.com/Jacob Boomsma & iStock.com/simonkr

U.S. cities and towns have responded to COVID-19 in ways that are as diverse as the communities they aim to support. This report looks at how two very different locations—Worthington, MN, and the greater Houston area—incorporated immigrants into their relief efforts, through partnerships, strategic outreach, targeted assistance, and more. The report also highlights useful lessons for responses to future emergencies.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and other leaders at the 2022 Summit of the Americas
Freddie Everett/State Department

The Los Angeles Agreement on Migration and Protection signed by leaders from 20 countries across the Western Hemisphere at the 2022 Summit of the Americas marks a significant step forward in creating a common language and a coherent set of ideas for more cooperatively managing migration movements across a region that has seen very significant mobility in recent years, as this commentary explains.

Three health-care workers wearing blue protective masks and gowns
iStock/Juanmonino

The COVID-19 pandemic and associated economic recession have affected the lives of all U.S. residents, but immigrants have been among the hardest hit, with evidence of disproportionately high rates of death as well as a particularly high spike in unemployment. This report takes a look back at how the COVID-19 crisis has affected U.S. immigration policies and levels and the country’s immigrant communities.

Recent Activity

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Articles
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Commentaries
February 2021
By  Doris Meissner and Sarah Pierce
President Joe Biden signs executive orders on immigration in the White House.
Articles
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Commentaries
February 2021
By  Jeanne Batalova and Michael Fix
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Articles
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Reports
February 2021
By  Jessica Bolter, Muzaffar Chishti and Doris Meissner
Joe Biden attends a pre-election event in Nevada.
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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
coverthumb Syrian Factsheet
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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HealthWorkers_Flickr_JakeGreenbergUSPacificFleet

Immigrants make up a disproportionately high number of U.S. health-care workers, from doctors and nurses to home health aides. In 2018, more than 2.6 million immigrants worked in the U.S. health-care field. In the face of the coronavirus pandemic, immigrants have played a key role in the frontline response. This article explores the demographics of this group of essential workers by occupation, origin, language, education, and more.

ImmigrantFarmWorker_LauraElizabethPohl_Bread fortheWorld

On the frontlines of responding to the COVID-19 pandemic yet also more disproportionately affected by the virus and with reduced health-care access, immigrants in the United States have largely found themselves blocked from federal economic relief. As states and philanthropic groups seek to plug the gap, this article examines conditions and changing policies around immigration and the coronavirus response.

A young Venezuelan girl

Until recently, the Venezuelan immigrant population in the United States was relatively small compared others from South America. But it has grown significantly, reaching 394,000 in 2018, as Venezuela's destabilization has driven large-scale emigration. Compared to other immigrants in the United States, Venezuelans have higher levels of education but are also more likely to live in poverty, as this Spotlight explores.

TravellersCoronavirus_FlickrChadDavis

The global COVID-19 pandemic has brought into sharp focus the intersection of U.S. immigration and public health policy, and the unique challenges that immigrants face. This article analyzes the Trump administration’s introduction of some of the most stringent immigration restrictions in modern times, the often disparate fallout of the outbreak on immigrant communities, the status of federal immigration agency operations, and more.

Digital fingerprint

As governments seek to push their borders out by amassing ever more data on travelers and migrants, their creation of increasingly complex border surveillance systems and use of risk-assessment technologies could ease mobility for some while rendering other groups immobile based on hypothetical risk profiles and decisions that are not publicly known and cannot be challenged, as this article explores.

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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

DACA 5
Video, Audio
August 11, 2016

Marking the fourth anniversary of the implementation of the DACA program, this webinar presents findings on the most current estimates of potential DACA beneficiaries, trends in requests and application rates, and discussion of recent policy and political developments.

Event PH 2016.4.14 DAPA Supreme Court webinar   Rally at Supreme Court majunzk flickr
Video, Audio
April 14, 2016

Experts provide legal analysis ahead of the April 18th U.S. Supreme Court oral argument on the fate of President Obama’s Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents program, explore who makes up the affected population, and examine the potential immediate and long-term implications of this case on immigrant families in the United States.

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Recent Activity

Articles

Nearly one-third of all immigrants in the United States come from Asia, and Asian countries such as India, China, and the Philippines are the origin for a growing number of foreign-born U.S. residents. Compared to overall immigrants and the U.S. born, the foreign born from Asia tend to earn higher incomes, work in management jobs, and have higher levels of education, as this article explores.

Commentaries
February 2021

The Biden administration's challenge to dismantle Trump-era barriers to asylum at the U.S.-Mexico border is akin to fixing a plane while flying it. This commentary examines actions taken to date and articulates a series of steps that could help establish an effective, humane asylum system that works in tandem with border management goals and efforts to reduce the drivers of migration through regional migration management measures with neighboring countries.

Articles

President Joe Biden has grand ambitions to reshape the U.S. immigration system, but his administration has run into early stumbling blocks in rolling back the strict enforcement regime of his predecessor. Administrative resistance, a tangled web of legal agreements signed by the Trump administration, and anxieties about a possible uptick in immigrants and asylum seekers at the border have posed early challenges to Biden’s agenda.

Commentaries
February 2021

The DREAM Act of 2021 could represent one of the narrower legalization measures with better prospects for passage in a narrowly divided Congress. MPI's latest estimates of the DREAMers who could gain conditional and then permanent legal status are offered here, as are the share of DREAMers who feature in another ongoing conversation, around essential workers in the U.S. labor market overall as well as in the health-care sector.

Articles

Have a question about U.S. immigration trends and the country's immigrant population? This article collects in one place the most sought-after information about the world's largest immigrant population and how it has changed over time. Drawing from a wide array of authoritative data sources, this article provides an up-to-date snapshot of the immigrant population, visa and enforcement statistics, and information on emerging trends, including slowing immigration and changing origins.

Video, Webinars
February 4, 2021

Following President Biden's call on Congress to enact a sweeping immigration proposal that offers most unauthorized immigrants a pathway to citizenship, this discussion examines the prospects for any legislative efforts at immigration reform, what bipartisan support might develop, and the various legalization policy options. The event also showcases MPI estimates of subgroups within the unauthorized population, including DREAMers and essential workers. 

Reports
February 2021

With legalization of the U.S. unauthorized immigrant population back on the table, this report offers estimates and characteristics for subgroups that have particularly strong equities, including DREAMers, Temporary Protected Status (TPS) recipients, and parents and spouses of U.S. citizens. It also traces past legalizations and details the range and scope of legalization options that policymakers have.

Articles

The Biden administration has set the pace for what could be the most active first 100 days on immigration policy by any White House in recent memory—even that of predecessor Donald Trump. The efforts, which represent a dramatic break from the Trump administration's view of immigration as threat, are likely to meet stiff opposition on Capitol Hill and elsewhere. This article evaluates Biden's early actions and what they suggest about the White House's ambitions on immigration.

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