E.g., 11/23/2020
E.g., 11/23/2020

U.S. Immigration Policy Program

U.S. Immigration Policy Program

Aerial view of Juarez, Mexico and El Paso, Texas
U.S. Customs and Border Protection

Addressing regional cooperation around migration will be among the immigration challenges and opportunities facing the incoming Biden administration. This report examines how movement between the United States, Mexico, and Central America has evolved in recent decades, and lays out a four-part strategy to expand opportunities for legal migration, address humanitarian protection needs, improve enforcement, and mitigate some of the forces driving people to emigrate.

Joe Biden speaking with supporters in Henderson, Nevada
Gage Skidmore

Joe Biden pledged during his campaign to reverse some of the most restrictive immigration actions undertaken during Donald Trump’s four years in office. While some actions can be undone with the stroke of a pen, others will take more time. This policy brief outlines the incoming administration’s top immigration priorities, examines challenges and opportunities ahead, and previews MPI policy ideas that could improve the immigration system and advance the national interest.

U.S. Border Patrol agents conduct an operation near Sasabe, Arizona
Jerry Glaser/U.S. Customs and Border Protection

Consistent with its world view of immigration as threat, the Trump administration has shut down meaningful access to asylum at the U.S.-Mexico border, expelled more than 205,000 arrivals during the pandemic, and constructed hundreds of miles of border barriers. Yet these strategies cannot succeed over the long term, given realities. This road map sketches what an effective border management system would look like.

A National Cancer Institute technician working in a lab
Daniel Sone/National Cancer Institute

Immigrants and their U.S.-born children are key drivers of U.S. labor force growth. As some occupations grow and others decline, this report explores how these immigrant-origin workers fit within the changing world of work. It examines the degree to which workers from different racial/ethnic groups hold growing and declining jobs, and what changes in the mix of jobs mean for workforce development and immigration policy.

Penn State students studying
Penn State

Immigrants and the children of immigrants make up a large and growing segment of students at U.S. colleges and universities—up from 20 percent in 2000 to 28 percent in 2018. This fact sheet offers a first-of-its-kind profile of this population’s size and growth, identifies the top states for these students, and explores characteristics such as race/ethnicity and immigration status.

Headway/Unsplash

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.

Recent Activity

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Reports
July 2018
By  Sarah Pierce, Jessica Bolter and Andrew Selee
Reports
May 2018
By  Randy Capps, Muzaffar Chishti, Julia Gelatt, Jessica Bolter and Ariel G. Ruiz Soto
Policy Briefs
April 2018
By  Kate Hooper and Brian Salant
Policy Briefs
March 2018
By  Sarah Pierce and Julia Gelatt

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Group of women and girls pose with Honduran flag

While much attention has been paid to recent Central American arrivals at the U.S.-Mexico border, nearly half of the approximately 3.5 million Central Americans resident in the United States in 2017 arrived before 2000. About one-third are naturalized U.S. citizens, and they tend to participate in the labor force at a higher rate than foreign- and U.S.-born adults. Discover more about this population in this data-rich article.

Mujeres y la bandera de Honduras

Si bien se ha prestado mucha atención a los centroamericanos recién llegados a la frontera entre los Estados Unidos y México, casi la mitad de los aproximadamente 3.5 millones que vivían en los Estados Unidos en 2017 llegaron antes de 2000. Aproximadamente un tercio son ciudadanos estadounidenses y tienden a participar en la fuerza laboral con más frecuencia que otros extranjeros y estadounidenses. Descubra más en este artículo lleno de datos.

Nancy Pelosi and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

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.

Border Patrol agents and child migrants

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.

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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Francis Cissna keynotes 15th Annual Immigration Law and Policy Conference
Video, Audio
October 1, 2018

At the 15th annual Immigration Law and Policy Conference, held in October 2018, leading experts and government officials discussed the role that immigration is playing in the mid-term elections; how the courts are handling key immigration questions; and recent changes in the U.S. asylum system, border and interior enforcement, and regulations surrounding legal immigration.   

Video, Audio
September 27, 2018

Speakers, including report authors, discuss the findings from an MPI report that analyzes the factors that have brought the U.S. asylum system to a crisis point.

Video
September 5, 2018

A book discussion with author and veteran journalist Alfredo Corchado, MPI President Andrew Selee, and other experts on the nature of U.S.-Mexico immigration and the role of Mexican immigrants in the United States.

Video, Audio
July 12, 2018

Experts on this Spanish language webinar examine the operation of today’s interior immigration enforcement system and how state and local governments, civil society, and consulates are responding.    

Video, Audio
June 12, 2018

This webinar highlights findings from an MPI report examining the potential impacts of expected changes to the public charge rule by the Trump administration. Leaked draft versions suggest the rule could sharply expand the number of legally present noncitizens facing difficulty getting a green card or extending a visa as a result of their family's use of public benefits. The rule likely would discourage millions from accessing health, nutrition, and social services for which they or their U.S.-citizen dependents are eligible.

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Recent Activity

Expert Q&A, Audio
March 31, 2020

Governments are facing urgent pandemic-related questions. One of the more pressing ones: Who is going to harvest crops in countries that rely heavily on seasonal foreign workers? In this podcast, MPI experts examine ways in which countries could address labor shortages in agriculture, including recruiting native-born workers and letting already present seasonal workers stay longer. Catch an interesting discussion as border closures have halted the movement of seasonal workers even as crops are approaching harvest in some places.

Fact Sheets
March 2020

Six million immigrant workers are at the frontlines of keeping U.S. residents healthy and fed during the COVID-19 pandemic, representing disproportionate shares of physicians, home health aides, and retail-store pharmacists, for example. They also are over-represented in sectors most immediately devastated by mass layoffs, yet many will have limited access to safety-net systems and to federal relief, as this fact sheet details.

Articles

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.

Video, Audio, Webinars
March 24, 2020

This webinar, organized by MPI and the Zolberg Institute on Migration and Mobility at The New School, discussed migration policy responses around the globe in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and examined where migration management and enforcement tools may be useful and where they may be ill-suited to advancing public health goals. 

Video, Audio, Webinars
March 5, 2020

On this webinar, MPI experts discussed the public-charge rule and released estimates of the populations that could be deemed ineligible for a green card based on existing benefits use. They examined the far larger consequences of the rule, through its "chilling effects" and imposition of a test aimed at assessing whether green-card applicants are likely to ever use a public benefit in the future. And they discussed how the latter holds the potential to reshape legal immigration to the United States. 

Articles

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.

Commentaries
March 2020

While the Trump administration public-charge rule is likely to vastly reshape legal immigration based on its test to assess if a person might ever use public benefits in the future, the universe of noncitizens who could be denied a green card based on current benefits use is quite small. That's because very few benefit programs are open to noncitizens who do not hold a green card. This commentary offers estimates of who might be affected.

Commentaries
March 2020

Travel bans, border closures, and other migration management tools did not prove effective at blocking COVID-19 from spreading across international borders. Yet as governments have shifted from containment to mitigation with the coronavirus now in community transmission in many countries, these restrictions are a logical part of the policy toolkit in the context of social distancing and restricting all forms of human movement, as this commentary explores.

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