E.g., 06/07/2021
E.g., 06/07/2021
U.S. Immigration Policy Program

U.S. Immigration Policy Program

Man fills out immigration paperwork on a clipboard
iStock

The U.S. legal immigration system, last significantly updated by Congress in 1990, is profoundly misaligned with demographic and other realities—resulting in enormous consequences for the country and for its economy. This road map sketches the broad contours of some of the most needed reforms in the legal immigration system, made all the more urgent by U.S. population aging and changing labor market demands.

President Joe Biden speaks to journalists at the White House.
Adam Schultz/White House

During his first 100 days in office, U.S. President Joe Biden took more than three times as many executive actions on immigration as predecessor Donald Trump. While rising encounters at the U.S.-Mexico border have captured major attention, Biden has been remarkably active in areas that have received far less attention, including interior enforcement. This article explores the administration's actions during its first three months.

A health-care provider places a bandage on the injection site of a patient who just received a vaccine.
Lauren Bishop/CDC

The U.S. health-care workforce came under incredible strain during the COVID-19 pandemic. Longer-term trends—including the aging and increasing diversity of the U.S. population, and health-care worker retirement—are also shaping demand for services and the supply of health workers. This issue brief looks at how the skills and expertise of underutilized immigrant and refugee health professionals in the United States can be better leveraged to meet these challenges.

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Glenn Fawcett/U.S. Customs and Border Protection

The increase in unaccompanied child arrivals at the U.S.-Mexico border in February and March has led to backups and overcrowding at U.S. Customs and Border Protection facilities ill-suited to house children, in part due to earlier significant reductions in Office of Refugee Resettlement shelter capacity during 2020. This commentary explores preparedness shortfalls and the options the Biden administration has moving forward.

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Mani Albrecht/U.S. Customs and Border Protection

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.

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Bread for the World

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.

Recent Activity

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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
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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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Reports
September 2015
By  Randy Capps, Heather Koball, Andrea Campetella, Krista Perreira, Sarah Hooker and Juan Manuel Pedroza
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Reports
September 2015
By  Heather Koball, Randy Capps, Sarah Hooker, Krista Perreira, Andrea Campetella, Juan Manuel Pedroza, William Monson and Sandra Huerta

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The Trump administration’s latest effort to narrow the ability to apply for asylum at the U.S.-Mexico border hit a legal roadblock within days of implementation, as has been the pattern for much of its immigration agenda. This article examines the actions on asylum, which alongside deployment of active-duty military to the border, are among measures taken to seek to reduce the flow of Central Americans to the United States.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Video, Audio
December 15, 2015

An MPI Leadership Visions discussion with the Foreign Minister of Mexico, Claudia Ruiz-Massieu, for her first public appearance in Washington, DC. 

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Webinars
December 11, 2015

A webinar releasing a report examining deportations to Central America and reception and reintegration services in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras.

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Video, Audio
December 8, 2015

A discussion marking the 25th anniversary of the 1990 Immigration Act, where experts examinine the history of the legislation, how it was accomplished politically, and the stakeholders and issues that were critical to its passage.

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Video, Audio
December 1, 2015

A discussion on the U.S. EB-5 program, the motivations underpinning recent changes to other investor visa programs in North America, Europe, and elsewhere, and the implications for the future direction of these programs. 

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Video, Audio
October 29, 2015

This annual discussion offered political and policy analysis on key immigration topics, including family detention, unaccompanied child migrants, executive action, and the presidential campaigns, along with featured keynotes by Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson and United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres.  

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Recent Activity

Policy Briefs
November 2019

Latinos and immigrants are at least twice as likely to lack health insurance coverage as the overall population in the Kansas City metropolitan area. This gap that has significant implications for the region, as Latinos and immigrants will form an ever-growing share of the area’s labor force and tax base amid anticipated declines in the native-born, non-Latino population.

Video, Audio
October 7, 2019

With immigration a central plank of the Trump administration's policy agenda, the 16th annual Immigration Law and Policy Conference, held in October 2019, featured analysis by top experts in and out of government regarding changing policies implemented at the U.S.-Mexico border, narrowing of asylum, cooperation with migrant-transit countries, and actions that could reduce legal immigration, including revisions to the public-charge rule.

Articles

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.

Articles

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.

Articles

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.

Commentaries
October 2019

A new Trump administration action requiring intending immigrants to prove they can purchase eligible health insurance within 30 days of arrival has the potential to block fully 65 percent of those who apply for a green card from abroad, MPI estimates.

Articles

With a backlog of more than 1 million removal cases, the U.S. immigration court system is in crisis. Pressure from external forces, internal challenges, and lagging resources for the courts at a time of massive increases in spending on immigration enforcement have contributed to the backlog. This article explores how the system got to the breaking point, and what opportunities for reform exist.

Articles

Buoyed by initial successes challenging Trump administration immigration actions such as the travel ban in federal court, many critics expected the judiciary to act as a brake on major changes to the immigration system. Yet the Supreme Court has repeatedly shown a willingness to affirm the executive branch's immigration policies, most recently permitting what is arguably the most significant asylum policy change in four decades to proceed.

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