E.g., 02/27/2021
E.g., 02/27/2021

U.S. Immigration Policy Program

U.S. Immigration Policy Program

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.

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.

A U.S. green card and work authorization card
iStock.com/brazzo

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.

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.

Recent Activity

Reports
January 2019
By  Ariel G. Ruiz Soto, Rodrigo Dominguez-Villegas, Luis Argueta and Randy Capps
Commentaries
January 2019
By  Doris Meissner and Sarah Pierce
Articles
U.S. Marine secures barbed-wire fencing at the California-Mexico border.
Articles
Reports
December 2018
By  Mark Greenberg, Julia Gelatt, Jessica Bolter, Essey Workie and Isabelle Charo

Pages

Policy Briefs
February 2011
By  Marc R. Rosenblum
Policy Briefs
January 2011
By  Marc R. Rosenblum, Randy Capps and Serena Yi-Ying Lin
Reports
January 2011
By  Randy Capps, Marc R. Rosenblum, Muzaffar Chishti and Cristina Rodríguez
Policy Briefs
December 2010
By  Donald M. Kerwin
Fact Sheets
December 2010

Pages

Growing rapidly from a population of 90,000 in 1960 to nearly 3 million in 2014, South American immigrants now represent 7 percent of all foreign born in the United States. Family-based immigration is the primary pathway for all South American groups, ranging from 45 percent of Venezuelan immigrants to 97 percent of those from Guyana.

The complex push and pull factors driving child and family migration from Central America to the United States have changed little since the 2014 crisis. Despite some fluctuation in arrival numbers, recent trends suggest the characteristics of an enduring phenomenon. This Policy Beat explores the latest developments in U.S. policy responses, including enforcement operations, development assistance, and family detention.

Passed with minimal controversy and public debate, the 2016 spending bill included some of the most substantial immigration policy changes enacted by Congress in the last decade. The changes touched on aspects including temporary worker visas, visa security, and the immigration courts, and could signal a new strategy for legislative change to the immigration system.

President Obama actively utilized the powers of the executive to reshape U.S. immigration policy in 2015. From signature deportation relief programs and changes to visa waiver eligibility to new grants of Temporary Protected Status and revised enforcement priorities, the administration made sweeping changes that touch all aspects of U.S. immigration policy. The actions prompted pushback, however, with 26 states suing to halt implementation of new deferred action programs.

The Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled to maintain an injunction on President Obama's signature deferred action programs and the timing of the administration's Supreme Court appeal will prove critical amid the 2016 election campaign. This Policy Beat also explores a federal judge's decision not to block a Texas policy refusing to issue birth certificates to the U.S.-born children of unauthorized parents. Should the policy be upheld, it could open the door for further limitations on birthright citizenship.

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Video, Audio
June 24, 2014

This MPI panel discussion focuses on a toolkit by the Women's Refugee Commission to provide detained and deported immigrants as well as unauthorized immigrant mothers and fathers with crucial information to protect and maintain their parental rights and make well-informed decisions regarding the care and welfare of their children.

Video, Audio
April 29, 2014

This MPI panel discussion examines the U.S. deportation system with analysis on migrant apprehensions, removals, returns, and criminal prosecutions, and launches the report, "The Deportation Dilemma: Reconciling Tough and Humane Enforcement."

Video, Audio
March 12, 2014

This event with UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres features findings from UNHCR’s report, Children on the Run, which examines the increasing numbers of children from Central America and Mexico who head off alone to find refuge in the United States, fleeing violence, insecurity, and abuse.

Video, Audio
February 27, 2014

This panel discussion on unaccompanied minors focuses on a report by Kids in Need of Defense and the Center for Gender & Refugee Studies at UC Hastings College of the Law, whose primary conclusion is that children face a U.S. immigration system created for adults that is not required to consider the child’s best interests.

Video, Audio
February 19, 2014

This discussion explores how the 2014 Greek Presidency of the European Union and the United States can work to address the challenges of managing migration while meeting humanitarian obligations and nurturing economic growth.

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Recent Activity

Video, Audio, Webinars
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. Authors of a year-long study of reception and reintegration services in Mexico and the Northern Triangle discuss the findings of their fieldwork.

Reports
January 2019

Reception and reintegration programs for deported and other returning migrants represent a long-term investment for migrant-origin and destination countries, holding the potential to reduce re-migration and permit communities of origin to benefit from the skills migrants learn abroad. This report offers recommendations to make reintegration programs more effective in Mexico and Central America.

Commentaries
January 2019

What President Trump calls a border crisis is in fact a crisis in the asylum system—one worsened at every turn by his administration’s harsh policies and rhetoric. Rather than spend $5.7 billion on a wall, it would be far more effective to use the money to retool an overwhelmed asylum system, adapt outmatched border enforcement infrastructure to respond to the changing composition of arrivals, and work cooperatively with Mexico to tackle the factors propelling Central Americans to flee.

Articles

2018 proved a banner year for far-right populist movements in Europe and the Americas. They claimed the presidency of Brazil, sparked the collapse of the Belgian government, and—whether in or out of office—put a harder-edged stamp on migration and asylum policies in Austria, Denmark, Hungary, Italy, Sweden, and beyond.

Articles

The Trump administration took sweeping action in 2018 to slow legal immigration, make life harder for some immigrants already in the United States, rebuff would-be asylum seekers, and reduce refugee resettlement. Shaping a narrative of crisis at the border, the administration significantly changed the U.S. asylum system, deployed troops and tear gas, and separated families—yet Central American migrants continued to arrive.

Articles

Hardline migration and asylum policies in the United States and Australia in 2018 hit turbulence when their effects on the most vulnerable—young children—provoked widespread public revulsion and prompted a retreat, at least temporarily. Still, public outcry over the treatment of child migrants and asylum seekers often runs up against the intractability of the problems facing governments and the lack of good solutions.

Video, Audio, Webinars
December 13, 2018

On this webinar, MPI researchers and Utah and Colorado refugee coordinators explore promising practices to better serve refugee families, including education services for refugee youth, innovative efforts to secure better jobs for adult refugees, and other services designed to aid integration over time. They also discuss the potential for implementing and supporting two-generation approaches to refugee integration at a time when the system’s funding and capacity are in peril.  

Reports
December 2018

At a time when the U.S. refugee resettlement system is facing unprecedented challenges, innovative and cost-effective tools for supporting refugee integration are in demand. This report explores how a two-generation approach to service provision could help all members of refugee families—from young children to working-age adults and the elderly—find their footing.

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