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

Reports
August 2019
By  Randy Capps, Doris Meissner, Ariel G. Ruiz Soto, Jessica Bolter and Sarah Pierce
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

Pages

Reports
January 2016
By  Marc R. Rosenblum and Faye Hipsman
Fact Sheets
January 2016
By  Randy Capps, Michael Fix and Jie Zong
Fact Sheets
January 2016
By  Marc R. Rosenblum and Isabel Ball
Fact Sheets
November 2015
By  Jie Zong
Fact Sheets
October 2015
By  Randy Capps and Michael Fix
Reports
September 2015
By  Randy Capps, Heather Koball, Andrea Campetella, Krista Perreira, Sarah Hooker and Juan Manuel Pedroza
Reports
September 2015
By  Heather Koball, Randy Capps, Sarah Hooker, Krista Perreira, Andrea Campetella, Juan Manuel Pedroza, William Monson and Sandra Huerta

Pages

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.

Girl wearing flag

The United States is by far the world's top migration destination, home to roughly one-fifth of all global migrants. In 2016, nearly 44 million immigrants lived in the United States, comprising 13.5 percent of the country's population. Get the most sought-after data available on immigrants and immigration trends, including top countries of origin, legal immigration pathways, enforcement actions, health-care coverage, and much more.

Salvadoran family

The Trump administration’s announcement that it will end Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for nationals of Haiti, Nicaragua, and Sudan has brought unprecedented attention to the program and its future. Established in 1990, TPS offers work authorization and deportation relief to foreign nationals already in the United States unable to return to countries embroiled in conflict or the effects of a natural disaster. This Policy Beat explores past and current TPS designations and debates surrounding the program.

Supporters of the DREAM Act at a September 2017 march in Los Angeles.

The Trump administration’s decision to terminate the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) deportation-relief program launched in 2012 has sparked new urgency to find a longer-term fix for "DREAMers," the unauthorized immigrants brought to the United States as children. This Policy Beat article examines movement in the courts and in Congress on the DREAM Act and similar proposals, exploring likely paths forward.

Pages

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.

Video, Audio
January 13, 2016

This webinar offers a discussion of the economic, linguistic and educational disadvantage experienced by U.S. children with unauthorized immigrant parents. The MPI researchers discuss their finding that 86 percent of the 5.1 million such children in the United States have a parent who could potentially benefit from the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) program.

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. 

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.

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.

Pages

Recent Activity

Reports
August 2019

How did the U.S. border enforcement picture go in the span of two years from the lowest levels of illegal immigration since 1971 to a spiraling border security and humanitarian crisis? This report draws on enforcement and other data as well as analysis of changing migration trends and policies to tell this story. The authors outline key elements for a new strategy that can succeed over the long term.

Commentaries
July 2019

The U.S. government is operating accelerated dockets to handle the rising number of cases of families in immigration court. While it is essential to have timely, fair case processing and removal of those who have truly had their day in court and been found to be removable, using “rocket” dockets to speed up proceedings only heightens the breakdowns that are a recurring feature of the court system on its best day, as this commentary explains.

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.

Pages