E.g., 03/09/2021
E.g., 03/09/2021

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

Cover for COVID fact sheet on unemployment of immigrant women in U.S.
Fact Sheets
November 2020
By  Julia Gelatt, Jeanne Batalova and Randy Capps
President Donald Trump speaks at an event in Arizona.
Articles
At the Starting Gate: The Incoming Biden Administration’s Immigration Plans
Policy Briefs
November 2020
By  Doris Meissner and Michelle Mittelstadt
A soccer fan displays a mix of regalia from the United States and Mexico at the 2010 FIFA World Cup.
Articles
Federal immigration officers make an arrest during an operation in Virginia.
Articles

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COVID-19 and Unemployment: Assessing the Early Fallout for Immigrants and Other U.S. Workers
Fact Sheets
June 2020
By  Randy Capps, Jeanne Batalova and Julia Gelatt
Policy Briefs
November 2019
By  Randy Capps and Ariel G. Ruiz Soto
Reports
September 2019
By  Andrew Selee, Silvia E. Giorguli-Saucedo, Ariel G. Ruiz Soto and Claudia Masferrer
Reports
September 2019
By  Andrew Selee, Silvia E. Giorguli-Saucedo, Ariel G. Ruiz Soto and Claudia Masferrer

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Two women use their laptops

The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the effects of the so-called digital divide for U.S. immigrants and other groups with reduced online connectivity. Internet access and the skills to navigate digital environments have become even more critical for work, education, and health care during the public-health crisis, yet immigrants make up a disproportionately large share of U.S. residents unable to take advantage of these tools.

Drummers at an event in the Little Haiti neighborhood of Miami

The United States is the top global destination for Haitian migrants, who left Haiti in the wake of political instability and a series of natural disasters, including a 2010 earthquake that devastated the country. Haitian immigrants in the United States contribute an important flow of remittances to their country of origin, which is the second largest in the world as a percentage of gross domestic product (GDP). Remittances to Haiti have increased nearly sixfold since 2000.

Protesters at a rally in Minneapolis call for abolishing ICE

Calls by activists to "defund the police," in the wake of a string of deadly encounters for Black community members, echo earlier demands to "abolish ICE" and reflect broader criticism of enforcement systems perceived as overly aggressive. Budgets have ballooned at federal immigration agencies and within the immigrant detention system as enforcement has become increasingly muscular in the post-9/11 period.

People celebrating a Cuban Day Parade

Cuban immigration to the United States has slowed in recent years, rising by 2 percent from 2017 to 2018. Overall, Cubans represent 3 percent of all immigrants in the United States. Compared to the overall foreign- and U.S.-born populations, Cuban immigrants are less likely to be proficient in English, have lower educational attainment, and earn lower household incomes. Learn more about the 1.3 million Cuban immigrants in the United States with this data-rich article.

President Trump signs an immigration proclamation at the White House

The U.S. in April became the first country to explicitly justify immigration curbs not on grounds of COVID-19, but to protect the jobs of U.S. workers at a time of skyrocketing unemployment. A Trump administration proclamation limiting green cards for new arrivals was greeted coolly by the president's base, with many expecting the White House would issue new limits for nonimmigrant workers—which could have a more significant impact.

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Commentaries
March 2019
By  Julia Gelatt
Commentaries
January 2019
By  Doris Meissner and Sarah Pierce
Commentaries
November 2018
By  Doris Meissner
Commentaries
September 2018
By  Julia Gelatt, Michael Fix and Jennifer Van Hook
Commentaries
August 2018
By  Jeanne Batalova, Michael Fix and Mark Greenberg
Commentaries
June 2018
By  Jessica Bolter and Doris Meissner
Commentaries
June 2018
By  Jessica Bolter and Sarah Pierce
Commentaries
June 2018
By  Julia Gelatt and Ariel G. Ruiz Soto

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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.

Video, Audio
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
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.

Video, Audio
January 23, 2020

On this webinar, experts and state refugee resettlement program leaders discuss activities that can be key parts of a broader strategy for sustaining and improving employment services for refugees, including partnerships with experts in workforce development strategies, access to federal workforce development funding, and other policies and resources.

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, inc

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Recent Activity

Fact Sheets
November 2020

Working-age immigrant women in the United States entered the COVID-19-induced recession with unemployment rates similar to those of other groups. Yet they have been among the most affected by pandemic-related job losses. This fact sheet seeks to explain why they have been hit so hard by the coronavirus-induced recession.

 

Reports
November 2020

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.

Articles

Despite a widespread perception that the Trump administration has drastically slashed legal immigration to the United States, a review of the data shows that temporary and permanent admissions during the period mostly followed previous trends—at least until the COVID-19 pandemic hit. This article examines trends in temporary, permanent, and humanitarian admissions during the administration, and the related policies that could take a more significant bite ahead if left unchanged.

Video, Audio, Webinars
November 17, 2020

What does it mean to “secure the homeland” in the 21st century? And how do the Department of Homeland Security's immigration and border security missions figure into the equation? Top security experts assess DHS’s evolution and how it organizes its operations and migration management. They also offer recommendations on how to improve U.S. homeland security.
 

Video, Expert Q&A, Audio
November 9, 2020

What actions might the incoming Biden administration take on immigration, whether to unwind some of the most restrictive Trump policies or advance an affirmative agenda of its own? And what challenges and opportunities will the Biden administration face? MPI experts analyze the campaign pledges and prospects ahead, for everything from reversing the Remain in Mexico program and cuts to legal immigration, ending border wall construction, and reviving DACA and refugee resettlement, as well as new policies such as legalization.

Policy Briefs
November 2020

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.

Articles

The nearly 11 million Mexican immigrants in the United States represent almost one-quarter of the country’s entire immigrant population, and as such are the largest foreign-born group. But their numbers have been declining, shrinking by 7 percent between 2010 and 2019. Among recently arrived immigrants, those from China and India now outpace Mexicans for the first time.

Articles

Before entering office, President Donald Trump promised to deport millions of unauthorized immigrants. Yet despite his general successes in creating a more restrictive and punitive immigration system, this goal has eluded his administration. So-called “sanctuary” policies implemented by state and local governments to limit their cooperation with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement have been a key reason why arrests and removals have not reached earlier peaks.

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