E.g., 06/25/2020
E.g., 06/25/2020

U.S. Immigration Policy Program

U.S. Immigration Policy Program

Three health professionals wearing masks in a hospital
Erwin Jacob Miciano/U.S. Indo-Pacific Command

As millions of U.S. workers lose jobs and the health insurance associated with them, Medicaid and similar programs are increasingly important for people seeking COVID-19 testing and treatment. Yet many low-income uninsured noncitizens, including green-card holders, are excluded from such programs because of their immigration status, as this fact sheet explores.

CBP officers at the National Targeting Center
Glenn Fawcett/U.S. Customs and Border Protection

The U.S. government has made important progress in shoring up weaknesses at the nexus of immigration and national security since September 11, 2001. But as new threats emerge and evolve—including public-health emergencies such as the COVID-19 pandemic—the question is whether the post-9/11 system is up to the task of meeting these challenges, as this report explores.

Ryan M. Breeden/U.S. Pacific Fleet

In a time of critical shortages of U.S. health-care workers during the COVID-19 pandemic, retired doctors are being called back to work and medical students are graduating on a fast track. There is another important pool that could be tapped: Immigrants and refugees who have college degrees in health fields but are working in low-skilled jobs or out of work. MPI estimates 263,000 immigrants are experiencing skill underutilization and could be a valuable resource.

A doctor wearing a face mask performing a test
Radio Alfa/Flickr

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.

Tacoma Community House

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.

Dipartimento Protezione Civile

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.

Recent Activity

Reports
September 2019
By Andrew Selee, Silvia E. Giorguli-Saucedo, Ariel G. Ruiz Soto, and Claudia Masferrer
Mujeres y la bandera de Honduras
Articles
Group of women and girls pose with Honduran flag
Articles
Policy Briefs
August 2019
By Pia M. Orrenius, Madeline Zavodny, and Stephanie Gullo
Policy Briefs
August 2019
By Harry J. Holzer
Commentaries
August 2019
By Jeanne Batalova, Michael Fix, and Mark Greenberg
Policy Briefs
August 2019
By Doris Meissner

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Policy Briefs
April 2018
By Kate Hooper and Brian Salant
Policy Briefs
March 2018
By Sarah Pierce and Julia Gelatt
Reports
March 2018
By Jeanne Batalova, Andriy Shymonyak, and Michelle Mittelstadt
Reports
January 2018
By Sarah Pierce, Jessica Bolter, and Andrew Selee
Policy Briefs
December 2017
By Sarah Pierce and Andrew Selee
Fact Sheets
November 2017
By Jie Zong, Ariel G. Ruiz Soto, Jeanne Batalova, Julia Gelatt, and Randy Capps

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Two men in military attire stand with a veteran

Approximately 530,000 foreign-born veterans of the U.S. armed forces resided in the United States in 2018, accounting for 3 percent of the 18.6 million veterans nationwide. Immigrant veterans tend to have higher education levels and household incomes compared to native-born veterans, and the vast majority are naturalized citizens, as this data-rich article explores.

President Trump and a Customs and Border Patrol officer stand together

Though it has achieved success in some areas, the Trump administration’s many efforts to stiffen immigration enforcement in the U.S. interior and at the Southwest border are being consistently stymied by court injunctions, existing laws and settlements, state and local resistance, congressional pushback, and migration pressures that are beyond the government’s ability to swiftly address, as this article explores.

Migrants on a boat

Remain in Mexico—the Trump administration policy aimed at deterring the rising numbers of migrants from Central America by requiring them to stay in Mexico through most of their U.S. asylum adjudication process—bears striking similarities to U.S. policy in the 1980s and 1990s that sought to discourage Haitians from making the sea journey to the United States. This article explores the parallels and differences between Remain in Mexico and the earlier narrowing of asylum for Haitians.

People take photos of the Statue of Liberty.

Immigrant arrivals to the United States and the makeup of the foreign-born population have been changing in significant ways: Recent immigrants are more likely to be from Asia than from Mexico and the overall immigrant population is growing at a slower rate than before the 2008-09 recession. This useful article collects in one place some of the most sought-after statistics on immigrants in the United States.

Eloy Detention Center

Though a faceoff between the U.S. executive and legislative branches is now in the courts, with President Trump's decision to declare a national emergency so he can allocate more money for construction of a border wall, a less-noted dispute has been taking place over the Department of Homeland Security's decision to add thousands more immigration detention beds than Congress provides annually, as this article explains.

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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.

Video, Audio
June 5, 2018

Marking the release of MPI President Andrew Selee's latest book, speakers explore emerging trends in migration, economic interdependence, technology innovation, and cultural exchange that are transforming the relationship between the United States and Mexi

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Recent Activity

Reports
September 2019

Migration between Mexico and the United States has changed dramatically in recent years, but policies and political rhetoric in both countries have not always kept up. This report, which draws from discussions of a high-level Mexico-U.S. study group convened by MPI and El Colegio de México, explores this new migration reality and how the two governments could work more closely together to address shared policy challenges.

Video, Audio
August 12, 2019

This discussion marked the launch of MPI's Rethinking U.S. Immigration Policy Initiative, which aims to generate a big-picture, evidence-driven vision of the role immigration should play in America’s future, as well as to build a bipartisan center so needed reforms can be enacted. The initiative's leader, MPI Senior Fellow Doris Meissner, joins in conversation with former Bush administration Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez and former Obama White House Domestic Policy Council Director Cecilia Muñoz about the prospects for action and what's needed.

Articles

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.

Articles

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.

Policy Briefs
August 2019

The U.S. economy is facing an uncertain future as an aging workforce, stagnating labor force participation, skill mismatches, and automation reshape the labor market. This issue brief explores these forces and the role that immigration could play in supporting future U.S. economic growth. It also examines how immigration affects workers already in the country, both native born and immigrant.

Policy Briefs
August 2019

In the coming decades, the U.S. labor market will undergo major transformation. Automation, an aging workforce, and alternative staffing practices will change how, where, and by whom work is done. This think piece, by a former chief economist for the U.S. Labor Department, explores how immigrant workers fit into this changing landscape, and what immigration and workforce policy changes could help maximize their contributions to the U.S. economy.

Commentaries
August 2019

The public-charge rule issued by the Trump administration in August 2019 will have profound effects on future immigration and on use of public benefits by millions of legal noncitizens and their U.S.-citizen family members. Complex standards for determining when an immigrant is likely to become a public charge could cause a significant share of the nearly 23 million noncitizens and U.S. citizens in benefits-using immigrant families to disenroll, as this commentary explains.

Policy Briefs
August 2019

The U.S. immigration system is in desperate need of an overhaul. What has been missing is an alternate vision for a path forward that treats immigration as a strategic resource while also accounting for heightened security and rule-of-law imperatives, which together can further U.S. interests, values, and democratic principles as a society. This concept note outlines a new MPI initiative, Rethinking U.S. Immigration Policy, that seeks to fill this gap.

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