E.g., 06/20/2024
E.g., 06/20/2024
U.S. Immigration Policy Program

U.S. Immigration Policy Program

Engineer holding a laptop outside a power plant
iStock.com/yanguolin

The level of education and training expected of workers in the United States has increased considerably in recent decades, and this trend looks set to continue. This report explores the forces driving this change and how the education levels of immigrant-origin and other workers compare to those likely to be needed in the future U.S. workforce, overall and in key occupational groups.

Image of female worker at the Boqueria market in Barcelona making a crepe
Marcel Crozet/ILO

Spain and the United States both receive their greatest number of immigrants from Latin America, and have worked collaboratively together on displacement crises and other migration issues. As shared immigration challenges dominate debate on both sides of the Atlantic, Spain can serve as a vital bridge in the policy conversation, this commentary notes.

A man in a high-visibility jacket and gloves at work
Aaron Sussell/U.S. Department of Labor

U.S. employment-based visa policies, last updated in 1990, are not aligned with the country’s current and future labor market needs. This policy brief outlines MPI’s proposal for a new visa pathway that could help the United States better leverage immigration to meet its labor market needs, boost protections for both U.S.- and foreign-born workers, and flexibly adapt to future economic and demographic changes.

Inadmissible migrants, some seeking asylum, are processed by CBP officers
Mani Albrecht/CBP

The U.S. humanitarian protection system, known for its long history of assisting those in need, has come under incredible pressure in recent years. The asylum adjudications system, which is under-resourced, is struggling to keep up with record asylum seeker arrivals at the U.S.-Mexico border. This report examines the state of the asylum system, including changes under the Biden administration and potential lessons for other countries.

 A young nurse hugs an elderly patient in a wheelchair
iStock.com/PeopleImages

Immigrants’ eligibility for public benefits in the United States is governed by a complex patchwork of rules that make many groups of noncitizens eligible for some benefits but not others, while other noncitizens are excluded completely. This report provides an overview of immigrants’ eligibility for programs related to general assistance, health and nutrition, employment and income, education, housing, driver’s licenses, and more.

U.S.-Mexico border fence with Tijuana on the left
Josh Denmark/CBP

Unauthorized migration at the U.S.-Mexico border has been a high-profile and politically divisive issue for decades. But as the nature of migration at the border has changed profoundly, U.S. policy responses have struggled to keep up. This report explores the changing nature of migration flows and migration policy at the border from the early 1990s until today, highlighting key lessons for contemporary policy-making.

Recent Activity

An intern examines a newborn baby in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.
Articles
The U.S. Supreme Court.
Articles
A flag hangs at the vice president's residence at the U.S. Naval Observatory in Washington, DC.
Articles
CBP agents process asylum seeker at El Paso, Texas port of entry
Commentaries
March 2023
By  Doris Meissner
Cover image for SNAP Access and Participation brief
Policy Briefs
March 2023
By  Valerie Lacarte, Lillie Hinkle and Briana L. Broberg
President Joe Biden in the White House.
Articles
Asylum seekers from Venezuela in Texas.
Articles

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Coverthumb KansasCity Immigrants Health
Policy Briefs
November 2019
By  Randy Capps and Ariel G. Ruiz Soto
Coverthumb MPI Migracion Mexico EstadosUnidos SPANISH
Reports
September 2019
By  Andrew Selee, Silvia E. Giorguli-Saucedo, Ariel G. Ruiz Soto and Claudia Masferrer
Coverthumb US Mexico Migration English
Reports
September 2019
By  Andrew Selee, Silvia E. Giorguli-Saucedo, Ariel G. Ruiz Soto and Claudia Masferrer
Coverthumb Orrenius Zavodny Gullo LaborMarket
Policy Briefs
August 2019
By  Pia M. Orrenius, Madeline Zavodny and Stephanie Gullo
Coverthumb MPI Holzer Future US Labor Market
Policy Briefs
August 2019
By  Harry J. Holzer
Coverthumb RethinkingImmigration ConceptNote
Policy Briefs
August 2019
By  Doris Meissner

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A person walks with luggage in John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York City.

Legal immigration to the United States fell to its lowest level in years during the COVID-19 pandemic, but preliminary data suggest it is returning to previous levels, belying predictions that the public-health crisis had allowed the Trump administration to make lasting, deep cuts. Yet the patterns have changed and persistent case processing backlogs could spell long-term problems, as this article explores.

Venezuelan migrants at a reception center in Brazil.

The Biden administration’s policy to expel some Venezuelan border arrivals to Mexico marks a significant reversal. For the first time, the U.S. government is invoking the controversial Title 42 expulsions policy not on public-health grounds but as an explicit immigration enforcement measure. The expulsions are being paired with a new humanitarian parole program for up to 24,000 Venezuelans. This article assesses the policy and the uneven treatment of humanitarian migrants by nationality.

A mariachi band performing in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Mexicans are by far the largest immigrant group in the United States, accounting for nearly one-fourth of all immigrants. However their numbers have been declining and in 2021 there were 1 million fewer than a decade ago. At the same time, despite years in which more new migrants came from China and India, Mexicans once again count as the largest group of new arrivals. This article outlines the changing shape and composition of this immigrant population.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott speaks before a briefing on border security.

Operations by Texas, Florida, and Arizona to bus or fly asylum seekers and other migrants to Washington, DC, Martha's Vineyard, and other cities have succeeded in drawing attention to the unprecedented pace of U.S.-Mexico border arrivals. Described by some as political pawns, many migrants say the trips have upsides. Consequences aside, the transport of migrants by Republican governors raises the question whether a new era has begun: state-on-state fights over immigration.

A tourist takes a selfie in New York City.

COVID-19 and restrictive policies from the Trump administration led to the most dramatic slowdown of temporary immigration to the United States in years, as fewer tourists, temporary workers, and international students arrived. This article reviews the trends in issuance of nonimmigrant visas and arrivals of temporary visitors, including the numbers issued annually over the past five years and the top countries of origin.

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Commentaries
January 2017
By  Kathleen Newland and T. Alexander Aleinikoff
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Commentaries
November 2016
By  Muzaffar Chishti and Michelle Mittelstadt
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Commentaries
October 2015
By  Kathleen Newland
Constitution
Commentaries
August 2015
By  Michael Fix
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Commentaries
April 2014
By  Marc R. Rosenblum and Doris Meissner

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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.

Pixabay Gerd Altmann
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. 

Greencard US government
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.

flickr Seattle OIRA August 2015 Ready to Work Graduation Celebration Credit Nate Gowdy Photography
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.

EVENT PHOTO 2019.10.7.2 Law and Policy Conference
Video, Audio
October 7, 2019

With immigration a central plank of the Trump administration, the 16th annual Immigration Law and Policy Conference, held in October 2019, featured analysis by top experts regarding changing policies 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.

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Recent Activity

Articles

Nearly 2.8 million immigrants worked in the U.S. health-care sector in 2021, representing disproportionately high shares of physicians, surgeons, and home health aides. This article offers a demographic and socioeconomic profile of foreign-born workers in health care.

Articles

Virtually all major U.S. immigration policy reforms have faced lawsuits in recent years, giving federal judges wide latitude to shape national policy. The situation, which began during the Obama administration and has escalated, is a byproduct of congressional inaction and the emergence of immigration as a political wedge issue. This article tracks the trend, which has added new volatility to the immigration system, and places it in context.

Articles

Want to check a fact about U.S. immigration? Interested in putting recent trends into perspective? This article compiles authoritative, up-to-date information about the U.S. immigrant population and how it has changed over time. Data cover immigrants' demographic, educational, and linguistic characteristics; their top states of residence; enforcement activities; refugees and asylum seekers; naturalization trends; visa backlogs; and more.

Commentaries
March 2023

The border asylum proposed rule the Biden administration unveiled in February represents a bid to save the U.S. asylum system, not shut it down, as some contend. Whether it can succeed, however, depends on how it is implemented and on other steps that are beyond the bounds of the proposed rule, as this commentary explains.

Policy Briefs
March 2023

The U.S. government created the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), or food stamps, to combat food insecurity. Under federal law, many lawfully present noncitizens in poor households are ineligible. This issue brief examines the size and characteristics of the population of immigrants with incomes low enough to qualify for SNAP and their eligibility for and participation in the program, at U.S. and state levels.  

Articles

Pandemic-related U.S. policies have led to more than 2.6 million migrant expulsions at the U.S.-Mexico border, expanded public benefits to cover millions more U.S. residents, and offered free COVID-19 vaccines and treatment. Many of these policies are now likely to end as the Biden administration in May 2023 formally declares the pandemic to be over, although what comes next remains unclear.

Policy Briefs
February 2023

Inefficiencies in the U.S. immigration system and case backlogs are preventing individuals eligible for immigration to the United States from filling some of the millions of job vacancies. This policy brief outlines executive actions that could facilitate the migration of needed workers, retain immigrants already in the U.S. workforce, and ease challenges experienced by U.S. employers and their foreign-born workers.

Articles

Venezuelans comprise one of the fastest-growing immigrant groups in the United States, nearly tripling in size from 2010 to 2021. Much of this migration has been fueled by crisis in Venezuela, where political unrest and economic strife have caused millions to flee since 2015, most remaining in Latin America. Venezuelan immigrants are far more likely than the overall foreign- and U.S.-born populations to have a college degree. Take an in-depth look at this immigrant population.

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