E.g., 06/12/2021
E.g., 06/12/2021
U.S. Immigration Policy Program

U.S. Immigration Policy Program

Man fills out immigration paperwork on a clipboard
iStock

The U.S. legal immigration system, last significantly updated by Congress in 1990, is profoundly misaligned with demographic and other realities—resulting in enormous consequences for the country and for its economy. This road map sketches the broad contours of some of the most needed reforms in the legal immigration system, made all the more urgent by U.S. population aging and changing labor market demands.

A health-care provider places a bandage on the injection site of a patient who just received a vaccine.
Lauren Bishop/CDC

The U.S. health-care workforce came under incredible strain during the COVID-19 pandemic. Longer-term trends—including the aging and increasing diversity of the U.S. population, and health-care worker retirement—are also shaping demand for services and the supply of health workers. This issue brief looks at how the skills and expertise of underutilized immigrant and refugee health professionals in the United States can be better leveraged to meet these challenges.

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Glenn Fawcett/U.S. Customs and Border Protection

The increase in unaccompanied child arrivals at the U.S.-Mexico border in February and March has led to backups and overcrowding at U.S. Customs and Border Protection facilities ill-suited to house children, in part due to earlier significant reductions in Office of Refugee Resettlement shelter capacity during 2020. This commentary explores preparedness shortfalls and the options the Biden administration has moving forward.

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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.

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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.

Recent Activity

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Reports
June 2017
By  Michael Fix, Kate Hooper and Jie Zong
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Fact Sheets
June 2017
By  Jeanne Batalova and Michael Fix
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Reports
May 2017
By  Randy Capps, Faye Hipsman and Doris Meissner
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Fact Sheets
April 2017
By  Sela Cowger, Jessica Bolter and Sarah Pierce
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Policy Briefs
April 2017
By  Faye Hipsman and Doris Meissner
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Policy Briefs
March 2017
By  Sarah Pierce and Doris Meissner
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Policy Briefs
February 2017
By  Sarah Pierce and Randy Capps

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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EVENT PHOTO 2017.5.4   Changing Realities at the Borderv3
Video, Audio
May 4, 2017

In the midst of efforts to further ramp up enforcement at the U.S.-Mexico border even as illegal crossings are a fraction of what they were at their peak in 2000, MPI research sketches the changing realities at the border and offers data that should help inform the policy debate. As the Trump administration and Congress consider constructing a border wall, adding thousands of Border Patrol agen

EVENT PHOTO 2017.4.24   100 Days into Trumps Term and Immigration Action   Muz Doris
Audio
April 24, 2017

As the 100-day milestone for the Trump administration approaches, MPI's Doris Meissner and Muzaffar Chishti are joined by the former Director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Julie Myers Wood, and former DHS Assistant Secretary for Policy and Planning C. Stewart Verdery for a discussion of the administration's track record to date on immigration, the policies articulated in its executive orders, legal challenges, reactions by publics and policymakers, and the possible long-term effects of these policies.

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Video, Audio
January 27, 2017

As the Trump administration assumes office and the DACA program faces an uncertain future, University of California President Janet Napolitano; Donald Graham, cofounder of TheDream.Us; and Ike Brannon, Visiting Fellow at the CATO Institute join MPI's Doris Meissner for a discussion on the possible impacts of rescinding DACA, particularly in the areas of higher education, philanthropy, and the economy.  

2016.12.7 PHOTO Doctors as Taxi Drivers   panel shot
Video, Audio
December 7, 2016

A presentation of the first-ever U.S. estimates on the economic costs of brain waste for highly skilled immigrants, their families, and the U.S. economy. The researchers discuss their findings in terms of the billions of dollars in forgone earnings and unrealized taxes when college-educated immigrants are relegated to low-skilled work.

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Video, Expert Q&A
December 6, 2016

Nearly 2 million college-educated immigrants in the United States are stuck in low-skilled jobs or are unemployed—a phenomenon known as brain waste. In this brief video, MPI researchers discuss their key findings on immigrant skill underutilization and the resulting billions of dollars in unrealized wages and forgone federal, state, and local tax receipts.

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Recent Activity

Reports
April 2020

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.

Commentaries
April 2020

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.

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. Catch an interesting discussion as border closures have halted the movement of seasonal workers even as crops are approaching harvest in some places.

Fact Sheets
March 2020

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.

Articles

The global COVID-19 pandemic has brought into sharp focus the intersection of U.S. immigration and public health policy, and the unique challenges that immigrants face. This article analyzes the Trump administration’s introduction of some of the most stringent immigration restrictions in modern times, the often disparate fallout of the outbreak on immigrant communities, the status of federal immigration agency operations, and more.

Video, Audio, Webinars
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, Webinars
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. They examined the far larger consequences of the rule, through its "chilling effects" and imposition of a test aimed at assessing whether green-card applicants are likely to ever use a public benefit in the future. And they discussed how the latter holds the potential to reshape legal immigration to the United States. 

Articles

As governments seek to push their borders out by amassing ever more data on travelers and migrants, their creation of increasingly complex border surveillance systems and use of risk-assessment technologies could ease mobility for some while rendering other groups immobile based on hypothetical risk profiles and decisions that are not publicly known and cannot be challenged, as this article explores.

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