E.g., 06/20/2021
E.g., 06/20/2021
North America

North America

North America is a dynamic migration region, with the United States home to more immigrants than any other country in the world, the Mexico-U.S. corridor the globe's top migration corridor, and Canada a leading destination for migrants. Research collected here focuses on everything from visa policy and border management to immigrant integration, national identity, the demographics of immigrants in the region and their educational and workforce outcomes, and ways to more effectively use migration policy as a lever for national and regional competitiveness.

Recent Activity

Cover image for Rethinking the U.S. Legal Immigration System: A Policy Road Map
Policy Briefs
May 2021
By  Muzaffar Chishti, Julia Gelatt and Doris Meissner
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Commentaries
February 2021
By  Doris Meissner and Sarah Pierce
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Reports
February 2021
By  Jessica Bolter, Muzaffar Chishti and Doris Meissner
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Policy Briefs
November 2020
By  Doris Meissner and Michelle Mittelstadt
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Commentaries
June 2020
By  Sarah Pierce and Doris Meissner
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Policy Briefs
August 2019
By  Doris Meissner

Pages

Cover image for Rethinking the U.S. Legal Immigration System: A Policy Road Map
Policy Briefs
May 2021
By  Muzaffar Chishti, Julia Gelatt and Doris Meissner
coverthumb_rethinking legalization 2021
Reports
February 2021
By  Jessica Bolter, Muzaffar Chishti and Doris Meissner
coverthumb_biden starting gate
Policy Briefs
November 2020
By  Doris Meissner and Michelle Mittelstadt
Coverthumb RethinkingImmigration ConceptNote
Policy Briefs
August 2019
By  Doris Meissner
Coverthumb Border ControltoCrisis Report 2019
Reports
August 2019
By  Randy Capps, Doris Meissner, Ariel G. Ruiz Soto, Jessica Bolter and Sarah Pierce
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Reports
May 2019
By  Doris Meissner and Julia Gelatt
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Reports
September 2018
By  Doris Meissner, Faye Hipsman and T. Alexander Aleinikoff

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The flags of the United States and Canada.

The United States and Canada share the world's longest land border and similar cultures. But Canadians account for a tiny and shrinking share of all U.S. immigrants. Canadian immigrants tend to have higher educations and be older than other immigrant groups. This Spotlight explores the history and features of the Canadian immigrant population in the United States.

Two men talk during a retiree luncheon

Results from the 2020 census show that the U.S. population has been growing at its slowest rate since the Great Depression. Reduced immigration has been one component of this sluggish population growth, which could pose a problem for the United States as people age and strain public retirement systems. This U.S. Policy Beat article examines how immigration fits into the country's demographic puzzle.

A caravan of migrants from Central America passes by Chiapas, Mexico.

Tens of thousands of migrants have gone missing in Mexico in recent years, with the country having one of world's highest rates of disappeared persons. In 2015, the Mexican government created institutions to investigate these cases and work with the missing migrants' families, who are often their most vocal advocates. This article explores the reasons why migrants disappear, as well the institutions established to investigate cases and their impact.

Rohingya families from Myanmar arrive in Bangladesh

The United States historically led the world in refugee resettlement, but was surpassed by Canada in 2018—and U.S. refugee admissions fell to a record low 12,000 in 2020. With the country now on course to rebuild resettlement capacity, this article examines the U.S. refugee and asylee populations and how they have changed over time, including key demographic characteristics.

President Joe Biden speaks to journalists at the White House.

During his first 100 days in office, U.S. President Joe Biden took more than three times as many executive actions on immigration as predecessor Donald Trump. While rising encounters at the U.S.-Mexico border have captured major attention, Biden has been remarkably active in areas that have received far less attention, including interior enforcement. This article explores the administration's actions during its first three months.

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Commentaries
February 2021
By  Doris Meissner and Sarah Pierce
USCISBudgetWoes WikimediaCommonsGulbenk
Commentaries
June 2020
By  Sarah Pierce and Doris Meissner
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Commentaries
January 2019
By  Doris Meissner and Sarah Pierce
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Commentaries
November 2018
By  Doris Meissner
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Commentaries
June 2018
By  Jessica Bolter and Doris Meissner
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Commentaries
August 2017
By  Doris Meissner
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Commentaries
April 2014
By  Marc R. Rosenblum and Doris Meissner
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Explainers
April 2019

How has the size of the unauthorized population in the United States changed over time? How is illegal immigration changing, and where do unauthorized immigrants come from? This explainer answers basic questions about illegal immigration, the changing patterns from Mexico, and more.

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Explainers
April 2019

Through which visa categories can immigrants move temporarily or permanently to the United States? What are the main channels by which people come, and who can sponsor them for a green card? Are there limits on visa categories? And who is waiting in the green-card backlog? This explainer answers basic questions about temporary and permanent immigration via family, employment, humanitarian, and other channels.

Video, Audio
April 21, 2021

MPI analysts discuss their analysis comparing key sociodemographic characteristics of immigrant and U.S.-born parents of young and school-age children, along with the two-generational implications of these findings.

Audio
April 15, 2021

This report release event examines migration management in Mexico and Central America, and the growing government attention to migration functions, enhanced immigration enforcement, increased investments in asylum systems and existing protection frameworks, as well as labor migration policies.

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Video, Audio
April 8, 2021

Marking the release of an International Organization for Migration (IOM)-Migration Policy Institute (MPI) report, this two-panel discussion, features introductory remarks by IOM Director General António Vitorino and examines how the pandemic has reshaped border management and human mobility in 2020 and what the lasting impacts may be t

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Expert Q&A, Audio
March 26, 2021

Hundreds of thousands of migrants have left Central America in recent years, and climate extremes have been identified as one of the factors that might be driving this movement, along with elements such as political instability and violence.

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Expert Q&A, Audio
March 2, 2021

Climate change and international migration both are global issues with aspects that countries try to manage through treaties, pacts, and other types of agreements. But most of the global governance frameworks that exist for climate-induced migration require only voluntary commitments by states.

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Recent Activity

Policy Briefs
May 2021

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.

Commentaries
February 2021

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.

Reports
February 2021

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.

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.

Policy Briefs
October 2020

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.

Commentaries
June 2020

Citing coronavirus-related disruptions, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services urged Congress to provide $1.2 billion to address its severe budget shortfall. Without this emergency infusion, the agency warned it might have to furlough up to 80 percent of its staff by mid-July 2020. Yet a deeper look at USCIS operations shows it was facing serious budget problems long before the pandemic—ones that are the logical results of actions undertaken by the Trump administration.

Commentaries
December 2019

While much attention has been given to the move by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to raise its application fees—including an 83 percent hike to apply for U.S. citizenship—the policy changes embedded in the proposed rule have been less scrutinized. The changes, including the elimination of most fee waivers for lower-income applicants, would likely reduce the number and shift the profile of those getting a green card or other immigration status.

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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