E.g., 01/28/2021
E.g., 01/28/2021

Immigration Policy & Law

Immigration Policy & Law

Immigration legislative and administrative policies, legal statutes and court decisions, and regulations collectively shape nations' immigration systems—from visa allotments and immigrant-selection mechanisms to immigrant integration programs, border controls, and more. As international migration has increased in size and spread and as a number of nations are more flexibly adjusting their immigration systems, the research offered here examines the many permutations of immigration policy and law, often with a comparative lens.

Recent Activity

Riders on a bus in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.
International students wave flags of their origin countries at a commencement address at Northeastern University
Articles
Unauthorized Immigrants in the United States: Stable Numbers, Changing Origins
Fact Sheets
December 2020
By  Randy Capps, Julia Gelatt, Ariel G. Ruiz Soto and Jennifer Van Hook
Commentaries
December 2020
By  Michael Fix, Jeanne Batalova and José Ramón Fernández-Peña

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Riders on a bus in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.

While intraregional migration is a pillar of the African Union's focus on enhancing regional integration and economic development, visa-free travel or visas upon arrival are a reality for only about half of the countries on the continent. Progress towards free movement for Africans has occurred mostly at a subregional level, as this article explores.

International students wave flags of their origin countries at a commencement address at Northeastern University

For the first time in a decade, fewer international students were studying in the United States during the 2019-20 school year than the year before. This decline, brought about in part by changing U.S. policy, has been aggravated by the COVID-19 pandemic. This article profiles the international student population in the United States, including their origins and fields of study.

President Donald Trump speaks at an event in Arizona.

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.

A soccer fan displays a mix of regalia from the United States and Mexico at the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

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.

A family in New Jersey celebrates the Hindu festival of Janmashtami.

There are 2.7 million Indian immigrants in the United States, making them the second-largest immigrant group after Mexicans. This number has increased dramatically in recent years, growing 13-fold between 1980 and 2019. This article provides an overview of this population, which is more highly educated, more likely to work in management positions, and higher-earning than the U.S. born and overall immigrant population.

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Commentaries
December 2020
By  Michael Fix, Jeanne Batalova and José Ramón Fernández-Peña
Commentaries
August 2020
By  Hanne Beirens, Susan Fratzke and Lena Kainz
Commentaries
June 2020
By  Sarah Pierce and Doris Meissner
Commentaries
May 2020
By  Meghan Benton
Commentaries
March 2020
By  Natalia Banulescu-Bogdan, Meghan Benton and Susan Fratzke
Commentaries
March 2020
By  Kate Hooper and Camille Le Coz
Commentaries
January 2020
By  Meghan Benton

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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.

Explainers
February 2019

Who is an immigrant? Does that status change if, for example, a foreigner marries a native-born resident or serves in his or her adopted country's military? This explainer answers basic questions about international migrants—who they are, their top destinations, where they come from, how they are counted, and more.

Video, Audio
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.
 

FLICKR-US PACIFIC FLEET
Video, Audio
November 9, 2020

MPI and OECD experts discuss the impact of the coronavirus on migration and mobility systems, findings from OECD’s International Migration Outlook 2020, opportunities for innovation, what labor demands may emerge, and the role of migration in North America and Europe at this challenging point in history.

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?

Audio
October 27, 2020

En dicho diálogo, algunos de los representantes de las organizaciones que conforman la red en Norteamérica, Centroamérica, Sudamérica y el Caribe, comparten la manera como se coordinan, las acciones que se llevan a cabo y las dificultades, retos y desafíos que atraviesan.

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Recent Activity

Reports
January 2021

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.   

Articles

While intraregional migration is a pillar of the African Union's focus on enhancing regional integration and economic development, visa-free travel or visas upon arrival are a reality for only about half of the countries on the continent. Progress towards free movement for Africans has occurred mostly at a subregional level, as this article explores.

Articles

For the first time in a decade, fewer international students were studying in the United States during the 2019-20 school year than the year before. This decline, brought about in part by changing U.S. policy, has been aggravated by the COVID-19 pandemic. This article profiles the international student population in the United States, including their origins and fields of study.

Commentaries
December 2020

Researchers, service providers, and others have long predicted that sweeping revisions by the Trump administration to the definition of who constitutes a public charge would deter large numbers of immigrant-led households from using federal means-tested public benefits for which they are eligible. Recently released Census Bureau data show they were right: During the administration's first three years, program participation declined twice as fast among noncitizens as citizens.

Reports
December 2020

Climate change is likely to increase the intensity of extreme-weather events already shaping human mobility and displacement. The nature, scale, and direction of future climate-related migration will depend on many factors. This report takes stock of the influence that different combinations of migration, development, and climate policies could have on migration in regions around the world for the 2020-2050 and 2050-2100 periods, using a first-of-its-kind systematic exercise.

Fact Sheets
December 2020

After decades of growth, the number of unauthorized immigrants in the United States has remained largely stable since the 2008–09 recession. The group's demographics are changing, though, with a shrinking number of Mexicans and rising Asian and Central American arrivals. This fact sheet presents a profile of these 11 million individuals, including top origin countries; U.S. destinations; and age, education, job, income, home ownership, English proficiency, and other characteristics.

Reports
December 2020

The link between climate change and migration is a complex one. Whether individuals move or stay in place can be voluntary or involuntary, a proactive strategy or last resort, and is part of a bigger story of global mobility and personal networks. This report examines this complicated relationship, highlights limitations of climate response measures to date, and presents an alternative, flexible approach based on the involvement of affected communities.

Commentaries
December 2020

With the U.S. health-care system buckling under the resurgent COVID-19 outbreak, policymakers could undertake efforts to enable skilled, underemployed international health-care professionals to practice. This would both make the health system more resilient and flexible, as well as introduce critical language and cultural skills important during the contact-tracing and vaccine rollout phases of the pandemic response, as this commentary explores.

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