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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

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  Randy Capps and Michael Fix
Commentaries
December 2020
By  Michael Fix, Jeanne Batalova and José Ramón Fernández-Peña

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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.

Federal immigration officers make an arrest during an operation in Virginia.

Before entering office, President Donald Trump promised to deport millions of unauthorized immigrants. Yet despite his general successes in creating a more restrictive and punitive immigration system, this goal has eluded his administration. So-called “sanctuary” policies implemented by state and local governments to limit their cooperation with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement have been a key reason why arrests and removals have not reached earlier peaks.

A family in Pakistan walks through flooded streets

Climate change is affecting human movement now, causing internal displacement and international migration, and will do so in the future. But the impact is often indirect, and rarely is the process as straightforward as one might think. This article provides an overview of research on how climatic hazards drive and affect migration, reviewing which types of people might migrate and under what conditions.

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Commentaries
December 2020
By  Michael Fix, Jeanne Batalova and José Ramón Fernández-Peña
Commentaries
December 2020
By  Randy Capps and Michael Fix
Commentaries
July 2020
By  Randy Capps, Jennifer Van Hook and Julia Gelatt
Commentaries
June 2020
By  Sarah Pierce and Doris Meissner
Commentaries
May 2020
By  Meghan Benton

Pages

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.

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
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?

Video, Audio
October 21, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected nearly every aspect of education, and it is expected that English Learners (ELs) will suffer disproportionate impacts. In this webcast, panelists discuss how weaknesses in existing EL teacher education and professional development policies have played into schools’ uneven response to the pandemic. They also offer lessons for future reform.

Video, Audio
September 29, 2020

Authors of a MPI report were joined by practioners from California and Tennessee in a discussion on key challenges to meeting English Learners’ needs during the pandemic and the policies and practices school systems will need to put in place to support them and their families

Pages

Recent Activity

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
January 2021

The pandemic-recovery stimulus package that passed Congress in December rectified what many had viewed as a significant oversight in the earlier CARES Act: Its exclusion of U.S. citizens and legal immigrants in mixed-status families. MPI researchers estimate nearly 3 million U.S. citizens and legal immigrants excluded from the earlier legislation can receive the later relief, as well as qualify retroactively for the CARES Act payment, as this commentary explores.

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.

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.

Commentaries
December 2020

The prevalence of mental-health symptoms among Latino high school students, immigrant and U.S. born alike, is closely related to their fears of immigration enforcement. And the situation may have worsened since the researchers sampled this population, given the COVID-19 pandemic and associated economic hardship have increased the stress on Latino communities that have been hit disproportionately hard, as this commentary explores.

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.

Reports
December 2020

Un desafío y una oportunidad clave que enfrentará la administración de Joe Biden será cómo abordar la cooperación regional en relación a la migración. Este informe explora la evolución de la movilidad entre los Estados Unidos, México y Centroamérica y presenta una estrategia para ampliar las oportunidades en cuanto a la migración legal, abordar necesidades humanitarias, fortalecer la aplicación de la ley y mitigar algunas de las fuerzas que provocan la emigración.

Video, Webinars
September 21, 2020

This year’s Immigration Law and Policy Conference examines the immigration policy agenda under the Trump administration, including changes in the asylum system; the vast societal upheaval brought on by COVID-19 and the rising racial justice movement; what the future of U.S. immigration may look like; and many other topics related to U.S. immigration policy.

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