E.g., 01/26/2021
E.g., 01/26/2021

Illegal Immigration & Interior Enforcement

Illegal Immigration & Interior Enforcement

lllegal immigration is a phenomenon confronted by many major immigrant-receiving countries, one that vexes policymakers and publics alike. While much of the focus may be on border enforcement, there are an array of interior enforcement policies aimed at identifying unauthorized immigrants for removal, including worksite enforcement, employment verification, jail-house screening, and state and local law enforcement activity. The research below delves into many facets of illegal immigration and enforcement occcuring away from national borders.

Recent Activity

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U.S. Marine secures barbed-wire fencing at the California-Mexico border.
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Sign left by No More Deaths activists in Arizona
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Migrants returning to Ethiopia
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Migrant processing at San Ysidro port of entry
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Reports
November 2018
By  Demetrios G. Papademetriou, Natalia Banulescu-Bogdan and Kate Hooper

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Reports
January 2014
By  Randall Hansen and Demetrios G. Papademetriou
Reports
January 2014
By  Demetrios G. Papademetriou and Will Somerville
Policy Briefs
January 2014
By  Muzaffar Chishti and Charles Kamasaki
Reports
January 2014
By  Elizabeth Collett and Will Somerville
Reports
September 2013
By  Jeanne Batalova, Monisha Das Gupta and Sue Patricia Haglund

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Governments on the receiving end of migrants and refugees reinforced their commitment to returns in 2017, sending or coercing migrants to move back to impoverished or violent homelands. The Dominican Republic pushed out some 70,000 Haitians and native born of Haitian descent, while more than 500,000 Afghans left Iran and Pakistan. Though many of these migrants chose to return, in practice the line between forced and voluntary returns is blurry.

In 2017, nationalists in Europe and the United States continued seizing on public concerns about immigration and diversity, making gains in pushing their agendas. While their success at the polls was mixed, nativist politicians have succeeded in reshaping broader migration debates, with growing political fragmentation and mistrust of establishment parties making it easier for them to break through.

Metro in Caracas

Migration surged throughout South America in 2017, challenging governments to keep up with inflows. Brazil, Colombia, and Peru worked to process record numbers of Venezuelan asylum applications, and launched special visa programs for some new arrivals. While the government responses have been largely welcoming, the illegal immigration of Haitians provoked more restrictive policy reactions in Chile and Argentina.

Salvadoran family

The Trump administration’s announcement that it will end Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for nationals of Haiti, Nicaragua, and Sudan has brought unprecedented attention to the program and its future. Established in 1990, TPS offers work authorization and deportation relief to foreign nationals already in the United States unable to return to countries embroiled in conflict or the effects of a natural disaster. This Policy Beat explores past and current TPS designations and debates surrounding the program.

Trump at a rally in Phoenix.

The Trump administration has released a list of hardline immigration demands—including border wall funding, restrictions on federal grants to “sanctuary” cities, and cuts to legal immigration—in exchange for legislation protecting DREAMers. This article examines the prospects for these proposals and more broadly for a legislative fix to resolve the status of unauthorized immigrants brought to the United States as children.

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Video, Audio
September 22, 2014

U.S. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner R. Gil Kerlikowske, who assumed his duties in 2014, lays out his vision and discusses his priorities for the agency as part of MPI's Leadership Visions series.

Audio
September 4, 2014

Estimates of unauthorized immigrant populations that could receive relief from deportation under potential executive action scenarios to expand the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, extend deferred action to other populations, or refine immigration enforcement priorities are discussed during this webinar.

Audio
August 6, 2014

This webinar covers key findings from MPI's report about the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) initiative and eligible populations two years after its implementation, and also introduces MPI's data tool that provides national and state-level estimates of the current and potentially eligible DACA populations, as well as detailed profiles for the U.S. and 25 states.

Audio
June 25, 2014

The flow of unaccompanied children from Central America and Mexico to the United States has surged 90 percent since last year, with government officials predicting that it might reach 90,000 by the end of the fiscal year in September—and perhaps 130,000 next year. This telebriefing discusses factors behind the flows as well as short- and longer-term policy options for improving how the U.S. immigration system interacts with this population with distinct needs.

Video, Audio
June 24, 2014

This MPI panel discussion focuses on a toolkit by the Women's Refugee Commission to provide detained and deported immigrants as well as unauthorized immigrant mothers and fathers with crucial information to protect and maintain their parental rights and make well-informed decisions regarding the care and welfare of their children.

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Recent Activity

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2018 proved a banner year for far-right populist movements in Europe and the Americas. They claimed the presidency of Brazil, sparked the collapse of the Belgian government, and—whether in or out of office—put a harder-edged stamp on migration and asylum policies in Austria, Denmark, Hungary, Italy, Sweden, and beyond.

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The Trump administration took sweeping action in 2018 to slow legal immigration, make life harder for some immigrants already in the United States, rebuff would-be asylum seekers, and reduce refugee resettlement. Shaping a narrative of crisis at the border, the administration significantly changed the U.S. asylum system, deployed troops and tear gas, and separated families—yet Central American migrants continued to arrive.

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Hardline migration and asylum policies in the United States and Australia in 2018 hit turbulence when their effects on the most vulnerable—young children—provoked widespread public revulsion and prompted a retreat, at least temporarily. Still, public outcry over the treatment of child migrants and asylum seekers often runs up against the intractability of the problems facing governments and the lack of good solutions.

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As industrialized countries are adopting harder-edge immigration and asylum policies to deal with real and perceived crises, humanitarian actors have sought to blunt the effects of those policies by launching rescue missions at sea, rendering direct aid to migrants in need, and offering legal assistance. A concerted pushback to this resistance emerged in 2018, with governments using legislative, legal, and other tools to fight back.

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Questions of how, when, and under what conditions migrants and asylum seekers can be returned to their origin countries have featured prominently in international discussions of migration in 2018. Crucially, so too has an increased interest on the part of both destination and origin countries in making reintegration assistance more effective to help ensure that return is sustainable.

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The Trump administration’s latest effort to narrow the ability to apply for asylum at the U.S.-Mexico border hit a legal roadblock within days of implementation, as has been the pattern for much of its immigration agenda. This article examines the actions on asylum, which alongside deployment of active-duty military to the border, are among measures taken to seek to reduce the flow of Central Americans to the United States.

Video, Audio, Webinars
November 15, 2018

In advance of the December 2018 adoption of the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly, and Regular Migration, which includes a commitment to facilitate the return and reintegration of migrants, this webinar examines the policies, practices, and contextual factors that make compulsory returns such a difficult issue for international cooperation. Speakers also discuss the programs that are being implemented to make reintegration of returnees sustainable.

Reports
November 2018

Nativist populism is both symptom and driver of the challenges facing many societies in Europe and the United States. And, as this Transatlantic Council Statement explores, it is reshaping political landscapes and immigration debates. Rebuilding public trust in governments’ ability to manage migration will require that policymakers actively address social and economic divisions and provide a credible alternative to populism.

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