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Illegal Immigration & Interior Enforcement

Illegal Immigration & Interior Enforcement

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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.

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Federal immigration officers make an arrest during an operation in Virginia.
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Sailors and marines on the HMS Bulwark help migrants ashore in Italy.
State of the EU 2020
Commentaries
October 2020
By  Hanne Beirens
A supporter holds a sign reading "Finish the Wall" during a rally for President Donald Trump in Mesa, Arizona.
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Policy Briefs
April 2017
By  Faye Hipsman and Doris Meissner
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Policy Briefs
February 2017
By  Sarah Pierce and Randy Capps
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Books
October 2016
By  Kathleen Newland, Elizabeth Collett, Kate Hooper and Sarah Flamm
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Policy Briefs
August 2016
By  Faye Hipsman, Bárbara Gómez-Aguiñaga and Randy Capps
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Reports
July 2016
By  Demetrios G. Papademetriou and Natalia Banulescu-Bogdan
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Reports
May 2016
By  Demetrios G. Papademetriou
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Reports
February 2016
By  Randy Capps, Heather Koball, James D. Bachmeier, Ariel G. Ruiz Soto, Jie Zong and Julia Gelatt

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Long a country of emigration and a springboard for migrants aiming to reach Europe, Morocco has emerged as a destination for many sub-Saharan Africans. As more migrants remain in Morocco, the kingdom has implemented policies to aid with integration. But challenges remain, with most of the estimated 700,000 sub-Saharan Africans living in precarious conditions and irregular status despite some legalization programs.

Border Patrol agents and child migrants

Approximately 11,500 unaccompanied children were apprehended at the U.S.-Mexico border in May, putting this year on track to exceed 2014's surge. As the U.S. government struggles to care for these child migrants, with public outrage mounting over reports of unsafe, filthy conditions in initial Border Patrol custody, the failure of the executive branch and Congress to plan for increased shelter and care demands are increasingly apparent, as this article explores.

Plane engines

This article explores post-deportation dynamics and challenges returnees face in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Even as European countries focus on increasing returns of migrants deemed not to have a right to stay, little attention has been given to conditions at return—even to a country such as the DRC where allegations of serious human-rights violations against returned migrants have been reported for years.

President Trump and a Customs and Border Patrol officer stand together

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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Event PH 2015.12.8 Immigration Act of 1990 Bruce Morrison Muz Chishti
Video, Audio
December 8, 2015

A discussion marking the 25th anniversary of the 1990 Immigration Act, where experts examinine the history of the legislation, how it was accomplished politically, and the stakeholders and issues that were critical to its passage.

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Video, Audio
October 29, 2015

This annual discussion offered political and policy analysis on key immigration topics, including family detention, unaccompanied child migrants, executive action, and the presidential campaigns, along with featured keynotes by Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson and United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres.  

EVENT PH 2015.10.20
Video, Audio
October 20, 2015

An MPI Europe video chat with the outgoing head of the European Asylum Support Office (EASO) on the current EU refugee crisis, what strategies Europe ought to be pursuing in response, and the growing role of EASO as well as its track record over its first five years.

Event PH 2015.10.15_UnaccompaniedMinors (3)
Video, Audio
October 15, 2015

Marking the release of an MPI brief, this webinar examines data on where unaccompanied child migrants are being placed in the United States, how they are faring in immigration courts, what services are available to them, and how U.S. communities are adapting to their arrival.

EVENTPH 2015.10.8 STUDENT WALK FIU
Video, Audio
October 8, 2015

This webinar discusses the different policies that states have on unauthorized immigrants and in-state tuition, financial aid and other benefits, and the implications for unauthorized immigrant youth seeking two- and four-year college degrees.

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Recent Activity

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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.

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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.

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.

Expert Q&A, Audio
October 21, 2020

As COVID-19 chilled global mobility, harmed economies, and sparked border closures and travel bans around the world, the pandemic has had an effect on the shadow migration world. In this episode of our Moving Beyond Pandemic podcast, we speak with Matt Herbert, an expert in irregular migration and human smuggling, about how the public-health crisis has scrambled the decision-making calculus for would-be migrants, pushing many into more dangerous routes. We also examine the business models of human smugglers.

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Even as the number of people making the dangerous journey through the Central Mediterranean from North Africa to Europe has declined since the migration and refugee crisis of 2015-16, the rate of deaths has increased. This article evaluates the role of Europe's hardening approach to trans-Mediterranean migration and the criminalization of search-and-rescue operations by nongovernmental organizations.

Commentaries
October 2020

The EU Pact on Migration and Asylum represents a last-gasp effort by European leaders to devise a plan that keeps all 27 countries at the table, at a time when growing numbers are refusing to accept asylum seekers under the existing redistribution mechanism. Can the pact’s concept of solidarity à la carte work? The pact may well be the last step before an abyss in which each country determines the fate of migrants and refugees, practically guaranteeing future conflict.

 

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In the United States, Republicans and Democrats are deeply divided on immigration. President Donald Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden have offered sharply diverging policy positions, and the outcome of the election is sure to have profound consequences for the U.S. immigration system. Yet this partisan divide is relatively new. Just two decades ago, the parties were much more united on immigrants’ role in the U.S. economy and society.

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When he was elected prime minister in 2019, Kyriakos Mitsotakis promised what he called “strict but fair” reforms to secure Greece's borders and speed up transfers of asylum seekers crowding Aegean islands. Yet domestic and geopolitical tensions continued to roil the islands, later joined by a global pandemic, culminating in a fire that destroyed most of Lesvos's Moria refugee camp. This article examines Greece's efforts to strike a delicate balance on migration in a complex era.

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