E.g., 02/26/2021
E.g., 02/26/2021

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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Sailors and marines on the HMS Bulwark help migrants ashore in Italy.

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.

A supporter holds a sign reading "Finish the Wall" during a rally for President Donald Trump in Mesa, Arizona.

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.

A woman looks out over tents being used by migrants and asylum seekers on the Greek island of Lesvos

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.

An Indian internal migrant walks with her children in Delhi

India has no refugee law and has not signed the 1951 Refugee Convention, leaving many of its estimated 250,000 recognized refugees in a legal gray area. Meanwhile, more than 450 million internal migrants form the foundation of the country's economy, yet often have trouble accessing government benefits, identity cards, and other services. The COVID-19 pandemic has brought these shared vulnerabilities into stark relief.

Migrants aboard a rubber vessel are rescued in the Mediterranean

Libya was once a prized destination for workers from around the world. But after Muammar Gaddafi’s overthrow in 2011, the country became the transit point for hundreds of thousands of Europe-bound asylum seekers and other migrants. Following Libya's 2017 deal with Italy to detain and return migrants caught at sea—which was renewed in February 2020—migrants became trapped in an unstable country, facing harrowing realities, as this article explores.

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Commentaries
March 2019
By  Julia Gelatt
Commentaries
January 2019
By  Doris Meissner and Sarah Pierce
Commentaries
November 2018
By  Doris Meissner
Commentaries
September 2018
By  Julia Gelatt, Michael Fix and Jennifer Van Hook
Commentaries
June 2018
By  Jessica Bolter and Doris Meissner
Commentaries
June 2018
By  Jessica Bolter and Sarah Pierce
Commentaries
June 2018
By  Julia Gelatt and Ariel G. Ruiz Soto

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Video
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.

Video, Audio
August 26, 2020

This conversation, featuring a former U.S. Census Bureau director and other top experts, examines how the many challenges facing the 2020 Census could affect the count and representation of immigrant communities, the difficulties inherent in data matching to determine legal status, and the legal and constitutional issues surrounding the administration’s actions.

Video, Audio
June 25, 2020

Part of MPI Europe's webinar series exploring what the migrant-return and reintegration process might look like in the post-COVID period, this first webinar in the series showcases speakers from Belgium's Fedasil, the French Office of Immigration and Integration, and the International Organization for Migration discussing the counselling of (potential) returnees to increase the uptake of volunt

Video, Audio
June 8, 2020

Following months of rising Central American migration through Mexico to the United States, the U.S. and Mexican governments on June 7, 2019 signed a joint declaration pledging to work together to manage and reduce irregular migration. At the agreement’s one-year anniversary, MPI researchers engaged in discussion with former U.S.

Andrew Selee, Veronica Escobar, Dan Crenshaw, Duncan Wood
Video
April 22, 2020

In this bipartisan discussion, two border-state members of Congress—Rep. Veronica Escobar and Rep. Dan Crenshaw—discuss the response to the coronavirus outbreak, how it is affecting the interconnected border region, and what the future might hold.
 

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Recent Activity

Articles

The Biden administration has set the pace for what could be the most active first 100 days on immigration policy by any White House in recent memory—even that of predecessor Donald Trump. The efforts, which represent a dramatic break from the Trump administration's view of immigration as threat, are likely to meet stiff opposition on Capitol Hill and elsewhere. This article evaluates Biden's early actions and what they suggest about the White House's ambitions on immigration.

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.   

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.

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.

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.

Reports
November 2020

Addressing regional cooperation around migration will be among the immigration challenges and opportunities facing the incoming Biden administration. This report examines how movement between the United States, Mexico, and Central America has evolved in recent decades, and lays out a four-part strategy to expand opportunities for legal migration, address humanitarian protection needs, improve enforcement, and mitigate some of the forces driving people to emigrate.

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