E.g., 01/23/2021
E.g., 01/23/2021

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

Reports
September 2018
By  Doris Meissner, Faye Hipsman and T. Alexander Aleinikoff
Image of families belong together event banner in Houston
Articles
Commentaries
September 2018
By  Julia Gelatt, Michael Fix and Jennifer Van Hook
Reports
September 2018
By  Randy Capps and Ariel G. Ruiz Soto
Salvadoran kids
Articles
Protest at an immigration detention facility
Articles
Honduran boy
Reports
July 2018
By  Sarah Pierce, Jessica Bolter and Andrew Selee

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Reports
January 2013
By  Doris Meissner, Donald M. Kerwin, Muzaffar Chishti and Claire Bergeron
Reports
July 2012
By  Michael Jones-Correa
Policy Briefs
December 2011
By  Kate Brick
Reports
December 2011
By  Christal Morehouse and Michael Blomfield

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Protesters demonstrate against immigration proposals outside the Texas State Capitol.

A new hardline immigration law in Texas marks the resurgence of state-level restrictionist activism that had stalled in 2012 amid adverse federal court rulings. The Texas law, SB 4, is designed to end sanctuary policies in jurisdictions across the state, and closely mirrors aspects of Arizona's controversial 2010 law, SB 1070. This article explores the parallels and new state momentum to crack down on illegal immigration.

St. Basil's Cathedral in Moscow.

The history of dynamic migration flows throughout the Soviet Union pre- and post-collapse has significantly shaped the current migration reality in Russia. Even as borders have shifted and policies changed, inflows and outflows still occur mostly within the former Soviet space. As this article explores, Russia has worked in recent decades to strengthen its migration management system and update its residence and citizenship policies.

A sign at the Quebec border advises travelers to turn back and report to a port of entry.

Amid a sense of declining welcome in the United States, growing numbers of asylum seekers have crossed into Canada in recent months, entering illegally to take advantage of a loophole in the Canada-U.S. Safe Third Country Agreement. The result? Refugee advocates and politicians in Canada are issuing growing calls to change or suspend the treaty. This article examines the treaty's history, effects, and current challenges.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions in the White House briefing room.

While Donald Trump often pledged as candidate to strip federal funding from jurisdictions—known as sanctuary cities—that do not fully cooperate with federal immigration enforcement, no direct action blocking funding has yet occurred. Still, strong statements from the President and Attorney General have spurred a flurry of responses by state and local governments, some adjusting their policies to cooperate fully, others setting limits.

Beyond representing first steps on key campaign promises, President Trump's executive orders on immigration mandate sweeping data collection and reporting in ways that seek to underscore societal and economic costs with no countervailing attention to positive effects from immigration. This article explores the news-making machinery embedded in the orders and how the reporting requirements might help further the administration's agenda.

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Video, Audio
February 7, 2014

This panel discussion offers perspectives on border policy management from leading officials in the Canadian, Mexican, and U.S. governments, and showcases the MPI book, "Managing Borders in an Increasingly Borderless World."

Video, Audio
October 31, 2013

The 10th annual Immigration Law and Policy Conference featured keynotes by U.S. Senator John McCain (R-AZ) and former Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour, as well as panel discussions covering a range of key immigration topics.

Video
September 24, 2013

This briefing at the State Capitol in Honolulu, organized in conjunction with the University of Hawaii at Manoa, marked the formal release of a Migration Policy Institute report that presents key demographic and socioeconomic information about the Mexican-origin population in Hawai’i.

Video, Audio
August 7, 2013

MPI experts participate in a video chat shortly after the Migration Policy Institute released an analysis comparing the major provisions of the Senate bill to those of the individual House bills considered to date in House committees. 

Video
August 2, 2013

Testimony of Doris Meissner, Senior Fellow and Director, U.S. Immigration Policy Program, before the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, U.S. Senate.

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Recent Activity

Reports
September 2018

The United States has a long tradition of providing asylum to those in need. But in recent years, case backlogs have grown and many asylum seekers now wait years for a decision. This report examines the factors that have brought the U.S. asylum system to this crisis point and proposes common-sense steps that can be taken to restore timeliness and fairness, while deterring abuses.

Articles

As the Trump administration moves to be able to indefinitely detain parents and children intercepted at the U.S.-Mexico border, whether illegal border crossers or asylum seekers, recent apprehension trends and history suggest hardline policies might not be a slam-dunk deterrent with a Central American population often driven by the desire to escape gang or other violence, as this Policy Beat explores.

Commentaries
September 2018

In a commentary, MPI and Penn State researchers explain why an academic article suggesting the unauthorized population is significantly higher than previously estimated derives from seriously flawed assumptions. The researchers, who peer-reviewed the analysis, find the authors overestimate successful illegal crossings by misapplying data from the 2000s to the 1990s, when crossing patterns were much different.

Reports
September 2018

The Houston metro area, home to 1.6 million immigrants, is diverse and rapidly growing. This report sketches the area's immigrant population, examining top origin countries, key socioeconomic measures, and more. It also explores how Hurricane Harvey affected the immigrant population, and how national policy changes under the Trump administration are being felt locally, including by DACA recipients and asylum seekers.

Articles

El Salvador is the smallest country in Central America yet the most densely populated. A stagnant economy, high levels of crime and violence, and natural disasters have pushed growing numbers of people to migrate without authorization or seek asylum abroad, mostly in the United States. This article explores historical and contemporary emigration from El Salvador.

Articles

With the #AbolishICE movement catching fire among some on the left, critics of the Trump administration's immigration policies have seized on U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) as their main target—even condemning it for actions taken by other agencies. This article explores the evolution of ICE and resistance to it, as well as actions taken by the agency itself that have made its mission even more controversial.

Articles

Since fiscal year 2010, more than 70,000 immigrant children have applied for Special Immigrant Juvenile (SIJ) status, a pathway to a green card for youth who have been abused or neglected by their parents. Based on interviews with SIJ applicants, judges, and attorneys, this article provides an overview of the SIJ program and identifies limitations on access.

Reports
July 2018

President Trump has made reshaping the U.S. immigration system a top priority. Yet the fragmented nature of policy-making in the United States—with power split between branches and levels of government—has made it difficult to pursue some of his most ambitious proposals. This report explores the evolution of migration policy under Trump, and what these changes may mean in the long run.

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