Migration Policy Institute


Securing Human Mobility in the Age of Risk: New Challenges for Travel, Migration, and Borders

This new book makes the case that the nation's post-9/11 approach to immigration and border security is off-kilter and not keeping pace with the scope and complexity of people's movement around the world, nor with expectations regarding freedom of movement. Author Susan Ginsburg, who served as senior counsel and team leader on the staff of the 9/11 Commission, proposes a new paradigm that seeks to secure mobility and promote the rule of law in global migration channels while moving away from a system that too often conflates border and immigration enforcement with counterterrorism.


A Program in Flux: New Priorities and Implementation Challenges for 287(g)

By Cristina Rodríguez, Muzaffar Chishti, Randy Capps, and Laura St. JohnState and local enforcement of federal immigration laws has generated considerable controversy in public policy circles in recent years, particularly with respect to the Section 287(g) program. The Obama administration is reforming the program, with a new standardized memorandum of agreement (MOA) that will govern all future Section 287(g) collaborations. In this report, the authors find that some aspects of the new standardized agreement may address criticisms of the program, while others could complicate implementation. The report also sets forth a research agenda for determining whether the 287(g) program generates greater benefits than costs and is worth maintaining. 


Protection through Integration: The Mexican Government's Efforts to Aid Migrants in the United States

By Laureen Laglagaron Immigrant integration remains largely an afterthought in US immigration policy discussions and the country's integration policies remain chronically underfunded and limited in scope. Local and informal actors such as families and community-based organizations have historically taken on this responsibility. However, as this report explores, new partners are emerging. Mexico's efforts to help its migrants succeed in the United States offer a new example of an immigrant-sending country looking to improve its emigrants' lives and connect with its diaspora. The report examines the evolution of Mexico's approach to its migrants and details the activities of Mexico's Institute of Mexicans Abroad (IME) in a first-ever attempt to map the expanding range of IME educational, health care, financial, and civic engagement programs. 


Transatlantic Information Sharing: At a Crossroads

By Hiroyuki Tanaka, Rocco Bellanova, Susan Ginsburg, and Paul De HertThe attempted Christmas Day attack on a US airliner has refocused interest on the data collected by governments on international travelers, and how information sharing can be used to prevent terrorism and secure travel if properly shared and analyzed. In the wake of 9/11, the United States and European Union worked out agreements to expand the sharing of personal information about international travelers as a means to prevent acts of terrorism and fight international crime. However, as this report explores, negotiations on a binding US-EU agreement that will govern the sharing of personal information for law enforcement purposes – while high on the transatlantic policy agenda – face significant challenges.


The Economics and Policy of Illegal Immigration in the United States

By Gordon H. HansonIllegal immigration's overall impact on the US economy is negligible, despite clear benefits for employers and unauthorized immigrants and slightly depressed wages for low-skilled native workers, according to this report by University of California, San Diego Professor of Economics Gordon Hanson for MPI's Labor Markets Initiative. The largest economic gains from illegal immigration flow to unauthorized workers, who see very substantial income hikes after migrating, Hanson says, suggesting that policy changes could increase the positive contribution that low-skilled workers make to the US economy by converting illegal flows to legal ones.


Tied to the Business Cycle: How Immigrants Fare in Good and Bad Economic Times 

By Pia M. Orrenius and Madeline Zavodny Immigrants surpassed native-born workers in several key labor market outcomes from the mid-1990s through 2007, recording higher employment and lower jobless rates — but the trend was reversed with the onset of the current recession. The report, which analyzes employment and unemployment patterns over the past 15 years and two recessions, shows that immigrant economic outcomes began deteriorating before the current recession officially began in December 2007, tracing immigrants' declining fortunes largely to the housing bust which began in spring 20+06. 


Immigrant Detention: Can ICE Meet its Legal Imperatives and Case Management Responsibilities?

By Donald Kerwin and Serena Yi-Ying Lin As US Immigration and Customs Enforcement launches an initiative to move from a criminal incarceration model to a civil detention system, this report explores whether the agency is capable of meeting legal and case management responsibilities in light of its use of information systems that may not be collecting all the data necessary for compliance with legal, detention management and humanitarian standards. The report analyzes select data for all 32,000 detainees held in ICE custody on one night in January 2009 and examines the sufficiency of the agency's database and case tracking system. The authors provide a roadmap for meeting the data needs essential for the new detention initiative to succeed. 


Migration and the Global Recession 

By Michael Fix, Demetrios G. Papademetriou, Jeanne Batalova, Aaron Terrazas, Serena Yi-Ying Lin, and Michelle Mittelstadt The global financial crisis that began in September 2008 can be viewed as having a deeper and more global effect on the movement of people around the world than any other economic downturn in the post-World War II era of migration, finds a new MPI report commissioned by the BBC World Service. The report explores how the recession has affected the movement of some of the world's more than 195 million migrants and their remittances in locations around the globe. It provides data on migration, remittances, employment, and poverty rates for immigrants and the native-born alike; and examines the policy changes some countries have enacted to suppress migrant inflows, encourage departures (including through recent "pay-to-go" plans), and protect labor markets for native-born workers. 


Aligning Temporary Immigration Visas with US Labor Market Needs: The Case for Provisional Visas 

By Demetrios G. Papademetriou, Doris Meissner, Marc R. Rosenblum, and Madeleine Sumption Reform of a rigid employment-based visa system that is out of sync with the needs of employers, the US economy, US society, and immigrants alike must be part of effective comprehensive immigration reform legislation. In this report, MPI recommends creation of a new stream of visas known as provisional visas, which would bridge temporary and permanent admissions to the United States for work purposes in a predictable and transparent way. The authors make the case that the concept hits the sweet spot in balancing the two main goals of labor market immigration policy: It supports economic growth and competitiveness while protecting the wages and interests of US workers; and it facilitates the social and economic integration of immigrants. 


The Next Generation of E-Verify: Getting Employment Verification Right 

By Doris Meissner and Marc R. Rosenblum Effective employment verification must be the linchpin of comprehensive immigration reform legislation if new policies are to succeed in preventing future illegal immigration. While E-Verify, the government's voluntary electronic verification program, has been greatly improved, it most crucially still cannot detect identity fraud and requires further enhancement. This report examines the strengths and weaknesses of the current system and outlines recommendations to get to a stronger next-generation E-Verify, including by testing alternatives such as secure documents, PIN pre-verification, and biometric scanning. 


6th Annual Immigration Law and Policy Conference

In a major address at the 6th Annual Immigration Law and Policy Conference sponsored by MPI, Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc., and Georgetown University Law Center, Senate Immigration Subcommittee Chairman Charles Schumer outlined the seven principles he said will form the basis for the immigration legislation he intends to introduce by this fall. The conference, also addressed by Homeland Security Assistant Secretary John Morton and other top immigration experts in and out of government, included sessions on “Bringing Immigration Policymaking into the 21st Century,” “Prospects for Immigration Reform: What to Expect from Washington?”  Discussion on the Economic Recession and its Impact on Immigration,” “ Communities Laying the Groundwork for Immigration Reform and Beyond,” and “Immigrant Integration:  A Full Federal Policy Agenda.” 


Harnessing the Advantages of Immigration for a 21st-Century Economy

By Demetrios G. Papademetriou, Doris Meissner, Marc R. Rosenblum, and Madeleine Sumption The US immigration system neither meets labor market needs efficiently nor minds the interests of US workers with particular success, and has yet to devise a way that uses immigration to promote US economic growth and competitiveness well. This paper proposes an institutional solution to address this systemic failure: Creating a permanent and independent body, situated within the executive branch, that is charged with recommending adjustments to immigration laws to the president and Congress: the Standing Commission on Labor Markets, Economic Competitiveness, and Immigration. The bipartisan panel would provide timely, evidence-based, and impartial analysis and recommendations to the president and Congress regarding employment-based immigration.


Prospects for Comprehensive Immigration Reform

Testimony of Doris Meissner, Director of MPI's US Immigration Policy Program, before the Senate Judiciary Committee Subcommittee on Immigration, Border Security, and Citizenship, at its hearing: "Comprehensive Immigration Reform in 2009, Can We Do It and How?" April 30, 2009.


DHS and Immigration: Taking Stock and Correcting Course 

By Doris Meissner and Donald Kerwin Nearly six years after the federal immigration bureaucracy was dismantled and rebuilt to meet the heightened security imperatives of the post-9/11 era, the arrival of new executive branch leadership offers the singular opportunity to take stock and provide a clear-eyed assessment of the performance of the three immigration agencies within the Department of Homeland Security. In a new report, MPI offers policy recommendations for US Customs and Border Protection, US Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and US Citizenship and Immigration Services, as well as overall DHS immigration policy direction and coordination, that could be accomplished by the new administration without need for legislation. 


Collateral Damage: An Examination of ICE's Fugitive Operations Program

By Margot Mendelson, Shayna Strom, and Michael Wishnie The federal fugitive operations program established to locate, apprehend, and remove fugitive aliens who pose a threat to the community has instead focused chiefly on arresting unauthorized immigrants without criminal convictions. In a new report, MPI finds that 73 percent of the nearly 97,000 people arrested by US Immigration and Customs Enforcement fugitive operations teams between the program's inception in 2003 and early 2008 were unauthorized immigrants without criminal records. And arrests of fugitive aliens with criminal convictions have represented a steadily declining share of total arrests by the fugitive operations teams. 


Immigrants and the Current Economic Crisis

By Demetrios G. Papademetriou and Aaron Terrazas As the nation sinks into a recession that may be the worst since the Great Depression, the economic crisis raises fundamental questions about future immigration flows to and from the United States and how current and prospective immigrants will fare. This report, a research product of MPI's new Labor Markets Initiative, examines how the number of immigrants has changed since the recession began; how legal and illegal immigration flows may change; and how immigrants fare in the labor market during downturns. 


Uneven Progress: The Employment Pathways of Skilled Immigrants in the United States

By Jeanne Batalova and Michael Fix with Peter A. CreticosMore than 1.3 million college-educated immigrants in the United States are unemployed or working in unskilled jobs because they are unable to make full use of their academic and professional credentials, MPI reports in the first assessment yet of the scope of the "brain waste" problem. The report analyzes and offers possible solutions for the credentialing and language-barrier hurdles that deprive the US economy of a rich source of human capital at a time of increasing competition globally for skilled talent. 


State Responses to Immigration: A Database of All State Legislation

The State Responses database is a unique, searchable online tool that catalogues all 1,059 immigration-related bills introduced in state legislatures in 2007, and allows users to search legislation by state, geographic region, subject area, bill status, and legislative typology. The database includes a synopsis of each bill and is accompanied by a report, Regulating Immigration at the State Level: Highlights from the Database of 2007 State Immigration Legislation and the Methodology


New Data Guide On Finding, Using the Most Accurate, Recent Immigration Data Resources 

The Immigration: Data Matters guide shows where to locate some of the most credible, up-to-date US and global immigration-related data compiled by government and non-governmental sources. The online guide, also available in hard copy, includes clickable links to resources that offer immigrant population estimates; the size of the unauthorized immigrant population; English proficiency rates; the share of immigrants in the workforce; education, health, and income and poverty statistics relating to immigrants; and other data. 


Foreign-Born Veterans of the US Armed Forces

By Iris Ho and Aaron Terrazas Fact Sheet No. 22, October 2008 As the United States prepares to commemorate Veterans Day, an MPI analysis finds there were about 645,000 foreign-born veterans of the US armed forces in 2007, representing nearly 3 percent of all surviving US veterans. The Fact Sheet, using data from the US Census Bureau's 2007 American Community Survey, provides a demographic portrait of the foreign-born veterans' countries of origin, states of residence, and periods of service. 


The Redesigned Citizenship Test: High Stakes 

By Laureen Laglagaron and Bhavna Devani MPI Backgrounder No. 6, September 2008 More than a decade in the making, the redesigned citizenship test required for use after October 1, 2008 is supposed to provide a more meaningful opportunity for applicants to demonstrate knowledge about US history and civics, and allow the government more standardized test administration. This MPI Backgrounder details the redesign process, examines whether the government met its goals, and provides policy recommendations.


Immigrants and Health Care Reform: What's Really at Stake?

By Randy Capps, Marc R. Rosenblum, and Michael Fix 

Health care reform proposals under consideration in Congress that would exclude many legal immigrants from core benefits and impose new verification requirements would have important spillover consequences for taxpayers and other health care consumers. In a new report, MPI's National Center on Immigrant Integration Policy offers the first-ever estimates of the size of uninsured immigrant populations in major immigrant-destination states, the number of immigrant workers covered by employer-provided plans, and the share of immigrants employed by small firms likely to be exempted from employer coverage mandates. The report, based on MPI analysis of Census Bureau data, also examines health coverage for immigrants by legal status, age, and poverty levels


Who's Where in the United States 

This Migration Information Source data tool has information on the foreign born by region or continent of origin, and state or region of destination.


State-by-State Data on the Foreign Born in the United States 

This easy-to-use Migration Information Source data tool shows state data on where the foreign born are from, how much of the population they represent, what languages they speak at home, and more.


Migration Information Source Maps of the Foreign Born in the United States

Six maps showing the distribution of immigrants by county, including the total foreign-born population and the five largest foreign-born groups according to the results of Census 2000.

Migration Information Source Spotlights on the Foreign Born from Around the World in the United States

By David Dixon, Elizabeth Grieco, and members of the MPI staff

Data on the Foreign Born in the United States


Unauthorized Migrants: Numbers and Characteristics

Report by Jeffrey S. Passel, prepared for the Independent Task Force on Immigration and America's Future by the Pew Hispanic CenterJeffrey S. Passel offers a portrait of the unauthorized population in unprecedented detail. The report shows that most of the unauthorized population lives in families, a quarter has at least some college education, and illegal workers can be found in many sectors of the US economy.


Lessons From The Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986

By Betsy Cooper and Kevin O'NeilTask Force Policy Brief No. 3, April 2005The 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) was the first legislative attempt to comprehensively address the issue of unauthorized immigration. Although the concepts behind the legislation were sound, there were a number of problems with its design and implementation in each of its major goals.