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COVID-19’s Effects on U.S. Immigration and Immigrant Communities, Two Years On

June 9, 2022

More than two years into the COVID-19 era, the United States has seen more than 1 million people die of the virus, and a sharp recession and uneven recovery that have caused hardship for many families. And while the pandemic has touched the lives of all U.S. residents, immigrants have been among the hardest hit. Understanding how the pandemic has reshaped U.S. immigration policies and levels, and how the pandemic and associated economic downturn and recovery have affected immigrant families, can guide better policymaking as the United States grapples with COVID-19's ongoing impacts and faces future public-health crises, natural disasters, and other emergencies.This report takes a look back. It first details immigration policy changes the U.S. government made after the emergence of COVID-19 and the effect these policy changes and visa processing challenges have had on immigration levels to the United States. Next, it describes the essential roles that immigrant workers have played during the pandemic in health care and other fields, and early evidence on the disproportionate impact of the novel coronavirus on immigrants' health. Finally, the report describes the high unemployment rates foreign-born workers experienced during the pandemic, the limited access many noncitizens have had to the safety nets that many citizens have relied upon after losing jobs, and innovative approaches states, localities, and nonprofit organizations have used to support immigrant families.

IRCA in Retrospect: Guideposts for Immigration Reform

January 28, 2014

The Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 (IRCA) was an important milestone in the immigration history of the United States, representing the first and most comprehensive legislation to take on the issue of illegal immigration to the United States with a mix of enforcement mechanisms to deter new unauthorized entries and legalization to regularize unauthorized immigrants already in the country. Contemporary policymakers are fortunate to have the experience of IRCA, documented in a rich research literature, to offer guideposts for crafting a new immigration law. The would do well to heed the lessons of 1986 - both positive and negative - to maximize the potential promise of immigration reform and avoid repeating past mistakes or sparking consequences that, while unintended, could have been foreseen.

Immigration Enforcement in the United States: The Rise of a Formidable Machinery

January 1, 2013

The US government spends more on federal immigration enforcement than on all other principal federal criminal law enforcement agencies combined, and has allocated nearly $187 billion for immigration enforcement since 1986. Deportations have reached record highs, border apprehensions 40-year lows, and more noncitizens than ever before are in immigration detention. The report traces the evolution of the immigration enforcement system, particularly in the post-9/11 era, in terms of budgets, personnel, enforcement actions, and technology -- analyzing how individual programs and policies have resulted in a complex, interconnected, cross-agency system.

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

March 25, 2010

Slightly more than 2.1 million unauthorized immigrant youth and young adults could be eligible to apply for legal status under the DREAM Act legislation pending in Congress, though perhaps fewer than 40 percent would obtain legal status because of barriers limiting their ability to take advantage of the legislation's educational and military service routes to legalization. This MPI analysis offers the most recent and detailed estimates of potential DREAM Act beneficiaries age, education levels, gender, state of residence and likelihood of gaining legalization.