Immigration Policy

Immigration Policy

Policy Update: Protecting Afghan Allies in the Aftermath of the Longest War in American History

On August 31, 2021, President Joe Biden announced the end of the 20-year war in Afghanistan, the longest war in American history. By the end of August, the United States completed one of the biggest airlifts to date, evacuating more than 120,000 people out of Afghanistan, including US citizens and permanent residents. As of September 14, 2021, approximately 64,000 Afghan evacuees have arrived in the United States.

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Tax Equality for Immigrants: The Indispensable Ingredient for Remedying Child Poverty in the United States

Both at the federal and state levels, tax credits have proved effective policy instruments to combat poverty, and they are at the heart of President Biden’s massive initiative on childhood poverty. However, about one of every five children suffering poverty in the United States has an unauthorized immigrant parent and thus little or no access to tax credits. That is nearly two million children, and 85 percent of them are US citizens. Achieving historic reductions in childhood poverty thus will be impossible without remedying the eligibility exclusions and bureaucratic impediments that unauthorized immigrants face in the US tax system.

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Making Citizenship an Organizing Principle of the US Immigration System

This paper proposes that the United States treat naturalization not as the culmination of a long and uncertain individual process, but as an organizing principle of the US immigration system and its expectation for new Americans. It comes at a historic inflection point, following the chaotic departure of one of the most nativist administrations in US history and in the early months of a new administration whose executive orders, administrative actions, and legislative proposals augur an entirely different view of immigrants and immigration.

The paper examines two main ways that the Biden-Harris administration’s immigration agenda can be realized – by expanding access to permanent residence and by increasing naturalization numbers and rates. First, it proposes administrative and, to a lesser degree, legislative measures that would expand the pool of eligible-to-naturalize immigrants. Second, it identifies three underlying factors – financial resources, English language proficiency, and education – that strongly influence naturalization rates. It argues that these factors must be addressed, in large part, outside of and prior to the naturalization process. In addition, it provides detailed estimates of populations with large eligible-to-naturalize numbers, populations that naturalize at low rates, and populations with increasing naturalization rates. It argues that the administration’s immigration strategy should prioritize all three groups for naturalization.

The paper endorses the provisions of the US Citizenship Act that would place undocumented and temporary residents on a path to permanent residence and citizenship, would reduce
family- and employment-based visa backlogs, and would eliminate disincentives and barriers to permanent residence. It supports the Biden-Harris administration’s early executive actions and proposes additional measures to increase access to permanent residence and naturalization. It also endorses and seeks to inform the administration’s plan to improve and expedite the naturalization process and to promote naturalization.

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Innovating Inclusion: A New Wave of State Activism to Include Immigrants in Social Safety Nets

States across the country are tackling an equity issue in the tax code by breaking from federal eligibility standards for their state Earned Income Tax Credits (EITCs). Specifically, states are taking it upon themselves to end the exclusion of taxpayers who file their taxes with an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN). ITINs are personal tax processing numbers issued by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to individuals who are not eligible for a Social Security number. They are primarily issued to undocumented immigrants, although they are also issued to certain lawfully present immigrants. Millions of people pay taxes with ITINs every year. Together ITIN-filers paid $23.6 billion in taxes in 2015. In less than a year, five states have successfully passed legislation to end the exclusion of these tax filers from their EITCs.

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CMSOnAir | Daniela Alulema on the Contributions of DACA Recipients

As the Supreme Court heard oral arguments regarding the Trump administration’s efforts to terminate the DACA program, CMS released a paper offering detailed estimates about DACA recipients, their economic contributions, and their deep ties to US communities. The paper, which also features testimonies of several DACA recipients, was subsequently published in the Journal on Migration and Human Security (JMHS). In this episode, Daniela Alulema — who is author of the JMHS paper, CMS’s Director of Programs, and herself a DACA recipient — describes the paper’s findings, shares the stories of the DACA recipients, and outlines potential policy directions for the DACA program.

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The US Citizenship Act of 2021: What’s Inside and Who Could be Eligible for Immigration Relief

On January 20, 2021, President Biden announced the US Citizenship Act of 2021 memorializing his commitment to modernize the US immigration system. On February 18, 2021, Senator Bob Mendez and Congresswoman Linda Sanchez introduced the bill to the Senate and House (respectively). If passed, it would create the largest legalization program in US history. This page provides an overview of the act’s provisions.

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President Biden’s Executive Actions on Immigration

President Joseph R. Biden Jr. set forth an ambitious immigration agenda in the early days of the Biden-Harris administration, committing both to reverse harmful policies implemented by the Trump administration and to revitalize the US immigration system more broadly. In his first 100 days in office, President Biden articulated his immigration and refugee protection goals and reversed many of his predecessor’s policies in a series of executive actions. He also raised the refugee admissions cap for FY 2021 and endorsed the US Citizenship Act of 2021, which would represent the most sweeping immigration reform legislation in decades and create the largest legalization program in US history.  President Biden’s executive actions address the situation at the southern border, root causes of irregular migration from Central America, impacts of climate change on migration, COVID-19 travel restrictions, and fortification of existing legal immigration pathways, as well as commitments to create new ones.

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New from IMR: Migration Infrastructure, Policy, and Public Attitudes

The Fall 2020 edition of the International Migration Review (IMR) is now available online and in print through paid or institutional subscription. This edition is thematically sorted into four sections. The first section has articles about different aspects of migration infrastructure. The second section discusses migrant labor market outcomes, with a focus on education, employment, and selection. The third section examines migration policies across scales, such as local voting, geopolitical influences, and enforcement questions. The fourth section examines immigration and public attitudes focusing on political elites and media use. Lastly, this edition includes 11 book reviews which are free to access.

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Panel III • The 2020 Election: An Administrative Agenda for Immigration and Refugee Reform

The US Presidential and Congressional election could have as profound an effect on the course of US immigration and refugee policy as any election in memory. This panel examined the potential immigration and refugee agenda of the Biden administration, with a particular focus on what the new administration should seek to achieve through administrative action in its first year. It also explored the challenges the new administration will face in enacting its agenda, and whether multiple national crises – public health, racial, economic, and immigration – will provide an opening and momentum for more generous and inclusive policies.

Daniela Alulema

Director of Programs
Center for Migration Studies

T. Alexander Aleinikoff

University Professor
Director of the Zolberg Institute on Migration and Mobility
The New School

Donald Kerwin
Executive Director
Center for Migration Studies

Charles Wheeler
Director of Training and Legal Support
Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc.

Wendy Young
Kids in Need of Defense

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