Every day, organizations worldwide are engaged in a collective two steps forward, one step back march toward improved immigration services and policies. What hard-earned lessons are these nonprofits, and the foundations that support them, learning from their persistent efforts? This collection of evaluations, case studies, and lessons learned exposes and explores the nuances of effective collaboration, the value of coordinated messaging, the bedrock of ongoing advocacy efforts, and the vital importance of long-term and flexible funding.

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A Brief History of U.S. Immigration Policy from the Colonial Period to the Present Day

August 3, 2021

More than 86 million people have legally immigrated to the United States between 1783 and 2019. The legal regime under which they immigrated has changed radically over that time; the politics surrounding those changes have remained contentious, and past immigration policies inform the current political debate. Conflicting visions and piecemeal legislation have left the United States with an archaic and barely coherent immigration system with outdated policy objectives that is primarily controlled by the executive branch of government. We review the history of U.S. immigration policy, including the legal controversies that empowered Congress with its immigration plenary power and the historical policy decisions that still guide the U.S. immigration system, in order to contextualize the current political debate over immigration at the beginning of the Biden administration.

Incarcerated Immigrants in 2016: Their Numbers, Demographics, and Countries of Origin

June 4, 2018

This brief uses American Community Survey data from the U.S. Census Bureau to analyze incarcerated immigrants according to their citizenship and legal status for 2016. The data show that all immigrants—legal and illegal—are less likely to be incarcerated than native-born Americans relative to their shares of the population.

Immigration and the Welfare State: Immigrant and Native Use Rates and Benefit Levels for Means-Tested Welfare and Entitlement Programs

May 10, 2018

Overall, immigrants are less likely to consume welfare benefits and, when they do, they generally consume a lower dollar value of benefits than native-born Americans. This appears contrary to the study conducted by the CIS (Publication 3), but Cato claims its work is more accurate because it examines individuals with immigration status, while CIS measures welfare use by households headed by immigrants (which often contain multiple native-born Americans).

Do Immigration Enforcement Programs Reduce Crime? Evidence from the 287(g) Program in North Carolina

April 11, 2018

This paper examines 287(g)'s implementation across multiple counties in North Carolina and identifies its impact on local crime rates and police clearance rates by exploiting time variation in regional immigration enforcement trends. The 287(g) program did not affect the crime rate in North Carolina or police clearance rates but it did boost the number of assaults against police officers.

Criminal Immigrants in Texas: Illegal Immigrant Conviction and Arrest Rates for Homicide, Sexual Assault, Larceny, and Other Crimes

February 26, 2018

This brief uses Texas Department of Public Safety data to measure the conviction and arrest rates of illegal immigrants by crime. In Texas in 2015, the criminal conviction and arrest rates for immigrants were well below those of native-born Americans. Moreover, the conviction and arrest rates for illegal immigrants were lower than those for native-born Americans. This result holds for most crimes.

Immigrants Assimilate into the Political Mainstream

January 19, 2017

This report separates immigrant political and policy opinions by citizenship status. Noncitizen immigrants cannot vote but their political opinions are mostly similar to those of natives. However, naturalized citizen-immigrants who can vote have political opinions even closer to those of natives and are near-fully assimilated into the political mainstream.

Terrorism and Immigration: A Risk Analysis

September 13, 2016

This report attempts to analyze the likelihood of an American perishing in a terrorist attack on U.S. soil committed by a variety of foreign-born classifications (tourist, refugee, illegal immigrant, etc.).

Does Immigration Impact Institutions?

May 6, 2014

This paper empirically examines how immigration impacts a nation's policies and institutions and finds no evidence of negative and some evidence of positive impacts in institutional quality as a result of immigration.