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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Facing an Impossible Choice: Experiences of Asylum Seekers in Matamoros and Reynosa Two Months into the Biden Asylum Ban

July 24, 2023

The National Immigration Project and Together & Free document their observations from trips to Matamoros and Reynosa, Tamaulipas, Mexico in June and July 2023, where they conducted interviews with asylum seekers, service providers, and advocates. The report calls on the Biden administration to end and rescind the Asylum Ban and to urgently make changes to the CBP One appointment system.

Refugees & Asylum Seekers

Refugee Protection Travesty: Biden Asylum Ban Endangers and Punishes At-Risk Asylum Seekers

July 12, 2023

On May 12, 2023, the Biden administration began implementing its new bar to asylum through a final rule (the asylum ban).  While Biden administration officials have inaccurately touted it as "working," the grim reality is that the asylum ban is a refugee protection, humanitarian, and legal travesty. As detailed in this report, in the two months since its implementation, the Biden asylum ban has stranded vulnerable people in places where they are targets of kidnapping and violent assaults, rigged the credible fear process against people seeking asylum, and deported many without meaningful access to counsel and despite potential eligibility for asylum under U.S. law. The harm inflicted by the asylum ban is compounded by U.S. and Mexican government policies that block, deny, meter or further impede access to asylum and leave people in atrocious conditions as they wait to seek asylum under the ban.

Refugees & Asylum Seekers

Limits on Access to Asylum After Title 42: One Month of Monitoring U.S.-Mexico Border Ports of Entry

June 23, 2023

Following the end of Title 42 and the implementation of new restrictions, a working group of U.S., Mexican, and international NGOs that provide humanitarian and legal support to asylum seekers and migrants in the border region conducted targeted in-person monitoring at ports of entry to understand the impact of these policy shifts on access to asylum. Between May 11 and June 12, 2023, observations took place at six ports of entry in California (San Ysidro and Otay Mesa), Arizona (Dennis DeConcini), and Texas (Bridge of the Americas, Paso Del Norte and Ysleta) that adjoin the Mexican cities of Tijuana, Nogales, and Ciudad Juárez.The monitors' key findings include practices by U.S. and Mexican authorities that restricted asylum seekers without CBP One appointments from physically reaching ports of entry; limited processing or metering of asylum seekers without CBP One appointments; and a lack of adequate and accurate information for asylum seekers.

Refugees & Asylum Seekers

Coordinating Humanitarian Entry in the United States and Mexico: A Bilateral Approach to U.S. Legal Migration

June 1, 2023

Mexico and the United States have stated a joint interest in reducing illegal immigration through Mexico to the U.S.-Mexican border. Both countries are signatories of the Los Angeles Declaration on Migration and Protection, which pledges a coordinated multilateral approach to addressing migration, and Mexico has worked with the United States on its enforcement efforts, accepting returns from the United States. One untapped area of potential coordination is in each nation's authorization for migrants to temporarily enter their countries for humanitarian reasons.Unfortunately, the lack of coordination has meant that many migrants travel through Mexico and congregate in northern Mexico near the U.S.-Mexican border to try to obtain humanitarian entry into the United States. A better approach would be for Mexico to issue cards for visitors for humanitarian reasons at the Guatemalan‐Mexican border, allowing migrants to travel to Mexico City, where they could apply for U.S. parole and fly directly to the United States legally.

More Humane Immigration Policies Will Reduce Migrant Trauma: A Conversation with Dr. Alfonso Mercado

May 25, 2023

Hostile immigration enforcement policies and anti-immigrant actions against refugees and asylum seekers are causing trauma to migrant families and exposing them to dangerous living conditions on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border. In recent years, stress from the COVID-19 pandemic has compounded the negative effects of these policies on the health of migrants.This policy brief outlines a conversation held with Dr. Alfonso Mercado, a clinical psychologist and associate professor at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley School of Medicine. He has conducted extensive clinical work in migrant tent encampments at the U.S.-Mexico border, and on Feb. 28, 2023, he met with migration policy experts and community leaders to discuss the detrimental mental health effects of the ongoing migrant crisis there. The conversation focused on the impact of key policies, such as the use of Title 42 on migrants' mental health and well-being.

Refugees & Asylum Seekers

Lives at Risk: Barriers and Harms As Biden Asylum Ban Takes Effect

May 19, 2023

This joint report presents findings and recommendations regarding the end of the Title 42 policy and the implementation of punitive policies along the border, including the Biden administration's new asylum ban. From May 10 to 12, adelegation of human, civil, and immigrants' rights leaders saw firsthand the difficulties that people seeking asylum face when attempting to secure appointments at U.S. ports of entry via the CBP One app; the barriers some face waiting and trying to seek asylum at ports of entry without a CBP One appointment; the squalid and inhumane living conditions of migrants at the border; and the violence and anti-Black racism that people seeking asylum endure while waiting in Mexico.

Refugees & Asylum Seekers

USA: Mandatory Use of CBP One Application Violates the Right to Seek Asylum

May 7, 2023

Title 42 is expected to end on May 11, 2023, in conjunction with the administration of US President Biden ending the national emergency related to the COVID-19 pandemic. In accordance with the notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM), once Title 42 is terminated, asylum-seekers will be required to use the CBP One application to schedule a time to arrive at participating ports of entry along the southern border in order to present their asylum claims. Amnesty International considers that the mandatory use of CBP One as the exclusive manner of entry into the United States to seek international protection violates international human rights law.

Climate of Coercion: Environmental and Other Drivers of Cross-Border Displacement in Central America and Mexico

March 30, 2023

This report published by the International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP), U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, and Human Security Initiative (HUMSI) analyzes the intersection of climate change and climate-related disasters with other root causes of movement across borders for people who have traveled to the United States-Mexico border from Central America and other parts of Mexico to seek U.S. humanitarian protection. It is based on 38 interviews in Tijuana shelters with Guatemalan, Honduran, Mexican, and Salvadoran individuals who intend to seek U.S. asylum, conducted in Spanish in January 2023 by HUMSI and a team of Stanford Law School students.

Migrant Caravans: A Deep Dive Into Mass Migration through Mexico and the Effects of Immigration Policy

March 2, 2023

U.S. immigration policy remains murky in substance as well as legislatively incomplete. Polarization of the issue by American politicians and legislators has resulted in both punitive and permissive policy pronouncements over the last four U.S. presidential administrations, most of which have done little to deter migrants from crossing through Mexico into the U.S. in search of a better life.This research paper reviews some of the implications of at least 30 migrant caravan iterations that were detected traversing Mexico en route to the U.S. from 2017 to 2022. The migrant caravan phenomenon is viewed from a broad perspective and distilled down to the individual iterations to assess commonalities between caravan waves and to determine which "push" and "pull" factors were in place when the caravans were formed and mobilized. The individual caravan iterations are also compared against permissive and punitive U.S. and Mexican immigration policies at the time to assess any discernable cause and effect.

The everywhere border: Digital migration control infrastructure in the Americas

February 14, 2023

The US is building a digital border infrastructure in neighbouring countries that expands and deepens surveillance, while hiding state violence. The implications of this new infrastructure will be long-lasting and need to be integrated into strategies of resistance of migrant justice movements worldwide.

Communications & Media

Ensuring Humane and Orderly Processing of Unaccompanied Children at the U.S.-Mexico Border

January 6, 2023

As the Biden Administration prepares to end the use of Title 42 expulsions, it must refrain from any actions that restrict access to humanitarian protection in the United States. In preparation for the end of the policy, the Administration can and should adopt the below recommendations on an immediate and long-term basis to ensure operational efficiency, due process, and individual safety in the reception of unaccompanied children and other migrants at the border.


How Guest Workers Affect Illegal Immigration: Mexican Visas and Mexican Border Apprehensions, 1943–2022

December 1, 2022

This analysis tracks the history of guest worker programs and their rules as a policy to manage migration flows from Mexico. The most important lesson from this history is that the government can impose rules that make a guest worker program functionally unusable for employers and workers, resulting in illegal immigration. Caps on visas and limits on the types of jobs that the workers can perform inevitably cause illegal immigration to reappear. Wage regulations that artificially increase the cost of hiring far beyond market wages cause employers to seek to hire workers outside of the system. Any highly regulated guest worker program must resort to heavy‐handed enforcement measures to keep illegal immigration from spiraling out of control again.