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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Featured

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.

Featured

Climbing the Ladder: Roadblocks Faced by Immigrants in the New York City Construction Industry

May 23, 2022

As of 2021, immigrants comprised a larger share of the construction workforce than of any other sector in New York City (Office of the New York State Comptroller 2021). Between 2015 and 2019, immigrants comprised just 37 percent of the total New York City population, but 44 percent of the city's labor force and 63 percent of all its construction workers (Ruggles et al. 2021). The Center for Migration Studies of New York (CMS) estimates that in this time period, 41 percent of the immigrant construction workforce was undocumented.Economic exploitation and safety hazards are prevalent across the entire construction industry. However, despite the essential role immigrants play in the construction industry in New York City and the United States, immigrant construction workers are especially vulnerable to exploitation and dangerous conditions. Lack of employment authorization, social safety nets, English proficiency, credentials recognition, and training opportunities, as well as discrimination place immigrants at a stark disadvantage as they try to enter, negotiate, and advance in this industry. For this report, the CMS research team interviewed 16 immigrant construction workers from 10 countries and 10 other experts in this industry, including business representatives, union organizers, and representatives of community-based organizations (CBOs). Five of these representatives were immigrants and former construction workers. With research assistance from the New York-based consulting firm Locker Associates, Inc., CMS used these interviews, together with several other data sources, to examine how construction workers in New York City find employment, their work arrangements, and barriers and conditions that endanger their health, safety, and economic well-being.

Featured

From Trauma to Development: A Policy Agenda for an Equitable Future for Young Children of Immigrants

May 19, 2022

By 2025, children of immigrants will make up nearly one-third of the U.S. child population. More than 94 percent of children of immigrants under the age of six are U.S. citizens, symbolizing a shift in the face of the nation. The ability of young children to learn, grow, and succeed defines what our nation will become, and yet, children of immigrants often lack the necessary resources to grow to their full potential. Additionally, due to a host of factors including their parents' journeys to the United States, socioeconomic status, citizenship status, language fluency, and the disruptions and destabilizations of the COVID-19 pandemic, the children of immigrants are also coping with trauma that, without proper resources and care, could leave them struggling throughout their whole lives. Relying on interviews with immigrant parents, experts, and advocates in the immigrant and child advocacy spaces, as well as a growing body of early education research, this report summarizes the barriers to learning, growth, and development for young children of immigrants and the policy solutions--like access to early education tailored to their families' particular needs--that could help them to overcome not only the social, educational, and economic barriers they face, but also to heal from trauma and live happy, healthy lives in the United States.

Children

The Fairness for Farm Workers Act: It’s Time to End Discrimination against Farmworkers

June 29, 2022

This fact sheet examines the Fairness for Farm Workers Act, legislation to update the nation's labor laws to ensure farm workers receive fair wages and compensation. The bill would amend the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 to provide overtime and additional minimum wage protections for farm workers.

Migrant Workers

Practice Advisory: USCIS’s New Refugee-Asylee Informal Marriage Guidance

June 24, 2022

On February 14, 2022, USCIS issued new guidance on recognizing informal marriages of refugees and asylees. Under the new guidance, USCIS will recognize an informal marriage when a refugee or asylee could not lawfully marry due to their flight from persecution and circumstances beyond their control or because of restrictive laws or practices in their country of origin or country of first asylum. USCIS's guidance only applies in adjudications of refugee applications (I-590's), asylum applications (I-589's), and refugee/asylee family reunification petitions (I-730's). In this practice advisory, we explain the new guidance and how legal practitioners can assist impacted refugee and asylee families.

Refugees & Asylum Seekers

The Nightmare Continues: Title 42 Court Order Prolongs Human Rights Abuses, Extends Disorder at U.S. Borders

June 16, 2022

On May 23, 2022, the Title 42 policy was set to end. For more than two years, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) had used this Trump-era policy to block asylum at U.S. ports of entry and to expel asylum seekers to grave dangers without allowing them to apply for U.S. asylum. However, on May 20, 2022, a federal court in Louisiana preliminarily enjoined decision by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to terminate its prior Title 42 orders, and the court directed the U.S. government to continue the Title 42 disaster. At the same time, a ruling by the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals prohibiting DHS from using Title 42 to expel asylum-seeking families "to places where they will be persecuted or tortured" went into effect on May 23.Despite these seemingly dueling Title 42 judicial decisions, DHS retains clear authority to except individuals from Title 42 and remains obligated under U.S. refugee law and binding treaty commitments not to return anyone--whether a family, adult, or child--to persecution or torture, as the legal rationale of the D.C. Circuit Court decision confirms.However, Customs and Border Protection (CBP), the border enforcement arm of DHS, continues to turn away people attempting to request asylum at U.S. ports of entry without screening for asylum, stranding them in Mexico facing life-threatening dangers. DHS also continues to expel people who cross the border between ports of entry to grave danger in Mexico, Haiti, and other countries of persecution from which they fled without allowing them to apply for asylum or asking fear screening questions.This update is based on interviews with 74 asylum seekers conducted by Human Rights First researchers in Ciudad Acuña, Nuevo Laredo, and Piedras Negras, Mexico in late May 2022 as well as additional remote interviews in June 2022; information from legal services and humanitarian aid providers across the border region; observations from outside the Del Rio, Eagle Pass, and Laredo ports of entry; publicly available U.S. government data and information; as well as media and other human rights reporting.

Rampant Violations of Workers’ Rights Reveal Flaws of H-2A Visa Program

June 16, 2022

This fact sheet describes frequent violations of workers' rights and the need for reform in the H-2A visa program.

Migrant Workers

National Agricultural Workers Survey 2019-2020 Selected Statisticsdraft title

June 15, 2022

This fact sheet summarizes key findings from the recently released 2019-20 results of the U.S. Department of Labor's National Agricultural Workers Survey (NAWS).

Migrant Workers

Social Determinants of Immigrants’ Health in New York City: A Study of Six Neighborhoods in Brooklyn and Queens

June 15, 2022

More than 3.1 million immigrants reside in New York City, comprising more than a third of the city's total population. The boroughs of Brooklyn and Queens are home to nearly 940,000 and more than 1 million immigrants, respectively. According to the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene's (DOHMH) Community Health Survey (CHS), foreign-born New Yorkers have poorer health and less access to healthcare than their US-born counterparts.For this study, the Center for Migration Studies of New York (CMS) focused on six neighborhoods in these two boroughs whose immigrant residents were identified by a previous CMS study, Virgin and Warren (2021), as most at risk of poor health outcomes. The CMS research team conducted a survey of 492 immigrants across these six neighborhoods and convened one focus group to collect data on immigrants' health and well-being. CMS also surveyed 24 service providers including community health clinics, health-focused community-based organizations, and hospitals that work with immigrants in the studied neighborhoods. Analysis of these data, together with the US Census Bureau's American Community Survey and the DOHMH's CHS, provides insight into the factors that affect immigrants' health and wellbeing across these neighborhoods.

DACA Decade: From students to careers and families

June 14, 2022

DACA has helped undocumented young people build careers and families in the United States. With the policy under immediate threat, it is long past time to provide certainty to recipients and their families with a pathway to citizenship.

The Economic Benefit of Proposition 308: Expanding In-State Tuition to Arizona Dreamers

June 14, 2022

New research from the American Immigration Council highlights the crucial role that new Americans play in Arizona's economy, including in some of the state's fastest-growing and most in-demand fields, like healthcare, education, and the skilled trades. Still, the state is facing critical workforce shortages across the skills and education spectrum. One meaningful way for Arizona to remain competitive and tackle these workforce shortages is by increasing access to higher education for Dreamers. By passing Proposition 308, Arizona would join more than 20 states that recognize the financial hardship that out-of-state tuition imposes on young Dreamers. Granting access to in-state tuition to all Arizona graduates is an important step toward meeting critical workforce needs and would greatly benefit the state's economy. 

Immigrant Entrepreneurship: Economic Potential and Obstacles to Success

June 13, 2022

As a long-standing immigration destination, the United States has depended on the entrepreneurial contributions of immigrants as an economic driver. While much of the current immigrant entrepreneurship discussion centers on high-tech start-ups and Fortune 500 companies 1, immigrants create businesses of all sizes that help fuel American economic growth. The U.S. Census' 2007 and 2012 Survey of Business Owners (SBO) found that immigrants had formed about 25% of new businesses in the United States, with rates surpassing 40% in some states. Immigrants are also 10% more likely to own their own business than U.S. natives. Simply put, the United States' economic success story would not exist without immigrant entrepreneurs with a range of backgrounds and skill levels who were willing to launch their business ideas here. This report shows a consistent set of drivers and barriers that impact immigrant entrepreneurs in the United States, and outlines recommendations for policymakers at all levels of government to better support these entrepreneurs and enable a more robust U.S. economy.