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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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Beyond A Border Solution: How to Build a Humanitarian Protection System That Won’t Break

May 3, 2023

For generations, the United States has been a place of safe haven for people seeking freedom and safety. In 1980, Congress passed the Refugee Act, codifying basic refugee protections into law and enshrining a global commitment to asylum which emerged from the tragedy of the Holocaust. In the decades since then, hundreds of thousands of refugees and asylees have been granted status, strengthening communities around the nation, contributing economically, and enriching the national fabric.But in the 21st century, a global displacement crisis is affecting nearly every country in the world. Multiple nations across the Western Hemisphere have become destabilized due to a wide variety of factors, including rising authoritarianism, political assassinations, natural disasters, powerful transnational criminal organizations, climate change, and the global socioeconomic shocks of the COVID-19 pandemic. The end result is humanitarian migration at levels far above what the 20th-century system can handle.Presidential administrations of both parties have failed to meet this challenge. Instead of an orderly, humane, and consistent approach to humanitarian protection and border management, we have been left with a dysfunctional system that serves the needs of no one: not the government, border communities, or asylum seekers themselves.Crucially, there is still hope. Restoring our humanitarian protection systems and breaking the cycle of crises and crackdowns is not only possible, but within reach. However, to do so, we need a major shift in thinking and policymaking. Politicians must abandon a fantasy of short-term solutionism and acknowledge that only sustained investment over a period of time can realistically address these 21st century challenges. Therefore, short-term action must focus on establishing a viable path towards a better system. In the long term, with significant investment, we can create a flexible, orderly, and safe asylum process.

Starting Anew: The Economic Impact of Refugees in America

June 20, 2023

A record 100 million people around the globe were forced to flee their homes in 2022, up from 65 million in 2015. Of those displaced last year, 32.5 million were refugees who had to leave their country in fear of persecution due to their race, religion, nationality, political opinion or group membership. Political debates on how to handle recent refugees often focus on questions of humanitarian obligation or public safety concerns. While these are critical considerations, they fail to capture what many Americans experience as the most enduring legacy of refugees: the positive social and economic impact these newcomers have on their cities and towns.This report builds on the previous work published by New American Economy (now a part of the American Immigration Council) and provides updated analyses of how recent refugees are contributing to the U.S. economy. Using the 5-year American Community Survey (ACS) from 2019, we identify a pool of nearly 2.4 million likely refugees based on their country of origin and year of arrival in the United States. This method is conservative in nature but provides us with a large and representative picture of the 3.5 million refugees who have arrived since 1975. The results our work produces are clear. Refugees pay tens of billions of dollars in taxes each year. And in a country where immigrants have long been known to be more likely than the U.S.-born to start businesses, refugees show a particular willingness to make such long-term investments in the country. They found companies, become U.S. citizens, and buy homes at notably high rates.

Refugees & Asylum Seekers

Building Social Cohesion Among Diverse Youth During COVID-19: Insights from the Pilot Phase of the Youth Unity Project

June 8, 2023

The United States has a long, complex history of immigration that has shaped how we view the country—its strengths, its shortcomings, as well as its promise to be a sum greater than its parts. For us to reach our fullest potential as individuals and as a nation, it is incumbent on us to understand and explore our many immigration journeys. However, public debate around immigration is more divisive now than it has been in generations. Throughout the COVID-19 crisis, this widening divide has quickly created an environment in which youth, both new immigrants and those within the receiving community, feel less connected, engaged, and empowered to create their own, bold vision for a cohesive nation.The Youth Unity Project, a joint effort created by Y-USA and the Council, connects young, new immigrants with young people in their respective receiving communities and teaches them about immigration in the United States. Throughout the process, the young people engage on issues related to social justice, belonging, and social cohesion.

Children; Community-Based Outreach & Activity

Empowering immigrants from arrival to belonging: 2022 Annual Report

January 18, 2023

The American Immigration Council works to strengthen America by shaping how America thinks about and acts towards immigrants and immigration and by working toward a more fair and just immigration system that opens its doors to those in need of protection and unleashes the energy and skills that immigrants bring.

New Americans in Medina

October 31, 2022

This fact sheet highlights how immigrants fill crucial workforce gaps in addition to their financial contributions in the Medina, Ohio region, which included paying $105.1 million in federal taxes and $63.1 million in state and local taxes in 2019. Although immigrants made up 2.5% of the region's overall population in 2019, they represented 2.7% of its working-age population.Key findings include:Immigrants are bringing much-needed talent. In 2019, 40.6% of immigrants in the Medina region aged 25 and older held at least a bachelor's degree and 18.7% held an advanced degree (a master's, professional, or doctoral degree).Immigrants are filling critical workforce gaps. Although immigrants made up 2.5% of the region's overall population, they represented 7.3% of STEM workers, 3.6% of professional service workers, and 3.4% of all workers in the manufacturing industry in 2019.Immigrants foster an entrepreneurial spirit. In 2019, despite making up 2.5% of the Medina region's overall population, 3.3% of immigrants were entrepreneurs. In the region, immigrants were 33% more likely to be entrepreneurs than their U.S.-born counterparts.Immigrants help create or preserve local manufacturing jobs. In the Medina region, immigrants strengthened the local job market by allowing companies to keep jobs on U.S. soil, helping preserve or create 900 local manufacturing jobs that would have otherwise vanished or moved elsewhere by 2019.

The Changing Demographics of the Electorate at a State Level

October 27, 2022

While less than two full presidential election cycles ago, 2016 may feel like a significant time ago politically. Hotly contested midterm elections and the 2020 presidential contest, the coronavirus, and now the war in Ukraine have all transformed the tenor and dynamics of American politics. So too have the demographics of the electorate changed since 2016.Data from the 2020 Census has already shown how the U.S. population has continued and even sped up its demographic diversification. This demographic change in the overall population has trickled slowly into the electorate as younger, more diverse generations of U.S.-born people age into voting eligibility and as more foreign-born individuals take the important step of gaining U.S. citizenship and the right the vote.With the 2022 midterm elections on the horizon, this factsheet takes a look at the latest Current Population Survey data from 2022 and compares it to data from 2020 and 2016 in order to provide a snapshot of which states' electorates are changing the most rapidly. In some swing states where close races are expected to take place, the extent to which changing electorates can be activated by different campaigns may help determine who wins and who loses come November.

Midterms 2022: The Changing Demographics of the Electorate

October 3, 2022

2016 may not feel like a significant time ago, but the 2020 elections, the COVID-19 pandemic, and the war in Ukraine have all transformed the tenor and dynamics of American politics. Beyond political developments, the demographics of the electorate have continued to evolve significantly over this time.Data from the 2020 Census already demonstrated how the U.S. population has continued to diversify ethnically and racially. This demographic change is now being seen in the voting-eligible population, as younger and more diverse generations age into voting eligibility and as more immigrants take the important step of gaining U.S. citizenship and the right to vote.With the 2022 midterm elections on the horizon, this map uses data from the Current Population Survey to show which states' electorates are changing most rapidly. In swing states where close races are expected to take place, the extent to which changing electorates can be activated by each campaign may ultimately help determine who wins and loses come November.

Cultivating Contact: A Guide to Building Bridges and Meaningful Connections Between Groups

September 27, 2022

The United States is in the process of reckoning with many forms of social division, but it is also facing a moment of immense possibility. With deepening divides occurring and being fomented across racial, religious, socioeconomic, partisan, and geographic lines, trust in others has declined and members of distinct groups are more isolated from each other than ever. Many forces seek to exploit these vulnerabilities and stoke fear and anxiety about group differences. Yet our nation's history shows us that, even in the midst of these challenges, Americans from all walks of life have found ways to come together across lines of difference to solve critical community problems.How we choose to respond to group differences is ultimately up to us. We can take steps either to build walls or build bridges in the face of these differences. When we feel insecure, unsafe, or threatened, our initial instinct is to build walls, in an effort to protect ourselves and our groups. This instinctual response can help us to feel more secure and protected in the short term; but one long-term consequence is that we may grow more distrustful and fearful of people who are not like "us" and whom we don't personally know. Worse still, challenging social and economic conditions can exacerbate these tendencies, such that we start to develop competitive narratives that pit "us" against "them" and further deepen existing divisions between groups.Instead, when we build bridges, we take steps to engage with people across lines of difference. Engaging with one another in meaningful and authentic ways often requires us to step outside of our comfort zone, as we begin to share our life stories and experiences openly while attending deeply and respectfully to those shared by others. From interacting with others with this spirit of openness and attentiveness, we invite others into our worlds, just as they invite us into theirs. By doing so, we not only develop greater mutual understanding, but we are also likely to become more invested in each other's lives and to care more about each other's groups—and this emotional investment and caring is what compels us to work toward improving our communities and social institutions to ensure that everyone feels like they belong.In this guide, we describe how to set the stage for people from different backgrounds to engage with each other in ways that foster trust and belonging, while also drawing on their similarities and differences to solve community problems. We review a number of strategies that encourage people from different groups to work together as equals, so that they can share ideas and perspectives, and co-create new initiatives in collaboration and across group divides. We also provide materials that can help organizations begin to envision how they might assess the effectiveness of their contact programs.

An Overview of U.S. Refugee Law and Policy

September 20, 2022

The United States has long been a global leader in the resettlement of refugees—and the need for such leadership remains enormous. The number of refugees around the world who are fleeing violence or persecution in their home countries in search of safety abroad has grown dramatically over the past decade.Until recently, the United States offered refuge each year to more people than all other nations combined. But the Trump administration drastically reduced the maximum number of refugees that could enter the United States. Moreover, the United States government has imposed new security vetting procedures on refugees before they can be admitted into the country, which has greatly lengthened waiting times and left many refugees in dangerous situations for prolonged periods. In 2017, for the first time in modern history, the United States settled fewer refugees than the rest of the world. In Fiscal Year (FY) 2020, the United States settled only 11,814 refugees—the fewest in any year since the creation of the U.S. refugee program.

Refugees & Asylum Seekers

The Removal System of the United States: An Overview

August 9, 2022

Noncitizens who are not legally present in the United States, and noncitizens who are legally present but who are accused of violating a requirement of their legal status, may find themselves facing deportation from the country. Many noncitizens are subject to deportation proceedings while behind bars and without having the benefit of legal counsel. Recently arrived undocumented immigrants in particular tend to be quickly deported or expelled from the United States by low-level Department of Homeland Security (DHS) officials without a judge ever being involved. However, some noncitizens do get the chance to make their case to avoid removal to an immigration judge. Individuals who find themselves in front of an immigration judge in immigration court face the possibility that the judge will order them deported, or "removed," from the United States. But, in many cases, noncitizens can ask the judge to grant them some form of "relief from removal," which will allow them to stay in the United States.

The Use of Parole Under Immigration Law

July 18, 2022

Under U.S. immigration law, the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has discretion to grant "parole" to certain noncitizens to allow them to enter or temporarily remain in the United States for specific reasons. Parole under immigration law is very different than in the criminal justice context. This fact sheet explains the nature of parole, how parole requests are considered, who may qualify, and what parole programs currently exist.

The H-1B Visa Program and Its Impact on the U.S. Economy

July 15, 2022

Foreign workers fill a critical need in the U.S. labor market—particularly in the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) fields. Every year, U.S. employers seeking highly skilled foreign professionals compete for the pool of H-1B visa numbers for which U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) controls the allocation. With a low statutory limit of visa numbers available, demand for H-1B visa numbers has outstripped the supply in recent years, and the cap has been reached before the year ends. Research shows that H-1B workers complement U.S. workers, fill employment gaps in many STEM occupations, and expand job opportunities for all.  This fact sheet provides an overview of the H-1B visa category and petition process, addresses the myths perpetuated about the H-1B visa category, and highlights the key contributions H-1B workers make to the U.S. economy.