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Special Reports

Our most in-depth publication, Special Reports provide detailed analyses of special topics in U.S. immigration policy.

A Guide to H.R. 15: The Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act

On October 2, 2013, Democrats in the House of Representatives proposed an immigration reform bill addressing border security, legalization of the undocumented, interior enforcement of immigration laws, and fixes for our dysfunctional legal immigration programs. The bill is based on S.744, the bipartisan bill passed by the Senate by a vote of 68-32 on June 27, 2013. However, the bill removes the Corker-Hoeven border security amendment and replaces it with the bipartisan House border security bill, H.R. 1417, which was passed unanimously by the Homeland Security Committee in May 2013.

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Published On: Wed, Mar 26, 2014 | Download File

Revitalization in the Heartland of America

A potent combination of declining population growth and economic stagnation has led many cities and metropolitan regions to rethink how to reinvigorate their communities. The Midwest is a prime example of this trend. According to the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, “the Midwest cannot hope to keep up with other regions or international competitors without a vital entrepreneurial sector.” The Council notes that “immigrants, risk takers by nature, are unusually successful entrepreneurs, more than twice as likely as native-born Americans to start their own firms.” As a result, immigration is one of the strategies to which communities are repeatedly turning to fuel economic growth.

A budding place-based awareness of the important contributions that new and existing immigrants make to neighborhood revitalization is seen in the increasing number of cities pursuing a nexus of immigrant welcoming, integration, and economic development initiatives. In this report, we focus on the journeys of three places—two cities and one state—in their efforts to implement strategies for future economic success that depend on immigration. The initiatives are taking place against a backdrop of tepid progress toward comprehensive federal reform of the U.S. immigration system.

Published On: Wed, Jan 15, 2014 | Download File

Bordering on Criminal: The Routine Abuse of Migrants in the Removal System

This three-part series highlights the findings of the Migrant Border Crossing Study—a binational, multi-institution study of 1,110 randomly selected, recently repatriated migrants surveyed in six Mexican cities between 2009 and 2012. The study exposes widespread mistreatment of migrants at the hands of U.S. officials in the removal system.

Part I: Migrant Mistreatment While in U.S. Custody

This report focuses on the mistreatment of unauthorized migrants while in U.S. custody. Overall, we find that the physical and verbal mistreatment of migrants is not a random, sporadic occurrence but, rather, a systematic practice. One indication of this is that 11% of deportees report some form of physical abuse and 23% report verbal mistreatment while in U.S. custody—a finding that is supported by other academic studies and reports from non-governmental organizations. Another highly disturbing finding is that migrants often note they are the targets for nationalistic and racist remarks—something that in no way is integral to U.S. officials’ ability to function in an effective capacity on a day-to-day basis. Read more...

Published On: Tue, Dec 10, 2013

Stepping Up: The Impact of the Newest Immigrant, Asian, and Latino Voters

by Rob Paral

Amid the current debate on immigration reform, much attention is on House members and how their vote for or against reform will play in their home districts.  But many congressional districts have a huge number of naturalized immigrants and young Asians and Latinos who are entering the electorate, and who deeply support immigration reform. 

Political analysts frequently discuss the changing demographics of voters but no analysis to date has quantified a key aspect of this change for each congressional district.  Thus, we have no way of knowing what portion of newly eligible voters in the 2014 elections come from either Asian and Latino citizen teenagers who will vote for the first time in 2014, or from legal immigrants who will naturalize by 2014.

Young Asians and Latinos will have a major impact on the composition of newly eligible voters in upcoming elections.  These groups are highly represented among the population of teenage citizens that become able to vote for the first time with each election.  About 1.8 million U.S. citizen Asians and Latinos become eligible to vote in each two-year election cycle.

Immigrants who become U.S. citizens through naturalization will also be a significant contributor to the evolving electorate.  Each election cycle, about 1.4 million of these new citizens become eligible to vote nationally.

Together, these groups will constitute 34 percent of all newly eligible voters in the 2014 elections.Read more...

Published On: Tue, Sep 03, 2013 | Download File

Tackling the Toughest Questions on Immigration Reform

Throughout 2013, immigration reform has captured public attention. Millions of people followed S. 744 as it worked its way through committee and watched as the Senate voted 68 to 32 to pass a comprehensive immigration reform plan. In the next few months, immigration reform will be high on the list of priorities in the House of Representatives. Despite significant public support for immigration reform among members of the public in both parties, many of the most basic facts about immigrants and immigration remain misunderstood. Debunking the myths about immigration and providing short, concise answers to the often complex issues raised by the immigration debate is a challenge. Smart, thoughtful answers often take longer than the sound bites and quick retorts that the media demands today. The staff of the Immigration Policy Center (IPC) has prepared this Q&A Guide to help you get to the heart of the toughest questions on immigration. While we’ve included succinct answers to many immigration questions, more in-depth analysis, fact sheets, and data can be found on our website, www.immigrationpolicy.org.

I. The Importance of Immigration Reform

Q: Why do we need Immigration Reform?Read more...

Published On: Mon, Jul 29, 2013 | Download File

A Guide to S.744: Understanding the 2013 Senate Immigration Bill

S744 Thumb

What is the purpose of this guide?

The Immigration Policy Center has written this guide to provide policymakers, the media, and the public with an easy-to-understand guide to the main components of S. 744 and the purpose behind them.

The guide follows the structure of the bill, with a separate section addressing the cost-benefit analysis of S. 744, a resources page, and a glossary.

The Basics

What is S. 744?Read more...

Published On: Wed, Jul 10, 2013 | Download File

Gendered Paths to Legal Status: The Case of Latin American Immigrants in Phoenix, Arizona

Gender ThumbThis special report by Cecilia Menjívar and Olivia Salcido for the Immigration Policy Center  looks at immigration law, which on its face appears gender neutral, but actually contains gender biases that create barriers for many women trying to gain legalization within the current immigration system. These inequalities appear across immigration law, and even as new laws are put into place, stereotypes and assumptions remain unchallenged. Ironically, even laws written specifically to protect women, such as the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), continue to play out in practice along gender-biased lines.

As immigration reform is being debated, our findings point to the need that any pathway to citizenship and integration be open, affordable, and accessible to all immigrant women, including those whose work is unpaid, and those employed in the informal economy. In order for this to occur, there should be more and stronger open channels for women to access the legalization process without having to rely on a principal visa holder to petition on their behalf.

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Published On: Wed, May 29, 2013 | Download File

Two Systems of Justice: How the Immigration System Falls Short of American Ideals of Justice

There is a growing consensus that our immigration system is broken. Severe visa backlogs hurt U.S. businesses, undocumented workers are frequently exploited, and record levels of deportations tear families apart. While much energy is now focused on addressing these problems, one issue that is frequently overlooked is the structure and quality of justice accorded immigrants who are caught in the enforcement net. In reforming our immigration system, we must not forget that the immigration removal system—from arrest to hearing to deportation and beyond—does not reflect American values of due process and fundamental fairness.

The failure to provide a fair process to those facing expulsion from the United States is all the more disturbing given the increasing “criminalization” of the immigration enforcement system. Although immigration law is formally termed “civil,” Congress has progressively expanded the number of crimes that may render an individual deportable, and immigration law violations often lead to criminal prosecutions. Further, local police now play an increasingly active role in immigration enforcement. Consequently, even relatively minor offenses can result in a person being detained in immigration custody and deported, often with no hope of ever returning to the United States.

This special report is a product of the Immigration Policy Center and the Legal Action Center of the American Immigration Council.  It lays out the the incongruency of America's criminal justice system and its immigration justice system, and provides recommendations for how these problems could be fixed.

Read the report here.

Read the policy recommendations here.

Published On: Tue, Mar 19, 2013 | Download File

Economic Progress via Legalization: Lessons from the Last Legalization Program

By Rob Paral

The data analyzed in IPC's latest Special Report, Economic Progress via Legalization, indicates that unauthorized immigrants who gained legal status in the 1980s through the legalization provisions of the Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) experienced clear improvement in their socioeconomic situation.  Between 1990 and 2006, the educational attainment of IRCA immigrants increased substantially, their poverty rates fell dramatically, and their home ownership rates improved tremendously.  Moreover, their real wages rose, many of them moved into managerial positions, and the vast majority did not depend upon public assistance. The findings presented in this report support the notion that legalization of unauthorized immigrants can play a role in promoting economic growth and lessening socioeconomic disparities.  Reforming our immigration system is not an obstacle to getting our economy back on track—it is part of the solution.

Originally Published Nov. 5, 2009

Published On: Thu, Jan 31, 2013 | Download File

Border Patrol Agents as Interpreters Along the Northern Border: Unwise Policy, Illegal Practice

By Lisa Graybill

Advocates along the Northern Border report a recent, sharp increase in the use of U.S. Border Patrol (USBP) agents to provide interpretation services to state and local law enforcement officers and emergency responders. This most often occurs when an officer or responder encounters an individual who does not speak English and proactively reaches out to USBP for assistance. But it has also occurred when USBP agents respond to an incident report in lieu of, or in addition to, local law enforcement officers. In other cases, USBP agents have reportedly begun responding to 911 emergency assistance calls, especially if the caller is known or perceived not to speak English. Much of this activity appears to have been precipitated by the fact that the U.S.-Canada border has undergone a dramatic transformation, including an influx of newly assigned USBP agents.

Immigrants, their advocates, and community members are reporting—and official statistics confirm—that there are simply too many USBP agents on the ground, apparently with too much time on their hands, who lack adherence to stated priorities.

This special report by Lisa Graybill for the Immigration Policy Center lays out the problems with border patrol agents serving as translators and make recommendations intended to promote Title VI compliance, maintain the integrity of the USBP mission on the Northern Border, and protect the rights of immigrants and their families who call the Northern Border home.

  • Listen to the teleconference.

Published On: Tue, Sep 25, 2012 | Download File