Our issues

Immigrants and their families make up an integral and growing segment of the U.S. population. In 1990, immigrants accounted for 7.9 percent of the population; by 2015, that share had risen to 13.7 percent.

The admission of immigrants is the purview of the federal government and policymakers decide who can come into the country, the rights afforded to those who enter, and what targeted assistance to provide immigrants and refugees as they settle and integrate. But the integration of immigrants largely falls to the local areas where they live, work, commute, attend school, worship, and consume.

A recent shift toward more restrictive federal immigration policies may signal a new era. This changing context has consequences for immigrant integration, as states and localities develop measures to counteract or reinforce federal action. How immigrant populations grow, evolve, and integrate has fundamental social, civic and economic importance for communities and the nation.

The changes in settlement trends raise important questions for immigrants, their children, and the places and labor markets where they live and work. Communities must consider how best to leverage immigrant workers’ skills, meet diverse language needs, and connect immigrants to service providers.

Our approach

The Urban Institute’s research on immigrants and immigration spans four interconnected domains: federal, state, and local immigration enforcement and integration policy; refugees and international migration; immigrant children, families, and communities; and the immigrant workforce.

We explore these domains by

  • understanding the quickly changing demographics of immigration and providing tools to allow practitioners and policymakers to find hard-to-access data relevant to their work;

  • studying how to connect low-income immigrant families to vital supports such as human services programs and nonprofit providers, and investigating how to make those systems work better for immigrant families, particularly those with language barriers or undocumented status; and

  • analyzing the impact of local, state, and federal policy and practice on the well-being and integration of communities, immigrant families, and workers.

Our impact

Grounded in a deep understanding of policy, practice, and programming, we provide evidence to inform decisionmaking. We use rigorous data collection and analysis to provide reliable information for policymakers, advocates, and practitioners.