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Immigration Law

Rethinking the U.S. Legal Immigration System: A Policy Road Map

Muzaffar Chishti, Julia Gelatt and Doris Meissner, May 2021

"The U.S. legal immigration system, built on a scaffolding first established in 1952 and last significantly updated by Congress in 1990, is profoundly misaligned with demographic and other realities—resulting in enormous consequences for the country and for its economy. This misalignment is the principal cause for illegal immigration. It is also responsible for the mounting backlog in legal immigration streams, with some in the green-card queue scheduled to wait 223 years for an employment-based visa. This road map, part of MPI’s Rethinking U.S. Immigration Policy Initiative, sketches the broad contours of some of the most needed reforms in the legal immigration system. Given population aging and changing labor market demands, the need for reform is more urgent than ever. The policy brief offers a quick tour of the new framework that MPI is advancing."