Immigration and Border Policy

Migration flows into the country are setting historic records, presenting significant challenges for the capacity of the U.S. immigration system. Greater numbers of migrants seek asylum or other humanitarian protections and hail from an increasingly diverse set of origin countries, which exacerbates these challenges. These challenges defy reductive and one-size-fits-all policy solutions and call for unbiased and evidence-based research and analysis.

The Challenge

Few issues are as polarizing as U.S. immigration and border policies. As contentious as the debate is, nonpartisan and evidence-based studies to inform the related pressing policy decisions are in short supply. For more than two decades, RAND has sought to fill these analytic gaps in policy discussions in the United States and across the world.

Border patrol agents from U.S. Customs and Border  Protection arrest a group of migrant workers near the U.S. border

Photo by Mani Albrecht/U.S. Customs and Border Protection

RAND's History

Conducting research and analysis for DHS on immigration and border policies was one of HSOAC's founding missions. But research on migration and immigration policies has been part of the RAND portfolio since the mid-1980s. Studies over the years have brought solid empirical evidence and objective analysis to the debate. As a nonprofit, nonpartisan research institution, RAND's work on immigration and border policy is often referred to and cited by people on all sides of the immigration debate.

Mission Support

We deploy the interdisciplinary research and analysis capabilities within HSRD to help the Department of Homeland Security and policymakers across the homeland security enterprise make sound decisions about immigration and border. Our competencies and capabilities include:

  • Improving methods for measuring, understanding, and forecasting immigration flows
  • Analyzing and identifying environmental, political, and security drivers of immigration
  • Understanding the experience of immigrants in the United States
  • Identifying the implications of the legal and moral constraints on immigration and border security policies
  • Evaluating alternative approaches to managing unlawful immigration flows and illicit flows of narcotics and goods
  • Assessing policies and procedures for immigration-law enforcement
  • Understanding the challenges posed by transnational criminal actors and human smugglers
  • Identifying ways to promote the health, resilience, capabilities, and morale of the DHS workforce
  • Assessing the impacts of emerging technologies on border security and enforcement outcomes

On this page, you'll find a sampling of recent work on immigration and border policy, curated specifically for the homeland security community. RAND also conducts research and analysis on a variety of similar topics such as Border and Port Security, Immigration Legislation, and Immigration and Emigration.

For more projects, see our topic pages on Border and Port Security, Immigration Legislation, and Immigration and Emigration.