CIR Blog

The purpose of the CIR blog is to provide researchers and the public with analyses that speak directly to the question of whether comprehensive immigration reform (CIR) will pass. These analyses will use social science research methods to answer practical, policy-relevant questions. One of the focuses of the blog will be to identify likely support and opposition to an immigration reform bill, as well amendments that are likely to be introduced, for all 535 voting members of Congress. With that said, all of the standard social science caveats apply. A model is only as good as its assumptions and the quality of data. Moreover, the thickness of the “noise” – especially when the immigration debate reaches a fevered pitch – may be too much to cut through. This does not, however, mean that theoretically informed analysis of current policy-related questions is not possible. Combining the insights gained from these analyses with “on the ground” developments is, perhaps, the optimal way to make sense of the politics of immigration reform. We thus invite comments and suggestions, particularly from migration scholars and those working on immigration reform.

The CIR Blog in the news can be found here: ABC News/UnivisionSouthern California Public RadioNew York TimesFronteras DeskKPBSYahoo News, and Univision.

Please direct comments and inquires to Tom K. Wong by email to and on Twitter @twong002. We will use #cirblog to announce updates.

Results from a Nationwide Survey of DACA Recipients Illustrate the Program’s Impact

July 9, 2015
By Tom K. Wong, Ph.D.,; Kelly K. Richter, Ignacia Rodriguez, Philip E. Wolgin

In June, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program—which allows eligible unauthorized immigrants who entered the country at a young age to apply for temporary deferrals of deportations and work permits—marked its third anniversary. To date, roughly665,000 people have received DACA. A number of early surveys illustrate that DACA has improved the lives of its recipients, and economic impact analyses have found that wages rise as recipients gain work authorization, get jobs that better match their skills and training, and invest more in higher education.

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This white paper identifies areas of need when it comes to outreach targeted at undocumented Asian American and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs). Using an innovative method developed by Warren (2014) to estimate the characteristics of the undocumented population, this paper provides a national overview of the undocumented AAPI population, a state-by-state comparison of aggregate estimates, and a state-by-state comparison by national origin group, focusing on China, India, the Philippines, Vietnam, and Korea. This paper also uses factor analysis to identify 50 areas of need where the undocumented AAPI population in a place is characterized by low English language use, high poverty rates, and low educational attainment. I note here that this white paper is part of a larger collaborative project on the undocumented AAPI population. The results of this larger project are expected by the end of summer 2015.

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New Data on Unaccompanied Minors Shows Decreasing Trend

August 8, 2014
By Tom K. Wong, Ph.D.,

New data released by U.S. Customs and Border Protection on the number of unaccompanied minors coming to the U.S. shows a decreasing trend.

As of June 30, 2014, 56,547 unaccompanied minors from El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, and Mexico were apprehended at the Southwest border. This represents a monthly average of 6,283 for FY 2014. In July, 5,034 children were apprehended at the border. This represents a decrease of -19.9% in the average monthly intake…

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Violence, Not U.S. Immigration Policies, Is Behind the Surge in Unaccompanied Children Crossing the Border

July 11, 2014
By Tom K. Wong, Ph.D.,

Download a PDF version here.

An earlier version of this article appeared on July 8, 2014 via the Center for American Progress.

A humanitarian refugee situation at the U.S. southern border has been unfolding over the past few years and dramatically intensifying over the past several months…

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Mapping DACA Renewals

February 25, 2014
By Tom K. Wong, Ph.D.,

DACA: 2 Years Later

According to the latest figures released by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), over half a million (521,815) undocumented youth have received temporary relief from deportation under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. The first DACA applications were submitted on August 15, 2012 and USCIS started approving applications a month later.
DACA is…

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Will 2014 Be the Year of Comprehensive Immigration Reform?

January 10, 2014
By Tom K. Wong, Ph.D.,

Despite hopes that 2013 would be the year of comprehensive immigration reform, legislation stalled in the House and the year ended without a bill. When the House reconvened on Tuesday, 427 days had passed since the November 2012 elections and 194 days had passed since S.744, the Senate comprehensive immigration reform bill that includes a path to citizenship, passed by a vote of 68 to 32. As immigration remains one of President Obama’s top second-term priorities, many are wondering whether comprehensive immigration reform will happen in 2014?
One way to …
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Can GOP Keep House in 2014 Without Comprehensive Immigration Reform?

July 09, 2013

By Tom K. Wong, Ph.D.,, @twong002
As Republicans prepare to meet to discuss how immigration reform will proceed in the House, Speaker John Boehner has maintained that he will adhere to the Hastert rule when it comes to immigration – in other words, he will not support any piece of legislation that does not have majority support among Republican representatives.
Much of this Republican caucus will involve discussions between House Republican leadership and the Republican rank-and-file over how immigration reform fits into the party’s short-term and long-term political prospects. Here, Republicans are at odds. On the one hand, Republican leadership will …

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Comprehensive Immigration Reform in the House: Will the SAFE Act Pass?

July 08, 2013

By Tom K. Wong, Ph.D.,, @twong002
After the Senate passed S.744 attention shifted immediately to the House. While an upcoming July 10th conference wherein Republican representatives are set to gather to discuss immigration will provide greater clarity in terms of what we can expect in the weeks ahead, Speaker of the House John Boehner has already indicated that he will adhere to the Hastert rule when it comes to immigration reform. What this means is that we are unlikely to see S.744 debated and then voted on in the House. Rather, we are likely to see stand-alone immigration bills introduced, …

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Will Comprehensive Immigration Reform Pass in the Senate? An Update

June 24, 2013

By Tom K. Wong, Ph.D.,, @twong002
This week marks a critical test for comprehensive immigration reform. In advance of a scheduled vote on the bill, I revisit the initial predictions I made for the Senate in March. Scroll down for the results.
The Senate bill has largely remained in tact – mostly due to the absence of floor votes on a number of significant amendments. However, there have been some major developments. First, several efforts to use border triggers to prevent undocumented immigrants from obtaining legal status have been defeated. Second, the Corker-Hoeven amendment to significantly bolster border security via a …

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A Test of the CIR 2013 Blog: The 287(g) Vote

June 07, 2013

By Tom K. Wong,, @twong002
While we are still far from a vote on final passage of the comprehensive immigration reform (CIR) bill in the Senate, a vote yesterday in the House provides an early test of the models and predictions of the CIR 2013 Blog.
Yesterday, the House voted on an amendment to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) appropriation bill that was introduced by Democratic Representative Jared Polis (CO-2). The amendment was related to the controversial 287(g) program, which promotes local law enforcement cooperation with federal immigration officials. Last week, I was asked to help count votes for and …

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Does Legalization Encourage Unauthorized Immigration?

June 04, 2013

By Hillary Kosnac,, and Tom K. Wong,, @twong002
Chances that 2013 will bring a comprehensive immigration reform bill (CIR) that includes a path to citizenship increased recently after the bipartisan Senate “gang of 8’s” bill was voted out of committee (and largely in tact after some 300 amendments were considered). However, the optimism surrounding the bill was quickly tempered as the House Judiciary Committee (HJC) held a hearing in which the legalization of undocumented immigrants and an eventual path to citizenship were sharply questioned.
These questions renewed debate over whether legalization (or even just talk of legalization) leads to more unauthorized …

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Interior Immigration Enforcement by the Numbers

May 22, 2013

By Matt Graham, Bipartisan Policy Center, @matt__graham
Opinions on the extent to which the U.S. enforces immigration laws vary dramatically. Some contend that enforcement is already extremely tough, while others contend that the government fails to enforce immigration law. Rarely are these claims backed by more than one or two statistics.
Based on a long series of Freedom of Information Act requests, the Transactional Record Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) keeps records of immigration enforcement statistics. Their numbers paint a more nuanced picture than either side’s advocates, but leave major holes that available data appear unable to fill.
Removals (Deportations)
The common claim that the Obama …

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Who Are the Opponents of Comprehensive Immigration Reform?

May 15, 2013

By Tom K. Wong,, @twong002
While members of the Senate Judiciary Committee (SJC) spent yesterday inside the Dirksen Senate Office Building marking up the bipartisan Senate “gang of 8’s” comprehensive immigration reform (CIR) bill, some Republican members of the House of Representatives gathered outside of the Capital Building to declare their opposition to reform efforts. These Representatives have been described as a “veritable all-star team of anti-‘amnesty’ activists.”
While the House has yet to formally take up debate on immigration reform, the group of 8 Representatives who made their opposition known yesterday – particularly with respect to a pathway to citizenship …

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What the GOP has to Gain – and Lose – ­Among Latinos When it Comes to Immigration Reform

May 13, 2013

By Matt A. Barreto, Latino Decisions
Recently, there have been a series of high profile endorsements for comprehensive immigration reform from the Republican Party. Immediately after the November 2012 election Bobby Jindal made a plea for more civility and less stupidity on the immigration issue. Before too long, it was the Gang of 8 in the U.S. Senate, which included four prominent Republican Senators who introduced their framework for an immigration bill. Then the RNC released a lengthy report calling for stronger outreach to Latinos, starting by passing an immigration reform bill. And now Tea Party favorite, Senator Rand Paul, has changed his position and …

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Will Amendments Using Border Triggers To Create More Obstacles to Legalization Pass?

May 09, 2013

By Tom K. Wong,, @twong002
Conclusion: Should amendments be introduced and voted on by the full Senate e.g., the Cruz and Sessions amendments that make the initial process of becoming legal contingent on border triggers being met (think triggers first, legalization, and then citizenship instead of legalization first, triggers, and then citizenship), they are likely to fail.
Earlier this week members of the Senate Judiciary Committee (SJC) filed 300 amendments (nearly two-thirds filed by Republicans) to the comprehensive immigration reform bill (S.744) unveiled last month. Today, the SJC will begin debate over these amendments. While we are still a long ways away from the fireworks that …

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