April 2024

Marshall Fitz
4 min readMay 14, 2024

Welcome to Emerson Collective’s Immigration Update, a monthly newsletter that seeks to make sense of important immigration-related developments by situating them in broader policy, political, and human contexts.

In this edition, we resurface a dynamic that has been a throughline for these monthly missives: the role of the executive branch and non-governmental entities advancing action in the face of Congressional paralysis and dysfunction. We start by highlighting the popularity of several executive actions that are under consideration by the Biden-Harris Administration, then spotlight an innovative refugee resettlement program, and conclude with the release of a foundational new resource on issues relating to climate mobility.

Let’s dive in.

Marshall Fitz

EXECUTIVE ACTION ON IMMIGRATION — SMART POLICY AND GOOD POLITICS

Despite the pitched tenor of the partisan dialogue on immigration, the reality is that most Americans want a system that is safe, orderly, and humane. That means creating sufficient legal channels for people to enter the United States in a lawful, controlled manner while ensuring border authorities have the necessary infrastructure and manpower to enforce those laws and efficiently process people who do not comply. It also means being realistic and practical about creating a path for the millions of undocumented workers and family members who have been contributing to this country to earn the privilege of citizenship.

A new battleground state poll from Global Strategy Group and BSP Research on behalf of the Immigration Hub demonstrates, yet again, that Americans are committed to a common-sense, ‘both/and’ approach to immigration reform. Two-thirds of voters in battleground states (AZ, GA, MI, NV, NC, PA, WI) want to see a balanced approach that strengthens our border security and also offers a path to citizenship for hard-working immigrant families in the U.S.

Despite Congressional paralysis, the new poll also highlighted very strong support for policies the Biden Administration is considering. For example, support for a policy we discussed last month — providing work permits to the 1.3 million undocumented spouses of U.S. citizens — has 73% support among battleground voters. Support for providing Dreamers and others who have lived here for many years has 74% support among those voters.

The hunger for sensible action on this issue is reflected throughout this recent poll. And it is an important reminder that the national narrative pitting “Right vs Left” is more about scoring political points than a reflection of public attitudes. As President Biden considers additional executive actions, we should bear in mind that he is actually moving forward on issues that the vast majority wants resolved.

WELCOME CORPS SPONSORSHIP MODEL CONTINUES TO EVOLVE

In January 2023, the State Department launched Welcome Corps, the private sponsorship program within the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program. In its initial phase, the program matched refugees who were already designated for resettlement in the U.S. with sponsors who applied to welcome individuals they did not previously know.

Phase two of the program launched in December of 2023 and allowed U.S. residents to sponsor refugees they already know — facilitating the reunification of family, friends, or colleagues. This has expanded the pool of U.S. applicants signing up to join the Welcome Corps with “more than 65,000 people around the country” now participating. And it has helped expedite the process of welcoming already vetted refugees who often must languish in limbo for years.

After the success and popularity of December’s expansion, this month the State Department announced the launch of phase three, “the Welcome Corps at Work (WCW) program.” This groundbreaking program matches refugees with U.S. employers, simultaneously addressing U.S. labor shortages and empowering refugees to utilize their skills. Once a specific job offer is made, the Welcome Corps will connect the incoming employee to a sponsor group to support the refugee’s resettlement.

The Welcome Corps model and its phased expansion provide another strong example of how this Administration continues to innovate, even without a legislative partner.

NEW COMPENDIUM ON CLIMATE MOBILITY

Each year, the climate crisis affects more and more people who find themselves either trapped in increasingly dangerous circumstances or forced to leave their homes. Existing policies, institutions, and actors are ill-equipped to handle the complexities of such climate change-related mobility. Despite the obvious humanitarian (and political) implications of these challenges, no consensus has been achieved about the scale of the looming crisis or the imperative for international collaboration in redressing it.

In response to this stark reality, the Climate Migration Council (CMC) recently released a Compendium on Climate Mobility (the Compendium). This is a groundbreaking resource aimed at synthesizing knowledge and best practices on climate migration. And it offers various entry points for audiences to understand specific issues and dynamics within the broad spectrum of climate induced mobility challenges.

Designed by a working group of academics and experts, the Compendium was designed to serve as a versatile toolkit that can be adjusted to different contexts. The chapters provide content to help people frame different issues with a sensitivity to different audiences. And it allows actors to consider different actions and strategies depending on where they may be able to impactfully engage.

It is not only versatile for policymakers and advocates, it is holistic in its approach. The Compendium zeroes in on five key, interdependent pillars, including: 1) Scaling Up Prevention of Displacement; 2) Supporting Disaster-Affected People Who Persist in Place; 3) Enhancing Mobility Pathways; 4) Protecting Displaced Persons; and 5) Taking Action on Loss and Damage.

We are excited to engage further with the Climate Migration Council as it seeks to adopt and implement the recommendations for best practices identified in the Compendium.

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Marshall Fitz

Managing Director of Immigration at the Emerson Collective. Advocate for humanity, sports junky, 1/2-assed Buddhist, proud papa and spouse. Views obv my own.