RFP in Immigration Research: Due March 1, 2013

Proposals due: March 1, 2013


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Proposal Topic Areas

The National Center for Border Security and Immigration (BORDERS), headquartered at the University of Arizona, announces a competitive research opportunity to address current challenges in immigration studies. This effort, sponsored by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Office of University Programs (OUP), invites qualified researchers to propose projects that will provide DHS stakeholders, policy-makers and the public with contemporary and innovative research that addresses current research challenges in immigration studies. 

Immigration continues to be a complex, hotly contested topic in the US.  In this climate, fact-driven non-partisan research is essential to better inform federal stakeholders, policy makers and the public at large.  Through this Request for Proposals (RFP), BORDERS encourages proposals for research that will inform the public as well as assist the government in effectively managing the nation’s immigration system. 

BORDERS is seeking proposals in the following five broad topic areas:

  • Impacts of Enforcement on Unauthorized Flows
  • Population Dynamics
  • Immigration Policy
  • Immigration Administration
  • Civic Integration and Citizenship

Sample topic areas and research questions within the five broad areas are listed below:

Impacts of Enforcement on Unauthorized Flows


  1. Detention and Removal Policies:
    1. When considering the consequence delivery system instituted by DHS, how does administrative detention compare with detention following misdemeanor prosecution and conviction? For example, how do these compare in terms of the cost effectiveness of the deterrent effect on further attempts by foreigners entering the US illegally?
    2. How effective has the Secure Communities program been in meeting enforcement goals compared with other Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) programs?  How does it compare to the 287(g) program, or the Criminal Alien Program (CAP)? 
  2. Migration flows:
    1. What are the impacts of increased federal enforcement on unauthorized immigration in the following areas: US economy; Social networks; Temporary work program changes; Conditions in Mexico as source, transit and destination country?


Population Dynamics


  1. Estimation methods:
    1. How can we improve estimates of the Entered Without Inspection (EWI) population in the US?
    2. How can we improve estimates of the visa overstay population?
    3. How can we improve emigration estimates?
  2. Characteristics of the unauthorized population:
    1. What are the characteristics and demographics of the unauthorized population in the US? (e.g. age, gender, country of origin, income, education, profession, family ties, internet access, etc.)  How do unauthorized Mexicans compare with non-Mexicans in these respects?
  3. Projecting future flows:
    1. Sending country conditions analyses: How can we better predict future migration flows to the US?  Study should consider countries other than Mexico and if focusing on labor-based immigration, focus on both ends of the skill spectrum (low and high).
    2. US demand analyses: How can we better predict future demand within both the family and employment categories?  For employment categories, an examination of visa types would be useful (e.g. H-2A for seasonal agriculture; H-1B for high skilled, etc.)


Immigration Administration


  1. Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA):
    1. What are the lessons learned from the Immigration Reform and Control Act of (IRCA) of 1986 that can be applied to the administration of DACA? 
    2. What can we learn from the following differences in DACA applicants:  age, gender, country of birth, US residence?  Are demographic differences determining why some are applying while others are not?
    3. What are the benefits or new challenges experienced by DACA applicants?
    4. What are the lessons learned from DACA for a broader regularization program?
    5. What are the public fears/criticism regarding data sharing in the DACA program? How do they compare to the actual protocols and policies in place? Are there gaps/issues/areas of concern?
  2. Fraud detection:
    1. How has the US Visitor and Immigrant Status Indicator Technology (USVISIT) system strengthened fraud detection among immigration enforcement and/or immigration services activities?
    2. Has the online automated visa system, DS-160 US Visa Applicant Online Form, improved fraud detection among visa processing activities? In what ways can this enhanced visa fraud detection improve immigration services processing or immigration enforcement?
    3. What are the motivations behind fraud and how does one get people to admit to fraud?
    4. What methods could be used to improve fraud detection in immigration services?  What lessons can we learn from other agencies
  3. E-Verify:
    1. How do the specific enforcement mechanisms of state-level mandatory E-Verify laws differ? What can be learned from these differences about the effectiveness of administrative vs. enforcement approaches?
  4. Transformation:
    1. As DHS makes the transformation from a paper-based to an electronic benefit administrative system, what can be learned from a comparative case study of transition by other government agencies into electronic benefit administrative systems? Lessons learned may include: user exhaustibility, usability, customer and officer receptivity, efficiency, perceived benefit to agency, etc.
    2. How does internet access and usage compare among immigrants in the US?  How might the transformation by DHS agencies to an electronic system affect immigrants’ abilities to apply for benefits?  


Immigration Policy


  1. State and local immigration policy:
    1. What are the impacts of state and local level laws aimed at restricting growth in unauthorized immigrant populations on the number of unauthorized immigrants in the states that pass them?  What are the economic and fiscal consequences of these population impacts?  What, if any, are the social impacts of these laws on the broader immigrant populations in the states that pass them?
  2. Immigration policy comparative analyses:
    1. How does US immigration policy compare to other nations with high levels of immigration?  Comparisons may be made between the following categories of immigrants: employment based, family-based, emergent factors (refugees/asylees).
  3. Role of temporary work programs:
    1. What factors explain the increased use of seasonal work programs (H2s) at a time when low-skilled migration is otherwise declining steeply? How do these programs affect overall admission strategies?
  4. US-Canada Relations:
    1. What are the metrics for evaluating the effectiveness and efficiency of the Beyond the Border Action Plan?
  5. US Mexico Relations:
    1. How does the extent to which Mexico has control over its southern border impact US immigration policy?  Are there opportunities for bi-national cooperation in controlling migrant flows to the north from Central and South America?
    2. How can studies of international transit migration inform best practices for the US-Mexico relationship?


Civic Integration and Citizenship


  1. Transition issues:
    1. What are the incentives and deterrents for Legal Permanent Residents (LPRs) to naturalize?
    2. What factors influence or potentially predict LPR’s decisions to stay permanently in the US? Do levels of LPR integration in the US (political, civic, social, etc.) effect their migration decisions?   
  2. Non-traditional receiving communities:
    1. What unique challenges, or advantages, do migrants in non-traditional areas of the country have regarding civic participation compared with those in traditional gateway communities?


Proposal and Evaluation Criteria


Each project will be funded at approximately $100,000 (including all direct and indirect costs), with a total of $380,000 available funds.  The performance period is one year and will begin on June 1, 2013.  Applicants will submit a 15 page proposal (12 point font, double spaced, including figures and references; MUST USE provided template) that addresses the following:

  • Research question
  • Research description
  • Methodology
  • Data needs – outline the data you will use in this project and how you will obtain it (publicly available, available for purchase, federal data, etc.).  If you are relying  on federal data sources, please explain in detail how you plan to gain access to these, as their  release is not a condition of the award. 
  • Relevance to DHS
  • Timeline/Milestones
  • Qualifications of PI (short paragraph, details provided in CV)

In addition (not included in the 15 page count), all applicants must submit:

  • a detailed budget (template provided in excel spreadsheet)
  • budget justification
  • NSF-style CV (2 pages) for the PI

Proposals must be submitted in PDF electronic format to BORDERS at the following email address:  Immigration.RFP@borders.arizona.edu  by midnight on March 1, 2013.

Applicants are encouraged to review the notes from an Immigration Research Workshop hosted by BORDERS and Georgetown University’s Institute for the Study of International Migration (ISIM) in October 2012.  The purpose of this workshop was to bring together DHS stakeholders and Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) to discuss the agency’s current needs for immigration research.  Based on these presentations, participants identified the most critical gaps in immigration studies and formulated research questions to address them. The outcome of this effort is this Request for Proposals (RFP) from BORDERS that solicits new immigration projects that are highly relevant to DHS stakeholders and the public at large.  The notes are also attached. 

A panel of reviewers from the academic community and DHS will evaluate the proposals. The following are the merit-based criteria for evaluation: scientific quality (25%); feasibility (25%); relevance to DHS mission (25%); appropriateness of budget (15%), and qualifications of proposed investigators (10%).  Awardees will be notified by the end of April, 2013. 

BORDERS is a consortium of 16 premier institutions whose mission is to provide scientific knowledge, develop technologies and techniques, and evaluate policies to meet the challenges of border security and immigration. BORDERS’ stakeholders include Customs and Border Protection (CBP), Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), Office of Policy (OP), U.S. Coast Guard (USCG), and the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). 




Q: When is this proposal due?

A: The proposal is due by midnight EST on March 1, 2013

Q: When will awards be announced?

A: Awards will be announced by the end of April, 2013

Q: Where can I find the proposal and budget templates and is it mandatory that I use them?

A: The templates have been attached to this webpage (at the top and bottom of this page) and you must use them

Q: Where will I submit my final proposal?

A: Proposals must be submitted to Immigration.RFP@borders.arizona.edu  - You will receive an email confirming your submission.

Q: What is the performance period for this award?

A: The performance period is June 1, 2013 – May 31, 2014

Q: Where can I find the workshop notes from the Georgetown Workshop?

A: The summary notes from the DHS stakeholders' presentations are attached to this webpage

Q: Can the funds be awarded to independent contractors?

A: No, all applicants must be associated with an accredited college, university, ThinkTank, or non-profit.  If you are unsure if your institution qualifies, please contact BORDERS.

 Q: Should I include IDC in my budget?

A: Yes. This RRP calls for standard, IDC costs. Please follow your institutional policy regarding these costs when completing your budget.