Doris Meissner, former Commissioner of the US Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS), is a Senior Fellow at the Migration Policy Institute (MPI), where she directs the Institute’s US immigration policy work. Her responsibilities focus in particular on the role of immigration in America’s future and on administering the nation’s immigration laws, systems, and government agencies. Her work and expertise also include immigration and politics, immigration enforcement, border control, cooperation with other countries, and immigration and national security. She has authored and coauthored numerous reports, articles, and op-eds and is frequently quoted in the media. She served as Director of MPI's Independent Task Force on Immigration and America's Future, a bipartisan group of distinguished leaders. The group's report and recommendations address how to harness the advantages of immigration for a 21st century economy and society.
From 1993-2000, she served in the Clinton administration as Commissioner of the INS, then a bureau in the US Department of Justice. Her accomplishments included reforming the nation's asylum system; creating new strategies for managing US borders; improving naturalization and other services for immigrants; shaping new responses to migration and humanitarian emergencies; strengthening cooperation and joint initiatives with Mexico, Canada, and other countries; and managing growth that doubled the agency’s personnel and tripled its budget. She first joined the Justice Department in 1973 as a White House Fellow and Special Assistant to the Attorney General. She served in various senior policy posts until 1981, when she became Acting Commissioner of INS and then Executive Associate Commissioner, the third-ranking post in the agency. In 1986, she joined the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace as a Senior Associate. Ms. Meissner created the Endowment's Immigration Policy Project, which evolved into the Migration Policy Institute in 2001.
Ms. Meissner’s board memberships include CARE-USA and the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation. She is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, the Inter-American Dialogue, the Pacific Council on International Diplomacy, the National Academy of Public Administration, the Administrative Conference of the United States, and the Constitution Society. A graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she earned bachelor of the arts and master of the arts degrees, she began her professional career there as Assistant Director of student financial aid. She was also the first Executive Director of the National Women’s Political Caucus.