Trump on Immigration
Putting too fine a point on the matter, America faced a choice between becoming a middling sized white country - dominated by the Republican Party, or a big brown country, dominated by the Democratic Party. Only drastic restrictions on immigration, combined with energetic voter suppression measures, could maintain White supremacy.
According to pre-election polling in 2016, in a tally of white voters only, Trump would have defeated Clinton 389 to 81 in the Electoral College, with the remaining 68 votes either a toss-up or unknown. The racial and ethnic isolation of whites at the zip code level was one of the strongest predictors of Trump support. The growth of the Hispanic community could help Democrats and could penalize Republicans, particularly if they continued to insist on strict immigration enforcement along with the tough kind of rhetoric that tended to turn off Hispanics around the country. The Asian-American vote had grown 128 percent since 1996, making them the fastest growing minority in the US in terms of percentage. Still, they only made up about three percent of the overall 2012 vote, but that was expected to grow to as high as seven percent in coming years.
Since President Donald Trump took office January 20, he and his cabinet acted aggressively on Trump’s signature campaign promise, cutting back on immigration in the name of national security. The result, as this timeline shows, is that illegal immigrants have been rounded up in greater numbers, visas have been curtailed and a border wall was in the works. Nowhere else has the president had such success in implementing his agenda.
On 21 February 2017 Department of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly implemented Trump’s January executive orders with 2 memos. They did away with prioritizing for deportation those who have committed crimes. “Unless otherwise directed, Department personnel may initiate enforcement actions against removable aliens encountered during the performance of their official duties,” Kelly wrote.
The memos also expanded the definition of a “criminal alien.” Anyone who has been convicted of a crime, been charged with a crime, or even committed anything that might be a “chargeable criminal offense” can be deported. Thirdly, the memos call for an increase in the 287(g) program which allows local law enforcement agencies to participate as an active partner in identifying criminal aliens in their custody, and placing ICE detainers on these individuals.
On 17 March 2017 DHS issued two requests for proposals from companies interested in building a wall on the U.S./Mexican border. The bids for both concrete and non-concrete barriers will be winnowed down to 8 -10 winners who will build prototypes on the border near San Diego, CA. While no wall is to be built soon, the talk has a chilling effect and illegal border crossings start to fall off.
On 22 May 2017 Attorney General Jeff Sessions issued a memo defining sanctuary jurisdictions as those that “willfully refuse” to comply with a federal law that bars local governments from prohibiting their law enforcement officers to share information about the immigration status of people in their custody. Sessions says the executive order “will be applied solely to federal grants administered by the Department of Justice or the DHS and not to other sources of federal funding.” A federal court had blocked (4/25) the federal government from penalizing sanctuary jurisdictions.
On 15 June 2017 DHS formally ended the DAPA program (Deferred Action for Parents of Americans). DAPA had been in litigation since 2015 and never took effect. It would have protected parents with U.S. children from deportation.
On 25 July 2017 the Justice Department said it was escalating its crackdown on so-called sanctuary jurisdictions, saying it will no longer award grant money to cities unless they give federal immigration authorities access to jails and provide advance notice when someone in the country illegally is about to be released.
On 27 July 2017 the naming builders of the border wall prototypes was delayed for a second time until November because two companies objected to the bidding process. But Customs and Border Patrol proceeded with plans to build an almost 5-kilometer stretch of wall in the Santa Ana Wildlife Refuge.
In early 2017, a group of nearly 1,500 economists sent an open letter to top Congressional leaders, stressing that "immigration represents an opportunity rather than a threat to our economy and to American workers." Groups that favor tighter limits, however, say their polling indicates that voters overwhelmingly favor strict immigration controls. "They know mass immigration creates unfair competition for American workers," said Roy Beck, president of the public policy group Numbers USA.
Trump backed a Senate immigration bill, written by Senators Tom Cotton and David Perdue, that would cut legal immigration by 50%. It establishes a points system to reward would-be immigrants with points for speaking English and having marketable skills. Casting the measure as putting American families first, Trump’s senior advisor for policy Stephen Miller called it a “permanent change to immigration that will endure through time.” Democrats and immigrants' rights groups found fault with the bill.
The RAISE (Reforming American Immigration for a Strong Economy) Act would limit the number of permanent residence permits, or green cards, to half a million a year. The current level is 1 million. The points system would let would-be residents' ability to speak English and earn a living be taken into account when their green card applications are considered. Cotton and Perdue argue that the "generation-long influx of low-skilled immigrants has been a major factor in the downward pressure on the wages of working Americans."
The number of refugees coming to the United States drops to its lowest level in more than a decade. State Department data shows 910 refugees arrived in August, compared to an average of 6,955 for that month in the preceding 10 years. A month earlier, July set the previous decade-low arrivals level, with 1,224 refugees admitted. The drop is likely related to the Trump’s executive order limiting travel. The so-called travel ban took effect June 26, restricting travel from six mostly Muslim countries and banning all refugees who did not have close family in the U.S.
“DACA is being rescinded,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced 05 September 2017, ending President Barack Obama’s five-year-old Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. There are currently about 800,000 DACA recipients in the U.S. No DACA authorizations will be revoked before March 5, 2018 if those whose permits expire during that time apply for renewals in early October. But all DACA authorizations will have expired by March 2020. The six month delay is intended to give Congress a chance to act on the program.
The Dream Act of 2017 is bipartisan legislation that would allow around 1.5 million U.S.-raised immigrant youth to earn lawful permanent residence and American citizenship. Versions of the Dream Act have been introduced at least ten times before, starting in 2001. Without legislation like the Dream Act, there is no pathway to citizenship for undocumented youth living in the US.
|Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list|