Donald Trump fierce campaign for the United States Presidency anchored with a heated match on strict Immigration reforms. This he managed to achieve to a great extent in the near 18 months since entering the White House.
A number of controversial policies were put in place which has attracted fierce criticisms from Democrats and even some Republicans, not to mention Immigrants and their Advocates.
Official estimates of the number of Illegal Immigrants in the United States range from 11 and 12 million.
Trump repeatedly, has characterized such immigrants as criminals, notwithstanding research and studies have found that they have lower crime and incarceration rates than native-born Americans. He reached the apex of his campaign promise when he commenced the building of a giant wall on the United States – Mexico border.
His proposal concerning H-1B Visas frequently changed throughout his presidential campaign, but as of late July 2016, he appeared to oppose the program.
His administration showcased its strong policy on illegal immigrants when it imposed a travel ban to prohibit issuing visas to citizens of seven largely-Muslim countries. But due to public outrage and in response to Legal challenges he revised the ban twice.
On April 6, 2018, US Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced a new “zero-tolerance” policy intended to ramp-up criminal prosecution of people caught entering the United States illegally.
Soon afterward, news outlets began to report that unauthorized immigrant parents traveling with their children were being criminally prosecuted and separated from their children.
Altogether, nearly 3,000 children were separated from their parents before President Donald Trump signed an executive order on June 20 halting family separation. The order, however, stated that the “zero-tolerance” policy would continue.
The family separation policy and treatment of families coming to the US has generated considerable public attention and outrage. The “zero-tolerance” policy underlying this crisis and the abuses accompanying mass criminal prosecutions of immigrants, however, has received less attention.
Although this is the first time a “zero-tolerance” policy resulted in an immediate separation of parents traveling with children, this is not the first time the US government has sought to ramp-up criminal prosecution of immigrants.
Human Rights Watch research into the history of criminal immigration prosecutions in the US found serious human rights problems, even when families were not being separated at the border.
The US government’s latest steps to additionally restrict eligibility for asylum, as well as its stated goal to prosecute 100 percent of those entering illegally, compound and multiply these harms.
Upon assuming office, Trump signed two executive orders that make nearly all unauthorized immigrants living in the US priority targets for arrest, detention, and deportation. The orders revoked guidelines that narrowed the focus of enforcement efforts to recent border-crossers and noncitizens with certain criminal convictions.
The impact of these actions has been immediate and severe, Human Rights Watch found. Under the Trump administration, there were a total of 110,568 interior arrests from January 20 through September 30, the end of the fiscal year, compared to 77,806 during the same time period in 2016.
Of these arrests, 31,888 people had no criminal convictions, compared with 11,500 during approximately the same period in 2016.
REFORMS UNDER TRUMP’S IMMIGRATION POLICIES-
The Obama administration also deported millions of people with longstanding family and other ties to the US, but new policies announced in Obama’s second term focused deportation efforts on recent border-crossers and people with criminal convictions the administration considered most serious.
Obama also enacted Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), a program that gave temporary protection from deportation to tens of thousands of people who were brought to the US as children, without legal authorization.
As a result, arrests and deportations of immigrants living in the US fell in the last years of the Obama administration. In September, the Trump administration rescinded DACA, exposing these young immigrants who grew up in the US to potential deportation.
Trump drew heat from liberals and some conservatives when he ordered the end of former President Barack Obama’s DACA program that protected from deportation and granted them temporary permission to work in the U.S.
The president dubbed it an “amnesty-first approach” and claimed there were “millions of Americans victimized by this unfair system.” At the time, Trump said he would begin to phase out the policy within six months, and called on Congress to come up with a legislative fix.
Another significant reform made under Trumps administration is on the issue of Extended Family Visas. The number of visas granted to extended family members of legal immigrants during Trump’s tenure dipped to the lowest level in more than 10 years.
Specifically, approvals for the family-based visas in the first nine months of 2017 dropped from 530,000 to 406,000 during the same time period the previous year. In addition, Trump criticized so-called “chain migration” as a national security threat, claiming it allowed one immigrant “to bring in dozens of increasingly distant relations” with “no real selection criteria.”
The Trump administration has placed numerous restrictions on the popular H-1B visa program that grants temporary, non-immigrant work documents allowing highly skilled foreign workers to serve U.S. companies.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) in February issued a policy memo that required applicants to submit “detailed statements of work or work orders” about any duties performed by an H-1B visa holder at a third-party site.
The memo “strengthens protections to combat H-1B abuses”. Just a couple of months prior, President Trump was reportedly considering a proposal that would bar H-1B visa extensions.
Media outlets in India estimated that 500,000 to 750,000 Indian visa holders would be deported as a result.
USCIS officials at the time did not rule out the proposal. “The agency is considering a number of policy and regulatory changes to carry out the President’s Buy American, Hire American Executive Order, including a thorough review of employment-based visa programs.”
The Federal government grants Temporary Protective Status to immigrants in the country in the wake of national emergencies in their various countries of origin. The Trump administration announced it was canceling such status for immigrants whose home Countries suffer Civil War or Nature Disaster.
On January 11, 2018, during an Oval Office meeting about immigration reform, Democratic lawmakers proposed restoring Temporary Protective Status to these countries as part of compromise immigration legislation.
In response, Trump reportedly said: “Those shitholes send us the people that they don’t want”, and suggested that the US should instead increase immigration from “places like Norway” and Asian countries. Trump’s reported comments, which he partially denied having made later, received widespread domestic and international condemnation.
In June 2018, immigrants faced with losing their status filed suit against the terminations in Federal District Court in San Francisco arguing that they were made arbitrarily, without a formal process, and in a discriminatory manner.
Trump frequently revised proposals to ban Muslim immigration to the United States in the course of his presidential campaign.
In late July 2016, NBC News characterized his position as: “Ban all Muslims and maybe other people from countries with a history of terrorism.” In December 2015, Trump proposed a temporary ban on foreign Muslims entering the United States (the U.S. admits approximately 100,000 Muslim immigrants each year).
In August 2015, during his campaign, Trump proposed the mass deportation of undocumented immigrants as part of his immigration policy. During his first town hall campaign meeting in Derry, New Hampshire, Trump said that if he were to win the election, then on “[d]ay 1 of my presidency, they’re getting out and getting out fast”. Trump has proposed a ‘Deportation Force’ to carry out this plan, modeled after the 1950s-era ‘Operation Wetback’ program during the Eisenhower administration that ended following a congressional investigation.
Effect of Trump’s Immigration Policies-
There are views that mass deportation would reduce U.S. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by 1.4 percent. This liberal research estimates that farmers would have a hard time finding replacement workers. Instead, they would be forced to cut their production to fit the reduced labor supply.
The Cato Institute reported that it would cost $60 billion to deport the 750,000 people protected by DACA. They contribute $28 billion a year to the economy.
Immigration pays for itself. Immigrants add $1.6 trillion to the economy each year. Of that, $35 billion is a net benefit to the companies and communities where they live. The rest (97.8 percent) of that growth returns to the immigrant workers as wages. They repatriate $25 billion back to family members in Mexico. They spend the rest in America.
Native-born workers who compete directly with the immigrants for jobs are hurt the worst. Those are the young, less-educated, and minority workers. Their unemployment rate is higher than that for older, college-educated, and white workers.
Illegal immigration lowers wages by 3 to 8 percent for low-skilled occupations. That averages out to $25 a week for native-born workers without high school diplomas. President Trump promised during his campaign to require companies to offer all jobs to Americans first.
Between 2000 and 2013, the number of native-born workers fell by 1.3 million. Studies show that they left the workforce. Many older workers retired or went on disability. Younger workers went back to school. During that same period, the number of working immigrants rose by 5.3 million. That’s out of 16 million immigrants who arrived in America.
Immigrants cost the U.S. government between $11.4 billion and $20.2 billion each year. That means they use that much more in services than they pay in taxes. On the other hand, they cost the government less than native-born Americans with similar education and work histories.
Immigrants in the workforce pay taxes into Social Security and Medicare. It improves the age dependency ratio or the number of working people who support the nation’s senior population.
The ratio is worsening because the U.S. born population is aging. There aren’t as many in the working age population to support them. As more immigrants enter the workforce, the age dependency ratio improves.
Immigrant women are also more likely to have children. In 2014, immigrant women between the ages of 15 and 44 had 44 percent more kids than American born women of the same age. That helps support the current working population when they retire.
Immigrants with college degrees generate $105,000 more in revenue than they receive in services over their lifetimes. Almost 53 percent of immigrants have some college. Of those, 16 percent have a graduate degree.
Immigrants living in the United States illegally cost the country less than legal ones. They are not eligible for many government programs. If the government granted them amnesty, the costs to society would double.
U.S. immigration policy has undergone a sea change since the inauguration of Donald Trump in January 2017.
Although his public statements have largely focused on a few major objectives toward which he has made only limited headway—such as building a wall along the entirety of the U.S.-Mexico border—the administration has taken other steps to redefine U.S. immigration policies that are less visible but no less important.
This report examines the wide range of changes the Trump administration has set in motion, from enhanced enforcement measures and new application vetting requirements, to cuts in refugee admissions and the scaling back of temporary protections for some noncitizens.
Despite the attention Trump has dedicated to immigration matters, this analysis finds that the fragmented nature of the U.S. political system has made it difficult for his administration to pursue some of its most ambitious aims.
Congress has thus far shown little inclination to pass major immigration legislation, and the courts have halted or slowed key initiatives, including early iterations of the travel ban and the separation of families as part of a “zero-tolerance” border policy.
States and localities have also taken divergent approaches to local law enforcement cooperation with federal immigration authorities, with some passing laws to curtail coordination and others to facilitate it.
Still, through incremental changes and presidential discretion, the administration may in the long term be able to significantly redefine who comes to the country and who is removed from it.