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How Will a President Trump Change U.S. Immigration Policy?

Donald Trump made immigration restrictions an important part of his campaign platform.  Now that he is the President-elect, here are some ways he might change immigration policy, based on statements made during the campaign:

  • He has pledged to immediately reverse President Obama’s executive actions that protect millions of young immigrants from deportation, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).
  • He has pledged to immediately reverse President Obama’s executive actions that protect millions of parents of U.S. citizens from deportation, Deferred Action for Parents of Americans (DAPA).
  • He has pledged to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border and increase the number of border patrol agents.
  • He has pledged to increase the deportations of criminal non-citizens.
  • He has pledged to detain more people who enter the United States illegally.
  • He has pledged to ensure that a biometric entry-exit visa tracking system is fully implemented to track visitors to the U.S. and to ensure they leave when required.
  • He has pledged to reduce legal immigration, to make sure open jobs are offered to American workers first.
  • He has pledged to suspend the issuance of U.S. visas from any country where adequate screening cannot occur, until proven and effective vetting mechanisms can be put into place.

Whether President-elect Trump will actually follow through on these pledges remains to be seen.  Some actions, like reversing President Obama’s immigration executive actions, can be done unilaterally.  Others, like building a wall and strengthening border security, will require Congress to change current law and to agree to spend the billions of dollars such proposals will require.  Although Republicans will control both the House and Senate for the next two years, it is always difficult for Congress to enact significant immigration changes because immigration is so complex and controversial.  Republicans do not always agree with each other.

Voters elected Donald Trump as President partly because they demanded major changes in Washington, DC.  The federal government, however, is like a naval aircraft carrier: It is hard to change course quickly.  While President-elect Trump can make some immigration changes on his own, the more major changes will take time.  Moreover, some of his more controversial proposals, such as creating a new ideological test for admission to the United States that would assess an immigrant’s stances on issues like religious freedom, gender equality and gay rights, would surely provoke constitutional challenges in the courts.

The future remains to be seen.  Panic and fear are not called for (yet).  Please contact one of the immigration attorneys at Deutsch, Killea and Eapen, if you would like to discuss any aspect of this article.

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