Donald Trump ran with a political platform bent on changing the immigration laws to stringent policies that built up America’s borders and deported those with illegal citizenship status.  With two years of the presidency under his belt, what has changed with America’s immigration laws and has President Trump been successful on his campaign promises?  If you are currently seeking legal status in the United States, it is vital to stay updated on the ever-changing policies put forth by the current administration.

Since his election in 2016, President Trump began focusing his efforts in fulfilling promises made on the campaign trail by banning nationals from seven countries, with the determining reasoning being the countries’ Muslim majorities.  The travel ban includes Iran, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Syria, Venezuela, and Yemen. Nationals and their relatives from these seven countries are blocked from entering the United States and face additional scrutiny due to the current administration citing terroristic activities from the specific countries listed.

The travel ban has faced criticism from President Trump’s opponents and has met resistance in federal court systems, some arguing that the ban is unconstitutional.  With the travel ban in place, refugees and immigrants have encountered difficulty and legal challenges in entering the United States.   Refugee admissions have reached the lowest number recorded since the resettlement program created in 1980.  Jurisdictions, Congress, and others opposing these policies have worked to stall deportation processes.

Temporary Protected Status for nationals of six countries: Haiti, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Sudan, Nepal, and Honduras, marking further changes to American immigration policies under the new administration.  The Temporary Protected Status is granted to immigrants in countries that have recently faced national emergencies, natural disasters or otherwise.  The changes to this policy effect over 45,000 Haitians, with their protected status ending in mid-summer of 2019, over 200,000 Salvadorians, with their protected status ending in the fall of 2019, and nearly 2,500 Nicaraguans at the beginning of January 2019.

The Trump administration in its current capacity has worked to dramatically reduce the legal immigration in the United States.  In August of 2017, the administration put forth the Reforming American Immigration for a Strong Economy (RAISE) Act, legislation that aimed to reduce legal immigration by 50% through the number of green cards issued.  The act also placed a cap on the United State’s acceptance of refugees, limiting yearly admissions to 50,000.

During his campaign for the presidency, Donald Trump proposed constructing a wall on the United State’s southern border, shared with Mexico.  The border wall, according to Trump, would immensely diminish the number of illegal Mexican immigrants from making their way into the United States and committing crimes against American citizens.  While the idea of erecting a barrier between the United States is not new (the Secure Fence Act of 2006 partially constructed one-third of the U.S.-Mexico barrier), President Trump’s rhetoric against Mexican immigrants heightened wary American’s already wavering emotions on immigration laws.

Changes in American immigration law intensified in early 2017 when the administration increased the enforcement of immigration deportation. During President Obama’s administration, policies on deportation only considered immigrants with serious felonies, multiple misdemeanors, and crimes to be eligible for removal.  Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials have continued to seek out and actively deport immigrants throughout the United States who lack legal citizenship status.

In the fall of 2017, President Trump ended Former President Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), an executive order that enabled 800,000 young adults brought into the United States illegally to work in the country without fear or threat of deportation.  The executive order was phased out within six months of President Trump’s announcement.

Escalation erupted in 2018 when a zero-tolerance policy was announced by the Justice Department concerning unauthorized crossing through the border of Mexico to the United States.  The policy introduced a troubling family separation practice, removing minor children from their parents or relatives accompanying them.  Adults were escorted to federal jails by authorities to await hearings while their children were sent to shelters.  The shelters reportedly held over 10,000 migrant children with conditions that were later condemned and protested by the American public, religious groups, public figures, national associations, and congressional representatives.

The family separation policy was met with compounding criticism, and so recently, in June of 2018, President Trump quickly made changes again to the immigration policy.  An executive order as issued by President Trump to halt the growing denunciation of the harsh family separation policy at the U.S.-Mexico border entitled “Affording Congress an Opportunity to Address Family Separation.”  According to the New York Times, President Trump remarked during the signing that “[he] didn’t like the sight or feelings of families being separated.” However, it is crucial to note that this meant that families were still being detained; only no longer separated.

Analysts warn that the economy could suffer from such dramatic changes to the immigration policies in America.  The shift in a population with the reduction of immigrants allowed to live and work in the United States will greatly impact jobs and the flow of the economy.  Through the changes of the immigration laws, federal courts, state and local jurisdictions, and Congress have used their power to slow or stall the effect that the new laws have on immigrants.

At Brodzki, Jacobs, & Brooks, we are members of the American Immigration Lawyers’ Association and continue to remain updated on the current administrations’ immigration laws that could affect the path to citizenship.  If you are seeking citizenship, asylum, family-based immigration, L-1 visas, H-2B, H-1B visas, or E visas, then having an experienced immigration attorney to guide you through the process is essential to achieving legal status.

At Brodzki, Jacobs, & Brook, our team of traveled and experienced lawyers has worked alongside immigrant families in cases that involve asylum, naturalization, work visas, and reuniting relatives under the new policies instilled by the current administration.  We pride ourselves in treating our clients like family and with over 25 years of combined experience, we strive to offer our best service, advice, and counseling to those pursuing American citizenship.

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