Donald Trump made immigration restrictions a big part of his campaign platform. Now that he has been elected president, here are some ways he might change immigration policy, based on statements he made during his campaign and on his website.
He has pledged:
- to immediately reverse President Obama’s executive actions that protect millions of young immigrants from deportation.
- to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border and increase the number of border patrol agents.
- to increase the deportations of criminal noncitizens.
- to detain more people who enter the United States illegally.
- to ensure that a biometric entry-exit visa tracking system is fully implemented at all land, air, and sea ports of entry.
- to reduce legal immigration and to make sure that open jobs are offered to American workers first.
- to suspend the issuance of 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 or 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.
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, 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.
President-elect Trump stated in his victory speech that he will be fair to everyone. Let’s hope he keeps that promise to immigrants.