Trump touted legal immigration, but he’s cutting the numbers
During a 2016 campaign stop in Illinois, then-candidate Donald Trump invited to the stage a man wearing a shirt that read: “Legal Immigrant For Trump.”
Asked to say a few words to the crowd, the man chastised the media for missing a fundamental aspect of Trump’s candidacy: that he was opposed to illegal immigration, not legal immigration. Trump patted the man on the back and told him, “I totally support it.”
“People are going to come into our country,” Trump said. “We want people to come in. But they’ve got to come in, like you, legally. My man.”
Despite his campaign rhetoric, nowPresident Trump has acted very differently since moving into the White House. His administration has granted fewer visas, approved fewer refugees, ordered the removal of hundreds of thousands of legal residents whose home countries have been hit by war and natural disasters and pushed Congress to pass laws to dramatically cut the entire legal immigration system.
The White House has argued the moves are necessary to protect national security and American workers.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions issued the latest volley Monday when he limited the ability of foreign victims of domestic and gang violence to seek asylum in the U.S.
“That’s further confirmation that the administration’s official policy toward legal immigration is restriction by any means necessary,” said David Bier, an immigration policy analyst at the libertarian Cato Institute.
Here’s a look at ways the Trump administration has cut or proposed cuts to the nation’s legal immigration system.
Central American immigrant families leave the custody of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, pending future immigration court hearings, Monday in McAllen, Texas. JOHN MOORE/GETTY IMAGES
The Trump White House has taken aim at the nation’s asylum program, which protects foreigners fleeing persecution.
Sessions has complained the program is being abused by “dirty immigration lawyers” who coach applicants on how to game the system. He has pointed to massive increases in asylum claims at the southwest border as proof it is being taken advantage of.
Human rights activists say the rise in applications simply shows how dire the situation has become in Central America, where most are coming from.
The first major move from Trump was the controversial travel ban, which the president signed a week into his tenure.
The travel ban, which barred immigration from seven majority-Muslim countries, was struck down by federal courts. The Supreme Court allowed a watered-down version of the ban to go into effect.
The latest version, which targets nearly 150 million residents of Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen, is back before the Supreme Court, which is expected to issue a ruling this summer.
The president has also been able to severely limit the admission of refugees, just as foreign countries are overwhelmed by the largest global migrant crisis in decades.
Despite the court rulings against him, Trump was able to halt the Refugee Resettlement Program for seven months last year. Once it restarted in October, the Department of Homeland Security said it would conduct “extreme vetting” of people using the program.
Trump also lowered the annual cap on refugee admissions to 45,000 – the lowest figure since Congress passed the Refugee Act of 1980.