Trump touted le­gal im­mi­gra­tion, but he’s cut­ting the num­bers

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel - - Milwaukee Wisconsin - Alan Gomez

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

Lim­it­ing asy­lum

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.

Travel ban

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.

Refugee pro­gram

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.

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