Trump curtails entering US legally
In campaign, he lauded lawful immigration
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 repeatedly 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, President 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 administration could get some help from Congress starting next week. That’s when House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., scheduled a vote on two immigration bills.
Both would grant deportation protections to undocumented immigrants brought to the country as children, known as DREAMers, but will also include cuts to the legal immigration system.
Here’s a look at the different ways the Trump administration has ap-
proached the nation’s legal immigration system.
Unlike previous administrations, the Trump White House has taken aim at the nation’s asylum program, which protects foreigners fleeing persecution in their home countries.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions has complained the program is being abused by “dirty immigration lawyers” who coach applicants on how to game the system. He says massive increases in asylum claims at the Southwest border are proof it is being taken advantage of.
Human rights activists say the rise in applications simply shows how dangerous Central America has become. They have pleaded with the administration to maintain the program so the U.S. can continue serving its role as a global beacon for the oppressed.
The first major move from Trump was the controversial travel ban, which the president signed into effect a week into his tenure.
Trump said the temporary ban was needed to give his administration time to overhaul the country’s vetting systems to ensure terrorists don’t infiltrate the U.S. through legal channels. Critics blasted it as nothing more than the “Muslim ban” he called for during his presidential campaign.
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 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.
Temporary Protected Status
One of the largest groups of legal immigrants hit by Trump’s efforts have been those legally living and working in the U.S. under the Temporary Protected Status program, which allows people from countries ravaged by war and natural disasters to remain in the U.S. until their countries recover.
Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen has now cut TPS for El Salvador, Honduras, Haiti, Nepal, Nicaragua and Sudan, which represents 98% of the 310,000 people covered by the program.
That means TPS enrollees from those countries, many of whom have legally lived in the U.S. for nearly 30 years, must return home in the coming months or risk becoming undocumented immigrants.
The White House has also been on a quest to end so-called “chain migration.” That is a derogatory term used to describe the long-standing practice of family immigration to the United States.
The White House says it allows foreigners to sponsor too many extended relatives for permanent placement in the U.S. Critics argue it’s unfair to ask immigrants to leave behind their relatives who would be cut out by the White House proposals.
Up until last year, nearly 800,000 undocumented immigrants who were brought to the country as children had legal status to live and work in the U.S. But Trump ended the program in September.
The Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program remains active due to federal judges who ruled the Trump administration used flawed legal reasoning to end it.
The Department of Justice argues the program was illegal from the start. Immigration lawyers and professors around the country disagree, saying a president is well within his rights to exempt some classes of undocumented immigrants from deportation.
If the Supreme Court sides with the Trump administration, it could be up to Congress to find a rare compromise to save the DREAMers.
DACA recipient Carlos Esteban, a nursing student, rallies outside the White House last September.