Trump curtails en­ter­ing US legally

In cam­paign, he lauded law­ful im­mi­gra­tion

USA TODAY International Edition - - FRONT PAGE - 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 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.

Lim­it­ing asy­lum

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.

Travel ban

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.

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 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.

Fewer visas

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.

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