Immigration under President Trump: The First 100 Days

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Immigration under President Trump: The First 100 Days

Update date:

Monday, November 28, 2016 - 13:07

President-elect Trump has outlined his plans for his first one hundred days in office and immigration matters account for a portion of those plans. His original plan went live in October, termed “Donald Trump’s Contract with the American Voter.” The greatest impact from the potential implementation of these plans will be felt by those who are present in the U.S. without lawful status, those with criminal backgrounds, and those seeking to come here from predominantly Muslim countries.

One of the broadest promises Trump has made that will impact the immigration field, is his promise to cancel every executive action, memorandum and order issued by President Obama that he has deemed “unconstitutional”. It is unclear whether the true legal definition of “unconstitutional” is being used here, however, this stands to impact the twelve executive orders President Obama signed in 2014 ordering Departments of Justice, State, and Homeland Security to refrain from deporting undocumented immigrants present in the U.S. who were parents of U.S. citizen or lawfully present children. These parents also had to hold a job, obtain a high school diploma or equivalent, pay taxes, and stay out of prison. The substance of these orders have been locked up in court proceedings for more than a year, regardless of Trump’s election, and will likely be determined to be an overreach of executive authority. However, the additional threat of Trump’s cancellation promise remains.

Trump has also promised to cancel all federal funding to “Sanctuary Cities.” There is no agreed upon definition of what constitutes a “Sanctuary City,” but generally the term refers to cities, towns, counties – or even whole states – that protect undocumented immigrants from federal deportation forces by limiting their cooperation with immigration authorities. In response, many Sanctuary Cities – including San Francisco, Oakland, Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, Seattle, Baltimore, Providence, and Washington, D.C. – have reaffirmed their commitment to maintaining their sanctuary policies.

Trump also outlines his goal to remove “the more than 2 million criminal illegal immigrants” from the U.S. and “cancel visas to foreign countries that won’t take them back.” It is quite unclear how many undocumented immigrants present in the U.S. have criminal records; it is also unclear how Trump plans to mobilize a deportation force of such size because both the finances and logistics of such a plan would be substantial and complex.

In response to the current climate of fear surrounding ISIS and potential terror threats, Trump also plans to suspend immigration from “terror-prone regions where vetting cannot safely occur.” Trump further assures that all vetting of foreign nationals entering the U.S. will be “extreme vetting.”

 To further his campaign promise of dealing with illegal immigration, Trump will propose for introduction to Congress the “End Illegal Immigration Act.” This Act hits on a number of Trump’s campaign promises regarding immigration:

  • Funds Trump’s promise for a wall on the U.S-Mexico border.
  • Establish a two year mandatory minimum federal prison sentence for those who re-enter illegally, and a five year minimum for those with prior felony convictions, multiple misdemeanors, or two or more previous removals.
    • Currently, there is no mandatory minimum for those who seek to re-enter without inspection, but these individuals can face up to two years in prison, or ten if they have felonies on their record.
  • Promises to reform visa rules to increase penalties for overstay and protect American workers.

It is worth noting that on November 21, 2016 Trump spoke on his first one hundred days in office. He highlighted six main points, but, significantly, what was NOT included were the infamous wall along the border of Mexico, a large scale deportation force, or new restrictions on predominantly Muslim countries. Rather, Trump focused on the domestic economy, and building up the American workforce and industry.

However, Trump’s transition team website, greatagain.gov, includes a ten point plan for immigration that does include these matters.

  1. Build a Wall on the Southern Border
  2. End Catch-and-Release
  3. Zero Tolerance for Criminal Aliens
  4. Block Funding for Sanctuary Cities
  5. Cancel Unconstitutional Executive Orders & Enforce All Immigration Laws
  6. Suspend the Issuance of Visas to Any Place Where Adequate Screening Cannot Occur
  7. Ensure that Other Countries Take Their Nationals Back When the U.S. Orders Them Deported
  8. Finally Complete the Biometric Entry-Exit Visa Tracking System
  9. Turn Off the Jobs and Benefits Magnet
  10. Reform Legal immigration to Serve the Best Interests of America and its Workers

While Trump has dialed back much of his campaign rhetoric, he has not reneged on his promises on immigration reform. Again, Trump’s focus is primarily on those arriving in the country without inspection, those fleeing across the U.S.-Mexico border, and those from majority Muslim nations. Trump has promised to connect with the Department of Labor to crack down on visa program violations that impact U.S. workers, so the area of employment-based visas may also be a target of the President-elect’s reform efforts and promises.

The proposed new head of the Department of Homeland Security, which oversees USCIS, is Kris Kobach, Kansas Secretary of State. Kobach has already laid out a plan for reforming the immigration system which includes immigrant tracking and questioning certain immigrants about their views on Sharia law. A similar system was instituted by the Department of State with the help of Kobach following the 9/11 attacks. It included an extra layer of screening for immigrants from countries with known and active terrorists such as Iraq, Syria, and Afghanistan. The system was suspended in 2011. The proposed resurrection of this system has many concerned that it will operate as a tracking system exclusively for Muslim immigrants. The rest of Kobach’s plans seem largely in line with Trumps, which is in keeping with Kobach’s early support for Trump’s candidacy. Kobach supports strict immigration policies and has drafted and fought for a variety of more stringent measures in many states.

We strive to keep you updated on all immigration matters as they occur, including regulatory changes as well as the shifting political climate. This information is an overview of the President-elect’s plans, not current regulation, and these plans will not take shape into potential policy until after his inauguration in January 2017. We will keep you informed as to how these plans develop, progress, and change. However, if you still have questions or concerns regarding your immigration matters or just general inquiries, please contact our offices. We’ll be happy to help you.