One Year Later: Trump’s Immigration Policy (Opinion)
Immigration has been a prominent issue since the start of President Donald Trump’s presidential campaign. The campaign’s hallmark promises include a wall along the US-Mexico border, the Muslim travel ban, and the end of the Obama administration’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), which would end protection for the “Dreamers” who were brought illegally into the United States as children. As it has been a year since Trump assumed office, has he upheld his campaign promises?
Trump opened his presidential campaign with a pledge to “build a great, great wall on our southern border,” with the funds for the wall coming from Mexico. The idea of building a barrier to keep undocumented immigrants out of the United States is not new. The Secure Fence Act of 2007 resulted in 670 miles of fencing. The wall phenomenon, however, has been met by critics who question whether or not a wall would be effective at stopping unauthorized crossings, with many undocumented immigrants entering through official crossing points and overstaying their visas. Even Mexican president Enrique Peña Nieto responded to Trump’s declaration that Mexico would not pay for the wall.
Eventually, Trump’s stance on the wall changed. Six days after Trump assumed office, then-Press Secretary Sean Spicer said that Trump was considering a comprehensive tax plan that could include imposing a 20% tariff in order to pay for the wall — but a tariff on Mexican imports meant that Americans would be paying for the wall, contradicting Trump’s initial statement. The status of the wall remains in flux as Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said his party “opposes spending additional billions on a border wall” and deemed it a waste of money, but he appears willing to compromise on the wall in order to keep the government open after the recent shutdown.
Another hallmark of Trump’s immigration policy is the proposal to ban Muslim immigration to the United States. In response to the 2015 San Bernardino shooting, Trump called for a complete shutdown of Muslims entering the country — a policy he would continue to call for after the 2016 Orlando nightclub shooting. Many have criticized the ban, including London Mayor Sadiq Khan, whose spokesperson called Trump’s views “ignorant, divisive and dangerous.”
Eventually, an executive order was signed that temporarily prevented entry from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. The executive order faced criticism and was rejected based on its constitutionality by the Supreme Court. A revised travel ban document was then proposed and signed on March 6, 2017, which excluded Iraq, visa-holders, and permanent residents from the temporary suspension. This one, too, was deemed unconstitutional. A third one is currently in place and back in the Supreme Court, but whether or not this one will be considered constitutional is yet to be determined.
Lastly, in September 2017, President Trump announced that he would end protection for approximately 800,000 Dreamers, calling for legislation to be enacted before the DACA policy phases out of its protection starting in early 2018. Trump’s announcement has been widely protested, but those who oppose immigration have criticized it for providing amnesty.
DACA has been a major part of the recent government shutdown, as both Republicans and Democrats have still not reached a deal. The White House released its proposed framework on a deal for DACA and has provided some concessions, including a path to citizenship for approximately 1.8 million undocumented immigrants, but it also included aggressive cuts to legal immigration, spending for the wall and other border security, end to family migration beyond spouses and minor children, as well as the diversity visa lottery. A deal for DACA would probably not be reached due to disagreements on both sides.
On the campaign trail, then-candidate Trump promised to build a wall, restrict immigration, and end DACA. It has now been a year since President Trump has assumed office, and his promises are yet to be fulfilled.