From now until Election Day, The Brian Lehrer Show is hosting a series called “30 Issues in 30 Days.” The idea is to dive deep on one issue a day to give voters a sense of what candidates are saying about the policies that affect their lives. Next up: how many of Trump's campaign promises on immigration have been delivered.
Back on the campaign trail Donald Trump made immigration his centerpiece, his literal rallying cry, and offered more detailed policy proposals on how he would deal with refugees and "illegals" than most any other issue. He has not succeeded in building his “big beautiful wall” just yet (though he might tell you otherwise), but immigration policy experts say that when it comes immigration, Donald Trump has been true to his word.
Campaign promise: Trump promised to limit legal immigration to "to serve the best interests of America and its workers."
Some of what he's delivered:
- Ended TPS: Temporary Protected Status allows citizens of countries that are affected by man-made or natural disasters to come to the United States legally to work and live. Trump argued TPS was never meant to be a ticket to permanent residency, and announced 300,000 TPS recipients, from Sudan, Nicaragua, El Salvador and Haiti would lose their status by the end of this year—some by November 2nd. A federal judge just blocked the ruling, giving TPS recipients temporary relief.
- Cancelled DACA: In 2017 Trump ended the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, an Obama era ruling that currently provides work authorization and temporary status to approximately 700,000 undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children (the program is still in effect due to lower court objections but recipients are in limbo).
- Put restrictions on work visas: Donald Trump has made it more difficult to access or renew H-1B visas, a program that allows jobs to hire skilled professionals from other countries. Critics say the restriction goes against Trump’s own promise to make immigration merit based. (Future First Lady Melania Trump received five H-1B visas from when she first came to the United States in 1996.) According to CNN, the number of F-1 visas issued to foreign students seeking to attend college in the United States also decreased by 17% in 2017 due to anxiety around Trump’s policies.
- Stuck by the Muslim ban: In 2018 the Supreme Court upheld Donald Trump's travel ban and overruled challenges from the lower courts. The law now bans nationals of Iran, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Syria, Venezuela, and Yemen from entering the US.
- Reduced refugees to record lows: Since the U.S. resettlement program was established in 1980, an average of 95,000 refugees per year have been allowed to settle in the United States. President Trump cut those numbers in half when he decreed the number of refugees to be admitted should be 45,000. According to David Milliband, the president of the International Rescue Committee,Trump is rigging the refugee admissions system to lower the number even further to only around 20,000 per year. (For more on this issue listen to Milliband on Brian Lehrer below.)
Campaign promise: In his first town hall meeting Donald Trump promised that if he won, he would force undocumented immigrants “out of the country fast."
Has he delivered?
- According to Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the number of undocumented immigrants arrested (inside the US border) in 2017 was up 42%. The majority of the increase comes from arrests of non-violent immigrants with no criminal background (those arrests were up 171% from the previous year).
Campaign Promise: “Build a wall and make Mexico pay for it”
- Trump’s recent “zero tolerance policy” was as much a signal to immigrants “that they are not welcome” than any behemoth border wall. The policy, which called for prosecuting anyone caught crossing the border illegally, led to the separation of thousands of children from their parents. Public outcry was so massive that President Trump issued an executive order halting the practice on June 20th. According to reports, the DHS was not prepared to deal with the logistics of the zero tolerance policy in the first place, and by late last month, hundreds of detained children were still were not back with their parents.
Although voters won’t see Trump’s name on the ballot on November 6th, the midterm elections could dramatically impact the course of his administration policies. For example, Anu Joshi, Immigration Policy Director at The New York Immigration Coalition, says ICE’s uptick in deportations “shows no sign of slowing in 2019” and urges voters to elect representatives who will pass restrictions how much federal funding ICE receives (ICE is currently asking Congress for $1 billion to keep up with Trump’s high demands, but Congressional leaders have decided to table the matter until after the midterm elections).
For more on all this, here's Brian Lehrer's segment: