Immigration policies since the Trump administration

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Introduction

President Donald Trump took the oath of office on the 20th January 2017. The president took over from Barrack Obama, who had been in office for eight consecutive years. During the campaign period, each candidate had his or her own policies or agenda to implement. President Donald Trump had many policies and one of them was to make America great again. The only way Trump intended to make America great was by imposing certain restrictions in the immigration department. Trump promised the electorate that he would restrict or ban all Muslims who intended to enter the US.  However, this position was compromised when Trump became the Republican presidential candidate. This paper will analyze immigration policies in the Trump administration.

Immigration remains one of the most controversial and critical issues of debate in the US. Historically, the US has had programs that allow immigrants from different parts of the world to gain entry in the US and pursue the American dream. The immigration program has been implemented through the green card lottery program. However, after the assumption of office by the Trump administration, the same immigration program is under threat. In the recent past, President Trump has issued executive orders designed to redefine immigration in the US. First, President Trump demanded a temporary ban of citizens from certain Muslim countries. The executive order drew nationwide condemnation with chaos been witnessed in various entry points. The travel ban initiated by the Trump administration remains the subject of litigation in various states. In the recent past, President Trump has signaled his intention to end the DACA program claiming that the dreamers are in the country illegally.  President Trump has called on both Democrats and the Republicans to come up with a bipartisan bill aimed at solving the immigration challenge and saving DACA. Additionally, the president has also demanded that the lottery program be based on merit. Ideally, the Trump administration desires a system where people who have specialized skills and knowledge are allowed entry into the US. Today, the immigration has become one of the issues in the budget negotiations, and it is expected that Congress will come up with a program aimed at dealing with the immigration puzzle. Some of the things President Trump has demanded include a merit-based immigration lottery system, the building of the wall, and ending chain migration.

The travel bans initiated by the Trump administration have been the cause of concerns both for the citizens and the immigrants. Many states have challenged the decision by the administration to impose travel bans with the courts issuing injunctions to stop the executive orders from coming into effect. The primary objective of the executive orders is designed to prevent the terrorists from entering the US. The Muslims from specific countries have been targeted by the travel bans.

Travel Ban

President Donald Trump has enacted various immigration policies since he took the reins of power. One of the policies was to impose travel bans on some Islamic countries. A travel ban refers to any diplomatic action that prohibits people from staying or remaining in a certain country (Lisiero 37). At the beginning of 2017, the US under the leadership of Donald Trump imposed travel bans to various Islamic states and refugees. The United States issued three travel bans in 2017.  All the travel bans were meant to restrict the entrance of people into the US from some Islamic states.

First travel Ban

The first travel ban was issued in January 2017. President Donald Trump gave an executive order 13769 which aimed at safeguarding the US from terrorists. This travel ban was also referred to as Muslim ban. The travel ban was signed by president Trump on the 27th of January 2017. The travel ban suspended the admission of refugees into the United States. It also barred immigrants from Muslim majority countries. However, the travel ban that was imposed on Muslim majority states was temporal. The first travel ban restricted the Syrian refugees from gaining access to the US (Lisiero 37). The ban also suspended indefinitely the United States refugee admission program for approximately one hundred and twenty days. This executive order reduced the number of refugees going to the US in the year 2017 to fifty thousand from one hundred and ten thousand.  Immigrants from Syria, Somalia, Iraq, Sudan, Iran, and Yemen were subjected to a ninety days visa suspension. The only visas that were exempted from the suspension were those that belong to the categories of the United Nations and diplomats. It is explicit that this travel ban targeted Islamic countries.

The implication of this travel ban was that any person with the nationality of Somalia, Yemen, Iraq, Sudan, Libya, and Syria was not allowed to enter the US for a period of ninety days from the day the order was issued.  They were not able to access immigrant visas. This ban affected thousands of people from these Islamic states who were supposed to travel to the US. The president went ahead to defend his move by saying that the exercise was a follow up on the decision made by Barrack Obama and the Congress (Charlie). The seven Islamic countries were deemed to be harboring terrorists. According to Donald Trump, the suspension of visas and refugees were meant to give the government authorities enough time to develop a more strict vetting process for immigrants. It was not targeting people’s religion, but instead, it was focusing on barring terrorist from entering the US.

Second travel Ban

The first executive order sparked protest from every corner in the US. The judiciary was involved in trying to prove its legal basis. As a result of the outcry, the president decided to revise the first order by issuing a second travel order in March 2017 (Charlie). The second travel order tried to put into consideration various provisions which emerged from the court contest.  In this second travel ban, president Trump aimed at bringing to an end all the legal hurdles that were brought by the first ban.

The second travel ban affected only five Muslim majority countries. These countries were Yemen, Libya, Somalia, Syria, and Iran. In the second ban, Iraq was left out. The Trump administration banned the issuance of visas to citizens of these five countries who wished to travel to America. The refugee program was to be suspended for the next one hundred and twenty days. The US was only going to admit not more than fifty thousand refugees each year. According to President Trump, the second executive order concerning the travel ban was to be effected as from the 16th March 2017 (Charlie).

Third travel Ban

In September 2017, the Trump administration issued a third travel ban. The third travel ban was more expansive than the first and the second travel ban. The third travel ban targeted eight countries. These countries were Somalia, Yemen, Syria, Libya, Iran, Venezuela, North Korea and Chad. This travel order restricted those immigrants who were seeking medical visas.  It also barred those who were intending to move to the United States as tourists (Michael). Another group of people affected was American resident’s families. All these categories of immigrants from the eight countries were barred from accessing visas to move to America.  The immigrants who already had visas were not allowed to renew their visa once they expire.

In the third travel ban order, the number of refugees entering America was scaled down to about forty-five thousand. This travel order was to be enforced until the affected countries met some security requirements (Michael). The department of Homeland Security has vital security requirements that these countries are to adhere to before the lifting of the travel ban. This order will affect greatly people from these countries. Therefore, the Trump administration has brought major changes to the immigration policies in America.

DACA

This program targets young immigrants who move to the US. The word DACA stands for deferred action for childhood arrivals. DACA is a relief program that is administered to young people who are in need. It is a relief program aiming to protect young people from deportation. The young people who migrated to America while young and are on the verge of being deported can qualify for this program (Chavez 49). These young people are considered undocumented because they lack legal documentation to stay in the US. The DACA program protects young people from deportation and it also offers a work permit. It is important to note that this program lasts for two years subject to renewal.

Those who qualify for the DACA Program must be less than thirty-one years old. The other qualification is that anyone applying for the program must have been in the US before his or her sixteenth birthday. The other important thing to consider is that one should have lived in the United States throughout without moving to another country. People who have been convicted of any felony are not eligible for the DACA program (Chavez 50). Students or those who have graduated from any school program in America stand a better chance to qualify for the DACA program. The above qualifications form the basis upon which the DACA selection is done. Therefore, anyone who does not meet this criterion does not in any way qualify for the DACA program.

The DACA program came into effect in 2012 during President Obama’s administration. According to Obama, this program was “a temporary stopgap measure”. The program aimed at helping the government of the US to utilize its resources in offering relief to deserving young people. It is believed that those people who qualify for the DACA program cannot be a security threat to the US.  The applicants for the DACA program are not guaranteed American citizenship because the program is considered “a deportation deferred”. In September 2017, the number of DACA recipients was approximately 689,800 (Dickerson).

Dreamers

The word “dreamers” is commonly used in America referring to those who are protected by the DACA program. The majority of the dreamers are from Guatemala, Mexico, and El Salvador. They stay in Florida, California, New York and Texas. Their ages range from fifteen to thirty-six years. During the Obama administration, the Congress did not pass the minor act also called the dream act (Nicholls 47). This Act was meant to provide relief and education to young people who were aliens in the US. The act was aimed at providing legal residency to those young people who migrated to the US illegally. Therefore, anybody who qualifies for the DACA program falls into the category of dreamers.

In his presidential campaign, Donald Trump promised to do away with the DACA program and effect the deportation of all illegal immigrants including the dreamers. On September 2017, President Donald Trump declared that his administration was doing away with DACA program.  Within a period of six months, the president instructed the Congress to develop a relevant act to help protect the dreamers. This executive direction implies that if the Congress fails to enact a legislation to protect the dreamers, by March 2018, they will be deported (Dickerson). The deportation means that young people who will be affected will end up terminating their studies and others will lose their work visas. The administration of Trump is not going to allow applications for the DACA program. If the Congress fails to create an alternative means through legislation, then the DACA program recipients will lose status in 2020. The president argued that the formation of DACA was not constitutional since it was rejected by the legislative arm of the government. The effort by the Obama executive order to create the DACA program was a clear violation of the laws governing immigration in the US.  It is, therefore, clear that the administration of Donald Trump is determined to bring a major overhaul in the immigration policies in America.

The immigration reforms and policies

The immigration department in America is critical because it determines who qualifies to travel to America. There have been progressive changes and reforms in policies that govern immigration in the US. President Donald Trump has given many executive directives that have greatly impacted on the immigration policies. One of the policies was focused on security. The president instructed the construction of a physical wall on the border of Mexico and America. This wall was to help the United States to be able to control its border with Mexico (Nicholas). It was also meant to restrict movement of people from Mexico to the US. It is, therefore, explicit that the administration of President Donald Trump has continuously worked on bringing new policies and reforms in the immigration department.

The other policy that affected the immigration department was all about interior enforcement.  The policy widens the bracket of those immigrants who are considered to be unauthorized. The president, under this policy gave priority to the removal of the unauthorized immigrants from the US. There was the need for this policy to increase enforcement personnel so that there can be efficiency (Nicholas). The facilities required for the removal of such persons were to be increased. This policy also ensures that it restricts funds from the federal government in certain jurisdictions that affect the work of immigration officials. Therefore, this move is a clear indication that Donald Trump’s administration has brought reforms to the immigration department.

The other policy that President Donald Trump has created is all about terrorism prevention. The president gave an executive order banning immigrants from eight countries which include Yemen, Somalia, Syria, Iran, Libya, Venezuela, North Korea and Chad. Many of these are Muslim majority countries. The president argued that he was not against Muslims but was against terrorists. The majority of the people who were on their way to the US when the order was issued were forced to go back to where they were coming from. As a result of this order, many visas were revoked and some immigrants were arrested and detained. This policy affected the immigration rules and the immigrants from these countries (Nicholas).

The other reform that President Donald Trump has brought in the immigration department is to effect the deportation of undocumented people from the US. The executive order in September 2017 aimed at ending the DACA program. This program was a relief to undocumented young people who are legible for deportation from the US. The administration of Donald Trump has brought reforms in the immigration department forcing the termination of the DACA program (Hing 385). The president termed the executive order of President Obama to create DACA as illegal. Therefore, the need to end the DACA program which is under the immigration department shows that the regime of Donald Trump is geared toward change.

The other reform that Donald Trump has introduced in the immigration is all about enhancing public safety. The president is of the view that the interior of the US should be kept safe for the citizens. In this policy, Trump targeted those aliens who have committed a criminal offense. Those who have engaged in fraud or those who have not represented well government agencies. Other people who fall into this category are those who pose a threat to public security. According to president Trump, all these are to be deported because they are interfering with the interior safety of the US. In his executive directive, it is not a must for someone to have been convicted of an offense for him or her to be deported. In Obama’s administration, undocumented people were considered for removal after they were convicted of an offense (Hing 511). This policy broadened the scope for those to be considered for deportation by the immigration department of America. It is imperative to underscore that the administration of Donald Trump is more concerned about immigration reforms and policies.

Conclusion

The administration of President Trump has been keen on rolling out reforms in the immigration department. Basing on his campaign promises, the current president of the US is determined in lowering the number of immigrants. The president has gone ahead to implement the travel ban on eight countries which are considered to be a threat to the security of the US. Donald Trump has gone further to stop more admission in the DACA program threatening to bring it to a complete end by 2020. The policies that are being imposed in the immigration are a clear indication that Trump wants to reform the immigration department of the US.  The reforms in the immigration department are a priority for President Trump’s administration to the extent that the primary objective is to ensure national security.

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  1. Chavez, Maria.  Living the dream: New immigration policies and the lives of undocumented Youth, New York: Routledge, 2015.
  2. Dickerson, Caltlin. What is DACA? Who are the dreamers? The New York Times, 2018. Accessed 16 Feb 2018.  https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/23/us/daca-dreamers-shutdown.html?
  3. Hing, Bill. Immigration law and social justice, New York: Wolters Kluwer, 2018.
  4. Kulish, Nicholas. Trump’s immigration policies explained, The New York times, 2017. Accessed 16 Feb 2018. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/21/us/trump-immigration-policies-deportation.html?
  5. Lisiero, Dario. The winner, New York: Lulu, 2017.
  6. Nicholls, Walter. The dreamers: How the undocumented youth movement transformed the immigrant rights debate, California: Stanford university press, 2013.
  7. Savage, Charlie. Analyzing Trump’s new travel ban, The New York Times, 2017. Accessed 16
  8. Feb 2018.   https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/06/us/politics/annotated-executive-order-            immigration-travel-ban.html?
  9. Shear, Michael. New order indefinitely bars almost all travel from seven countries. The New York Times, 2017. Accessed 16 Feb 2018. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/24/us/politics/new-order-bars-almost-all-travel-from-seven-countries.html.
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