Immigration Forecast: Trump Administration Immigration Policy Priorities
The White House released an executive summary outlining three major immigration policy objectives that the Trump Administration will be working to accomplish. These objectives include: (1) safe and lawful admission, (2) defending the safety and security of our country, and (3) protecting American workers and taxpayers.
Safe and Lawful Admissions
To achieve this objective, the White House has proposed reorganizing and revamping security at the border. The Trump Administration has authorized the Department of Homeland Security to raise, collect and use certain immigration application processing fees for functions related to border security, physical infrastructure and law enforcement. The primary focus here will continue to be constructing a wall along the southern border of the United States, but the Administration also plans to:
- Amend the William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008 to ensure the expeditious return of Unaccompanied Alien Children and family units;
- Reform the nation’s asylum system by tightening standards, imposing penalties for fraud and detaining individuals while claims are verified;
- Ensure the swift return of illegal border crossers by hiring an additional 370 immigration judges and 1,000 additional ICE attorney’s, establishing performance metrics for immigration judges and increasing resources associated with detention;
- Expand the grounds of inadmissibility;
- Increase penalties for repeat illegal border crossers and those with prior deportations;
- Provide assistance to partner nations for the purpose of removing aliens from third countries whose ultimate intent is to enter the U.S.; and
- Expand the grounds of removability and the categories of aliens subject to expedited removal.
Defend the Safety and Security of Our Country
President Trump has already made a significant effort to increase immigration enforcement in the interior U.S., and this effort will likely continue. To begin with, the Administration has proposed a crackdown on sanctuary cities. These cities are considered a safe haven for illegal aliens, and the White House has repeatedly criticized these jurisdictions for refusing to turn over incarcerated criminal aliens to federal authorities. To combat this issue, President Trump has suggested blocking sanctuary cities from receiving certain grants and cooperative agreements administered or awarded by the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security.
In addition, the President has also proposed enhancing state and local cooperation with Federal immigration law enforcement. By doing so, local authority in conducting immigration enforcement will be expanded to ensure not only the apprehension of illegal immigrants, but that these individuals are detained long enough for ICE to assume custody. In addition, the Administration has also proposed:
- Strengthening the removal process for individuals who have overstayed their visa;
- Hiring an additional 10,000 ICE officers and 300 additional Federal prosecutors;
- Terminating catch-and-release laws;
- Requiring the use of the electronic status-verification system (E-Verify);
- Expanding and clarifying the type of aliens that are deportable, including gang members and individuals convicted of multiple drunk driving offenses; and
- Increasing resources available to the Department of State in order to make visa security improvements.
Protect American Workers and Taxpayers
To accomplish this goal, the President has proposed a major change to the current family-based immigration system. If passed, this would involve implementing a merit-based immigration system that prioritizes skills-based immigration over extended family-based chain immigration. The Trump Administration believes that decades of low-skilled immigration has suppressed wages, fueled unemployment and strained federal resources. The new system would establish a point-based system for awarding Green Cards based on various factors that prioritize skills and economic contributions over family connections. The new system would also limit family-based green cards to spouses and minor children and would completely eliminate the Diversity Visa Lottery.
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