On January 20, contrary to the predictions of the media and many of the American people, business mogul Donald J. Trump will become the next president of the United States. As you’re likely aware, one of the key pillars of his campaign was immigration, his stance on which has inspired a great deal of panic among both legal and illegal immigrants.
In the days that have elapsed since election night, President-elect Donald Trump has seemed to soften on some of the more vehement views he held during his campaign; for example, he has recently stated that he will keep “parts of Obamacare,” and has also said that marriage equality is a “settled law” (though it’s worth noting that he did not say the same of Roe v. Wade, which was settled by the Supreme Court in 1973).
Some see these leniencies as a sign that the notoriously brash business-man-turned-politician will be more subdued in his presidency. But can we expect him to budge on the anti-immigration platform that helped him secure his place in the oval office?
In the content below, we will discuss the Donald Trump immigration plan (titled “Donald J. Trump’s 10 Point Plan to Put America First”), which is available on his website and is still considered the official blueprint. Additionally, we will provide analysis and new developments based on Trump’s statements since the election.
Donald Trump Immigration Plan
1. Begin working on an impenetrable physical wall on the southern border, on day one. Mexico will pay for the wall.
- What He Said Then: Trump’s idea to build a “big, beautiful” and “great, great wall” inspired one of his supporters’ most famed rally chants: “Build the wall.” The president-elect has famously claimed that this wall would be funded by Mexico, despite the fact that Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto openly rejected the idea on multiple occasions. Experts estimate such a wall would cost about $26 billion USD, which could significantly encroach on Trump’s promises to create new jobs and provide money to Americans who have no financial support.
“We will use the best technology, including above-and below-ground sensors, towers, aerial surveillance and manpower to supplement the wall, find and dislocate tunnels, and keep out the criminal cartels, and Mexico will pay for the wall.” – Donald Trump, Press Release on August 31, 2016
- What He’s Saying Now: The wall, which Trump originally described as being 50 feet high and constructed of precast concrete, may actually be just a fence—at least in part. In an interview with Lesley Stahl on "60 Minutes," Trump said that parts of the barrier may be fence and parts may be wall:
“For certain areas I would [consider a fence], but certain areas, a wall is more appropriate. I’m very good at this. It’s called construction.” – Donald Trump, "60 Minutes" interview on November 13, 2016
2. End catch-and-release. Under a Trump administration, anyone who illegally crosses the border will be detained until they are removed out of our country.
- What He Said Then: In addition to proposing a freeze on legal immigration and green cards, Trump made claims in no uncertain terms that illegal immigrants would be deported immediately:
"Day one, my first hour in office, those people are gone! You can call it deported if you want, you can call it whatever you want, they're gone."
– Donald Trump, Phoenix Immigration Speech on August 31, 2016
- What He’s Saying Now: In the "60 Minutes" interview with Stahl, Trump stuck with his prior convictions in regards to deporting illegal immigrants with criminal records. While he seemed to dial back that fervency when it came to illegal immigrants without criminal records, securing the border remains his first priority:
“After the border is secured and after everything gets normalized, we’re going to make a determination on [immigrants without criminal records] who are terrific people, they’re terrific people… but before we make that determination…it’s very important, we want to secure our border.”
– Donald Trump, "60 Minutes" interview on November 13, 2016
3. Move criminal aliens out day one, in joint operations with local, state, and federal law enforcement. We will terminate the Obama administration’s deadly, non-enforcement policies that allow thousands of criminal aliens to freely roam our streets.
- What He Said Then: During his campaign, Trump remained steadfast that his administration would launch a deportation task force that would evict all immigrants residing in the U.S. with expired visas, as well as all undocumented immigrants who are using public benefits or who hold a criminal record.
"For those here today illegally who are seeking legal status, they will have one route and only one route: to return home and apply for re-entry under the rules of the new legal immigration system."
– Donald Trump, Phoenix Immigration Speech on August 31, 2016
- What He’s Saying Now: While Trump said his administration would have to “make a determination” in regards to undocumented immigrants without criminal records, he has not wavered in his claims to deport immigrants who have committed violent and nonviolent crimes:
“What we are going to do is get the people that are criminal and have criminal records, gang members, drug dealers, where a lot of these people, probably 2 million, it could be even 3 million, we are getting them out of our country or we are going to incarcerate.” – Donald Trump, "60 Minutes" interview on November 13, 2016
4. End sanctuary cities.
- What He Said Then: Sanctuary cities are cities that do not require police to report undocumented immigrants or assist the federal government with immigration-related matters. Some of these cities also provide shelters for illegal immigrants. Trump claims that sanctuary cities put American citizens at risk and called for an abolishment. To fuel his agenda, he repeatedly cited the case of Kate Steinle, a woman who was shot and killed in San Francisco by an undocumented man. There are currently more than 200 sanctuary cities in the United States that are home to law-abiding immigrants and their families.
“Block funding for sanctuary cities. We block the funding. No more funds. We will end the sanctuary cities that have resulted in so many needless deaths. Cities that refuse to cooperate with federal authorities will not receive taxpayer dollars, and we will work with Congress to pass legislation to protect those jurisdictions that do assist federal authorities." – Donald Trump, Phoenix Immigration Speech on August 31, 2016
- What He’s Saying Now: So far, Trump has made no further mentions of his plans to end sanctuary cities. Still, he remains adamant that mass deportations will occur. However, many major sanctuary cities are ready to fight back, vowing that they will do everything in their power to protect their immigrant citizens from deportation. Mayors Rahm Emanuel of Chicago, Bill de Blasio of New York, and Ed Murray of Seattle are among the officials spearheading the opposition to Trump’s movement:
“I want to assure all our families that Chicago is and will remain a sanctuary city. Chicago has been a city of immigrants since it was founded. We have always welcomed people of all faiths and backgrounds, and while the administration will change, our values and our commitment to inclusion will not.” – Chicago Mayor Emanuel, Statement to the people on November 14, 2016.
5. Immediately terminate President Obama’s two illegal executive amnesties. All immigration laws will be enforced - we will triple the number of ICE agents. Anyone who enters the U.S. illegally is subject to deportation. That is what it means to have laws and to have a country.
- What He Said Then: During his campaign, Trump vowed that he would end Obama’s Deferred Childhood Arrivals (DACA) immigration policy. The policy has given temporary legal status to about 500,000 young people who were brought to the United States as children. This allowed them to seek jobs and education without fear.
The second policy Trump threatened to end under his administration is Obama’s Deferred Action for Parents of Americans (DAPA) program, which gave temporary legal status to parents of American-born children. After DAPA was suspended by the Supreme Court in June, Donald Trump released a formal statement and tweeted an informal statement to display his support of that decision:
“[Supreme Court] has kept us safe from exec amnesty—for now.” – Donald Trump, Tweet from June 23, 2016.
“Today’s 4-4 Supreme Court ruling has blocked one of the most unconstitutional actions ever undertaken by a President. The executive amnesty of President Obama wiped away the immigration rules written by Congress, giving work permits and entitlement benefits to people illegally in the country… It is time to protect our country and Make America Safe Again and Great Again for everyone.” – Donald Trump, Statement on Executive Amnesty Ruling on June 23, 2016.
- What He’s Saying Now: On Thursday, November 10, Trump met with Obama for what was supposed to be a brief meeting—it ended up lasting 90 minutes. Trump has admitted that they discussed both domestic and foreign policy, including plans for immigration.
While Trump has made no official statements since the election about his plans to end DACA and DAPA, President Obama has openly urged Trump to reconsider:
“I will urge the president-elect and the incoming administration to think long and hard before they endanger the status of what, for all practical purposes, are American kids. These kids, who were brought here by their parents, they did nothing wrong… they are solid, wonderful young people of good character.” – President Barack Obama, White House news conference on November 14, 2016
6. Suspend the issuance of visas to any place where adequate screening cannot occur, until proven and effective vetting mechanisms can be put into place.
- What He Said Then: Trump has stated that he would call for extreme vetting for immigrants from countries like Syria and Libya. But the most radical part of his plan emerged at the GOP debate in March, where he said he would a pause on all legal immigration - including temporary visas and green cards - for “a minimum of one year, maybe two.” Trump has also openly condemned the H1B work visa program and issued a statement on his website calling for a complete ban on Muslim immigrants.
“I know the H1B very well. And it’s something that I frankly use and I shouldn’t be allowed to use it. We shouldn’t have it. Very, very bad for workers. And second of all, I think it’s very important to say, well, I’m a businessman and I have to do what I have to do …I think for a period of a year to two years we have to look back and we have to see… where we are, where we stand, what’s going on.”
– Donald Trump, GOP Debate on March 10, 2016
“Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on. According to Pew Research, among others, there is great hatred towards Americans by large segments of the Muslim population.”
– Donald Trump, Official Statement on Preventing Muslim Immigration, December 7, 2015.
- What He’s Saying Now: Trump statement regarding a ban on Muslim immigration mysteriously disappeared from his website the day after he won the election. However, it has since reappeared. He has amended his plan to ban Muslims from terror states only.
In his plan for his first 100 days in office, Trump specified that he intends on keeping his plans for extreme vetting and, in some cases, suspending immigration.
The following are points from Trump’s First 100 Days Plan:
“FOURTH, begin removing the more than 2 million criminal illegal immigrants from the country and cancel visas to foreign countries that won’t take them back.
“FIFTH, suspend immigration from terror-prone regions where vetting cannot safely occur. All vetting of people coming into our country will be considered extreme vetting.”
7. Ensure that other countries take their people back when we order them deported.
- What He Said Then: Not only did Trump say he would demand countries to “take their people back” when they are deported, but he also suggested that the United States not allow immigrants from these countries.
“There are at least 23 countries that refuse to take their people back after they have been ordered to leave the United States, including large numbers of violent criminals. They won’t take ‘em back. So we say, OK, we’ll keep ‘em. Not going to happen with me, folks, not going to happen.” – Donald Trump, Phoenix Immigration Speech on August 31, 2016
- What He’s Saying Now: As he explained in his interview on "60 Minutes," Trump plans to deport 2 to 3 million criminal immigrants. He has also outlined a step in his 100 Day Plan that calls for a cancellation of “visas to foreign countries that won’t take them back.” It is unclear how he will begin this process. However, a mass deportation of this magnitude is estimated to cost around $100 to $300 billion USD, a factor that could greatly jeopardize his plans to fuel the American economy and job market. This could have an impact on the reality of his actions.
8. Ensure that a biometric entry-exit visa tracking system is fully implemented at all land, air, and sea ports.
- What He Said Then: This would entail collecting fingerprints and retinal scans from people who enter the country on a visa so that they could be tracked more easily. It would also help authorities discover people who have stayed in the country beyond the expiration of their visas. While congress has long opted for such a system, it has never been implemented for a variety of factors—a negative impact on tourism, the inability for American airports to adhere to such a policy, high cost, etc.
- What He’s Saying Now: Trump still supports this point of his plan, which will cost billions of dollars every year.
9. Turn off the jobs and benefits magnet. Many immigrants come to the U.S. illegally in search of jobs, even though federal law prohibits the employment of illegal immigrants.
- What He Said Then: Trump’s plan during his candidacy asked for a total recall of government benefits to immigrants living in America:
“Immigration law doesn’t exist just for the purpose of keeping out criminals. It exists to protect all aspects of American life – the worksite, the welfare office, the education system and much else... If we only enforce the laws against crime, then we have an open border to the entire world... The same goes for government benefits. The Center for Immigration Studies estimates that 62 percent of households headed by illegal immigrants used some form of cash or non-cash welfare programs, like food stamps or housing assistance. This directly violates the federal public charge law designed to protect the U.S. treasury.” – Donald Trump, Press Release on August 31, 2016
- What He’s Saying Now: Trump has yet to oppose any of the points he made about offering jobs and benefits to illegal immigrants. However, in his First 100 Days plan, he specified that he would cancel unconstitutional executive actions enacted by the Obama administration. This would include DACA and DAPA, which allow illegal immigrants to hold jobs, seek an education, and collect assistance:
“FIRST, cancel every unconstitutional executive action, memorandum and order issued by President Obama.” – Donald Trump, First 100 Days Plan
10. Reform legal immigration to serve the best interests of America and its workers, keeping immigration levels within historic norms.
- What He Said Then: In a press release detailing the points of his immigration plan, Trump stressed his desire to limit the number of legal immigrants coming to the U.S. to meet “historical norms.” He has asked for reform that would significantly decrease the amount of visas and green cards issued each year.
“Within just a few years, immigration as a share of national population is set to break all historical records. The time has come for a new immigration commission to develop a new set of reforms to our legal immigration system… We want people to come into our country, but they have to come in legally and properly-vetted, and in a manner that serves the national interest.” – Donald Trump, Press Release on August 31, 2016
- What He’s Saying Now: According to Pew Research Center, the US immigrant population has tripled since 1980. In light of this, we can expect that Trump will keep his plans for a strict and complete overhaul of our current immigration system. In fact, if Trump’s idea of “historical norm” aligns with immigration numbers from the late 1960s to the late 1970s, immigration would have to be cut by 41 percent. This means that it will become significantly more difficult to achieve a visa or green card in the United States. Help from specialized immigration lawyers will likely become imperative.
If You Are an Immigrant Residing in the United States
- Do not make big changes or implement strong new decisions in your life based on the election until we have more concrete answers on Trump’s plans. If you have questions about your rights, contact an immigration lawyer.
- If you have a criminal record, ensure that you have a complete copy. Have it analyzed and explained to you by a lawyer. Notaries do not have access to necessary information and they lack the education needed to correctly interpret your record.
- If you have a criminal record, you should talk to a lawyer who is an expert in immigration and criminal law to see if there are options to remove some of your infractions.
- Be extra cautious with your record. Abide by all laws and stay away from any illegal activities.
- Take care of yourself and your loved ones. You are part of an important community. Surround yourself with strong, accepting people that give you loving energy, spirit, and strength to live and excel.
Preparing for the Donald Trump Immigration Plan
While President-elect Trump has shown some deviations from his original plans, it appears that he will remain radical in many of his proposals for immigration reform. There is still some uncertainty about how the Trump administration will run the country, but there is also much evidence to support the fact that legal immigration will become much more problematic.
If you wish to seek a visa or green card in the United States, you should seek legal counseling to determine what your next steps will be in preparation for Trump’s inauguration in January 2017. The experts at Katz Law Office, Ltd. are standing by to help you during these uncertain and complicated times. Contact our office today for a free 30-minute consultation.