President Donald Trump’s first 100 days in office have been a study in controversy. His administration has been embroiled in headline news even before he was signed into office. While Trump’s chants of, “Build that wall,” may have rallied enough votes to win the Electoral College, many historians, political pundits, and American voters were dismayed by the divisive nature of his campaign rhetoric.
Changes to our country’s long-standing immigration policies were obviously the centerpiece of Trump’s campaign, and remain high on the list of “to-do’s” while he’s in office. The L.A. Times reported that, since 1975, more than 3.3 million refugees have entered the United States. The Trump regime is pushing to reduce the annual number of immigrant refugees and visa-holding workers by a considerable number.
Let’s look more closely at Trump’s campaign promises and what has happened during his version of immigration “reform” in the first 100 days of his administration.
Goals Versus Reality – First 100 Days
According to National Public Radio, candidate Trump had several goals for immigration reform that he often shared from the campaign podium:
- Pass the End Illegal Immigration Act.
The vision behind this legislation was to fund construction of a border wall between the U.S. and Mexico, with Mexico footing the bill. Trump’s proposed law would increase prison time for those reentering the U.S. after having been deported. The legislation was also designed to reform the federal visa program by increasing penalties for those that stayed in the U.S. after their visa expired. Finally, Trump promised to “ensure open jobs are offered to American workers first.”
- Cancel all federal funding to Sanctuary Cities.
These cities provided sanctuary to immigrants, refusing to allow federal ICE officials to deport them.
- Remove the more than two million criminals who are here illegally.
- Suspend immigration from “terror-prone” regions.
- Enforce “extreme vetting.”
On April 12, 2017, the Business Insider ran an article that pointed out the flurry of executive orders Trump signed in his first 100 days in office. There have been a total of 64 so far, with more expected in the days ahead. Many of these were geared specifically to deliver on these campaign promises.
Breakdown of the First 100 Days
The first anti-immigration Trump initiative occurred on January 25, 2017, just five days after his swearing in. According to the Los Angeles Times, through the use of his executive powers, Trump authorized:
- The deportation of illegal immigrants.
- Adding more detention cells for asylum seekers and others awaiting hearings on immigration.
- Trump also requested 5,000 additional Border Patrol agents and 10,000 more immigration officers, tripling their numbers.
- Punishing sanctuary cities that give immigrants asylum by withholding federal funds.
- Beginning construction on the 2,000-mile border wall by redirecting $175 million toward the process.
- Restored Secure Communities, a federal program that notifies immigration agents each time an illegal immigrant goes to jail.
These activities signaled the most significant shift in American immigration policies in 40 years.
On January 27, Trump signed more executive orders, including:
- Placing a 120-day ban on refugees entering the country and an indefinite halt to Syrian refugees.
- Blocking visa applications from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen. The A. Times said 60,000 visas have been revoked since this ruling.
- Capped refugees to 50,000 for the year. Last year 80,000 were accepted.
- Allowed an exception for “religious minorities,” which Trump seemed to imply would benefit Christians fleeing Muslim nations.
By January 30, these orders sparked widespread outrage including protests at major airports all over the country. Immigration lawyers filed a flurry of motions to protect foreign visitors and legal visa holders. Sanctuary cities like San Francisco sued the Trump administration for violating state’s rights. A flurry of legal rulings followed, culminating in a block of this order by the 9th Circuit Appeals of Court on February 9th.
Facing defeat on his immigration ban, President Trump turned his attention to other issues, including nominating Neil Gorsuch to the U.S. Supreme Court. With Gorsuch confirmed, the four/four balance on the Supreme Court has been tipped to the conservative side. It’s now possible that the Trump administration will revisit the immigration ban. If the ban makes it to the U.S. Supreme Court there is a better chance that a five/four split will go in Trump’s favor. With a number of other pressing political issues looming, including dangerous foreign policy challenges, time will tell if the U.S. immigration ban will remain unenforced or reenacted.
While Trump has clearly worked to meet his campaign promises, he has faced considerable opposition and has ultimately achieved only small gains so far. For example, Mexico has flatly refused to pay for the border wall. President Trump suggested a 20 percent tax on imports from Mexico could make up the funds for construction. But reports indicated that policy would drive up the cost of goods, so it seems that American consumers would end up paying for the wall.
But as the big, controversial headlines have drawn our attention, ominous activity has been going on behind the scenes:
- A February crackdown on the 11 million illegal immigrants in the U.S. made headlines as ICE agents begin to gear up for increased deportations. According to Homeland Security, any illegal immigrant who is suspected of criminal activity will be made a priority for deportation.
- On March 30, Attorney General Jeff Sessions said Department of Justice grants would only go to cities that comply with federal laws. This was a clear signal to Sanctuary Cities seeking to provide refuge to immigrants and refugees from ICE deportations.
- On March 31, USCIS announced new skill requirements for H1-B visa seekers. The new rules sought to close a loophole that allowed American businesses to seek foreign workers for less pay than American workers in technology jobs.
Coupled with rumblings of changes to H1-B visas, and the looming concept of “extreme vetting” being enacted, it’s clear that this administration is just getting started.
Katz Law Office, Ltd. provides help when you need it the most. We offer a free consultation to discuss legal issues surrounding the immigration process. Contact us today to find out more.