On the campaign trail, Donald Trump made immigration the centerpiece of his campaign, offering a more detailed policy agenda than on any other issue. In the year since the election that propelled the Republican into the White House, how has the Trump administration’s record matched up with the rhetoric?
This policy brief assesses the major policy shifts that have occurred since January 2017 via executive orders, agency memoranda, and changes to existing programs and practice. It finds that the White House has made a significant down payment on the candidate’s immigration agenda, one of the most activist of any chief executive in modern times. Still, the courts, state and local jurisdictions that have limited their cooperation with federal immigration enforcement, and Congress have slowed or stalled some of the administration’s ambitions.
Among its major actions on immigration during 2017, the administration:
- Banned nationals of eight countries, most majority-Muslim, from entering the United States.
- Reduced refugee admissions to the lowest level since the resettlement program was created in 1980.
- Reversed the decline in arrests of unauthorized immigrants in the U.S. interior that had occurred during the last two years of the Obama administration.
- Cancelled the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which is currently providing work authorization and temporary relief from deportation to approximately 690,000 unauthorized immigrants brought to the United States as children.
- Ended the designation of Temporary Protected Status for nationals of Haiti, Nicaragua and Sudan, and signaled that Hondurans and possibly Salvadorans may also lose their work authorization and protection from removal in 2018.
The policy brief notes that the administration’s support for legislation to dramatically cut legal immigration and reshape the selection of foreign-born workers has yet to gain significant traction on Capitol Hill. Nor have lawmakers provided the billions of dollars necessary to fence off the U.S.-Mexico border or add thousands of additional Border Patrol agents and immigration officers.