President Elect Mr. Donald Trump made unauthorized immigration a huge part of his campaign. Mr. Trump loudly and proudly ran on the issue of increasing deportations and building a wall between our country and Mexico. However, it appears that in the wake of the election, the President Elect has been softening his previously fiery rhetoric. Specifically, he may have signaled that he doesn’t intend to deport the more than 700,000 foreign nationals who are beneficiaries of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals or “DACA” program.
The President Elect’s Recent Statements
In an interview with Time magazine (which just named Mr. Trump its Person of the Year), Mr. Trump stated that his administration would implement a policy that would make people “happy and proud.” He conceded that many Dreamers have attended prestigious U.S. universities and have good jobs, thereby benefiting the U.S. economy as a whole. However, the President Elect did not provide any specific information about the policy he envisions, nor did he confirm that he would not displace the DACA program that President Obama implemented in 2012. The fact that he did not remark on whether or not he would disturb the DACA program is troubling, since it would be very easy for him to do so because the program is not ensconced in law but simply an executive order.
Additionally, since DACA beneficiaries were required to file an application with USCIS in order to receive their delay of deportation proceedings and work authorization, presumably the U.S. government already has a large database with names, dates of birth, addresses, and other biographic information needed to initiate deportation proceedings.
The President Elect’s Stated Immigration Priorities
Although Mr. Trump stated during the campaign that he would overturn the DACA program as soon as he came into office, in his recent interviews, he has indicated that his first immigration-related priority will be to deport the foreign nationals who are in the U.S. without authorization and who have committed crimes. However, he has also voiced strong opposition to recognizing the automatic grant of U.S. citizenship to the children of foreign nationals who themselves do not have immigration authorization.
Expect the Unexpected
No one can predict what Mr. Trump will say or do on any given day. And with regard to immigration, he is being pulled in many different directions and is facing pressure on all sides. A large segment of his supporters and voter demographic have stated that the failure to deport Dreamers would be viewed as a “knife in the back.” However, other supporters (from the Bible Belt) have stated that they are not completely comfortable with the idea of breaking up families. Prominent Congress Republicans, including Senator Lindsey Graham, have stated that they do not agree with repealing the DACA policy unless some other measure is put into place to help the Dreamers.
Of course, immigrant rights advocates are largely decrying any threat to the DACA program. Many universities are coalescing together and have vowed to become “sanctuary universities” and refuse to assist immigration enforcement officers with their efforts to locate or apprehend foreign nationals who attend the universities.
The idea that President-Elect Trump is softening on immigration could also be interpreted as Mr. Trump creating effective campaign hype with promises made prior to the election versus those he had full intention on pursuing. As stated in this article, it is difficult to predict what Mr. Trump will say or do on any given day, however statements and promises made by the President-Elect are not always stated with realistic intention or accuracy. Our firm, Slowik & Robinson, will be holding a seminar on December 17th to discuss the immigration-related statements made by Mr. Trump and dissect what is actually possible under his presidency. Click HERE to view more details on the upcoming event.
Additional Blog Posts:
The Government’s War on H-1Bs, ImmigRantings, October 11, 2012
Obama Signs Immigration Policy Memo, ImmigRantings, June 15, 2012
Problems with the H-1B visa: From Work Horse to Show Pony, ImmigRantings, February 13, 2012