We are not even one month into the new administration, and already our worst fears are being realized as every day brings news of another signed or drafted executive order aimed at limiting immigration to the United States. Below is a summary of the executive orders that President Trump has already signed or has drafted and is expected to sign in the next few days.
Construction of the Mexico-U.S. Border Wall
President Trump seems bound and determined to make good on his promise to “build a wall” along the Mexico-U.S. border, even if it means costing the American taxpayers more than $1 million per mile. In addition to the construction of the wall, this executive order also demands an increase in the number of Border Patrol agents by at least 5,000 and calls for an additional 10,000 officers to be hired by Immigration and Customs Enforcement in order to assist in processing deportations.
The actual construction of the wall will likely not begin for several months, but the administration has promised that the logistical planning and budgeting will begin immediately.
Ending “Catch and Release”
Another order is aimed at ending the practical and inexpensive policy that President Trump refers to as “catch and release,” whereby Border Patrol agents simply turn away foreign nationals trying to enter the U.S. without authorization unless the foreign national presents a cognizable claim to asylum. Opponents and immigrant rights activists allege that the purpose of this executive order is to discourage asylum seekers from coming to the U.S. altogether.
Temporary Pause on Issuing Visas to Muslims
Perhaps the most upsetting executive order that will be signed is the one that will halt the issuances of visas to foreign nationals from Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Yemen, and Iran. The ban on issuing visas is supposed to be only temporary and last just 30 days, but it is entirely possible that the ban could continue.
Revoking H-4 EADs and STEM OPT Extensions
During his campaign, President Trump aimed most of his fiery rhetoric at unauthorized immigration, largely leaving employment-based immigration alone. It seems that this tide has already changed, since a leaked memo has been discovered that shows the President may take aim at the H-4 EAD policy that President Obama instituted. H-4 spouses of H-1B specialty occupation workers were previously made eligible for employment authorization if their spouse had achieved certain steps in the employment-based green card process. It appears that the President wants to revoke these employment authorizations.
In that same line of action, according to the leaked memo, President Trump may also take steps to revoke the extended employment authorization that was only recently given to graduates of U.S. universities who pursued degrees in the Science, Technology, Engineering, or Mathematics fields. Commonly known as “STEM graduates,” these foreign nationals go to work for cutting-edge technology and medical companies and bring with them a whole wealth of knowledge and skills that they gained at U.S. universities. It would truly be a shame for the President to remove these talented young people from the workforce. It would be a loss for both U.S. companies and the U.S. economy as a whole.
It’s very clear that the executive orders signed by President Trump have and will have an ongoing effect on not only foreign visitors and asylum seekers to the U.S., but also legal permanent residents and citizens of the United States dependent on their country of origin and cultural background. These executive orders reflect a tone of cultural intolerance, and although evidence of it is yet to be seen, we can only hope that this situation will improve and that we will see this leading to more thoughtful immigration reform.
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