“President Donald Trump has spent three years molding America’s immigration system to primarily be concerned with keeping people out.
He built, layer by layer, impediments in Central America, at the border, in detention centers, and in the immigration courts that have made obtaining asylum nearly impossible.
He swept aside former President Barack Obama’s immigration enforcement priorities in favor of vastly expanding immigration detention and prosecuting every immigrant who crosses the border without authorization. The result is a punitive system that treats immigrants as criminals and places them in prolonged detention even if they don’t pose any danger to the public.
And he waged a quiet and effective campaign to reduce legal immigration — including expanding his travel ban to block immigration from Nigeria, the largest country in Africa. Under Trump, the legal immigration system increasingly rewards skills and wealth over family ties to the US, while shutting out a growing number of people from low-income countries.
When Trump lays out the start of his reelection-year argument in the State of the Union address on Tuesday night, his guests will include a senior Border Patrol official and the brother of a man who was killed by an unauthorized immigrant. His immigration record is likely to be one of his top talking points.
It’s true that Trump has run into some roadblocks: He’s behind schedule on construction of the southern border wall, a key messaging tool for his base. He hasn’t been able to appoint his preferred candidates to lead the immigration agencies. His attempts to pass immigration-related legislation in Congress have failed. And his policies have faced so much opposition in the courts that his administration has appeared to pursue a strategy of rapidly churning out new policies and hoping that at least some of them survive judicial review.
But while he might not have succeeded at building an actual wall to keep immigrants out, his policies have achieved the same end.”