“Trump launched his first presidential bid by denouncing Mexicans as “rapists” and “criminals” and pledged to build a “big, beautiful” wall on the southern border. But what began as a slam on unauthorized immigration morphed into an all-out assault on legal immigration as soon as he walked into the White House.
One of his first acts was to ban travel from several predominantly Muslim countries. He also slashed America’s refugee program in less than half and is failing to admit even the number he allowed. But these and other moves were just baby steps toward a much more ambitious agenda to slash and radically revamp America’s legal immigration program.
He demanded that Congress cut family-based immigration in half in exchange for reinstating the legal status of “Dreamers,” which he himself had scrapped. (Dreamers are folks who were brought to this country without authorization as minors, who have grown up as Americans and often have little connection with their birthlands.) But when Congress demurred, he went to town to achieve through administrative means what he couldn’t through legislative ones—the kind of thing that Republicans used to vociferously condemn when Trump’s predecessor attempted it.
Trump scrapped the Obama-era program handing work authorization to the spouses of foreign techies enduring a decades long wait for their already approved green cards. His “Buy American and Hire American” executive order smothered the high-tech H-1B visa program in red tape, vastly increasing the processing time and doubling the rejection rate. As if that’s not enough, he recently implemented something called the public charge rule, which makes it exceedingly difficult for immigrants to upgrade their immigration status—for example, guest worker visas to green cards and green cards to naturalization—if they or their American family members collect or are likely to collect even the smallest amount of some means-tested cash or non-cash public benefits. This, along with other measures, will result in a 30 percent reduction in legal immigration next year, according to a National Foundation for American Policy study.
The coronavirus crisis has been manna from heaven for Trump’s restrictionist agenda.
The only visas that were still being entertained at all—albeit at an extremely scaled-back level—were long-term visas for jobs, visas for studying in the United States, and green cards sponsored either by American employers or American family. This long-term program is what Trump’s unprecedented executive order is now purportedly going after.
Trump claims that the ban will last 60 days after which he may review and renew it for another 60 or so. But his travel ban was supposed to last 90 days. It is now on day 1,181 and covers even more countries.”
“the vast exemptions that Trump is planning to carve in the virtual wall he’s constructing to seal off America from the world are a tacit admission that immigrants are indispensable for vital sectors of the American economy, not a threat to American jobs.
The purpose of Trump’s executive order, then, must be to rally his restrictionist base and ensure that it makes the schlep to the polls this November. It’s pure political posturing that’ll do not an iota of good for America.”