Putting the Brakes on Immigration

How the Trump administration has curbed legal & illegal immigrants

Since President Donald Trump took office January 20, he and his cabinet have acted aggressively on Trump’s signature campaign promise, cutting back on immigration in the name of national security. The result, as this timeline shows, is that illegal immigrants have been rounded up in greater numbers, visas have been curtailed and a border wall is in the works. Nowhere else has the president had such success in implementing his agenda.

October 17, 2017

Courts block travel order for now

Two U.S. courts on opposite coasts stop the new travel order before it takes effect. In Hawaii, Judge Derrick Watson says it “suffers from precisely the same maladies as its predecessor.” The White House counters,”Today’s dangerously flawed district court order undercuts the president’s efforts to keep the American people safe.” In Maryland, Judge Theodore Chuang writes that the third version of the travel ban is the “inextricable re-animation of the twice-enjoined Muslim ban.” The Justice Department says it will appeal.

October 8, 2017

Non-immigrant visas suspended in Turkey

The U.S. suspends all non-immigrant visas at its diplomatic facilities in Turkey after the arrest of a U.S. consulate employee in Istanbul for alleged links to Fethullah Gulen, a U.S.-based Muslim leader blamed by Ankara for a failed coup attempt last year. Non-immigrant visas include those related to tourism, medical treatment, business, temporary work and study.

September 29, 2017

Visa processing ended in Havana

The U.S. State Department halts visa processing at its embassy in Havana, Cuba indefinitely after 21 people associated with the embassy are afflicted with a variety of mysterious ailments. More than 100,000 Cubans had been in line for visas, mostly to reunite with relatives in U.S. The decision calls into question whether the U.S. will admit at least 20,000 Cuban immigrants this year, required under a 1994 migration agreement.

September 27, 2017

Refugee Admissions Cut to Historic Low

The Trump administration plans to cap refugee arrivals at 45,000 for fiscal year 2018, senior government officials say. The ceiling is the lowest since the U.S. refugee program in its current form began in 1980.  The average annual ceiling has been about 96,000 since the program began in 1980, with an average of 81,000 spots filled every year. Already in FY 2017, the number of refugees admitted has been cut. U.S. officials estimate the country will welcome in only 54,000 refugees by the end of this fiscal year October 1.

White House issues new, tougher travel restrictions

As part of the previous travel ban expires, the Trump administration issues new rules affecting travel from 8 countries. They bar entry into the U.S. of immigrants and non-immigrants from Chad, Libya and Yemen, on business, tourist or business-tourist visas; block entry of Iranian citizens, as immigrants or non-immigrants, but provide an exception for Iranian students with additional screening; bar immigrants and non-immigrants from North Korea and Syria; and prevent immigration by citizens of Somalia. Sudan is removed from the list. The new rules go into effect October 18 except for those included in the current travel ban, which remain in effect. Subject to periodic reviews, the new restrictions continue indefinitely.

September 18, 2017

TPS ended for Sudan

The Trump administration says it will end Temporary Protected Status for nationals of Sudan in 2018. The Department of Homeland Security says that conditions in the country have improved and TPS is no longer warranted for Sudanese citizens. TPS for Sudan was set to expire November 2, but DHS is extending the program for a year to allow Sudanese nationals currently benefiting from TPS to wrap up their affairs in the U.S. Meanwhile, DHS is extending TPS for South Sudan until May 2019. At the end of 2016, some 1039 Sudanese and 49 South Sudanese held TPS status.

September 13, 2017

No new visitor visas for Eritreans; officials banned from Cambodia, Guinea and Sierra Leone

The U.S. Embassy in Asmara, Eritrea ceases issuing B1, B2 and B1/B2 visitor visas to “citizens, subjects, nationals, and residents of Eritrea”  with limited exceptions. The step is taken under Section 243(d) of the Immigration and Nationality Act  because Eritrea does not have a repatriation agreement with the U.S. to take back deported citizens. Foreign ministry officials and their families from three other countries – Cambodia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone – are also denied visas for the same reason. Only twice before have visas been denied to so called “recalcitrant” countries. Other countries listed as being recalcitrant in accepting deportees from the U.S. include China, Cuba, Vietnam, Laos, Iran, Burma, Morocco and South Sudan.

September 5, 2017

Trump ends DACA

“DACA is being rescinded,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions announces, ending President Barack Obama’s five-year-old Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. There are currently about 800,000 DACA recipients in the U.S. No DACA authorizations will be revoked before March 5, 2018 if those whose permits expire during that time apply for renewals in early October. But all DACA authorizations will have expired by March 2020. The six month delay is intended to give Congress a chance to act on the program.

August 16

CAM Parole Program Ends

The Department of Homeland Security ends the Central American Minors (CAM) parole program, which granted Central American minors temporary legal residence in the United States. President Barack Obama established the CAM parole program in 2014 in response to an illegal influx of unaccompanied minors from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. The program allowed young people under 21 to enter the U.S. on a two-year, renewable parole if they had a parent already legally present in the country.  The Washington Post reports that termination of CAM parole excludes 2,714 minors who had conditional approval to enter the country.

 

August 2

Trump backs Senate immigration bill

The bill, written by Senators Tom Cotton and David Perdue, would cut legal immigration by 50%. It establishes a points system to reward would-be immigrants with points for speaking English and having marketable skills. Casting the measure as putting American families first, Trump’s senior advisor for policy Stephen Miller called it a “permanent change to immigration that will endure through time.” The bill faces a rocky road in the Senate.

July 17

15,000 temporary worker visas are added.

15,000 temporary worker visas are added, a one-time increase. Trump’s resort in Florida, Mar-a-Lago seeks to obtain 70 of them.

July 14

Trump considers speeding up deportations

A leaked memo shows the Trump administration is considering expanding DHS’s powers to speed up deportations.

July 12

Kelly: DACA won't stand up to challenge

DHS’ Kelly tells lawmakers that the DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) program will probably not stand up to a legal challenge, threatened by 10 Republican state officials who gave the administration a 9/5 deadline before filing suit. Almost 800,000 young people who were brought to the US as children would be affected.

He also warns that Temporary Protected Status (TPS) is likely to be eliminated. Currently offered to people from ten countries that are considered unsafe, TPS allows  them to live and work temporarily in the US.

July 11

DHS halts International Entrepreneurship Rule

DHS issues a notice delaying implementation of the International Entrepreneurship Rule until March, 2018. In the meantime, DHS plans to solicit comments on why the program should be scrapped. Earlier, DHS had estimated the program would result in 3,000 new startups every year and many more jobs.

June 29

Travel ban takes effect

The travel ban takes effect, using Supreme Court mandated rules that only people with “bona fide” family, business or educational ties be allowed in from six mostly Muslim countries or as refugees.

June 21

Trump slows down visa processing

In an executive order, Trump rescinds an Obama-era rule to speed up visa processing.

June 15

DHS ends protections for undocumented parents with US children

DHS formally ends the DAPA program (Deferred Action for Parents of Americans). DAPA had been in litigation since 2015 and never took effect. It would have protected parents with U.S. children from deportation.

May 22

Sessions seeks to withhold funding from sanctuary cities

Attorney General Jeff Sessions issues a memo defining sanctuary jurisdictions as those that “willfully refuse” to comply with a federal law that bars local governments from prohibiting their law enforcement officers to share information about the immigration status of people in their custody.

Sessions says the executive order “will be applied solely to federal grants administered by the Department of Justice or the DHS and not to other sources of federal funding.” A federal court had blocked (4/25) the federal government from penalizing sanctuary jurisdictions.

May 4

State Department calls for increased scrutiny

The Department of State issues “emergency” rules, calling for increased scrutiny of visa applicants.

March 17

DHS Calls for Wall Designs

DHS issues two requests for proposals from companies interested in building a wall on the U.S./Mexican border. The bids for both concrete and non-concrete barriers will be winnowed down to 8 -10 winners who will build prototypes on the border near San Diego, CA. While no wall is to be built soon, the talk has a chilling effect and illegal border crossings start to fall off.

February 21

DHS implements Trump's order

Department of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly implements Trump’s January executive orders with 2 memos. They do away with prioritizing for deportation those who have committed crimes. “Unless otherwise directed, Department personnel may initiate enforcement actions against removable aliens encountered during the performance of their official duties,” Kelly wrote.

The memos also expand the definition of a “criminal alien.” Anyone who has been convicted of a crime, been charged with a crime, or even committed anything that might be a “chargeable criminal offense” can be deported.

Thirdly, the memos call for an increase in the 287(g) program which allows local law enforcement agencies to participate as an active partner in identifying criminal aliens in their custody, and placing ICE detainers on these individuals.

January 25, 2017

Trump wastes no time addressing immigration

Five days into his presidency, President Trump issues two executive orders on improving immigration enforcement and enhancing public safety in the interior of the U.S.