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.

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 10

Deportations are down

Since January, immigration officials have deported more than 105,000 immigrants, 42 percent of whom had never committed any crime, the Washington Post reports. In 2016, 121,170 were deported during the same time period. The newspaper says the drop is in part due to a decline in border crossings and also, because many of the people arrested by immigration agents never committed crimes and are taking their cases to immigration court. The courts are badly clogged. As of the end of May, Syracuse University’s TRAC reported that they had a backlog of almost 600,000 cases.

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.

August 1

Refugee numbers plummet

The number of refugees coming to the United States dips sharply in July, dropping to the lowest level of monthly arrivals in more than a decade after the travel ban takes effect. 1,224 refugees arrived in July, according to U.S. State Department data — less than any other month since the 2007 fiscal year.

July 27

Naming of border wall prototype builders postponed

Naming builders of the border wall prototypes is delayed for a second time until November because two companies objected to the bidding process. But Customs and Border Patrol is proceeding with plans to build an almost 5-kilometer stretch of wall in the Santa Ana Wildlife Refuge.

July 25

Justice Department cracks down on sanctuary cities

The Justice Department says it is escalating its crackdown on so-called sanctuary jurisdictions, saying it will no longer award grant money to cities unless they give federal immigration authorities access to jails and provide advance notice when someone in the country illegally is about to be released.

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.