“EVERY single undocumented immigrant, of which there are 11.3 million, have to go” was then presidential candidate Donald Trump’s campaign promise.
Henceforth, Trump said on the campaign trail, “the United States will no longer be the dumping ground for everyone else’s problems”
A year after, are immigrants coming or going?
Trump has issued executive orders that are considered as a ban on Muslims and travel of those from Muslim countries; barred sanctuary cities from receiving federal funds; called for the hiring of more border patrol and immigration and customs enforcement agents, increased arrests and detention of immigrants and pushed legislation to reduce legal migration by about half the current level.
Travel ban implemented
On December 4, 2017, the US Supreme Court allowed the Trump administration to implement its travel ban while ongoing litigation continues.
The travel restrictions were re-issued on September 24, 2017, affecting Chad, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Syria, Valenzuela and Yemen.
On December 5 this year, the US Department of Homeland Security reported that “from the start of the Trump administration through the end of September, the number of immigrants seized in the interior of the country rather than at the border —many of them wrenched from their families and communities—increased by 42 percent compared to the same period in 2016. Immigration arrests of people with no criminal convictions nearly tripled compared to approximately the same period in 2016.”
The random and recurring raids and arrests spread through the migrant communities in and out of the United States.
At home, immigrants – particularly those in legal limbo – avoid going outside even just to get their groceries. A number of migrants’ children, born in the US and therefore US citizens are not sure if their parents can pick them up from school, or if the parents themselves had been picked up by the immigration agents.
For those arrested and haled into immigration courts, deportation orders are being issued faster – nearly 50,000 from February through July – up 28 percent compared with the same period last year under President Obama.
Removal and return of aliens
A 2016 USCIS report shows the removal and return of aliens for the year as 340,056 and 106,167 respectively.
In contrast, the agency’s St. Paul area of responsibility report shows “arrests reached 4,175 in 2017, up from 2,500 the year before. Arrests of people with no criminal convictions more than tripled to 1,144, up from 317 in 2016. The St. Paul area includes Minnesota, Iowa, the Dakotas and Nebraska.”
From Central America and other source countries, a climate of fear has gripped immigrant communities – fearful that after spending time and money across several countries, they could just be left at the border.
On Friday last week, Trump was steadfast in his commitment to reduce immigration while calling out other countries from criticizing his immigration policies saying, “the US does not listen to other countries on the subject.”
To the applause of his supporters, Trump claimed that his administration is “finding the illegal alien drug dealers, the gang members, the thieves, the criminals, and the killers preying on our children, preying on everybody, and we are throwing them the hell out of our country or we are putting them in prison.”
Without mentioning the fact that an undocumented immigrant charged with the murder of Kate Steinle in San Francisco had been found not guilty by a jury on November 30, 2017, Trump cited the killing to bolster his claim to rid the US of undocumented criminals.
“It’s time for Congress to adopt a pro-American immigration agenda. Every member of Congress should be asked where they stand on these issues. Blocking funds to sanctuary cities. I don’t want to give sanctuary cities money. Passing Kate’s law to put repeat offenders behind bars for a long period of time,” the Hill.com reported in a December 8 posting.
In a bid to end chain migration, the US President stamped his approval on a bill introduced by Republican Senators Tom Cotton and David Perdue – the Reforming American Immigration for a Strong Economy Act (RAISE).
The RAISE Act removes certain family-sponsored categories, eliminates the diversity visa lottery, proposes a merit-based immigration system which gives preference to highly-skilled and educated individuals the result of which is projected to reduce legal immigration to the US to just about 540,000 a year, half of the current migration numbers.
If visa numbers can’t be reduced immediately, then make it hard to get one.
“Hire Americans” is a banner headline of the USCIS website, a reiteration of commitment to President Trump’s “America First” policy.
The H-1B visa program becomes the poster scheme for this policy thrust.
On April 19, 2017, Trump signed an executive order asking the Department of Homeland Security to review the current H-1B visa program.
Trump claims that there is widespread abuse of the current H-1B visa lottery program “allowing American workers from all backgrounds to be replaced by workers brought in from other countries to fill the same job, for, sometimes, less pay,”
New data released by the Department of Homeland Security in July this year shows that “more than 40,000 companies submitted H-1B visa applications in fiscal year 2016 and the top 20 sponsors account for 37 percent of all visa approvals. Fortune 500 companies make up more than one-third of the 30 organizations with the most approved H-1B petitions.”
An immigrant entrepreneur from Punjab, wrote in the New York Times that he voted for Trump because he “didn’t want a professional politician as president but instead someone with business skills.” He now regrets his vote especially after the executive order on H-1B working visas.
It does not seem to matter that Trump’s ancestors were immigrants. Trump’s grandfather Friedrich is on record as being from the small German village of Kalistadt when he landed in New York City in 1885, “made money off miners by offering food, booze and easy access to women often in the red-light district.”
In 1904, when Trump’s grandmother Elizabeth got homesick and returned to Germany, Friedrich was reported to have applied to regain his German citizenship. However, the German authorities refused the visa application and considered Friedrich Trump as a draft dodger.
The Harper’s Magazine published Friedrich’s letter to Luitpold, prince regent of Bavaria, translated from German into English, “begging for mercy” not to be deported.
Now the grandson Donald is the President showing no mercy to immigrants.