During the campaign, Mr. Trump has said some very worrisome things about what he intends to do to immigrants. But he has also said a variety of totally inconsistent and sometimes impossible things. Here is a list of his 10 point immigration “plan”:
- Build the wall
- End “catch and release.”
- Create a deportation task force and focus on criminals in the country illegally
- Defund sanctuary cities
- Cancel President Obama’s executive actions
- Extreme vetting. Block immigration from some nations
- Force other countries to take back those whom the U.S. wants to deport
- Get biometric visa tracking system fully in place
- Strengthen E-Verify, block jobs for the undocumented
- Limit legal immigration, lower it to “historic norms,” and set new caps
Most of these points are implausible, if not impossible to accomplish in a four year term.
He stated that he will begin the process of deporting the approximately 12 million undocumented people living in the United States. However, he also said he wants to impose a hiring freeze on federal employees, cut taxes, and balance the budget. In order to deport that many people, he would have to increase America’s law enforcement apparatus at least ten fold, at an enormous cost. Moreover, he also said that he will build the wall first and secure the border (which could take years) and then would figure out how to deal with those people already here.
In the coming weeks we hope to get some idea of what Mr. Trump is going to do by seeing whom he names to his cabinet (the other officials in power at the top of his administration). People will be closely watching what he does and says about immigration because his platform was so ambitious and overzealous. At the moment, keep in mind the following and do not panic:
- If you have any way to apply for permanent residency or citizenship, you should do it now.
• If you are applying for some benefit based on a law (e.g. lawful permanent resident status), remember that only Congress can take that benefit away by changing the law. The President cannot change the law by himself. A change in the law is possible (especially since the House, Senate, and President are now of the same party) but it will take some time, and the agreement of many thoughtful people, not just one person’s will.
- If you are arrested by immigration for being in the country illegally, there is a lengthy deportation process. Most people will be placed into removal proceedings and go in front of an immigration judge, where they fight their case to remain in the country. They are numerous defenses and other relief from removal (deportation).
- Keep in mind that if the new president tries to make major changes in how USCIS makes decisions, it will take months for such changes to take place. So if you are considering applying for something that could be affected by the attitude of the government, you should consider doing it soon.
• If you have some status based on the discretion of the President (or one of the agencies that he controls), it is possible, and maybe even likely, that you will lose that status. I’m talking particularly about DACA, TPS, and orders of supervision. Renewing such a status does not place you in more danger than you already are. The government already knows who you are and where you are. Maybe having registered along with thousands of others will make it politically unpalatable to end your benefit. However, those considering applying for such a benefit for the first time probably should not do it. We may be giving DHS information about your whereabouts that they do not yet have.
• Fortunately, the founders of our country provided for a separation of powers. So the President, while he does have a lot of power, is not all-powerful. Any change in the law has to go through hundreds of members of Congress. The federal courts have been willing to tell DHS when it is wrong, and those judges are appointed for life. I have had success suing the government in federal court and I anticipate that, if Mr. Trump follows through on his threats to violate the constitution, more such lawsuits will be successful.
DACA and TPS deserve additional focus because it is likely that Mr. Trump will make efforts to end these programs. If you have a case pending with us, you are in much better shape than anyone without a lawyer. If you already have DACA or TPS, we recommend that you renew your status at the first opportunity. Please work with us to get your case filed as quickly as possible, given the uncertainty. If you are currently undocumented, but you are eligible to file for immigration benefits such as adjustment of status or naturalization, now is the time to do it.
- To look at things very optimistically: in the recent past, the biggest, most immigrant-friendly immigration reforms have happened during the administrations of conservative presidents. During Reagan’s administration, Congress passed the 1986 amnesty, the most generous immigration reform law in the last 30 years, allowing all who had been here for enough time to stay permanently. During the first year of G. W. Bush’s presidency, Congress passed INA Section 245(i), which allowed certain immigrants to pay a fine and get residency in the U.S if they filed their application before April 30, 2001. In contrast, in the last 8 years no significant, beneficial laws have passed (and therefore President Obama has done his best to do what he could with his executive powers). There is a lot of uncertainty and we do not know if Mr. Trump outlined his extreme 10 point immigration “plan” to win votes and get elected; or if he really will attempt to carry out all of these objectives. There are so many other policy goals (e.g. ending Obamacare) that he stated he will accomplish in his first 100 days in office. It is ludicrous to think that he will successfully do everything on his list.
If you have any questions regarding how President Elect Trump’s new administration may affect your case come January 20, 2017, please contact Joseph & Hall P.C..