Five ways Trump is restricting immigration

Five ways Trump is restricting immigration
© Getty Images

Despite having a Republican majority in Congress and setting clear goals on immigration, President TrumpDonald TrumpTrump lawyers to Supreme Court: Jan. 6 committee 'will not be harmed by delay' Two House Democrats announce they won't seek reelection DiCaprio on climate change: 'Vote for people that are sane' MORE's attempts to revamp the country's immigration laws have stalled.

But through the executive institutions in charge of immigration, Trump has changed how the government interacts with foreign citizens.

Here are five of the biggest changes Trump has made to the immigration system:


Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsPress: For Trump endorsement: The more sordid, the better Those predicting Facebook's demise are blowing smoke If bitcoin is 'digital gold,' it should be taxed like gold MORE announced the end of DACA — the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program — in September, and Trump gave Congress until March 5 to find a replacement.

That decision directly affected around 690,000 so-called Dreamers — immigrants who arrived in the country illegally as minors — who were enrolled in the program at the time, and hundreds of thousands more who would have aged into the program. 


The 690,000 pre-enrolled DACA recipients can currently maintain and renew their two-year permits thanks to a federal court order against Trump's move to end the program. But uncertainty over the program's future has created a slew of other issues for the program's beneficiaries.

Trump's challenge to Congress to enact a replacement for DACA set off a flurry of immigration proposals, but ultimately the issue was set aside with little more than clearly-defined battle lines to show for the effort.

The open debate over immigration was a useful framework for Trump to issue his administration's guiding principles on the matter.

Trump's immigration wish list was celebrated by restrictionist groups that had long fought to join the mainstream, and reviled by immigration doves who see it as a nativist proposal that's ultimately designed to reduce legal immigration levels.


The Trump administration's handling of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) has upended decades of Republican and Democratic administrations' perfunctory renewals of the program.

TPS allows citizens of countries that are going through man-made or natural disasters to live and work in the United States.

In past attempts to achieve comprehensive immigration reform, negotiators on both sides of the issue prioritized TPS recipients and Dreamers as groups in consideration for a special path to citizenship.

But under Trump, DHS has announced the end of TPS for 260,000 Salvadorans, 60,000 Haitians, 5,000 Nicaraguans and a few hundred Sudanese.

Salvadoran TPS has been renewed every 18 months since 2001, after two earthquakes hit the country.

Trump on Tuesday also issued a memo ending Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) for Liberian citizens. DED was a program that allowed Liberian TPS recipients to remain in the country after their designation ended.

Frank Sharry, executive director of America's Voice, a progressive immigration reform advocacy group, said the termination of special protection programs show that Trump and Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen NielsenKirstjen Michele NielsenUS to restart 'Remain in Mexico' program following court order Far-left bullies resort to harassing, shaming Kyrsten Sinema — it won't work Ex-Trump official: 'No. 1 national security threat I've ever seen' is GOP MORE are "intent on driving millions of immigrants out of the country."

"When it comes to putting immigrants on a path to deportation, it doesn’t seem to matter how long they’ve been here, the conditions they fled in the first place, the contributions they have made or the impact on their families, employers and communities, or the fact that they’ve had legal status for years and years," said Sharry.

"The bottom line seems to be this: get ready to get out; this is especially true if you are from what the president calls 'shithole countries,' ” he added.


Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is the federal government's top immigration law enforcement agency.

Under Trump, the agency has become "unshackled," allowing it to prioritize for deportation immigrants who were deemed out of bounds by previous administrations.

ICE's acting director, Thomas Homan, is an Obama-era holdover who's openly praised Trump for liberating agents to more liberally execute orders of deportation.

"This president, like him or love him, is doing the right thing," Homan told reporters in December.

ICE has come under severe criticism for the way it's changing immigration law enforcement, most recently for a directive allowing for the detention of pregnant women.

"Accounts of the mistreatment of pregnant women in prison and detention facilities are already horrific. For the Trump administration to further lower the bar and subject more women to these health risks is disgusting," said Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.). "Reports of shackling, solitary confinement, and denial of adequate food or care for pregnant women already makes this one of the most pressing issues in our society."


Aside from changes to the way the federal government prosecutes immigrants in the country illegally, the Trump administration has also made substantial changes to the way it legally admits foreign citizens.

United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is the agency that grants visas, permanent residency and citizenship to foreign applicants.

Under Trump, USCIS Director Francis Cissna changed the agency's mission statement, removing references to foreign applicants as "customers" and to the United States as a "nation of immigrants" in favor of language about "protecting Americans."

For instance, the White House is considering a USCIS proposal to tighten the rules on foreign citizens' use of tax breaks and welfare programs, said Tyler Houlton, a spokesman for Homeland Security.

If the White House approves the proposal, foreigners on visas or with permanent residency could be barred from using popular tax breaks, like the earned income tax credit or public health subsidies.

Houlton said the changes to the immigration system aren't meant to reduce legal immigration, but "to make it a fair system, secure the borders in a way that makes Americans safe."

Refugees and travel ban

Trump issued an executive order in January 2017 banning the entry of citizens from seven predominantly Muslim countries to the United States.

The so-called travel ban was blocked by three courts using Trump's public statements as evidence that it unfairly targeted Muslims.

"Plaintiffs offer undisputed evidence that the president of the United States has openly and often expressed his desire to ban those of Islamic faith from entering the United States. The Proclamation is thus not only a likely Establishment Clause violation, but also strikes at the basic notion that the government may not act based on religious animosity," said Chief Judge Roger Gregory in a 4th Circuit majority decision in February.

But after each reversal in court, the administration released a new set of rules to impose a travel ban that could pass constitutional muster.

In December, the Supreme Court temporarily lifted the lower courts' injunctions, as the latest iteration of the travel ban includes North Korea and Venezuela, which are not Muslim-majority countries.

The Supreme Court is scheduled to permanently rule on the travel ban's constitutionality in April.