Five Ways Trump Successfully Cut Immigration Benefits

“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 Frank Sharry, executive director of America’s Voice, a progressive immigration reform advocacy group.  “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.  The termination of special protection programs show that Trump and Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen are “intent on driving millions of immigrants out of the country.” 

#1: DACA

In September 2017, Trump ended Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and the decision directly affected around 690,000 so-called Dreamers — immigrants who arrived in the country illegally as minors who were given an employment card and deportation protection.

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.

#2: TPS

Under Trump, the Department of Homeland Security has announced the end of Temporary Protected Status (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.  TPS allows citizens of countries that are going through man-made or natural disasters to live and work in the United States.

#3: ICE

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 can no longer use prosecutorial discretion to stop or pause deportation so the deportee can remain united with his U.S. citizen spouse or minor child.  Trump implementation of the Criminal Alien Program also denies bond to permanent residents facing criminal cases (even though not convicted and simple charged with deportable offense).  Trump has also placed new performance matrix on immigration judges creating unattainable timeframes for completing an immigration case resulting in a deportation mill at the immigration court.

#4: USCIS

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 the United States as a “nation of immigrants” in favor of language about “protecting Americans.”

USCIS is considering a 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.

#5: 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.  But after each reversal in court, the administration released a new set of rules to impose a travel ban that could pass constitutional muster.  The Supreme Court is scheduled to permanently rule on the travel ban’s constitutionality in early May 2018.

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