Anyone who is thinking about immigrating to the United States may be hitting the pause button on their plans because US immigration policies are probably going to change. President-Elect Donald Trump is well-known for his comments about building a wall along the Mexican border. Countless internet memes have played off his comments, with many YouTube videos poking fun of his “building a wall” statement triggering the sounds of children laughing about it without understanding what it means.
What did Trump really mean?
So what will happen to US immigration policies after Trump moves into the White House in January? The fears could be overblown because it seems unlikely that he would be able to get his wall built, but it makes sense for immigrants currently in the process of getting their papers to be concerned. Whether or not he gets the wall built, it should be clear to almost everyone that some changes are needed, although this doesn’t mean building a wall along the Mexican border.
Most people have heard horror stories about how someone was trying to immigrate to the US but red tape held up their paperwork. The problem is that the red tape has gotten so bad that it’s become quite common for people to enter the country illegally. Most Americans I know don’t have problems with illegal immigrants per se. It’s the fact that so many live here but don’t pay taxes, which cause taxpayers to pay more in taxes to support their non-taxpaying lifestyle because they are in the country illegally.
Will Trump fix the red tape?
If there’s anyone who should know how bad the red tape is for immigrants, it’s Donald Trump. One thing no one has made a big issue of, including Trump and his campaign, is that his wife Melania is a naturalized U.S. citizen who was born in Slovenia. They were married in 2005, and she became a U.S. citizen in 2006. Interestingly, Hillary Clinton attended their wedding reception with husband Bill Clinton.
Trump certainly had the financial means to help his wife become a citizen, but not everyone has the finances to pay for expensive lawyers to ease the process along. Nonetheless, for all the controversy around his view on US immigration policies, hopefully this is an area Trump will be interested in changing, if only because his wife was impacted by it. The problem is vetting immigrants without making it impossible for those who want to come and contribute to American society by attending school, working, and paying taxes to get their legal immigration papers.
Certainly Trump has not shown disdain for immigrants from all countries. The Hindustan Times states that Trump expressed support for the Indian and Hindu people, saying that they will “have a big friend in the White House” if he got elected.
“We want people to come into our country… legally, legally,” Trump was quoted as saying during a campaign stop in Arizona.
Some immigrants oppose Trump, others support him
He has, however, said he would remove millions of illegal immigrants from the country. As a result, the hashtag #HereToStay began trending quickly after he claimed victory in the race for the White House. Illegal immigrants began tweeting their support for other undocumented immigrants, pledging support and vowing to stay in the country despite any changes he might make to US immigration policies.
Not all immigrants are against Trump, as recent polls indicate that many actually supported the president-elect in his campaign run. A Pulse Opinion Research survey found this week that 51% of voters agree that there isn’t enough enforcement of US immigration laws, and 49% of Latino voters said they support policies that enforce the deportation of illegal immigrants to their home countries. Also some Latino voters even voted for Trump, reports The Los Angeles Times.
Without taking ethnicity into account, 54% of voters believe the government doesn’t do enough to enforce immigration laws, and 56% of Americans support deporting illegal immigrants to their home countries.
A summary of Trump’s comments on US immigration policy
So aside from promising to build a wall along the Mexican border, Trump also made several other outlandish comments regarding his US immigration views, such as forcing the Mexican government to pay to build the wall. Needless to say, that appears doubtful. If he wants to build a wall to replace the fence that’s already there, he’s going to have to get the funds for it in the federal budget.
He also promised to “send criminal aliens home,” something those who support deportation probably want to see. He accused Mexican immigrants of bringing drugs and crime and being rapists, although he had no numbers to state how many of them fall into this category.
In the wake of the Orlando nightclub massacre, he denounced the US immigration system as “dysfunction,” adding that it “does not permit us to know who we let into our country.” This comment would suggest that he’s going to work on vetting immigrants, although we have no way of knowing how he intends to do this. However, if he could manage something, it should make both sides happy because people who mean no harm and will contribute to society will be able to get in with no problems, while those who don’t are kept out.
Trump also promised to “suspend the issuance of visas to any place where adequate screening cannot occur,” including Syria and Libya.
He also stated in March that he would “end the use of the H-1B as a cheap labor program and institute an absolute requirement to hire American workers first for every visa and immigration program.” This claim is actually far more specific than most of the other things he has said about immigration, and it may be why so many immigrants in the country are concerned. However, his Republican colleagues might prevent this.
How much can Trump really do?
Trump may be limited in what he can actually do in terms of changing US immigration laws because many Republicans actually oppose his position. That is the beauty of a “checks and balances” system because it means one man can’t do anything he wishes. He must convince others to go along with him—something Trump has failed to do in the area of immigration, according to Pew Research polls conducted at different times throughout the year.
Ratings from Cook Political Report indicate that most of the Republicans who were running in the closest 40 House races were open to setting a path for undocumented immigrants to become legal immigrants. Also ten of the 11 Republican Senate candidates were campaigning on platforms of open US immigration policies, meaning that Trump could find his hands tied on this issue. Bills such as the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, which protects immigrants brought into the country illegally, appear popular, perhaps because they allow these children to stay and work and, potentially, pay taxes like citizens.