IMMIGRATION was a top platform for Trump in his campaign, and as the President-elect how his campaign rhetoric will be played out is still up in the air. Some of the major areas in immigration law that will most likely be affected are:
1) Decrease Legal Immigration – In furthering his administration’s “protectionist views,” Trump may restrict legal immigration as well as further regulating legal workers coming to the U.S. on employment authorized visas (i.e., H-1B and L-1 skilled workers). His campaign rhetoric on “bringing jobs back to the U.S.” and limiting outsourcing jobs offshore and highly-skilled immigration may result in tightening of regulations in granting visas –especially the highly political H-1B visas which are currently capped at issuance of only 65,000 H-1B visas per fiscal year. Every year the H-1B visas are depleted and every year, U.S. businesses lament and lobby for increase in these visa numbers, but after Trump is in the office, it looks highly doubtful that this would result in any increase in H-1B visa numbers. Instead, it may mean more restrictions placed on the issuance of the visas themselves, as well as other categories of skilled worker visas, as well as raising of the fees for filing such petitions. If U.S. businesses want to hire skilled foreign workers, they will have to pay the price and jump through hoops to do so.
2) Deportation/Removal/Detention – In his latest TV interview on “60 Minutes” recently, Trump softened some of his rhetoric on immigration, but still vowed to deport or jail as many as 3 million immigrants who have “criminal records” or are “gang members” or “drug dealers.” He did not specify or lay out a clear plan, nor how he would go about funding such a measure.
3) Building a Border Wall/increase border security – President-Elect Trump may be backing off a bit on his most famous campaign promise of “building a wall” and having the Mexican government pay for it. He would most likely work with Congress to “expand” the current physical barrier/fences (more of a “symbolic wall”), and expand Border patrol.
4) End Birthright Citizenship – Trump, despite the 14th Amendment provision that all persons born or naturalized in the U.S. are citizens, has stated that children of undocumented aliens born in the U.S. “must go.” In terms of how/if this will be implemented is yet to be determined.
5) End Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (known as “DACA”) –President-elect Donald Trump pledged to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) initiative which was implemented in 2012 by then Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano. DACA gave deportation relief and work permits to undocumented youth who arrived in the U.S. as a minor (under 16 years old), went to school, and no criminal convictions. This could impact over 1.3 million young immigrants (700,000 of those who are currently in the workforce under this provision). Though statements on Trump’s campaign website clearly indicated an intention to end DACA, much remains to be seen. It is still to be determined know how or when DACA might end. It is possible that USCIS could stop accepting or approving all DACA applications. Alternatively, USCIS could halt only certain components of DACA.
Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach served as the advisor to Trump on immigration during the campaign, and will likely have a major role in Trump’s administration on immigration matters. He has indicated that Trump will repeal/scrap many of Obama’s immigration policies/incentives as well as Obama administration’s approach of deporting and enforcement policies.
As far as how (or if) and when any of the above changes to immigration policies and regulations will be implemented are yet to be determined. But one thing is certain, whatever measures the new President-Elect take to change the regulations (which require legislation) will not happen overnight and it won’t be passed through Congress without some strong opposition and push-back. It is well known that the Speaker of the House Paul Ryan has very different views on immigration, and will be a big factor in whether or how much of Trump’s immigration “plans” get any traction even in the Republican controlled Congress. It will once again come down to cooperation between the two parties being key factor in accomplishing any immigration reform or changes.
We will keep a close eye on these issues and advise accordingly.