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Trump And New Immigration Policy

Author: New York Immigration attorney Alena Shautsova

After the results of the Presidential election, immigrants in the United States are anxiously waiting for the announcement of President Trump’s Immigration plans. It is true even for those who became U.S. citizens through naturalization: I received several calls from people asking if “Trump can take their citizenship away.” The worries are not unfounded, as during his campaign, President-elect Trump made several rather radical announcements that if realized, would cause the United States’ population to “shrink” by about 5%.

Several scenarios might be possible, in my opinion.

1. President Trump will try to implement physical removal of all undocumented and force Mexico to build the infamous wall (a highly unlikely scenario).

I, personally, do not believe that even Trump’s administration would decide to physically deport or remove all those “without papers” it would be fast and easy. Why? Because there are between 11-16M people in this country who due to various reasons cannot qualify or have not applied for a legal status in the United States. For physical removal, it would be necessary to locate all of them, charge them with removability, give them an opportunity to present their cases in Immigration courts, etc. etc. etc. Even if Trump would undertake something radical to make it look like he is fulfilling his election campaign’s promises, he would probably go after Obama’s executive actions: DACA, for example. Also, Trump’s team may try to alter DHS’ regulations to implement harsher policies, abolish prosecutorial discretion, and perhaps implement a new way to deport/remove people expeditiously or without a hearing. Do not forget that any major shift in immigration law would require a new law to be passed. While the democrats are in the minority in Congress, they still can fight back, plus not all of the Republicans are on the same page, and it means that process of fast and easy removal would not be painless.

2. President Trump will present an Immigration solution just like before him it was done by Eisenhower, Ford, Reagan, Bush I and Bush II.

It seems that an Immigration solution (let’s not call it a reform or it would seem it comes from Democrats), would be a much wiser decision. Rather than to antagonize the population, a wise President who has control over the Congress’ majority, can present a plan to “legalize” whose removal will be impractical, expensive and simply impossible. The solution may range from deferred actions that allow citizens of certain countries to obtain employment authorizations (such as Haiti, El Salvador, Ecuador, Guatemala, etc.) to laws that would “forgive” illegal status to those who, let’s say stayed in the US without major convictions, paid taxes and have an employer or a family member regardless of the manner the person entered the US, whether he/she was previously deported and re-entered, and/or committed a misrepresentation or immigration fraud that occurred, let’s say more than 10 years ago. Frankly, just a few “twitches” in the Immigration law can help millions of people. The fact remains: there are millions in the United States who assimilated here, they call the U.S. their home, they have U.S. born children, pay taxes, contribute into the U.S. economy. All these people came to the U.S. not only to seek better economic opportunities, they came here to seek justice for their lives, their families. It would be very unamerican to leave these people “hanging”, waiting for a change that every recent president has been postponing. It is very simple, people from certain countries and regions simply do not have anywhere else to go. Some can fantasize about deporting them, but they would come back, if not through Mexican, than through a Canadian, Miami or any other border. Rather than using a destructive approach, a constructive approach should be used to finally solve the problem, at least partially.

3. Scenario number three: no changes for better or for worth would take place

I , frankly, also do not believe that this scenario will happen. Trump was elected for a reason. People want changes, good or bad. A new president would basically have 2 years before the Congress is re-elected to deliver a solution. Those who voted for Trump hoping he would deport everybody would demand an action, and those who voted for Hillary would demand to accommodate their needs as well. It means, that something will have to happen. Now, we need to plan and watch.

17 November 2016
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