The results of yesterday’s presidential election are weighing heavily on many immigrants in this country. From the start of the primary season, Donald Trump made the removal of undocumented immigrants the cornerstone of his campaign. Fear and uncertainty resonate throughout immigrant communities. But Trump’s policy has gone through so many evolutions, it is hard to say what his policy will be by the time he takes office in January 2017. Early on in his campaign, Trump was promising to immediately deport 11 million undocumented people and their spouses and children. Trump argued that children born in the United States to undocumented parents should be denied automatic citizenship and deported with their parents; a plan that disregards the Citizenship Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, conferring citizenship on all persons born within the United States. Trump said that after removing all of the undocumented immigrants, he will immediately “bring the good ones back,” showing an astounding lack of understanding of current Immigration Law and bars to re-entry. Trump has since backed away from those positions, stating his deportation priority will be undocumented aliens who have committed crimes; which, coincidently, has been Obama’s Policy for the removal of aliens in this country. Under the Obama administration, the first priority for apprehension and removal includes public safety or terrorism risks, aliens convicted of criminal gang activity and aliens convicted of felonies and aggravated felonies. The second enforcement priorities are those with misdemeanor convictions and new immigration violators, and the lowest enforcement priority are those aliens with other immigration violations. So it would seem that Trump’s most recent policy announcement of prioritizing removal of the criminal undocumented maintains the status quo of the Obama administration.
It is not known how Trump will handle the recipients of work authorization permits under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which was created by Obama’s executive order. Trump has promised to immediately withdraw the executive order that creates the DACA work authorizations. How he will treat those who currently have DACA status is another question. One would hope that if Trump’s true priority is to remove criminal aliens from this country, he will leave those work authorizations in place for those who were brought to the U.S. as children, educated here and now are productive and working residents of our communities.
Keep following this blog as I will continue to update Trump’s immigration policy as it evolves. I will also begin discussing some of the legal means to obtain status under the current immigration law for qualified individuals.