Trump Poised to Wield Executive Power to Make Immigration Changes

Laura Meckler, Wall Street Journal, January 22, 2017

President Donald Trump is soon expected to seek sharp changes in U.S. immigration policy by using his executive power, echoing the politically contentious approach taken by Barack Obama.

The new White House released its first executive actions on Inauguration Day, regarding the Affordable Care Act and on regulations across the government. Mr. Trump is planning others early this week on immigration and trade, two White House officials said.

On immigration, advocates on both sides of the issue expect the administration to toughen enforcement by deporting more people and reversing Obama administration rules protecting young people brought to the U.S. illegally as children.

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Mr. Trump also is likely to reject refugees from Syria and other Muslim nations, and cut grant funding for so-called sanctuary cities that don’t cooperate with federal immigration authorities.

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Speed up deportations: Like Mr. Obama, Mr. Trump has said he would prioritize criminals for deportation, but promises to move more quickly to evict them.

At one point, he said he would remove criminal aliens on “day one.” He has put his target number at 2 million to 3 million people, which would be an increase from the current rate and many more than the estimated number of illegal immigrants with criminal convictions.

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Announce a border wall: Building a wall on the southern U.S. border would cost billions of dollars and require Congress to appropriate money. Further, GOP lawmakers have favored additional fencing, not a wall.

But Mr. Trump could issue a symbolic executive action of some sort indicating the project would move ahead and find money in the existing budget to begin the work.

Toughen rules for Central American migrants: Experts say the most urgent border security issue is Central American children and families who are turning themselves in to border agents. Most of them are released into the U.S. for an extended wait until their cases are heard, with little guarantee they would ever be removed. The new administration could process cases more quickly and might also refuse to place children with relatives living in the U.S. if the relatives aren’t here legally.

Tighten legal visa system: The Obama administration allowed spouses of certain skilled foreign workers to work as well. It also expanded a program that lets foreign students stay in the U.S. while looking for work. Both policies could be reversed.

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