Tal Kopan, CNN, December 18, 2017
President Donald Trump and his administration have been sending a message in recent weeks: Trump’s campaign rhetoric on immigration was not just talk. In fact, it was just the beginning.
Trump has railed in several instances against “chain migration” and lotteries for green cards. His administration is moving to alter a program for the spouses of high-skilled visa holders. And the White House and Congress remain far apart on how to address DACA.
In mid-September, Trump wrote, “Does anybody really want to throw out good, educated and accomplished young people who have jobs, some serving in the military?”
But since then, he has insisted on controversial immigration reduction proposals that would have a hard time passing even among some Republicans, including drastically cutting the overall number of green cards given out annually and transforming the way they are given out, placing a heavy emphasis on only highly skilled, English-speaking immigrants and not low-skilled individuals.
“We’re excited about how the administration has held firmly to these issues,” said Dan Stein, president of the Federation for American Immigration Reform. “We’ve put almost $1 million into ads. … This is the moment we’ve been waiting for four decades.”
Stein was especially pleased with Trump’s recent insistence that any deal to save DACA, which protected young undocumented immigrants brought to the US as children, include cuts to family-based immigration, or “chain migration,” and the diversity visa program, which allows up to 50,000 individuals from countries with low levels of immigration to the US to come on visas distributed by lottery.
While the diversity lottery only affects about 50,000 of roughly 1 million green cards given out to the US annually, Trump has supported legislation from two GOP senators that would drastically reduce family visa categories, cutting yearly numbers in half.
The administration has also made its own efforts to reduce immigration levels without Congress, including setting a historically low number of refugee admissions for next year, instituting the travel ban and submitting would-be visitors and immigrants to “extreme vetting.”
Late last week, the Department of Homeland Security revealed it intends to do away with work permits for spouses of high-skilled visa holders who are waiting in a years-long green card backlog. The announcement also said the agency intends to set a higher bar for the high-skilled visa itself.