Comments made by incoming US president, Donald Trump, during his ‘Person of the Year’ interview with Time Magazine over illegal immigrants have left US immigration hardliners bewildered. A rare show of compassion from the controversial real estate tycoon towards “Dreamers” (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) has caught anti-immigration supporters by surprise.
During the interview, Trump said of the approximately 1.8 million children brought to the US illegally by their parents that “they got brought here at a very young age, they’ve worked here, and they’ve gone to school here. Some were good students. Some have wonderful jobs. And they’re in never-never land because they don’t know what’s going to happen.”
Republican Steve King, representative for Iowa, slammed Trump’s comments, saying: “Somebody’s heart got a little softer than it was before the election.”
Trump told Time Magazine that while he was not backtracking on plans to abolish Obama’s executive amnesty, when it comes to the Dreamers, “we’re going to work something out that’s going to make people happy and proud.”
Sanwar Ali, Editor of workpermit.com News reviews some of Donald Trump’s latest immigration statements.
It has been suggested that President-Elect Donald Trump has had more scandals in the last two weeks than Barack Obama has had in the last eight years as President. Perhaps this is a bit of an exaggeration. However it certainly seems that way.
Trump is about to be inaugurated as President on Friday, 20 January 2017. About ten days before the inauguration allegations surfaced about “Golden” Trump and Russian prostitutes. Much of the media has taken delight in ridiculing Trump over the allegations. On top of this it now seems to be widely believed that Putin’s Russia has interfered in US Presidential elections to the benefit of soon to be President Trump at the expense of Hillary Clinton.
The media has also taken an interest in the problems faced by Mike Peinovich, AKA ‘Mike Enoch’ founder of the “Alt-Right” neo-Nazi website The Right Stuff. They had supported Trump. However, there is now considerable infighting as apparently the founder of the website’s wife is jewish. This resulted in a furious reaction from many neo-Nazis. Trump has suffered embarrassment because of the extreme views of some of his supporters. Trump had the lowest level of support amongst minority groups in Presidential elections over the last fourty years.
The extent to which his various scandals will distract President Trump remains to be seen. It seems that President Trump will focus on immigration enforcement and restricting entry on certain work visas first. Therefore, we may see Trump trying to bring in tougher US visa policies for L1A, L1B intra-company transfer visas and H1B specialty worker visas. These visas are used the most by Indian companies. In addition Trump may make things more difficult for those applying under, for example EB1 immigrant visas for international executives and managers and EB2 advanced degree professionals. Fortunately, he has not made any remarks as far as we can tell about E2 Treaty Investor Visas, E1 Treaty Trader visas, E3 visas or B-1 in lieu of H-1B visas.
There is remaining uncertainty about the future direction of US visa policy under the Trump Presidency. However, there are signs that President Trump may not be as hardline on immigration as people think he will be.
Trump sympathetic to the plight of illegal immigrants
In response to King’s comments, other commentators say that Trump has always been soft on US immigration, even before the election. A report published in the Chicago Tribune claims that ‘The Donald’ not only has a soft spot for Dreamers, but for most illegal immigrants.
Throughout Trump’s presidential campaign, he constantly reiterated his desire to find a way for the vast majority of illegal immigrants, which he described as ‘the good ones’, to secure legal status in the US by getting ‘right with the law.’
The Chicago Tribune alleges that the mainstream media avoided reporting on Trump’s compassionate side as it ‘did not fit their narrative of a heartless Trump who wanted to break up families and send all 11 million illegal immigrants permanently back to their countries of origin.’
Many have questioned whether Trump does indeed have sympathy for illegal immigrants in the US, but during an interview with pundit Sean Hannity in July 2015, Trump declared: “Some of these (illegal immigrants) are fantastic people. I’ve been to the border. I was there a few days ago.”
“I met some people. These are fantastic people, and they have great reputations within their community. ... The bad ones, they’re gone. They never come back. They’ll never get back into this country. But, the good ones, of which there are many, I want to expedite it so they can come back in legally,” Trump said.
When pressed by CNN’s Dana Bash in November 2016 about the Dreamers, Trump replied: “I actually have a big heart. Something that nobody knows. A lot of people don’t understand that. But the Dreamers, it’s a tough situation. We’re going to do something…”
… “I would get people out and then have an expedited way of getting them back into the country so they can be legal. A lot of these people are helping us and sometimes it’s jobs a citizen of the United States doesn’t even want to do. I want to move them out. I want to move them back in and let them be legal,” Trump said.
Trump’s son, Eric, expressed his frustration at the media’s inability to pick up on his father’s plan to allow illegal immigrants back into the US legally. At the time, Eric Trump said: “The point isn’t just deporting them, it’s deporting them and letting them back in legally. He’s been so clear about that and I know the liberal media wants to misconstrue it, but it’s deporting them and letting them back legally.”
Trumps’s US Visa ‘Touchback’ policy
Trump’s plan to deport illegal immigrants and allow them back in legally, known as the touchback policy, was championed by former Republican senator for Texas, Kay Bailey Hutchison back in 2007.
The idea of the policy is that illegal immigrants must return briefly to their countries of origin, where they can apply for a special visa that would allow them re-entry to the United States in an expedited manner and work here indefinitely.
The plan received a surprise endorsement from none other than The New York Times, which declared in a 2007 editorial that “it’s not ideal, but if a touchback provision is manageable and reassures people that illegal immigrants are indeed going to the back of the line, then it will be defensible.”
However, the plan suffered a narrow loss in the Senate by a vote of 53-45. Among those who voted for the touchback policy were vulnerable Democrats who are up for re-election in 2018 - Senator Claire McCaskill of Missouri (a state Trump won by 19 points) and Senator Jon Tester of Montana (where Trump won by 21 points).
Therefore, any touchback plan proposed by Trump once he assumes the Presidency is likely to receive at least some bipartisan support. Should Trump implement the proposal, it’s unlikely that he will need a ‘deportation force.’
Illegal immigrants would voluntarily cooperate
A poll of illegal immigrants, carried out by the Los Angeles Times in 2007, found that 63 per cent of illegal immigrants would leave the US voluntarily provided they would be given the opportunity to return. A further 85 per cent said they would leave if promised a path to US citizenship.
However, the Chicago Tribune report states that Trump is ‘unlikely to pursue touchback legislation in Congress anytime soon,’ saying that ‘he needs to secure the border first before he can do anything to settle the status of those here illegally.’
Back in August 2016, Trump explained that any discussion concerning a touchback policy “can take place only in an atmosphere in which illegal immigration is a memory of the past, no longer with us, allowing us to weigh the different options available based on the new circumstances at the time.”
The Chicago Tribune report asserts that since the Democrats are unlikely to approve border security measures without amnesty, Trump will be forced to focus on enforcing current US immigration law and utilizing existing authorities in order to construct a wall, deport criminals and aliens and crack down on sanctuary cities refusing to cooperate.
According to the Chicago Tribune report, Trump’s intention is ‘to give permanent legal status to the vast majority of those here illegally and he may be the only president who can do so.’
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