The New 2016 Presidential Elect and Impending Immigration Policies

The New 2016 Presidential Elect and Impending Immigration Policies

Tadas Buivydas, December 2016

With the recent results of the 2016 presidential election between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, many Americans are becoming increasingly concerned about what policies will be implemented or altered when the new presidential elect, Donald Trump, is sworn into office. A key issue that is of particular concern is the immigration policy that both candidates mentioned and spoke about either on their respective websites, presidential debates, or the myriad of interviews they partook in. On one hand, Donald Trump clearly established that he would end the catch and release process and that under Trump administration, “anyone who illegally crosses the border will be detained until they are removed out of our country” [1]. Hillary Clinton on the other hand, stated that she would “introduce comprehensive immigration reform with a pathway to full and equal citizenship within her first 100 days in office” [2]. From a neutral perspective, one can immediately see that there were stark differences in each candidate’s immigration platform and each believed that their future plans would foster new jobs, increase wages, and create new opportunities for Americans. With that, immigration in the United States has both positive and negative aspects and through the exploration of the new presidential elect, Donald Trump, and his platform as well as the runner up, Hillary Clinton, there will be a greater general idea of what the immigration policy in the United States will encompass in the next four years and how Donald Trump’s policies will affect the United States several years following his presidency.

In 2014, the United States immigrant population was placed at more than 42.4 million, accounting for approximately 13.3% of the total United States population [3]. These figures have been continuously rising each year and will continue to in the coming years. As with any policy or law that is established, there can often times be confusion associated with it, which causes misunderstandings. That is also the case with United States immigration laws and what they exactly state. The Immigration and Naturalization Act (INA), the body of law governing current immigration policy, provides an annual worldwide limit of 675,000 permanent immigrants [4]. Evidently, this has certain exceptions, such as family member reasons and protection of refugees. Noncitizens are also admitted, but the time period for this admittance process is limited. Ultimately, if an individual gains permanent residency, s/he can work and live permanently in the United States. The general overview of applying for American citizenship seems simple in essence, but the process is quite long and extensive, causing people immigrating into the United States many problems.

Individuals from other countries may even resort to illegal immigration, which can cause issues such as limited job opportunities and wage disputes. According to a study done by Pew Research Center “the number of unauthorized immigrants has stabilized in the past few years after decades of rapid growth” [5]. In fact, there were 11.1 million unauthorized immigrants in 2014, which roughly stayed consistent since 2009 [6]. Currently, these figures remain fairly constant, but it is unknown whether illegal immigration will eventually harm the United States economy, American citizen’s jobs, and a variety of other factors. Based on this present issue, it is important to evaluate Trump’s impending immigration platform in comparison to Clinton’s, as his bold future policies will most likely affect the influx of illegal immigrants in the coming years.

Though the Democratic party faced defeat in the election, it remains important to analyze Clinton’s immigration plan, including an overview describing her intentions, implementations, and enforcements that are present on her official website. In general, Clinton’s campaign was seen as pro-immigration with statements about promoting naturalization and supporting immigrant immigration. Specifically, one of the primary goals was to “expand fee waivers to alleviate naturalization costs and encourage English proficiency” [7]. A plausible approach that was mentioned was to increase education, which would be necessary to facilitate the process of learning English where correlation has been shown. Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) states that “71% of immigrants with college degrees speak English either exclusively or very well compared to immigrants who did not receive their high school diplomas and only 12% speak English exclusively” [8]. With an increase in education, Clinton’s goal was to ultimately shorten the process of naturalization. In addition to education, Clinton promised to “create a national Office of Immigrant Affairs to support affordable integration services” [9]. In hopes of increasing resources for citizenship education, it would also promote a larger population of immigrants who would fluent in the English language and could be brought into the United States economy.

In terms of unauthorized immigrants, the Clinton campaign remained somewhat ambiguous regarding future action concerning the status of unauthorized immigrants. Clinton believed that immigration enforcement should be “humane, targeted, and effective” [10]. Clinton wanted to give much focus to the attainment of resources on detaining and deporting those individuals who pose a violent threat to public safety [11]. Instead of focusing on the deportation of unauthorized immigrants, Clinton desired to take a different approach and proposed an immigration reform that intended to provide a path to citizenship, which evidently would include Obamacare. The overall approach of Clinton’s immigration policy in addressing not only immigration, but also illegal immigration was considered as proactive. Though generally positive, the Clinton campaign left much room for questions in the regulation of immigration.

With Donald Trump as the new President elect, it is essential to investigate the possible reforms, policies, and overall intended platform that Trump has promised to implement throughout his campaign. Continuously mentioning key issues currently present in the United States about unauthorized immigration, Trump’s overall immigration policy revolves around what action will be taken. Trump’s primary method of enforcing immigration control is building an “impenetrable physical wall on the southern border”, which he claims will be paid for by Mexico [12]. Through a unique approach, Trump hopes to substantially lower the number of immigrants in the country and potentially reduce the number of unauthorized immigrants who could be hostile or are convicted criminals. By the end of 2013, there were as many as 872,000 unauthorized immigrants who were ordered to leave the country, but did not [13]. In an effort to control this, Trump also proposes to begin to move unauthorized criminal immigrants and unauthorized immigrants out of the country once officially in office. In a sense, non-departed immigrants can be seen as “emblematic of the dysfunction of the immigration system and enforcement of the original immigration policies must take place” [14].

Along with a physical wall and a deportation plan, Trump also intends to end what he calls job benefit magnets, “which is what supposedly attracts immigrants from other countries” [15]. This could possibly be beneficial due to decreased interest in jobs from the perspective of immigrants wanting to enter the country, but would also pose a problem for current employed American citizens who value these benefits. In addition, it would also restrict the diverse skillset that many immigrants may offer when entering the United States and searching for jobs to support their families. In a 2016 study done by the National Foundation for American Policy , it was found that “immigrants have started approximately half of America’s startup companies valued at $1 billion or more” [16]. By not only deporting immigrants, but preventing them from immigrating into the country as well, a profoundly harmful effect on startup activity in the United States would follow. During his campaign, a final effort from Trump to solidify his platform was mentioning the blunt differences in the Clinton immigration platform in comparison to his and the negative impacts of the Clinton campaign for the United States. Though there were facts pertaining to Clinton’s policy that were true, the majority was generally negative and stated to irk the typical Clinton supporter.

In retrospect, the polar opposite candidates for the 2016 presidential election set up an interesting dynamic for the race. Clinton’s campaign resorted to peaceful reform without using force to handle unauthorized immigration, while Trump’s campaign is centered on removing immigrants who are not lawfully in the United States by deportation and building an impenetrable wall on the southern border. In terms of new reforms and laws, Clinton aimed to be open to immigrants and facilitate the process of naturalization through the implementation of educational institutions, while Trump now believes the best way to regulate immigration is through force and consequences. With Donald Trump now the new presidential elect, it will be interesting to see exactly how many policies laws that he stood by during the presidential race will come into effect. A great deal of speculation regarding his plans once in office is circulating, including the possibility of abolishing Obamacare. Trump clearly stated during the campaign that he would repeal Obamacare due to its “failure in providing a fair cost and quality of healthcare” [17]. With United States citizens still absorbing the recent results of the elections, large protests in various states have erupted claiming that Donald Trump is not their president.

With Hillary Clinton winning the popular vote, but not the election, many are questioning whether their voice matters at all and it is a contributing factor to the outrage and disbelief that is still present. With Donald Trump currently picking cabinet members, there still remains a long road until he is sworn into office. Despite the controversy over the election results, the next four years will bring both expected and unexpected changes to the United States and it will be interesting to predict how this will affect the status of the United States years after his presidency.

Notes

[1] “Immigration.” Make America Great Again! Accessed November 14, 2016. https://www.donaldjtrump.com/policies/immigration/.

[2] “Hillary Clinton on Immigration Reform.” Immigration Reform. Accessed November 14, 2016. https://www.hillaryclinton.com/issues/immigration-reform/

[3] “Frequently Requested Statistics on Immigrants and Immigration in the United States.” Migrationpolicy.org. 2016. Accessed November 14, 2016. http://www.migrationpolicy.org/article/frequently-requested-statistics-immigrants-and-immigration-united-states/.

[4] “How the United States Immigration System Works.” American Immigration Council. Accessed November 14, 2016. https://www.americanimmigrationcouncil.org/research/how-united-states-immigration-system-works.

[5] Krogstad, Jens Manuel, Jeffrey S. Passel, and D’Vera Cohn. “5 Facts about Illegal Immigration in the U.S.” Pew Research Center RSS. 2016. Accessed November 14, 2016. http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2016/11/03/5-facts-about-illegal-immigration-in-the-u-s/.

[6] Krogstad, Jens Manuel, Jeffrey S. Passel, and D’Vera Cohn. “5 Facts about Illegal Immigration in the U.S.” Pew Research Center RSS. 2016. Accessed November 14, 2016. http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2016/11/03/5-facts-about-illegal-immigration-in-the-u-s/.

[7] “How the United States Immigration System Works.” American Immigration Council. Accessed November 14, 2016. https://www.americanimmigrationcouncil.org/research/how-united-states-immigration-system-works.

[8] “English Proficiency of Immigrants.” (PPIC Publication). Accessed November 14, 2016. http://www.ppic.org/main/publication_show.asp?i=817.

[9] “Hillary Clinton on Immigration Reform.” Immigration Reform. Accessed November 14, 2016. https://www.hillaryclinton.com/issues/immigration-reform/

[10] “Hillary Clinton on Immigration Reform.” Immigration Reform. Accessed November 14, 2016. https://www.hillaryclinton.com/issues/immigration-reform/

[11] “Hillary Clinton on Immigration Reform.” Immigration Reform. Accessed November 14, 2016. https://www.hillaryclinton.com/issues/immigration-reform/

[12] Krogstad, Jens Manuel, Jeffrey S. Passel, and D’Vera Cohn. “5 Facts about Illegal Immigration in the U.S.” Pew Research Center RSS. 2016. Accessed November 14, 2016. http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2016/11/03/5-facts-about-illegal-immigration-in-the-u-s/.

[13] “Immigration.” Make America Great Again! Accessed November 14, 2016. https://www.donaldjtrump.com/policies/immigration/.

[14] Vaughan, Jessica. “Deportation Numbers Unwrapped Raw Statistics Reveal the …” Center for Immigration Studies. Accessed November 14, 2016. http://cis.org/sites/cis.org/files/Deportation-Numbers-Unwrapped.pdf.

[15] “Immigration.” Make America Great Again! Accessed November 14, 2016. https://www.donaldjtrump.com/policies/immigration/.

[16] “Immigration.” Make America Great Again! Accessed November 14, 2016. https://www.donaldjtrump.com/policies/immigration/.

[17] “How the United States Immigration System Works.” American Immigration Council. Accessed November 14, 2016. https://www.americanimmigrationcouncil.org/research/how-united-states-immigration-system-works.

Further Reading

Burns, Peter, and James G. Gimpel. “Economic Insecurity, Prejudicial Stereotypes, and Public Opinion on Immigration Policy.” Political Science Quarterly 115, no. 2 (2000): 201-25. doi:10.2307/2657900.

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