Trump sent the White House’s “Immigration Wish-list” to Congress last week, a laundry list of immigration reform policies he is asking for. As most of these policies will be met with opposition from Democrats, the Department of Homeland Security has also started looking for ways in which to tighten immigration— even some of the issues on the wish-list— without Congress, through the use of unilateral executive action. The small changes in policy that DHS could possibly make, have enormous consequences to the state of immigration policy. As of now, no changes have been made, and DHS is still in the development stage. Some of the issues in which they are examining are:
Limiting Protection for Unaccompanied Minors:
Unaccompanied children (UACs) are minors that have entered the U.S. illegally on their own, with no family in the U.S. Once they enter the states the Department of Health and Human Services and granted special protection. DHS wants to change the way in which UACs are defined, by denying UAC status to children reunited with their families and/or once they turn eighteen.
Trump passed an executive order in January, enabling the speedy deportation of undocumented immigrants. DHS is looking for a way to expand on this policy.
Scaling Back Legal Immigration:
DHS is looking at three groups of visa applicants: work authorizations for spouses of highly-skilled visa holders and expansion of a STEM student program and those seeking asylum. Immigration lawyers fear that just this slowing of the visa process will decrease the amount of people granted visas.
Our Verdict: While all of these policies are just in development phase, the enormous effect that these modifications could have are pressing and could change the very nature of the American immigration system. These under-the-table explorations, though legal, are cause for alarm.