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As Trump Administration Nears First Anniversary on Jan. 20, MPI Issues Reports Examining Actions on Immigration & Diverging State, Local Responses
Press Release
Thursday, January 18, 2018

As Trump Administration Nears First Anniversary on Jan. 20, MPI Issues Reports Examining Actions on Immigration & Diverging State, Local Responses

WASHINGTON – With President Trump reaching his one-year anniversary in office on January 20, the Migration Policy Institute (MPI) in a pair of new reports analyzes the changes his administration has made across the U.S. immigration system, as well as the diverging policy responses by state and local governments in areas including law enforcement, education and health and social services.

In Trump’s First Year on Immigration Policy: Rhetoric vs. Reality, MPI President Andrew Selee and colleagues assess the administration’s first-year actions, ranging from implementation of a travel ban to broadened immigration enforcement in the U.S. interior, sharp cuts to refugee resettlement and elimination of temporary protections covering more than 1 million unauthorized immigrants.

Selee and co-authors Sarah Pierce and Jessica Bolter compare the administration’s actions against a 10-point blueprint that candidate Donald Trump outlined during an uncommonly detailed address in Phoenix in August 2016, finding that the president’s approach in office has been “surprisingly consistent” with that campaign speech.

“The approach to immigration pursued by President Trump is unprecedented in recent U.S. history. He has sought to frame immigration primarily as a problem for the country—for U.S. workers and the safety of society as a whole—and to reduce the overall number of immigrants coming into the country,” the report finds. “There are signs that the government has slowed the processing of immigration applications, that the number of people trying to cross the border illegally has dropped, that international student enrollment has decreased and even that tourism is lagging as fewer people apply for tourist visas. It is also clear that enforcement is increasing, with the number of detentions of unauthorized immigrants inside the country rising, though these detentions still remain below the levels seen under the Bush and Obama administrations—at least for now.”

Still, the authors note, the deep structural changes in the U.S. immigration system sought by the candidate, in particular significant reductions to legal immigration, may prove harder to achieve amid a lack of appetite to do so in Congress and among the general public. And some of the Arizona campaign speech’s pledges, including construction of a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border and significant increases in immigration enforcement manpower, remain unrealized given differences in Congress and in some cases objections by the courts.

The second report issued today, In the Age of Trump: Populist Backlash and Progressive Resistance Create Divergent State Immigrant Integration Contexts, examines how policymakers beyond Washington are responding in a rapidly changing environment.

In the report for MPI's Transatlantic Council on Migration, Margie McHugh, director of the institute's National Center on Immigrant Integration Policy, sketches the differing reactions to the president’s agenda and actions. “Mirroring the fractious debates of the campaign season, the president’s actions have been met with resounding support in some quarters and vehement opposition in others,” she writes. “Yet, beyond the daily national diet of anger and bitter recrimination focused on immigration policy approaches past and future, every day tens of millions of immigrants and their children continue to build their lives, and the very future of the United States, in communities across the country. Their success in joining the mainstream of the country’s economic and civic life is arguably the most consequential—and most often overlooked—question in national immigration policy debates.”

Hotly contested debates are unfolding in the states regarding the rollback of Obama-era expansions in health insurance, potential imposition of new penalties for immigrants who use social services, impacts of cuts to local refugee resettlement programs and other debates around key integration initiatives, McHugh notes.

The report examines the diverging contexts in the states with regards to local law enforcement interactions with federal immigration officials; health and social services; and K-12, adult and post-secondary education that are critical to the integration of immigrant and refugee families. California, for example in 2017, enacted a law barring its law enforcement agencies from assisting in a range of deportation-related efforts, while Texas moved in the opposite direction to mandate such assistance and make criminally liable local officials who do not cooperate.

Read Trump’s First Year on Immigration Policy: Rhetoric vs. Reality at: www.migrationpolicy.org/research/trump-first-year-immigration-policy-rhetoric-vs-reality.

Read the divergent state contexts report at: www.migrationpolicy.org/research/age-trump-populist-backlash-and-progressive-resistance-create-divergent-state-immigrant.

For more on MPI’s work examining the executive orders and other actions taken by the Trump administration, visit: https://www.migrationpolicy.org/programs/us-immigration-policy-program/data-and-analysis-related-trump-administration-executive.

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The Migration Policy Institute (MPI) is an independent, non-partisan, non-profit think tank in Washington, DC dedicated to analysis of the movement of people worldwide. MPI provides analysis, development and evaluation of migration and refugee policies at local, national and international levels.