E.g., 10/03/2023
E.g., 10/03/2023
Trump’s First Year on Immigration Policy: Rhetoric vs. Reality

In an August 2016 campaign speech in Arizona, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump laid out in ten detailed points the immigration policy he intended to pursue if elected. While it is unreasonable to hold any President strictly accountable for every promise made on the campaign trail, especially after only one year in office, Trump’s Arizona speech has proven a remarkably clear roadmap for understanding his priorities since entering the White House.

This report revisits this ten-point plan, assessing how far the administration has come on each goal since inauguration and considering where its focus may lie in the coming years.

To date, the Trump administration has made significant headway on increasing and broadening immigration enforcement priorities and on cutting temporary protections for noncitizens established by prior administrations—from the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program to Temporary Protected Status (TPS) designations for certain nationalities. It has also significantly scaled back the U.S. refugee resettlement program.

Some of the most memorable promises made during the campaign, however, remain unrealized. From building a wall along the entirety of the U.S.-Mexico border to tackling reform of the U.S. immigration system to reduce admissions, many of the administration’s more ambitious goals have seen less movement, often as a result of divisions within Congress or objections from the courts. A range of state and local governments have also challenged some of the administration’s enforcement measures, sparking legal battles over jurisdiction.

Looking ahead, it is unlikely that the President will be able to implement all ten points enumerated in the Arizona speech exactly as proposed; yet there is no question that his administration has radically changed the conversation on legal and illegal immigration alike.

Table of Contents 

I. Introduction

II. Build the Border Wall

III. End Catch-and-Release

IV. Enhance the Pursuit of Unauthorized Immigrants Who Have Committed Crimes

A. Increase ICE Detainers
B. Restore Secure Communities
C. Expand 287(g) Partnerships
D. Increase Mandatory Minimum Sentences for Illegal Reentry
E. Reform the Laws on Interior Enforcement
F. Hire More ICE and Border Patrol Agents
G. Create a Deportation Task Force
H. Increase Border Agents and Stations

V. Crack Down on Sanctuary Cities

VI. End Obama-Era Programs to Protect Unauthorized Immigrants

A. Terminate DACA and DAPA
B. End TPS Designations and Obama-Era Executive Actions
C. Expand Enforcement Priorities

VII. Introduce a Travel Ban and Extreme Vetting

A. Suspend Entry for Certain Nationalities and Curb Refugee Resettlement
B. Encourage Countries to Assist in Vetting
C. Introduce Ideological Screening

VIII. Ensure Countries Accept their Deported Nationals

IX. Complete the Biometric Entry-Exit System

X. “Turn off the Jobs and Benefits Magnet”

A. Strengthen and Expand E-Verify
B. Pursue Abuse of Public Benefits

XI. Reform the Legal Immigration System

XII. Conclusion