E.g., 08/11/2020
E.g., 08/11/2020

Dismantling and Reconstructing the U.S. Immigration System: A Catalog of Changes under the Trump Presidency

Through bold, sweeping changes as well as less-noted technical adjustments, the Trump administration has dramatically reshaped the U.S. immigration system since entering office in January 2017. Now well into its fourth year, the administration has undertaken more than 400 executive actions on immigration, spanning everything from border and interior enforcement, to refugee resettlement and the asylum system, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), the immigration courts, and vetting and visa processes. This reports offers a comprehensive catalog, by topic, of those actions, including their dates and the underlying source materials.

The arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020 gave the administration new openings to push forward many of its remaining immigration policy aims. This period has seen bans on travel and a pause on visa issuance for certain groups of foreign nationals and a further closing off of the U.S.-Mexico border that has effectively ended asylum there.

Much of the White House's immigration agenda has been realized in the form of interlocking measures, with regulatory, policy, and programmatic changes driving towards shared policy goals. Though these largely administrative actions could, in theory, be undone by a future administration, this layered approach, coupled with the rapid-fire pace of change, makes it likely that the Trump presidency will have long-lasting effects on the U.S. immigration system.

Table of Contents 

1  Introduction
A. What Has Changed?
B. Driving Reform through Layered Changes
C. Pushback and the Search for Alternatives
D. Cataloging a Period of Intense Change

2  Pandemic Response
A. Travel Bans and Visa Processing
B. Border Security and Asylum Processing at the U.S.-Mexico Border
C. Interior Enforcement
D. The Immigration Court System
E. Immigration Benefits

3  Immigration Enforcement
A. Border Security
B. Interior Enforcement

4  U.S. Department of Justice
A. Instructions to Immigration Judges
B. Attorney General Referral and Review

5  Humanitarian Flows
A. Refugees
B. Asylum Seekers
C. Unaccompanied Children
D. Temporary Protected Status Recipients
E. Victims of Trafficking and Other Crimes

6  U.S. Department of State

7  U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and U.S. Department of Labor
A. Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals
B. Immigrant Visas
C. Nonimmigrant Visas
D. Parole

8  Other Actions

9  Conclusion