Politics & Policy

Trump Administration Works to Limit Immigration in Final Days

Then-President Donald Trump arrives for a presentation in the Rose Garden at the White House in Washington,D.C., November 24, 2020. (Hannah McKay/Reuters)

The Trump administration in its final days is pushing to institute a new slew of immigration restrictions and policy changes, including making it easier to deny visas to immigrants and lengthening the citizenship test.

The administration’s final push on immigration is being led by senior aide Stephen Miller, who has helped shape Trump’s immigration policies for four years, according to Politico.

While some of the administration’s recent changes have been the product of months-long planning, others have been newly pursued since Election Day. Though President-elect Joe Biden, who has pledged to undo Trump’s immigration policies, will take office in just 51 days, Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf recently named two new members to an advisory council to help him create policy — Tom Jenkins, the fire chief in Rogers, Ark., and Catherine Lotrionte, a senior researcher at Georgetown University.

The administration announced on November 13 that beginning next month, the citizenship test would feature more questions about American history and politics and would increase from 100 to 128 questions.

Days later the administration said it would allow federal officials to have more discretion in approving immigration applications, including by providing officers with a longer list of positive and negative factors, such as the strength of family ties, history of employment and community standing, they can use to accept or reject applicants. 

The administration also published a proposed rule that aims to limit work permits for immigrants awaiting deportation but not in custody. USCIS Deputy Director for Policy Joseph Edlow said authorizing work permits to those immigrants “undermines the rule of law and weakens DHS enforcement and removal operations.”

The administration is also working to institute further restrictions on the H-1B high-skilled worker visa program, including reducing the types of jobs foreign workers can apply for and requiring employers to pay foreign workers more. Officials have said U.S. employers abuse the visa program to replace American workers with cheaper foreign labor and has signaled it wants to do away with the current random lottery selection process for the visas and move toward prioritizing visa slots for employers that provide the highest-paid roles.

According to Politico, some of the president’s aides also encouraged him to sign an executive order attempting to end birthright citizenship for the children of immigrants, which is a constitutional right. However, a person familiar with the discussions said that proposal was recently dismissed.

“Since taking office, President Trump has never shied away from using his lawful executive authority to advance bold policies and fulfill the promises he made to the American people,” White House spokesman Judd Deere told Politico. 

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