Since the Trump administration took power in 2017, the transformation of immigration law has been dramatic and shocking. The current pandemic has only accelerated the radical, if not disfiguring, alterations when it comes to asylum, relief in deportation proceedings, and family- and employment-based permanent immigration

Change is not limited to policy as the treatment of students, exchange scholars, multinational executives, high-skilled workers, and other non-immigrants has changed, and not for the better.

Restricting Immigration On Day One

The planning preceded the incoming presidential administration taking power in January, starting with meetings at Trump Tower. On the agenda was a strategy to transform immigration law. That strategy became a highly restrictive immigration policy by narrowing the point system to reduce immigrants entering the country significantly.

Presidential proclamations and executive orders early in Trump’s first term, usually set for 60 or 90 days, continue in perpetuity. Radical restrictions not legislatively approved have effectively halted the process and created massive backlogs. Enforcement agencies now have the power to grant residency and citizenship, yet with scan immigration benefits.

Walls That Are Anything But Welcoming

President Trump often speaks of the wall he continues to build. However, the one not seen serves as an insurmountable hurdle constructed to shut down lawful immigration. The “bricks” on the virtual barricade include investigations, interrogations, and benefits denials. The only time that the blockade is lifted is to deport people in massive numbers. Presently, one million are awaiting removal proceedings.

The influx of immigrants is impaired by investigations instead of examinations. The lack of benefit adjudications has left approximately 750,000 each of citizenship applications and employment authorizations awaiting final decisions. In addition, restricted standards applied to asylum law leaves it unrecognizable as those pending adjudications are piling up in the hundreds of thousands. Refugee admissions plummeted to 18,000 and could go significantly lower.

A Solution Based On American Values

The solution must come from a broader vision, hearkening back to our heritage and values and embracing immigration as a positive for the country. Demonizing and denigrating immigrants undermines the longtime tradition of welcoming them into our country and benefitting from their countless contributions.

The United States is a world leader that should re-embrace its history. The country and its presidential administration should set an example of welcoming those fleeing oppression and hardship and serving as an emblem of freedom and dignity. A simple solution exists for all the complexities created over the past few years.

It can be found on the Statue of Liberty.

“Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.”