Trump and Immigration: Will I Be Deported?
President-elect Trump, soon to be President Trump, will be inaugurated on January 20. Since Donald Trump's election, our office has been inundated with calls regarding the "new changes" that Trump threatened on the campaign trail; clients have been brought to tears by his election and are afraid. But should they be?
As with every presidential election, immigration remains a hot topic. Many believed Obama would bring landmark pro-immigrant changes during his tenure as president. Instead, he deported more immigrants than any other US President, a total of 2.5 million immigrants. Since President Reagan, Democrats and Republicans sound like they have different approaches to immigration--but do they really? Looking back almost forty years, whether Democrat or Republican, the solution has always been forgive-and-get-tough, namely implement harsher immigration legislation in exchange for amnesty. Although by now we should know that amnesty in exchange for tougher immigration laws always reaches a deadend, they have been an excellent mechanism for a path to citizenship. We should be cautious, however, to not immediately jump at an amnesty proposal if that proposal means long term immigration policies that hurt the immigrant community, but more importantly, hurt the United States at large.
Some say that any immigration victory claimed by Republicans or Democrats endears that party to immigrant groups forever, because neither the Republicans or the Democrats want to see the other party as the "champion for immigrants." The country is paralyzed by two feuding parties fighting over credit (read, votes) regarding progressive immigration policies. The truth is, whether Democrat or Republican, both parties need votes from the growing Latino community and each wants to be appreciated by this fast-growing demographic.
It should be clear then, and history has shown us, that immigration is not an issue to be seen through the eyes of political parties who desire short term votes. Both have helped and damaged immigrant communities. There are no good guys nor bad guys when it comes to immigration policy. The Obama example, above, highlights that the issue is much more complex than a binary red-blue analysis. Remember, it was Reagan, a Republican and conservative, who granted amnesty to 3 million undocumented immigrants.
Immigration "reforms", both harmful and helpful to immigrants, also came into effect during G.W Bush's presidency, Clinton's presidency, and H.W Bush's presidency. In short, Democrats and Republicans have both benefited and harmed the immigrant community, and surprisingly, some of the harshest immigration legislation were enacted during Democratic presidencies. The most striking example being Bill Clinton's Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996. Some would argue that Bill Clinton's rhetoric in this 1995 State of the Union Address, as shown on Youtube, does not sound too different than Trump's current immigration plan.
What does this all means? Trump is talking about walls (later referred to as a fence, but fyi, Bush started this wall) and mass deportations. This is nothing new, the immigrant population has always been threatened under all political parties. In short, no one should panic, January 20 and the near future look no different than today. Our immigration laws have, every few decades, changed in ways that helped and harmed immigrants. I do not expect any difference with Trump -- do not be afraid, this is nothing new. And perhaps, on an optimistic note, maybe Trump, like conservative Reagan, will surprise us all.
Yekrangi & Associates is based in Irvine, California and serves the Southern California region. "We are at the forefront of complex, ever-changing United States immigration laws, bringing you results, rather than promises."