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Albany Legal Blog

Election 2020: And Trump’s “Future” Immigration Policy

On Behalf of | Nov 14, 2020 | Immigration

I went to bed around 9:30 p.m. on election night.  I just knew that the results would not be final that evening, and watching the news through the night was going to do nothing but stress me out (and it was).  I was also having this strange sensation of “deja vous all over again” from election night four years earlier.

When I started writing this article, Vice President Biden had taken a small but meaningful lead in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania which, if it held, would bring him over the 270 electoral votes that he needed to become President-elect of the United States.  The wind was at his back.

The wind kept up and yesterday morning (again, as I write this), the major news organizations called the race, and Joseph R. Biden will become the 46th President of the United States.  It’s been a long four years (for me anyway, and for many of the clients we represent).

About a week before the election, NBC News and other news outlets were reporting that the Trump Administration, through its immigration minion-in-chief, Stephen Miller, was setting out an aggressive and hardline immigration agenda for the President’s second term.  I couldn’t bear to read it, but of course I had to and did.  Mr. Miller’s proposed second term agenda included the following:

(a) the Administration would expand its policies that now require asylum seekers in the United States to first seek protection from other countries, which currently includes Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras, to now include the rest of the world.

(b) the Administration would aggressively crack down on sanctuary cities by punishing those cities that prevent law enforcement from turning undocumented immigrants over to Immigration & Customs Enforcement (“ICE”).

(c) the Administration would expand what is commonly known as the “Muslim travel ban” by taking an applicant’s “ideological sympathies or leanings” into account during the visa interview process.

(d) the Administration would seek to “curtail” H-1B nonimmigrant specialty occupation visas, get rid of the current lottery process during the initial allocation process and replace it with a system that prioritize visas for those being offered the highest wages.

Please, enough already.  This morning the American Immigration Council reported that there have been over 900 changes to the U.S. immigration system over the past 4 years.  900!!!  Imagine trying to keep up on your practice area or trade when there’s that much change on an almost day-to-day basis.

As I’ve noted before, it amazes me that Mr. Miller, himself a descendent of immigrants, advocates for such restrictionist positions.  According to published accounts, Mr. Miller’s family arrived through Ellis Island from what is now Belarus.  His relatives fled anti-Jewish pogroms and forced childhood conscription in the Czar’s army at the beginning of the 20th century.  According to news reports, the first decedent of Mr. Miller arrived in the United States knowing no English and with $8.00 in his pocket.  He peddled street corners and worked in sweatshops.  And by all news accounts, he worked hard and became very successful.  It’s a great American success story.

And yet Mr. Miller became the poster-child for President Trump’s anti-immigrant policy.  It just makes no sense (to me anyway).  Well, I hope the door doesn’t hit him in the ____ on his way out of the White House.  His days are over.

Not to overdramatize this, I do have a short-term concern about what the President will do between now and inauguration day (not on the legal front in terms of contesting the election, but more so on the executive order policy front and what further damage he and Mr. Miller can do to U.S. immigration policy).

Many of the 900 changes that President Trump has implemented over the past four years have been through the stroke of his pen (i.e., executive action, etc.) as opposed to actual legislation (given the fact that the House of Representatives is controlled by the Democrats).  Assuming the wind at Vice President Biden’s back continues to blow, I presume (or at least I am hopeful) that it will be easier for him to unwind all of the terrible wrongs that President Trump has performed over the last four years.

Just this morning, the New York Times reported that President-elect Biden, on Day 1, would begin a “yearslong effort to unwind President Trump’s domestic agenda and immediately signal a wholesale shift in the United States’ place in the world.”  I am tired of this election season.  I am also tired of what I’ve watched and listened to from the White House over the last four years.  Our country is deeply divided, and President-elect Biden will now, and for the foreseeable future, have to govern in President Trump’s America.  I look forward to Day 1.