Trump is Making Inroads in Reducing Legal Immigration

As the national immigration debate swirls around the effort to discourage illegal immigration by separating families at the border, the Trump administration is making inroads into another longtime priority: reducing legal immigration.

The number of people receiving visas to move permanently to the United States is on pace to drop 12 percent in President Donald Trump’s first two years in office, according to a Washington Post analysis of State Department data.

Among the most affected are the Muslim-majority countries on the president’s travel ban list — Yemen, Syria, Iran, Libya and Somalia — where the number of new arrivals to the United States is heading toward an 81 percent drop by Sept. 30, the end of the second fiscal year under Trump.

Last week, the Supreme Court upheld that ban, paving the way for an even more dramatic decline in arrivals from those countries.

Legal immigration from all Muslim-majority countries is on track to fall by nearly one-third.

The Trump administration has argued that its immigration policies are driven by national security concerns and an effort to preserve jobs for Americans.

“The history of immigration policy in the United States is one of ebbs and flows,” said a White House official. “Yet in recent years, the U.S. has [had] record immigration without any consideration of this influx’s impact on American workers or wages.”

Some public officials and immigration experts have raised concerns that the administration’s approach targets certain nationalities, discriminating against those from poorer and nonwhite countries.

The Post’s analysis also found immigration declines among nationalities not targeted by Trump’s travel ban, including nearly all of the countries that typically receive the largest number of immigrant visas from the United States. The number of immigrant visas granted to people from Mexico, the Dominican Republic, the Philippines, China, India, Vietnam, Haiti, Bangladesh, Jamaica, Pakistan and Afghanistan has also declined. Among the 10 countries that send the highest number of immigrants to the United States annually, only El Salvador is projected to receive more visas under Trump: an increase of 17 percent in his first two fiscal years.

The number of immigrant visas approved for Africans is on pace to fall 15 percent.

By Abigail Hauslohner and Andrew Ba Tran for CHICAGO TRIBUNE
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