Pilar Marrero. Ethnic Media Services. Peninsula 360 Press [P360P].
A second term for the Trump Administration will likely result in further erosion of the legal immigration system and key protections granted by the 14th Amendment, including birthright citizenship, immigrant rights experts warn.
The 14th Amendment - ratified in 1868 - granted citizenship to all persons born or naturalized in the United States, including former slaves, and guaranteed to all its citizens "equal protection of the laws."
"I think the efforts - by the Trump administration - to have the 2020 Census not count undocumented people are the first steps in arguing that the 14th Amendment doesn't apply to the immigrant community," Ali Noorani, president and CEO of the National Immigration Forum said during a briefing with ethnic media. "If we see a second term, we should expect a steady stream of executive orders or even litigation to undermine those rights."
The first term's numbers and studies on immigration policy was extremely damaging to the legal immigration system, as well as to work, student and even visitor visas, said Alex Nowrasteh, Immigration Policy Analyst at the Cato Institute's Center for Global Freedom and Prosperity.
The Administration has disbanded the asylum system and all categories of work visas, and reduced by 92% the issuance of green cards to people seeking to immigrate to the United States, Nowrasteh said.
"The rate of decline in migrant visas is the largest we have ever seen in the history of the United States. Greater than we saw after the borders with Europe were first closed in the 1920s and greater than the cutback during the Great Depression and the two world wars," Nowrastreh added.
The Administration has reduced refugee admissions to the United States by 85% since 2016, despite the record number of refugees in need of resettlement. "The justification for reducing asylum was national security, that refugees from Syria or other countries posed a serious terrorist threat. And yet the data does not bear this out."
The analyst noted that among the people who died on U.S. soil in a terrorist act between 1975 and 2017, only three were killed by refugees. "And all of them were in the late 1970s," he noted.
Critics have said the U.S. has abandoned its former role as a haven for the persecuted after Trump.
"The government has virtually shut down the asylum system and has put in place numerous restrictions," Nowrasteh said. "The most incredible part of the situation is waiting in Mexico for their court dates and that has resulted in refugee camps on the Mexican side of the border, a huge farce intended to raise the economic pressure on the individual and make it more difficult to obtain asylum."
Continuing a trend that began before the pandemic, in response to COVID-19, the U.S. government has suspended all work visas with the exception of H2B: the seasonal agricultural worker program.
"This is hugely destructive to the U.S. economy," Nowrasteh said.
Trump was able to impose restrictions on foreign entry, but not on deporting large numbers of people, especially compared to the Obama administration. "They tried, but many large cities and governors did not cooperate with the federal government and became sanctuary cities."
Advocates for DACA recipients and other immigrants without permanent status say their situation will be even more precarious during a second Trump term.
Juan Escalante, a DACA recipient and longtime immigration advocate, said he doesn't expect changes in favor in a possible second Trump administration; like using DACA as a bargaining chip to get more restrictive legislation from Congress.
During a recent meeting with voters, Trump responded to a question about DACA by saying he would do something "he would like very much" on the issue. But Escalante has his doubts.
Noorani said that, if Biden wins, he expects to see a willingness to extend DACA and TPS, a temporary status that currently protects more than 400,000 people, mostly people from El Salvador, Haiti and Honduras, but also Nepal, Nicaragua, Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan, Syria and Yemen. The Trump administration has moved to end the program, and most will begin losing their status early next year.
"I also expect a push for legalization, particularly to ensure that the essential immigrant workforce enjoys full legal status," he said.
Noorani advised that advocates need to broaden the pro-immigrant coalition by talking to conservatives and not-so-conservatives, including religious groups, so that "the demand for immigration reform comes not only from immigrants but from many segments of society who are in favor of it.
Nowrasteh said the best path to reform for Biden would be congressional action. "Lasting reform must be passed by Congress to create a much better immigration system, and also restrict the president's power to reduce immigration eligibility in the future."
Escalante believes advocates must be "pragmatic." "We can't repeat the mistakes of the past when we tried to pass one thing and then ended up with nothing," he said.