Things That Matter

The Trump Administration Has Made Dozens Of Chilling Changes To Immigration That Haven’t Made The Headlines

QZ has compiled a list of all the ways the Trump administration has quietly and secretly dismantled protections for immigrants. These efforts include revoking citizenship, alleged covert policies, and making it more difficult for poorer migrants and refugees to enter the U.S.

Trump’s anti-immigrant bigotry was always just anti-immigrant bigotry,” Catherine Rampell wrote in the Washington Post. “Trump’s rhetoric may focus on ‘llegals,’ but recent data releases suggest this administration has been blocking off every available avenue for legal immigration, too.”

Denaturalizing citizens.

In one of its most unusually cruel moves, the Trump administration has sought ways to undermine the citizenship of naturalized Americans. The ongoing project since 2017 has wielded little results despite being costly and using questionable methods.

“The Trump Administration has launched a denaturalization operation—a project to strip a large number of Americans of their citizenship. Denaturalization is a drastic measure that should only be taken in the most extreme circumstances. But the administration is dramatically expanding denaturalization, using questionable standards and proceedings,” the ACLU said in a statement.

The efforts required $200 million in funds to investigate naturalized citizens for irregularities. Fewer than 100 citizens were found to have such irregularities between 2017 and 2018.

“In its 2019 budget request, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) revealed its intention to review the files of 700,000 U.S. citizens, putting even more individuals into the denaturalization pipeline,” the ACLU wrote. “Despite the administration’s statements minimizing their denaturalization efforts, their own numbers indicate a dramatic shift from the last several decades—throwing away standards, due process, and fairness, and devaluing the sanctity of American citizenship.”

Credible Fear Interviews

“Credible Fear Interviews” are preliminary interviews to determine if an asylum seeker has a legitimate threat back home. Since July, something strange has happened with these interviews. Before the summer, “experts” who conducted the interviews found that 97 percent of asylum seekers were credible since then only 10 percent have been found credible.

“This administration is trying to end asylum in the United States,” Elora Mukherjee, an attorney who worked on the lawsuit, told the Guardian. “What we’re seeing in the credible fear process is one part of a systemic effort by this administration to end asylum.”

QZ found three factors contributed to this massive drop: the Migrant Protocols Protection requires asylum seekers to apply in any country they pass through to get to the United States, credible fear interviews are being conducted by Border Patrol officers instead of asylum specialists, and according to a September lawsuit the administration is not publishing these new policies.

“This seems to be based on secret policies and procedures that have not been made public by the administration,” said Mukherjee. 

Because the Trump administration is not transparent about their new regulations, if they have modified the credible fear policies in any way, according to the lawsuit, the Trump administration would have circumvented Congress illegally. 

Attorneys believe Donald Trump’s administration made secret changes to the credible fear process at the same time it announced it would force people to seek asylum outside the US before they can seek it at the southern border,” according to the Guardian

Social media tracking of migrants.

In 2018, the Department of Homeland Security implemented a policy that required migrants list their social media handles on forms. The intention is to monitor the applicant’s activity, any of which can be interpreted to deny the migrant legal entry to the U.S.

Even after a migrant becomes naturalized, the social media records are kept. According to QZ, “That detail is worrisome in light of the administration’s push to denaturalize citizens, which includes investigating old records in search of inconsistencies on applications the government could interpret as fraud.”

Denying Temporary Protected Status (TPS)

The Trump administration has attempted to revoke TPS from countries like the Sudan, Nicaragua, Nepal, Honduras, Haiti, and El Salvador and has only been thwarted by various court rulings. Most notably, this September TPS was not granted to the Bahamian victims of hurricane Dorian.

The public charge rule.

The new October rule was designated to hurt the poorest migrants the most. If a migrant will require financial assistance or public services from the government for 12 months out of 36, they can be denied legal entry. The system is particularly cruel, if two different benefits are used in the same month that counts as two months of benefits rather than one. This means migrants would have to prove they won’t use Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps or housing support.

Domestic violence no longer qualifies for asylum.

Despite international asylum law, migrants fleeing domestic violence, largely women and LGBTQ people, no longer qualify as refugees. Attorney general Jeff Sessions claimed it wasn’t the United States’ job to provide refuge for those whose countries didn’t protect them — a so-called point that literally contradicts the entire purpose of a refugee program in the first place.

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