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After Hinting at "Compromise" on Immigration, Trump Promises More Restriction and Repression in the Name of "Reform". Roger Algase

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In a move that recalls his announced "softer" line on immigration which suddenly vanished before his hard line address on August 31, 2016, which not only called for more deportations but for major reductions in legal immigration, Trump reportedly hinted to a group of reporters on February 28 that he might be open to a bill granting relief from deportation to some unauthorized immigrants if both sides were willing to compromise.

Shortly afterward, that same evening, Trump gave a speech to Congress in which he repeated every element of his anti-immigrant agenda, in a performance which could only have made his white nationalist supporters even happier than before. For the full text of the speech, see:

Here are the main points of Trump's speech regarding immigration, with a few of my own annotations:

1) More immigration enforcement instead of "lawless chaos" (presumably under the previous president, who deported more immigrants than any other president in US history, and who might well be called "John the Baptist" for Trump's own mass deportation agenda).

2) The "Great Wall" along the Mexican border (nothing, this time, about humiliating Mexico and the Mexican people by making Mexico "pay for the Wall").

3) "Bad Ones" (English for "Bad Hombres", one can assume) are "going out". (No mention of Trump's recent raids, roundups, orders and memos providing for deportation of all 11 million unauthorized immigrants, regardless of whether they have any criminal records or not. No mention either of the fear and anxiety that this has caused in immigrant communities throughout the United States.)

4) Improved "vetting" procedures to keep out terrorists. No one can argue with that in principle, but how many immigrants will be able to pass the super-strict ideological tests for admission to the US, many of which have nothing to do with weeding out terrorist sympathies or connections. which Trump contemplates in Section 4 of his January 27 Muslim ban order - a part of the order which has not been put on hold by the feferal courts? Trump also said nothing about his disastrous, failed attempt to keep out nearly 200 million immigrants from countries that just happen to be 99 per cent Muslim, with all the Constitutional issues it raised, as well as refugees from all over the world, in violation of America's deepest values and the most elementary principles of international law and basic humanity.

5) "Reforming" legal immigration by "switching away" from "lower-skilled" to "merit-based" immigration in order to be "raise workers' wages" and "be guided by the well being of American citizens".

Again, this may sound good in principle, especially in Trump's reference to following the lead of countries such as Canada, which has shown a much more welcoming attitude toward legal immigrants - including 40,000 extensively screened Syrian refugees (!) than the US. But in practice, and based on Trump's campaign proposals and those of his close immigration advisers and other Republican leaders, "merit based" immigration is just a euphemism for cutting down on family immigration.

Reducing family immigration, much of which is from Latin America, Asia, Africa and the Middle East, is another linchpin in the white nationalist agenda of returning America's racial "balance" closer to what it was before the 1965 reform law which Trump and close advisers such as Jeff Sessions and Stephen Bannon have had such harsh words for prior to Trump's election.

6) Setting up a new DHS office of Victims of Immigration Crime Engagement. This, and the emphasis that Trump placed in his speech on American victims of violent crimes committed by unauthorized immigrants, were merely the latest in Trump's many demagogic attempts to smear all immigrants as potential violent criminals and terrorists, and to stir up the passions and prejudices of Americans against immigrants in general.

In summary, Trump's speech to Congress had a lot to like for those who would like to see America turn back toward the 1920's era policies of accepting immigrants from Europe only (and only certain favored parts of Europe), and not very much to like for America's immigrant communities and all Americans who are hoping to see this country continue on the path of diversity, welcome and equality for immigrants of all ethnic backgrounds, religions and national origins - the path that has made America truly great.
Roger Algase is a New York immigration lawyer and a graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School. For more than 35 years, Roger has been helping mainly skilled and professional immigrants obtain work visas and green cards.

Roger's practice is focused in work visas through specialty occupations (H-1B) and extraordinary ability (O-1), as well as J-1 training visas. He also concentrates in green cards through labor certification and through opposite sex or same sex marriage. Roger's email address is

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Updated 03-12-2017 at 03:41 PM by ImmigrationLawBlogs

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  1. ImmigrationLawBlogs's Avatar
    Good work, Roger. Keep demonizing and insulting the man. But I have forgotten. What is it that you expect to get from that strategy?

    Nolan Rappaport

  2. ImmigrationLawBlogs's Avatar
    Nolan, if you call repeating Trump's own words and proposals an insult, which is all I am doing, you are quite right. Trump's speech continued the demonization and insulting of Muslim, Latino and other non-white immigrants as criminals, terrorists and threats to American workers which have been the hallmark of his campaign and presidency right from the start.

    Can you find a single word in Trump's latest speech that had anything positive to say about legal immigration? True, he did support "merit-based" immigration (which we all know is a buzz-word for eliminating family immigration), but how does that square with his call, in the same speech, to "hire American" as the foundation of his policy?

    This is a man who wants to close America's borders (well, maybe not entirely to Russian and Slovenian immigrants), and to engage in mass deportation on a scale that would make Barack Obama, with his 2 million deportations, look like John the Baptist by comparison (no offense meant to those who to whom the New Testament as sacred.)

    Roger Algase
    Attorney at Law
    Updated 03-02-2017 at 06:02 AM by ImmigrationLawBlogs
  3. ImmigrationLawBlogs's Avatar
    Having said the above, if Trump were actually to propose a genuine immigration reform bill, with real protection from deportation (I am not saying citizenship) for productive, non-criminal, immigrants, and that does not completely destroy our current legal immigration system, i would be the first to support him, Any Democrats who refuse to work with him on a genuine, good faith proposal that js not just closed borders or mass deportation by another name, just because they don't like things he has done and said in the past, would be foolish in the extreme.

    Trump has made occasional feints at supporting such a bill, most recently at a press conference just before his February 28 speech to Congress.

    If he is sincere about supporting such a reform bill, as opposed to just throwing out words about it, then let him produce one - or better yet, start issuing some executive orders that show some acceptance and support for immigration, in the real tradition of America, not the white supremacist one supported by Stephen Bannon, Stephen Miller, Jeff Sessions and some of his other top advisors and white nationalist followers.

    Roger Algase
    Attorney at Law
    Updated 03-02-2017 at 06:26 AM by ImmigrationLawBlogs
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