Future of immigration policy uncertain
Following his late August meeting with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump delivered a speech to a crowd of supporters in Phoenix, Arizona, Aug. 31.
The main focus? His plan to detain and deport undocumented immigrants and drastically reform the immigration policies of the United States.
Trump spoke against amnesty for undocumented immigrants, a policy promoted by President Barack Obama and Democratic Party nominee Hillary Clinton.
“On day one, we will begin working on an impenetrable physical wall on the southern border,” said Trump in his speech.
One thing is clear: Trump is not budging from the immigration platform he promised at the beginning of his campaign.
According to his official campaign website, Trump’s proposed immigration policy is to build a 2,000-mile-long wall across the U.S.-Mexican border, detain undocumented immigrants crossing the border and end birthright citizenship. If implemented, Trump’s policy could mean the end of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals and Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents programs.
The DACA and DAPA programs offer temporary permission for undocumented immigrants to remain the U.S. under certain conditions.
“It would be feasible for him to end these programs,” said Sarah Pierce, an associate policy analyst at the Migration Policy Institute, to The Guilfordian in a phone interview.
Since these reforms were created by executive action under Obama, Trump could easily issue his own executive action to reverse them. Clinton, unlike Trump, favors the DACA and DAPA programs and plans on expanding them as well as encouraging naturalization and the integration of immigrant families into the U.S.
Clinton’s immigration policies focus on stimulating immigration, rather than stemming its flow.
“There are much more liberal positions that she could’ve taken but she didn’t,” said Kyle Dell, associate professor of Political Science.
He characterized Clinton as fairly middle of the road on immigration.
During the 2016 election season, the issue of immigration has been one of the most contentious. However, according to Dell, the debate over immigration has carried a similar weight in past elections, citing the Democratic primary of 2008 between Obama and Clinton as an example of a heated debate on the topic.
Dell does, however, acknowledge two key reasons that immigration reform appears to be getting more attention in this year’s election.
“(The Great Recession) created an association between a struggling economy and regressive views on immigration,” said Dell.
He also attributes the use of 24/7 media outlets by Trump and his ability to create controversy to the constant broadcast of his viewpoint.
Trump’s aptitude with the media has yielded immense support from the far right, especially those who feel disenchanted with the current political system.
According to Pierce, the deportation programs and wall between Mexico and America proposed by Trump would be economically devastating.
According to the Washington Post, Trump’s wall would cost approximately $25 billion. Comparatively, the Secure Fence Act of 2006, which fenced only a third of the Mexican-American border, cost $2.4 billion dollars.
The programs that Clinton supports have their drawbacks as well. According to Jose Oliva, a senior and member of Hispanos Unidos de Guilford, the DACA program only focuses on stopping deportation but does not address college tuition issues for DACA students, rendering it difficult for them to attend college.
The DAPA program has not yet been initiated due to federal lawsuit. A 4-4 vote in the Supreme Court, following the death of Associate Justice Antonin Scalia, complicates things.
It is unclear how effective the program itself would be.
“In the end I do not know if Clinton would have the skills necessary to make things different,” said Dell. “We’ve been unable to do that for really the last 30 years.”
Similar sentiments were echoed around campus.
“I do think Hillary will win the election but I think that Congress will do everything in its power to make sure her legislation is never passed,” said senior Kelsey Lindeman.
There is doubt about how effective any immigration will be.
“I think we will definitely see change,” said junior Jessica Kellam. “But I don’t think it will be nearly as comprehensive as either (candidate) says.”