United States: Trump Administration Sets Forth Its Immigration Principles and Policies

• In a policy paper to Congress, the Trump Administration indicated that legislative relief for DACA recipients must include measures to increase enforcement, reduce family-based immigration and establish a merit-based immigration system. • The President's employment-based immigration priorities include the mandatory use of E-Verify by all employers and the adoption of a points-based permanent residence system.

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Oct 10, 2017

The situation
The Trump Administration has sent its long-awaited "Immigration Principles & Policies" paper to Congress, setting forth for its plan for overhauling the country's immigration system. 

Though the Administration's proposed reforms have been under discussion for some time, a letter from President Trump to Congress makes clear that the reforms are the Administration's pre-conditions to legislative relief for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients. The 70-item list of demands focuses on several critical areas - border enforcement, interior enforcement, family-based immigration and merit-based immigration. 

Priorities affecting employers and foreign workers In the employment-based immigration space, the administration is calling for:

  • Adopting the RAISE Act , which calls for a broad array of changes including reductions in family-based immigration and the replacement of the current permanent residence system with a points-based system; 
  • Requiring all employers to use E-Verify and increasing penalties for failure to comply with E-Verify, including debarment of noncompliant federal contractors;  
  • Broadening antidiscrimination laws to penalize employers who displace U.S. workers with nonimmigrants; 
  • Preempting state and local laws relating to the employment of unauthorized individuals;
  • Eliminating the Diversity Visa program; and
  • Increasing the penalties for visa overstays, including making even technical overstays a misdemeanor offense.

The statement of principles does not address nonimmigrant visa programs, but the Administration is working with the immigration agencies to pursue regulatory and policy reforms of the F-1, J-1, H-1B, L-1 and other temporary immigration programs. 

Other priorities Other demands include, but are not limited to:

  • Funding a wall along the southern border;
  • Limiting family-based green cards to spouses and minor children of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents;
  • Limiting humanitarian programs, including reducing the number of refugees admitted to the country, tightening asylum standards and limiting protections for unaccompanied minors;
  • Expanding initiatives to combat visa fraud and increase visa security; and
  • Empowering state and local governments to enforce federal immigration laws.

Looking ahead
The Administration's statement of priorities does not have an immediate impact on U.S. immigration programs, but reflects its overall framework for immigration reform. By injecting its priorities into DACA relief negotiations, the Administration has made the prospects for legislative relief by the March 5, 2018 expiration of DACA less clear.  

This alert is for informational purposes only. If you have any questions, please contact the immigration professional with whom you work at Fragomen.  

© 2017 Fragomen, Del Rey, Bernsen & Loewy, LLP, Fragomen Global LLP and affiliates. All Rights Reserved.

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