For over three decades, the organized anti-immigrant movement in the United States has sought to influence the immigration debate by pushing for policies that would drastically lower the number of immigrants in the country and make life as difficult as possible for those already here, with the end goal of maintaining and expanding a white demographic majority in the United States. Under the Trump Administration, these organizations, most notably Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), Center for Immigration Studies (CIS), NumbersUSA and Immigration Reform Law Institute (IRLI), are more influential than ever. Not only are these organizations advising the President and his team, but a number of individuals have left these groups and taken up positions of power within the Department of Homeland Security and other departments responsible for immigration policy. This has taken place despite the fact that these organizations have long-standing ties to white nationalists.
The results have been devastating. In addition to banning individuals from Muslim-majority nations; barring the entry of refugees, reducing its annual cap to the lowest in 30 years; drastically restricting legal immigration; repealing DACA; ending Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for more than 300,000 individuals and increasing arrests and deportations of undocumented and documented immigrants to in some cases persecution and slavery, the organized anti-immigrant network provided the policy framework for the Trump Administration’s policy of separating children from their parents at the Southern border. A move, which the United Nations Human Rights Council said “may amount to torture.”
Since President Trump took office, the anti-immigrant movement has led the push to systematically dismantle protections for immigrants that were granted by previous administrations. Scrapping the DACA program as well as ending Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for those immigrants who have fled natural disasters and civil wars in their home countries remain the key goals of both the anti-immigrant movement and the Trump Administration. The Administration extended the wind-down period for the Deferred Enforcement Departure (DED) program for Liberians, throwing into doubt the future of possibly over three thousand immigrants, many of whom have made the US their home for 20 years. Key Trump Administration figures have worked in tandem with anti-immigrant groups and elected officials at the state and federal level to implement these changes and show no signs of slowing down, despite countless injunctions by federal judges.
Following last year’s midterm elections, Representatives Roybal-Allard, Velasquez, and Clarke introduced the Dream and Promise Act in March of 2019. The legislation contains broad protections that create a pathway to citizenship for Dreamers, TPS holders, and DED recipients. Anti-immigrant groups have already vowed to fight the legislation, and will continue to push the Trump Administration to step up its assaults on vulnerable immigrants during the second half of the President’s first term.