With the most recent supreme court rule that declared President Biden must reinstate Trump’s old “Remain in Mexico” policy, we thought it appropriate to go through the history of the Trump administration’s foreign policy legacy.
Donald Trump’s Remain in Mexico policy is the President of the United States’ proposal to prevent Mexican immigrants from entering the country and making an asylum claim. The plan would require such immigrants to stay in Mexico while their claim is pending. It would also include funding for 1,000 new Border Patrol agents and a 2,000-mile wall along the US–Mexico border.
On May 16, 2018, President Trump announced that his administration was drafting an executive order that would impose a policy of automatic denial on anyone crossing the U.S. southern border illegally. People seeking asylum at official points of entry would have their applications processed normally.
Three days later, Trump issued Executive Order 13867: “Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Improvements,” which limited immigration policies to try to reduce the number of Central American migrants entering the country and required certain classes of undocumented immigrants to be detained until their removal could be effected. Two months later, Trump rescinded this previous order in favor of a new policy:
The new rules would apply to anyone who illegally crosses the border from Mexico – including those seeking asylum, even if they say they fear violence in their home country.
Illegal aliens will no longer get a free pass into our country by lodging meritless claims in seeking asylumDonald Trump
Under current law, such immigrants must stay in the US while their claims are processed. The Trump administration wants to stop that practice so migrants don’t live in the country while waiting for years. Migrants often disappear and never show up at their court hearings. According to an NBC News report, over 600,000 migrants had been ordered deported but were still living in the United States as of 2017.
Democrats and immigration advocacy groups said that the new policy would not deter migrants from crossing but would lead to more deaths. Migrants who get turned away at official ports of entry could try to cross in remote areas without water or other means of survival, they said. According to data from the Border Patrol, 4,264 people died while attempting to migrate between 1998 and 2018.
However, it is unclear how many of those deaths happened outside legal ports of entry. On May 20th Trump denied that his proposal would result in extra migrant deaths: PROJECT FEAR! There is no reason for this fear or uncertainty because we are enforcing the laws that members of Congress have passed.
On the other hand, some immigration advocates said that migrants could use Trump’s proposal to manipulate the system by lodging meritless asylum claims to be allowed into the U.S. When those claims are rejected, they can appeal and be released on bond while their case is being heard. Immigrants who knew about this loophole reportedly started coming up with phony stories about the fear of persecution.
The Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) is an agency within the Department of Justice which includes an immigration court system charged with adjudicating all immigration cases within the United States. A new rule proposed by ICE would require people applying for asylum at legal ports of entry to pass a “credible fear” asylum screening. If they recognize that someone’s claim is not credible, they could require them to return to their home country before making an application for asylum in the US.
The rule would make it easier for ICE and EOIR to reject applicants who arrive illegally at legal ports of entry. The proposed regulation was published on December 19, 2018. It will be subject to a 60-day public comment period and legally challenged (as expected) by advocacy groups opposed to its enforcement.
Donald Trump also signed another executive order which said:
…. aliens presenting without valid documents shall be detained until determined by the Secretary of Homeland Security to have been properly issued. They shall be removed from the United States upon payment of all fees and penalties related to the processing of their unauthorized immigration status, as well as any outstanding judicial fines and costs ordered against them.
The order directed that families crossing together would not be separated unless a case involved human trafficking or other criminal behavior. On June 11, 2018, President Trump signed an executive order which called for Attorney General Sessions to go to federal court in Brooklyn, New York, on June 19th arguing that “A foreign national who crosses our border unlawfully is subject to prosecution for illegal entry” and that “by statute, specifically 8 U.S.C. Section 1325(a), it is unlawful for an alien to enter or attempt to enter the United States at any time or place other than as designated by immigration officers.”
The American Immigration Lawyers Association President said that Trump’s order was a “significant departure from current policy” because most migrants who arrived in family units were released while they waited for their asylum hearings. The number of immigrants caught on the southwest border with Mexico increased dramatically beginning in May 2018. Most of these people came from Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras. Most immigrants are traveling without documentation but seek to apply for asylum.
The President and his administration have been arguing that this policy is a good idea to keep the country safe. They claim that our borders are being controlled because of this policy. They have argued that the immigration ban will stop crime and terrorism in the country.
Meanwhile, critics argue that those who are already in the country would be affected the most. The critics say that the president’s administration cannot legally implement this policy as he does not have legislative authority. They also argue that there is a law against discrimination of immigrants and refugees, which would not allow such a policy.
The Trump administration had announced the immigration ban in late January. The said policy was not something that came out of nowhere. Rather, it was a part of his campaign promises even before he became president. He also promised to make “extreme vetting” effective, as US Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly pointed out recently after visiting British Home Secretary Amber Rudd.
The two top officials made this pledge after talks with their counterparts about how they can bolster common travel security measures such as encouraging global adoption of certain electronic passports, which will help better identify people trying to enter or leave countries. It is highly possible that extreme vetting might be implemented via adopting an intra-European travel document system known as ePassport gates set up at some airports.
The ban on immigration from seven Muslim majority countries has been confused because of the different statements made by leaders. It has been argued that this is a strike against religion and Islam itself as it singles out these countries. The president signed the executive order, which banned refugees from Syria, Iraq, Iran, Libya, Sudan, Somalia, and Yemen for 90 days.
Also, immigrants would not be allowed to enter America if they came from those countries too. However, within a couple of hours of issuing this policy, an injunction was issued by a federal judge who stopped enforcement nationally, and even other judges followed suit with similar orders across the country.
Donald Trump took to Twitter, saying there is chaos at airports due to protests organized by groups of lawyers. He also said that there would be no problems at the airports when this policy was put in place during his campaign. He tweeted, saying, “only 109 people out of 325,000 were detained and held for questioning”. The Twitter post criticized the Obama administration for having a weak immigration system which resulted in criminals and terrorists getting into the country.
This controversial ban by President Trump has caused opposition from many countries across the world. Angela Merkel, who is chancellor of Germany, issued a joint statement with her foreign minister Sigmar Gabriel calling President Trump’s decision highly divisive. Meanwhile, both British Prime Minister Theresa May and Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson have criticized it, saying that Britain will offer sanctuary to those most in need regardless of their race or religion.
Meanwhile, the then-White House press secretary Sean Spicer has said that the ban was put to protect citizens from terrorists who could be sneaking into the country through illegal immigration. He also stated that this is not a religious test on people entering America, as suggested by some. However, there have been references to Muslims being targeted specifically when it comes to extreme vetting.
The Trump administration may have thought that they had issued an executive action that would keep Americans safe.
Still, it seems like they did not do their homework very well before putting a policy in place which can actually increase hate crimes in the United States itself. There will likely be backlash and protests against his proposed policies by various groups such as human rights organizations, lawyers, and leaders of different countries worldwide. President Trump signed an executive order on January 27th, 2017, this past Friday, which banned all refugees from Syria, Iraq, Iran, Libya, Sudan, Somalia, and Yemen for 90 days and immigrants from these countries.
This ban was widely controversial because of how it is being implemented without regard to people’s rights. The White House response on Twitter was, “we will continue to show compassion to those fleeing oppression but we will do so while protecting our own citizens and border.”
The idea behind this ban was likely more about keeping out Muslims than any other reason since there seems to be referenced in the executive order itself regarding Islam specifically. The current administration may have thought that they were defending American security, but by banning refugees, they have actually increased the threat of terrorism. Many terrorists are born in America to parents from other countries and people from those countries with American spouses or partners.
This ban has created chaos not only at airports but across campuses as well. In a statement issued by Chancellor Katehi said, “I am committed to the safety and security of all UC Davis students, faculty and staff, regardless of their religious affiliation or nationality especially in these times when anti-Muslim rhetoric is leading to hateful actions.”
Muslim Student Association on campus took out a protest against President Trump’s ban on refugees saying that this action was unconstitutional and may also create greater harm than what it is trying to prevent. They declared solidarity with other students and protesters around the nation against this measure.
The courts have already been asked to block President Trump’s ban, and it remains to be seen how this will play out in the long run. Many people were outraged on social media with hashtags such as #resist, #NoBanNoWall, and #MuslimBan used to express their concern online.
There is no doubt that there will be more demonstrations against this issue, with protests also spreading across other major cities such as New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Boston, and of course, Washington D.C. This executive order from President Trump has caused outrage amongst people due to religious discrimination. It does nothing for the safety of citizens living in America since it is unfair towards legal residents or American citizens by birth.
The Supreme Court of the United States has ruled that President Trump’s border-crossing policy should remain in effect. The decision was based on assessing the president’s authority and past precedents set by the courts. The law protects immigrants escaping their home countries to another country for fear of persecution or violence. This means that those crossing over into the US seeking asylum will not be stopped or turned away at the border.
The ruling came after opponents of Trump’s “Muslim travel ban” asked the Supreme Court to rule on the merits of Trump’s policy. They argued that his administration is violating a right to asylum guaranteed by federal law and international treaties. Local authorities filed the lawsuit from California, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, and Oregon and immigrant advocacy organizations, including the American Civil Liberties Union.
In this case, they argued that Trump’s proclamation — which suspends visas for people from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria, and Yemen — violates existing U.S. laws regarding refugees since those fleeing war or persecution have long been considered eligible for refuge in this country. Weighing in at 5-4, SCOTUS ruled against plaintiffs and upheld the president’s right to restrict immigration following his authority over national security.
The ruling is telling of where the court stands on this issue, especially considering the position taken by Justices Breyer and Sotomayor who wrote a dissent stating that Trump’s stance does conflict with existing U.S. asylum laws and should not be allowed to stand as legislation has been passed to expand those rights. President Trump responded by saying, “Today’s Supreme Court ruling is a tremendous victory for the American People and the Constitution.” He added, “We must maintain pressure on countries that do not take back their citizens” However, this case isn’t yet closed — it goes back to lower courts where other cases have begun arguing similar points.
Remain in Mexico Policy and NAFTA
The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) came into effect in 1994 and promoted the flow of goods between the United Mexican States, Canada, and the United States. These trade guidelines have successfully led to a dramatic increase in trade between those three countries: exports from US manufacturing companies tripled following NAFTA and were higher than exports from these companies to China by volume in 2012. Manufacturing jobs increased as well-meaning that there has been economic growth for all three countries.
However, it is worth noting that despite this growth, some people are concerned with how these trade rules will change – specifically if they become more harmful to American workers than they would have otherwise been without NAFTA. The Trump administration has been critical of NAFTA, discussing renegotiating the terms with Canada and Mexico in multiple press conferences throughout the year while calling to end it altogether.
However, instead of wholly dismantling NAFTA, President Trump proposed a new rule that would force Mexican migrants to remain in their country until any legal matter they are facing is solved. This proposed rule is called Remain in Mexico and was announced on January 22 by Trump administration officials. The text of the new policy was released on February 21, 2019.
As a reminder: When people are accused of committing crimes, they are given due process – which includes a trial or an opportunity to appeal their case. If someone has been accused of a crime and is legally allowed to leave the country, then it can be “on their own recognizance,” meaning that they are only required to promise in court that they will return for any future hearings. If someone is not legally allowed to leave, however, it is likely that bail has been set or an ankle monitor has been installed, and then they are required to stay in the country while their case is settled.
Many might wonder: Why would Trump want to stop people from freely moving between countries? However, before we get into that question, there’s a general concept that needs to be clarified: When someone crosses between US ports of entry, it can either be legal or unlawful depending on whether there is a warrant out for their arrest.
An example of this might be if border patrol agents stopped an undocumented immigrant as they were trying to enter without authorization; at this point, the individual is arrested because they have entered the country unlawfully. If this person had tried to cross legally (at one of the designated border checkpoints), they wouldn’t have been arrested because it is legal to pass through those checkpoints.
Furthermore, some people entered the country unlawfully but were not charged for their crimes. This means that they never had an official arrest record, and so they may still be able to leave legally from time to time without changing anything about their immigration status.
Enter Trump’s Remain in Mexico policy – which appears to be a response to humanitarian needs: Some migrants traveling northward have done so with their children, and a November 2017 Pew Research study found that 11% of children detained at border control facilities were separated from either one of their parents or both parents (instead of being kept with them).
If these families are processed separately, it can put migrant children in harm’s way. Trump wants to have all families (including children) be detained together so that they can’t flee across the border or escape from federal agents – and he hopes this will make it easier for them to return for future trials instead of trying to skip out on their hearings.
These people – who are crossing between ports of entry – haven’t been arrested, and so they should still be able to leave legally, right? Usually yes: Due process means that someone has a right to argue why they should not be held at a federal prison, and if successful, they may be released after paying bail or while wearing an ankle monitor. It is also completely legal for undocumented immigrants who are not accused of committing any crimes to enter the US legally. Still, they often need to wait a long time before doing so.
So for that 11% of children who were separated from their parents – what happens now? They can either be deported or processed as “unaccompanied minors.” The Remain in Mexico policy says that any parent (or guardian) with custody of an immigrant child can choose to go back to Mexico without the child.
At the same time, the separate criminal case is being settled. The fate of these children remains unsettled because it’s not clear if Trump also wants them held in federal facilities closer to where their families are going. There are about 3,000 migrant children currently in federal shelters; juvenile detention centers have a capacity for only 1,400 such individuals. If all 3,000 are held at detention centers, then the others will have to be sent somewhere else – and that “else” is likely privatized facilities (which have much more limited capacity).
The administration has asked Congress for funding to build new family detention facilities in Texas, but it’s unclear how that money would be used if they get it. It could also be used to repair old ones; about 4,200 immigrants were once kept in a reopened Walmart near Brownsville.
Trump has said he wants more judges on hand so that families can be rapidly reunited again after their initial court hearings. There are other legislative proposals as well: Sen. Ted Cruz has proposed legislation which would force every single person entering the country without authorization to be detained and to be charged with a crime (and he’d like to have the option of locking up anyone who tries to cross without permission for two years or more). This is just one example amongst many of how Republicans want to curb migration from Mexico.
Donald Trump’s foreign policy legacy is starting to look pretty clear. He did a lot in such little time that we can only guess what the future holds for him and his policies. Donald Trump has been criticized by many on both sides of the aisle who say he lacks knowledge about international politics and diplomacy. Still, others argue he could positively affect America’s standing in the world because of his willingness to call out other leaders when they disagree with us or act unfairly towards us. We’ll have to wait and see how this plays out over the next few years before we know more definitively where things stand.
So what happens next? Stay tuned for future updates on the border crisis because there’s still no end in sight.