Road to Justice: anti-immigrant policies

This blog on anti-immigrant policies is the first of an occasional series of articles focusing on social justice issues that the National Advocacy Center addresses as part of its ongoing mission.

In announcing his candidacy in 2015, Donald Trump claimed that Mexico was sending “people that have lots of problems …They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists.”

He continued his anti-immigrant theme throughout his campaign, even suggesting that speaking Spanish was un-American. Further he stated, “If you can’t put a little effort and hard work to fit in, you should take your anchor babies and get out.”

Unfortunately, this xenophobic harangue found a willing audience. Although the United States has a history of welcoming immigrants, we also have a history of fearing the newcomer. Each new wave of immigrants has had to struggle against bigotry. 

Anti-immigrant policies

After his election, President Trump showed that his campaign rhetoric was not just words but promises he intended to fulfill. As each attack on immigrants tends to be seen separately, it is worth a quick review of his anti-immigrant policies.

Using COVID-19 as a pretext, the U.S. has halted the processing of undocumented migrants at the southern border rather than bringing them into detention centers to process their claims. This includes asylum-seekers fleeing dangers.

The Trump administration has repeatedly imposed new restrictions on asylum seekers, making it nearly impossible for many people to claim protection in the United States. In addition, the administration has exported its asylum provision obligation to impoverished countries such as Honduras and Guatemala.

In January 2019, the Trump administration began implementing its “Remain in Mexico” policy, which forces Central Americans seeking asylum to return to Mexico for an indefinite amount of time while their claims are processed.  

The administration has banned people from majority Muslim countries, barring entry for almost everybody from Yemen, Iran, Libya, Chad, Somalia, and Syria.

In January 2020, the administration expanded its Muslim ban to target even more immigrants of color. The expanded ban targets mostly African countries, including Sudan, Nigeria, Tanzania, and Eritrea, as well as Myanmar and Kyrgyzstan.  

Undermining U.S. humanitarian program

Soon after taking office, the Trump administration slashed the number of refugees that could be admitted into the U.S. from 110,000 to 50,000. In 2020, the administration intends to resettle only 18,000, thus undermining our vital humanitarian program.


President Trump has repeatedly targeted and called for the end of the Diversity Visa Program. This allows people from countries with low U.S. immigration rates to apply for a visa lottery, ultimately leading to lawful permanent residency. 

The administration is imposing a “wealth test” for immigrants with legal status and their families. The policy essentially punishes immigrants and their families for using certain public benefits, like Medicaid or SNAP (food stamps), and forces them to prove they are wealthy enough to not rely on government assistance in the future. 

President Trump has worked to strip legal status from more than one million people. Terminating Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) could leave nearly 700,000 young adults vulnerable to deportation. By ending Temporary Protected Status for most countries, Trump is ending legal status for hundreds of thousands of people and creating a new population of unauthorized immigrants subject to the threat of deportation. 

Field offices closing

The Trump administration is closing all overseas field offices of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services across 20 countries before the end of the year. This move greatly impacts refugee applications, asylum seekers, and other immigration-related matters, such as international adoptions and family reunifications.

I believe we have to look at these actions in the light of moral teachings. In both the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament, we are encouraged to welcome the stranger. In Matthew 25:35 we are reminded that what we do to other people, especially people in need, we do to Jesus and will be held accountable.

Of all the people in our country, immigrants and refugees are among the most vulnerable. They also tend to be hard working, religious, family centered, and law abiding. More than 100,000 DACA recipients have served as essential workers during this COVID crisis. We have no right to demonize immigrants and refugees for political gain.

NAC actions

At the National Advocacy Center, we do all we can to fight against these abhorrent policies through action alerts, petitions, letters, and in person and virtual visits to meet with Congressional staff members.

Please add your voice by joining our action alert network and responding to our alerts. If you wish to join our network, please click here, or let me know at [email protected]

Larry Couch

Larry Couch

Larry Couch is the Director of the National Advocacy Center (NAC) for Sisters of the Good Shepherd. NAC is a lobbying ministry that addresses social justice issues and advocates for the transformation of society to benefit all people. NAC works in solidarity with the disenfranchised and reflects the spirituality and mission of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd.