The Trump administration is targeting a series of US immigration changes before President-elect, Joe Biden, takes office. The administration’s final push on immigration is being driven by Trump’s anti-immigrant aide, Stephen Miller, the man behind many of the outgoing President’s controversial immigration policies over the past four years.
Many of the changes are a result of extensive planning over many months. However, several have been pursued since Trump lost the US election. Despite Biden taking office in 50 days, Chad Wolf, the Acting Homeland Security Secretary, recently named two new members of an advisory council to help him create policy.
Tom Jenkins, the fire chief in Rogers, Arkansas, and Catherine Lotrionte, a senior researcher at Georgetown University, were recently added to the council as the Trump administration presses on with restrictive US immigration policies.
US citizenship test
On November 13, the Trump administration announced that the US citizenship test would be extended to feature more questions about US politics and history. The new test will include 28 additional questions, taking the total from 100 to 128.
Meanwhile, just days later, the administration announced that immigration officers would be given ‘more discretion’ over approving US visa applications. It’s understood that immigration officers will have a longer list of positive and negative factors by which to grant or refuse applications, including family ties, employment history and community standing.
A new rule has also been published that proposes limiting work permits for immigrants facing deportation from the US. Deputy director for Policy at United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), Joseph Ludlow, said: “Authorizing work permits to those immigrants undermines the rule of law and weakens DHS enforcement and removal operations.”
H1B visa targeted
The Trump administration has targeted the H1B visa skilled worker program for tighter restrictions, including a reduction in the types of jobs that non-US nationals can apply for, while increasing the amount that employers have to pay to hire skilled workers from overseas.
According to US immigration officials, the H1B visa program has been the subject of abuse by US employers who have been accused of using it to replace American workers with ‘cheap foreign labor.’ The Trump administration wants to scrap the H1B visa lottery system and move toward prioritizing visas for employers that offer high salaries for job roles.
Recently, some of Trump’s closest aides also encouraged him to end US citizenship by birthright for the children of immigrants, despite it being a constitutional right. It’s understood that this controversial proposal has now been dismissed.
Spokesperson for the White House, Judd Deere, defended the Trump administration’s hard push on immigration, saying: “Since taking office, President Trump has never shied away from using his lawful executive authority to advance bold policies and fulfill the promises he made to the American people.”
Joe Biden presidency
Joe Biden is set to be sworn in as the 46th US President at 12 noon on January 20, 2021 - a date that is set in the US constitution.
Despite Trump’s best efforts to slow down the transition, a law called the Presidential Transition Act of 1963 makes career civil servants vital to the transfer of power. They face deadlines for providing data and access to incoming officials.
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