PRESIDENT Donald Trump is soon expected to seek sharp changes in U.S. immigration policy by using his executive power, echoing the politically contentious approach taken by former President Barack Obama.
The new Trump Administration released its first executive order on Inauguration Day, regarding the Affordable Care Act and on regulations across the government, and more are expected soon on others on issues ranging from environmental to labor rules.
On immigration, advocates on both sides of the issue expect the administration to toughen enforcement by deporting more people and reversing Obama administration rules protecting young people brought to the U.S. illegally as children.
Frustrated by Congress’ unwillingness to pass immigration legislation, Mr. Obama used executive power to target enforcement to serious criminals and recent border crossers, and to give safe harbor from deportation and work permits to young, so-called Dreamers. Conservatives said he was acting beyond his authority, and when he tried to extend that safe harbor to millions more people, the move was blocked by the courts.
Mr. Trump also is likely to reject refugees from Syria and other Muslim nations, and cut grant funding for so-called sanctuary cities that don’t cooperate with federal immigration authorities.
Other changes favored by Mr. Trump will require action by Congress. Among legislation favored by anti-immigration hard-liners is a bill that would require U.S. employers to use the federal E-Verify system to check whether potential employees are in the U.S. legally.
But most new legislation may require Democratic support in the Senate, so administration officials will start their work by taking action in areas within the power of the executive branch.
“Under current law, President Trump will have wide leeway and broad authority to enforce U.S. immigration laws,” said Dan Stein, president of the Federation for American Immigration Reform, which advocates lower legal and illegal immigration levels. “Big changes are possible without Congress’ help.”