Much of Trump’s pre-election immigration rhetoric centered on strictly enforcing existing statute, reversing course on some of President Barack Obama’s executive actions and, notoriously, constructing a physical wall on the U.S. border with Mexico.
The National Immigration Law Center (NILC) and American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) are among some of the entities to sound off regarding the future of immigration policy. The NILC recently recommended against applying for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program for those who have never applied before, considering questions about what the Trump administration might do with information gathered from the application process.
“Due to the uncertainty of what will happen with DACA and the legitimate fears experienced by immigrant communities, we recommend not applying for DACA until we see what happens next year under a Trump administration,” according to information from NILC.
DACA was created from an executive order and provides a shield from deportation and work permits for certain undocumented aliens. An expansion of the program was blocked due to a federal court ruling. Trump has referred to DACA as “illegal” and “unconstitutional” and criticized his erstwhile opponent’s support of the program.
“Since DACA’s introduction in 2012, the decision whether to apply for DACA has been a personal choice, leaving the individual to weigh the benefits and risks before applying," the NILC wrote. "We know that giving your information to immigration authorities can be a risk, but we also know the many benefits that come from DACA.” NILC also warned that if the program is discontinued, those who apply before Trump’s inauguration may lose their $465 application fee once the program is quashed.
The American Immigration Lawyers Association has also expressed concerns with the direction of Trump’s immigration policy and called out the nomination of Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) for the position of Attorney General in the Trump administration.
"It is vital that the person nominated to be the next Attorney General, who will enforce civil rights protections of all, native and foreign-born, have a record of respect for due process, equal protection, and fundamental fairness, and an understanding of the importance of a reasonable immigration system,” said AILA Executive Director Benjamin Johnson. “Based on public statements and actions by Sen. Sessions, there is real concern that he does not have that record and that civil rights could be undermined to the detriment of our country's future.”
Johnson said the AILA is willing to work with “anyone who is willing to roll up his or her sleeves” to create a fair immigration system, but will resist policies that “erode fundamental American principles of fairness and due process, as well as the civil rights that protect us all."
Sessions was recently scrutinized for racially charged comments he made during his political career.
AILA President William A. Stock struck an optimistic tone, calling for unity and teamwork in the coming months and pledged to work with Trump. "Now that voting is complete, we all need to work together to put the rhetoric and rancor of the past months aside and move forward to face the challenges and embrace the opportunities facing our country,” he said. “We are a nation built by immigrants and strengthened by each new generation. Our shared prosperity relies on the innovation and creativity of immigrants from all over the world, from all walks of life, and from all faiths and cultural traditions.”