Donald Trump campaigned on the promise to make monumental strides in his first 100 days in office – nothing seemed to ignite the Trump campaign as much as the raucous chants of “Build that wall! Build that wall! Build that wall!” Whether the Trump administration will manage to build a wall and make Mexico pay for it remains to be seen, but some significant strides have been taken in Trump’s first 100 days of office to further his agenda on immigration reform.
A president’s first 100 days serves as a landmark in the media; the current administration uses this rather arbitrary date as a chance to convince the press and the country that the president has been an effective leader at a high point of his political power. Former President Barack Obama used his first days in office to pass a $787 billion economic stimulus package and to expand health insurance coverage for children.
President Trump had lofty goals for the early days of his administration, and he focused a lot of effort on immigration reforms. Trump’s stance on immigration shines through the following three main sections of his immigration reform goals. Though 100 days is not a long enough timeframe to execute all of the goals, Trump has made limited progress in his initiatives.
Mexico will pay for the wall!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 1, 2016
First: Cancel federal funding to sanctuary cities.
Sanctuary cities, or cities that limit cooperation with the national government in order to help people who are in the country illegally to avoid deportation, have been on Trump’s hit-list since day one. Though the process for federal funding is never instantaneous, that didn’t stop Trump from working against America’s sanctuary cities.
According to a press briefing by Attorney General Jeff Sessions on March 27, Trump has promised to defund sanctuary cities “if they don’t cooperate.” Sessions said that jurisdictions will continue to receive Justice Department grants as long as they prove compliance with federal laws.
Trump met significant setbacks with this legislation. On Tuesday, April 25, a district court in San Francisco blocked the implementation of a piece of Trump’s executive order that threatened to take federal funds away from sanctuary cities.
Second: begin removing undocumented immigrants from the country.
In a memorandum released on March 6, President Trump called for implementing heightened screening and vetting of visa applications. He also mandated increased security and transparency in all departments related to border control and immigration.
This memo, addressed to the Secretary of State, the Attorney General and the Secretary of Homeland Security, was one of the first steps toward heightening security measures related to immigration.
On February 9, President Trump enacted an executive order on a “Task Force on Crime Reduction and Public Safety” that would enforce “policies that comprehensively address illegal immigration, drug trafficking, and violent crime.” The Attorney General will personally appoint members of the Task Force, whose main goal will be to prevent crime and illegal immigration.
We can expect Sessions, a longtime advocate of hardline immigration policies during his time in the Senate, to take this role seriously.
Third: Suspend immigration from terror-prone regions where vetting cannot safely occur.
In January, thousands of demonstrators flocked to airports to protest Trump’s executive order banning citizens of Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen from entering the U.S. for 90 days. A federal appeals court eventually blocked this particular order.
In March, President Trump signed a new executive order for a 90-day period blocking citizens from six Muslim majority countries, removing Iraq from the above list. It also reversed an indefinite ban on Syrian refugees, “replacing it with a 120-day freeze that requires review and renewal.”
If the ban were announced with a one week notice, the "bad" would rush into our country during that week. A lot of bad "dudes" out there!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 30, 2017
Federal judges blocked both of these travel bans, but the recent confirmation of Neil Gorsuch as an associate justice will likely tilt the scale in Trump’s direction once the cases reach the Supreme Court.
In addition to the pending travel bans, Trump has affirmed that the U.S. will not accept more than 50,000 refugees in a year, a big drop from the 110,000 limit set by the Obama administration.
In all, President Trump has taken a much harsher stance on immigration than former President Obama, but his first 100 days have not seen the uncontested support that would have made enacting his goals much easier. Moving forward, we can expect to see Trump continue to tighten security measures, and Sessions continue to perpetuate his tough immigration policies.