The high stakes battle over immigration policy has politicians and thinkers on all sides of the spectrum preparing for battles that could last years — leaving millions of people in the US unsure of whether they’ll be able to stay in the country.
The President-elect has made immigration a focal point throughout his campaign, from his first announcement that he was running in the 2016 race — where he immediately sparked controversy with accusations that some Mexican immigrants were criminals and rapists.
From pledging to build a wall along the Mexican border to saying he would mass-deport millions of immigrants living in the US illegally and saying he would block foreign Muslims from entering the country (a position he later moderated), Trump has repeatedly pledged a hard-line stance on immigration as one of the key reasons to vote for him.
The hard-line statements with shifting details have left millions of Americans uncertain about their future status in the US. More than 700,000 undocumented immigrants who came to the US as children are protected currently by a deferred action program established by President Barack Obama, and another 4 million to 5 million were eligible for protection under a similar program for parents of US citizens and lawful residents that was blocked by federal courts. Many of the families’ information could be in federal systems, allowing for targeted removal under a Trump administration.
Since being elected, Trump has signaled he may take a softer approach on some issues rather than the strident tone he struck during the campaign.
“We’re going to work something out that’s going to make people happy and proud,” Trump told Time magazine about the so-called DREAMers, young people brought to the US as children who meet certain education and work requirements. “They got brought here at a very young age, they’ve worked here, they’ve gone to school here. Some were good students. Some have wonderful jobs. And they’re in never-never land because they don’t know what’s going to happen.