What are the policies implemented by the Obama and Trump administrations in order to control migration in the United States?
“A child on the other side of the border is no less worthy of love and compassion than my own child” is a famous quote by the former American President Barack Obama. According to Hutchison (2020), “The U.S. is irrefutably a country of immigrants, the very birthplace of the idea of a “melting-pot society” (p.4). According to A kcigit et al. (2017) “From the founding of the US nation up to the recent Presidential election, the impact of immigrants has been a focal point of debate” (p.3). According to A bramitzky et al. (2017) “The history of immigration to the United States has been shaped both by changes in the underlying costs and benefits of migration as well as by substantial shifts in immigration policy” (p.6). “The high cost of crossing the Atlantic in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries gave rise to a long period of indentured immigration” (Abramitzky et al., 2017, p.6). “The rise of mass migration was associated with the shift from sail to steam technology in the mid-nineteenth century, and a corresponding decline in the time of trans-Atlantic passage” (Abramitzky et al., 2017, p.6). “As travel costs fell and migrant networks expanded from 1800 to 1850, the number of unencumbered immigrants entering the US increased substantially.14 Annual in-migration rose from less than one per 1,000 residents in 1820 to 15 per 1,000 residents by 1850” (Abramitzky et al., 2017, p.6). “Throughout the Age of Mass Migration (1850-1920), about 55 million immigrants left Europe, with the US absorbing nearly 30 million of these arrivals” (Abramitzky et al., 2017, p.6). “As a result, the foreign-born share of the population rose from 10 percent in 1850 to 14 percent in 1870, where it remained until 1920” (Abramitzky et al., 2017, p.6). “Another notable f eature of this era is the fluctuations of migration flows with the business cycle; annual immigration rates varied between 0.4 and 1.6 percent of the population and Spitzer (2014) explains this pattern in the context of a dynamic model in which prospective migrants optimally time their moves to the New World; in this case, high migration rates during economic booms can generate follow-on migration via migrant networks, thereby augmenting business cycle swings” (Abramitzky et al., 2017, p.6). Both the Obama and Trump Administrations implemented policies in order to control migration in the United States.
The Obama administration adopted a “Pull” Factor Narrative in order to control immigration. According to Musalo et al. (2017), “In response to the migration surge of Central American women and children in summer 2014, the Obama administration immediately took a harsh stance and adopted a raft of punitive policies rooted in its “pull” factor narrative” (p.1). According to Musalo et al. (2017) “In the early s ummer months of 2014, an increasing number of Central American children alone and with their parents began arriving at the US Mexico border in search of safety and protection’ (p.1). “The children and families by and large came from the Northern Triangle countries of El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala — three of the most dangerous countries in the world — to seek asylum and other humanitarian relief” (Musalo et al., 2017, p.1). “Rampant violence and persecution within homes and communities, uncontrolled and unchecked by state authorities, compelled them to flee north for their lives” (Musalo et al., 2017, p.1). “On the scale of refugee crises worldwide, the numbers were not huge. “For e xample, 24,481 and 38,833 unaccompanied children, respectively, were apprehended by US Border Patrol (USBP) in FY 2012 and FY 2013, while 68,631 children were apprehended in FY 2014 alone” (Musalo et al., 2017, p.1). “In addition, apprehensions of “family units,” or parents (primarily mothers) with children, also increased, from 15,056 families in FY 2013 to 68,684 in FY 2014’ (Musalo et al., 2017, p.1). “W hile these numbers may seem large and did represent a significant increase over prior years, they are nonetheless dwarfed by refugee inflows elsewhere; for example, Turkey was host to 1.15 million Syrian refugees by year end 2014, and to 2.5 million by year end 2015— reflecting an influx of almost 1.5 million refugees in the course of a single year” (Musalo et al., 2017, p.1). “D espite the fact that heightened numbers of asylum-seeking women and children continue to cross the US-Mexico border even in the face of these policies, the US continued its deterrence-based approach” (Musalo et al., 2017, p.1). “In addition, the Obama administration restrictively interpreted substantive asylum law in a continuing attempt to limit refugee protections, particularly with regard to the claims commonly made by individuals from the Northern Triangle of Central America” (Musalo et al., 2017, p.1). Thus, in response to the migration surge of Central American women and children in summer 2014, the Obama administration immediately took a harsh stance and adopted a raft of punitive policies rooted in its “pull” factor narrative.
The T rump administration built the Mexican Border in order to control migration to the United States. According to Musalo et al. (2017), “Between talk of an “uncontrolled population flow of drug-dealing Latin Americans” and the border wall with Mexico, Donald Trump was able to effectively convince (predominantly white) voters that America was facing a serious crisis not only at its southern border, but also within” (p.1). “The two priorities of Trump’s immigration policy were clear: deterrence, the restriction of both regular and irregular migration; and deportation, the identification and removal of the country’s eleven million unauthorized migrants” (Musalo et al., 2017, p.1). “Trump declared (via executive-order) the immediate suspension of immigration to the U.S., with the wording of the order specifically referring to the threat posed to the American labor market” (Musalo et al., 2017, p.1). “The administration’s preoccupation with the apparent risk posed by migrants during the epidemic was reflected in an earlier decision, made in March, to close the borders with Mexico and Canada (except for commercial traffic)” (Musalo et al., 2017, p.1). “Those who arrived at the border lacking the proper authorization to enter the U.S. (including asylum seekers) would no longer undergo processing, but would rather be immediately turned away” (Musalo et al., 2017, p.1). “Trump’s attempts at pursuing the most highly publicized aspect of his immigration policy—the border wall with Mexico—have been repeatedly frustrated by funding issues, precipitating the declaration of a national emergency (the first since September 11) and the diversion of public funds from the Department of Defense” (Musalo et al., 2017, p.1). “Prior to this emergency declaration, the U.S. military was deployed to the border with Mexico (“Operation Faithful Patriot”) to intercept a wave of vulnerable would-be migrants from Central America” (Musalo et al., 2017, p.1). “The Trump Presidency, like previous U.S. administrations, has detained migrants who attempt to enter the U.S. unlawfully” (Musalo et al., 2017, p.1). Thus, the two priorities of Trump’s immigration policy were clear: deterrence, the restriction of both regular and irregular migration; and deportation, the identification and removal of the country’s eleven million unauthorized migrants.
In conclusion, immigration in the US is a very controversial topic. The United States has greatly benefited economically from immigration. The Obama Administration adoption of a pull factor regarding immigration majored on distributing fair economic opportunities and also social benefits for immigrants and encouraging them to relocate in the United States. The Trump administration proposed the creation of a border wall to separate the country from Mexico in order to create a barrier to control the rate of immigration of the immigrants moving from Mexico to the United States. The supporters of the Mexican border emphasised on the fact that it provides security while the opposers criticized it by considering it unethical. By embracing immigration, the country promotes diversity and inclusion of those in need of help.
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