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“Trump Administration Immigration Policies: The Causes & Effects”

Author: Felix Timothy Celestino

Department: UIC Institute for Policy & Civic Engagement

Advisor: Dr. Joseph K. Hoereth, IPCE

Abstract: This policy analysis critically examines the implications of two major immigration policies implemented during Donald Trump's presidency from 2017 to 2021: the "Remain in Mexico Policy" (Migrant Protection Protocols - MPP, 2018) and the "Zero Tolerance Policy" (2018). Amidst a backdrop of heightened media attention and contentious political discourse, this research seeks to discern the objectives, implementation strategies, and outcomes of these policies, which were notable for their strict stance on immigration enforcement and asylum processing. Utilizing a comprehensive methodology that encompasses policy review, analysis of U.S. Census and Department of Homeland Security data, and examination of scholarly and governmental sources from 2015 to 2023, this study delves into the operationalization of these policies. The analysis focuses on the policies' enforcement mechanisms, their impact on migrant families, and the broader implications for the U.S. immigration system and migrant rights. The findings reveal that both policies, while aiming to deter illegal border crossings and streamline asylum processes, significantly contributed to humanitarian crises at the U.S.-Mexico border. This included widespread family separations and increased challenges for asylum seekers, without effectively reducing illegal immigration or addressing the root causes of migration. Notably, the "Remain in Mexico Policy" was found to complicate the asylum process, leading to missed court dates and exacerbating conditions in Mexican border cities. However, the study acknowledges limitations, including its primary focus on the southern U.S. border and the exclusion of other entry points or factors influencing the immigration system's effectiveness. The analysis is also contextualized within the specific timeframe of Trump's presidency, without fully exploring the continuity of immigration policies across different administrations. Based on these findings, the research recommends a pivot towards policies that enhance the efficiency and fairness of the immigration system. Suggestions include the creation of bipartisan legislation, increasing resources for asylum processing, and establishing regional processing centers in Latin America. These recommendations aim to mitigate the dehumanizing effects of current policies and foster a more equitable treatment of migrants.

Keywords: immigration, asylum, migrant families, migration