Saturday, September 18, 2021
Immigration Article of the Day: Fragile Immigration Legality Collapses in the Trump Era by Jillian Blake
People often think of immigration legality in black and white terms—immigrants are “documented” or “undocumented”; they are present “legally” or “illegally.” There has long been, however, a significant gray area of quasi-legality in the U.S. immigration system. This gray area expanded for decades due to diverging policies of the executive and legislative branches, which each play a role in the formation of immigration policy. The presidency of Donald Trump and its anti-immigration agenda exposed the vulnerability of this class of quasi-status immigrants who were long lawfully present in the country, but for whom Congress had not established a pathway to secure permanent legal status. Those with quasi-statuses included those with Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), Temporary Protected Status (TPS), and others. Most of these immigrants had work permits, and many had U.S. citizen family members and had permanently settled in the United States. They were, nevertheless, subject to unpredictable enforcement and removal (deportation) by the Executive. This Article explains the rise of quasi-status immigration and how the Trump administration was able to exploit it. It also offers solutions for the Biden administration and Congress to help remedy the system.