President Donald Trump's stricter border policies, combined with cooperation from Mexico, have been credited with a precipitous drop in illegal border crossings since last spring. But new evidence shows Trump's policies are also reducing legal immigration to the U.S. The number of people who obtained lawful permanent residence in the U.S. fell by more than 11 percent during Trump's first two years in office, according to government data obtained by the National Foundation for American Policy. That same group predicts a 30 percent drop in legal immigration to the U.S. by 2021.
Advocates like Preston Huennekens with the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) call these numbers a good start. "Legal immigration is dropping only when compared to recent norms...we still bring in close to a million people annually, and we have tens of millions working here on visas, so this hardly amounts to slamming the door and throwing away the key," says Huennekens. "But, what the Trump administration has been doing has absolutely been beneficial to tightening up some programs that really hadn't been looked at in previous administrations."
In particular, Huennekens points to the Trump administration's enforcement of the so-called public charge rule, which requires immigrants to show they won't rely on public assistance like welfare or food stamps. "President Trump has long fought for a merit-based immigration system," says Huennekens. "The public charge rule fulfills that promise made to voters that he'd fix this system, and that we would move towards a program that benefits skills and education."
In the meantime, the president continues to tighten up the southern border. "You've still got people showing up who've paid often thousands of dollars to human smugglers to get them just to the border, and then they arrive and find there's a new sheriff in town...they can't get in," says Huennekens.