Immigration-Related Policy Changes in the First Two Years of the Trump Administration

Sarah Pierce
Date of Publication: 
May, 2019
Source Organization: 
Migration Policy Institute

Since entering office in January 2017, the Trump administration has pressed one of the most assertive agendas on immigration in modern times. And though enforcement actions at the U.S.-Mexico border and in the interior of the country have drawn the most attention, a much more wide-ranging set of immigration-related policy changes has taken place over the past two years.

This document chronicles these changes, large and small, broken down by major issue area. Among other things, it includes Justice Department policies that affect how the immigration courts operate, humanitarian programs and statuses, adjustments to how the State Department processes visa applications and admits foreign nationals to the United States, and enforcement changes.

These policy changes have been accomplished unilaterally by the executive branch at a time when Congress has largely avoided taking on immigration-related legislation. They have come in the form of hundreds of policy memos, regulatory changes, and more. Some of these changes have been slowed or stopped by the courts, including attempts to prevent foreign nationals who cross the U.S. border illegally from receiving asylum, but most have gone into effect.

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Pierce, S. (2019). Immigration-Related Policy Changes in the First Two Years of the Trump Administration. Washington, DC: Migration Policy Institute. Retrieved from