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Responses to Immigration Reform Changes under Trump

DACA protesters hold signs promoting immigration reform San Francisco
Pax Ahimsa Gethen | Wikimedia Commons

President Trump and former President Obama have both deported tens of thousands of illegal immigrants. However, they evoked different responses from the public.

Deportation is not new to the United States. As a country with the highest immigration rates, there have been many cases in which undocumented people have been sent back to their countries.

Under the Clinton administration (1993-2001), 12.3 million people were deported. Under Bush’s presidency (2001-2009), 10.3 million people were deported. When Obama was president (2009-2017), his administration deported approximately 5.2 million people.

As of this fiscal year thus far, the Trump administration has deported approximately 750,000 undocumented people. Two years into their terms, Clinton, Bush, and Obama had deported more undocumented people than Trump has in his two years.

It may occur to some people that deportation under Obama’s presidency was not breaking news, while that under Trump’s is. The public response to deportation lies within the context.

Obama focused on removing illegal immigrants with criminal records that posed threats. He also tried to return illegal immigrants to their countries before they became immersed in the American culture. The administration placed the least priority on undocumented immigrants who were rooted in the U.S. and had no criminal records.

Additionally, Obama tried to counteract the amount of deportation. He demanded an executive order to pass Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). It granted work permits to illegal immigrants who were brought to the states as young children.

Protesters at the Travel Ban Rally hold signs in front of the Supreme Court
Victoria Pickering | Flickr

On the other hand, Trump vocalized his desire to deport as many people as possible. He wanted to focus on the numbers.

Trump’s rhetoric had offended certain groups of people. He used racial slurs or derogatory terms to describe people. He labeled illegal immigrants “animals.” Additionally, he referred to Mexicans as problematic, rapists, and drug dealers.

The Mexican border fence in San Diego California
Bruno Sanchez-Andrade Nuño | Flickr

Trump also spoke of building a wall along the US-Mexican border. The process would make it physically impossible for people to cross the border. Trump has been pushing his efforts to prevent immigration.

Although Obama and Trump had deported great amounts of immigrants, the public responded in very different ways. Trump’s use of derogatory terms evoked fear and anger among the people. Therefore, Trump is seen as a threat to undocumented people.

By: Kahyun Kim

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