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Trump Breaks Some Immigration Promises, Makes Partial Progress On Others – OpEd


By Mitchell Blatt*

It’s Trump’s first week in office, and already he has broken some promises and made progress on others. Throughout Trump’s tenure, Bombs + Dollars will track Trump’s promises and offer updates at intervals.

Trump has already taken bold actions with a number of executive orders on immigration, abortion, and Obamacare. Republicans in Congress, as well, are trying their best to repeal Obamacare, although it’s unclear what kind of a replacement they will try to push through.

Among Trump’s major executive orders was one to keep the Guantanamo Bay military prison open and in use, which fulfills his pledge to keep Gitmo open.

An executive order to expend funds to build a barrier on the border leaves open the question of whether the barrier would be a wall or a fence, a distinction Trump made on the campaign trail. The executive order also spends American money, not Mexican money, which would violate Trump’s pledge to have Mexico pay for the wall. Trump claims he will eventually get Mexico to reimburse America.

Trump also is reportedly planning on signing an executive order to ban new refugees for a number of months and to ban anyone from a number of countries, including Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. That would result in more than 180 million Muslims being banned (Iran: 74.8 million Muslims; Sudan: 39.0 million; Iraq: 31.1 million; Yemen: 24.0 million; Syria: 20.8 million). However, there are 1,703 million Muslims in the entire world, including 257 million in South-East Asia alone, 204 million in Indonesia, 178 million in Pakistan, and 172 million in India. If this is the full extent of Trump’s “Muslim ban,” he would have failed massively to implement his plan for a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on.” This policy, however, can credibly be argued to fulfill his promise to “suspend immigration from areas of the world where there is a proven history of terrorism against the United States, Europe or our allies, until we fully understand how to end these threats.”

Trump broke his promise to have call on Congress to pass “Kate’s Law” on his first day in office. To date, he has still not called on Congress to do so.

Presented below are some of the updates to the chart:

On banning Muslims

Trump is reportedly planning on signing an executive order that would ban all immigrants or visitors from Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen, Muslim majority countries. However, such an order would also ban non-Muslims from those countries, and it would also allow hundreds of millions of Muslims from other countries not covered by the ban to apply for visas to visit or immigrate to the U.S.

On banning immigration from “terrorist countries”

The executive order mentioned above that would ban everyone from Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen from entering the U.S. applies to unstable countries which have problems with terrorism. If Trump follows through on this proposed executive order, he can credibly say he upheld his campaign promise.

On building a wall

Trump signed an executive order directing funds to build a barrier. Congress hasn’t passed a law to build a wall. Some administration officials, however, have argued that a 2006 law authorizing a fence is legal justification for Trump to build a barrier, but the 2006 law called for a fence, and much, but not all of the border, is already covered by fencing built after the law was passed.

On having Mexico pay for the wall

Trump signed an executive order directing funds to pay for the barrier. The funds would come from American taxpayers.

Trump argues, however, that eventually Mexico will reimburse America. Trump supporter Rep. Chris Collins (R-NY) argued that the U.S. could force Mexico to pay by exerting economic pressure.

On passing “Kate’s Law”, a bill that would establish mandatory minimum sentences for illegal immigrants convicted of certain crimes

On his first day in office, Trump did not ask Congress to pass “Kate’s Law.” In fact, after four days in office, he still hasn’t. Trump has thus broken this promise.

On tripling the size of Immigrations and Customs

Trump has signed an executive order to increase ICE’s staff by 5,000. As of 2014, ICE had 19,300 staff. In order to triple ICE’s staff, Trump would have to increase its staff by 38,600.

On “immediately” rescinding Obama’s executive order allowing “Dreamers” to stay in the country with temporary legal status

Trump spokesman Sean Spicer said that Trump would prioritize other things besides rescinding Obama’s executive orders on “Dreamers.” So far Trump has taken no action on Dreamers. Having not done so, and having had the administration spokesman not say there is any action forthcoming, Trump has violated his pledge to “immediately terminate President Obama’s two illegal executive amnesties.”

On repealing Obamacare

Republicans in House and Senate have voted to repeal aspects of Obamacare that they can repeal through reconciliation in the budget process. Senators Bill Cassidy and Susan Collins have presented a draft bill that would repeal the individual and employee mandates while keeping the mandates on insurance companies to provide certain coverage. It would also allow individual states to opt-out of the Obamacare insurance markets or to stay in the markets. As The Atlantic headlined their article, this “doesn’t repeal Obamacare.” Not fully. Requiring insurance companies to cover pre-existing conditions while not mandating people purchase health insurance could crash the markets by incentivizing healthy people not to purchase health insurance until they become sick. At any rate, this bill would have to pass both House and Senate, where the Republicans lack the 60 votes needed to break a filibuster, to become law.

In the meantime, Trump has signed an executive order instructing government agencies “to waive, defer, grant exemptions from, or delay the implementation of.”

View all here: Tracking Trump’s Promises

About the author:
*Mitchell Blatt moved to China in 2012, and since then he has traveled and written about politics and culture throughout Asia. A writer and journalist, based in China, he is the lead author of Panda Guides Hong Kong guidebook and a contributor to outlets including The Federalist,, The Daily Caller, and Vagabond Journey. Fluent in Chinese, he has lived and traveled in Asia for three years, blogging about his travels at You can follow him on Twitter at @MitchBlatt.

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Bombs and Dollars

Bombs and Dollars stands to bridge the gap between academia and policy, commentary and opinions, reporting and blogging and reflects the maturity of the personal experience of its Editors, who are now early-mid career correspondents, authors and academics.

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