After less than two weeks in office, President Donald Trump has issued executive orders that have the potential to rewrite American immigration policy and undermine its global reputation as a destination for the world’s brightest—and its most needy.
Indeed, that is the plan. As Steve Bannon, the president’s chief strategist, has said of America’s weak economic growth: “Twenty percent of this country is immigrants. Is that not the beating heart of this problem?” (The actual number is closer to 13 percent.)
Last Friday’s executive order temporarily banned refugees along with immigrants from seven Muslim-majority countries. This week, The Washington Post has received drafts of two additional executive orders that the president is reportedly considering signing. Among other things, they call for the deportation of poor legal immigrants who take any government welfare, an extraordinarily broad group that could include middle-income families who get tax credits for their young children. They would also make it much harder for low-income immigrants to move to the United States.
The government already blocks many immigrants who may become a "public charge.” Under current law, the U.S. can deny entry to individuals who are likely to rely on cash assistance. The new executive order would broaden the rule to also deny immigrants who are likely to enroll in Medicaid, or require child-care or housing subsidies.