In his first week in office, President Donald Trump acted on his core campaign issue: immigration. In a short span of time, the president signed executive orders calling for the construction of a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border and a crackdown on so-called “sanctuary cities,” which limit collaboration between local authorities and federal immigration agents.
The orders fell in line with Trump’s repeated pledge to control illegal immigration in the United States and suggested that Trump will likely pursue an immigration agenda that resembles the aggressive deportations of former President Obama’s first term. The Obama administration deported record numbers of undocumented immigrants, much to the frustration of immigrant advocates. In his first term alone, he deported 1.5 million undocumented immigrants. By the end of his tenure, Obama had deported more people than his most recent predecessors, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, though the number of deportations dipped after his second term. There was also a corresponding push for legalization under the Obama administration—and that push is absent from Trump’s order.
Obama’s successor has already put forth new, more stringent criteria for deportation. With the establishment of a new deportation program in 2014, the Obama administration sought to prioritize deporting undocumented immigrants who broke the law over those who did not. That year, the Department of Homeland Security created the Priority Enforcement Program, which focused on undocumented immigrants who posed a threat to “national security, border security, and public safety.”