Immigration reform is a term used in political discussion regarding changes to current immigration policy in the US. The definition of reform is to change into an improved form or condition, by amending or removing faults or abuses. It is really used to describe proposals to maintain or increase legal immigration while decreasing illegal immigration. Since early 2013, the term immigration reform has been applied to efforts to “overhaul” the broken immigration system in the United States. In his November 20, 2014 speech on immigration, President Obama verbalized the need for revision to immigration laws and procedures. Paul Ryan indicated that the House majority would not try to work further with the Obama administration on revising immigration regulations, pushing the reform debates to 2017.

2017 is here and we are in the early months of Donald Trump’s presidency. During Donald Trump’s first speech to Congress, he made no mention to support a path to citizenship for thousands of immigrants now in the country illegally. Trump, however, has remained focused on deporting illegal aliens who have criminal records. Trump has “been kind of all over the map on legal immigration,” said Jessica Vaughan, director of policy studies for the Center for Immigration Studies, a research group that favors limits on immigration. Currently the immigration reform agenda is on Trump’s back burner with more pressing issues such as Health care, tax overhaul, budget and infrastructure taking on priority to get past Congress.

(Courtesy C-SPAN2)

In the meantime Trump issued two travel plans regarding the issue of immigration and “control”. After two failed attempts on the proposed travel ban from select Muslim countries, he has resorted to extreme vetting of visa and green card applicants. Trump made the “extreme vetting” of foreign nationals to combat terrorism a major theme of his presidential election campaign. Tourists from Britain and other countries visiting the US could be forced to reveal mobile phone contacts, social media passwords and financial data under “extreme vetting” practices being considered by the Trump administration, according to the Wall Street Journal. The proposed changes might include visitors from the 38 countries – the UK, France, Australia and Japan among them – that participate in the visa waiver program, which requires adherence to strict US standards in data sharing, passport control and other factors, one senior official told the Journal.

President Donald Trump has laid the groundwork for potentially deporting millions of undocumented immigrants by issuing new guidance that drastically broadens the ways in which federal immigration laws should be enforced.

There are an estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants in the US, and upwards of 8 million of them are expected to find themselves targeted under the new policy. Only those who were illegally brought in to the country as children and the parents of children born here may be exempt although that remains to be seen.

At recent a Joint Session of Congress, Trump told lawmakers: “I believe that real and positive immigration reform is possible, as long as we focus on the following goals: to improve jobs and wages for Americans, to strengthen our nation’s security and to restore respect for our laws. If we are guided by the well-being of American citizens then I believe Republicans and Democrats can work together to achieve an outcome that has eluded our country for decades. He also said that a path to citizenship for those in the country illegally would not be part of his vision, with the possible exception of “Dreamers” — those brought into the US illegally as children.

The President believes that the nation is now in a position where it can pass immigration legislation after decades of failed efforts, and he believes the country is “exhausted.” In private, however, immigration activists on both sides of the spectrum believe that compromises can be made during Trump’s tenure, although the inclusion of a “pathway to citizenship” for the millions of people living in the US illegally remains a tough sticking point.