Resource: In the Age of Trump: Populist Backlash and Progressive Resistance Create Divergent State Immigrant Integration Contexts

By: Margie McHugh

January 1, 2018

Transatlantic Council on Migration

The paper takes a look at how policy changes being made by the Trump administration and the Republican Congress - and resistance to those changes - are affecting immigrant integration in several arenas. The author also examines the likely consequences of other proposed changes in immigration policy. As the administration seeks to draw local law enforcement into its efforts to deport more immigrants, some states and localities have eagerly complied, but many of the nation's largest cities - and even some states - have vigorously resisted. The administration's drastic cuts to the refugee resettlement program have also forced hundreds of layoffs in resettlement organizations, compromising capacity not only to resettle new refugees, but to continue to aid those already living in local communities. The head of the Department of Education, Betsy DeVos, is keenly interested in reducing federal oversight in education, leaving more power to the states - a development that may translate into reduced support in some states for English learners and other at-risk students. Looking ahead, Republicans in Congress and the Trump administration are seeking to reduce public benefit programs such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), which will impact millions of immigrant families. Refugee admissions in 2018 may fall below even the record low ceiling set this year, doing further damage to the nation's resettlement infrastructure. Pending changes to public charge regulations may make individuals deportable for using any benefit for which eligibility is determined based on income. The report concludes by noting that states and the courts have become the new major players on immigration and integration policy matters, and in the coming year "sharp differences in state contexts of reception and integration will remain the norm and likely deepen."