Trump’s crackdown on legal migration is already keeping tens of thousands of families apart

Pulling the drawbridge.
Pulling the drawbridge.
Image: Reuters
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Donald Trump clinched the US presidency partially on a promise to crack down on legal and illegal immigration. While his administration has gained a lot of attention on the latter, a recent analysis by Reuters shows he’s already succeeding in slashing the number of people legally entering the country.

There was a significant drop in the number of family visas approved in 2017. Approvals of family based visas, known as I-130s, dropped by nearly a quarter in the first nine months of 2017. There were a similar number of applications during both periods, according to Reuters.

2017 had the lowest number of approvals for extended family visas since 2000. When Reuters looked at the number of I-130s approved for relatives who were not immediate family members, they saw it fall by 70%, dropping from more than 108,000 in the first nine months of 2016, to 32,500 in the same period last year.

The Trump administration also clamped down on visas for fiancés. They fell by 35% in the first nine months of 2017 compared to the same period in 2016. While the specific reason for the drop is unclear, Reuters points out that the US Citizenship and Immigration Services put in place new interview requirements for Americans looking to bring over their fiancés.

Trump has continued to rally against so-called “chain migration,” which has become synonymous with family reunification. Yesterday (Dec 4), Trump said chain migration was “a gateway for terrorism.” Of the 1 million immigrants who are granted lawful permanent residence each year, two-thirds of fall under the “family-based” distinction, according to the Migration Policy Institute (MPI).

Though he’s fiercely against it, Trump’s own family was able to settle in the US thanks to chain migration. In 1929, 17-year-old Mary Anne MacLeod left Glasgow to join two of her sisters in New York City. MacLeod would later become Mary Trump, Donald Trump’s mother.