Has President Trump reduced illegal immigration?

The USA has always seen itself as a nation of immigrants. Donald Trump questions this self-image. This is evident not only in the "zero tolerance" border policy, but also in legal immigration.

At the beginning of his term in office, Trump openly stated how he envisions immigration in the future. He wanted "more Norwegians" and fewer immigrants from "shithole countries". In other words, the president only wants to welcome well-off, educated and English-speaking immigrants who are useful to the United States.

Expression of a racist worldview

Trump's "Norwegians" also stand for something else, says Democratic Congressman Cedric L. Richmond from Louisiana. They are an expression of the racist worldview of Trump, who wants to make America again a nation dominated by whites: "Make America White Again".

An analysis of the immigration visas of Trump's first year and a half in the White House by the Washington Post feeds the MP's suspicions. Accordingly, the number of visas fell by a total of twelve percent. Of the ten countries that have received the most visas so far, only Central American El Salvador has been able to maintain its status.

In some cases significantly fewer immigrants came to the USA from all other countries. Three months before the end of the US fiscal year, only a third of the quotas for Africans and Latin Americans have been reached, and less than half for Asians.

The common denominator of this trend: the countries that are particularly affected by the decline are countries with a non-white population. In contrast, there is a slight increase in the number of immigrants from Europe. So far, they only make up ten percent, including less than 6,000 from Germany.

Entry stop from Muslim countries

Today's immigration system is based on three pillars: Anyone who has family members in the USA, presents proof of employment or is accepted into the "green card lottery" can come.

Against "illegal immigration" Trump is taking action even more resolutely, even if he has not yet been able to get any funds from Congress for the construction of the wall on the southern border with Mexico. This includes the criminalization of refugees at the border who are to be housed in camps in the future.

There is also the entry ban for people from predominantly Muslim countries, which was recently confirmed by the Supreme Court. Finally, the President revoked 800,000 young "dreamers" who had come to the country as children with their parents without valid papers, their DACA status, which protects them from deportation.

If Trump had his way, the US would also stop the green card lottery and family reunification when it came to legal immigration. Since there are no majorities for this in Congress, he relies on the administration, which can set up bureaucratic hurdles unnoticed by the general public; including longer processing times for visa applications and complicated procedures. With this policy, Trump tries to impress his base. Two out of three of his voters consider closing the US immigration gates to be the most important political goal.

For bishops, too, it is about the future

According to experts, the USA urgently needs fresh forces to maintain growth and the social system. University of California Davis economist Giovanni Peri says the decline in immigrants - whether high or low skilled - is detrimental to the economy.

The populist message that immigrants are stealing American jobs is simply wrong. With a historically low unemployment rate of 3.8 percent, industry is already complaining about a labor shortage. Many of the 6.6 million vacancies cannot be filled without active recruitment.

For the Catholic bishops in the USA too, immigration is a question of the future. Because the Mexicans and Central Americans, who suffer most from the tightening of immigration practices, are one of the main pillars of the Catholic Church. Younger people make up more than half of the US Catholics.