U.S President Donald Trump is powering ahead with his anti-immigration agenda, in a bid to win the re-election.
The Republican president won the White House in large part due to his hard-line stance on immigration, a bedrock issue that animates his base. His administration has maintained that focus despite intense pressure to respond to the world’s worst coronavirus outbreak and nationwide protests against police brutality and racism that have fueled a summer of discontent.
Trump has amplified new issues this election cycle, including law and order in the wake of the protests, and unsubstantiated claims that a surge of mail voting due to coronavirus concerns will lead to widespread fraud. Still, he has instituted sweeping new immigration policies during the pandemic and made it a campaign advertising priority on Facebook.
Recent policy changes include broad shutdowns of America’s legal immigration system, such as blocking the entry of a range of temporary foreign workers and some applicants for permanent residence. With Trump trailing in the polls, the White House is preparing further restrictions in the run-up to the Nov. 3 election, according to Stephen Miller, the architect of Trump’s immigration agenda.
In a new television ad that launched on Tuesday in the early-voting battleground states of Arizona, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina and Wisconsin, the Trump campaign warned that Biden’s support for legalizing millions of immigrants living in the country illegally would subject American workers to more competition in a dismal job market.
The strategy has baffled some Republican strategists, who say the election will be decided mainly on bread and butter issues. Trump’s sagging fortunes are bound to the U.S. failure to tackle coronavirus, which has killed more Americans than World War One and caused the U.S. economy to contract at its steepest pace since the Great Depression.
Trump’s use of immigration to energize his core supporters and shift the conversation away from the crises facing the country could alienate swing voters, according to Alex Conant, a Republican strategist.
“If he’s not talking about the pandemic or the economy, he is not talking about what Americans are most concerned about,” Conant said.
In an analysis conducted for us, the Migration Policy Institute, a Washington-based think tank, said that before the pandemic, the administration was making immigration policy changes at a rate of about one every three days.
During the pandemic, this has increased to about one every two days, a tally that includes both significant changes to the immigration system and logistical moves, such as temporarily closing offices that process immigration applications.
“You would expect it to take a back seat to the massive public health and economic crises under COVID,” said Sarah Pierce, a policy analyst at the institute. “Instead the administration has been just as active on immigration as ever.”