PLAYER PROFILE

Donald Trump

2020 Republican Incumbent President of the United States | President of The Trump Organization

Donald J. Trump, the longtime New York City real estate mogul and television personality, has been in the public eye since the 1970s, and has flirted with presidential campaigns as far back as 1988. But the political rise that ultimately landed him in the White House began in 2011, when, amid polls showing him leading a hypothetical 2012 Republican primary field, Trump began repeatedly demanding that President Barack Obama produce his birth certificate. Trump didn’t run for president in 2012, but his frequent appearances on Fox News at the time positioned the then-reality TV star as the de facto leader of the birther movement, which alleged that Obama was born in Kenya and was therefore an illegitimate president.

By the time he descended the escalator in Trump Tower in June of 2015 and declared himself a candidate for president, Trump had, through birtherism, formed a growing base of Republicans who were as disaffected by the Democratic Party as they were by the establishment leaders of their own party. From birtherism, it was a natural leap to declaring himself the most hawkish candidate on immigration in the 2016 Republican primary field.

“When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best,” said Trump during the announcement of his White House bid. “They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists.”

Trump’s racially charged language drew rebukes from Republican Party leaders, who, still smarting from losing the 2012 election, were looking to be more inclusive, especially of America’s growing Hispanic electorate.

But Trump persisted in his nativist rhetoric. “Build the Wall” became the central theme of his campaign. Upon winning the presidency, Trump and his team of far-right immigration hawks — including Jeff Sessions, Stephen Miller, and Steve Bannon — felt they had a clear mandate to implement hardline immigration policy, including: a ban on all immigration from Muslim-majority countries, reallocation of Defense Department funds and government shutdowns in service of building a wall on the southern border, separating immigrant parents from their children at the border, carrying out high-profile deportations of longstanding residents, and reducing the annual number of refugees accepted into the U.S. by nearly 100,000.

SOURCES:

Trump’S IDEAS

  • Border Security

    Upon taking office, Trump issued an executive order for the U.S. to take “complete operational control of the southern border” by increasing the number of Border Patrol agents, using aerial surveillance and radar technology, and erecting a contiguous, physical wall or other similarly secure, contiguous, and impassable physical barrier.

  • Border Wall

    It was the founding component of his presidential campaign and it remains a central objective of his administration. Nearly all of the Trump administration’s negotiations on various immigration issues have centered on securing more funding for barrier construction at the southern border. Despite countless campaign promises that Mexico would pay for the wall, the president declared a “national emergency” at the border in order to use emergency government funding to continue construction. He has also shifted Department of Defense funding over to Customs and Border Protection in order to pay for additional construction.

  • Detention

    The Trump administration has implemented a “zero tolerance” policy, detaining everyone who crosses into the country illegally, including unaccompanied minors and families with small children. The administration has also expanded the use of private detention facilities, reversing an Obama policy that sought to end their use after several detainees died.

  • Immigration Courts

    Trump supports mandates for judges to speed up caseloads and increase rejection rates for asylum, but his administration’s efforts to reduce the backlog of cases has had the opposite effect. An analysis of court data by The Marshall Project shows that under the Trump administration, the immigration court backlog has grown much faster in one year than has the inflow of migrants — at a rate almost three times that of new cases coming into the court. Trump has issued executive orders greatly restricting prosecutors from exercising discretion to suspend any deportation. And, at Trump’s direction, then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions used his power to overrule immigration judges and issue an opinion eliminating judges’ authority to suspend or terminate cases. Judges had previously used this authority to set aside less urgent cases, allowing them to concentrate on more complex criminal and asylum cases.

  • Undocumented Population

    The president does not support a pathway to citizenship for undocumented persons. As a candidate, Trump threatened to deport “millions” of undocumented persons from the U.S. and, as president, his administration has done nearly that, carrying out high-profile Enforcement and Removal Operations (EROs) in targeted communities, such as the Chaldean population in Detroit and a January 2018 sweep across 7-Eleven stores in California. He has criticized prioritizing family relations in granting citizenship and supports the idea of revising the parameters of birthright citizenship.

  • ICE

    Trump has voiced unfettered support for Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the federal law enforcement agency under the U.S. Department of Homeland Security principally responsible for immigration and customs enforcement. He seeks increased funding and information sharing between ICE and local law enforcement agencies to increase the capacity of ICE to carry out EROs. The president eliminated enforcement priorities established by the Obama administration to target undocumented immigrants with serious criminal records. His administration has shifted more than $200 million in funding to ICE from other Homeland Security agencies including FEMA, the Coast Guard, and TSA.

  • DACA

    Trump did not renew the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program and continues to question in court the legality of the executive action that President Obama used to create it. He has voiced support for the idea of making DACA protections permanent but has ceded that decision to Congress and has made it clear that he is only interested in doing so as leverage for more border security — chiefly more funding for the border wall.

  • Asylum

    The Trump administration has reduced the annual cap on the number of refugees accepted into the U.S. from 110,000 to 18,000; implemented the “Remain in Mexico” policy, which requires asylum-seekers to wait outside the U.S. while their applications are being considered; and removed domestic and gang violence as viable reasons for asylum claims. In November 2018, the administration announced it would reject asylum claims from anyone who crossed into the U.S. illegally, despite numerous reports of asylum seekers being turned away at ports of entry.

  • Central America Policy

    President Trump has cut aid to Central America, suspending $180 million in 2017 and reallocating $380 million that had been budgeted for fiscal 2018. In June of 2017, Vice President Mike Pence, speaking for the president, said the administration would remain focused on security-based initiatives to train and equip military and police in the Northern Triangle, while encouraging foreign investment to fill in the gaps left by cuts to State Department aid to the region.

  • Visas

    Trump suspended issuance of visas to individuals from predominantly Muslim countries. The president has sought to reduce the number of temporary worker visas available for Mexicans and Canadians. Trump’s “Buy American and Hire American” Executive Order called for more stringent inspections and site visits of businesses employing foreign workers holding H-1B and L-1 visas that allow U.S. employers to temporarily employ foreign workers in specialty occupations.