Analysis Illustrates Cuts in Legal Immigration under the Trump Administration

Using governmental immigration data,  the Cato Institute has issued a summary of the toll that Trump administration policies and application processing have taken on legal immigration to the U.S.   Given immigration’s importance to the economy, the picture the data paints is bleak.

The Cato analysis of the most recent statistics available shows that in comparison to the numbers the U.S. would have experienced had 2016 rates continued during the Trump administration,  since 2017 the U.S. has seen:

  • 738,857 fewer immigrants approved for permanent residency at U.S. consulates abroad;
  • an additional 246,000 fewer immigrants already in the U.S. approved to adjust their status to permanent residency;
  • over 291,000 fewer refugees resettled;
  • 297,000 fewer temporary work and cultural exchange visas issued;
  • 96,000 more asylum denials (which does not include all the asylum seekers forced to wait in Mexico and other asylum applicants who have not even been able to have hearings on their applications);
  • 698,000 fewer international students (international students have long made  up the majority of graduate students in STEM fields at U.S. universities);
  • 9 million fewer tourist and business visitor visas issued;
  • Growing application processing backlogs, with nearly 6 million cases pending before U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (compared to 4.3 million in the 4th quarter of 2016) and 1.3 million cases pending before the immigration courts (compared to about 600,000 in Q4 of 2016);
  • a ten-fold increase in decision delays (from 4.7% of all cases in 2016, to over 50% of cases currently that wait more than 7 months for a decision).

Cato concludes

the numbers are clear that President Trump’s immigration policies have irreparably harmed millions of immigrants and Americans. But a new administration will need to go beyond simply reversing his policies to avoid having their effects felt for years to come. New policies would need to allow immigrants to reopen cases wrongfully denied and issue visas and status to them. They should streamline processing these applications to avoid further delaying others. If President Biden’s goal is to rectify the harm of the last four years, he must act boldly and aggressively to fix the numerous problems of his predecessor.

You can read the full analysis here.