Since assuming the presidency in January 2017, immigration experts have cited over 400 changes in immigration policy by the Trump administration during a video conference on Aug. 7 presented by Ethnic Media Services.

Though a significant portion of the nation’s essential workers are immigrants, immigrants continue to be targeted by the Trump administration during the coronavirus pandemic. A staggering number of changes to immigration policy have been made in recent months to Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), Temporary Protected Status, and immigration visas. These changes have been made largely by presidential proclamations and executive orders without congressional support. 

On July 28, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) instructed U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to reject any new DACA applications and will require current recipients to renew their DACA annually as opposed to the every two years. USCIS is also rejecting all applications for advance parole—which allows DACA recipients to leave and reenter the country legally—except where there are “exceptional circumstances.” These changes are in place while DHS considers whether to maintain, rescind, or modify the DACA policy. 

“There is a push for Congress to include the automatic extension of DACA, TPS, work authorizations in the next COVID-19 Relief bills.,” said Ignacia Rodriguez Kmec of the National Immigration Law Center (NILC). NILC recommends that individuals considering renewing their DACA consult an attorney or accredited representative who can identify any red flags that might put the applicant at risk of being denied DACA or even deported and whether they are eligible for another more permanent form of immigration relief.  It’s especially important to consult with an attorney if individuals have prior removal orders, past contact with law enforcement, pending immigration court cases, or plans to travel on advance parole. 

“The pandemic has only accelerated the changes that this administration has made,” said Sarah Pierce, a policy analyst at the Migration Policy Institute (MPI). In an MPI report published last month, Pierce and Jessica Bolter outlined the top three changes, the first taking place on March 20, 2020 when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) mandated that all foreign nationals without authorization to enter the United States be pushed back to Mexico (or Canada) or returned to their countries. Under the order, monthly apprehensions were halved between March and April, and asylum applications plummeted, as the few who did arrive were expelled without the opportunity to seek refuge. The second was the president restricting permanent immigration on April 22, 2020, and the third was the proclamation restricting temporary workers on June 22, 2020.

“Though these largely administrative actions could, in theory, be undone by a future administration, this layered approach, coupled with the rapid-fire pace of change, makes it likely that the Trump presidency will have long-lasting effects on the U.S. immigration system,” read the report.  

Trump’s attack on the Census

While the Trump administration has targeted immigrants via policy, he’s also done it via the 2020 Census. 

The Census, which previously was scheduled to take place through Oct. 31, 2020, has now been shortened to Sept. 30, 2020, which puts communities of color—including immigrant communities—at risk of a short-count. 

In early 2018, the Trump administration proposed adding a citizenship question, one which was struck down by the Supreme Court but was clearly a ploy to discourage immigrants from participating in the Census. The president followed that up with a July 2019 executive order banning undocumented immigrants from being counted in the 2020 Census. And most recently, the president issued an executive memorandum on july 21, 2020, banning undocumented immigrants from participating in the 2020 Census.  

 “This memo isn’t even worth the paper it’s scribbled on,” said Assemblymember Marc Berman (D-Menlo Park), chair of the Assembly Select Committee on the Census. “Trump knows this—he couldn’t even bring himself to make it an Executive Order. It’s blatantly unconstitutional. It isn’t even practical. The Supreme Court tossed Trump’s citizenship question off of the census, so there’s no way to know the citizenship status of the people who reply. If it’s not legal, and it’s not practical, then it’s obviously just fear-mongering to try to suppress participation in the census, which has been Trump’s goal the entire time. It’s truly sad.”

The census can be completed online at, or by phone (English) 844-330-2020, and (Spanish) 844-468-2020.