Trump’s Protectionist Policy and Its Implication on Rights of Refugees

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Table of Contents

  • Executive Actions
  • Recommended Policie
  • Conclusion

President Trump: “The US will not turn into a “migrant camp” or “refugee holding facility. ” “You look at what’s happening in Europe, you look at what’s happening in other places, we can’t allow that to happen to the United States. “Not on my watch”.

The United States is known to be the top receiving country for legal immigrants, however, behind this noble gesture is there a side that is not as appealing and apparent to the public sphere? This policy paper aims to tackle the question that is overlooked by most, which is that despite the great gesture of immigrant intake, what lies in the deeper surface that is veiled by the facade of goodwill on the outer surface? Is there a violation of human rights during this process that is overlooked and overshadowed by the immigrants that do find a place in the United States?

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It will specifically focus on the human rights violations during Donald Trump’s presidency period, and how crucial it is to eliminate these barriers that allow room for such violations to occur even in a so-called country as powerful and dominating as the United States. This just proves how inequality doesn't skip based on supremacy and how it is a deep-rooted problem within every society, regardless of how progressive and liberal you are. There is a skeleton that is hidden behind every closet; the only difference is how to make that skeleton not come out, and this paper aims to bring that skeleton out. The Trump Administration came into power based on fear, bigotry, and a lot of strong protectionist policy. They took a highly right wing approach when it came to the Presidential election where Trump built his reputation as a non-interventionist and an American Nationalist. Through his campaign, which mostly revolved around the idea “Making America Great Again”, you got to witness some of the racist and controversial commentaries that were made on certain topics. His campaign received great media coverage that gave him the platform to partake in that controversy that led to his victory in the Presidential election. One of the many controversial remarks that he made throughout his campaign was to put a complete stop to Muslim immigration because he associated all Muslims to terrorists.

Throughout his presidency, there was an obvious negative reaction towards immigrants and refugees. His views on illegal immigrants has been extremely rigid and has promoted extreme discrimination towards immigrants and refugees. Donald Trump perceives all immigrants and refugees as criminals or corrupters of the American society. He has routinely commented about “kicking out” terrorists families, which is a violation under the Geneva Convention that he clearly disregards. He has supported limitation on legal immigration and guest-worker visas to the extent that he has put a pause on granting green-cards. Right as he came into office, he swore to bring about changes that will discard anyone that comes close to jeopardizing America, based on his version of jeopardy. He took matter into his own hands and has imposed many policies that limits immigrants from staying in the United States such as: travel ban to Muslim refugees and immigrants, Zero-Tolerance Policy, Reforming American Immigration for a strong economy Act, refugee cap of 50, 000, and to end the diversity visa lottery. Trump is known for a very famous slogan: “Buy American, Hire American. ” With that thought process in mind he came up with Four Pillars of Immigration Reform: Path to citizenship for dreamers, Increased border security funding, Ending the diversity visa lottery, and restrictions on family-based immigration.

He also wanted to build a wall which the Mexicans themselves would pay for its construction through increased border-crossing fees and NAFTA tariffs. Trump openly claimed that "nobody builds walls better than me, believe me, and I'll build them very inexpensively. ” Trump also proposed mass deportation of undocumented immigrants in his immigration policy alongside with proposed Muslim Immigration Ban on most Muslim countries including the Syrian Refugees. United States Role in the Immigration and Refugee Crisis: The United States plays a paradoxical role when it comes to this crisis. They are the most generous donor of humanitarian assistance that they are the leading country for immigrant intaking, but on the other hand, U. S. military actions and partnerships are the direct results to the worsening of humanitarian crises as mentioned in the Article by Steven Feldstein. “U. S. policy choices bear responsibility in three ways:

  1. U. S. military operations have caused immense disruption and are intensifying;
  2. partner militaries are systematically violating international humanitarian law and exacerbating migration outflows;
  3. consequently, international norms to protect civilians during armed conflict are diminishing worldwide. ”

During Obama’s Presidency, the refugee cap was at the level of 110, 000 but Donald Trump has suggested to decreasing the refugee cap to 30, 000, “it is the lowest number in the history of the nearly 40-year-old resettlement program. ” If you think about it, wouldn't increasing refugee admissions above Obama’s refugee cap give Donald Trump an edge over Obama alongside setting an important precedent? It would present the United States as a nation that cares about the global humanitarian cases, also as a responsible nation that provides safety and security to those in need. However, Trump has a different perception to this whole matter. He is keen on clearing out those that “don't belong in the United States”.

Executive Actions

Donald Trump has taken serious steps to limit the impact of immigrants and refugees in the American society. His attempt at making America Great again, by his standard, has been one of the most heated topics globally. He has taken serious steps to limit and restrict any foreigner from seeking refuge in His America. He has ordered many travel bans and refugee suspension, alongside with increasing immigrant enforcement. He has tried to phase out of DACA (Deferred actions for childhood arrivals), and has ordered a Zero-tolerance policy and family separation on Mexican Border. He also ordered a cancellation of the temporary protective status for temporary visitors. He took on to Twitter to make this claim on June 24, 2018: “We cannot allow all of these people to invade our Country. When somebody comes in, we must immediately, with no Judges or Court Cases, bring them back from where they came. ” Donald Trump clearly has his priorities together in this specific issue.

Recommended Policie

Some of the key existing US immigration programs are: Family-based immigration, which allows someone to enter and receive a green card if they already have someone from their family with US citizenship there. However, Trump has restricted this policy only for spouses and minor-children.

Another policy that is in place is the refugee admissions, which Trump froze refugee admission as the first act as President and he justified this act by claiming security concerns. This act basically put a stop to all Muslim refugees being able to visit or seek asylum in the United States. Eventually, they restarted country admissions but 11 nations were still perceived as high-risks, which by 2018 refugee admissions continued from all countries.

Another policy, known as the employment-based green cards, which was awarded to foreign workers and their families has been in place for immigrants alongside with a diversity visa known as the lottery visa that issues green cards to 50, 000 people through this program, Trump is trying to eliminate the lottery visa evidently to not let those “refugee criminals” enter his America. Then there are policies for temporary admission, and the key difference here is that even though they have the permission to visit to live in the US, they dont have the required criteria to meet the lawful permanent residence status. The 2 policies in place for this specific situation are: DACA and Temporary Protected Status.

Another policy that is in place is H-1B visas, that is the nation's biggest temporary employment visa program. However, even with all these so-called policies, refugees and immigrants don’t have that security to live freely and without any fear. Some other strategies suggested are “comprehensive immigration reform, attracting skilled immigrants, national security, employer enforcement, Simplifying, streamlining, and investing in the immigration system, improving America’s image abroad, border enforcement, state and local enforcement, and earned legalization. ”


This matter is such a grave problem worldwide without having leaders, such as Donald Trump, overcomplicating it even further with their proposed restrictions. This matter needs serious action that would pressurize the President to actually look at this matter from a broader perspective than the limited view that he has. Unfortunately, there is not one policy that can be suggested that will somehow make this problem disappear from the face of the Earth. What this problem needs is a proper understanding of the problem at hand, and a different perception. Maybe, it would be beneficial to not look at refugees or immigrants as people trying to come and take their land or home, but more as people that are sharing and becoming a part of the family. If instead of looking at them as people who are an anchor of society, maybe view them as people who help in building and contributing to the betterment and advancement of society. Once these preconceived ideologies and opinions have changed, then there is more room for acceptance and taking the necessary steps to ensure the safety of these individuals. Until and unless the negative perception hasn’t changed, then there isn’t room for growth and proper negotiation and this something that President Trump needs to work on an individual surface.

As for a communal solution, there are some strategies that can be applied to a resolving the matter at hand. First, civil society has to be more active in regard to this matter, and should put their weight on policymakers to apply laws that would be for the immigrants and refugees protection. Second, members of the EU should speak about this matter at the United Nations and raise their concern to increase international organization involvement and pressure. Final strategy that can be applied in regard to this matter would be for every country to add economic pressure by saying that if the United States wants to keep its economic ties, it has to pull its weight in resolving this humanitarian crisis in exchange for some economical or trade incentive.

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