Donald Trump is doing exactly what he promised to do back when he kicked off his presidential campaign in 2015. In this, his second year of office, the president’s sick and deranged racist fantasies came to life through his xenophobic policies and the rise of his deportation force. And for immigrants, 2018 can be summed up in just one word: fear.
(Of course, the president said and did plenty of other horrendous things to immigrants prior to 2018 ― e.g., the Muslim travel ban of 2017 ― but this year Trump’s racist policies became front and center on a whole new level.)
The year kicked off with a congressional fight over three pieces of legislation designed to address the future of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals beneficiaries, commonly referred to as Dreamers. One of those bills was Trump’s xenophobic wish list, which included a “border wall and an end to the visa lottery system and family-based migration that Trump calls chain migration.”
Republicans overwhelmingly rejected the bill, which was ultimately defeated by significant margins, thus handing the president and his administration an embarrassing defeat. The other two legislative proposals failed because Democrats and immigration advocates couldn’t agree on whether to pass a “clean” Dream Act, which would’ve done nothing to address Republican demands, or a more moderate bill that would protect Dreamers… in exchange for $25 billion in funding for border security and the construction of Trump’s racist border wall, plus prohibit green card holders from sponsoring their adult children.
With Dreamers left in the cold by Congress yet again, the Trump administration wreaked havoc on immigrant and refugee communities across the U.S. The Republican anti-immigrant agenda sped up in 2018 as tens of thousands of people with temporary protected status (immigrants who live in the U.S. due to circumstances that make their home country “unable to handle the return of its nationals adequately,” including Haitians, Salvadorans and Hondurans) saw that status terminated by the Trump administration. They’re now on a sure pathway toward deportation unless legislation or court rulings protect them.
Immigrants without criminal records also found themselves in Trump’s sights in 2018. This year, immigrants the federal government previously deemed “low priority” for deportation were suddenly being picked up by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents despite not having a criminal record. Even born U.S. citizens fell victim to the “unshackled” practices of ICE and local police forces.