Trump unveils immigration plan: U-M experts can discuss

September 1, 2016
Written By:
Nardy Baeza Bickel

After meeting with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump unveiled his immigration plan, which includes ending birthright citizenship, increasing immigration forces and changing standards for the admission of refugees and asylum-seekers.

University of Michigan experts can address these and other issues. Léa en español.

Working Visas

Ann Lin, associate professor at the Ford School of Public Policy, has studied the most recent federal efforts to reform immigration policies.

“Trump pretends he doesn’t know what every employer knows: by law, all work visas require the employer to demonstrate that it hasn’t been able to find qualified American workers,” she said. “Yes, some employers lie about their efforts to recruit Americans, and those employers should be punished. But immigrant workers have allowed the United States to continue to lead the world in producing new technologies that make all Americans’ lives better, to build homes in the places that Americans want to live, to staff the vacation spots that Americans enjoy, and to produce the food that we eat.”

Contact: 734-764-7507, [email protected]

Birthright Citizenship

Martha Jones, co-director of Michigan Law’s Program in Race, Law & History and associate professor of Afroamerican and African studies, has conducted research on the history of race, citizenship and slavery. Jones says she’s troubled with the idea of doing away with the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which established that everyone born in the U.S. is an American citizen. She said one only needs to look at the history behind the amendment.

“That was the case for thousands of hundreds of former slaves, who could not be confident of their status and lived under threat of removal (or deportation on 20th century language),” she said. “We have a history to draw on and we recognize now how desperate and terrible conditions under which former slaves lived. It’s a cautionary tale for our debates today. The burden that a community bears when it’s unclear about their legal status but lives under the threat of being removed is a terrible, terrible circumstance.

And changing the law to only exclude children of undocumented immigrants wouldn’t be much better, she says.

“Think about the divisions you would create within families,” she said. “You would leave terribly vulnerable people—children—to bear the burden to answer the question about the definition of a nation.”

Contact: 734-647-5421, [email protected]

Refugee and Asylum Law

James Hathaway, professor of law and director of the Refugee and Asylum Law Program, is a leading authority on international refugee law. He is editor of the Immigration and Nationality Law Reports.

Contact: [email protected]

Race politics

Vincent Hutchings, professor of political science, is an expert on public opinion, elections, voting behavior and African-American politics.

Contact: 734-764-6591, [email protected]

Immigration Law

Margo Schlanger, professor of law, is a leading authority on civil rights issues and served as the presidentially appointed officer for civil rights and civil liberties in the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

“America is a nation of immigrants—and that’s a huge part of why we are a great nation. Donald Trump’s America would consign 11 million of our neighbors to the black market, leaving them available to be exploited by unscrupulous employers like (Trump’s) own companies. It’s bad policy, not just for the immigrants but for the rest of us.”

Contact: 734-615-2618, [email protected]


Sherrie Kossoudji is an associate professor of social work and adjunct associate professor of economics. She has written numerous articles on the legal status of immigrant workers in the U.S. and the incentives to cross the border illegally. She has also written on wealth disparities for immigrants. This summer, she brought a group of students to the border with Mexico.

“Most Mexicans could never immigrate to the United States because they do not have the qualifications to acquire a visa,” she said. “We cannot ask people to just ‘get into the back of the line’ when there is no line. Even Mexicans who do qualify are unlikely to be able to immigrate: the waiting time for approved candidates from Mexico is more than 20 years.

“Donald Trump’s failure, in what was billed as a major policy speech, to recognize the complexities of undocumented immigration highlights a continued lack of vision. Outside of its lack of compassion for the workers and families who will be deported or separated from their loved ones, the uniform pursuit of punishment and deportation ignores the economic impact on the rest of us. Losing so many workers could dislocate the economy.

“Further, Trump’s pledge to hire thousands more border patrol agents, to create a deportation task force and triple (customs) officers, to create a biometric visa entry-exit tracking system, and to increase deportations will all require more money. Who will he tax in order to raise this money?”

Contact: 734-649-5391, [email protected]

Silvia Pedraza, professor of sociology and American culture, studies the sociology of immigration as well as race and ethnicity in America. Her research seeks to understand the causes and consequences of immigration as a historical process that forms and transforms nations.

Contact: 734-647-3659, [email protected]