Immigration Year-End Review:

The Good, The Bad, and The Changes Yet to Come


Two-thousand-eighteen has been momentous in the U.S. immigration world.  Supreme Court decisions, Attorney General decisions, the caravan, Congressional debate over funding Trump’s wall, and changes in U.S.-foreign relations have all changed the face of U.S. immigration.  In case you missed something, here’s my overview of the must-know immigration events of 2018.


January 8, 2018: DHS announces end date for Temporary Protected Status (“TPS”) program allowing El Salvadorans to live and work in U.S.


January 9, 2018: Judge rules that Trump administration must keep renewing DACA permits.


February 26, 2018: The U.S. Supreme Court denies the Trump administration’s request to review DACA case.


March 13, 2018: Trump visits border wall prototypes in California.


March 20, 2018: Trump claims sanctuary cities harbor criminals.


April 2, 2018: Justice Department announces quotas for immigration judges.


April 4, 2018: Trump signs memorandum to deploy troops to U.S.-Mexico border.


April 6, 2018: Sessions announces a “zero tolerance” policy at the southwest border. It directs federal prosecutors to criminally prosecute all adult migrants entering the country illegally.


April 24, 2018: Judge rules Trump administration must continue accepting new DACA applications.


May 11, 2018: Kelly, White House Chief of Staff, defends the separation of undocumented immigrants from their children as a necessary evil in the administration’s effort to increase border security during an interview with National Public Radio. In the effort to enforce U.S. border laws, “a big name of the game is deterrence,” he say, and separating families “could be a tough deterrent.”


June 1, 2018: United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) quietly announced the creation of a Denaturalization Task Force aimed at finding and deporting naturalized citizens who are suspected of lying on their citizenship applications.


June 11, 2018: Sessions says individuals who are victims of private crime not eligible for asylum. In Matter of A-B-, Sessions unilaterally undermined longstanding asylum protections for victims of domestic violence and gang violence.  He claimed the authority to overrule decisions not only of the Board of Immigration Appeals, but also of federal courts of appeals.


June 26, 2018: A federal judge in California orders U.S. immigration authorities to reunite separated families on the border within 30 days, describing the Trump administration’s handling of the crisis as attempts “to address a chaotic circumstance of the government’s own making.”


June 26, 2018: The Supreme Court upheld Trump’s Muslim ban.


October 13, 2018: A migrant caravan forms in the Honduran city of San Pedro Sula and begins to head north towards the U.S./Mexico border.


October 26, 2018: Trump administration to send troops to U.S.-Mexico border.


October 30, 2018: Trump proposes ending birthright citizenship.  He called it “the biggest magnet for illegal immigration.”


November 8, 2018: Ninth Circuit Court rules Trump administration cannot end DACA.


November 9, 2018: Trump issues presidential proclamation on asylum.


November 25, 2018: A group of about 500 people attempting to cross the border illegally clashed with US Customs and Border Protection agents, who used tear gas on the crowds. Though the migrant group was mostly men, some women and children were also hit by the tear gas.


What to look forward to in 2019:

  • Decisions on Trump’s controversial proposal which would overhaul how the government evaluates whether a would-be immigrant is “not likely to be a public charge.” The current “public charge” definition is so narrow that the government almost never rejects applications on those grounds. The Trump administration’s proposed new definition, on the other hand, would require a far-ranging inventory of an immigrant’s history and economic prospects. It would give enormous discretion USCIS officers to reject an immigrant’s application for admission, or for a green card, because the officer feels the immigrant doesn’t make enough money to support a family or doesn’t have the resources to provide health care for a preexisting condition.
  • Funding expires for several key government agencies on December 21 at midnight. And while there is still time to avert a shutdown, so far, the two sides have been unable to reach an agreement to keep the government open. The key sticking point is how much money Congress should allocate for the President’s long-promised wall at the US-Mexico border.




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