Trump’s Immigration ‘To Do’ List Takes Shape

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By Laura D. Francis

Nov. 10 — Get ready for a “very significant change of course” during the transition from President Barack Obama to President Donald Trump, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach said.

Kobach, who is serving on Trump’s transition team for immigration policy, was the architect of Arizona’s enforcement-style immigration law, S.B. 1070. The team, he told Bloomberg BNA, already is creating a “to do list” of actions the incoming president “may want to do in immigration policy.” The goal: to allow the Trump administration to “hit the ground running.”

Chief among the action items are undoing the “Obama administration’s executive amnesty”—both the 2012 deferred action for childhood arrivals program and the 2014 deferred action for parents of Americans and lawful permanent residents program—and laying the groundwork for constructing a wall on the southern border, Kobach said.

Trump has promised to start work on both on his first day in office. But securing the border and constructing a wall is “more complex than it might first appear,” so it’s important for the transition team to lay the groundwork now, Kobach said.

‘Menu of Issues.’

“Ultimately the decision will be the president’s,” Kobach said. But the transition team is going to present a “menu of issues” and “specific policies” that he can choose from to forward his agenda, he said.

Also on that menu is mandatory E-Verify for all employers. The electronic employment verification system checks employees’ information against government databases to ensure they are authorized to work in the U.S. It’s currently optional for most employers.

Mandatory E-Verify “would require congressional action,” and so the transition team is drafting bills that Trump can work with his allies in Congress to introduce, Kobach said.

That’s something that could become law despite recent congressional gridlock on immigration. “Democrats who are concerned about stagnant wages that American workers face are likely to favor E-Verify,” Kobach said.

H-1B Proposals

The transition team also “has some proposals in the works” on H-1B visas, Kobach said, although he declined to go into specifics.

The program provides temporary visas to skilled foreign workers and is a favorite in the information technology industry. It’s come under fire recently because of reports that employers such as Walt Disney World laid off their U.S. IT workers in favor of H-1B workers and required them to train their replacements.

The H-1B program was one of few immigration items, other than enforcement and border security, that Trump mentioned during his campaign. His campaign website called for increasing the prevailing wages that employers must pay to their H-1B workers, which would prevent foreign worker employment from undercutting U.S. workers’ wages. It also called for requiring that employers recruit U.S. workers before hiring an H-1B worker.

Neither of those positions currently appears on the campaign website or the transition website.

Finally, “more vigorous work-site enforcement” also will be on the transition team’s list of policy proposals, Kobach said. “There’s no question that when President Obama took office, work-site enforcement ground to a virtual halt,” he said. As a result, U.S. workers lost their jobs or saw a drop in their wages, he said.

Overall, the team is looking for ways to implement the principle that U.S. workers should come first, he said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Laura D. Francis in Washington at lfrancis@bna.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Peggy Aulino at maulino@bna.com; Terence Hyland at thyland@bna.com

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