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How Will the 2016 Presidential Election Affect Immigration Reform?

by Jennifer Grady, Esq. and Grady Firm Law Clerk

With the American presidential election cycle in full swing, immigration reform continues to be a heated and controversial topic.  The presidential campaign front-runners, Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump, have widely divergent perspectives on the issue.  Below is a look at each candidate’s stance on the ability of undocumented immigrants to gain legal US citizenship.

I. Should Undocumented Immigrants in the United States Be Allowed to Become Legal Residents?


Hillary Clinton was a co-sponsor of the “DREAM Act” (Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors), which is an American legislative proposal for a multi-phase process for undocumented immigrants in the United States that would first grant conditional residency and upon meeting further qualifications, permanent residency.  In addition, she also supports President Obama’s DACA and DAPA executive actions.

On the topic of immigration reform, Hilary Clinton has stated:

“The American people support comprehensive immigration reform–not just because it is the right thing to do, but because it strengthens families, our economy, and our country.  Congress must pass comprehensive immigration reform that provides a path to citizenship, treats every person with dignity, upholds the rule of law, protects our borders and national security, and brings millions of hardworking people into the formal economy.” (Source: “America Needs Comprehensive Immigration Reform with a Pathway to Citizenship,” hillaryclinton.com).

If elected, Secretary Clinton is expected to continue defending President Obama’s actions and take a progressive approach towards immigration reform.


Donald Trump, on the other hand, does not support a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, and vehemently argues that anyone present in the United States illegally should be deported.

He has stated, “So, we have a country of laws, [immigrants are] going to go out, and they’ll come back if they deserve to come back.  If they’ve had a bad record, if they’ve been arrested, if they’ve been in jail, they’re never coming back.  We’re going to have a country again.  Right now, we don’t have a country, we don’t have a border, and we’re going to do something about it, and it can be done with proper management, and it can be done with heart.” (Source: CNN, “GOP Presidential Debate. Aired 8:10-11:15p ET.,” transcripts.cnn.com).

Mr. Trump is expected to take a very hard line against immigration if he is elected President.

Mr. Trump has famously supported building a wall between Mexico and the United States, and  in response, Mexican lawmakers passed a proposal on March 3, 2016 to bar presidential candidate Donald Trump from entering Mexico.  Though the proposal amounts to a tellingly symbolic gesture, the lawmakers hope the measure will pressure Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto to take a more adamant stand against Trump’s xenophobic rhetoric — including his blanket characterization of Mexican immigrants as ‘rapists and criminals.’

II. Response to Orlando Shooting

In response to the horrific mass shooting at a gay club in Orlando on June 12, Mr. Trump reiterated his controversial call for a temporary ban on Muslim migration to the United States.  Mr. Trump vowed to give the authorities more tools “to clamp down on terrorists” and that, if elected, he would use his executive powers to keep foreign Muslims from entering the country for an indefinite period of time.

While in Cleveland on June 13, Mrs. Clinton, called for vigilance in the fight against homegrown terrorists inspired by the Islamic State and said the response to the Orlando massacre required “clear eyes, steady hands, and unwavering determination and pride in our country and our values.”  She also proposed bolstering coalition airstrikes against ISIS in Syria and said she would work with the public and private sectors to identify and root out terrorist “lone wolves” in the United States and Europe who become radicalized without traveling overseas, often through online recruitment.

III. Other Immigration News: Looming Questions About The EB-5 Program

The EB-5 program offers Permanent Resident status to nationals of foreign countries who invest $1 million dollars (or $500,000 in certain areas targeted for economic revitalization) into the creation of a new United States-based enterprise, or the revitalization of an existing enterprise.  The program has been extremely popular, with nearly 9,000 EB-5 visas issued last year, in contrast to only 64 visas issued in 2003.

The program has come under fire recently, after several cases of fraud were uncovered. Critics argue that US citizenship shouldn’t be for sale, while supporters assert that the program injections billions of dollars into the US economy.

The Department of Homeland Security is currently investigating the incidents of fraud, and the fraud detection office at United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is conducting internal reviews.  In the meantime, the EB-5 program continues to be available for applicants, notwithstanding Mainland China applicants who have reached the quota and will be subject to a two-year backlog.

Donald Trump has licensed Trump Bay Street in Jersey City, to two developers, one of which is  Kushner Companies, run by his son-in-law Jared Kushner, the husband of Ivanka Trump. Trump’s partners in the Jersey City project are raising $50 million from 100 Chinese investors out of a total project cost estimated at $195 million. Ground was broken on the the 45-story luxury apartment building just across the Hudson River from lower Manhattan two years ago, and the project is slated to be completed later this year.

Hillary Clinton’s brother, Anthony Rodham, is an officer of the regional center that raised money for the since-collapsed Greentech proposal to build energy-efficient electric golf carts.  At one time, the project also involved Terry McAuliffe before he became a candidate for Virginia’s governorship.   Rodham’s investment firm and the car company came under review by the agency’s anti-fraud section, and one employee noted in a report that Rodham’s sister headed the State Department, according to a document released in 2013 by Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa).

Anthony Rodham’s role as a traveling salesman for the EB-5 visa program could pose questions for Hillary Clinton.  Her brothers, Tony and Hugh, have been involved in various overseas business ventures, and Clinton’s political opponents have accused them over the years of trading on the Clinton connection.

Rodham’s title at the Philadelphia investment company is “Chief Global EB5 Investor Relations & Government Affairs.” The firm received federal approval in late 2013 to seek foreign investors who would put $500,000 into job-creating projects in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

The Global City Regional Fund’s goal is to raise $33 million in foreign investment for the community center project, which would transform a vacant lot in Philadelphia’s Chinatown into a 23-story tower that would dwarf all other area buildings.

The fund also includes on its advisory board Chelsea Clinton’s mother-in-law, former Rep. Marjorie Margolies (D-Pa.), and former Rep. Joe Hoeffel (D-Pa.).

iV. How Will Changes to Immigration Reform Affect You and Your Family?

Please be advised that until a proposal becomes law, it is just that–a proposal–and not a valid immigration option.  However, in light of the uncertainty of a new government, potential applicants may wish to apply for immigration relief as soon as possible before any laws change under a new administration in 2017.

If you are interested in immigrating to the United States, or have questions about these potential changes, schedule a complimentary 15-minute consultation with The Grady Firm’s attorneys; call +1 (949) 798-6298; or fill out a Contact Request Form.

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*This article is for informational purposes only, and does not constitute legal advice or create an attorney-client relationship. This article does not make any guarantees as to the outcome of a particular case, as each case has its own set of circumstances and must be evaluated individually by licensed attorney.


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