Trump, Immigration, and the Fight for America’s Soul

On the podcast: Where Trump’s effort to block asylum-seekers fits in the history of U.S. immigration policy.

By , the executive editor for podcasts at Foreign Policy.
A Central American migrant and her children walk outside El Chaparral port of entry in Tijuana, Mexico, on July 17.
A Central American migrant and her children walk outside El Chaparral port of entry in Tijuana, Mexico, on July 17.
A Central American migrant and her children walk outside El Chaparral port of entry in Tijuana, Mexico, on July 17. OMAR MARTINEZ/AFP/Getty Images

In mid-July, the Trump administration announced plans to fast-track deportations for undocumented immigrants. Those who couldn’t prove they had been in the United States for two years continuously would be eligible for immediate deportation. The new rule would hit asylum-seekers the hardest.

The new policy is part of a broader effort by the administration to limit immigration to the United States, both legal and illegal, going back to the so-called Muslim travel ban at the start of President Donald Trump’s term. It reflects a larger argument that Americans have been having throughout their history regarding the very nature of the United Sates as a country: whether or not it should serve as a save haven for persecuted people from around the world.

To chart America’s shifting immigration policies, we turned to Melanie Nezer, the senior vice president for public affairs at HIAS, an organization that helps with the resettlement of refugees. She is our guest this week on First Person.

In mid-July, the Trump administration announced plans to fast-track deportations for undocumented immigrants. Those who couldn’t prove they had been in the United States for two years continuously would be eligible for immediate deportation. The new rule would hit asylum-seekers the hardest.

The new policy is part of a broader effort by the administration to limit immigration to the United States, both legal and illegal, going back to the so-called Muslim travel ban at the start of President Donald Trump’s term. It reflects a larger argument that Americans have been having throughout their history regarding the very nature of the United Sates as a country: whether or not it should serve as a save haven for persecuted people from around the world.

To chart America’s shifting immigration policies, we turned to Melanie Nezer, the senior vice president for public affairs at HIAS, an organization that helps with the resettlement of refugees. She is our guest this week on First Person.

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