Donald Trump explained in 2017 how he plans to “slash legal immigration to the United States in half” (Baker, 2017). With this, he plans to also limits the number of green cards for immigrants into America, as he plans to establish a merit-based system. The amount of unskilled workers in America who have previously received green cards will be greatly reduced, resulting in reductions and shifts in America’s population.
In 2016, 172,726 green cards distributed to persons with their previous residence as Mexico. Similarly, In 2016 there were 54,512 green cards given to persons with their previous residence in Central America (U.S.
Department of Homeland Security). These statistics taken from 2016 were on an upward trajectory, until Trump came into office in January, 2017. Based on the statistics from the Department of Homeland Security, the number of green cards distributed to Mexico and Central American countries rose from about 176,000 to 527,000 from 2014-2016, supporting the idea that for future America, there would be a positive trend for hispanic population growth from the increase in green cards. However, based on Trump’s positions on the granting of green cards/work visas, this positive trend will be reversed. Based on statistics from the U.S.
Department of State from 2013-2017, the vast majority of visas issued were to immediate relatives or family sponsored immigrants (about 458,000 immigrants), totaling to about 80-85% of all immigrant visas (U.S. Department of State, 2017).
The visas given to these immigrants ultimately gives them a better opportunity to receive green cards, as the majority of green cards distributed are to immigrants who already live in the country with visas, who only change their status. Many hispanic immigrants work their way up to green card status by first receiving a visa due to their family sponsored immigrants: frequently called chain migration. In the graph to the right (Raley, 2017), it shows a constant increase in immigrants admitted into the U.S. through chain migration (effectively given visas to be in the country). However, Trump is attempting to limit chain migration and instead base the distribution of immigrant visas/green cards on a merit based system. It is yet to be determined what portion of these 465,000 immigrants will be admitted into the U.
S., but it is certain that it will have a significant reduction in immigration to America (considering that even a 20% reduction impacts nearly 100,000 immigrants).The Mexican and Central American immigrant population have a large impact on the U.S. workforce.
In 2002, over one-third of all employed foreign-born workers are from Central America/Mexico (Grieco, 2004). Of the 7.1 million foreign-born employed workers from Central America, 2.0 million (28 percent) worked as operators, fabricators, and laborers, while 1.8 million (26 percent) worked in service occupations (Grieco, 2004).
An additional 19 percent, or 1.3 million, of employed workers from Central America worked in precision production, craft, and repair occupations such as mechanics, repairers, and construction workers (Grieco, 2004). These industries will be adversely impacted by the population shift (due to Trump’s policies on limiting immigrant visas/green cards), resulting in difficulties finding qualified/available workers to fill positions. This could damage the industry severely, as they will no longer be able to find the employees needed to keep the business thriving. This could change America’s economy.
Summing up the numbers, 227,238 immigrants from Central America & Mexico granted green cards, and 457,585 immigrants given visas from the policy of chain migration (total 684,823) now face uncertainty in their ability to immigrate to the United States through green cards/work visas. Even if Trump’s policy impacts as few as 20%, a population of 136,964 hispanics are at risk of missing out on the American dream. Similarly, if that number approaches 50%, 342,411 hispanics face uncertainty in their attempts to create a life in America. The economic impact to the industries employing these immigrant workers would require a separate analysis on the immigration effects on their business, but the overall impact would still be severe towards America’s economy.