President Donald Trump’s anti-immigrant onslaught has sparked fresh alarm heading into the 2024 presidential race, as Republicans face a pivotal decision about how to handle immigration in the aftermath of the former president’s disastrous tenure. Trump has sought to make the issue a defining point of his presidency, intensifying his crackdown on immigrants in what observers have decried as an effort to make his hardline stance on the issue a key part of his legacy.
From separating migrant families at the U.S.-Mexico border and ending asylum protections, to implementing a travel ban targeting primarily Muslim-majority nations and curbing work visas, the Trump administration has dramatically curtailed immigration in the United States. However, the legacy left by the Trump administration has prompted a growing national divide. On one side, more and more Republicans have become vocal about the need for comprehensive immigration reform; on the other, Trump’s most die-hard supporters call for an even tougher stance.
In the 2024 election, this divide could become even more pronounced, particularly in light of the Republican Party’s commitment to Trump’s “America First” style of policies. If a more traditional party candidate, such as former presidential candidate Mitt Romney, decides to run, the Republican base could be swept up in a greater discussion about the future of immigration in America. Similarly, if a Trump ally such as former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley were to make a bid for president, she may be forced to grapple with the stark realities of the Trump legacy on immigration.
The fate of people currently living in the United States without documentation hangs in the balance. Immigration activists and advocates of reform have condemned the cruelty and heartlessness of the Trump administration’s policies. They argue that it is impossible to make good on America’s promise of opportunity when immigrants are treated as second-class citizens and denied access to a path to citizenship.
As the nation enters a new election cycle, the immigration debate is sure to take center stage once again. It remains to be seen what policies the Republican Party will embrace and which candidates will back them, but it is clear that the legacy of Trump’s anti-immigrant tenure looms large.