Background Memo

2000-2008 The Bush Administration

The Bush administration had effectively doubled its spending on border control between 2001 and 2007, from $4.6 to $10.4 billion dollars (President Bush’s Plan For Comprehensive Immigration Reform). During that same period, the administration had doubled the number of border patrol agents and mobilized over 6,000 members of the national guard to aid in securing the Southern border. The administration was hard line on immigrants overstaying their visas, and cited in their policy that “Any Undocumented Worker Seeking Citizenship Must Go To The Back Of The Line” (2007). Notably, the September 11th terrorist attacks drove America into an extended occupation in the Middle East, destabilizing the region and inciting anti-American sentiment which would continue to grow for years. Simultaneously, resulting from these attacks was an American-based Islamophobia. 

2009-2017 The Obama Administration

The Obama administration’s stance on immigration is summarized by Obama’s quote of. . . “when you hear stories of a mother that is fearful that she might be deported… you realize is, that’s not what America is about” (It’s time to fix our broken immigration system). The Obama administration had worked to change our immigration stance; however it is important to note that deportations had increased throughout his first term (Horsley, 2016). One notable difference is that under Obama’s administration, deportations were shifted from middle-America to being more strictly enforced at the border. The administration had also created the “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals” (DACA) Program, to extend protections for children of immigrants from the threat of deportation, as well as the DREAMers program, to extend access for students looking to study in the US. Because of the growing anti-American sentiments handed down from the previous generations, the world saw the rise of terrorist organizations such as Al-Qaeda and ISIL (later ISIS). The continued push from these groups, in tandem with the Syrian civil war, led to a massive exodus of refugees fleeing violence in the region. 

2017-2020 The Trump Administration

 The Trump administration had campaigned using a hardline immigration stance, promising to build and enforce a border wall to prevent illegal immigration from Mexico. Additionally, the then-candidate promised to ban Muslims from entering the country (Graphics, 2017), and that he would be “looking at mosques because something is happening in there” (Reuters, 2015). Within the first month of his presidency, Trump signed an executive order to call for a multibillion-dollar border wall along America’s Southern border (Graphics, 2017). Further, he issued a ban from seven predominantly Muslim countries (his so-called Muslim ban) following through on these campaign promises. The administration has seen tremendous strides in achieving its policy goals but has been met with equally tremendous social reproach by those opposed to its agenda (Graphics, 2017).


The continuing tensions between the Middle-East and the United States had primed groups on both sides against one another. This, in tandem with growing concerns over illegal immigration from Mexico has the Republican Party taking harder stances against immigration. Democrats have historically had a less-severe approach to immigration, and the political divide is a key voting issue now in every major election. Today Democrats are calling Trumps policies on immigration racist and/or anti-Muslim, and though he has been successful in making the changes he’s promised, there have been documented reports of greater stress on immigrant families in the US (Shochet, 2017). 


Graphics, R. (2017). The Trump Effect: Immigration. Retrieved October 15, 2020, from

Greeff, B. (2019, November 1). [Flag through Fence]. Retrieved 2020, from

Horsley, S. (2016, August 31). 5 Things To Know About Obama’s Enforcement Of Immigration Laws. Retrieved October 19, 2020, from

It’s time to fix our broken immigration system. (n.d.). Retrieved October 19, 2020, from

President Bush’s Plan For Comprehensive Immigration Reform. (2007). Retrieved October 15, 2020, from

Reuters, S. (2015, December 08). Donald Trump calls for complete ban on Muslims entering the US – video. Retrieved October 19, 2020, from

Schochet, L. (2017, July 31). Trump’s Immigration Policies Are Harming American Children. Retrieved October 19, 2020, from

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