THE US election is on Tuesday; the outcome would have far-reaching consequences for emigration, in addition to other aspects of relations from Guyana and the rest of the world. Trump plans to erect hurdles for aspiring legal immigrants and visitors and professionals seeking employment in the US.
Guyana normally sends about 10K immigrants a year into the US as permanent residents. Over the last several years, many also got visitors and students visas, adding to the ‘green-card’ recipients. The number was much higher in preceding years. Between 2012 and 2015, in addition to ‘green-cards’, over 30K visitor’s visas were granted to Guyanese, the overwhelming majority being given to Indians to reduce their presence in the 2015 Elections that helped to bring about the ouster of the Ramotar Administration. That number of green cards and visitors visas could be reduced to a trickle, should Trump win re-election; only selected immigrants would be allowed into the country.
Since early this year, the Trump administration has frozen immigration into the US, and has announced on Thursday stricter rules for immigration into the US were he to win another term. A Biden Administration promises to reverse the Trump policy on immigration, continuing the liberal policy of the past, and restoring DACA, the Dream Act that allows undocumented college students to remain and work in the US, providing they have no criminal record. Opinion polls put Biden in the lead to defeat Trump. While Biden leads in overall popular support, the contest is much closer in some swing states that would determine which candidate would become President. Based on my own assessment of opinion polls and conversations with voters, Biden is projected to defeat Trump.
The Trump Administration has made anti-immigration a centerpiece of its policy, hoping it can take it to victory in the elections in which he is trailing in support. On Thursday, President Donald Trump’s senior adviser, Stephen Miller told a news outlet that if the President wins re-election, he will take a harder line on immigration; limiting political asylum, punishing and outlawing so-called sanctuary cities that give protection to illegals, expanding travel entry bans, limiting visitors visas, and slapping new limits on work visas. Tens of thousands of professionals, most IT workers and engineers, came to the US annually. Most were from India. The Trump Administration ended the practice, saying preference should be given to American skilled workers. But the US has a shortage of STEM workers.
Miller said the objective behind a new immigration policy is “raising and enhancing the standard for entry to the United States”. Unskilled immigrants would be excluded from coming to the US, preventing many from uniting with families. Chain migration through family sponsorship would be reduced, if not altogether eliminated.
Immigration, keeping out Minorities, was central to Trump’s victory in 2016. The campaign is playing the immigration card again in 2020, hoping it pays political dividends. The race is tightening. A significant number of Guyanese, over 20 per cent, is supporting Trump.