[Ilya Somin] Trump is no Deregulator on Immigration

The University of Pennsylvania Regulatory Review has just published my article on how the widespread belief that Trump is a deregulator is contradicted by his immigration policy. The article is part of the Regulatory Review’s symposium on “Regulation in the Trump Administration’s First Year,” which also includes contributions by Hawaii Attorney General Douglas Chin, Texas AG Ken Paxton, and law professors Dan Farber (UC Berkeley), Cary Coglianese (University of Pennsylvania), Richard Pierce (George Washington) and Mark Nevitt (Penn). Here is an excerpt:

If there is one thing that most commentators agree on about President Donald J. Trump’s economic policies, it is that he promotes deregulation. American Enterprise Institute President Chris DeMuth lauds him for being a “full-spectrum deregulator.” Susan Dudley, a leading academic expert on regulation, similarly concludes that Trump has made “undeniable” progress on the deregulation front. Most liberal commentators agree that Trump has been a deregulator, even if they differ from DeMuth and Dudley in their normative evaluation of his actions.

But the near-universal belief that Trump is a deregulator is in need of serious revision. His Administration’s immigration policies are nothing of the kind. Not only do they increase regulation, but they likely do so far more than Trump’s other policies decrease it…

The impact is by no means limited to immigrants. American citizens also face substantial costs, both narrowly “economic” and otherwise. American businesses and consumers obviously suffer from losing the productivity of those excluded or deported by the Administration. American citizens also obviously suffer from being cut off from family members who are deported or banned from entering the United States.

In addition, expanded efforts to deport undocumented migrants also harm American citizens. Shockingly, the federal government probably detains or deports several thousand American citizens every year, on the assumption that they must be illegal aliens. Once arrested by immigration authorities, these people are “swept into the Kafkaesque nightmare of the immigration system, [where] they are effectively assumed illegal until proven otherwise,” as immigration expert Shikha Dalmia puts it….

The article also addresses claims that Trump’s immigration policies are just a matter of “enforcing the law” by reducing illegal immigration, an interpretation further belied by his support for legislation that would massively cut legal immigration.

There is an interesting synergy between my article and Cary Coglianese’s forthcoming contribution to the same symposium, which argues that Trump’s deregulatory record elsewhere is not nearly as extensive as it is cracked up to be (I did not have an opportunity to see his essay before completing my own).

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