Immigration Policies: Hillary Clinton vs. Donald Trump

America’s presidential candidates couldn’t be more different when it comes to immigration. Here’s a closer look at their viewpoints.

Immigration Legislation


Trump’s legislation plans focus on tightening up the borders and sending undocumented immigrants back to their countries of origin.

  • Trump plans to build a wall across the US-Mexico border, and wants to make Mexico pay for it.
  • Trump’s been in favor of mass deportation of the 11 million undocumented living in the US. Though he recently made statements loosening this catch-all policy.
  • Trump’s proposed a few specific changes to visa policies that he says will make American citizens more marketable in the work force. He plans to increase wages of H1-B workers to incentivize employers to hire American workers. He’ll get rid of the work-study J-1 visitor visa, which he says will offer job opportunities to inner city youth.

Hillary Clinton

Clinton’s promised to introduce comprehensive immigration reform with a “pathway to full and equal citizenship” in her first 100 days in office. The plan promises to “fix the visa backlog, uphold the rule of law, protect our borders and national security, and bring millions of hardworking people into the formal economy.”

  • The plan will end 3- and 10- year bars. These are time limits on when immigrants who leave the country due to illegal status are allowed to apply for re-entry.
  • There are several provisions that protect undocumented immigrants, including limited deportation plan as well as the protection of President Obama’s executive actions DACA and DAPA.
  • Clinton will devise a strategy to encourage more immigrants to naturalize (become US citizens).
  • She plans to uphaul detention policies, which have been criticized as inhumane.

Undocumented Immigrants


Trump’s been dubbed the anti-immigrant candidate in particular for his views on undocumented immigrants.

  • For most of his campaign, he’s touted a mass deportation plan to send all 11 million undocumented immigrants “back home.” But in a Fox News interview Aug. 26 he took a big step back, stating he would “get the bad ones out.” Undocumented immigrants who “contribute to society, have been law-abiding, have kids here” may be allowed to stay if they pay back taxes.
  • Trump’s proposed to eliminate sanctuary cities which shelter undocumented immigrants.
  • He plans to make E-Verify, an online system used by employers to verify identity and work authorization, compulsory nation-wide.
  • Trump’s also proposed to end birthright citizenship, saying it’s “the biggest magnet for illegal immigration.” This change would require a constitutional amendment.

Hillary Clinton

Clinton’s plan to handle the country’s 11 million undocumented immigrants is heavily focused on a path to citizenship, rather than deportation.

  • She’s promised to introduce comprehensive immigration reform (with a path to citizenship) within her first 100 days in office.
  • She’s pledged to defend President Obama’s executive actions—known as DACA and DAPA—and to “do everything possible under the law to protect families.”
  • Her proposed plan for selective deportation is incredibly limited. “She’s putting forward the most radical immigration plan ever put down on paper by a candidate,” said Executive Director of the Center for Immigration Studies Mark Krikorian. “She has pledged to refuse to deport any illegal alien who has not been convicted of a violent crime.”

Border Protection


Like Clinton, Trump’s insistent on secure borders. Unlike Hillary, his policies have been criticized as xenophobic. Trump’s border protection policy is rooted in the infamous vow to build a wall across the Mexican-American border, for which he plans to have Mexico pay. In the same speech, he referred to Mexican immigrants as “rapists” and “drug-peddlers.” Since then, he’s suggested a ban on all Muslims.

Hillary Clinton

Clinton has stressed the importance of border protection, but said little beyond that. Her platform leans more on the bigger picture of immigration reform—which includes plans to protect our borders in the name of national security.