Obstacles to Meaningful Immigration Policy Change

Parsing Immigration Policy, Episode 100

By Mark Krikorian and Theo Wold on April 13, 2023

Listen to "Obstacles to Meaningful Immigration Policy Change" on Spreaker.


On this week’s episode of Parsing Immigration Policy, Mark Krikorian, host of the podcast and the Center’s executive director, is joined by Theo Wold, who worked on immigration in the Trump White House.

Currently Idaho’s solicitor general, Wold’s formal title in the Trump administration was Deputy Assistant to the President for Policy in the Office of American Innovation. He shares his experiences and lessons learned from his time at the White House, and explains the Trump administration’s inability to make more immigration policy changes.

Although Immigration was central to the Trump 2016 campaign, Wold says the administration was ill-prepared to actually implement proposed changes. According to Wold, the primary obstacle to making substantial changes to immigration policy was deep-rooted bureaucracy in the Department of Homeland Security. The sheer number of issues that fall under DHS’s purview, particularly those that have nothing to do with immigration, drew attention and resources away from immigration issues, and the parts of DHS that actually do deal with immigration are organized in a way that does not lend itself to policy change. Wold and Krikorian disagreed as to the advisability at this point of pulling the immigration bureaus out of DHS and creating a new cabinet-level Department of Immigration.

In his closing commentary, Mark Krikorian highlights a recent Center report examining the differing impacts of different immigration policies on Medicare and Social Security.


Mark Krikorian is the Executive Director of the Center for Immigration Studies.


Theo Wold is currently Idaho’s Solicitor General and former Deputy Assistant to the President for Policy in the Office of American Innovation.


The Impact of Immigration on Social Security and Medicare


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Intro Montage

Voices in the opening montage:

  • Sen. Barack Obama at a 2005 press conference.
  • Sen. John McCain in a 2010 election ad.
  • President Lyndon Johnson, upon signing the 1965 Immigration Act.
  • Booker T. Washington, reading in 1908 from his 1895 Atlanta Exposition speech.
  • Laraine Newman as a "Conehead" on SNL in 1977.
  • Hillary Clinton in a 2003 radio interview.
  • Cesar Chavez in a 1974 interview.
  • House Speaker Nancy Pelosi speaking to reporters in 2019.
  • Prof. George Borjas in a 2016 C-SPAN appearance.
  • Sen. Jeff Sessions in 2008 comments on the Senate floor.
  • Charlton Heston in "Planet of the Apes".