Michael D. Shear and
The New York Times
Feb. 10, 2021, 5:00 a.m. ET
WASHINGTON — President Donald J. Trump’s four-year quest to wall the country off from immigrants led his aides to Form N-648: a physician’s declaration that an applicant for naturalized citizenship is unable to complete the civics and English-language tests because of a disability or mental impairment.
They saw Form N-648 as an opportunity for an immigrant’s doctor to scam the system. So in July of last year, they made it tougher — increasing the number of questions a doctor must answer to 23 from 12 and adding pointed queries about how the disability affected everyday life and whether it was the result of illegal drug use.
The new version of the form is one of hundreds of little-noticed but consequential revisions to the bureaucratic machinery of the United States’ immigration system that will remain in place unless President Biden’s team specifically looks for — and roots out — the changes.
It was uncovered by Lucas Guttentag, a law professor at Stanford and Yale who has spent the past four years building a database of every change that Mr. Trump made to the immigration system, no matter how small. With the help of 70 of his students, Mr. Guttentag has created what he says is an online road map to the land mines that Mr. Biden will have to find and defuse if he wants to reverse the anti-immigrant agenda that Mr. Trump campaigned on in 2016 and that was executed when he was president by Stephen Miller, his chief domestic aide.