How Will President Trump’s Executive Orders Affect Development? CGD Experts Consider the Evidence

January 30, 2017

Kellyanne Conway called him a “man of action” after a whirlwind first week in which President Trump signed 14 Executive Orders and presidential memoranda, covering most of his key campaign issue areas from health to immigration to trade. It should be noted that President Obama signed 13 such orders in his first week, including an order to close the Guantanamo Bay detention camp, which he was unable to achieve in eight years in office.

President Trump’s agenda will undoubtedly face policy hurdles and legal challenges (starting with Saturday’s late night stay of certain measures in his immigration order), but the breakneck pace at which he has wielded the pen signals his intention to carry through his most strident campaign promises.

In a series of blogs, CGD experts have been examining how some of these specific policy intentions could impact development progress. As you would expect from a group of economists, we believe in—and encourage—evidence-based policymaking, and here we look at what the existing evidence and research tell us about how likely these Executive Orders are to achieve the president’s stated goals.


Executive Orders Affecting Refugees Will Only Harm the US National Interest

By Cindy Huang and Hannah Postel

On Friday night, President Trump signed an executive order temporarily banning refugees and citizens of seven majority Muslim nations from entering the United States. Our research shows this ban will result not only in serious harm to the world’s most vulnerable, but will also alienate allies the United States needs to fight violent extremism and protect American interests.

A Microcosm of US Border Policy toward Mexico

By Kimberly Ann Elliott

Some months after the attacks of September 11, 2001, the US government shut down all unofficial, unmanned border crossings with Mexico. In 2013, that crossing was reopened. The re-opening has been a win-win for people on both sides of the border. But with Trump’s executive order calling for construction of the border wall, much remains to be seen in the realm of US-Mexico cooperation.

Cutting UN Funding Will Cost the US

By Charles Kenny

The New York Times reported last week that the Trump Administration is considering a new Executive Order that mandates cutting all funding to bodies that give full membership to the Palestinian Authority and fund abortion amongst other categories, but also suggests “at least a 40 percent overall decrease” in remaining US funding towards international organizations. The proposed cuts would do almost nothing to reduce the deficit while weakening US national security and international leadership.

Zombie Policy on International Family Planning Rises Again

By Amanda Glassman

On his first day in the office, President Trump signed an executive order reinstating a 30-year-old political hot potato, the “Mexico City Policy." Like many, I will point out that reinstating the global gag rule does not reduce abortion.

Podcast: Empowering Women Can Make America Great

By Amanda Glassman, Mayra Buvinic, and Charles Kenny

The scale of the turnout at the Women’s Marches across the world recently, along with President Trump’s early reinstatement of a ban on US funding for organizations that offer family planning services in foreign countries, seem to suggest an administration already at odds with an entire gender. On this podcast, three CGD senior fellows weigh in on the evidence that engaging and empowering women—both at home and overseas—makes good sense, especially in an America-First strategy.


CGD blog posts reflect the views of the authors, drawing on prior research and experience in their areas of expertise. CGD is a nonpartisan, independent organization and does not take institutional positions.