The Administration on late Sunday October 8, released their priorities for any immigration reform as part of any deal on preserving the current protections for DACA students. Under Secure the Border by Deterring and Swiftly Removing Illegal Entrants, Establish Merit-Based Reforms to Promote Assimilation and Financial Success and Enforce Immigration Laws Across the United States.
The priorities immediately throw in doubt any kind of deal Congressional Democrats thought that they had with Mr. Trump. The principles deal not just with undocumented aliens but legal immigration including the refugee program. Many of the proposals will draw opposition from most Democrats and some Republicans.
They call for limits to family-based green cards to spouses and the minor children of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents. Arguing such migration has accounted for more than 60 percent of immigration into the United States over the last 35 years. They also call for a point-based system for green cards, elimination the awarding of 50,000 green cards at random to foreign nationals.
In addition to legal immigration changes the administration wants new restrictions on refugees. The refugee program creates a lengthy and rigorous process to allow people into the United States who are under persecution or fleeing from unsafe conditions. The White House also hits on many enforcement issues including attacks on sanctuary cities, cities, states and local governments that do not assist the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in holding and arresting undocumented people. They also want the hiring an additional 10,000 ICE officers and 300 Federal prosecutors.
These actions come with recent reports that the Justice department is attempting new deadlines for immigration courts. The White House continues mixed messages and is likely to play out late into this year and possibly up to the deadline for the Executive Order that repeals the DACA protection next March. Adding to the confusion, by Friday several Washington publications were quoting Senator James Lankford (R-OK) as saying that the President had told him the President would be willing to extend the DACA executive order beyond the March deadline.
There have been suggestions and comments by some Washington Democrats that they may tie a deal to government funding which expires on December 8.
There are currently four bills in Congress that could replace DACA: the 2017 DREAM Act (S. 1615/HR 3440), the Hope Act (HR 3591), the Recognizing America’s Children (HR 1468) and the BRIDGE Act (HR 496). The National Immigration Law Center has an analysis of how these four bills differ with some attempting to merely transition out of the program with no eventual transition to citizenship to those that would continue the protections while allowing a path toward citizenship if certain conditions are met.
The DREAM Act sponsored by Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL) and in the House by Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA) and Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) are the most desirable bills and closest to past DREAM Act legislation that dates back more than a decade. For a side-by-side chart of various DACA legislation you can read this analysis by the National Immigration Law Center.
CWLA has endorsed the DREAM ACT bills and signed onto a support letter, as we have in past sessions of Congress.