On Thursday the Trump Administration released an overall proposal on DACA and immigration as their bottom line. In some respects it opened up the possibility of expanded protection for children and young adults now protected or potentially protected by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals but it may come with a hefty-unpaid for wall funding and other immigration restrictions. The key provisions laid out by the White House:
• $25 billion trust fund for the border wall system
• Additional funds to hire new DHS personnel, ICE attorneys, immigration judges, prosecutors and other law enforcement professionals.
• Hiring and pay increases for recruitment and retention of personnel.
• Ending statutorily-imposed catch-and-release policies
• The detention and removal of criminal aliens, gang members, violent offenders, and aggravated felons.
• Prompt removal of illegal border-crossers regardless of country of origin.
• Increased removals of visa overstays
• Ensure synthetic drugs (fentanyl) are prevented from entering the country.
• Institute immigration court reforms to improve efficiency and prevent fraud and abuse.
• DACA enactments—
o Provide legal status for DACA recipients and other DACA-eligible illegal immigrants, adjusting the time-frame to cover a population of approximately 1.8 million individuals.
o 10-12 year path to citizenship, with requirements for work, education and good moral character.
o Clear eligibility requirements to mitigate fraud.
o Status is subject to revocation for criminal conduct or public safety and national security concerns, public charge, fraud, etc.
• Restricting family migration—
o Limiting family sponsorships to spouses and minor children only (for both Citizens and LPRs), ending extended-family migration.
o Apply these changes prospectively, not retroactively, by processing the “backlog.”
• Lottery visas (50,000 annually)—
o Eliminate the lottery and reallocate the visas to reduce the family-based “backlog” and high-skilled employment “backlog.
Whether these principles will get enough support is unclear. The DACA expansions are significant by increasing coverage by more than a million people. It also offers a path toward citizenship. The other provisions however are harsh. Some might swallow hard on allocating or creating a $25 billion trust fund to build a wall but some of the other proposals may draw even more concern.
In effect the Administration is asking for significantly more enforcement, raids and detention. Creating the specter of families being divided and broken up through increased raids on homes and businesses. It also calls for increased hiring and support—something that is almost impossible to obtain for under staffed human services such as child welfare, child care and long term care.
Hardline conservatives senator Tom Cotton (R-AR) and Senator David Perdue (R-GA) have endorsed the principles but others have been critical. At the same time some who want greater DACA protections are concerned about the harsh enforcement and immigration restrictions. Still just as Democrats broached the acceptance of wall funding, the Administration has broached the idea of higher level DACA protections. In addition to how these principles look once written into law are the negotiating factors. What do various groups say and when. Above all what does the President do, say or tweet in the coming negotiations.