Monday, October 9, 2017

Trump's Immigration Principles Commence Discussion of Immigration Reform in Congress?


Seung Min Kim on Politico reports on the latest from the White House on immigration. Jennifer Koh blogged about the early press reports about the President's "immigration principles."

Building on two immigration enforcement executive orders issued in January, President Donald Trump yesterday laid out his immigration principles — a list of hardline policies that could seriously complicate the prospects of striking a deal with Democrats over the future of hundreds of thousands of young undocumented immigrants.  The principles include expanding expedited removal, tightening asylum requirements, punishing "sanctuary cities," expanding detention, and more. 

“The priority for Congress ought to be to save American lives, protect American jobs and improve the well-being of American communities. These reforms accomplish that,” a senior administration official told reporters. “They live up to the president’s campaign commitment to have an immigration system that puts the needs of hardworking Americans first.”

The broad parameters of the immigration wish list have been telegraphed in recent days. But some of the key provisions run counter to an agreement Democratic leaders believed they'd struck with Trump during a White House dinner last month.

Trump reiterated his call on Congress to build a wall along the southern border — a centerpiece of his presidential campaign. But Democratic leaders left the dinner believing that Trump would not demand a border wall in exchange for signing legislation to provide legal status to immigrants who obtained protection from deportation and work permits under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.


Here is the response of Congressman Luis Gutierrez (D-IL) to President Trump's immigration principles:

The White House's principles on immigration, released yesterday, is a laundry list of recycled anti-immigration policies the Republicans demand in exchange for sparing 800,000 DACA recipients from deportation. These include funding for the President's Great Border Wall, reducing legal immigration in half, and further barring or criminalizing immigrants, asylum seekers, and refugees.

President Trump has acted to eliminate the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program that for five years has allowed young immigrants who arrived in the U.S. as children to come forward, register, submit to a background check, and be allowed to work while designated as the lowest priority for deportation. My advocacy during the Obama Administration was instrumental in compelling the former President to act to protect immigrant youth (the so-called DREAMers) in 2012.

 I don't think Democrats have a partner to negotiate with in the White House on sensible immigration policy or sparing the DACA recipients from deportation. Any decision the President makes one day is likely to be completely reversed another, depending on which extremist advisor he is listening to that day.The one thing Trump has demonstrated consistently is how comfortable he is denigrating immigrants and Latinos, questioning the legitimacy of our very citizenship in the U.S., and standing up for and defending white supremacist policies - and returning to the anti-immigrant well over and over. Democrats and the rest of the country would be crazy to take seriously this set of principles or the President who is proposing them.

The goal of the President's approach to immigration seems to be to criminalize and deport as many immigrants and Latinos as he can by outlawing whole categories of legal immigration, pushing young people with DACA back into the black market, and making it easier to label law-abiding immigrants as criminals so that he can deport them. The 800,000 DACA recipients who could lose protection from deportation have come forward and gone through multiple background checks, arrived here as children, and have lived here for a minimum of ten years.We should be incorporating and integrating them further, not threatening them or their families with deportation to play to the anti-immigration wing of the President's political base.

There is bipartisan support in Congress to get this done, and the votes are there. Those serious about solutions need to keep going and deliver what vast majority of Americans support. Now, after a few weeks of delay, we know once again that it is up to Republican congressional leaders to decide if they are serious about moving forward and if they will let the majority in the House of Representatives who support the DREAM Act to have a vote and protect DREAMers before the deportations ramp up further.


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