Immigration Reforms: the Issues and the Alignment
Essentially, there are five issues for decision in the Senate immigration debate when and if it ever happens: status for the dreamers, impact on their parents, funding for the wall, restrictions on legal immigration and sanctuary cities. There are a lot of moving parts.
Status for the dreamers: There are 700,000 dreamers who have gone through the process of becoming legal under DACA and another 1.1 million who have not. The House Republican position (Goodlatte bill) is to allow three year renewable work visas for those with DACA status, but no path to citizenship. The Trump Administration supports a path to citizenship of 12 years as does the Senate Republican leadership and House and Senate Democratic leadership. This would apply to 1.8 million dreamers – i.e. those who applied for DACA and those who did not. The McCain Coons plan would broaden the definition of dreamers to 3.2 million persons.
Status for their parents: What happens to the parents of dreamers? In the Senate bi-partisan Gang of 6 proposal led by Senators Durbin and Graham, they would be able to apply for three year renewable work visas. In the other proposals, they get no protections. The Common Sense Coalition would prevent dreamers from seeking family reunification status for their parents.
Funding for the Trump Wall: The White House and the House Republicans want $25 billion for a border wall. The Senate Gang of 6 and the bi-partisan House Problem Solvers Caucus would appropriate $1.6 billion for the border wall. McCain-Coons would appropriate nothing for the border wall. The bi-partisan Common Sense Coalition in the Senate would appropriate $25 billion for the wall and related border security measures. The House Republicans (Goodlatte bill) want an additional $15 billion for border security in addition to the wall.
Restrictions on legal immigration: President Trump wants to eliminate the visa lottery program and restrict family reunification to spouses and minor children and cut the numbers of legal immigrants admitted annually in half. The McCain Coons proposal would make no changes in legal immigration. The Common Sense Coalition and the Gang of 6 proposals would restrict legal immigration to immediate nuclear family members and reallocate the total numbers of visas from family-based to high skills based immigrants.
The House Republicans and President Trump would eliminate the diversity visa lottery program and not reallocate the visas to other categories. The Common Sense Coalition and McCain Coons proposals would keep the diversity visa proposals as is – no changes. The Gang of 6 would end the visa lottery and redistribute the 50,000 slots to populations with Temporary Status like the Haitians and El Salvadorans who President Trump has ordered to pack their bags and leave the country.
Sanctuary cities, mandatory E-Verify and immigration raids: The House Republicans (Goodlatte bill) wants the Justice Department to crack down on sanctuary cities by denying them law enforcement funding, wants all employers to be required to use E-Verify to verify the immigration status of all their employees, and wants to increase immigration enforcement, reduce the ability to contest deportation orders and further criminalize violations of the nation’s immigration laws. The Trump Administration agrees with all of the above except mandatory E-Verify for employers. The Gang of 6, the Common Sense Coalition, McCain-Coons and Senator Flake are all opposed.
Analysis: The Trump Administration is seeking to use the crisis it created by ending DACA to radically restrict legal immigration. The House Republican and Senate Republican leadership is in their corner. The Democrats and moderate Republicans are willing to fund the wall and make some changes to the family reunification and maybe the diversity visa lottery program, but are not willing to cut the numbers of legal immigrants or implement and enable the indiscriminate reign of terror on immigrant communities initiated by the Trump Administration.
Contact your Congressperson with your views and vote the nativists out in November.
Prepared by: Lucien Wulsin