The White House sent a list of immigration priorities to Congressional leaders Sunday that infuriated Democrats, but will “put the needs of American workers first” by expediting deportations, funding a border wall and implementing a merit-based immigration system.
President Trump announced the rollback in September of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) amnesty program that protects roughly 800,000 illegal immigrants. A senior White House official did not make it clear Sunday what a deal for DACA beneficiaries would look like.
“There is a desire to codify the program,” one official said, he later added, “As we look to legalize the status of DACA recipients we are not interested in granting citizenship.”
Granting legal status to an immigrant, however, would put them on a path to citizenship unless Congress created a new type of status.
The official maintained that the administration is largely focused on achieving the principles sent to Congressional leaders.
These requests are focused on border security, interior immigration enforcement, and the legal immigration system. The White House’s legislative director Marc Short said that the priorities were created from a “deliberative process driven by agencies and law enforcement professionals” responsible for immigration law and that they will “modernize” the immigration system to put “American workers first.”
“The administration can’t be serious about compromise or helping the Dreamers if they begin with a list that is anathema to the Dreamers, to the immigrant community and to the vast majority of Americans,” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said in a statement. “This list includes the wall, which was explicitly ruled out of the negotiations. If the President was serious about protecting the Dreamers, his staff has not made a good faith effort to do so.”
Schumer and Pelosi claimed after a meeting last month with Trump that the president agreed to a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants in a deal that would include border security measures, but no border wall funding. However, a White House official said Sunday that this was a “mischaracterization” by the Democrats.
Border security priorities in Sunday’s document include: “funding for the southern border wall and associated infrastructure,” “eliminating loopholes in current law” that prevent officials from deporting unaccompanied illegal immigrants, reforming an asylum program that has created an intense backlog in the system, hiring 370 immigration judges and 1,000 immigration prosecutors, expanding “grounds of inadmissibility to include gang membership” and increasing the amount of illegal immigrants eligible for expedited removal.
The requests sent to Congress also call for targeting sanctuary cities by eliminating Justice Department and Homeland Security grants from jurisdictions that fail to cooperate with federal immigration officials, allowing state and local governments to pass immigration laws to support federal efforts, classifying visa overstays as a misdemeanor, hiring 10,000 Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers, expanding ICE’s ability to detain illegal immigrants and requiring usage of an e-verify system to ensure illegal immigrants can’t be employed.
The Trump administration also requested that Congress pass reforms to the legal immigration system. The document calls for a merit-based system that will use a point system “based on factors that allow individuals to successfully assimilate and support themselves financially.” (RELATED: ICE Director Says There Could Be More Than 12 Million Illegals In US)
The Raise Act, which would also achieve this, was estimated to halve immigration from the current figure of about 1 million immigrants a year.
“These are reasonable proposals that will build on the early success of President Trump’s leadership. This plan will work. If followed it will produce an immigration system with integrity and one in which we can take pride. Perhaps the best result will be that unlawful attempts to enter will continue their dramatic decline,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a statement about the White House’s requests.
WATCH THIS, CNN ANCHOR REJECTS REP. STEVE MONTENEGRO’S IDEA THAT CONGRESS MAKE LAWS ABOUT IMMIGRATION: