On January 25, 2018, the White House released a “Framework on Immigration Reform and Border Security” (Framework), a one-page plan proposing sweeping reforms to the immigration system in exchange for legalizing the status of certain Dreamers. The new framework proposes dramatic cuts to the legal immigration system of about half of all visas over the next decade and massive for border security and interior enforcement, including more spending for Border Patrol and ICE agents and $25 billion for the border wall. The plan would also offer legal status to young people who have DACA status or are DACA-eligible, including an opportunity to apply for citizenship after waiting a minimum of 10 years.
AILA denounced the framework as an assault on families that will waste billions of taxpayer dollars on harsh enforcement that will do next to nothing to improve national security. Not since the 1920s when racially-based quotas were proposed to exclude Italians, Jews and other Eastern Europeans, has the United States seriously entertained such drastic cuts to legal immigration. Moreover, the plan severely undermines due process by subjecting greatly expanded classes of individuals to detention and summary removal without legal protection.
While the January framework is only a bullet-point outline, it mirrors the White House “Immigration Principles” released on October 8 which present a more detailed explanation of the President’s priorities divided into three categories: (1) Border Security; (2) Interior Enforcement; and (3) Merit-Based Immigration System. In addition, the framework closely tracks several bills introduced during the 115th Congress, including appropriations bills that call for increased enforcement spending. The “merit-based” reforms run parallel to the RAISE Act, introduced earlier this year by Senators Cotton (R-AR) and Perdue (R-GA), which would drastically cut legal immigration levels. The enforcement provisions can be largely tied to H.R. 2431, an enforcement-only bill introduced by Rep. Labrador (R-ID) that would dramatically expand immigration enforcement, criminalize undocumented immigrants, and result in mass deportations nationwide.
The White House plan is a retrenchment toward extreme restrictionism and does not represent a good faith effort to achieve bipartisan compromise. If enacted, the plan would do terrible damage to our economy and social structure and result in the deportation of hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants, including many Dreamers and their families. AILA is also concerned that many of the Dreamers the White House claims will be eligible for relief, 1.8 million, will ultimately be denied status in light of the stringent criteria and bureaucratic procedures USCIS will likely impose on applicants.
Official White House Documents
- White House Framework on Immigration Reform and Border Security, January 25, 2018
- October 8, 2017 White House Immigration Principles