Trump Releases New Immigration Proposal
The White House released a new immigration proposal Thursday outlining a path to citizenship for an estimated 1.8 million undocumented immigrants that were brought to the U.S. as children.
The path to citizenship proposal would last for 10 to 12 years and would require undocumented immigrants to meet requirements for work, education and “good moral character.” It also claims to contain clear eligibility requirements to prevent fraud and allowing revocation of protected status in cases of criminal conduct or national safety concerns.
“If they’ve worked hard, if they’ve done terrifically, whether they have a little company or whether they work or whatever they’re doing, if they do a great job, I think it’s a nice thing to have the incentive of after a period of years being able to become a citizen,” President Donald Trump said.
Intended to replace the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals act that the Trump administration ended in September, the new proposal would expand protections to more than one million immigrants that were not previously covered under DACA.
While the administration called the proposal a concession to Democrats, it also calls for increased border security and changes to the current framework for legal immigration. It would allocate $25 billion for an 800 mile border wall along the southern U.S. border and appropriate funds to add new immigration enforcement officers, prosecutors and judges.
The reforms to current legal immigration include restricting family sponsorship to only spouses and children under 18 as opposed to allowing sponsorship for extended family.
Listed as a provision to “protect nuclear families,” the move has been criticized by the American Civil Liberties Union for what it claims would reduce legal immigration to levels not seen since the 1920s.
“The crisis facing Dreamers and their families is urgent, but addressing it must not come at the expense of using immigrant youth as bargaining chips, devastating border communities with harmful, wasteful walls and agents, or taking this nativist screed seriously,” said Lorella Praeli, ACLU director of immigration policy and campaigns.
The proposal comes ahead of the Feb. 8 deadline for the federal government to pass legislation to fund government agencies and operations. Partisan gridlock over immigration reform discussions led to a brief shutdown that began on Jan. 20 and ended on Jan. 22, when Democrats agreed to a three-week funding proposal that did not include a resolution for DACA.
The Democrats’ decision to move ahead without a clear agreement has been considered a defeat for many advocating for clear protections for current DACA recipients, including local immigration advocacy organization Dream Act Oklahoma.
“Even though we lost this battle, we can still win this and we will win this,” said Jose Rubio, DAOK advocacy and outreach coordinator. “We are on the right side of history and this is the civil rights movement of our time, therefore, we have to win and we will.”
With nearly 7,000 undocumented immigrants protected by DACA in Oklahoma, DAOK has been an active force in working with campuses such as the University of Central Oklahoma and the University of Oklahoma in hosting educational forums on immigration and contacting state legislators in support of DACA.
While state Democrats have criticized the plan for its funding of a border wall and reductions to legal immigration, state Republicans have expressed support for the proposal’s framework for decreasing new illegal immigration and funding border security.
“I applaud the White House for offering a solid framework for immigration reform that provides a responsible solution for DACA, border security and other immigration issues,” said Oklahoma Republican Sen. James Lankford. “This framework provides certainty for families, enacts common-sense reforms to nuclear family sponsorship policy and protects our nation.”