The devil is in the details. This is so true in the deal the Miller-Kelly-Trump White House is putting on the table, according to news that broke yesterday. In short, the administration is offering DACA individuals, and some other eligible immigrant youth, a path to legalization in exchange for border wall funding PLUS other immigration enforcement measures.
If you saw a sign of hope here, I’m sorry to squash your feelings.
Immigration attorneys and analysts, even without all the details in hand, described the proposal as a ransom note. Yes. When President Trump eliminated DACA, it’s like he took immigrant youth as hostages to later enable declared anti-immigrant and racist Stephen Miller and policy-hardliner Chief of Staff John Kelly to take control of any immigration proposal.
That in itself is not good news.
There is a lot that is not entirely known about this proposal, such as how eligibility will be established for those immigrant youth who are not part of the DACA program. But the administration is considering about 1.8 million individuals as potential beneficiaries. It is also not clear how cumbersome the path to legalization will be.
All that uncertainty is in exchange for $25 billion (billion, not million) for the border wall and diverse immigration enforcement measures that will fast-track the deportation processes (which raises due process concerns), eliminate legal tools immigration lawyers have to fight for their clients (which is already happening), and limit discretion for judges (ditto).
Legal analysts fear this proposal will codify into law administrative changes that are already occurring in the administration through Jeff Sessions’ DOJ, and that will substantially change immigration in the U.S. as we know it without really solving any of its problems. We have written about that in Lacey and Larkin Frontera Fund in the past.
Additionally, the proposal wants to limit several forms of LEGAL immigration such as the visa lottery (which brought diversity to the immigration system) and limit family reunification (which the administration and right-wing operatives are pejoratively calling “chain migration”).
Ironically, even this dark immigration restrictionist proposal does not count with many Trump supporters, who will never be satisfied by any process of legalization for DACA-DREAMers or anyone.
One thing is for sure. The White House proposal should not and will not be the last word. Trump can change his mind tomorrow, and it is very unlikely that any real DACA-DREAMers supporters will see this attempt as acceptable.