Published January 23, 2018
First, we must take note of the fact that our nation elected a President who campaigned on a Lock Her Up, Build the Wall, End DACA and Deport the Undocumented platform. The campaign struck a chord with a significant portion of our society who are angry about our broken immigration system and the 11 million undocumented that have accumulated under 5 previous Presidential administrations. To their supporters, the Trump campaign successfully, albeit dishonestly, defined our undocumented population as rapists, drug dealers, intoxicated drivers who kill, public benefits abusers, and workers who steal jobs from Americans and undercut their wages. With the President’s party controlling both the House of Representatives and Senate, those looking to battle the President’s agenda are in for a real challenge.
Within the White House there are several, often opposing, factions guiding its agenda. To the extent we can discern an actual Trump agenda (yes, he has waffled most things related to immigration), we see an administration that wants the Democrats to pay a big price for its primary short term immigration goal – making permanent or long term, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. Under this program, undocumented noncriminal young adults arriving in the U.S. as children have been protected from deportation and granted employment authorization. Close to 900,000 DACA applicants have been approved and have had their lives transformed, with many standing to make enormous contributions to our society as university students, doctors, lawyers, engineers, artists, scientists, etc.
Despite the strong humanitarian and practical underpinnings to DACA, a sizeable chunk of our population, as well as factions within the Trump administration are either indifferent to or flat out opposed to the program. In general, it appears humanitarian concerns about the plight of our DACA population or our immigration system as a whole are just not that high up on most Americans’ priority list. Thus, the bad news for Congressional Democrats is that it appears not enough of their constituents feel that the plight of the undocumented, including the DACA population, is worth shutting down our government over.
In the coming weeks, you will hear discussion about Trump’s immigration wish list – which includes demands for border wall and immigration enforcement funding, eliminating the Diversity Visa lottery program (which grants immigrant visas for 55,000 foreign nationals from “underrepresented nations”) and a huge decrease in the allotment of family based green cards. The latter of these would eliminate immigration options for most family based categories, and leaving only spouses and young children of U.S. citizens as eligible applicants. Such a major change will certainly be a non-starter for Democrats and a good number of Republican politicians.
In the end, it is clear that the President and the Republicans hold most if not all the cards. Is the Democrats’ decision to involve sensitive immigration issues in the budget debate a wise one? Is there enough sympathy among our politicians for there to be a negotiated DACA solution? Will the Republicans and/or the President bargain in good faith and make only reasonable demands in exchange for a DACA resolution? Unfortunately, I have a strong feeling the answer to all of these is NO, and that another budget impasse is in our immediate future. For the sake of our nation, and especially our DACA population, I hope I am wrong.
PUBLISHED January 23, 2018– “IMMIGRATION LAW FORUM” Copyright © 2018, By Law Offices of Richard Hanus, Chicago, Illinois