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The White House and Immigration – What Does the Framework Mean?

Late last week, the White House issued its “Framework for Immigration Reform and Border Security.” Let’s be clear, it’s only a framework, a wish-list, so to speak. It’s not law and nothing has changed since this document was released.  The framework is meant to tell Congress what President Trump wants to see in future immigration legislation. Let’s look at each section…

Border Security
Everyone wants a secure border. Will building a wall for $25 billion ensure that illegal immigration stops? No. People overstay visas and people cross undocumented from Canada. That’s not to say we shouldn’t continue to patrol our borders vigorously, but the reality is that we could spend that money on border officer training, on better technology, etc. My personal belief is that a wall is a symbol and a campaign promise. There are more effective and efficient ways to monitor the border.

DACA
Yes – let’s protect our Dreamers. There’s no doubt that this makes immigration advocates happy. I don’t know where the White House gets the 1.8 million number, though. Currently, about half of that has DACA protection. Current understanding is that DACA recipients would never be able to petition for their parents if they are in the US unlawfully – a very high price to pay for families. I’m also curious to know what the work and education requirements will be. If someone has to maintain employment for the 10 to 12-year process, what do we do with stay-at-home parents? Or what if someone has a disability? Or what if someone is exploitative work environment – must they stay to maintain eligibility?

Protect the Nuclear Family
By nuclear family, the White House means husband/wife and young, unmarried children. Currently, U.S. citizens over the age of 21 can also petition for their parents, siblings, and adult children. The White House wants to do away with that. Is there anyone who wouldn’t consider their mother and father – no matter our age – a close family member? And do our children stop becoming our children just because they turn 21? Let’s protect the entire family – not just this extremely restrictive version of family. Say it with me – it’s family unity, not chain migration.

Eliminate Lottery and Repurpose Visas
The visa lottery is certainly a controversial program, but it’s allowed people to come and contribute to our country, though they may not have had the family ties or an employer to sponsor them. Visa lottery winners are entrepreneurs, adventurers, and often self-reliant (they come to the U.S. with no ties and have to start a new life here). It would be sad to see this opportunity end, but perhaps our limited number of visas could be better used for those who show merit or need.

My hope is that Congress can work out a deal on Border Security and DACA. Most people are in favor of both. But, when you get into asking for more (like taking away the ability to file a petition for your mother), that gets people angry and less inclined to make a deal. Let’s stick with the basics that we can agree on and then move on to other areas of immigration reform.

But, for now, life continues on. DACA recipients remain in limbo, US citizens can petition for their parents to live with them in the United States. Nothing changes…except the words of the politicians that seem to change every two minutes.

-Tracie

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