- President Donald Trump’s immigration plan was a big focus of the State of the Union on Tuesday.
- The plan includes a pathway to citizenship for nearly 1.8 million immigrants that are either enrolled in or qualify for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.
- The plan also includes $US25 billion for funding of a proposed wall along the Mexican border and changes to legal immigration programs.
President Donald Trump used the State of the Union as a platform to wade into a the largest policy fight facing Congress: immigration.
During the speech, the president touted a recently released four-point plan that addresses immigration both legal and illegal.
“In recent months, my Administration has met extensively with both Democrats and Republicans to craft a bipartisan approach to immigration reform,” Trump said. “Based on these discussions, we presented the Congress with a detailed proposal that should be supported by both parties as a fair compromise – one where nobody gets everything they want, but where our country gets the critical reforms it needs.”
The proposal, released Thursday, includes a codification of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which protects from deportation nearly 800,000 unauthorised immigrants who were brought to the US as minors.
The plan would give these recipients, as well as immigrants who qualify but do not participate in the program, a pathway to citizenship over a 10 to 12 year period that includes “requirements for work, education and good moral character.” According to the plan, roughly 1.8 million people would be eligible.
DACA codification has been a central demand from Democrats for any immigration deal, since the program is set to expire on March 5. Trump announced in September that he would end the program, but gave Congress six months to settle the issue through legislation.
But in a nod to the most conservative immigration hawks in the Republican Party, the plan proposes changes to legal immigration programs, as well as $US25 billion in funding for a wall along the Mexican border.
The major aspects of the deal include:
- A pathway to citizenship for roughly 1.8 million DACA recipients or potential DACA recipients.
- $US25 billion in funding for Trump’s long-promised wall along the US border with Mexico. The funding would go to hire more border patrol agents and immigration judges.
- A curtailing of “chain migration,” officially known as the family reunification policy of the immigration system. The new plan would allow immigrants to only sponsor minor children and spouses. The current policy allows immigrants to sponsor other family members like married children and parents
- Termination of the diversity visa lottery program. This program allows up to 50,000 immigrants a year from countries typically underrepresented by US immigrants. While Trump said the program admits immigrants “without any regard for skill, merit, or the safety of our people,” the lottery does have education and/or work requirements as well as a built-in vetting process for applicants.
- Faster deportation for immigrants not from countries bordering the US.
The plan already drew criticism from many Democrats, saying the changes to legal immigration programs like the family reunification policy are outside the scope of the current DACA debate in Congress.
Even some Republican have cautioned against such a wide-ranging set of ideas, saying to ensure bipartisan support any plan should focus on border security and DACA for now.
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