White House Releases Framework on Immigration Policies
By Andrea Lopez-Villafaña and Mario A. Cortez
On Thursday, Jan. 25, the White House released a tentative framework, which would provide Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals recipients a path to citizenship, so long as there is funding for the controversial border wall.
The Framework on Immigration Reform and Border Security, outlines that legal status for DACA recipients and other DACA-eligible individuals could obtain citizenship within a 10 to 12 year span, assuming the new requirements for work, education, and eligibility are met by applicants.
The document also outlines nuclear family migration through guidelines that limit sponsorships to spouses and minor children. This emphasis on nuclear family sponsorships is a means to address what has been dubbed as “chain migration.”
Funding for a “border wall system” and increasing the hiring of border security personnel is also detailed.
“Securing the Southern and Northern border of the United States takes a combination of physical infrastructure, technology, personnel, resources, authorities, and the ability to close legal loopholes that are exploited by smugglers, traffickers, cartels, criminals, and terrorists,” the document reads.
In order to finance some of the proposed border security items, a $25 billion trust fund is requested in order to “have the tools to deter illegal immigration; the ability to remove individuals who illegally enter the United States; and the vital authorities necessary to protect national security.”
This comes in the heels of weeks-long debate on DACA and funding for a border wall, which brought on a shutdown of the federal government that lasted three days.
DACA activists and supporters called on their Democratic representatives in Congress to vote no on any budget that did not include a clean Dream Act, which would provide DACA recipients a path to citizenship.
Government operations stopped at midnight on Jan. 19, and started again the following Monday, causing a sense of whiplash throughout the country due to unsuccessful negotiations in Congress on DACA.
On Wednesday, President Donald Trump reportedly spoke with reporters during an impromptu news conference and said that he’d support a path to citizenship for DACA recipients and that added border security should be a part of the deal, before the release of the proposed framework.
When asked by a reporter if he wants citizenship for DACA recipients, Trump said that eventually “we’re going to morph into it” over a period of 10 to 12 years.
“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,” Trump said according to a recording broadcasted on CNN Thursday.
Last week, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, White House spokeswoman, said the White House would be releasing a legislative framework on immigration Monday, Jan. 29.
“We’ve been working with both House and Senate members, we’ve had dozens of conversations with them and the framework that you see on Monday will be born out of a lot of those conversation that we’ve had with a number of members both Republicans, Democrats, House and Senate,” Sanders said during a press conference on Jan. 24.
DACA, which then President Barack Obama introduced in 2012, has become the one of the most important issues in the country, so important that it shut down the government.
Through DACA, undocumented immigrants who entered the country as minors had the opportunity to apply for work permits and be deferred from deportation after providing background information to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services agency and paying $495.
President Donald Trump ended the program on Sept. 5, but gave Congress until March to address a more permanent solution for DACA.
Trump has supported a solution for DACA beneficiaries, so long as it comes tied to funding for a border wall, increased border security, and restrictions to the current visa distribution system.
Adding funding for the wall and increase border security to the DACA deal, however, proved to be the end of any negotiations and led to the shutdown at midnight on Friday, Jan. 19.
After three days of the government shutdown, Congress passed a short-term spending bill, which would fund the government up until Feb. 8, an act that did not address the fate of DACA beneficiaries in the U.S.
Republicans argued that although DACA is an important issue to tackle, it could be addressed later after a government spending bill was approved to keep the government funded.
Several DACA activists and supporters voiced their frustrations following the adoption of a short-term bill by holding protests.
DACA recipient Maria Fernanda Madrigal participated in one of those protests and said that they gathered to express their discontent with the Democratic party.
“We are just letting them know that we are tired of their false promises,” Madrigal said.
She said that many DACA recipients were surprised by the government shutdown but were disappointed when the government was reopened.
Hope for DACA Recipients, for now
While the March deadline is approaching, DACA recipients, also known as “Dreamers,” have the opportunity to apply for DACA if their status expired on or after Sept.5, 2016, due to an injunction issued by a California federal judge.
William Alsup, a San Francisco-based U.S. District judge, ruled that the Trump administration needs to maintain the DACA program on a nationwide basis and allow DACA enrollees to renew their status.
According to USCIS, individuals who previously lost their DACA status on or after Sept. 5, 2016 can apply for renewal and those who lost status before Sept. 5, 2016, can apply as an initial request.
However, USCIS announced it is not accepting application from those who have never before received DACA benefits.