Trump's new immigration priorities are the right solution to Obama's mess

Trump's new immigration priorities are the right solution to Obama's mess
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Historically, the way controversial pieces of legislation have made it through Congress has been through garnering bipartisan support. Oftentimes, both parties will come with a list of top priorities and must-have provisions. But one thing generally holds true: the majority party will hold sway. 

That is what has been so unusual about congressional Democrats’ all-or-nothing approach in the wake of President Trump’s decision to wind down his predecessor’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) amnesty program. Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerTrump is right: The visa lotto has got to go Schumer predicts bipartisan support for passing DACA fix this year No room for amnesty in our government spending bill MORE (D-N.Y.) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) kicked off negotiations by demanding the passage of the standalone DREAM Act bill, which would benefit millions of illegal aliens who could not qualify for DACA.

They made it clear that they would not consider or accept any counter proposals from the Republican majority, raising serious questions about just how badly they want to protect DACA's approximately 700,000 recipients.

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Enter President Trump. The administration seized back control of negotiations this week with the announcement of three sweeping immigration policy priorities. The priorities reject failed approaches of the past, defining immigration reform as measures that improve jobs, wages and security for all Americans.

 

Enhance Border Security: When President Obama unlawfully created DACA in 2012, it caused an immediate surge at the border, resulting in tens of thousands of Central American minors and family units entering the U.S. The recent spike in MS-13 gang violence can largely be attributed to this DACA-induced wave. To ensure it does not happen again, the administration’s priorities call for full funding and completion of the border wall, as well as closing legal loopholes that enable illegal immigration and swell the backlog in immigration courts. 

Increase Interior and Workplace Enforcement: Echoing then-candidate Trump’s promises on the campaign trail, the administration also seeks to crack down on dangerous sanctuary city jurisdictions. These jurisdictions impede the federal government’s ability to enforce immigration laws, needlessly endanger American lives and all too often result in preventable tragedies. Additionally, the plan mandates the use of E-Verify, the web-based system that allows employers to verify the work eligibility of prospective employees. Clearly, if we truly want to secure the nation from illegal immigration, we must turn off the jobs magnet.

Move to a More Modern, Merit-Based Immigration System: Just like Canada and Australia, the U.S. needs to select immigrants who will arrive with the requisite skills and language abilities to thrive in our modern, high tech economy. A merit-based system would allow sponsored immigrants to arrive with their spouse and minor children, ensuring that families remain together.

The administration made it clear that these priorities must be the framework for any legislation concerning the status of illegal alien DACA recipients. Anything short will encourage illegal immigration, and subsequent chain migration will impose growing burdens on American workers and public resources.

It is crucial that merit-based reforms — such as those included in the RAISE Act — be included as part of any DACA legislation. If this does not happen, DACA recipients who will have received amnesty under the auspices that they arrived “through no fault of their own” would be able to sponsor the very parents who brought them here illegally in the first place. While we might be able to justify special consideration for current DACA recipients, there is no justification for allowing their parents and extended families to jump line and benefit from their illegal activities.

Finally, the administration’s cards are on the table for all to see, and the time is now for congressional Democrats to put up or shut up. But the question remains — do they really want a DACA replacement, or is the uncertainty more useful to them as a political ploy and a powerful fundraising tool?

Schumer and Pelosi will soon answer that question for all of us.

RJ Hauman is government relations manager at the nonprofit Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR).