Trump needs to be bold to achieve objectives of his immigration plan

Trump needs to be bold to achieve objectives of his immigration plan
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President Donald TrumpDonald TrumpYoungkin ad features mother who pushed to have 'Beloved' banned from son's curriculum White House rejects latest Trump claim of executive privilege Democrats say GOP lawmakers implicated in Jan. 6 should be expelled MORE has released a proposal for legislation to secure the border and reform the immigration system to put America first, but he hasn’t provided details yet on how he intends to achieve those objectives.

At the very least, he is going to have to solve the following problems.

The visa program for making American companies more competitive globally won’t work

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According to Trump, 66 percent of legal immigrants are admitted solely because they have a relative in the United States. Only 12 percent are selected on the basis of skill or merit. Increasing the proportion of highly skilled immigrants from 12 to 57 percent would bring us in line with what other countries are doing and make America more competitive globally.

The increase should be based on an evaluation of the need for more highly skilled immigrant visas.

Even if we assume that the 57 percent increase is based on such an evaluation, employment needs are not static. They go up and down. If the proposed increase permits employers to hire the highly skilled immigrants they need now, they shouldn’t need as many next year. But they might need twice as many five years from now.

The only way to ensure that American employers will have the highly skilled immigrants they need is to establish a flexible, needs-based system that raises or lowers the number of visas each year on the basis of an evaluation of current needs.

His new visa system also should include a program for phasing out the need for foreign workers so that Americans can take the jobs we are giving now to people from other countries.

The immigrants are needed because there aren’t enough highly skilled Americans. The solution is to encourage and assist Americans to get the training and education they need to do the highly skilled work.

For example, Trump could provide financial incentives for universities to develop affirmative action programs to put more American students in graduate programs.

The job magnet 

The availability of jobs in the United States attracts immigrants who need work and are willing to do whatever they have to do to get into the country.

Congress tried to eliminate the job magnet in 1986 by establishing sanctions to discourage employers from hiring aliens who do not have work authorization, but it has been more than 30 years since the sanctions were established and no administration has ever fully implemented them.

A new approach is needed.

Unscrupulous employers hire undocumented immigrants because they can be exploited and are not in a position to complain about it. 

The Department of Labor (DOL) sanctions employers for exploiting employees without regard to their immigration status.

For instance, DOL enforces the Fair Labor Standards Act, which requires a minimum wage and overtime pay. Low-wage industries tend to employ substantial numbers of undocumented immigrants.

DOL could mount a campaign to stop the exploitation of employees in industries known to hire undocumented aliens, which would go a long way towards eliminating the job magnet.

The Democrats are still denying that there is a security crisis at the border

Democrats claim that the only real crisis at the border is the humanitarian need to increase CBP’s capacity to meet the needs of the migrants they apprehend.

Really? Border Patrol apprehensions have risen from 51,008 in October 2018, to 98,977 in April 2019. Apprehensions for that period totaled 460,294, and 248,197 of them were of family units who had to be released on a promise to return for a hearing.

They were released because of the Flores Settlement Agreement, which prohibits the detention of alien children for more than 20 days. All Hell broke loose when Trump separated children from their parents to comply with Flores, so he has had to release their parents too.

This has encouraged more migrants to come here with children. A quarter of a million of them were apprehended at the border in the first seven months of fiscal 2019.

We can’t keep up with the unprecedented number of asylum applications

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Trump has been increasing the number of immigration judges, but as this chart indicates, it’s a slow process.

immigration judgesThe immigration court’s 424 judges have a backlog of 892,517 cases, which does not include the hundreds of thousands of pending cases that have not yet been re-calendared.

As of the end of April, the average wait for a hearing was 951 days — more than two and a half years.

The only viable solution is to reduce the number of cases the immigration court has to handle.

Section 208(a)(1) of the Immigration and Nationality Act provides that any alien who is physically present in the United States may apply for asylum. The next paragraph, however, provides a safe third country exception. 

The right to apply for asylum does not apply to an alien who may be removed, pursuant to a bilateral or multilateral agreement, to a country where he would not face persecution and would have access to a full procedure for his asylum application.

Trump could reduce the need for asylum hearings to a manageable level by entering into safe third country agreements and sending asylum-seeking migrants to those countries for an adjudication of their persecution claims.

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Dead on arrival

According to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Trump’s immigration plan is “dead on arrival.”

Summarily rejecting Trump’s proposal may further Pelosi’s political agenda, but it won’t secure the border.

Nolan Rappaport was detailed to the House Judiciary Committee as an executive branch immigration law expert for three years. He subsequently served as an immigration counsel for the Subcommittee on Immigration, Border Security and Claims for four years. Prior to working on the Judiciary Committee, he wrote decisions for the Board of Immigration Appeals for 20 years.