On Thursday, Jan. 25, President Trump sent a one-page memo to congressional Republicans outlining his proposal for immigration reform and border security. The proposal provides a 10 to 12-year plan to citizenship for undocumented immigrants along with a budget for increased wall security and immigration reform.
The White House memo, which was posted on NPR, states that 1.8 million DACA recipients or DACA-eligible individuals illegal immigrants will be provided legal status. This plan requires that they meet requirements for “work, education and good moral character.”
Multiple representatives believe DACA should be legislated separately from immigration security and reform.
“When you hear the phrase ‘clean DACA act,’ it’s saying that we should be reinstituting DACA on its own with no strings attached,” said Cynthia Duarte, Director of the Center for Equality and Justice. “We shouldn’t be using these young people as scapegoats…or as pawns…in a cruel game with their futures.”
According to the Washington Post, Trump’s proposal was met with disdain from House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), as well as members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus.
Pelosi said that along with citizenship, which could take up to 12 years, Trump includes a $25 billion budget for a wall and terminates the ability for citizens to sponsor their parents and siblings for permanent residency.
Another section of the memo limits family sponsorships to spouses and minor children. Extended family, such as parents, will no longer be eligible. Trump also plans to put an end to the diversity visa lottery, which awards visas to countries with low immigration rates to the United States.
In the memo, Trump states that these individuals are selected “at random…without considerations for skills, merit or public safety.”
Duarte said Trump’s plan to prioritize merit-based visas over family-based visas isn’t so black and white.
“If we have somebody here who we value for skills or the workforce that they participate in… if we want these people to thrive, then we also want them to be able to build families here,” Duarte said. “We value their work so we need to value them as human beings.”
According to NPR, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) offered praise for the outline but plans to use it only as framework in crafting the bill. McConnell promised to hold a senate floor debate regarding the immigration measure Feb. 6.
“It’s such a confused mess there. His latest proposal would renew DACA and in fact include twice as many people as there are in DACA, but then attach not full funding of the wall but partial funding of the wall, and so forth,” said California Lutheran University President Chris Kimball.
According to the Washington Post, when Trump was asked if he would support a DACA-only act if Senate did not pass his proposal, one aide replied, “This is DACA,” and held up a one-page summary including border wall money and legal immigration cuts.
“If this DACA renewal doesn’t happen, they’re going to force these DREAMers to go back to a country that they don’t even know,” said Sandy Gonzalez, a junior at Cal Lutheran and DACA activist who was formerly undocumented. “I don’t see any benefit from removing these DREAMers. I don’t think I can name a single one.”
Kimball encourages students to get involved by calling their congressmen.
If senate is unable to come to a decision that renews DACA or creates citizenship for DREAMers in the upcoming months, Duarte says that the effects won’t be immediate.
Duarte said people are still being allowed to apply for extensions, which last up to two years. She said that to the university’s knowledge, all students attending Cal Lutheran under DACA have applied for renewals.
“However, eventually there will be ramifications on [DACA recipient’s] ability to take care of themselves, get a job and feel safe in this country,” Duarte said. “If we don’t do anything, time’s going to run out for them and there will be some very significant repercussions on their daily life.”