Hostage Situation
Published October 10, 2017 / Updated August 6, 2020

Hostage Situation

Build The Wall or the Dreamers get it

by Chris Thomas

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This column has already covered the plight of the so-called “Dreamers” — the children of undocumented immigrants carried across the border with their parents. Earlier this year President Trump announced that he would end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, throwing the legal status of more than 800,000 “Dreamers” into question and challenging Congress to find a permanent, legislative solution to the question of their immigration status.

This week the White House informed Congress of the price of that resolution.

The President’s Demands

In a letter dated October 8, 2017, the White House declared that the “Administration’s principles for reforming our Nation’s immigration system” were the result of “a bottom-up review of all immigration policies to determine what legislative reforms are essential for America’s economic and national security.”

Some of those “principles” are simple bureaucratic expansion and improvement but some represent radical changes in the way the United States handles immigration. The more disruptive of these proposals, pulled from documents leaked to Politico, are as follows:

The Wall

This is Trump’s signature immigration issue so its inclusion in his list of demands should not come as a surprise. Despite numerous pledges that Mexico would pay for the Wall, however, the proposal calls upon Congress to “ensure funding for the southern border wall” and to allow DHS to use “processing fees” from immigration benefit applications and border crossings to fund border security.

Punish “Sanctuary Cities”

Sanctuary Cities are cities whose police departments do not expressly cooperate with immigration authorities. These cities tend to view their police force’s role as the maintenance of peace within the city and view the cooperation of immigrant populations as critical to that task. The Administration’s proposals would restrict federal grants to sanctuary cities and other entities (like colleges and universities) that provide services to undocumented immigrants

Crackdown on Immigrant Children

So called “Unaccompanied Alien Children” or UACs are typically accorded different treatment by DHS than adults crossing the border. The United States recognizes them as children in need of supervision and care. The proposal to Congress calls for an end to these policies; essentially asking Congress to treat UACs as adults at the border.

Tighten Asylum Rules

Drug-related violence in parts of central America is horrific and people fleeing that violence can claim asylum in the United States. As a result, there is a backlog of more than 270,000 asylum cases and new asylum claims can’t be rejected until they have been heard. The Administration wants to make it harder for people fleeing violence to claim asylum so as to reduce the case load and more rapidly process asylum seekers.

Why Does This Matter?

While the White House doesn’t explicitly frame these proposals as a demand, the implication is fairly clear. Any resolution for the Dreamers is going to have to at least pay lip-service to the President’s immigration priorities or face threat of a veto. In essence, it’s a hostage situation of Trump’s own making. The President can’t make laws though, only veto or sign them. As a consequence, how Congress responds to these demands will shape immigration policy for the remainder of Trump’s term.

Tell Congress what you think!

Congress can give Trump what he wants or they can pass their own solution and dare him to veto it. The question is, of course, does Donald Trump really want to be the President that deports 800,000 people for whom the United States is the only home they’ve ever known? It will come down to a question of vocal support and political courage so text RESIST to 50409 to tell your representatives or Senators what you think about this or any other issue before Congress.

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