Lawmakers from both sides of the political divide are calling for a more sober immigration debate. The lawmakers said on Sunday that efforts should be made to legalize young immigrants often referred to as “Dreamers” as well as provide funding for tighter security on the southern border. The legislators warned that the President’s bid to slash legal immigration levels could jeopardize any chances of a deal.
A plan released by the White House last week is looking to negotiate a $25 billion funding for the border wall using the Dreamers’ program as leverage to force Democrats to bulge. The Democrats rejected the plan. Trump is also proposing massive cuts to family immigration visas.
The Democrats said that they are willing to negotiate a deal on funding for the wall but not at the expense of the Dreamers’ program. They accused the president of a radical immigration stand often associated with white supremacists adding that there has been a consistent attempt by the White House to undermine legal immigration in the US.
A few Republican lawmakers have also voiced their concern on the current turn of events. Moderate Republican from Maine Susan Collins said in a CBS interview that at the moment, the most important thing is to protect the Dreamers and provide funding for tighter border security. She added that the proposal by president Trump to reform legal immigration was very complicated. Reps. Will Hurd (R-TX.) and Pete Aguilar (D-CA.) also echoed these sentiments. They said that it is impossible to bring in legal immigration reforms during negotiations for the Dreamers’ program.
However, representatives from the White House denied that the president was asking for too much. They said that the path to citizenship for the Dreamers must come with tighter border security. This would deter other illegal immigrants from coming to the US in the future.
The White House also noted that curbing family immigration would help reduce a surge in legal immigrants coming to the country. Lawmakers from both sides seem to favor a more narrow approach in these negotiations. The focus should solely be on tightening border security and protecting Dreamers. Adding other issues to the negotiations would complicate things and it would certainly make it harder for any agreement to be achieved.
Reforming legal immigration is not easy. Such attempts were made by Congress under George W. Bush and Barack Obama but they all failed. In 2013, a bipartisan legislation that was designed to offer a path to citizenship for 11 million undocumented immigrants, reform family immigration and work visa programs, as well as renovate 700 miles of border fence was rejected by a Republican dominated House.
But it seems that president Trump wants to revive these reforms albeit it’s from a hard line stand. The president has already held meetings with a number of bipartisan groups on the matter but nothing concrete has been agreed. It’s very clear though that Trump sees the Dreamers’ program as a significant bargaining tool and how far he is willing to go in using it remains to be seen.