Analysis of White House Immigration Priorities

On October 8, 2017, the White House released a presidential memorandum entitled "Immigration Principles and Policies." Read our post about the priorities here. The following information comes from a news release from the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA Doc. No. 17101000).

The White House's immigration principles are divided into three categories: Border Security, Interior Enforcement, and Merit-Based Immigration System. The documents released do not refer to specific legislation, but allude to appropriations bills that would "skyrocket enforcement spending and increase immigration detention and the number of enforcement agents, and fund the president's border wall." The merit-based reforms are similar to the RAISE Act from earlier in the year, which would "drastically cut legal immigration levels."

The White House sent the principles to Congressional leadership with a cover letter. The cover letter explained that all of the reforms must be included in any legislation that addresses the status of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients. The package is essentially a "laundry list of enforcement-only and restrictionist proposals that is not a workable solution." AILA believes that the proposals, if enacted, would be disastrous for the American economy and result in mass deportations. The following summarizes AILA's analysis of each of the White House's proposals.

Border Security

According to AILA, "recent apprehension numbers have been at the lowest point when compared to the past four decades." Customs and Border Protection (CBP) currently patrols every mile of the border every day. There is no evidence that constructing an additional wall is necessary or beneficial. President Trump is calling for a 100% seal of the entire southern border, and using the term "operational control," a standard that even North Korea cannot achieve.

The proposal regarding amending the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act would "undermine the fundamental principles governing the care and protection of unaccompanied children that have been developed over the past two decades." The proposal lowers standards of due process. It also only grants protection to children who suffered abuse, neglect, or abandonment at the hands of both parents and who cannot be reunited with either one.

Implementing more restrictive asylum policies would "drastically alter U.S. asylum and humanitarian protection law in a manner that would subject asylum seekers to grave harm." The heightened standard would deny many genuine asylum seekers protection from violence and persecution.

Historically, AILA has supported the hiring of additional immigration court personnel. However, in this case, it is clear that "providing more resources to a fundamentally flawed system will not achieve the outcomes that AILA supports." The organization only supports funding that is "tied to a credible plan to advance reforms."

While the proposals call for a drastic increase in Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents, the number of apprehensions have increased 75% since October of 2016. In the past, hiring surges like the one discussed in this proposal have has horrible consequences.

Interior Enforcement

Most of the principles in this category can be linked to H.R. 2431 the Michael Davis Jr. and Danny Oliver in Honor of State and Local Law Enforcement Act ("Davis Act.") AILA believes that the bill enables the president to "implement an immigration agenda that is singularly focused on punitive environment and on the mass detention and deportation of undocumented people, with no regard for the harm it would do to American communities." The bill allows police to arrest and detain anyone based on suspicion of being in the U.S. illegally. The bill criminalizes unlawful presence and permits the prosecution and incarceration of every undocumented individual. This would come at a huge cost to taxpayers. According to AILA, "the Davis Act includes several provisions that deprive people of liberty and undermine due process and fairness."

The proposals include mandatory implementation of E-Verify for all employers with stiff penalties. According to AILA, this would "impose costly mandates on American employers." Large numbers of citizens and other authorized to work are denied employment due to errors in E-Verify. Most must wait weeks for employment, losing wages or even job offers. In 2013, the Congressional Budget Office estimated that this proposal would increase the federal budget deficit by $30 billion.

Increasing criminal prosecution of immigration violators would be ridiculously expensive if implemented. Prosecutions from illegal entry, illegal re-entry, and similar immigration violations made up 52% of all federal prosecutions during FY 2016, or 69,636 cases. For comparison, there were 63,405 prosecutions for all other federal crimes.

Merit-Based System

The merit-based immigration system is very similar to the RAISE Act, as discussed above. According to AILA, "the RAISE Act is an attack on legal immigration as the bill seeks to eliminate the legal immigration system as we know it and replace it with a points-based system that ignores the benefits of family unity and the needs of U.S. businesses." AILA stands in strong opposition to this proposal as it does nothing but attempt to drastically reduce the number of immigrants welcomed each year.

For more information, or if you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact our legal team directly.

Categories: Immigration News