The Trump administration announced a major immigration reform in January and while the border wall made headlines, some of the other details are potentially more sweeping.
On Jan. 25, the administration offered a pathway to citizenship for an estimated 1.8 million undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children.
The policy change could help the so-called Dreamers who won a reprieve from deportation and the right to work under DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals). The DACA issue remains held up in Congress with no vote forthcoming.
While the DACA proposal may have been acceptable to Democrats at Congress, other proposals to retreat from family-based immigration and to end the diversity lottery proved more divisive.
Here are the key points of Trump’s major immigration reform. The White House said the measures are necessary to deal with the “rapidly growing surge of illegal immigration.”
- The setting up of a $25 billion trust fund to finance a border wall system, including new ports of entry and exit, and other border improvements and enhancements.
- Hiring new personnel to deal with the immigration backlog by finding more money for new DHS personnel, Immigration and Customs Enforcement lawyers, immigration judges, prosecutors and other law enforcement professionals.
- Implementing pay and hiring reforms to facilitate the recruitment and retention of “critically-needed” personnel.
- Deter migrants from illegally entering the United States by ending the catch-and-release policy and by closing perceived legal loopholes
- Ensure the detention and removal of criminal undocumented immigrants, members of gangs, violent offenders, and aggravated felons.
- Prioritize the prompt removal of illegal border-crossers regardless of their country of origin.
- Deter visa overstays with efficient removal policies.
- Prevent synthetic drugs such as the opioid fentanyl from entering the country.
- Implement key immigration court reforms to boost efficiency and stamp out fraud and abuse.
- Provide legal status for recipients of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals as well as other DACA-eligible illegal immigrants. The time-frame of the program would be adjusted to encompass a total population of approximately 1.8 million people. Give a 10-year path to Citizenship to those who seek work, education and have a good moral character.
- Promote nuclear family migration by limiting family sponsorships to the United States to spouses and minor children only. The policy would apply to relatives of citizens and green card holders, ending so-called extended-family chain migration.
- Eliminate the diversity visa lottery and repurpose visas. The Trump administration said these programs allow people to come to the country with no consideration of skills, merit or public safety.
The move from family-based immigration to a more merit-based system is likely to prove contentious. According to CNN, experts say cutting these categories would reduce the roughly 1 million green cards given out every year by 25 percent to 50 percent.
If you or a family member needs help with an immigration matter, please contact our Austin immigration law firm today.