Making America White Again: White House proposal shuts the door for immigration

Kenzi Hilario,

The issue behind DACA and finding a solution for the undocumented youth who are at risk of deportation continues to be a debate between different parties in the government. Unfortunately, this places Dreamers in limbo as their status is used as a bargaining chip in exchange for stricter provisions on immigration.

Multiple resolutions have been placed on the table to be reviewed by the House and Senate which includes the DREAM Act. President Donald Trump, however, is fixated on his goals for immigration and will not pass a Dreamer bill unless his requests are also met.

The fate of DACA currently rests with the US Supreme Court after the Trump administration appealed the California district court injunction, which places DACA’s rescindment on pause. DACA recipients have the chance to renew their status before the Supreme Court decides to lift the injunction. However, there’s still a chance that the court could deny Trump’s appeal.

Meanwhile, everyone is scrambling to figure out a solution that covers all aspects of immigration. On Jan. 25, the Problem Solvers Caucus, a bipartisan group of lawmakers in the House, released an immigration proposal after the White House released its own requests for immigration reform.

The White House said it is willing to approve a bill that gives a 10 to 12 year pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, who were brought into the country at a young age, but in exchange for bigger restrictions on immigration.

The Trump administration wants $25 billion to fund the border wall and strengthen immigration enforcement at the border. In addition, it wants to eliminate the visa lottery program and limit family-based immigration by giving priority to the spouses and minor children of US citizens and legal residents.

The Problem Solvers Caucus wants its proposal to be included in the budget deal due on Feb. 8. The proposal addresses all the requests from the White House: a merit-based bill that provides a path to citizenship for qualified Dreamers, $2 billion for the border wall and funding for drug screenings, border access roads and personnel.

The Problem Solvers proposal also includes a bill in replacement of the visa lottery program. The new visa has education, work and language requirements for applicants from underrepresented countries.

Another proposed bill closes the door for legal immigration for undocumented parents who brought their children into the country illegally. Once their children become citizens, their children are not allowed to sponsor their own parents for a green card.

As an undocumented immigrant, I think the Problem Solvers Caucus and the White House have made it clear that they want America to close its doors to any immigrants. It is a full-on attack towards the larger immigrant community, and their proposals fully identify the types of immigrants that they do not want in our country.

Although their proposal provides a solution for young undocumented immigrants, it also attacks Dreamers’ families and communities by cutting down family immigration petitions and strengthening immigration enforcement. Millions of undocumented immigrants that would not qualify for their proposed Dreamer bill would still be at risk of deportation. Siblings, parents and adult children of legal immigrants cannot be reunited with their American families if this proposal gets approved.

A 12-year path to citizenship for Dreamers is not much compared to the larger changes the government wants to make on immigration. I’ve waited for 15 years to have a legal status. By the time this bill passes, I would already be around 35 years old. Undocumented people have been waiting for years, even decades, for a chance to adjust their status – only for millions of immigrants to be thrown under the bus.

A big misconception that has been made through the process of creating these anti-immigrant proposals is that foreigners are immigrating in hoards, and our current immigration system has no control over the numbers of immigrants arriving in this country. But this isn’t true. It’s not easy to become a legal immigrant in the United States.

Applications can cost hundreds of dollars and the wait for an application approval can take decades due to backlogs, especially from high-demand countries such as China, Mexico, India and the Philippines. To make it even more difficult, applicants must go through different levels of approval before they can be admitted into the United States.

Lawmakers of both parties need to realize that trading Dreamers for bigger barriers on legal immigration will be ineffective in handling our immigration problem. We are not making America great again by creating xenophobic immigration proposals. Keeping families apart and devaluing the diversity of our nation is making America white again.