President Trump’s latest immigration proposal appears to offer the 1.8 million Dreamers protection, but the rest of his proposal would severely restrict legal immigration.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer accused President Donald Trump of “using a proposed path for citizenship for young undocumented immigrants as cover for making sweeping — and damaging — changes to the legal immigration system.”
Trump’s complete immigration proposal is a radical departure from traditional immigration policy. In addition to requiring $25 billion for a border wall, Trump’s immigration framework would end the visa lottery program and slash the number of family-based members allowed into the country.
Trump has intentionally misrepresented the current family-based immigration policies using the biased term of “chain migration.” He made the same distorted claim in his State of the Union speech this week. Trump claimed that, “Under the current broken system, a single immigrant can bring in virtually unlimited numbers of distant relatives.”
According to the United States Customs and Immigration Service (USCIS), “Neither U.S. citizens nor lawful permanent residents can directly petition for an aunt, uncle, cousin, niece, nephew, in-law relative or grandparent to come to the United States.” For resident green card holders (legal immigrants) only a spouse and children are eligible for sponsorship. For citizens, current law allows sponsorship of only spouses, children, parents and siblings.
Politifact analyzed Trump’s claim that immigrants can bring in virtually unlimited numbers of distant relatives. Politifact rated the Trump statement as, “We rate it Mostly False.”
Trump’s new restrictions on family members would likely eliminate all but spouses and children for citizens. According to a Cato Institute estimate, legal-immigration numbers could plunge about 44 percent under the White House proposal.” That would be the “largest policy-driven legal immigration cut since the 1920s …Based on current law, it would exclude nearly 22 million people from the opportunity to immigrate legally to the United States over the next five decades.”
Tech companies are very concerned about the Trump restriction on spouses of immigrants. Apple, Google, Microsoft, Facebook and other U.S. companies have warned the Trump administration that planned spouse restrictions will harm their ability to recruit high skilled workers. If workers are forbidden to sponsor spouses, they will likely refuse to come to America. They will likely choose other countries that allow spouses to accompany them.
Many Republicans, including Senator Lindsey Graham, agree with Democrats that Trump’s immigration proposal is unworkable.
“The idea of cutting legal immigration in half and skewing the green cards to one area of the economy, I think, is bad for the economy,” Graham said, referring to the administration’s broad pitch to shift to a merit-based immigration system. “Not a whole lot of support for that. I want more legal immigration, not less.”
Trump’s plan to cut legal immigration would severely damage America’s economy. “Cutting the number of new legal immigrants by about 50% would initially reduce the rate of economic growth in the United States by an estimated 12.5% from its projected level,” according to Joel Prakken, senior managing director and co-founder of Macroeconomic Advisers.
The National Academy of Sciences has estimated that, “the average immigrant contributes, in net present value terms, at least $92,000 more in taxes than they receive in benefits over their lifetime, so banning them would harm government finances.”
The American Farm Bureau has warned about the harm to agriculture by restrictions on immigration. Too few workers “is the biggest limiting factor we have on our farms today,” said Zippy Duvall, president of the federation.
Trump’s proposed immigration proposal is wrong for America. America needs Dreamers but we also need broad legal immigration that keeps families intact and offers opportunities to a diverse population of newcomers. Holding the Dreamers hostage in order to negotiate a destructive legal immigration policy is a dishonest and cruel sham.
by Rick Smith