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  • Article: The Poison Pill(s)? Trump Immigration Plan Demands Tough Concessions From Democrats By Kevin R. Johnson

    The Poison Pill(s)? Trump Immigration Plan Demands Tough Concessions From Democrats


    You no doubt have heard by now but, as reported by the New York Times, President Trump proposed legislation yesterday that would provide a path to citizenship for as many as 1.8 million undocumented immigrants in exchange for an end to decades of family-based migration policies, a costly border wall and a vast crackdown on other immigrants living in the country. But the new plan — drafted by Stephen Miller, the president’s hard-line domestic policy adviser, and John F. Kelly, the White House chief of staff — was immediately rejected by Democrats, immigration advocates and some Republicans, with some describing it as nothing but an attempt to rid the country of immigrants and shut the nation’s borders. Republican and Democratic senators are working on a narrower immigration plan of their own. They hope that if it can pass the Senate, it will put pressure on the House to pass the legislation as well.

    Here is the proposal: Download White-House-Framework-on-Immigration. And here it is reprinted in full:


    BORDER SECURITY: Securing the Southern and Northern border of the United States takes a combination of physical infrastructure, technology, personnel, resources, authorities, and the ability to close legal loopholes that are exploited by smugglers, traffickers, cartels, criminals and terrorists.

    • The Department of Homeland Security must have the tools to deter illegal immigration; the ability to remove individuals who illegally enter the United States; and the vital authorities necessary to protect national security.

    • These measures below are the minimum tools necessary to mitigate the rapidly growing surge of illegal immigration.

    o $25 billion trust fund for the border wall system, ports of entry/exit, and northern border improvements and enhancements.

    o Close crippling personnel deficiencies by appropriating additional funds to hire new DHS personnel, ICE attorneys, immigration judges, prosecutors and other law enforcement professionals.

    o Hiring and pay reforms to ensure the recruitment and retention of critically-needed personnel.

    o Deter illegal entry by ending dangerous statutorily-imposed catch-and-release and by closing legal loopholes that have eroded our ability to secure the immigration system and protect public safety.

    o Ensure the detention and removal of criminal aliens, gang members, violent offenders, and aggravated felons.

    o Ensure the prompt removal of illegal border-crossers regardless of country of origin.

    o Deter visa overstays with expedited removal.

    o Ensure synthetic drugs (fentanyl) are prevented from entering the country.

    o Institute immigration court reforms to improve efficiency and prevent fraud and abuse.

    DACA LEGALIZATION: Provide legal status for DACA recipients and other DACA-eligible illegal immigrants, adjusting the time-frame to encompass a total population of approximately 1.8 million individuals.

    • 10-12 year path to citizenship, with requirements for work, education and good moral character.

    • Clear eligibility requirements to mitigate fraud.

    • Status is subject to revocation for criminal conduct or public safety and national security concerns, public charge, fraud, etc.

    PROTECT THE NUCLEAR FAMILY: Protect the nuclear family by emphasizing close familial relationships.

    • Promote nuclear family migration by limiting family sponsorships to spouses and minor children only (for both Citizens and LPRs), ending extended-family chain migration.

    • Apply these changes prospectively, not retroactively, by processing the “backlog.”

    ELIMINATE LOTTERY AND REPURPOSE VISAS: The Visa Lottery selects individuals at random to come to the United States without consideration of skills, merit or public safety.

    • This program is riddled with fraud and abuse and does not serve the national interest.

    • Eliminate lottery and reallocate the visas to reduce the family-based “backlog” and high-skilled employment “backlog.”


    Needless to say, there is great controversy over the proposal. Dara Lind on Vox explains the proposal. Stay tuned!

    This post originally appeared on Law Professor Blogs © 2014-2018 by Law Professor Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved. Reprinted with permission.

    About The Author

    Kevin Johnson Kevin Johnson is Dean, Mabie-Apallas Professor of Public Interest Law, and Professor of Chicana/o Studies. He joined the UC Davis law faculty in 1989 and was named Associate Dean for Academic Affairs in 1998. Johnson became Dean in 2008. He has taught a wide array of classes, including immigration law, civil procedure, complex litigation, Latinos and Latinas and the law, and Critical Race Theory. In 1993, he was the recipient of the law school's Distinguished Teaching Award.Dean Johnson has published extensively on immigration law and civil rights. Published in 1999, his book How Did You Get to Be Mexican? A White/Brown Man's Search for Identity was nominated for the 2000 Robert F. Kennedy Book Award. Dean Johnson’s latest book, Immigration Law and the US-Mexico Border (2011), received the Latino Literacy Now’s International Latino Book Awards – Best Reference Book. Dean Johnson blogs at ImmigrationProf, and is a regular contributor on immigration on SCOTUSblog. A regular participant in national and international conferences, Dean Johnson has also held leadership positions in the Association of American Law Schools and is the recipient of an array of honors and awards. He is quoted regularly by the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, and other national and international news outlets.

    The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the opinion of ILW.COM.

    Comments 2 Comments
    1. ImmigrationLawBlogs's Avatar
      ImmigrationLawBlogs -
      It isn't going to be possible in this post-IRCA age to get a legalization program from the Republicans that doesn't include measures to prevent the undocumented aliens being legalized from being replaced in ten years by a new group of undocumented aliens, and it's apparent to me that the Dems are unwilling to agree to the enforcement and border security measures that are necessary to do that. That is why it has been more than 30 years since the last substantial legalization program and why it is a waste of time to argue over establishing a new one now.

      Nolan Rappaport
    1. ImmigrationLawBlogs's Avatar
      ImmigrationLawBlogs -
      Nolan says:

      "...the Dems are unwilling to agree to the enforcement and border security measures that are necessary [to prevent more illegal immigration in the future]."

      Would Nolan be willing to share his insights with ilw.com readers about precisely which"enforcement and border security measures" the Democrats are "unwilling to agree to"?

      The White House "Framework" quoted above in Professor Johnson's article above lists nine specific "border security" measures to deter illegal immigration which the administration states that it regards as essential. I am not aware of a single one of them that Democratic leaders, or the Democrats in general, have come out against, let alone identified as deal breakers in any DACA negotiations.

      To the contrary, Democratic leaders have indicated that they would be willing to consider even the most controversial item in Trump's nine point enforcement and border security agenda listed above, namely $25 billion for the Mexican border Wall. Therefore, unless he can provide further details about exactly which of the administration's above border security and enforcement measures the Democrats are refusing to agree to, Nolan's above statement would not seem to be justified by any facts.

      The deal breakers to any solution for the DREAMERS are not in the area of illegal immigration enforcement. The deal breakers are in Trump's demands for drastic reductions in legal immigration, especially relating to family immigration and the visa lottery, both of which together have enabled tens of millions of legal immigrants to come to the United States from countries which, to put a polite gloss on Trump's recent comments, are "not like Norway" in terms of their citizens' skin color.

      The deal breaker for the Democrats is in Trump's insistence on making America's immigrant population whiter by eliminating legal visa categories which have been especially helpful to immigrants from Africa, Asia and Latin America, as opposed to Europe. This is entirely separate from enforcing the laws against illegal immigration, and Nolan should be making this distinction clear if he wishes to engage in a serious discussion of these issues.

      There is another aspect of Trump's "Framework" above that is also worthy of attention, though neither Professor Johnson nor Nolan mentions this. I refer to either outright falsehoods or, at best, Orwellian distortions which the Framework uses to describe the legal visa programs which Trump wants to abolish.

      First, Trump's "Framework" criticizes the visa lottery as allegedly being "riddled with fraud and abuse". No evidence of this is provided and I am not aware of any evidence that this program has been identified with any unusual levels of fraud and abuse, something that, unfortunately, has been involved to some extent in every government program that has been instituted since the formation of the universe billions of years ago.

      Instead, with few exceptions, this is just a stock phrase that every politician since the beginning of time has used about a program that he or she opposes for whatever reason. The Framework also states that the visa lottery fails to consider "public safety". This is also an outright lie. Diversity Visa immigrants are required to go through the same criminal background and security checks as everyone else does who is applying to become a US permanent resident.

      Trump's "Framework" then goes on to make a statement that would have made even George Orwell's characters blush. It claims that it wants to "promote nuclear family immigration" by eliminating all other types of family immigration! Barring certain relatives from coming to the United States to make it easier for other relatives to do so, especially since there are no quota limits for immediate "nuclear" relatives of US citizens anyway, makes no sense whatsoever.

      Welcome to Donald Trump's Orwellian world of family immigration! If Trump doesn't like immigrants who are not from the white countries of Europe, it would be more honest and direct for him to say so. In fact, he did say so, clearly and directly, for the whole world to hear, on January 11, 2018.

      The Framework is the outcome of those statements, at least with regard to legal immigration policy. It would be absurd to expect the Democrats, or even moderate Republicans of good will, to agree to the president's proposals to eliminate a visa category or categories which have enabled some 30 or 40 million immigrants to come to the US legally in the past several decades, merely because he doesn't like the countries they come from or the color of their skins.

      For a good further discussion of this point, see: vox.com (January 18):

      The scary ideology behind Trump's immigration instincts


      The author states the following:

      "Bannon may be out of the White House (and Breitbart News). But his attitudes regarding immigration and immigrants remain in place, voiced by fellow immigration restrictionists like Sessions and Miller who believe that immigration poses a danger to American culture and American life - unless that immigration is from a predominantly white country...

      This has a direct effect on immigration policy, including current negotiations regarding DACA and discussions of so-called merit-based immigration."

      For anyone who has been paying even the slightest attention to the news during the past six months, beginning with Trump's July 6, 2017 speech in Warsaw, Poland when he told his audience that "protecting" the "civilization", "traditions" and borders of "the West", held together by common bonds of "ancestry" was the most important issue of our time; and continuing with his attacks on not just one or two bad apple lottery/family legal immigrants who were involved in terror-related attacks or attempted attacks, but 30 or 40 million such immigrants over the past few decades who have led productive lives and contributed significantly to our economy and society, the above author's conclusion is accurate beyond dispute.

      Roger Algase
      Attorney at law.
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