WASHINGTON—President Donald Trump reiterated his position on one of immigration’s hot-button issues, via Twitter on Dec. 29.
“The Democrats have been told, and fully understand, that there can be no DACA without the desperately needed WALL at the Southern Border and an END to the horrible Chain Migration & ridiculous Lottery System of Immigration etc. We must protect our Country at all cost!” Trump tweeted in the morning.
The Democrats have been told, and fully understand, that there can be no DACA without the desperately needed WALL at the Southern Border and an END to the horrible Chain Migration & ridiculous Lottery System of Immigration etc. We must protect our Country at all cost!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 29, 2017
The pressure is on Congress to come up with a permanent fix for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients by March, after Trump rescinded the DACA program on Sept. 5.
DACA was introduced through an executive order by President Barack Obama in 2012 as a temporary measure that gave recipients renewable, two-year work authorization and deportation immunity. DACA recipients are aliens who were under the age of 16 when they were brought into the United States illegally by their parents.
“Now, let’s be clear, this is not amnesty, this is not immunity, this is not a path to citizenship—it’s not a permanent fix,” Obama said at the time.
Trump outlined his immigration priorities to Congress on Oct. 8 and said his reforms must be included before any type of amnesty deal for the nearly 700,000 DACA recipients will be considered.
The president has consistently reiterated the need for fencing along the 1,997-mile southwest border, where the vast majority of human and drug trafficking occurs.
“We are recommending the construction of a border wall along the southern border, which will be an invaluable tool to deter human trafficking, drug trafficking, and the spread of deadly cartel violence,” said Ron Vitiello, acting deputy commissioner of Customs and Border Protection, on Oct. 8.
“The success of border walls [is] undeniable from the perspective of the operators.”
Locations along the border, such as San Diego, California, and Yuma, Arizona, saw a dramatic drop in illegal crossings after fencing was constructed.
The Secure Fence Act was signed into law by President George W. Bush in 2006 and, in part, directed that about 700 miles of double-layer fencing be constructed along the southwest border, along with sensors, lighting, and other tactical tools.
Notably, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) voted in support of the act, as did then-senators Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.
Trump wants Congress to change the current priority from extended family-based, chain migration to skills-based migration.
His proposal suggests introducing a points-based system for the awarding of green cards (lawful permanent residency) based on factors that allow individuals to successfully assimilate and support themselves financially, including education level, English ability, and job skills.
In his proposal, Trump said chain migration does not serve the national interest.
“Decades of low-skilled immigration has suppressed wages, fueled unemployment, and strained federal resources,” the proposal states.
About 72 percent of the 1 million people who obtained green cards in 2015 came based on a family connection, according to L. Francis Cissna, director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
Trump wants to limit family migration to spouses and minor children, and eliminate the visa lottery. The lottery gives out 50,000 green cards each year to participants from countries that had a low immigration rate to the United States in the previous five years.
“Because the criteria are so low, either you have no education at all and very little skills, or you have a minimum of education and no skills at all. And because it’s a lottery, pretty much anybody on the planet who is from a qualifying country can take advantage of this,” Cissna said on Dec. 12.
Recent terror attacks in New York highlighted vulnerabilities in both chain migration and the visa lottery system.
On Dec. 11, alleged terrorist Akayed Ullah detonated a homemade bomb he was wearing in a busy Midtown Manhattan underground subway walkway. He sustained burns and wounds to his body, while three other people sustained minor injuries.
Ullah, a 27-year-old immigrant from Bangladesh, came to the United States after his uncle won a green card through the diversity visa lottery program. The uncle brought his sister, who in turn brought the then-20-year-old Ullah.
On Oct. 31, in downtown Manhattan, Uzbek national Sayfullo Habibullaevic Saipov mowed down bicyclists with a truck, killing eight and injuring 11 before being shot by police. Saipov won a green card from the diversity visa lottery and had since been the primary contact person for 23 other immigrants, according to comments by Trump on Nov. 1.
Since 9/11, the Department of Justice has prosecuted more than 500 people for terrorism-related offenses, Attorney General Jeff Sessions said recently. Preliminary figures suggest that nearly 75 percent of those defendants were foreign-born.