Conservatives flew into frustration when President Donald Trump went to Democrat leadership to discuss the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), when Democrats rushed to the microphones to declare a deal had been done without preconditions. Trump has once again reminded groups they cannot be quick to judge. The official plan was just released, and while those who were allowed to stay under DACA may continue to do so under the Trump plan, that may be only if Congress acts to truly secure our borders, build the wall, end chain migration and deter illegal immigration.
The DACA program under Obama gave some undocumented individuals who came to the country as children protection from deportation, often referring to them as "Dreamers." Considering states were indicating they were getting ready to sue the federal government over this policy, which was implemented under President Obama, Trump removed the law and gave Congress a 6-month window to save it.
On that day, Trump made a promise, "We will resolve the DACA issue with heart and compassion - but through the lawful Democratic process - while at the same time ensuring that any immigration reform we adopt provides enduring benefits for the American citizens we were elected to serve. We must also have heart and compassion for unemployed, struggling and forgotten Americans."
Days later, in early September, Trump met with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer. Following the dinner date, the two touted a plan made with Trump which reinstituted DACA on the congressional level while excluding funding for the border wall. While Trump claimed the meeting was productive, he quickly dismissed the idea of an agreement being reached.
This week, Trump kept his promise. The president clarified the record with the official plan which includes DACA, evident leverage for Democrats and moderates, but maintains his pledge to keep the country secure and put the American people's interests first.
In a 70-point plan on immigration reform, Trump outlined goals ranging from funding the complete construction of the southern border wall to authorizing incentives for states and localities to help enforce Federal Immigration laws.
The plan is divided into three parts: border security, interior enforcement, and merit-based immigration. Together these transform our immigration system to one that puts America first.
To Democrats' dismay, the border security portion of the plan clearly ensures the border wall Trump promised, removes loopholes for Unaccompanied Alien Children, expedites removal, and discourages illegal reentry. The plan also utilizes an increase in immigration judges, established by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, to decrease the court backlog significantly.
To protect American citizens from the dangers of illegal immigration, Trump takes a firm stance on sanctuary cities by restricting access to grants and clarifying the ability of ICE to detain individuals under civil immigration law.
The White House explains in the plan, "The prior Administration suppressed cooperative partnerships between the Federal Government and State or local governments that wanted to help with immigration enforcement, undermining the security of our communities. Therefore, the Administration proposes enhancing state and local cooperation with federal immigration law enforcement to ensure national security and public safety."
Trump promotes the use of an E-Verify system to ensure a legal workforce is still supported in the U.S., following his goal to put American workers first.
Finally, the Trump plan touts immigration based on merit, not chain migration. Trump ends extended family chain migration by limiting family-based green cards to spouses and minor children, replacing this system with one which prioritizes skills and economic contributions. The President's new, point based system would grant green cards based on factors that allow individuals to successfully assimilate and the ability to support themselves financially.
Trump's plan mirrors the conservative RAISE Act proposed by conservative Senators Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) and David Perdue (R-Ga.), according to the bill's description by the White House, the act "replaces the current permanent employment-visa framework with a skills-based system that rewards applicants based on their merit... reduces overall immigration numbers to limit low-skilled and unskilled labor entering the United States... prioritizes immediate family members of United States residents, including spouses and minor children, but ends preferences for extended family members and adult children... [and] eliminates the outdated Diversity Visa lottery system."
Republicans should have no issue rallying behind Trump's plan which pursues precisely those initiatives.
Considering a report from the Federation for American Immigration Reform released this year places the cost of illegal immigrations at over $115 billion, it is transparent that reform is necessary. The report explains that tax contributions through various educational, medical, and judicial costs have charged the American taxpayers nearly $20 billion alone. We cannot continue having an immigration problem harm our national security and national economy.
Trump might be allowing DACA, but it is important to note he is not giving these children citizenship. They would have to return to their countries of origin under current law and apply to legally come here for that to be possible. Democrats should be happy that the millions of illegal immigrant children, brought over often unknowingly by their parents, will be able to stay. If this compromise is not enough, the Democrats must ask themselves what this fight was really about; showing compassion and letting these children live where they have lived nearly their entire lives, or pushing for citizenship so these kids can vote for liberal Democrats in a few years.
While conservatives might have had reason to fret when Trump did not immediately end DACA - allowing DACA to pass Congress would be a gift to the Democrats who supported Obama's executive action - it is for the American people to determine if it is worth it for a complete reorganization of our immigration system that secures the border and ends chain migration under the current system. Ultimately, Trump's plan transforms U.S. immigration from one that works for other countries, to one that works for this country.
Natalia Castro is a contributing editor at Americans for Limited Government.