Musings on Events in U.S. Immigration Court, Immigration Law, Sports, and Other Random Topics by Retired United States Immigration Judge (Arlington, Virginia) and former Chairman of the Board of Immigration Appeals Paul Wickham Schmidt. To see my complete professional bio, just click on the link below.
Michael D. Shear & Sheryl Gay Stolberg report for the NYT:
“WASHINGTON — President Trump proposed legislation on Thursday that would provide a path to citizenship for as many as 1.8 million young, undocumented immigrants in exchange for an end to decades of family-based migration policies, a massive border wall and a vast crackdown on other illegal immigrants already living in the country.
Describing the plan as “extremely generous” but a take-it-or-leave-it proposal by the president, White House officials said they hoped it will be embraced by conservatives and centrists in Congress as the first step in an even broader effort to fix the nation’s broken immigration system.
But the 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, pro-immigration activists and some Republicans, with some describing it as nothing but an attempt to rid the country of immigrants and close the nation’s borders.
Republican and Democratic senators are working on a narrower immigration plan of their own, hoping that if it can pass the Senate with a strong, bipartisan majority, it would be Mr. Trump who would have the take-it-or-leave-it decision.
“We will oppose it. Most if not all Democrats will oppose it. Some Republicans will, too,” said Frank Sharry, the executive director of America’s Voice, a pro-immigration group. “We are not going to allow Stephen Miller to exploit a crisis that he and his boss created to take a wrecking ball to the Statue of Liberty and enact his nativist wish list.”
Eddie Vale, a Democratic consultant working with a coalition of immigration groups, described the president’s proposal as an effort to sabotage bipartisan talks and win passage of “a white supremacist wish list.”
Anti-immigration activists also assailed the plan, though for the opposite reason. The Breitbart.com website greeted word of the president’s plan with the headline: “Amnesty Don Suggests Citizenship for Illegal Aliens.”
Under Mr. Trump’s plan, described to reporters by senior White House officials, young immigrants who were brought into the United States as children, would be granted legal status, allowed to work legally, and could become citizens over a 10-to-12 year period if they remain out of trouble with the law.
Officials said that would include about 690,000 people who signed up for protection under an Obama-era program, known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, but also for another 1.1 million undocumented immigrants who would have qualified for the program but never applied. Mr. Trump ended the DACA program last September.
In exchange, Congress would have to create a $25 billion trust fund to pay for a southern border wall, dramatically boost immigration arrests, speed up deportations, crack down on people who overstay their visas, prevent citizens from bringing their parents to the United States, and end a State Department program designed to encourage migration from underrepresented countries.
White House officials said that the list of enhanced security measures — which have been on anti-immigration wish lists for decades — were nonnegotiable parts of their plan. They warned that if no deal is reached, young DACA recipients will face deportation when the program fully expires on March 5.”
Read the complete article at the link.
Looks more like political grandstanding than a serious proposal geared to attract bipartisan support. About all you need to know is that it was put together by White Nationalist racist Steven Miller.
But so many foreigners had flooded into the country since January, he vented to his national security team, that it was making a mockery of his pledge. Friends were calling to say he looked like a fool, Mr. Trump said.
According to six officials who attended or were briefed about the meeting, Mr. Trump then began reading aloud from the document, which his domestic policy adviser, Stephen Miller, had given him just before the meeting. The document listed how many immigrants had received visas to enter the United States in 2017.
More than 2,500 were from Afghanistan, a terrorist haven, the president complained.
Haiti had sent 15,000 people. They “all have AIDS,” he grumbled, according to one person who attended the meeting and another person who was briefed about it by a different person who was there.
Forty thousand had come from Nigeria, Mr. Trump added. Once they had seen the United States, they would never “go back to their huts” in Africa, recalled the two officials, who asked for anonymity to discuss a sensitive conversation in the Oval Office.
As the meeting continued, John F. Kelly, then the secretary of homeland security, and Rex W. Tillerson, the secretary of state, tried to interject, explaining that many were short-term travelers making one-time visits. But as the president continued, Mr. Kelly and Mr. Miller turned their ire on Mr. Tillerson, blaming him for the influx of foreigners and prompting the secretary of state to throw up his arms in frustration. If he was so bad at his job, maybe he should stop issuing visas altogether, Mr. Tillerson fired back.
Tempers flared and Mr. Kelly asked that the room be cleared of staff members. But even after the door to the Oval Office was closed, aides could still hear the president berating his most senior advisers.
Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House press secretary, denied on Saturday morning that Mr. Trump had made derogatory statements about immigrants during the meeting.
“General Kelly, General McMaster, Secretary Tillerson, Secretary Nielsen and all other senior staff actually in the meeting deny these outrageous claims,” she said, referring to the current White House chief of staff, the national security adviser and the secretaries of state and homeland security. “It’s both sad and telling The New York Times would print the lies of their anonymous ‘sources’ anyway.”
While the White House did not deny the overall description of the meeting, officials strenuously insisted that Mr. Trump never used the words “AIDS” or “huts” to describe people from any country. Several participants in the meeting told Times reporters that they did not recall the president using those words and did not think he had, but the two officials who described the comments found them so noteworthy that they related them to others at the time.
The meeting in June reflects Mr. Trump’s visceral approach to an issue that defined his campaign and has indelibly shaped the first year of his presidency.
Like many of his initiatives, his effort to change American immigration policy has been executed through a disorderly and dysfunctional process that sought from the start to defy the bureaucracy charged with enforcing it, according to interviews with three dozen current and former administration officials, lawmakers and others close to the process, many of whom spoke on the condition of anonymity to detail private interactions.
But while Mr. Trump has been repeatedly frustrated by the limits of his power, his efforts to remake decades of immigration policy have gained increasing momentum as the White House became more disciplined and adept at either ignoring or undercutting the entrenched opposition of many parts of the government. The resulting changes have had far-reaching consequences, not only for the immigrants who have sought to make a new home in this country, but also for the United States’ image in the world.
“We have taken a giant steamliner barreling full speed,” Mr. Miller said in a recent interview. “Slowed it, stopped it, begun to turn it around and started sailing in the other direction.”
It is an assessment shared ruefully by Mr. Trump’s harshest critics, who see a darker view of the past year. Frank Sharry, the executive director of America’s Voice, a pro-immigration group, argues that the president’s immigration agenda is motivated by racism.
“He’s basically saying, ‘You people of color coming to America seeking the American dream are a threat to the white people,’” said Mr. Sharry, an outspoken critic of the president. “He’s come into office with an aggressive strategy of trying to reverse the demographic changes underway in America.”
. . . .
Even as the administration was engaged in a court battle over the travel ban, it began to turn its attention to another way of tightening the border — by limiting the number of refugees admitted each year to the United States. And if there was one “deep state” stronghold of Obama holdovers that Mr. Trump and his allies suspected of undermining them on immigration, it was the State Department, which administers the refugee program.
At the department’s Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration, there was a sense of foreboding about a president who had once warned that any refugee might be a “Trojan horse” or part of a “terrorist army.”
Mr. Trump had already used the travel ban to cut the number of allowable refugees admitted to the United States in 2017 to 50,000, a fraction of the 110,000 set by Mr. Obama. Now, Mr. Trump would have to decide the level for 2018.
At an April meeting with top officials from the bureau in the West Wing’s Roosevelt Room, Mr. Miller cited statistics from the restrictionist Center for Immigration Studies that indicated that resettling refugees in the United States was far costlier than helping them in their own region.
Mr. Miller was visibly displeased, according to people present, when State Department officials pushed back, citing another study that found refugees to be a net benefit to the economy. He called the contention absurd and said it was exactly the wrong kind of thinking.
But the travel ban had been a lesson for Mr. Trump and his aides on the dangers of dictating a major policy change without involving the people who enforce it. This time, instead of shutting out those officials, they worked to tightly control the process.
In previous years, State Department officials had recommended a refugee level to the president. Now, Mr. Miller told officials the number would be determined by the Department of Homeland Security under a new policy that treated the issue as a security matter, not a diplomatic one.
When he got word that the Office of Refugee Resettlement had drafted a 55-page report showing that refugees were a net positive to the economy, Mr. Miller swiftly intervened, requesting a meeting to discuss it. The study never made it to the White House; it was shelved in favor of a three-page list of all the federal assistance programs that refugees used.
At the United Nations General Assembly in September, Mr. Trump cited the Center for Immigration Studies report, arguing that it was more cost-effective to keep refugees out than to bring them into the United States.
“Uncontrolled migration,” Mr. Trump declared, “is deeply unfair to both the sending and receiving countries.”
At times, though, Mr. Trump has shown an openness to a different approach. In private discussions, he returns periodically to the idea of a “comprehensive immigration” compromise, though aides have warned him against using the phrase because it is seen by his core supporters as code for amnesty. During a fall dinner with Democratic leaders, Mr. Trump explored the possibility of a bargain to legalize Dreamers in exchange for border security.
Mr. Trump even told Republicans recently that he wanted to think bigger, envisioning a deal early next year that would include a wall, protection for Dreamers, work permits for their parents, a shift to merit-based immigration with tougher work site enforcement, and ultimately, legal status for some undocumented immigrants.
The idea would prevent Dreamers from sponsoring the parents who brought them illegally for citizenship, limiting what Mr. Trump refers to as “chain migration.”
“He wants to make a deal,” said Mr. Graham, who spoke with Mr. Trump about the issue last week. “He wants to fix the entire system.”
Yet publicly, Mr. Trump has only employed the absolutist language that defined his campaign and has dominated his presidency.
After an Uzbek immigrant was arrested on suspicion of plowing a truck into a bicycle path in Lower Manhattan in October, killing eight people, the president seized on the episode.
Privately, in the Oval Office, the president expressed disbelief about the visa program that had admitted the suspect, confiding to a group of visiting senators that it was yet another piece of evidence that the United States’ immigration policies were “a joke.”
Even after a year of progress toward a country sealed off from foreign threats, the president still viewed the immigration system as plagued by complacency.
“We’re so politically correct,” he complained to reporters in the cabinet room, “that we’re afraid to do anything.”
Read the full, much more comprehensive and detailed, article at the link.
Disturbing for sure, but unfortunately not particularly surprising for those of us who have watched the Administration roll out its toxic, ill-informed immigration policies. Perhaps ironically, while the immigration issue has certainly allowed Trump to capture and control the GOP, polls show that his extreme restrictionist, xenophobic views on immigration are generally out of line with the majority of Americans (although not necessarily the majority of GOP voters).
JULIE HIRSCHFELD DAVIS, MICHAEL D. SHEAR and PETER BAKER report in the NY Times:
“WASHINGTON — President Trump, signaling a potential major shift in policy, told news anchors on Tuesday that he is open to a broad immigration overhaul that would grant legal status to millions of undocumented immigrants who have not committed serious crimes.
“The time is right for an immigration bill as long as there is compromise on both sides,” the president told the TV anchors at the White House, according to people present during the discussion. The people requested anonymity because they were not authorized to speak about the private meeting.
The idea is a sharp break from the broad crackdown on undocumented immigrants that Mr. Trump has taken in his first weeks in office and the hardline positions embraced by his core supporters that helped sweep him into the White House. The president hinted at the reversal just hours before he was to deliver his first address to Congress, although it was not clear whether he would mention it in his speech.
A move toward a comprehensive immigration overhaul would be a dramatic turnaround for the president, whose campaign rallies rang with shouts of “build the wall!” on the Mexican border and who signed an executive order last month directing the deportation of any undocumented immigrant who has committed a crime — whether or not they have been charged — or falsified any document. The standard could apply to virtually any one of the estimated 11 million people in the country illegally.”
This report was published before the President’s speech to Congress tonight. We might, or might not, get more details in the speech.
Reaching a compromise on immigration would be “smart governing” by the Administration. It would push most of the responsibility for formulating sound immigration policy back where it belongs — Congress. Additionally, reform that allows those undocumented individuals with good records to remain in the United States could potentially clear much of the backlog of the overwhelmed U.S. Immigration Courts, thereby clearing the way for the Administration to work on its “criminal priorities” and for the Immigration Courts to concentrate on providing full due process to those placed in the removal process.
Update from the Washington Post:
“He also pressed his policies on immigration, including his controversial proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.
“We want all Americans to succeed —- but that can’t happen in an environment of lawless chaos. We must restore integrity and the rule of law at our borders,” said Trump. “For that reason, we will soon begin the construction of a great wall along our southern border. It will be started ahead of schedule and, when finished, it will be a very effective weapon against drugs and crime.”
Trump challenged members of Congress who disagree with him: “I would ask you this question: what would you say to the American family that loses their jobs, their income, or a loved one, because America refused to uphold its laws and defend its borders?”
He did call for Republicans and Democrats to work toward reforming the immigration system into a merit-based program focused on the “well-being of American citizens.”
Trump argued that the country’s current focus on low-skilled immigration hurts American workers and strains the country’s finances.
The comments come hours after Trump said in a meeting with journalists that he would support comprehensive immigration reform efforts with a pathway to legalization for law abiding immigrants.
At his remarks before Congress, Trump did not specify the parameters of a compromise he would be willing to accept. But he outlined a preference for a system that favors immigrants who are able to support themselves financially.
“I believe that real and positive immigration reform is possible, as long as we focus on the following goals: to improve jobs and wages for Americans, to strengthen our nation’s security, and to restore respect for our laws,” Trump said.”