On Thursday, President Donald Trump announced a proposal to overhaul the country’s legal immigration system. Todd Gillman, Washington bureau chief for The Dallas Morning News, reported the story, and says the proposal was effectively “dead on arrival.” That’s because House Democrats likely won’t accept much of what he’s proposing.
“It is a very one-sided proposal. It does a lot of things that some Republicans want, and it doesn’t do a lot of things that Democrats want,” Gillman says.
He says Democrats didn’t have input on the plan, and that the announcement was essentially a political statement.
The plan addresses certain aspects of the legal immigration system, but omits a plan for many other things. First, it doesn’t address the number of migrants already living in the U.S. illegally, or the young people whose parents brought them to the U.S. when they were children, and who also don’t have legal status. It also doesn’t offer a solution for reducing immigration overall. Gillman says the plan wouldn’t change the overall number of immigrants allowed to come to the U.S. Instead, it would just change who would be granted visas.
“Instead of any kind of lottery or family-based migration patterns, you would have people having to show that they already are proficient in English, and that they have a job offer from an American employer and that they can pass an American civics test,” Gillman says.
The plan appeals to those who seek to restrict immigration because, he says, in their view, it would “keep out peasants, effectively. Brown peasants.” Instead, the plan would attract more highly-educated foreigners who speak English.
Gillman says without a plan for dealing with immigrants who entered the country illegally with their parents when they were young – some know these people as “Dreamers,” based on the never-passed proposals in Congress called the DREAM Act – Trump is missing an opportunity to appeal to a wider range of people.
“The president and his people say that he is looking for common ground,” Gillman says. “But at least publicly, protecting those young people who were brought in at age 2 or 5 or even 10 – that has always been the common ground.”
A majority of Americans support a plan to help those kids find a legal path to citizenship, and Trump leaving them out of the plan is a large omission.
Gillman says Trump could be withholding a plan for “Dreamers” in order to use the issue as leverage with Congress at a later time, but he says doing so is a gamble.
“It’s a pretty major flaw in the plan if you’re trying to get consensus in Congress,” Gillman says.
Written by Caroline Covington.