For Deal on ‘Dreamers,’ White House Will Demand Crackdown on Child Border Crossers
Posted by Whiteboard Animators at octobre 9th, 2017
Taken together, the proposals amount to a wish list for immigration hard-liners inside the White House, including Stephen Miller, the president’s top policy adviser, who has long advocated extremely aggressive efforts to prevent illegal entry into the country and crack down on undocumented immigrants already here.
The White House immigration priorities — which will be delivered to Capitol Hill in the coming week — have the potential to scuttle the effort by Mr. Trump and Democrats to reach an agreement on protecting the Dreamers. Immigration activists have long opposed many of the White House proposals as draconian or even racist, and they would most likely urge Democratic leaders to refuse a deal that included them.
But immigration rights advocates are also under pressure to do something for the Dreamers, and privately, many advocates have acknowledged that a negotiated deal with the Republican president is likely to include some increases in security at the border and other immigration changes.
The possibility of a deal emerged shortly after the president ended the DACA program early last month. But even as Mr. Trump kept his campaign promise to halt what he had described as “one of the most unconstitutional actions ever undertaken by a president,” he quickly added that he would work with Democrats in Congress to replace the executive policy with legislation.
“The president’s position has been that he’s called on Congress to come up with a permanent solution and a fix to this process,” Sarah Sanders, the White House press secretary, said last week of the effort to help Dreamers.
It is unclear whether Mr. Trump views Sunday’s list of immigration demands as absolute requirements for an agreement or the beginning of a negotiation.
But conservatives in Mr. Trump’s administration, many of whom were advocates of his hard-line immigration rhetoric during the 2016 campaign, are clearly maneuvering to ensure that any deal on the Dreamers also results in passage of the tough immigration enforcement measures and border security enhancements that they have been seeking in Congress for decades.
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A key part of the administration’s demands is the insistence that something be done about tens of thousands of children who have surged across the border with Mexico during the past several years, many of them seeking to escape gang-related violence in Central American countries. In 2014, about 60,000 children crossed the border without their parents.
Administration officials say the children — many of whom are sent by their parents to live with a cousin, aunt, uncle or sibling who is already living in the United States — must be turned back or quickly deported once they arrive. Under current law, many of them remain in the United States for years during legal proceedings to evaluate their asylum or refugee claims.
If the children are not deported quickly, officials say, many will never leave, eventually becoming a new population of sympathetic young immigrants who seek amnesty to live and work in the United States legally. That could create a never-ending cycle in which illegal immigrants demand to be given a legal status, the officials say.
They argue that allowing the children to stay in the United States simply encourages more to make the journey, believing — accurately in many cases — that they will not be returned home.
The document to be released on Sunday will endorse specific ideas to accomplish the president’s goals: It will call for new rules that say children are not considered “unaccompanied” at the border if they have a parent or guardian somewhere in the United States. They will also propose treating children from Central America the same way they do children from Mexico, who can be repatriated more quickly, with fewer rights to hearings.
Mr. Trump will also call in the document for a surge in resources to pay for immigration judges and lawyers and more detention space so that children arriving at the border can be held, processed and quickly returned if they do not qualify to stay longer.
Critics say the focus on deporting unaccompanied children is heartless and impractical. They say many of the children were sent by their parents on long, dangerous treks across Mexico in the hopes of avoiding poverty, hunger, abuse or death by gangs in their home countries.
A court settlement and a bipartisan anti-trafficking federal law passed in 2008 give the children certain rights when they arrive and require the government to give immigrant children a court hearing to determine the validity of the dangers they are said to face at home. But a shortage of judges and other resources has created a yearslong backlog in those cases. In the meantime, most are eventually relocated to family members or foster homes in the United States while they await their hearings.
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Groups that advocate on behalf of the children trying to cross the border say that many of them are not represented by lawyers as they seek to prove in court that their lives and welfare would be threatened if they returned home. Those who do have lawyers are often granted the right to stay permanently in the United States, and eventually apply for citizenship.
Advocates acknowledge that more resources are necessary to speed up those hearings. But they argue that White House efforts to demand quick decisions are likely to merely result in many children being sent back to places where they are raped, beaten or killed.
Sending the children back with just a cursory hearing is “a recipe for disaster in terms of returning people to danger,” said Wendy Young, the president of Kids in Need of Defense, a group that aids young refugees.
Democrats and immigration activists are certain to assail the White House proposal on dealing with Central American children as something they cannot support and little more than a thinly veiled effort to scuttle negotiations between the president and the Democrats even before they begin.
“Promoting the protection of one group of young people at the expense of another is absolutely unacceptable and a nonstarter,” Ms. Young said in a statement.
Some activists have been pressing Democratic leaders not to make any concessions to Republicans. They are urging passage of a “clean” bill that would protect the young immigrants without accepting any new enforcement of immigration laws.
That appears unlikely to win support in the Republican-controlled Congress. But the White House call for an immigration crackdown could also split the Republican Party, where a handful of lawmakers are pushing for a compromise that would include only modest increases in immigration enforcement at the border in exchange for protecting the Dreamers.
Senator Jeff Flake, Republican of Arizona, on Thursday proposed legislation that would protect the immigrants in exchange for much less aggressive enforcement efforts: $1.6 billion in funding for border security measures and new efforts to crack down on members of gangs like MS-13 for deportation.
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