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3 things you need to know about Trump’s harmful immigration proposal

News & Commentary  |  By Pedro Rios, Jan 29, 2018

In collaboration with United We Dream, AFSC participants traveled to Washington, D.C. to demand a Clean Dream Act. Photo: Bryan Vana/AFSC

TAKE ACTION TODAY: Call your senators and demand humane immigration policy.

President Trump has released an alarming immigration framework that would radically alter the U.S. immigration system. In exchange for promising a 10- to 12-year path for citizenship for DACA recipients and other young immigrants—an idea that 90 percent of the public supports—the president demands the further militarization of our southern border, drastic limits on family migration, and an end to the diversity visa lottery program.  

This xenophobic proposal—framed as an attempt to help DACA recipients—will tear apart our families and communities, fuel human rights violations at the border, and turn away countless individuals who would be vital parts of our communities.

By every measure, Trump’s proposal falls far short of what is needed to create a fair, humane immigration system that serves our communities. DACA recipients and other migrants must not be used as bargaining chips. We must continue to push back against Trump’s racist attacks on immigrants and demand policies that welcome and respect the dignity in all people.  

Here’s what you need to know about Trump’s proposal:  

1. It would increase border militarization. 

Trump wants to establish a “$25 billion trust fund for the border wall system.” This amounts to a slush fund to collectively punish border communities by building harmful walls and militarizing the borderlands. And it bases its rationale on faulty logic. Border crossing apprehensions are at a 46-year low and down 25 percent from 2016. Border walls have pushed migrant flows to treacherous terrain, creating a humanitarian disaster. Since 1994, over 7,500 people have perished while attempting to cross into the U.S. In the first seven months of 2017, border deaths increased 17 percent compared to 2016, despite the significant decrease in border crossings. 

Trump wants to increase the Department of Homeland Security’s personnel to expand its deportation force. This is despite the fact that border enforcement agencies already operate with impunity, and the U.S. has failed to hold border agents accountable for thousands of documented cases of violence. What’s more, DHS’s bloated budget already surpasses the combined budgets of the FBI; Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives; U.S. Marshals; the Secret Service; and the Drug Enforcement Agency.  

The 15 million people who call the Southern Border home don't want a wall, more unaccountable agents, and hate-filled policies. Instead, we need policies that uphold constitutional protections and fundamental rights and revitalize our communities rather than militarizing them.  

Congress must put forth legislation representing a common-sense, data-driven approach to the border region that includes consultation with local stakeholders and that provides a pathway to regularizing the status of the millions who find themselves without proper documentation in the United States. 

The existing border wall between the U.S. and Mexico at Friendship Park in San Diego. Photo: Pedro Rios/AFSC

2. It would drastically limit family immigration—the top source of legal immigration to the U.S. 

The White House proposal would limit U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents to only sponsoring their spouses or children under 18. No longer would they be able allowed to bring their parents, adult children, and siblings to join them. These individuals are core members of our families, which U.S. immigration policy has recognized for decades. Trump’s proposal would dramatically reduce the number of people who enter the country as lawful immigrants by half—and cruelly separate families from their loved ones.  

Reuniting families through the immigration system is humane; for many people, families are a source of love and support. Family reunification contributes to stability, prosperity, and stronger communities across the United States. Strengthening family unity should be at the heart of our immigration system. 

3. It would end the Diversity Visa lottery. 

The Diversity Visa lottery diversifies the source countries of immigrants to the United States, particularly by bringing in immigrants from African countries that historically could not send many immigrants to the U.S. Africans receive about 44 percent of diversity visas annually, and have been the majority of diversity visa immigrants in the lifetime of the program.  

The White House proposal would eliminate the Visa lottery, not because it is an ineffective policy, but because the president wishes to limit immigration from certain parts of the world – including Africa. Ending the lottery would diminish Black immigration to the United States. 

But the United States benefits both from the myriad contributions of Diversity Visa immigrants to our communities and from the good will the program generates abroad in countries where there are few opportunities to emigrate to the U.S. Contrary to the administration’s baseless attacks, the program has been safe and successful. It’s crucial that U.S. immigration policy ensure and treasure diversity in our communities. 

In short, Trump’s proposal would be devastating for communities across the U.S.—slashing opportunities for legal immigration, separating families, ramping up detentions and deportations, and further militarizing our border communities.  

While supporting a clean DREAM Act to ensure a pathway to citizenship for DACA recipients, we must continue to call for fair, humane immigration policies that welcome, protect, and value all people.  

To stay up to date on ways to push back against these xenophobic proposals in the months ahead, sign up for our action alerts on immigrant rights.   

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About the Author

Pedro Rios serves as director of the AFSC’s U.S./Mexico Border Program and has been on staff with AFSC for 13 years. He is also chairperson for the San Diego Immigrant Rights Consortium, a coalition of over 33 different organizations in San Diego working to support the rights of immigrants.

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