The White House: Outlining a plan to offer citizenship to 1.8 million undocumented immigrants

By Disha Rawal

The White House may soon open gateways to citizenship for around 1.8 million children brought as illegal migrants to the United States, called ‘Dreamers’. On Thursday, the White House indicated President Donald Trump’s intention of permitting these migrants to pursue citizenship over a 10-12 year period if they maintained good standing with the law and met certain requirements.

This is an interesting development considering that the Republicans had used illegal migration as a major electoral plank, and Trump has consistently insisted on making a ‘wall’ along the US-Mexico border. Now, making the first bid in the negotiation process shortly after the government restarted after a three-day shutdown, the Trump administration is going to ask for $25 million for border security and the construction of the wall. In return, the individuals protected under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) as well as those who are eligible for protection under it but do not enjoy it, will be offered citizenship.

The plan

The essence of the proposal is to facilitate border security measures and controls on illegal migration acting at various points of the process, ‘in exchange’ of allowing the Dreamers to get citizenship- a move on which there is considerable support from both Democrats and Republicans.

The plan, seen as a compromise for both parties, would end the visa lottery and the practice of “chain migration”, which allows green card holders to bring their extended families to the US. This would also imply that the ‘diversity visa’ process, which granted visas simply on the basis of country of origin, would be soon done away with. Many Democrats are against this since this allows many persons from African nations to get access to the States. However, Trump has been postured against this for quite some time, as evident from his famous Twitter rant against ‘shithole’ countries.

Granting citizenship or holding hostages?

It is supposed that people will be vetted along the lines of the ‘conservative DREAM Act’ proposed last September by North Carolina Sen, Thom Tillis and other Republicans, which involves a background check including biometric data and criminal history. Other requirements may include completion of college education, holding a steady job and paying off all federal tax liabilities.

Many Democrats have alleged that this amounts to holding the Dreamers hostage in order to pursue ‘hateful and cruel’ policies against migrants who may be fleeing mob violence or persecution in their own countries. Similarly, the Republicans are concerned that this plan may imply ‘amnesty’ and encourage more illegal migration.

How feasible is this plan?

This proposal would need at least 60 votes in the Senate, and at the same time, would need the support of a majority of house Republicans. Thus, the bill has to hit just the right mix between being liberal and being conservative. To achieve this, the Republicans may look towards splitting the moderate Democrats’ vote and get the required numbers. How this tug of war plays out, would shape the future of millions of immigrants in the United States, and many more looking to enter the nation.

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