For months, we’ve been hearing talk of a possible end to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA)—the federal program initiated five years ago which protects undocumented immigrants who entered the U.S. prior to their 16th birthday from deportation. Last September, President Trump announced his intention to shut down DACA protections. Beneficiaries of the program have been nervously holding their breath ever since.
In a new immigration proposal, the current administration is now showing leniency to the young immigrants protected under DACA. To these 700,000 immigrants, it’s offering a pathway to citizenship. But in exchange, it’s doubling down own immigration restrictions for other groups. In particular, it aims to:
- Cut immigrant family sponsorship. Immigrants will only be able to sponsor their spouse and minor children to come to the U.S. Older children, siblings and parents will be exempt.
- Ramp up border security. The administration is seeking to obtain $25 billion in funding to build a wall on the border between the U.S. and Mexico as well as reinforce protections between the U.S. and Canada.
- Expedite the deportation for undocumented immigrants from countries other than Mexico and Canada.
- Terminate the visa lottery program for immigrants from certain countries.
Critics of the proposed plan have been vocal. Immigration advocates have condemned it for providing opportunities for illegal immigrants but cutting legal immigration. Anti-immigration parties have expressed concern with providing “amnesty” to illegal immigrants.
The protections under DACA are due to expire in March. The inability of the senate to reach an immigration agreement led to the three-day government shut-down earlier this month. We will wait to see what comes of this debate.