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Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal

Representing the 7th District of Washington

Rep. Jayapal, Dem Leaders Deliver Facts on Trump’s Immigration Proposal

February 7, 2018
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Led by Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal, members of Congress released a thorough document outlining the facts about Donald Trump’s immigration proposal to combat the President’s misinformation campaign.

The document has been prepared by Reps. Pramila Jayapal—First Vice Chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC), Chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC) Immigration Taskforce, and the co-chair of the Women’s Working Group on Immigration Reform—Judy Chu (CAPAC Chair), Raúl Grijalva (CPC Co-Chair), Michelle Lujan Grisham (CHC Chair), Mark Pocan (CPC Co-Chair), Cedric Richmond (CBC Chair) and Lucille Roybal-Allard (Women’s Working Group on Immigration Reform Co-Chair).

Read the full document below:

We reiterate our steadfast opposition to the White House immigration proposal. President Donald Trump created this crisis for Dreamers by rescinding DACA. Now he’s using them to enact sweeping changes to our legal immigration system.

•    Trump rescinded DACA to satisfy a tiny portion of his base and now wants to appear generous by granting them a path to citizenship. However, his proposal trades a solution for 1.8 million Dreamers—which nearly 90 percent[i] of the country agrees we need—for cutting legal immigration by nearly 22 million people over five decades.[ii] In addition, he proposes radically increasing funding to an already bloated border and inflicting harsh enforcement measures.

•    As one Dreamer said, “Let’s call this proposal for what it is: a white supremacist ransom note. Trump and Stephen Miller killed DACA and created the crisis that immigrant youth are facing. They have taken immigrant youth hostage, pitting us against our own parents, Black immigrants and our communities in exchange for our dignity.”[iii]

•    Trump is not an honest negotiator; his demands constantly change. He started with a border wall; now he wants to end legal immigration. He said he would sign any bipartisan proposal but he has already rejected multiple bipartisan solutions. Trump’s position is dictated by hardline anti-immigrants like Stephen Miller.

Trump’s proposal falsely re-classifies family reunification as “chain migration” and attempts to end family-based immigration, a cornerstone of American immigration policy.

•    Trump implies that the U.S. is threatened by unlimited migration of family members. This could not be further from the truth. U.S. citizens and green card holders cannot sponsor most relatives such as grandparents, aunts, uncles, in-laws, and cousins. They are only allowed to sponsor their nuclear families: parents, children regardless of age, and siblings. Cutting off legal channels for families to be reunited will only exacerbate problems as people are driven by the basic human need to be with their closest loved ones.

•    The “backlog” of people who have applied legally to the family-based immigration system is about 4.4 million people.[iv] Smart reform would update the family-based immigration quotas and eliminate the backlog.

•    The current dysfunction means that for some categories and countries, legal immigrants wait for decades to bring their loved ones into the country. Siblings wait an average of 36 years to be processed. If all Mexican siblings continue waiting, it could take them over 150 years to receive a green card.[v]

Trump’s proposal is anti-family, anti-women and children, and bad for our economy.

•    Trump’s proposal eliminates sponsorship for children over the age of 21, parents, and siblings, dealing a devastating blow to people seeking to reunite with close family members.  

•    Elimination of family immigration categories will disproportionately hurt women and children because two-thirds of women immigrants obtain legal status through family-based immigration. They have few options to apply through the employment-based immigration system, which caters to male-dominated industries rather than to the needs of our economy.[vi]

•    Economists on both sides of the aisle consistently agree that immigration is good for our economy, helping raise GDP and filling necessary worker shortages in our economy.  As Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said, “The idea of cutting legal immigration in half and skewing the green cards to one area of the economy, I think, is bad for the economy,” referring to the administration’s pitch to shift to a supposed merit-based immigration system.[vii]

Trump’s proposal misstates the intentions and facts of the Diversity Visa Program.        

•    The Diversity Visa Program keeps the door open to the American dream for about 50,000 people each year hailing from countries that send relatively few immigrants.

•    The largest number of Diversity Visas are given to African immigrants each year, so ending this program would disproportionately harm these immigrants.[viii]

•    The White House portrays the program as a giveaway to immigrants randomly selected by a lottery. While a lottery system is used to administer this extremely overly-subscribed visa program in an unbiased fashion, applicants undergo a rigorous vetting process and extensive screening.[ix]

•    Additionally, applicants are already required to have a high school education and immigrants using Family and Diversity Visas have been generally better educated.[x]

•    Replacing the Diversity Visa Program with a merit-based preference system will further marginalize those who depend on the program for a shot at the American dream.

Trump’s proposal is an assault on immigrant communities of color, and prioritizes immigration only from certain countries.

•    82 percent of Asian Americans came to the United States through family-based immigration.[xi]

•    In 2015, nearly 98 percent of visas issued for Latino immigrants were family-based.[xii]

•    41 percent of African immigrants and 30 percent of Asian immigrants entered the country through the Diversity Visa Program in fiscal year 2015.[xiii]

•    1.3 million (30 percent) people in the family backlog are Mexican citizens and 1.65 (38 percent) million are from Asian countries.[xiv]                                                     

Trump’s proposal strips protections for refugee children and asylum seekers.

•    The proposal ends minimal protections to ensure that people seeking safety in the U.S. are not returned to harm in accordance with international law. Eliminating these protections puts us at risk of violating our obligations under refugee protection treaties.

•    Trump’s proposal eliminates strongly bipartisan[xv] protections contained in the William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008,[xvi] which were enacted to protect unaccompanied immigrant children from persecution and trafficking. Trump’s proposal would allow immigration agents to quickly deport unaccompanied children, returning them to countries where they may face persecution.

Migration has reached net zero. It makes little sense to commit $25 billion in taxpayer dollars to border enforcement and a wall without understanding where there may be gaps.

•    Funding for U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has nearly doubled over the last decade, while apprehensions at the Southern border have dropped to near historic levels.[xvii]

•    The government has already met border security benchmarks set forth in earlier Senate immigration reform bills, including the bipartisan 2006, 2007, and 2010 proposals.[xviii]  Any additional funds should only be spent after an assessment of where the needs are.

•    The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) released a 2017 report stating, “With respect to border enforcement outputs, available data indicate that the southwest land border is more difficult to illegally cross today than ever before.”[xix]

Trump’s immigration proposal undermines bipartisan attempts to advance comprehensive immigration reform that addresses the needs of our economy, families and communities.

•    Real immigration reform, like the 2013 bipartisan bill (S. 744) that passed the Senate with 68 bipartisan votes, includes an earned roadmap to citizenship for 11 million undocumented immigrants, reforms to the agricultural and high-skilled visa programs, and elimination of the backlogs in the legal immigration system.

•    Trump’s proposal takes the most anti-immigrant positions on reforming our immigration system without tackling the larger need for comprehensive reform.

 


[i] Jennifer De Pinto, Fred Backus, Kabir Khanna & Anthony Salvanto, Most Americans Support DACA, but Oppose Border Wall, CBS News (Jan. 20, 2018) available at: https://www.cbsnews.com/news/most-americans-support-daca-but-oppose-border-wall-cbs-news-poll.

[ii] David Bier & Stuart Anderson, White House Plan Bans 22 Million Legal Immigrants over 5 Decades, CATO Institute (Jan. 29, 2018) available at: https://www.cato.org/blog/white-house-plan-bans-22-million-legal-immigrants-over-5-decades.

[iii] United We Dream, Immigrant Youth to Trump’s White Supremacist Proposal: “No.” (Jan. 28, 2018) available at:https://unitedwedream.org/2018/01/immigrant-youth-trumps-white-supremacist-proposal-no.

[iv] Jie Zong & Jeanne Batalova, Frequently Requested Statistics on Immigrants and Immigration in the United States, Migration Policy Institute (Mar. 8, 2017) available at: https://www.migrationpolicy.org/article/frequently-requested-statistics-immigrants-and-immigration-united-states#VisaBacklogs.

[v] American Immigration Lawyers Association, The Value of Family-Based Immigration (Jan. 8, 2018) available at:http://www.aila.org/infonet/aila-policy-brief-the-value-of-family-based-immig.

[vi] We Belong Together, Immigration Reform is Central to Women’s Equality: A Factsheet (accessed Jan. 31, 2018) available at:https://webelongtogether.org/sites/default/files/WBTWomenAndImmigrationFactsheet.pdf.

[vii] Seung Min Kim, Republicans Balk at Trump’s Cuts to Legal Immigration, Politico (Jan. 30, 2018) available at:https://www.politico.com/story/2018/01/30/trump-legal-immigration-republicans-378041.

[viii] Dep’t of State, Visa Bulletin for February 2018, available at: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/legal/visa-law0/visa-bulletin/2018/visa-bulletin-for-february-2018.html.

[ix] American Immigration Council, The Diversity Immigrant Visa Program: An Overview (Nov. 13, 2017) available at:https://www.americanimmigrationcouncil.org/research/diversity-immigrant-visa-program-overview.

[x] David Bier, Family & Diversity Immigrants Are Far Better Educated Than U.S.-Born Americans, CATO INSTITUTE, (Jan. 25, 2018) available at: https://www.cato.org/blog/family-diversity-immigrants-are-far-better-educated-us-born-americans.

[xi] Dep’t of State, Table III: Immigrant Visas Issued (by Foreign State of Chargeability or Place of Birth) Fiscal Year 2016, available at: https://travel.state.gov/content/dam/visas/Statistics/AnnualReports/FY2016AnnualReport/FY16AnnualReport-TableIII.pdf.

[xii] Figures based on “Immigrants Visas Issued (by Foreign State of Chargeability or Place of Birth) Fiscal Year 2015,” U.S. Dep’t of State, available at:https://travel.state.gov/content/dam/visas/Statistics/AnnualReports/FY2015AnnualReport/FY15AnnualReport-TableIII.pdf.

[xiii] American Immigration Council, supra n. 9.

[xiv] Migration Policy Institute, supra n. 4.

[xv] On December 10, 2008, H.R. 7311 passed the U.S. House of Representatives without objection and by unanimous consent in the U.S. Senate.

[xvi] William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008, H.R. 7311, P.L. 110-457, 110th Cong. (Dec. 2008).

[xvii] Tal Kopan, U.S.-Mexico border apprehensions hit 17-year lows, CNN (May 9, 2017) available at:https://www.cnn.com/2017/05/09/politics/border-crossings-apprehensions-down-trump/index.html.

[xviii] American Immigration Council, The Cost of Immigration Enforcement and Border Security (Jan 25, 2017) available at:https://www.americanimmigrationcouncil.org/sites/default/files/research/the_cost_of_immigration_enforcement_and_border_security.pdf.

[xix] Dep’t of Homeland Security, Efforts by DHS to Estimate Southwest Border Security between Ports of Entry (Sep. 2017) available at: https://www.dhs.gov/sites/default/files/publications/17_0914_estimates-of-border-security.pdf.

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