State of the Union Speech Outlines Immigration Reform Proposal; White House Releases ‘Framework’ on Immigration and Border Security
This article was prepared with the assistance of ABIL, the Alliance of Business Immigration Lawyers, of which Laura Danielson is an active member.
President Donald Trump outlined several immigration-related themes during his State of the Union address on January 30, 2018. Also, the Trump administration released its “Framework on Immigration Reform & Border Security” on January 25, 2018. Following are highlights of these communications.
State of the Union
President Trump called for “immigration policies that focus on the best interests of American workers and American families.” He asserted that “for decades, open borders have allowed drugs and gangs to pour into our most vulnerable communities. They’ve allowed millions of low-wage workers to compete for jobs and wages against the poorest Americans. Most tragically, they have caused the loss of many innocent lives.” He said he is “calling on Congress to finally close the deadly loopholes that have allowed MS-13, and other criminal gangs, to break into our country.”
President Trump said that after meeting extensively with both Democrats and Republicans “to craft a bipartisan approach to immigration reform,” his administration “presented Congress with a detailed proposal” that includes four pillars:
- A path to citizenship for 1.8 million “illegal immigrants who were brought here by their parents at a young age.” Under the plan, “those who meet education and work requirements, and show good moral character, will be able to become full citizens of the United States over a 12-year period.”
- Fully securing the border. “That means building a great wall on the southern border, and it means hiring more heroes…to keep our communities safe. Crucially, our plan closes the terrible loopholes exploited by criminals and terrorists to enter our country, and it finally ends the horrible and dangerous practice of catch and release.”
- Ending the diversity visa lottery. “It’s time to begin moving toward a merit-based immigration system, one that admits people who are skilled, who want to work, who will contribute to our society, and who will love and respect our country.”
- Ending “chain migration” by limiting family migration to spouses and minor children.
President Trump also said he signed an order to keep the “detention facilities” open in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
Framework on Immigration Reform & Border Security
Among other things, the framework calls for a $25 billion “trust fund” for a border wall system, ports of entry/exit and northern border enhancements. It also proposes providing legal status for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients, including a 10- to 12-year path to citizenship that includes “requirements for work, education and good moral character.” The framework would eliminate the Diversity Visa lottery.
The next day, Kirstjen Nielsen, Secretary of Homeland Security, released a brief statement supporting President Trump’s “security-focused immigration framework,” including funding for the “border wall system, the ability to quickly remove those who break our immigration laws and reforms to our immigration system.” Secretary Nielsen said, “This is what DHS front-line personnel have asked for to secure our borders and maintain the integrity of our immigration system.”