By Will Racke
President Donald Trump said Friday chain migration should not be preserved in future immigration bills, suggesting that a deal to codify the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program would have to include more than unspecified border security measures.
Trump demanded that any immigration bills, presumably to include a DACA deal, should end practice of allowing recent immigrants to bring members of their extended family into the U.S as well.
“CHAIN MIGRATION cannot be allowed to be part of any legislation on Immigration!” Trump tweeted.
CHAIN MIGRATION cannot be allowed to be part of any legislation on Immigration!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 15, 2017
Though he did not refer to the DACA program, Trump’s statement came a day after reports that he had reached a deal with Congressional Democrats to give legal status to the program’s recipients, commonly known as Dreamers.
Conservative Republicans and immigration hawks were outraged that Trump had reached an agreement that didn’t include tighter immigration restrictions. One of their favored immigration policy reforms is to sharply reduce chain migration by limiting which family members newly minted U.S. citizens and legal permanent resident can petition for immigrant visas.
Trump said Thursday that any DACA deal would have to include “massive” border security provisions and, later, funding for his proposed border wall. That failed to reassure immigration hawks, who say a deal that only includes border security would be a missed opportunity to force Democrats to go along with deeper immigration reforms to address the long-term consequences of DACA amnesty.
Trump has previously expressed support for legislation that would curtail chain migration. The White House last month endorsed a bill proposed by GOP Sens. Tom Cotton and David Perdue that would cut legal immigration levels in half over a decade and move the U.S. to a skills-based system. The bill, called the RAISE Act, has widespread backing among conservative Republicans in Congress but failed to gain traction when a previous version was introduced earlier this year.
Following Trump’s decision to end the DACA program, Cotton said he would be open to folding amnesty for Dreamers into the RAISE Act as part of a broader immigration deal with Democrats.
Without limits on chain migration, immigration hawks say amnesty for the DACA-eligible population would open a path to immigration for millions of Dreamers’ relatives. A DACA legalization bill currently under consideration would make up to 1.8 million illegal immigrants eligible for conditional legal status and, potentially, U.S. citizenship, according to a study by the Migration Policy Institute.
Under current immigration law, U.S. legal permanent residents and citizens can petition to get visas for their parents, siblings and married adult children. Cotton’s bill would restrict that eligibility to spouses and minor children.
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