The immigration reform plan put forward by the White House on May 16, did not address the millions of undocumented people already in the United States. Nor does the plan address the protection for Dreamers who were brought into the U.S. as children.
The president once said that he wanted to protect the Dreamers, but he is the one who ended the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, the very program that protected them from deportation. In fact, the Trump administration has separated thousands of Dreamers from their families and deported them to their birth nation. Many of these young adults were brought to the U.S. as infants. Without addressing these two issues, stated Sen. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, the plan is “pretty much a non-starter.”
More importantly, the plan does not address the current asylum crisis on the southern border with Mexico where thousands of people are escaping violence and failed governments in South America. In fact, the Trump administration has made the situation worse by cutting off humanitarian aid to many of these countries, forcing more of their people to flee north.
The chief developer of this incomplete immigration plan was White House advisor Jared Kushner, who seems to be in charge of all things important, including the development of a peace plan to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I’m pretty sure Kushner has about the same qualifications to develop a comprehensive immigration plan as he does to develop a comprehensive Middle East peace plan. But he is Trump’s son-in-law, so there is that.
The history and foundation of immigration in America have been family-based. That is, throughout the history of the United States, immigrants who have family already established in America are given priority over others who do not. There are important reasons for this approach. For one, it reunites separated families. United families are more successful in supporting themselves, financially and emotionally.
Second, immigrants with family already in America have a place to live. They are less likely to need social services than immigrants without family already in place. They are less of a strain on government services.
Trump wants to replace the family unification priority with a skill and education priority. Amanda Baran from the Immigrant Legal Resource Center wonders how this proposal could possibly come from the “family values party” when its primary purpose is “getting rid of family immigration.” Then again, what do you expect from an administration that has already separated thousands of young children from their parents at the border, lost track of many of them, and then deported their parents back to their native country without their children?
Under Trump’s plan, a woman with a degree in physics would be a high priority for immigration. Unfortunately, her construction worker husband would not. The interesting note about Trump’s plan is how insulting it is to people without college degrees, his core supporters. Under Trump’s plan, a majority of his supporters would not qualify to immigrate to America.
Trump’s plan is also an insult to the average American worker without a degree, including farmers, construction workers, and direct care personnel working in daycare centers to retirement communities.
His plan says that these folks don’t contribute to our society as much as college-educated workers. In fact, these are the very workers America desperately needs right now. We don’t need more college professors; we need more direct care workers, farm workers, crab pickers, construction workers, and so on. These are the workers we need to keep our businesses and economy moving, and these are the workers Trump sees as a low priority for immigration.
Trump’s plan is also hypocritical considering all the uneducated legal and illegal immigrants he has hired and continues to hire to work at his resorts in housekeeping, gardening, and kitchen positions.
Various media outlets have reported that at least 38 illegal immigrants have been working at his resorts, that Trump resort managers assisted some of them in finding forged working papers, and that they were only recently fired after Trump started making immigration a key political issue.
A recent article in this newspaper reported that American birth rates are declining. Not only are there not enough Americans to fill the jobs that need filling in our economy, but the situation is likely to get worse.
As it always has throughout our history, America needs immigrants in order to grow and prosper. As our history demonstrates, we are a richer nation because of immigrants. Trump’s immigration plan and his general hostility to immigrants overall will not make America greater; it will make America weaker and poorer.