President Trump is set to propose legislation on immigration reform that will provide a pathway to citizenship for some 1.8 million “Dreamers” in return for a $25 billion “trust fund” to build a wall on the Mexican border and tightened restrictions on legal immigrants’ ability to bring their extended families to the country. The plan would also end the diversity visa lottery and, CNN reports, “the visas would be reallocated so that the backlog of people already waiting for family visas and high-skilled immigration green cards would be processed.” The policy proposal was outlined by Trump adviser Stephen Miller during a conference call with House Republican staff Thursday and will formally be sent to Senate Leader Mitch McConnell on Monday.
The Trump administration’s concession on the Dreamers, undocumented immigrants who were brought to the country as young children, will provide not only the 800,000 or so Dreamers who enrolled in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program a pathway to become American citizens, but also those who would have qualified but did not enroll in the 5-year-old program discontinued by Trump in September 2017. That raises the number of Dreamers who would qualify under the Trump proposal to around 1.8 million people. This portion of the White House proposal will anger immigration hardliners in Congress and in conservative media.
The pathway to citizenship is considered a trade-off in order to enact the president’s immigration policy priorities, the most obvious of which is the border wall. The wall, however, will likely be the least contested part of the plan, which also would remake the current system of legal immigration, significantly curtailing “the ability of U.S. citizens to petition for visas only for spouses and minor children and ending categories for parents and siblings,” the Washington Post reports. The most contentious part of the proposal, CNN notes, may be that “the White House is also looking to close ‘legal loopholes’ that will allow it to deport more immigrants, specifically as it relates to undocumented immigrants from countries that don’t border the United States—which would likely include changes in immigration enforcement authority that would be virtually impossible for Democrats to swallow.”
White House officials say they’re hoping the bill will be brought to the Senate floor for debate in early February, ahead of the Feb. 8th deadline to fund the government.
*This post has been updated with new information as it became available.