Democrats are demanding a bill to save 790,000 DACA participants who are facing uncertainty about whether their program will be allowed to continue, and have threatened to block passage of a funding bill needed to prevent a partial government shutdown if their demand is not met. The deadline for the funding bill is Jan. 19.

DACA provides temporary legal status and work authorization to certain aliens who were brought to the United States illegally by their parents.

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Republicans have introduced a DACA bill, the Securing America’s Future Act (H.R. 4760), but the ACLU may be right in describing it as a “collection of hard line provisions designed to sabotage, rather than advance, the possibility of a bipartisan breakthrough.”

Highlights from this 414-page bill:

Legal immigration

Border security

Prevent future illegal immigration 

DACA

  • Provide temporary legal status for the 790,000 DACA participants that would have to be renewed every three years

The Republicans want these measures to prevent a repeat of what happened the last time they agreed to a major legalization program. The Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 legalized 2.7 million people in the late 1980s and early 1990s, but by October 1996, the undocumented alien population had reached 5 million and was growing at an average annual rate of 275,000. The enforcement measures that were supposed to prevent illegal immigration in the future were not implemented. 

Nevertheless, Republicans can’t really expect major enforcement concessions from Democrats in return for giving DACA participants temporary status. If they want to become serious about reaching an agreement with Democrats, they should follow the approach Trump proposed at a bipartisan meeting on Jan. 9.

Although he continued to insist that any DACA legislation has to include a border wall, an end to chain migration, and an end to the Diversity Visa Program, the president offered to begin work immediately on comprehensive immigration reform when a DACA bill has been enacted.

The wall

Reps. Will HurdWilliam Ballard HurdSeven Texas lawmakers leaving Congress means a younger, more diverse delegation Overnight Cybersecurity: Uber under scrutiny over 2016 breach | Chinese nationals indicted on federal hacking charges | Supreme Court to weigh cellphone privacy GOP rep: We need a ‘counter’ to Russian disinformation MORE (R-Texas) and Pete AguilarPeter (Pete) Ray AguilarDACA advocates see efforts gaining steam in the House Lawmakers put their beer brewing skills to test for charity Overnight Finance: House passes .2T funding package for 2018 | FTC launches Equifax probe | Mnuchin defends honeymoon jet request | MORE (D-Calif.) have proposed an alternative to a physical wall. According to a bill summary they shared with CNN, they want to build a “smart wall.” It would use “technology, physical barriers, levees, tools and other devices” to secure the border. 

Trump does not want a virtual wall. In fact, he is diverting funds from such measures to use them on construction of a real wall. 

Virtual walls rely primarily on surveillance technology, which just notifies the border patrol when aliens are making, or have made, an illegal crossing. They will already be in the United States before they can be apprehended. 

The large, physical wall Trump wants to build would make illegal crossings substantially more difficult, and it would be especially effective at preventing children from making illegal crossings. Although some grown men can climb over a large wall, children can’t.

Trump’s wall, therefore, would be an effective deterrent to bringing children into the United States illegally.  

Chain migration 

Chain migration occurs when an immigrant gets lawful permanent resident status and then sponsors his family members, who sponsor more family members, and so on. 

This would not be an issue with the DACA program proposed in the Securing America’s Future Act. The temporary legal status it provides would not allow the participants to sponsor visas for their relatives.

Diversity Visa Program 

Section 201(e) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) provides 55,000 visas a year for a class of immigrants known as “diversity immigrants,” from countries with historically low rates of immigration to the United States. They are chosen by lottery.

The claimed benefit is diversity, but does it really make America more diverse? The United States has a population of 327,022,750 people, and that number increases by one person every 18 seconds. How does adding 50,000 diversity aliens a year make the country more diverse?

In any case, Democrats have shown a willingness to end this program. The Gang of Eight’s bipartisan immigration reform bill (S.744), which the Senate passed in 2013, would have ended the program if the bill had not been rejected on other grounds in the House. 

It is apparent that Trump’s approach to putting together a DACA fix is far more likely to succeed than the one proposed by House Republicans.

Nolan Rappaport was detailed to the House Judiciary Committee as an executive branch immigration law expert for three years; he subsequently served as an immigration counsel for the Subcommittee on Immigration, Border Security and Claims for four years. Prior to working on the Judiciary Committee, he wrote decisions for the Board of Immigration Appeals for 20 years.

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