The Senate DACA bill: not a compromise

The Senate DACA bill: not a compromise January 17, 2018; By U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Please credit by saying "Photo Courtesy of ICE". [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

By which I mean this:

Three Republican and three Democratic Senators have been working on a proposal that claims to be a “breakthrough bipartisan compromise” on the question of whether or how to provide legal status to individuals brought to the U.S. illegally as minors.  Senators Lindsay Graham (R-SC) and Dick Durbin (D-IL) are spearheading the effort (that is, the bill is being called the Graham-Durbin proposal), along with Sens. Michael Bennet (D-CO), Jeff Flake (R-AZ), Cory Gardner (R-CO), and Bob Menendez (D-NJ).

The basic outline was released last night, in the form of a one-page summary document.  It’s key provisions:

  • Permanent residence, with eligibility for citizenship after 12 years (with 2 years of credit for DACA-status time), for everyone who entered prior to 2012, with some waivable and some unwaivable criminal conviction bars.
  • Continued legal status and work authorization for existing TPS individuals, who will be given permanent visas at the rate of 25,000 per year, by means of reallocating half of the diversity visas temporarily.
  • Parents of “Dreamers” to be given legal status in the form of 3 year renewable residency with work permits.
  • Replacing the Lottery visas with visas allocated in the same proportion to those countries, but with a “merit” requirement.
  • $1.6 billion for “Border Planning, Design and Construction.”  Is the word “wall” meant to be there?  Or is this yet another variant on a “virtual wall”?  (The document is sure to specify that it’ll be conditioned on all the usual red tape.)   There’s also another $1.1 billion in generic border enforcement funding, and a few other miscellaneous border provisions.

Given that Graham and Flake are well-established as being pro-immigration and pro-amnesty, I fail to see how any of this is a compromise.  A compromise would be individuals from opposing points of view hashing out a middle ground, in which neither party truly gets what they want but gets something moderately acceptable.

Instead, what we have here is a bunch of pro-amnesty senators, who agree among themselves that they want to provide amnesty for “Dreamers” and their parents as well as for the TPS folk, and trying to figure out how little in the way of enforcement provisions they can add and get away with claiming to be offering a credible proposal.

And that’s the key problem.  If they brought Senator Tom Cotton into their discussions, for instance, and said, what can we figure out together, that would produce a compromise.  As it is, I can’t tell if they’re serious, but just can’t see beyond their narrow worldview, or if they are playing games by claiming something is a middle-of-the-road proposal when it simply isn’t.

And what’s particularly galling is that the simultaneously claim that they will “prohibit any parent who illegally brought into the country a child who receives status under the Dream Act from being sponsored by any of their children” while at the same time rendering such sponsorship wholly unneeded with the automatic provision of residence permits.  And who are they kidding?  A 3 year legal residence is permanent residency when it is repeatedly renewable.

Now, I have my own opinions on what we should do about immigration, and I do believe in some moderate legalization program.  But this give-away isn’t it.


Image:; By U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Please credit by saying “Photo Courtesy of ICE”. [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

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