Politics & Policy

The Corner

No Deal Yet on DACA

That’s the upshot of a chaotic day, per the AP:

A group of bipartisan senators has reached a deal on legislation to protect younger immigrants brought to the country illegally, two GOP senators said Thursday.

One of them, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said he shopped the framework to the White House in hopes President Donald Trump would bless the effort. Trump’s sign-off would be crucial to any hopes of pushing a compromise on the divisive issue through Congress — but the White House didn’t appear to be on board.

Reacting to word of progress, Sarah Huckabee Sanders said, “There has not been a deal reached yet.” She said the White House would keep working with Congress to try to get something done.

And that’s a relief, because the senators’ current plan, at least as it’s being reported tonight, is not very good.

Back in September I explained what conservatives should demand in a deal to preserve DACA, the Obama-era executive order giving work permits to illegal immigrants who arrived as minors. Here’s the thrust of it:

Some immigration hardliners object to giving Dreamers legal status at all, but more common is the concern that doing so could create a magnet for future illegal immigration. Thus legalization must be paired with effective enforcement going forward if it is to command the support it needs for passage.

. . .

Both Trump and House speaker Paul Ryan have said they would like to trade DACA for “border security.” But this is the wrong focus, because approximately two-thirds of illegal immigrants today enter the U.S. legally but overstay their visas. This can be addressed only by enforcement in the country’s interior.

The most urgent priority in this regard is E-Verify, a program that employers may voluntarily use to confirm that their workers are in the country legally. Making the system mandatory should be non-negotiable; it is the best way to turn off the jobs magnet for illegal immigrants regardless of how they got here. Only once this is agreed to should legislators hash out the details of wall funding or other enforcement measures, such as hiring more Border Patrol officers and immigration judges or implementing a system to track those here on temporary visas.

There’s another issue that must be addressed in a DACA deal as well: If these individuals are given full citizenship instead of some other form of legal status, they will be able to sponsor their parents — i.e., the people who broke the law to get them here — for permanent residency. This is obviously not acceptable. Either the Dreamers shouldn’t become full citizens, or their parents should be banned from applying for green cards.

The deal currently in the works evidently does not include E-Verify. And while it stops Dreamers’ parents from becoming citizens (so they won’t be able to sponsor others to come here), it gives them a protected status, directly rewarding them for breaking the law.

Mainly, though, it just swaps a path to citizenship for the Dreamers (including those who were eligible for DACA but didn’t apply) for a few billion in border-security funding. Back to the drawing board, guys.

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