White House to Issue Ransom Note on Dreamers

On Monday, the White House will release an immigration plan, and yesterday Stephen Miller held a conference call with supporters to give them the talking points. Here is what Erica Pandey reports will be included:

* A path to citizenship for 1.8 million younger immigrants with work or education history and “good moral character.”…

* An end to the visa lottery program and chain migration.

* A “$25 billion dollar trust fund for the wall system.”

* “Historic investment in northern border security.”

* “An appropriation for filling personnel deficiencies” in border patrol and at the Department of Homeland Security.

* “Same treatment of illegal aliens, regardless of country of origin.”

* “Closing loopholes in the system that make it almost impossible to deport illegal immigrants.”

Miller described the first item as a “dramatic concession” that should be able to garner 60 votes. But let’s take a closer look at what they want in return. We’ve heard about the administration’s desire to end the visa lottery program and so-called “chain migration” before, so that’s not new.

Apparently the $25 billion for a border wall is the amount Schumer offered Trump during their “cheeseburger summit” and later took off the table.

What the hell is “historic investment in norther border security” all about?

The last three items come directly from John Kelly’s wish list, which was released last fall, and included steps to enhance the ability of DHS to deport ’em all when it comes to undocumented immigrants. They want more funding for staff as well as the ability to detain and deport child migrants, asylum seekers and anyone they think might be suspicious.

In the end, what the White House has done is up the ante on the number of Dreamers they’re holding hostage in exchange for revamping the current immigration system to make it whiter, while giving DHS the ability to deport the non-Dreamers who are undocumented.

Prior to release of this list, Josh Marshall made an excellent point on the big picture of what’s happening here.

What is just as important is what is not included. The so-called “comprehensive immigration reform” which was several times pushed and failed over the last decade had two basic pillars: new security and impediments to illegal immigration and some settlement for the more than 10 million undocumented immigrants who are already in the country and in many cases have been here for years or even decades. “DACA” was one portion of that larger whole – what we might call the most “deserving” subsection the 10 to 12 million: undocumented immigrants who came too young to have any choice in the matter and knew no other country than the US, despite not being citizens…

So we’ve gone from border security in exchange for a path to citizenship (Bush and Obama-era comprehensive reform) to the Wall, mass deportation and a dramatic reduction and whitening of legal immigration. Non-deportation of ‘Dreamers’ is now the apparent ‘compromise’ point.

Bingo! If you remember, one of the reasons why Obama implemented the DACA executive order was because bipartisan comprehensive immigration reform (including both border security and a pathway to citizenship for the 10-12 million undocumented immigrants) passed the Senate overwhelmingly in 2013 but reached and impasse in the House. Given the rising nativism over immigration that surfaced on the right, passing legislation to deal with the issue comprehensively became impossible.

The Trump administration is attempting to move the goalposts by suggesting that this issue will be solved once and for all if we build a wall, increase border security, whiten our legal immigration system, protect Dreamers from deportation, and get to work deporting the rest of the 10-12 million undocumented immigrants. That is not how this works.

The Dreamers themselves understand what’s going on and are speaking out loud and clear on this one.

Here is an excerpt of the official statement from United We Dream:

Let’s call this proposal for what it is: a white supremacist ransom note. Trump and Stephen Miller killed DACA and created the crisis that immigrant youth are facing. They have taken immigrant youth hostage, pitting us against our own parents, Black immigrants and our communities in exchange for our dignity.

To Miller and Trump’s white supremacist proposal, immigrant youth say: No.

So let us be clear: any politician who backs up this ransom note is enabling Trump and Miller’s white supremacist agenda.

Members of Congress of conscience must make the moral choice to reject this white supremacist proposal and pass legislation that protects us without harming others.

While it is important for Democrats to continue the fight for Dreamers, they have to do so with an eye on the bigger picture of what the Trump administration is attempting to do on immigration, which is positively xenophobic.

Nancy LeTourneau

Nancy LeTourneau is a contributing writer for the Washington Monthly.