At his first State of the Union address, President Trump announced his 4 Pillars of Immigration Reform. The pillars are:
- Dreamers’ Path to Citizenship
- Securing the Border
- End of Diversity Lottery
- End of Chain Migration
With any potential immigration reform, there is no perfect package that exists, but the one proposed by President Trump does possess a logical relationship between its four pillars.
First of all, the Dreamers get their opportunity. These are the approximately 1.8 million people who came to the U.S. as children under the age of 16 before June 2007 and have remained in the U.S. ever since, without any legal status, and until the DACA program was begun, were unable to work. This is a very positive part of the proposal and can help generate trillions of dollars in tax revenue for the U.S. Having helped some of these Dreamers get their work authorization, only to see the program halted again, I hope that this path to citizenship will happen.
Second, the U.S. – Mexico border has never been well-secured. For that reason, there are over 10 million undocumented people living in the U.S. As an attorney who has always tried to help people come to the U.S. legally, I think that no immigration reform plan will ever work unless illegal immigration is eliminated, or reduced to the minimum possible. It sends a contradictory message to not make sure the borders are secured. For those who quibble over the price tag, the trillions generated by the tax revenue generated by the Dreamers will more than pay for any wall that is built, and I guess you could say that Trump can then say that the wall was paid for by Mexico.
Third – In my 14 years as an immigration attorney, trying to help deserving people enter the U.S. legally, and watching very well-qualified professionals and entrepreneurs get pushback petitions, or relatives of clients stuck outside the U.S. for years, even with approved petitions, due to backlogs, I have never understood the illogic of a completely non-merit based lottery. The visa diversity lottery contradicts and a semblance of logic, and undermines the goal of allowing people into the U.S. who meet a specific standard and serve a specific purpose. I think the abolition of the diversity lottery is the only way to be able to establish and maintain a merit-based immigration system.
Lastly, limiting the family members who can be sponsored to minor children and spouses of U.S. citizens draws an arbitrary line in the sand. I have helped clients sponsor their stepchildren, their parents and their siblings, and the families have come together and been made happier for it. I was born to a born-and-raised American mother, and I was not allowed to get an American passport when I was born and had to go through a 9-year process to become naturalized. That never seemed fair either, so who is to say what is fair when it comes to family immigration? I will help whoever I can, but this last pillar seems to be the one pillar which is arbitrary and not on solid footing.
That being said, an immigration policy standing on three solid pillars is much more firmly-footed than the broken immigration system that is wobbling and falling down right now.