Why Democrats should embrace Trump’s DACA framework

Last Thursday, Trump released his proposed framework for a compromise on DACA. The framework offers DACA-eligible illegal immigrants a pathway to citizenship, in exchange for border security and a number of changes to U.S immigration law.

Democrats, along with the left more broadly, responded with hysterical denunciations of Trump. House minority leader Nancy Pelosi described the proposal as, “part of the Trump administration’s unmistakable campaign to make America white again.”

New Jersey Senator Bob Menendez called the bill, "compromise between the far right and the alt-right.”

Senate Minority leader Charles Schumer dismissed the proposal in more diplomatic terms, tweeting, “While @realDonaldTrump finally acknowledged that the Dreamers should be allowed to stay here and become citizens, he uses them as a tool to tear apart our legal immigration system and adopt the wish list that anti-immigration hardliners have advocated for for years.”

Trump’s framework contains four “pillars.” The first pillar increases spending on border security and immigration enforcement. The second pillar grants illegal immigrants who arrived as minors a limited amnesty and a pathway to citizenship. The third pillar eliminates the visa lottery, which awards 50,000 green cards at random to a pool of applicants from around the world. Finally, the fourth pillar phases out “family preference” visas.

It was Trump’s last two pillars that provoked the most outrage, particularly his last pillar. The bulk of legal immigrants to the United States arrive as relatives of U.S. citizens. U.S. law divides these immigrants into two groups, immediate relatives and family preferences. Immediate relatives includes the spouses and under-21 children of U.S. citizens, along with the parents of under-21 U.S. citizens. Family preferences includes siblings of U.S. citizens, over-21 children of U.S. citizens, and parents of over-21 U.S. citizens.

While U.S. law allows for an unlimited number of immediate relative visas each year, it sets strict numeric caps on the various “family preference” visas. Because of these limits, those applying for family preference visas often spend decades waiting on line, arriving as middle-aged adults.

Trump proposed that the U.S. phase out family preference visas, processing the existing applications but not accepting new ones. Because of this, the effect on legal immigration would not be felt for years. Currently, the expected wait time for the sibling of a Filipino immigrant is nineteen years.

Trump’s third pillar, elimination of the visa lottery, also sparked controversy. The Congressional Black Caucus wants to keep the lottery because 44% of lottery visas go to immigrants from African countries.

The core truth of American Immigration policy is that far more people want to come here than politicians in either party want to allow in. Numbers matter, and the American people have a definite limit on how many immigrants they will accept.

Given that upward limit, immigration really is a zero-sum game. The more family preference visas we issue, the fewer employment visas we issue (for example). Trump’s policy zeroes in on the immigrants who have the strongest claim to be here and devotes our resources to helping them. Specifically, those who came here illegally as children, and those who have waited patiently for family preference visas.

Opposition to Trump’s plan arises because his critics fail to realize that the American public has a limited appetite for immigration. Given this reality, aiding the DACA kids means cutting immigration elsewhere. Trump’s compromise accomplishes this in the most painless and fair way possible, avoiding draconian cuts later on.

Far from being a hardline restrictionist plan, Trump’s framework represents the best hope for a compromise on this issue. A hardline plan would be Ann Coulter’s total immigration moratorium. To impose a total ban on immigration we would have to eliminate the largest category of immigrants; spouses and children of U.S. citizens. Further, it would mean mass deportations of illegal immigrants.

Immigration is the most explosive political issue of the twenty-first century; opposition to immigration brought Trump to power and took the UK out of the EU. If Democrats and pro-immigration Republicans miss this opportunity for compromise, they may find themselves pining for the days of Donald Trump, Stephen Miller, and Tom Cotton.

Last Thursday, Trump released his proposed framework for a compromise on DACA. The framework offers DACA-eligible illegal immigrants a pathway to citizenship, in exchange for border security and a number of changes to U.S immigration law.

Democrats, along with the left more broadly, responded with hysterical denunciations of Trump. House minority leader Nancy Pelosi described the proposal as, “part of the Trump administration’s unmistakable campaign to make America white again.”

New Jersey Senator Bob Menendez called the bill, "compromise between the far right and the alt-right.”

Senate Minority leader Charles Schumer dismissed the proposal in more diplomatic terms, tweeting, “While @realDonaldTrump finally acknowledged that the Dreamers should be allowed to stay here and become citizens, he uses them as a tool to tear apart our legal immigration system and adopt the wish list that anti-immigration hardliners have advocated for for years.”

Trump’s framework contains four “pillars.” The first pillar increases spending on border security and immigration enforcement. The second pillar grants illegal immigrants who arrived as minors a limited amnesty and a pathway to citizenship. The third pillar eliminates the visa lottery, which awards 50,000 green cards at random to a pool of applicants from around the world. Finally, the fourth pillar phases out “family preference” visas.

It was Trump’s last two pillars that provoked the most outrage, particularly his last pillar. The bulk of legal immigrants to the United States arrive as relatives of U.S. citizens. U.S. law divides these immigrants into two groups, immediate relatives and family preferences. Immediate relatives includes the spouses and under-21 children of U.S. citizens, along with the parents of under-21 U.S. citizens. Family preferences includes siblings of U.S. citizens, over-21 children of U.S. citizens, and parents of over-21 U.S. citizens.

While U.S. law allows for an unlimited number of immediate relative visas each year, it sets strict numeric caps on the various “family preference” visas. Because of these limits, those applying for family preference visas often spend decades waiting on line, arriving as middle-aged adults.

Trump proposed that the U.S. phase out family preference visas, processing the existing applications but not accepting new ones. Because of this, the effect on legal immigration would not be felt for years. Currently, the expected wait time for the sibling of a Filipino immigrant is nineteen years.

Trump’s third pillar, elimination of the visa lottery, also sparked controversy. The Congressional Black Caucus wants to keep the lottery because 44% of lottery visas go to immigrants from African countries.

The core truth of American Immigration policy is that far more people want to come here than politicians in either party want to allow in. Numbers matter, and the American people have a definite limit on how many immigrants they will accept.

Given that upward limit, immigration really is a zero-sum game. The more family preference visas we issue, the fewer employment visas we issue (for example). Trump’s policy zeroes in on the immigrants who have the strongest claim to be here and devotes our resources to helping them. Specifically, those who came here illegally as children, and those who have waited patiently for family preference visas.

Opposition to Trump’s plan arises because his critics fail to realize that the American public has a limited appetite for immigration. Given this reality, aiding the DACA kids means cutting immigration elsewhere. Trump’s compromise accomplishes this in the most painless and fair way possible, avoiding draconian cuts later on.

Far from being a hardline restrictionist plan, Trump’s framework represents the best hope for a compromise on this issue. A hardline plan would be Ann Coulter’s total immigration moratorium. To impose a total ban on immigration we would have to eliminate the largest category of immigrants; spouses and children of U.S. citizens. Further, it would mean mass deportations of illegal immigrants.

Immigration is the most explosive political issue of the twenty-first century; opposition to immigration brought Trump to power and took the UK out of the EU. If Democrats and pro-immigration Republicans miss this opportunity for compromise, they may find themselves pining for the days of Donald Trump, Stephen Miller, and Tom Cotton.