When President Donald Trump earlier this month told lawmakers to bring him a deal for solving the soon-to-expire Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program and said he would sign it, we were hopeful. But then he reneged on his word.
Then suddenly last week Trump announced that he was in favor of some type of “earned” pathway to citizenship for youth who were brought here illegally under no fault of their own, and his administration released a list of ways this could be accomplished, which include a $25 billion border wall, chain migration limits and ending the Visa lottery.
We again are hopeful, but also skeptical, confused and worried.
Hopeful that Trump is sincere in finding a way to help these youth become productive and tax-paying U.S. citizens.
Skeptical that the president might cave under pressure from Republicans and nativists — like Breitbart News, which Friday declared him to be the “Amnesty Don.”
And worried about the implications his border security plan could have on the Rio Grande Valley.
Aside from promising a much-needed pathway to citizenship for the roughly 700,000 DACA recipients, the White House also announced the plan would include a pathway to citizenship for a total of 1.8 Dreamers over 10 to 12 years “with requirements for work, education and good moral character.” Those charged with crimes or threatening public safety would have their status revoked.
We agree that those who are allowed to stay in the United States should do so as law-abiding and contributing members of society. We therefore ask how the “clear eligibility requirements to mitigate fraud” will be monitored? Will a new government agency be formed to oversee applicants?
The plan also calls for an end to catch-and-release border arrest policies. So does this mean all those apprehended will be sent to detention centers? If so, for how long, and at what cost to taxpayers?
A potential gold mine could be had by private for-profit companies, like the GEO Group, which runs the Karnes City and Dilley detention centers and is building another one near Conroe, Texas.
Trump’s plan also calls for a “$25 billion trust fund for the border wall system, ports of entry/exit, and northern border improvements.” What does this mean? Is construction of a wall anticipated immediately or does a trust fund indicate a substantial delay is to be expected?
We hope this means the Trump Administration will be slowing down the process to better study environmental concerns, like the damage a wall would do to the Santa Ana Wildlife Refuge in Alamo, or the National Butterfly Center in Mission, and the harmful economic implications it would have on the entire Valley.
The plan also calls for more hiring “and retention” of agents and personnel. Does this mean raises for Border Patrol and ICE agents? And it calls for more immigration judges, which Congress has appropriated money for yet hundreds of bench seats have yet to be filled.
The plan is vast and vague and we look to Congress to clarify and explain the details in the upcoming weeks. We also hope President Trump will keep his word.