Here is the full statement on immigration priorities issued by the White House late October 8.
The immigration-priority list is vague on several issues, such as the scale of the border wall. The list also does not include many popular reforms, such as the large-scale repatriation of illegal aliens, or a reduction to the annual inflow of H-1B, OPT and L-1 white-collar outsourcing workers.
The list does include several features that would help Americans, including a reduction in family chain-migration and a legal requirement that companies use the E-verify system to check the eligibility of job applicants.
TRUMP ADMINISTRATION IMMIGRATION POLICY PRIORITIES
The Trump Administration is ready to work with Congress to achieve three immigration policy objectives to ensure safe and lawful admissions; defend the safety and security of our country; and protect American workers and taxpayers.
BORDER SECURITY: Build a southern border wall and close legal loopholes that enable illegal immigration and swell the court backlog.
- Fund and complete construction of the southern border wall.
- Authorize the Department of Homeland Security to raise and collect fees from visa services and border-crossings to fund border security and enforcement activities.
- Ensure the safe and expeditious return of Unaccompanied Alien Children (UAC) and family units.
- End abuse of our asylum system by tightening standards, imposing penalties for fraud, and ensuring detention while claims are verified.
- Remove illegal border crossers quickly by hiring an additional 370 Immigration Judges and 1,000 ICE attorneys.
- Discourage illegal re-entry by enhancing penalties and expanding categories of inadmissibility.
- Improve expedited removal.
- Increase northern border security.
INTERIOR ENFORCEMENT: Enforce our immigration laws and return visa overstays.
- Protect innocent people in sanctuary cities.
- Authorize and incentivize States and localities to help enforce Federal immigration laws.
- Strengthen law enforcement by hiring 10,000 more ICE officers and 300 Federal prosecutors.
- End visa overstays by establishing reforms to ensure their swift removal.
- Stop catch-and-release by correcting judicial actions that prevent ICE from keeping dangerous aliens in custody pending removal and expanding the criteria for expedited removal.
- Prevent gang members from receiving immigration benefits.
- Protect U.S. workers by requiring E-Verify and strengthening laws to stop employment discrimination against U.S. workers.
- Improve visa security by expanding State Department’s authority to combat visa fraud, ensuring funding of the Visa Security Program, and expanding it to high-risk posts.
MERIT-BASED IMMIGRATION SYSTEM: Establish reforms that protect American workers and promote financial success.
- End extended-family chain migration by limiting family-based green cards to include spouses and minor children.
- Establish a points-based system for green cards to protect U.S. workers and taxpayers.
ESTABLISH MERIT-BASED REFORMS TO PROMOTE ASSIMILATION AND FINANCIAL SUCCESS
END CHAIN MIGRATION: Limit family-based green cards to spouses and the minor children of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents.
- Pro-worker immigration reforms would end chain migration to begin providing lawful permanent resident status based on merit, not family connections, and would promote assimilation, financial independence, and upward mobility.
- Most low-skilled immigration into the United States occurs legally through our immigrant visa system, which prioritizes family-based chain migration.
- Each year, the United States permanently grants green cards to more than 1 million people, many of whose sole basis for entering the United States is family ties.
- Chain migration has accounted for more than 60 percent of immigration into the United States over the last 35 years.
POINT-BASED SYSTEM FOR MERIT-BASED IMMIGRATION: Establish a point-based system for awarding green cards that protects U.S. workers and taxpayers, encourages assimilation, and ensures the financial self-sufficiency of newcomers.
- Only 1 out of every 15 immigrants to the United States are admitted on the basis of skills.
- More than half of all immigrant households use one or more welfare programs.
- Decades of low-skilled immigration has suppressed wages, fueled unemployment, and strained Federal resources.
ELIMINATE THE “DIVERSITY VISA” LOTTERY: Every year, through the “diversity visa” lottery, the United States awards 50,000 green cards at random to foreign nationals, many of whom have absolutely no ties to the United States, no special skills, and limited education.
- The “diversity visa” lottery is susceptible to fraud and is costly and time intensive for the State Department to implement.
- The lottery initiates new streams of permanent immigration when the lottery winners, many of whom previously had no ties to the United States, are subsequently able to bring over their extended relatives through chain migration.
SET THE NUMBER OF REFUGEES AT AN APPROPRIATE LEVEL: While the United States is a world leader in accepting refugees and recently has gone beyond historic averages, the refugee ceiling needs to be realigned with American priorities.
- Historically, the United States has resettled more refugees than has the rest of the world combined.
- One study found that for the price of permanently resettling one refugee within the country, the United States can help 12 refugees resettle in safe zones closer to their home regions.
- By better focusing U.S. refugee admissions on the most genuine claims and enhancing our screening processes, we will help combat fraud in the program, enhance our Nation’s ability to welcome refugees, and aid in their assimilation to the American way of life.
SECURE THE BORDER BY DETERRING AND SWIFTLY REMOVING ILLEGAL ENTRANTS
COMPLETE CONSTRUCTION OF THE BORDER WALL: Build a southern border wall and authorize the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to raise fees from the processing of immigration-benefit applications and border-crossings to be used for security and infrastructure.
- A meaningful physical barrier on our southern border is vital to prevent infiltration by cartels, criminals, traffickers, smugglers, and threats to both public safety and national security.
- In 2006, Congress passed legislation to secure the border with a double-layer fence but the promised barrier was not constructed.
- The inability to spend immigration fees on core law enforcement functions impedes security on both the southern and northern borders.
ENSURE PROMPT REMOVAL OF MINORS & RELATIVES CROSSING BORDER ILLEGALY: Ensure the swift return of Unaccompanied Alien Children (UAC) and family units by amending current laws that require authorities to release them en masse into the United States.
- Every year, tens of thousands of illegal aliens – some traveling with their parents – are caught after illegally crossing the border, only to be quickly released into our country. This is one of the largest loopholes in U.S. border security.
o Approximately 38,500 UACs and 71,500 members of family units have been apprehended at the southern border this fiscal year – the vast majority were released.
- Under current law, UACs from countries other than Canada and Mexico are exempt from expedited removal.
- Because of these loopholes, few UACs who illegally enter the country are ever returned home.
o The number of UACs removed in FY 2016 represented approximately 4 percent of all UACs released into the country that same year.
END ASYLUM ABUSE: Tighten standards (including the “credible fear” standard), impose penalties for fraud, and ensure applicants are not released while their claims are verified.
- Chronic asylum fraud and loopholes allow illegal immigrants to gain quick and easy entry.
- Lax legal standards for claiming asylum has led to a backlog of 270,000 affirmative asylum cases with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and 250,000 in the Immigration Courts.
- Misguided judicial decisions have prevented the removal of numerous criminal aliens, while also rendering those aliens eligible to apply for asylum and other forms of relief from removal.
REDUCE MASSIVE COURT BACKLOG THAT CRIPPLES BORDER SECURITY: Expand our capabilities to deal with the ongoing crisis of illegal border crossings through expedited removal.
Border security will be impossible as long as we have an immigration court backlog of over 600,000 cases, preventing the removal of illegal border-crossers. It takes an average of 682 days to complete a single immigration case. Proper tools to improve our border security include:
o Expanding and strengthening the expedited removal process;
o Hiring an additional 370 Immigration Judges and 1,000 U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement attorneys;
o Establishing performance metrics for Immigration Judges; and
o Discouraging illegal re-entry by enhancing penalties and expanding categories of inadmissibility.
ENFORCE IMMIGRATION LAWS ACROSS THE UNITED STATES
STOP “SANCTUARY CITIES”: States and localities that refuse to cooperate with Federal authorities should be ineligible for funding from certain grants and cooperative agreements.
- While Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) values its law enforcement partners at the State and local levels, there are hundreds of jurisdictions across the country that do not honor requests from ICE to hold criminal aliens who already are in state and local custody, threatening public safety.
STRENGTHEN IMMIGRATION LAW ENFORCEMENT: Hiring an additional 10,000 ICE officers and 300 Federal prosecutors to handle immigration cases will allow law enforcement agencies to uphold our laws and protect public safety and national security.
- There are nearly one million aliens with final orders of removal across the country.
o Yet ICE has only 6,000 Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) officers to cover an immigration system that issues tens of millions of temporary visas every year.
- In addition, authorizing and incentivizing States and localities to enforce immigration laws would further help ICE with its mission, and make all communities safer.
END VISA OVERSTAYS: Increasing overstay penalties and ICE’s enforcement tools will help ensure that foreign workers, students and visitors respect the terms of their temporary visas.
- Visa overstays account for roughly 40 percent of all illegal immigration in the United States. In Fiscal Year 2016, 628,000 aliens overstayed their visas.
END “CATCH-AND-RELEASE”: Correcting judicial interpretations that have eroded ICE’s authority to keep aliens in custody pending removal, and making detentions mandatory for criminal aliens, will end the practice of catch-and-release and improve community safety.
- A 2001 Supreme Court decision requires ICE to release certain removable aliens, including violent criminals, within 180 days if they have not been deported and there is no significant likelihood of removal in the reasonably foreseeable future.
- In Fiscal Year 2017, 1,666 criminal illegal aliens have been released from ICE custody because of the above-mentioned 2001 Supreme Court decision.
PROTECT AMERICAN WORKERS: Preventing employers from hiring illegal alien labor, and displacing U.S. workers, will improve job opportunities and raise wages for Americans.
- The failure to enforce our immigration laws has produced lower wages and higher unemployment for American workers.
- We can provide relief to the American workforce by requiring the use of E-Verify and by expanding the definition of unlawful employment discrimination to specifically include the displacement of U.S. workers by nonimmigrant workers.
STOP VISA FRAUD: The State Department and Department of Homeland Security need the funding and flexibility to detect and counter rampant visa fraud.
- Expand the State Department’s authority to collect and use fraud prevention and detection fees to combat all types of visa fraud and create a fee mechanism to fully fund the Visa Security Program to facilitate its expansion to all high-risk visa-issuing posts.