Debates on U.S immigration policy reforms have dominated the political discourse for numerous decades. The policymakers consistently cite concerns such as security, economic and humanitarian issues to inform the directions for these debates. For several years, the United States Congress has not been able to formulate a comprehensive immigration policy agreement (Kalhan 261). Instead, it has continuously moved some critical policy decisions to the judicial and executive arms of the government and thus triggering debate both at municipal government levels as well as the halls of state (Fonseca and Jonathan 61). The effect of these unending debate and failure to institutionalize a comprehensive policy agreement weighs in the balance the fates of nearly 11 million undocumented immigrants as well as the country's legal immigration rules.
Many people consider immigration as the wheel that has brought America to where it is today. According to these people, immigrants have contributed immensely to the socioeconomic and political process that underpins the U.S as a nation. However, President Donald Trump appears to be holding a different opinion concerning this group of people. Therefore, immigration policy remains a hotly contested debate in both the Congress and the Senate and it is unclear whether the issues fuelled by each side will be able to assist in ending the stalemate.
One of the major issues that have attracted considerable debate is the "pathway to citizenship." The Republicans in both the Congress and Senate take this issue quite seriously. The law enacted by the US Senate on December 31, 2011, provides law-abiding, undocumented immigrants with a 13-year pathway to citizenship (Chacon 242). This legislation also indicates that these undocumented immigrants must learn English, pay fines and meet other requirements to enable them to become permanent US citizens. Similarly, the Senate bill also issues a requirement for immigrants to meet particular border security triggers before they can be issued permanent residency in the United States. However, some Republican lawmakers in both houses remain skeptical about granting citizenship to "illegal" immigrants (Johnson 269). Similarly, a large population of Republicans in both chambers agrees on the need to enhance border security provisions before undocumented immigrant policies can be put into legislation. Some Republican lawmakers also demand that illegal immigrants prove evidence of tax payments and filings before they can be legalized to become US citizens.
Healthcare is also another point of controversy about immigration policy reforms. Some sticking points within healthcare realm have been of concern to the public and thus need to be resolved so that a comprehensive immigration policy reform may be complete (Joseph 7). The Senate bill on healthcare as it concerns immigrants entails various provisions that interact with Obamacare in a manner that will incentivize a substantial number of employers to prioritize hiring immigrants over Native Americans (Fine and Gregory 46). However, the pending legislation prohibits the immigrants' access to healthcare insurance premium subsidies while the Obamacare initiative provides such access to every resident in the United States with an annual income that is 400% of what is contained in the Federal Poverty Level (Sadarangani 4).
However, Republican lawmakers insist that immigration legislation should outline for all newly legalized immigrants to take personal responsibility for their healthcare insurance premiums. Moreover, they stress that such individuals should also take responsibility for the cost incurred to purchase insurance as well as healthcare cost in cases of emergency. Nonetheless, there are some sections of Republicans in both houses who support Obamacare initiative for all Americans including the immigrants who are pursuing their ambition of becoming American citizens (Fonseca and Jonathan 75). The current Senate legislation, however, exempts immigrants from the Obamacare provision, which states that any individual within the United States who refuses to buy healthcare insurance should pay a tax penalty.
Border security is another controversy that bedevils immigration reforms. There are quite some triggers stipulated by the Senate bill for all people who are aspiring to be US citizens to meet. The bill, for instance, requires the Department of Homeland Security to develop, finance and start a border security plan of e-verification, visa exit system and employer verification system in every airport and seaport. There is a convergence among Republican lawmakers on the need to deploy a considerable number of security personnel to beef up security especially in the US-Mexican border pending reform legislation.
These three critical issues have raised controversy and are the cause that impedes the passage of immigration reforms. Nonetheless, there are still some issues that hinder the passage of the reforms and as such need to be solved. However, the lawmakers, particularly the Republicans in both houses are optimistic about the likelihood of both of the houses passing comprehensive immigration reforms that address all areas and issues of concern (Chacon 243).
Trump's Policy Proposals on Immigration Reforms
Donald Trump, since his swearing into the Oval Office, has been pursuing policies that aim to initiate reforms to the US immigration system. His policy would seek to drastically reduce the number of both documented as well as undocumented immigrants into the United States by implementing a merit-based visa scheme. If the Congress and the Senate pass the regulation dubbed the RAISE Act, the United States will drastically lower the number of immigrants by nearly 50% for the next ten years (Fine and Gregory 54). Besides, the proposed legislation targets eliminating the lottery visas as well as cracking down chain immigrants. President Trump stated that the passage and implementation of the proposed bill would institutionalize a competitive application process that will only favor individuals with the ability to speak English and are financially capable of supporting themselves and their families besides demonstrating how their skills will be beneficial to the United States' economy. Alongside this legislation, there are some policy proposals that Trump administration have fronted to deal with immigration reforms, and are discussed as follows.
Building a Wall and Make Mexico Pay for It
Arguably, building an American-Mexican wall was Donald Trump's central campaign tool. It was also the promise that pleased most of the crowds; attracting criticism as well as liking in equal measure. The 2018 U.S fiscal budget proposal by Trump proposed that $1.6 billion from the fiscal budget should be used as down payment for the construction of a double-layered wall that separates the two countries. The administration however has the long-term goal of coercing Mexico to reimburse the US Treasury the total cost paid to erect the wall. President Trump took this matter seriously only a few days after his swearing in when he signed a directive order, directing for the planning of the construction of the wall by the Department of Homeland Security.
Donald Trump argues that Mexican leaders have taken advantage of the US for a considerable period. Through illegal immigration, these leaders export poverty and crime to the United States. In fact, the president pointed out that there are numerous pamphlets in Mexico suggesting to the locals, the techniques for entering the United States. Therefore, the administration proposes that the Mexican government should finance the wall that will end the tragic acts committed by its citizens who enter the United States not only to cause turmoil but also who remit considerable income back to Mexico.
Put First the Interest of Native American Labourers
Donald Trump argues that the disastrous immigration policies and trade deals that the United States has entered into with other nations over several decades has ruined the American middle class. He cites data from the American Bureau of Statistics that show that nearly 40% of black teenagers in America do not have gainful employment in the United States. Similarly, Hispanic teenagers follow closely at 30% (Fonseca and Jonathan 81). These are among the cause for President Trump's decision about limiting immigration into the country. Besides, most Native Americans argue that immigrants are the major cause of lower wages and high levels of unemployment.
The Trump administration further argues that almost more than a half of the immigrants who enter the United States and their children currently live in abject poverty or deplorable conditions. This, however, is an affirmed finding with the statistics from the American Bureau of Statistics showing that 60% of Hispanic immigrants are poor. The policy argues that America voluntarily admits nearly two million immigrants annually as refugees, guest workers, and dependants. These larger numbers, the proposal states, keep growing the already high immigrant population that currently stand at nearly 42 million.
Therefore, the proposal recommends, based on the available evidence, that the United States should control admission of new immigrants, especially those poised to earn lower wages to enhance the growth of wages, assist minorities to attain middle-class statuses, create employment opportunities to the youth, assist communities and ensure that American immigrants form part of the American dream. Trump's policy on immigration reforms also seeks to end welfare abuse by ensuring that the applicants for US visa must certify that they are capable of meeting their financial needs. In this case, such applicants must demonstrate that they can pay for their healthcare, housing and other costs that they might incur before entering the United States (Huber 215).
Moreover, Trump is pursuing policies that will ensure that companies operating within the United States soil give employment priority to the natives first before considering immigrants (Huber 215). They site that most Americans' incomes have been experiencing a collapsing trend over the previous periods. Therefore, to restore the American dream and build a strong American economy based on the natives' sweat, local companies must ensure that locals are given the priority concerning allocation of employment opportunities.
Criticisms of Trump's Immigration Policies
Critics cite that despite the fact that Trump's policies are restrictive, they do not constitute a drastic departure from the status quo. They state that the policies proposed by Trump are confronting obstacles and thus are not likely to achieve much because most immigrants do not qualify to live in the United States (Green 509). This was in response to Trump's call of deporting between two and three million immigrants. This is quite a hard task because it will entail removing immigrants without any criminal records and who are granted rights to due process by the United States Constitution. In this light, therefore, these people are likely to petition their deportation in courts of law and engage the administration a process that may last for nearly two years.
Public opinion is also against Trump's deportation policies. Although the idea might sound exciting to some Native Americans in the abstract, they are not likely to endorse the idea of deporting immigrants particularly those without any criminal records and have been able to integrate well into the American society (Levy et al. 669). Following the pressure from the public opinion that does not favor deportation, the legislatures have consistently pressured immigration agencies to desist from sanctioning deportation of immigrants within their jurisdictions.
The mass deportation policy, for instance, does not...
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