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DREAMers threatened by ‘ransom note’

25 October 20170 comments

The fate and safety of millions of young migrants to the US is in the balance because horse trading between the Republicans and Democrats over US immigration policy.

President Donald Trump is trying to cut with US Democrats to offer permanent legal status to the so-called DREAMers – named after the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act.

The DREAMers are immigrants who, through no fault or act of their own, were brought into the US without proper authorisation as children.

But President Trump’s immigration advisors – led by ultra-restrictionist White House aide Stephen Miller – have demanded in return what they call “reasonable immigration enforcement measures”.

Some observers have described these demands as a ‘ransom note’ that will criminalise far more immigrants to the US than it will legalise.

Of the eleven million unauthorised aliens in the country, about two million are DREAMers and 4.5 million are visa overstays who entered the country legally but whose visas expired.

They can be deported but can’t be thrown in jail.

But Trump’s advisors on immigration want to change that. They want the Democrats to agree that in exchange for legalizing two million DREAMers, the US Government would consign twice as many visa overstays to permanent illegality by taking away every option for regaining their legal status, exacerbating the very problem that the current exercise is trying to solve.

They also want to criminalize ‘baseless’ asylum claims to allegedly discourage people without provable claims of persecution from abusing America’s asylum laws.

But advocates say people fleeing gangs or state violence don’t always have documentary evidence with then as they flee.

Yet, under the deal, US judges would not only be able to reject their claims but also prosecute them and possibly fine them and throw them in jail.

Also, under the deal, Trump’s advisors want to yoke any concessions to DREAMers with cuts in legal immigration and to bar Americans from sponsoring their parents, adult children, and siblings.

They claim that they want to replace America’s family-based system with one similar to Australia’s and Canada’s merit-based ones.

But they’re not saying they would pair cuts in family-based visa categories with increases in skills-based ones.

In fact, under the White House’s plan legal immigration to the US would be slashed by half over the next ten years.


Laurie Nowell
AMES Australia Senior Journalist