Can DACA Recipients Become Citizens? Trump's New Immigration Plan Teases The Possibility
On Thursday, the White House's new immigration plan leaked, and it's a mix of unexpectedly good news and predictably bad news. For one of the first times, Trump is proposing that he will offer DACA recipients the ability to become citizens — under certain conditions, of course. If DACA is to survive in the first place, the proposal suggests Congress needs to pledge $25 billion to the border wall. Ultimately, if Trump's demands are met, nearly 2 million undocumented immigrants could be given a clearly marked path to U.S. citizenship. But let's not speak too soon.
"If they do a great job, I think it's a nice thing to have the incentive of, after a period of years, being able to become a citizen," Trump told reporters on Wednesday. His statement applies not only to the immigrants given DACA protection under Obama, but also to those who haven't yet applied for the program under Trump or will become eligible in the near future. Though Trump's remarks sound hopeful, in a sense, it's important to proceed with caution. The same day, a White House official reminded reporters that Trump's conditions must be met, saying,
If it doesn't work then they'll be illegal immigrants and if they fall into the hands of ICE ... They won't be targeted, but if they fall into the hands of ICE ... well they'll be put into the system ... and ultimately could lead to their deportation.
On Thursday, White House Senior Adviser Stephen Miller spoke during a White House briefing and explained the other conditions included in the immigration plan. In addition to majorly investing in the border wall, the plan also demands that Congress cuts down on family-based immigration. According to CitizenPath.com, the United States currently offers applications for green cards to permanent U.S. residents' spouses and minor children, in addition to their parents and children who aren't married. At the moment, there's no cap on the number of visas available for eligible family members of permanent residents. If Trump's immigration plan comes to fruition, though, U.S. citizens or permanent residents would only be able to sponsor green cards for spouses and children under 18 years old.
On top of that, the plan demands an end to the diversity visa lottery, which favors immigrants from under-represented nations. Instead of continuing to implement the lottery, the United States would prioritize highly-skilled immigrants and permanent residents' immediate family members (spouses and children under 18).
Though the proposal pretty clearly states that it will provide a pathway to citizenship for Dreamers (under the stated conditions), there's really no way to guarantee whether Trump will follow through. After all, the current president doesn't necessarily have a reputation for consistency. On Wednesday, for example, Trump suggested that he might extend the March 5 deadline for DACA even if his conditions aren't met by Congress.
"Yeah, I might do that," he said, according to CNN. "I'm not guaranteeing it because I want to put a little bit of — but I certainly have the right to do it." However, as recently as Dec. 29, Trump tweeted,
The Democrats have been told, and fully understand, that there can be no DACA without the desperately needed WALL at the Southern Border and an END to the horrible Chain Migration & ridiculous Lottery System of Immigration etc. We must protect our Country at all cost!
So, whether or not DACA will actually be extended if the wall doesn't get funded is up in the air. Regardless, the clock is certainly ticking for Congress to come to some sort of agreement before the March 5 deadline.