Nowrasteh on a DACA Fix That’s “Worse than Nothing”

In an op-ed published yesterday at The Hill, Alex Nowrasteh wrote about why a bill working its way through the U.S. House of Representatives may be one of the most anti-immigration bills in decades. With both chambers of Congress now looking to make good on promises to provide a legal framework for the roughly 700,000 DREAMers impacted by President Trump’s decision last year to rescind DACA, many House Republicans are pledging to support the Securing America’s Future (“SAF”) Act. 

Democrats may not support the SAF Act, but Nowrasteh notes that it will likely represent a line in the sand for many Republicans as negotiations proceed. The problem? “As a so-called DACA fix,” he writes, “the SAF Act barely measures up.”

It would provide DREAMers with temporary and renewable residency permits—in other words, short-term reprieves. And in return, DREAMers would face a new set of restrictions, including the requirement that they maintain an income 125 percent higher than the poverty line.

The SAF Act also makes major cuts to legal immigration categories:

[It] inexplicably cuts legal immigration, reducing the number of immigrants by as much as half after 10 years. Among the categories cut are the diversity green card, which is completely eliminated, as well as most family-sponsored immigrants. Asylum seekers will also get a significant chop under the bill.

Under the new SAF Act status quo, immigration would allow fewer skill-based immigrants, due to the move away from the green card system’s growing tendency to select educated workers. It also means that immigrants might risk separation from their family—the SAF Act would make it almost impossible for green card recipients to sponsor their spouse or children if their marriage or the child’s birth occur after the green card is conferred.

And as a cherry on top, the SAF Act allocates to border security approximately $124 billion over five years. This is dozens of times more money than Border Patrol spent last year, and at a time when illegal crossings at the border are at a nadir.

There’s no way to sugarcoat the SAF Act as any kind of concession or compromise. It is give and take, with an emphasis on take. 

As Nowrasteh concludes, there are better ways for Republicans in Congress to do something about the plight of DREAMers. Lawmakers should propose DACA fixes that don’t drastically reduce the number of legal immigrants.

You can read the full piece here.