The National Immigration and Customs Enforcement Council, the union that represents the interests of ICE agents, submitted a letter to President Trump on Friday, February 2, to explain its opposition to the White House Framework on Immigration Reform and Border Security. The White house issued this statement at the end of January 2018 to help guide Congress’s legislative efforts on immigration reform following the administration’s decision to phase out the DACA program.
The president’s proposal offered amnesty to an estimated 1.8 million illegal aliens, about a million more people than ever benefitted under President Obama’s DACA program, in return a short list of enforcement provisions. Specifically, the proposal asked for a trust fund for creation of a wall on the southern border and other border security reforms, a reallocation of the random lottery visas to family-based or employment-based categories, and a phase-out of chain migration by limiting family admissions to the nuclear family.
It is important to note that the president’s chain migration proposal is not retroactive. Thus, more than 4 million applicants currently on the waiting list will still be able to obtain green cards, likely allowing chain migration to persist for decades.
“While we appreciate language in the framework that would provide for a small number of Enforcement and Removal Officers, and an increase in detention space, we simply cannot in good faith support any legislative effort on immigration that does not include provisions regarding immigration detainers, sanctuary cities, and the smuggling and trafficking of children across U.S. borders,” wrote Chris Crane, President of the Council.
Crane’s letter explained that the administration’s failure to include effective interior enforcement reforms was also a major concern to the organization. Specifically, Crane warned that the White House’s failure to include mandatory E-Verify and other important interior enforcement mechanisms to their framework would render the forthcoming immigration system dangerous and ineffective. “There is no border security or national security without robust interior enforcement and deterrents,” Crane wrote.
Chris Crane isn’t the only immigration enforcement supporter to voice concerns about the White House’s immigration framework. George J. Borjas, a Harvard professor and researcher, recently contributed an op-ed on the White House framework to New York Times discussing why advocates on both sides of the debate have largely rejected the proposal. “Perhaps a bigger objection is the three big issues it leaves off the table, and perhaps bringing those issues back into the realm of the possible would allow for a better deal,” he added.
Indeed, mandatory E-Verify language has been common in other proposals seeking to curb mass illegal immigration. “Nearly half of the illegal immigrants are visa overstayers; they might land at Kennedy Airport or Los Angeles International Airport with, say, a tourist visa, then overstay the visa and quickly disappear in this big country,” Borjas explained. “The only way to truly curtail illegal immigration may require that all employers use an electronic system like E-Verify to certify the legal status of newly hired workers, accompanied by sizable penalties for employers who break the law.”
Both Crane and Borjas, however, made note of the special opportunity 2018 holds to reform immigration policy. “History teaches us that it is extremely difficult to change immigration policy. The stars aligned only twice in the past century: once in the 1920s and then again in the 1960s,” Borjas explained. “Once amnesty is passed, negotiations on enforcement and security will not be entertained by many in Congress. The negotiations you are currently engaged in our probably our last chance,” Crane cautioned.