CAN THE US GOVERNMENT SOLVE IMMIGRANT PROBLEMS NEAR THE BORDER?

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STRATEGIC ASSESSMENT. The U.S. military is going to provide and build tents to house 7,500 migrants at six locations near the border. A Department of Defense spokesperson confirmed that the Department of Homeland Security made the request, and a Defense official said acting Secretary Patrick Shanahan is expected to sign the request. The tents will probably not be on military bases, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement not the military will be responsible for migrant detention and custodial support. In a statement, a Defense Department spokesman said that DHS made the “Request for Assistance (RFA)” on May 9.

The announcement came as senior administration officials confirmed that President Donald Trump will roll out a two-pronged immigration proposal Thursday that would make sweeping changes to the legal immigration system and enhance border security.

The plan, which Trump is expected to announce during an afternoon speech, avoids some of the most hot-button immigration issues of the day including a growing backlog of asylum-seekers and the status of so-called “Dreamers” and is almost certainly doomed on Capitol Hill (https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/immigration/u-s-military-build-6-tent-cities-border-migrants-n1006161).

President Donald Trump will unveil a new immigration proposal that would move the United States toward a more merit-based system and boost border security and aimed at countering the notion that he is anti-immigrant.

Notably, the plan would not change the overall number of immigrants allowed in the U.S. legally only attempt to change the composition of immigration. Nor would it address the illegal immigration population, an issue Trump has controversially railed about for years.

Trump will deliver the broad outlines of the offering, drafted largely by the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner, on Thursday afternoon at the White House.

But there are already signs the plan — Trump’s second one on immigration in two years is unlikely to get the support from a Congress that has wrestled with the issue for years. Kushner has spent days trying to gather support for the effort from Republican senators, presenting the plan to a small group earlier this week and to the Senate Republican conference at the group’s weekly policy lunch.

“The border security plan seemed solid. We all know you’re not going to pass this without dealing with the other aspects of immigration. But the point of getting the party united behind a merit-based immigration proposal and border security is a significant step. But that’s sort of starting a larger conversation.”

But Kushner has spent little time selling the plan to House Democrats, who control the lower chamber and want to focus instead on protecting so-called Dreamers, or young immigrants who entered the U.S. illegally a component that it not in the plan. And no Democrats have come forward indicating their willingness to work with the White House.

Schumer said the president had solicited his opinion on the subject several weeks ago but had not followed through. But Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) argued that having the plan out was still beneficial.

A Senate Republican aide said there’s nothing in the current plan that is meant to appeal to Democrats, even though Kushner is casting this as the administration’s “opening offer.” The aide said there’s an appetite among Democrats to fix the crisis at the border, but that the Trump plan is unlikely to gain significant traction.

Trump made cracking down on immigration the centerpiece of his 2016 campaign, calling for a border wall and ending an Obama-era program that allows temporary, renewable work permits for the Dreamers. But Congress failed to pass a rewrite of the nation’s immigration laws last year when both chambers were controlled by Republicans, making it extremely unlikely a divided Congress would grant Trump a victory as he launches his re-election campaign.

The plan would not change the number of immigrants entering the country, officials said, but would instead change their composition. It would shift the country to a points-based system where applicants seeking “Build America” visas are scored on attributes including education, English-speaking ability and an existing offer of employment from an American company or organization. It would downplay an applicants family ties to people already in the U.S.

It also would eliminate the diversity visa lottery program, which offers 50,000 visas annually to people from countries with low rates of immigration to the U.S. Family and diversity visas would be reallocated to employment-based applicants, according to two people familiar with the plan.

The U.S. admits more than 1 million lawful permanent residents each year, but only 140,000 come through employment categories. The rest are relatives, refugees, or immigrants who arrive through the diversity visa lottery.

In recent days, the White House has talked of adding other pieces to the proposal to try to mollify hawkish immigration activists: a mandatory nationwide E-Verify system to check the immigration status of workers, as well as changes to asylum and detention laws to discourage migrants from seeking refuge at the border. The plan could try to override a federal court settlement to allow children to be detained for longer than 20 days, and raise the standard to pass a “credible fear” interview, the first stage in certain asylum claims.

The Trump administration has argued that a flood of migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border has necessitated changes to federal immigration laws. Border Patrol arrested nearly 99,000 migrants at the southwest border in April, part of a surge in recent months that resembles higher levels of illegal immigration from the 1980s, 1990s and early 2000s. While the Trump administration seeks to detain the maximum number of suspected border crossers, many have been released amid a crunch for processing and detention space. The Pew Research Center estimates that roughly 11 million undocumented immigrants live in the U.S.

The Senate GOP aide said lawmakers don’t expect to see a more detailed plan for at least another week as the White House is still working to put this in legislative text.

On Wednesday, Graham said he will seek support from Democrats for a bill that would limit access to asylum and make it easier to deport and detain Central American children (https://www.politico.com/story/2019/05/15/trump-new-immigration-plan-1326972)


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