Dreamer chain mi­gra­tion swells im­mi­grant num­ber

Congress en­cour­aged to weigh con­se­quences


Grant­ing cit­i­zen­ship rights to 700,000 Dream­ers re­ally means giv­ing a foothold in the U.S. to per­haps 1.5 mil­lion other fu­ture im­mi­grants, ac­cord­ing to an­a­lysts who urged Congress to weigh the im­pli­ca­tions fully be­fore press­ing ahead with a mass le­gal­iza­tion pro­gram.

Chain mi­gra­tion — the abil­ity for the Dream­ers to spon­sor rel­a­tives, in­clud­ing their par­ents who broke the law by bring­ing them to the U.S. — is one of a num­ber of is­sues Pres­i­dent Trump and con­gres­sional lead­ers will have to work out as they reach for a deal on De­ferred Ac­tion for Child­hood Ar­rivals, the Obama-era amnesty that the ad­min­is­tra­tion is phas­ing out.

Mr. Trump and Demo­cratic lead­ers sug­gested that they had set­tled on a broad frame­work Wed­nes­day night, emerg­ing from a din­ner to say they would find a way to en­shrine pro­tec­tions for those cov­ered un­der DACA. But the more they talked, the more it be­came clear that they have yet to set­tle any of

the thorny de­tails.

House Mi­nor­ity Leader Nancy Pelosi, Cal­i­for­nia Demo­crat, said Thurs­day that they agreed to start with the Dream Act, which is leg­is­la­tion to grant a full path­way to cit­i­zen­ship to il­le­gal im­mi­grants who came to the U.S. as mi­nors, have kept a rel­a­tively clean record and are at least work­ing to­ward a high school-level ed­u­ca­tion.

Mr. Trump, though, said he is not in­ter­ested in cit­i­zen­ship be­cause it would amount to an amnesty.

Mrs. Pelosi also said the pres­i­dent agreed to forgo his de­mand for wall fund­ing in the bill. Mr. Trump said that is true but he will need to see a down pay­ment for the wall in other bills mov­ing through Congress this year, or else he will throw a wrench in the works.

“The wall, to me, is vi­tal. If I don’t get the wall, then we will be­come the ob­struc­tion­ists,” the pres­i­dent said.

Mr. Trump also said he needs “mas­sive bor­der se­cu­rity” and “ex­treme sur­veil­lance” to be part of the Dreamer deal. Those de­mands seem­ingly con­flict with Mrs. Pelosi’s state­ment, which men­tioned sen­sors, drones and ac­cess roads as the kinds of the bor­der se­cu­rity mea­sures she has in mind.

Those are just some of the is­sues to be worked out as Congress rushes against a six-month dead­line Mr. Trump set last week when he an­nounced the phase­out of DACA.

The Dream­ers are con­sid­ered the most sym­pa­thetic fig­ures in the im­mi­gra­tion de­bate. They of­ten were brought to the U.S. as young chil­dren by rel­a­tives who left them no say in the de­ci­sion. Many of them speak only English and have no ties to their birth coun­tries, yet un­der ex­ist­ing law are ex­pected to be de­ported if caught by im­mi­gra­tion agents.

But grant­ing them cit­i­zen­ship, as Mrs. Pelosi calls for, would mean they could even­tu­ally spon­sor their rel­a­tives, in­clud­ing the par­ents who broke the law to bring them to the U.S.

Think tanks that study im­mi­gra­tion said there is no con­crete cal­cu­la­tion of how many peo­ple Dream­ers could spon­sor, but es­ti­mates gen­er­ally say each new cit­i­zen re­sults in an av­er­age of one to two oth­ers.

“You would ex­pect that each Dreamer or each DACA re­cip­i­ent in the long run would re­sult in around two or three ad­di­tional peo­ple,” said Steven A. Ca­marota, re­search di­rec­tor at the Cen­ter for Im­mi­gra­tion Stud­ies.

Con­straints in­clude per-coun­try caps. Some ap­pli­cants in the low­est-pref­er­ence fam­ily cat­e­gory face a nearly 13-year wait be­fore they are able to claim visas to im­mi­grate to the U.S.

Much de­pends on who qual­i­fies for the de­por­ta­tion amnesty Congress writes. If it’s limited to the ap­prox­i­mately 700,000 peo­ple pro­tected by the Obama-era DACA, then the chain of mi­gra­tion could be limited. Many of them al­ready have sib­lings ei­ther as U.S. cit­i­zens or also pro­tected by DACA who wouldn’t need to be spon­sored.

If the le­gal­iza­tion is sim­i­lar to the Dream Act leg­is­la­tion in­tro­duced by Sen. Lind­sey Gra­ham, South Carolina Repub­li­can, and Sen. Richard J. Durbin, Illi­nois Demo­crat, then the to­tal num­ber of im­mi­grants le­gal­ized could run closer to 2 mil­lion and the chain of mi­gra­tion could mean mil­lions more even­tual cit­i­zens.

Un­der ex­ist­ing rules, cit­i­zens can im­me­di­ately spon­sor par­ents, spouses and un­mar­ried chil­dren younger than 18. Brothers and sis­ters and mar­ried or adult chil­dren have to wait in the back­log.

Mr. Durbin ac­knowl­edged Thurs­day that his bill, as writ­ten, would al­low Dream­ers to spon­sor the full panoply of rel­a­tives, just as any other nat­u­ral­ized cit­i­zen can do.

“We have not ad­dressed any ex­cep­tions to that rule in the Dream Act as cur­rently writ­ten,” he said.

Mr. Gra­ham agreed that was the way the bill was writ­ten, though he said he would like con­trols on chain mi­gra­tion. “Yes, we will have to deal with that is­sue,” he said.

He and Mr. Durbin also will have to grap­ple with how tightly to draw the net for le­gal sta­tus qual­i­fi­ca­tions.

Un­der their cur­rent bill, il­le­gal im­mi­grants who came to the U.S. in the early part of the Oba­maera Un­ac­com­pa­nied Alien Chil­dren surge could qual­ify, even though they ex­plic­itly came with­out their par­ents.

Mr. Gra­ham said he would have to think about that sit­u­a­tion.

“That is a good ques­tion. If they weren’t brought by their par­ents, it would be a dif­fer­ent deal,” he said.

Some Repub­li­cans have sug­gested cou­pling the Dream Act with leg­is­la­tion spon­sored by Sen. Tom Cot­ton, Arkansas Repub­li­can, and Sen. David Per­due, Ge­or­gia Repub­li­can, which would sub­stan­tially limit fam­ily mi­gra­tion and would add a point-based sys­tem for se­lect­ing em­ploy­ment-based mi­grants.

Oth­ers have said they would like more mea­sures to head off an­other wave of il­le­gal im­mi­gra­tion, such as manda­tory use of E-Ver­ify, the gov­ern­ment’s elec­tronic worker ver­i­fi­ca­tion sys­tem that is cur­rently vol­un­tary for most busi­nesses.


THE OTHER SIDE: House Mi­nor­ity Leader Nancy Pelosi says she is think­ing about sen­sors, drones and ac­cess roads for bor­der se­cu­rity, but Pres­i­dent Trump is stick­ing with his de­mand for a wall.


Sen. Lind­sey Gra­ham, South Carolina Repub­li­can, ac­knowl­edges that his bill could le­gal­ize im­mi­grants who came to the U.S. in the early part of the Oba­maera Un­ac­com­pa­nied Alien Chil­dren surge.

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