More im­mi­gra­tion mea­sures weighed

Draft orders tar­get those get­ting or likely to get pub­lic as­sis­tance

The Washington Post - - POLITICS & THE NATION - BY ABI­GAIL HAUSLOHNER AND JANELL ROSS abi­gail.hauslohner@wash­ janell.ross@wash­ David Naka­mura con­trib­uted to this re­port.

The Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion is con­sid­er­ing a plan to weed out would-be im­mi­grants who are likely to re­quire pub­lic as­sis­tance, as well as to de­port — when pos­si­ble — im­mi­grants al­ready liv­ing in the United States who depend on tax­payer help, ac­cord­ing to a draft ex­ec­u­tive or­der ob­tained by The Wash­ing­ton Post.

A se­cond draft or­der un­der con­sid­er­a­tion calls for a sub­stan­tial shake-up in the sys­tem through which the United States ad­min­is­ters im­mi­grant and non­im­mi­grant visas, with the aim of tightly con­trol­ling who en­ters the coun­try and who can en­ter the work­force, and re­duc­ing the so­cial ser­vices bur­den on U.S. tax­pay­ers.

The drafts are cir­cu­lat­ing among ad­min­is­tra­tion of­fi­cials, and it is un­clear whether President Trump has de­cided to move for­ward with them or when he might sign them if he does de­cide to put them in place. The White House would not con­firm or deny the au­then­tic­ity of the orders, and White House of­fi­cials did not re­spond to re­quests for com­ment about the drafts Mon­day and Tues­day.

If en­acted, the ex­ec­u­tive orders would ap­pear to sig­nif­i­cantly re­strict all types of im­mi­gra­tion and for­eign travel to the United States, ex­pand­ing bars on en­try to the coun­try that Trump or­dered last week with his tem­po­rary ban on refugees and peo­ple from seven Mus­lim-ma­jor­ity coun­tries.

While last week’s move fo­cused on na­tional se­cu­rity and pre­vent­ing ter­ror­ism, the new draft orders would be fo­cused on Trump’s cam­paign prom­ises to pro­tect Amer­i­can work­ers and to cre­ate jobs, im­me­di­ately re­strict­ing the flow of im­mi­grants and tem­po­rary la­bor­ers into the U.S. work­force. The ad­min­is­tra­tion has ac­cused im­mi­grants who end up re­ceiv­ing U.S. so­cial ser­vices of eat­ing up fed­eral re­sources, and it has said that im­mi­grant work­ers con­trib­ute to un­em­ploy­ment among Amer­i­cans who were born in the United States.

“Our coun­try’s im­mi­gra­tion laws are de­signed to pro­tect Amer­i­can tax­pay­ers and pro­mote im­mi­grant self-suf­fi­ciency. Yet house­holds headed by aliens are much more likely than those headed by cit­i­zens to use Fed­eral means-tested pub­lic ben­e­fits,” reads one draft or­der ob­tained by The Post, ti­tled “Ex­ec­u­tive Or­der on Pro­tect­ing Tax­payer Re­sources by En­sur­ing Our Im­mi­gra­tion Laws Pro­mote Ac­count­abil­ity and Re­spon­si­bil­ity.”

The draft or­der pro­vides no ev­i­dence to sup­port the claim that im­mi­grant house­holds are more likely to use wel­fare ben­e­fits, and there is no con­sen­sus among ex­perts about im­mi­gra­tion’s im­pact on such ben­e­fits or on U.S. jobs.

The ad­min­is­tra­tion would be seek­ing to “deny ad­mis­sion to any alien who is likely to be­come a pub­lic charge” and to de­velop stan­dards for “de­ter­min­ing whether an alien is de­portable . . . for hav­ing be­come a pub­lic charge within five years of en­try” — re­ceiv­ing a cer­tain amount of pub­lic as­sis­tance, in­clud­ing food stamps, Tem­po­rary As­sis­tance for Needy Fam­i­lies (TANF) and Med­i­caid.

The se­cond or­der, ti­tled “Ex­ec­u­tive Or­der on Pro­tect­ing Amer­i­can Jobs and Work­ers by Strength­en­ing the In­tegrity of For­eign Worker Visa Pro­grams” calls for “elim­i­nat­ing” the “jobs mag­net” that is driv­ing il­le­gal im­mi­gra­tion to the United States, ac­cord­ing to a copy ob­tained by The Post. The or­der would re­scind any work visa pro­vi­sions for for­eign na­tion­als found not to be in “the na­tional in­ter­est” or found to be in vi­o­la­tion of U.S. im­mi­gra­tion laws.

The or­der weighs how to make the coun­try’s im­mi­gra­tion pro­gram “more merit based,” calls for site vis­its at com­pa­nies that em­ploy for­eign work­ers, and tasks the Depart­ment of Home­land Se­cu­rity with pro­duc­ing a re­port twice a year on the to­tal num­ber of for­eign-born peo­ple — not just non­im­mi­grant visa hold­ers — who are au­tho­rized to work in the United States.

It also in­structs DHS and the State Depart­ment to sub­mit a re­port on “the steps they are tak­ing to com­bat the birth tourism phe­nom­e­non,” mean­ing in­stances in which nonci­t­i­zens come to the U.S. to have chil­dren who in turn gain cit­i­zen­ship, a pop­u­lar con­ser­va­tive re­frain but one that is dis­missed by im­mi­gra­tion ex­perts as a rel­a­tively mi­nor prob­lem.

To­gether, the orders would aim to give U.S. cit­i­zens pri­or­ity in the job mar­ket by pre­vent­ing im­mi­grants from tak­ing jobs and by push­ing some im­mi­grants out of jobs.

“The un­law­ful em­ploy­ment of aliens has had a dev­as­tat­ing im­pact on the wages and jobs of Amer­i­can work­ers, es­pe­cially lowskilled, teenage, and African Amer­i­can and His­panic work­ers,” the draft or­der says.

Im­mi­gra­tion ad­vo­cates re­acted with out­rage to the draft doc­u­ments, warn­ing that if en­acted the ex­ec­u­tive orders could harm the U.S. cit­i­zen chil­dren of un­doc­u­mented im­mi­grants whose par­ents could be stripped of pub­lic as­sis­tance.

“He’s loaded his anti-im­mi­grant Uzi and is fir­ing off an­other round,” said An­gela Maria Kel­ley, an im­mi­gra­tion ex­pert at the Cen­ter for Amer­i­can Progress, a lib­eral think tank. “This time he’s aim­ing at U.S. cit­i­zen kids who have an un­doc­u­mented par­ent, and de­pend­ing how broad the reach of his or­der, he could de­port kids who have re­ceived re­duced lunches in school.”

Long-stand­ing U.S. law al­ready makes it dif­fi­cult for nonci­t­i­zens to re­ceive most forms of pub­lic as­sis­tance, which lim­its how many im­mi­grants re­ceive such tax­payer-funded help. For more than 100 years, the coun­try has had a pro­vi­sion that al­lows fed­eral of­fi­cials to bar im­mi­grants who, based on a spe­cific for­mula, seem likely to need pub­lic as­sis­tance af­ter ar­rival.

In 1996, President Bill Clin­ton signed the Per­sonal Re­spon­si­bil­ity and Work Op­por­tu­nity Rec­on­cil­i­a­tion Act, pop­u­larly known as “wel­fare re­form.” The law se­verely re­stricted all im­mi­grant ac­cess to so­cial as­sis­tance; those who are in the coun­try il­le­gally are barred from al­most any fed­eral pro­gram de­signed for the poor. Le­gal im­mi­grants must live in the United States for a min­i­mum of five years to be­come eli­gi­ble for a lim­ited set of so­cial aid pro­grams, and ac­cess to So­cial Se­cu­rity as­sis­tance is rarely granted.

Economists are di­vided on the ex­tent to which il­le­gal im­mi­gra­tion im­pacts wages, but in gen­eral they find that im­mi­gra­tion, in­clud­ing by low-skilled work­ers, is good for the econ­omy.

“The over­whelm­ing con­sen­sus in the eco­nomics aca­demic lit­er­a­ture is that im­mi­grants add more to the econ­omy than they take, they cre­ate more jobs for Amer­i­cans, and they are a net ben­e­fit to the Amer­i­can econ­omy,” said Alex Nowrasteh, an im­mi­gra­tion pol­icy an­a­lyst at the Cato In­sti­tute, a lib­er­tar­ian think tank.

Nor have stud­ies shown im­mi­grants to be a greater drain on fed­eral ben­e­fits rel­a­tive to U.S. cit­i­zens, he said: “When you com­pare poor im­mi­grants to poor na­tives, poor im­mi­grants are less likely to use wel­fare, and when they do, the dol­lar value of the ben­e­fits they use is lower.”

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