Dreamers’ Bargaining Chip Role in Trump’s Budget

According to published reports, White House aides are pushing President Trump to protect Dreamers– undocumented young people brought into the country as children– who would become a bargaining chip in hammering out an overall immigration deal. At its center, the approach intends offering protection to Dreamers in exchange for passage of legislation paying for a wall along the southern border, more detention facilities, reducing legal immigration and the implementation of the E-Verify system, which provides a means for businesses to check the immigration status of potential hires.

The news, published in a McClatchy report, comes on the heels of newly-introduced Republican-backed legislation– the Reforming American Immigration for a Strong Economy (RAISE) Act— that restricts family-based immigration and emphasizes skills-based immigration.

Dreamers came on the scene five years ago when President Obama signed the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) executive order. The order deferred deportation to DACA recipients– Dreamers– and also provided an allowance to obtain work permits. So far, more than 750,000 immigrants– primarily Asian and Hispanic– have participated in the program.

During his campaign for the office, President Trump called DACA “unconstitutional executive amnesty.” However, his rhetoric on the topic has mellowed substantially since the January 20 swearing in. As previously reported, through the end of March this year, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) approved 17,000 new DACA applications and the agency renewed 107,000 work permits for DACA recipients with expiring permissions.

While the plan appears comprehensible on first glance, current dysfunction among elected officials in Washington D.C., along with ever-conflicting interests of lobby organizations, means the path to brokering an immigration deal is in no way fixed. Additionally, high-profile changes among top White House staff indicates those with access to the President Trump’s ear now aren’t necessarily the same as those with access during the campaign or in the early days of the administration.

As President Trump has a “tendency to side with the last person who speaks to him,” according to McClatchy, General Kelly, the president’s new chief of staff, “has kept a tight watch on who gets to talk to Trump.”