A concrete immigration plan, including the building of the wall and the future of DACA individuals, is still up in the air as Republicans and Democrats battle it out in terms of budget.
Lisa Magaña, Ph.D. from ASU’s School of Transborder Studies, says President Donald Trump has been inconsistent when it comes to immigration. She says the president faces challenges from his party when he tries for a bipartisan approach only to be criticized by his base.
The four pillars of Trump’s immigration plan include a path to citizenship, building the wall, ending what he calls chain migration and ending the visa lottery. Following that is deciding on a budget which is where the obstacles lie. The path of citizenship is meant for DACA recipients, but the process can take over a decade.
There have been multiple recommendations on how to handle the future of DACA individuals. Magaña says she has heard giving the kids, some of who are adults now, citizenship 10-15 years from now when a lot of the opposing congressional members will be out of office.
The current situation with the wall has caused some eyebrows to raise. Originally, the president emphasized the Mexico would pay for the wall. However, that’s been out of the discussion for some time now. The future of DACA won’t be spoken about until there is a resolution on the wall.
“If we wanted to really address unauthorized immigration population we need to look at visa overstayers,” Magaña says. “That’s the big one. Somebody that’s entered the country legally and then they don’t leave when their VISA runs out is part of this unauthorized immigration.”
Magaña says this in reference to many Canadians staying in the country for longer than they were supposed to. She says she has also heard of an Irish immigration problem in Boston.
Jose Cardenas: Good evening and welcome to "Horizonte." Congress looks to avoid a government shutdown but still no deal on DACA.
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Jose Cardenas: It looks like Congress will strike a spending deal that avoids another shutdown but fails to address the unresolved issues of immigration. A big question, what to do about the DACA program which was part of the January standoff that ended in a 3-day shut down. Joining me to talk about this is Lisa Magana, interim director and professor for the ASU School of transborder studies. Dr. Magana, thank you for joining us on "Horizonte." We should emphasize as we tape this show they haven't reached the deadline yet and they don't have a final deal but it looks like they are close.
Lisa Magana: On the senate side and there is discussions to see what happens in Congress partly with the more conservative congressional base and the democratic side in terms of what we’re gonna see happening regarding immigration.
Jose Cardenas: So we’ll talk about what the roadblocks may be there. Let's back up a little bit.
Lisa Magana: Sure.
Jose Cardenas: This has been a month and a half of turmoil. It looked very promising near the beginning of January when the president seemed to have struck a deal on graham-Durbin. What happened?
Lisa Magana: I think a few things happened. One I will say the president has been inconsistent when it comes to immigration, DACA and now the wall. We can start first with the wall. At certain points, he has talked about he wants an actual wall. Then there were discussions about beefing up particular parts of border regions not necessarily a wall. When he puts this out there…there is a bite back from his base that says no, no, we want an actual wall. We want you to be as tough as you possibly can. He has some consultants, for example Mr. Miller, who has very tough, I think, stance when it comes to immigration. I think when he puts himself out there and says something relatively moderate or bipartisan he gets criticized by his base.
Jose Cardenas: Looks like something like that happened with graham-Durbin because Schumer and McConnell were invited to the White House thinking they were going to finalize the deal and get there and conservative members of Congress are sitting with the president and it blows up.
Lisa Magana: And his idea had changed. And part of it was they used the term amnesty but eventually changing their status. There has been also I should say there has been different recommendations of what to do with the DACA individuals. One is that we never give them a pathway to citizenship and that seems to be an issue we have seen come back and forth. Another one which I want to bring up is that we can give these kids citizenship but let's wait 10-15 years because by that time a lot of the congressional members are out of office. If a lot of DACA kids become naturalized citizens they will probably vote for the Democratic Party. That is another issue that comes out. Then the issue of tying it to the spending bill and now the wall. Can't forget the wall originally Mexico was going to pay that and this is no longer even discussed. Now it morphed into DACA we’re not doing anything. They will not include unless we include the wall.
Jose Cardenas: On the discussions we were talking about it seems personality got in the way back in January because of the president's use of some inappropriate terms regarding African countries and then a fight over whether he did or didn't say anything. He seemed to be offended and that kind of made the atmosphere poison.
Lisa Magana: Correct.
Jose Cardenas: We then get to the first shutdown. What happened there?
Lisa Magana: What happened there was they did a very short shutdown which is going to end very soon as we know and decided to -- Mitch McConnell promised he would revisit or bring up and have a discussion regarding DACA.
Jose: A lot of people think the democrats miscalculated.
Lisa Magana: Right.
Jose: And in doing the shutdown public opinion was against that. They regret it.
Lisa Magana: That is tough, too. In the long run you don't want to be the party associated with a shutdown and I think smartly so that’s why it isn't necessarily on the table. I don't know if you saw the discussion yesterday with Donald Trump talking about we need another shutdown and I think it would be good. He said that several times.
Jose: His own staff members have disavowed that.
Lisa Magana: They said no, no, no we don’t want another shut down because I think the politics of that maybe outweigh what they could, in terms of bargaining for DACA. You don't want to be the party associated with a shutdown. It still hits Ted Cruz it still comes back up when he did this or when he called for a shutdown years ago.
Jose Cardenas: We get to the state of the union. The president seems at least in tone conciliatory he has some inflammatory comments about immigrants. He signaled this even before the state of the union he seemed to be very generous in terms of what he was willing to do with DACA students.
Lisa Magana: And then again he put something out there.
Jose Cardenas: The four pillars.
Lisa Magana: The four pillars. Let’s go through these; The wall, pathway to citizenship for DACA although it is still not clear, this idea he calls chain migration but essentially it is immigration where you can sponsor a very close family member. He was incorrect when he said during the state of the union address. That we can admit as many family members as you want and that is incorrect. The other is a lottery which is a minimal way to get in. That is a way for countries that are not necessarily always part of large migration or immigration. Just about 50,000. Very minimum.
Jose Cardenas: Even on chain migration, as it is called, it takes a long time.
Lisa Magana: Yes, this idea they are not vetted or they could be connected to terrorist.
Jose: And we had another guest on to discuss this a few weeks ago and she said its people who have been in the line now for 24 years are just now being processed.
Lisa Magana: Yeah, but again it is this narrative of it is out of control. Let’s readdress that as well. Immigration has been going down for the last 10 years. You know? Other groups have exceeded Latin American or Mexican immigration. If we wanted to really address the unauthorized immigration population we need to look at visa over stayers and that is the big one. Someone that entered the country legally and don't leave when their visa runs out is part of this unauthorized population.
Jose Cardenas: And that includes a lot of Canadians but nobody talks about that.
Lisa Magana: Canadians and Irish as well I hear in Boston, that’s an issue. This narrative that is not necessarily accurate. We see uptick in ICE removals and the blurring of who is now going to be removed from this country. It is frightening because there is no such misinformation out there.
Jose Cardenas: The democrats agree to end the shutdown in part --
Lisa Magana: If they promise to revisit it.
Jose Cardenas: Senator McConnell said he would bring it up. They extend to February 8th, we’re just about there and it hasn't been addressed by the senate.
Lisa Magana: This is the senate that said they would readdress it. Today in congress Nancy Pelosi spoke on the floor in Congress for the first time a record number of hours like eight hours asking for Paul Ryan to make the same sort of commitment in Congress that Mitch McConnell did on the senate floor.
Jose Cardenas: Has Mitch McConnell complied with the promise? As I understood, at least before we got post shut down. The commitment was to bring it up for a vote before the 8th but that is not happening. DACA is not part of this deal.
Lisa Magana: You know, respectfully that wasn't my understanding. That he would revisit it at some point for March 8.
Jose Cardenas: Which is the deadline under the president’s order that was issued last September.
Lisa Magana: Correct. I have heard some political pundits say what they might do is senate and Congress, both parties will postpone or extend DACA whatever it is right now for one more year. That way it is going to be after the midterm elections. The president and political parties get to look like they have done something for DACA and we will see what happens after the midterm elections. Which parties switch, if the parties switch and the other part about DACA that is really, really important -- everything is important here -- but DACA has an 80% approval rating which means that is very popular with both republicans and democrats; correct? So I think that is why Donald Trump gets to attach I want my wall if we do something with DACA because people will say yes, we want to do something for these kids and at the same time he gets to move his particular political agenda along with it. That issue of DACA is incredibly popular.
Jose Cardenas: And just to be clear as we speak immigration is not addressed in this tentative deal in the senate?
Lisa Magana: No, it is not.
Jose Cardenas: So we’ll see what happens.
Lisa Magana: So we’ll see what happens.
Jose Cardenas: Lot’s to come up. Thank you so much for joining us.
Lisa Magana: It’s always a pleasure.
Jose Cardenas: Thanks again, Coming up next, musicians inspire children in Mexico.
Lisa Magaña, Ph.D.: ASU School of Transborder Studies