Between the headlines of President Donald Trump considering firing Robert Muller, word of Trump’s highly uncharacteristic decision to grant citizenship to 1.8 million Dreamers — immigrants who came to the U.S. as children — was lost. To be clear, this decision does not come out of the goodness of his heart, but out of his desire to have Congress pay for a wall between the U.S. and Mexico. The policy can be seen as an act of benevolence, seeing as there are 700,000 Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals program recipients at risk of losing their status thanks to the same Oval Office that is trying
There are a few issues with this deal, the first being that immigrants who have spent most of their lives in the U.S. should not be used as bargaining chips. In exchange for citizenship, Congress will give the White House a $25 billion “trust fund” for its infamous wall. The fund would also go toward helping to secure the Canadian border.
Another aspect of the deal is that it would end family ramification and the diversity visa process. Family ramification is when U.S. citizens and green card holders can sponsor any family member, save for really extended family, for their own citizenship process. Trump’s proposal would limit this process to just spouses and minor children — this means that U.S. citizens would not be able to sponsor their parents.
The deal between the White House and Congress reiterates that the U.S. government does not see its immigrant population as making the fabric of the United States colorful, but as a commodity that can be easily traded for a wall. This holds true on both sides of the aisle. At the same time, there is a total of 3.6 million Dreamers, as well as about 11 million undocumented immigrants, in the U.S. Regardless of this deal, there will still be a high percentage of Dreamers uncertain of their protected status.
The fine print of this agreement is probably the most problematic. The White House wishes to close legal loopholes that will in turn allow them to deport more immigrants, especially those from countries that do not border the U.S. — everywhere other than Canada and Mexico.
The proposal will be heard in early February, which puts Democrats in a time bind considering that DACA protections expire on March 5. What is most appalling, however, is how the process of democracy has come to a point where the people it has vouched to protect are being put at risk.
The U.S. has never been the be-all and end-all for what democracy should represent, and that has become clear through the mere consideration of this deal.