White House Immigration Framework Offers DACA Relief in Exchange for Expanded Enforcement Powers and Cuts in Family and Diversity Immigration

At a glance

  • In exchange for expanded relief and a potential path to citizenship for DACA recipients and DACA-eligible foreign nationals, the White House is requesting $25 billion to fund border infrastructure and personnel, expanded powers to remove unauthorized foreign nationals, restriction of family-based immigration to spouses and children under age 21, and elimination of the Diversity Visa Lottery Program.
  • The framework does not substantively address high-skill immigration, but would reallocate some of the 50,000 Diversity Lottery immigrant visas to reduce the employment-based permanent residence backlog.

The situation

As Congress resumes federal budget and DACA relief negotiations, the White House has issued its list of requirements for immigration and border security reforms.

DACA relief

The White House is proposing to offer legal status to roughly 1.8 million DACA beneficiaries and DACA-eligible foreign nationals, with a 10 to 12-year path to citizenship.  Under the Administration’s framework, applicants would be required to meet unspecified work, education and good moral character requirements.  The government could revoke status if a beneficiary engaged in criminal conduct, was deemed a public safety and national security risk, or became a public charge.

Limits on family immigration 

The framework seeks to curtail family immigration by limiting sponsorship to the spouses and minor children of U.S. citizens and permanent residents.  The White House would eliminate family sponsorship of adult children and siblings, which is currently subject to annual quotas, and sponsorship of parents by U.S. citizen adult children, who are now classified as immediate relatives with no annual quota.  The framework suggests that those already in line for family sponsorship would have their cases processed.

Elimination of the Diversity Lottery Program

The White House is proposing to eliminate the Diversity Visa Lottery Program, which currently allows up to 50,000 randomly selected foreign nationals from countries with low rates of U.S. immigration to seek permanent residence if they fulfill education or work experience requirements and undergo background checks.

Immigrant visa numbers from the Diversity Visa Lottery Program would be reallocated to reduce employment-based and family-based green card backlogs.

Border infrastructure and enforcement

The White House is seeking $25 billion to fund President Trump’s long-promised border wall, new security technology and additional border personnel.  In addition, the Administration wants expanded authority to detain and remove unauthorized foreign nationals, including summary removal of those who have overstayed a period of authorized admission.

Impact on skilled migration

The White House framework does not include substantive provisions for skilled immigration reform.  Separately, the Administration has voiced support for a proposal to replace the current employment-based permanent residence system with a points system.

Reallocation of Diversity Lottery visas could modestly reduce the employment-based permanent residence backlog.  Reductions in family migration would restrict employment-based immigrants, among others, from sponsoring some relatives for permanent residence.

What’s next for the White House framework

The White House’s list of immigration requirements has been strongly criticized by congressional Democrats.  Likewise, divisions in the Republican party over relief for DACA beneficiaries mean that the proposal could face a steep challenge despite Republican control of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives.

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