Wednesday, January 23, 2019

What Trump and McConnell are really promising for DACA, TPS, and asylum

The actual roll-out of Trump’s recent proposal for wall vs. DACA (ignoring the shutdown) is a list of horrors. You would not know it from his televised speech, but now that it’s hit the senate floor, we can pick it apart and expose what Trump and McConnell are really promising.

What’s bound to happen: McConnell will put a legislative version of Trump’s proposal on the Senate floor for a vote. It will likely fail the 60-vote requirement. Then McConnell et al. will blame the Democrats for prolonging the sh*tdown. Here are the many reasons why, once again, no one should trust the party of Trump and its figurehead to bargain in good faith. The short, and predictable, reason: they ain’t got none.

Judd Legum ( opens up the bill that McConnell has crafted in Shutdown bait-and-switch.

On Saturday, President Trump made a televised announcement to detail his plan to “end” the government shutdown. Trump is still insisting on $5.7 billion for a southern border wall. But he said he was including “three years of legislative relief for 700,000 DACA [Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals] recipients” and “a three-year extension of temporary protected status or TPS” as incentives for Democrats to support his proposal.

Over the last two years, Trump decided to cancel DACA and most TPS protections unilaterally. Both of those moves are being challenged in court. But taking Trump’s speech at face value, he is offering a reprieve from decisions he has made in exchange for the wall.

The reality is much worse.

On Sunday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) released the legislative text of Trump’s proposal. The 1301-page document] outlines a set of policies that is nothing like Trump advertised.

Trump is not extending DACA and TPS; he is gutting both programs. And his proposal also includes radical new restrictions on asylum seekers.

Did he think no one would read this bill?

Contrary to what Trump advertised, if the bill actually becomes law, in my opinion, DACA is dead. Here’s more from Legum.

Trump’s proposal does not extend DACA for three years; it “replaces it with a totally different program.” The new program would not only “exclude untold thousands of Dreamers who would have been eligible under DACA” but imposes burdensome new requirements that could deny DACA status to those that previously enrolled.

Trump’s bill requires “Dreamers already in good standing in DACA to reapply for status, even though DACA would have allowed them simply to renew their status without refiling all of their paperwork and evidence.” Meeting this requirement will require most Dreamers to hire an immigration lawyer.

Further, applicants will have to prove their eligibility for the program with “clear and convincing” evidence. Previously, applicants could qualify by meeting a lower standard of “preponderance of the evidence.” This raises the evidentiary bar for applicants to prove they meet the basic requirements of DACA, such as entering the country before June 2007.

Trump’s new program would exclude any applicant “who is even 5 percent dependent on any level of government, even state or local aid, from receiving legal status.” This is known as the “public charge” rule. While DACA recipients are ineligible for federal benefits, this could exclude Dreamers from states like New York and California, which provide state government assistance to Dreamers. It also revokes eligibility for anyone who can’t prove an income of at least 125% of the federal poverty line.

Remarkably, the bill would also require Dreamers “to pay to the U.S. Treasury the value of any legally-obtained tax credits that they have received” – a particularly heavy burden for people with children. At the same time, it doubles the fees associated with DACA enrollment. Fees are the number one reason Dreamers don’t apply for DACA.

Unlike the bipartisan legislation Trump claims his DACA proposal is modeled on, the bill excludes anyone who hasn’t already enrolled in DACA – both those who have not yet applied and those who will “age-in” by turning 15.

Here are two more topics you should explore in Legum’s report.

Trump’s proposal guts TPS - Trump’s proposal does not “extend” TPS; it temporarily replaces it with a far more restrictive program.

The poison pill - the Trump bill imposes entirely new restrictions on migrant children from Central America. The proposal would only allow migrant children to apply for asylum from “application centers” in their home countries. … Forcing people to remain in their home countries run counter to the entire point of asylum, which is intended to provide refuge for people fleeing legitimately dangerous conditions.

The Senate will vote on Trump’s proposal on Thursday. Even the plan that Trump described on Saturday had no chance of passage. But now that the details have been revealed, it’s truly an exercise in futility.

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