President Donald Trump on Friday tweeted a new requirement of any immigration deal — and it could throw a wrench in negotiations on how to protect young undocumented immigrants in limbo.
“CHAIN MIGRATION cannot be allowed to be part of any legislation on Immigration!” Trump tweeted Friday morning.
The term “chain migration” refers to immigrants coming to a country based on a connection to family. In the US, a small fraction of green cards are given out each year based on employment, with family connections being a much larger share. That includes spouses, children and some extended family.
It was not immediately clear what specific item the President was referring to. Trump has announced an end to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program started by President Barack Obama, which protected young undocumented immigrants brought to the US as children. This week, however, he jumpstarted talks with congressional Democrats on ways to save the program and potentially keep “Dreamers” in the US.
The demand from Trump could complicate negotiations on the Hill. While there is widespread support for the concept of a DACA deal, most likely paired with border security measures, the details reveal deep divisions between and among the parties that remain steep hurdles to overcome.
Republicans almost universally would want any deal to prevent any naturalized DACA recipients from being able to sponsor their parents or family for citizenship as well.
Trump has separately endorsed a bill from Republican Sens. Tom Cotton of Arkansas and David Perdue of Georgia that would eliminate some categories of family sponsorship and limit green cards to immediate family and minor children. It would also cut a diversity lottery and overhaul employment-based green cards to put a heavy emphasis on highly skilled, educated and English-speaking applicants.
But that bill faces opposition on both sides of the aisle, including from some Republicans, who don’t like that it slashes green cards annually in half and doesn’t allow for low-skilled applicants.
Still, transforming the US system from a familial approach to a more merit-based system has widespread support, though past proposals that have gotten both sides on board did not cut overall legal immigration.