I’ve just been to the White House where the sun is shining and expectation growing ahead of Donald Trump’s rose garden announcement of another immigration plan, though there is plenty of scepticism across Washington.
The latest effort is led by Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, and focuses on strengthening border security and prioritising green cards for high-skilled workers rather than relatives of people already in the country. It would kill the diversity visa lottery.
Currently, officials say, around two in three green cards are issued to people with family ties, while only 12% are merit based.
One safe bet this afternoon is that Trump will talk about his signature border wall. The Kushner plan also calls for new infrastructure at ports of entry to accelerate commerce while reducing drug and human smuggling, as well as an overhaul of the asylum system to process fewer applications and remove people faster.
Immigration reform has been a Gordian Knot of American politics for three decades and there are doubts on both sides of the aisle whether Kushner is the man to untie it. The imminence of another presidential election does not help.
Conservative Republicans are likely to be dismayed that the proposal does not curb overall rates of immigration. It also fails to address Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) for hundreds of thousands of undocumented “Dreamers”. Why?
White House press secretary Sarah Sanders told reporters today that “every single time that we have put forward or anyone else has put forward any type of immigration plan that has included DACA, it’s failed.”
But this has already prompted criticism. Republicans Senator Susan Collins told the Washington Post: “I am concerned about the fate of the DACA young people, and they cannot be excluded from any immigration package.”
While Kushner is the face of the plan, Democrats detect the hand of hardliner senior adviser Stephen Miller. Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer said: “Don’t come up with a plan that Stephen Miller rubber stamps and say, ‘Now, pass it.’ It’s not going to happen.”
Pili Tobar, deputy director of America’s Voice, a group that advocates for immigrants’ rights, warned: “This is not designed to be a serious policy proposal – it’s a message document that is a misguided attempt at political posturing. To say it’s dead on arrival would be generous.”