The Trump administration unveiled new plans for immigration reform last month. Although many critics have voiced some concerns over the proposal, as well as its lack of attention to several key issues, the Trump camp seems very confident in the proposal itself. The plan is focused on shifting the demographics of immigrants coming to the U.S. and tweaking some of the pathways that existing migrants have towards citizenship.
One major criticism of the proposal is that it could result in major delays for a number of people already waiting for green card admissions. There are a wide range of possibilities for people already in the backlog for admissions and figuring out the exact scope and range of the effects will take some examination.
The proposal itself consists of two parts:
- A physical infrastructure component which is focused on revamping border security and funding the border wall.
- A points system to replace the current family-based criteria for admissions. The points system would consist of a civics test, as well as several other criteria for which points will be awarded.
The idea of the points system is that it will attract higher-skilled immigrants who are more likely to integrate successfully into the United States. Things like age, English proficiency, and job opportunities are among the top categories for consideration. Although the proposal does not change any existing maximum numbers for immigration, it could still result in a significant reduction in the number of immigrants allowed into the United States.
The possible effects of the proposal are wide-reaching, but the likelihood that it will eventually become law is low. Since the Trump camp has done little to address Democrat concerns on the issue, the proposal is more than likely to see some opposition. Even though the Republicans are most likely hoping for a positive spin on Trump’s immigration stance going into the 2020 elections, the delays that the plan could possibly cause are likely to create a huge roadblock for opponents.
So, What About The Delays?
When we look at the proposal, if it were implemented, it could lead to significant delays in the acceptance of new immigrants to the United States. One of the biggest areas where we will possibly see a delay is the green card backlog. Under the new points system, immigrants already waiting in the queue will have to reapply and compete with other new applicants in order to continue the approval process from scratch.
This is obviously less than optimal for people that have been waiting a long time. There are a few categories where this could lead to faster admissions, due to the nature of the changes reducing demand for certain types of immigration. This is due to the new system not having limits on how many immigrants can be admitted per country of origin.
There are approximately 4 million people waiting in family and employment-based backlogs who would actually have to restart the immigration process under the new system. This also doesn’t count the number of temporary admissions that would be lost due to the possible elimination of DACA and the visa lottery. In short, the new proposal could cause a significant delay in the immigration processes of well over 4 million people.
Another thing that could be affected is the Electronic System for Travel Authorization. This is an automated system for approving temporary permissions for international travelers to the United States. Individuals looking to check their ESTA validity or ask questions can check here.
Individuals who have their applications eliminated will need to compete, as well as new applicants from all over the world, in order to be approved. This applies even if they had already been waiting 6 years under the current system for approval. While conservatives are saying that the changes will bring a more beneficial element to the immigration pool, critics are noting that the bill is very unfair towards families and people who have already been trying to apply for citizenship legally.
Basically, people affected by these possible changes will have to simply hope that they work. If the changes don’t do what they were supposed to, then many people’s citizenship status will be set back, and there won’t be much to show for it. If you’re going to insist that people use the proper channels to obtain citizenship, you shouldn’t punish those immigrants who are playing by the rules.
It is still up in the air as to whether this proposal will actually end up becoming law. If Trump expects widespread reforms like these, it will probably be necessary for him to make some concessions to the democrat side before they will allow it to come to the table. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has shown that he is open to comprehensive immigration reform, but he has not given any specific information on his stance yet.