How immigration policy degenerated into unilateral action

For some ten years, immigration policy has lost any serious bi-partisan character and has become a weapon wielded by the parties. This happened as popular partisanship on immigration become much more severe.

Immigration legislative and executive branch actions have not been logically corelated to the facts, such as overall trends in unauthorized persons and enforcement. Total unauthorized population as declined since before the financial crisis. Illegal immigration: arrests rose under Obama (mainly by aggressive targeting persons with criminal records); declined under Trump. The immigration court backlog surged under Trump. No serious initiative was made to improve workforce enforcement through mandatory verification of legal status (e-Verify).

DACA was introduced in 2012 by Obama executive order. (see history since initial Executive Order of June 15, 2012).

A thousand descreet executive actions were taken by Trump to curtail immigration, from attempting to destroy the refugee resettlement infrastructure in the country to increasing fees for Green Card holder eligible for citizenship to naturalize. (Each action tracked and Biden reversals).

This year, various bills were submitted (go here) but there was no seirous attempt at bipartisan agrement (as has been tried in 2007, 2013, 2017 and most recently in 2018). Democrats instead have tried to legalize the majority of unauthorized persons through a simple majority reconciliation bill, without any Republican votes in the the House and Senate. This has involved exploiting old obscure provisions in immigration law.

The Senate parliamentarian opined in September about the initial effort. Dems then considered a “registry” strategy, and then attempted a parole provision. The Senate Parliamentarian’s opinion on December 16 nixed the parole approach. Excerpt from her opinion:

“The proposed parole policy is not much different and in its effect than the previous proposals we have considered. In order to effectuate the policy, the parole proposal changes the contours of the current parole in place program, making it a mandatory award status for qualifying applicants rather than the current discretionary use of the [Homeland Security] Secretary’s authority and assessment, which the USCIS website states that the Secretary grants ‘only sparingly.” The grant of parole will be accompanied by mandatory issuance of work authorization, travel documents, and a deeming of qualifications for real ID….”

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