As the president’s crusade to un-knit the fabric of America’s immigration system continues, the Supreme Court provides new cover. No one should be surprised that the high court has dropped yet another assist to the administration by bolstering both its efforts to build a wall and also turn away migrants seeking asylum on the southern border. The only way out of this mess is a legislative deal.
Mr. Trump’s newest gambit is essentially a blanket rejection of asylum-seekers who might pass through Mexico before arriving at our southern border. Under the proposed rule, asylum-seekers cannot make a request for refuge in the United States if they are arriving at the southern border in transit from any other third country (effectively meaning claims for asylum at the Southern border could only be made by Mexicans). The rule denies entrance to almost all Central American migrants seeking asylum who today make up the vast majority of asylum-seekers that migrate by land.
The Supreme Court’s order allows the administration’s stringent new asylum policies to remain in effect while other court battles continue over their legality.
Administration opponents see these actions as a cruel perversion of Immigration and Asylum laws, meant to purposely increase human suffering and deter new migration. For Administration supporters, these new rules are a necessary outcome from years of abuse to a strained system.
In the face of this ideological chasm we seem to be left two choices: pick one side over the other and continue fighting while human beings suffer, or find a legislative compromise to fix the system.
Since the political fight never seems to end, despite various election results over the last two decades, perhaps it is again time to explore a legislative solution. From this immigration lawyer’s perspective, it’s time to stop the insanity and make a political deal. Human lives hang in the balance.
The President and his supporters are fixated on building a border wall. Their supposed argument is that the border wall supports national security, and every country should control who enters its borders. House Democrats should simply call the President’s bluff and pass comprehensive immigration reform that funds the border wall.
In that spirit, here is a comprehensive reform deal that is worth the price of a wall.
First, provide green cards and a pathway to citizenship for DACA holders and their parents. Second, make Temporary Protected Status (TPS) permanent for all current holders of TPS. Third, update the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), specifically at Section 245(i), to allow for persons who have illegally crossed the border or have overstayed their visas to pay a penalty fine and apply for green cards based on a petition from a qualifying family member or employer-sponsor.
Reviving Section 245(i) would legalize millions of undocumented immigrants and create billions of dollars of penalty fees. The penalty fee revenue could then be used to fund the border wall.
The lives of immigrants already living among us and the hopes of migrants yearning for safe legal refuge in America depend on us being able to reach a deal. Our Dreamers and their parents, TPS holders, longtime undocumented immigrants, and migrants seeking asylum at our Southern border cannot wait anymore while we play politics.
If the wall is really the President’s objective, put it on the table in a serious manner. I believe that the lives of human beings are more important than a concrete wall that can be torn down.
As the saying goes, Speaker Pelosi should make him an offer he can’t refuse.
Andrew L. Reback is a Los Angeles-based attorney who specializes in immigration issues. (Photo courtesy Reback)