WASHINGTON – The White House proposed on Thursday to Congress an immigration reform plan that would legalize the immigration status of 1.8 million so-called Dreamers in exchange for $25 billion in funding to strengthen US border security.
Sources familiar with the conversations on the subject told EFE that the White House plans to create a path to citizenship for 1.8 million young undocumented immigrants brought to this country as children, a figure far greater than the 690,000 Dreamers currently being protected under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which ends in early March on the orders of President Donald Trump.
According to the sources, the 1.8-million figure includes people who have benefitted from DACA as well as young people who came to the US as children but were not able to gain protection under the plan for assorted reasons.
To be sheltered under DACA, young undocumented migrants had to prove that they had arrived in the US before age 16 and that they were at least 31 years old in 2012, when former President Barack Obama implemented the program.
Because of age restrictions, hundreds of thousands of young people could not access DACA protections, although they were able to comply with other requirements such as having no criminal record or having attended – or currently attending – high school or university in this country.
Those young people who were excluded from DACA are also part of the proposal that the White House sent to Congress, the sources told EFE.
In remarks to reporters at the White House, Trump said on Wednesday that he was ready to support a path to citizenship for the Dreamers, a matter of significant conflict within the Republican Party given that some GOP lawmakers considered the gesture to amount to “amnesty” for people who – in effect – flouted US law by entering the country illegally.
The ball is now in the court of Congress, which will study the president’s proposal and try to incorporate it into a comprehensive immigration bill.