Some 70% of Americans support a legislative solution that would allow DACA recipients who entered the U.S. illegally as children to stay in the United States—but the fight to pass that legislation has stalled so much that it led to the shutdown of the federal government. In part, that’s because some Republicans are making divisive and hardline demands about broader reforms to the immigration system in exchange for DACA protections.
Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen reportedly passed out a four-page memo at a meeting earlier this month that includes a bulleted list of the administration’s 46 “must haves” on immigration negotiations, according to Politico, which published the memo on Wednesday.
The site reports President Donald Trump had not seen the list of demands before the January 9 meeting and reportedly told attendees to ignore the list. But according to Politico, the memo is backed by White House chief of staff John Kelly and xenophobic White House senior adviser Stephen Miller—who has wielded major influence on the administration’s immigration policy—as well as Nielsen. It also echoes bills introduced in both the House and Senate.
The memo—titled “MUST HAVE’S: AUTHORITIES & FUNDING FOR IMMIGRATION DEAL”—includes some some well-known demands, like $18 billion to fund Trump’s wall, but it also lists dozens of lesser known “must haves.”
One is a call for immediate access to federal lands and expedited acquisitions of other properties to “eliminate certain geographical limitations” in order to find space for the border wall. This could mean long legal fights with Native American reservations along the U.S.-Mexico border.
The memo also calls for re-classifying overstaying a visa as a misdemeanor. Currently, that is handled as a civil violation in immigration court proceedings.
The memo’s “must haves” call for even more immigration agents than previously proposed, including 10,000 new Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers, 8,000 new Border Patrol agents, 1,000 new ICE attorneys, and 370 new immigration judges. (Since the Border Patrol can’t even meet minimum staffing levels mandated by Congress, getting 8,000 extra agents seems unlikely.)
The administration also wants to make it tougher for unaccompanied children and asylum seekers to prove they have a legitimate credible fear of returning to the countries they fled. And when they can prove they’re being persecuted, the Trump administration now wants to send them to “safe third countries.”
The memo also includes all the other stuff we’ve heard about, like limiting “sanctuary cities,” ending family reunification programs (what Trump calls “chain migration”) and the elimination of the diversity visa lotteries.
To top it all off, the memo calls for making the legalization process even more expensive for immigrants who are authorized to be here legally, by imposing additional surcharges on visa, immigration, and border crossing fees.