Monday, February 19, 2018 2:34 am Last modified: 12:00 am

Immigration Reform and Border Security

Jevon O.A. Williams

On Wednesday, for the first time, President Donald J. Trump has indicated that he is open to a pathway which leads to citizenship for younger undocumented immigrants known as “dreamers” in an immigration deal being negotiated by Congress, most pundits have styled this as potentially the proverbial olive branch needed to get the Democrats onboard.

The President’s proposal would provide legal status for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients and other DACA-eligible illegal immigrants, adjusting the time-frame to encompass a total population of approximately 1.8 million individuals. The path to citizenship for a DACA recipient, from gaining legal status, to attaining U.S. citizenship is estimated between 10-12 years. The proposal requires the recipient to work, to get an education, and to be in good standing in one’s community. These eligibility requirements are intended to mitigate potential fraud. Legal status is subject to revocation for criminal conduct or public safety and national security concerns.

Consideration is given to immigrants who are not DACA recipients but are currently in the process of becoming citizens. By simply limiting family sponsorships to spouses and minor children only for both citizens and legal permanent residents (Green Card Holders), and ending extended-family chain migration, it allows the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to process the “backlog” of current applicants. Another program that requires immediate attention is the “Visa Lottery Program.” This program is riddled with fraud and abuse and truly does not serve the national interest. Currently, the visa lottery selects individuals at random to come to the United States without consideration of skills, merit or public safety. If we were to simply eliminate the visa lottery and repurpose our visas, we can reduce the family-based “backlog” and high-skilled employment “backlog.”

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As it pertains to border security, President Trump understands that in-order to completely secure the Southern and Northern border of the United States, it requires a cohesive combination of physical infrastructure, technology, personnel, adequate resources appropriated by Congress, cooperation between local and federal law enforcement agencies, and a plethora of lawyers solely dedicated to closing legal loopholes that are exploited by smugglers, traffickers, cartels, criminals, and terrorists.

As an individual with a strong military mind, the concept of equipping The Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the office that oversees and coordinates a comprehensive national strategy to safeguard the country against terrorism, to me, it is not just sound public policy, but commonsense. DHS must have the tools required to deter illegal immigration; the ability to remove individuals who illegally enter the United States; and cooperation with local authorities, which is vital to protecting our national security.

Congress must allow DHS to address its personnel deficiencies by appropriating additional funds to hire new DHS personnel, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) attorneys, immigration judges, prosecutors and other law enforcement professionals. The agency must strive to reform its hiring and incentive practices, to ensure recruitment and retention benchmarks are met.

Congress must work with the President to deter illegal entry by ending the dangerous “catch-and-release” practice, and promptly detain and remove criminal aliens, gang members, violent offenders, and aggravated felons, legal loopholes such as “catch-and-release” have eroded DHS’s ability to protect American citizens from violent offenders.

Jevon O.A. Williams

Editor’s note — Jevon O.A. Williams is national committeeman for the Republican Party of the United States Virgin Islands. Each GOP state and the territorial party is represented on the Republican National Committee by a committeeman and committeewoman.

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