In the past two months, the Trump Administration has rolled out two good policies regarding immigration reform.
The first policy, set to be put into law on October 15 of this year, will broaden the definition of applicants considered to be a “public charge” when seeking a green card or other types of visas. This rule was originally put into law through Section 212(a)(4) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, which stated that if someone “at the time of application for admission or adjustment of status, is likely at any time to become a public charge,” then the federal government has the authority to bar them from entering. As currently defined by the US Citizenship and Immigration Services, the definition of someone deemed to be a public charge is to include “an individual who is likely to become primarily dependent on the government for subsistence, as demonstrated by either the receipt of public cash assistance for income maintenance or institutionalization for long-term care at government expense.
The Trump Administration will redefine public charge as someone who uses any amount of publicly funded services for more than a total of 12 months over a 36-month period. Also, the Administration is adding the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, Medicaid, Section 8 housing assistance, and housing subsidized by the federal government to the list of taxpayer funded services included as a public charge.
Even though the Trump Administration did not create this policy from scratch, it does not take away from the fact that it was a good move to expand this law. When the federal government is vetting people to let into the country, it should absolutely look at a cost-benefit analysis of each individual to make sure each one meets a certain threshold. If someone comes into this country legally, he or she should not be living off the American taxpayer.
The other immigration policy move the Trump Administration announced is that it will end family separation at the southern border. In case you did not know, this calamitous policy resulted from the Flores Settlement Agreement. This agreement applied to parents who crossed the border and were waiting for their claim to be processed.
The agreement laid forth two important rules: one, children of these parents had to be separated from the detention centers after 20 days, and secondly, the government had to provide better living conditions for the unaccompanied minors while they are being held in the immigration shelters. Due to the first rule, administrations since the settlement was established in 1997 have been left with mainly two policy positions it can take action on—continue “child separation” or go along with the infamous policy of “catch and release.” By executive fiat, the Trump Administration plans to take a third option: scrap the Flores Settlement Agreement and keep families united past the 20 day mark while their asylum claims are being processed by Customs and Border Patrol.
While this policy, if approved by a federal judge, is a step in the right direction, the best policy for dealing with asylum claims has still yet to be seen. With an influx of people seeking asylum at the border, immigration courts have been backlogged so much so that judges often don’t take up a claim until anywhere from six months to three years after it was made.
The best solution would be for Congress to rightly exercise its duties and confirm more immigration judges to speed up the processing time. The failure to do this has not only created the family separation issue, among other problems, but has also led to higher numbers of illegal aliens being allowed in the country because the border crossers get stopped at the border, show up to their first court hearing, get a visa, and then are more likely than not to never show back up in court after their visas expire.
Hopefully, Congress will stop sitting idly by and do their job by cleaning up the mess at the border.
The views expressed in this article are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Lone Conservative staff.