Just the Facts

Five Facts on Immigration and Border Security

By Emma Petasis
May 15, 2018 | Blog

For months, immigration and border security dominated the conversation in Washington, with President Trump and lawmakers in both parties posturing, negotiating and ultimately failing to reach an agreement on either issue.


More recently, Republicans and Democrats have withdrawn to their corners in advance of November’s election, but there has been movement on certain aspects of the immigration and border security issues. Here is where things stand.


DACA is still being fought in court

The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which grants a two-year reprieve from deportation to so-called “Dreamers” (young people brought to the U.S. illegally as children), was halted by President Trump in September. But the Obama-era program, known as DACA, restarted in January after a series of federal court rulings. Now, the first appeal to those rulings is set to be heard. In addition, a lawsuit filed in Texas claims DACA is unlawful and seeks to end it. The multiple court actions could setup (set up) conflicting rulings, which could push the issue to the U.S. Supreme Court for a decision.


DACA applications continue

The legal battles over DACA have created a confusing landscape for hundreds of thousands of DACA recipients, who are unsure whether applying to renew their status under the program will help them or endanger their ability to stay in the U.S. But the program has restarted. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services approved 55,000 applications in the first quarter and there were 51,000 pending at the end of March, the Los Angeles Times reported.


Border crossings and enforcement actions are increasing

The number of improper border crossings and apprehensions tripled in April over the previous year, The Washington Post reported. At the same time, the U.S. has stiffened its border security policies. Attorney General Jeff Sessions said this month that the Justice Department will prosecute every illegal border crossing and that children who are brought into America illegally will be separated from their parents. In a pilot program, the policy reduced illegal crossings among families by 64 percent. Previously, families were allowed to remain together as they awaited deportation proceedings.


Border ‘wall’ received initial funding

The wall on the U.S.-Mexico border, which was President Trump’s signature campaign promise, received $1.6 billion in funding when Congress passed a spending bill in March. However, the funding will not be used to create the concrete and metal structures seen in the prototypes that the president toured months ago. Rather, the language in the spending bill specifies that the vast majority of the money will be spent on fencing. Unlike a wall, fencing has long been part of U.S. border security and has bipartisan support in Congress. Roughly $38 million was tabbed for “barrier planning and design” and $196 million will be spent on border security technology.


A petition in Congress

House and Senate leaders have made no indication that they plan to attempt an immigration and border security bill this year, despite the legal tumult over DACA. However, Republican Rep. Carlos Curbelo of Florida filed a “discharge petition” in the House last week to go around Speaker Paul Ryan and get a vote on an immigration bill. In the 435-member chamber, 218 lawmakers must sign onto a discharge petition to enact it. The device allows rank-and-file lawmakers to get a bill out of committee and onto the floor, though it is an act of defiance against party leaders and therefore politically risky. Curbelo’s petition is expected to draw support from all 193 Democrats, meaning he will need support from 25 Republicans to get a majority. As of Friday, Curbelo had 19 Republican signatures, according to House records. He is still six short.

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