On Thursday, US President Donald Trump announced a proposal to create a pathway to citizenship for 1.8 million people brought to the United States as children in exchange for increased funding for border security and for an end to “chain-migration” and diversity visa lottery policies.
The plan is controversial, from both the left and the right. The right is concerned that Trump is backing away from his campaign promises and that this new pathway to citizenship effectively amounts to amnesty, whereas the left thinks the proposals are too “hard-line” and that the “Dreamers” are being used as pawns to advance an agenda.
The US Conference of Catholic Bishops has a more nuanced take on the issue.
In an interview with Catholic News Agency, Bill Canny, executive director of the USCCB’s Migration and Refugee Services Offices, said that while the bishops agree that border security is important, this proposal is only going to create animosity between Republicans and Democrats and will not improve the current situation for the “Dreamers.”
“The bishops believe that it’s important the citizenry is protected, that our borders are secure, and that we don’t live in any fear,” said Canny.
However, he was concerned that a “high amount” of money was being put into various enforcement measures that he doesn’t think would lead to any sort of progress or agreement.
“The debate will not be fruitful” if the current proposal stands, he said.
Further, Canny said that he did not think it was right that the “plight of the Dreamers” was being used to push different restrictions on immigration.
“We don’t believe it’s the right time to take up all of these issues. Stay focused on the Dreamers — we know border security is an issue.”
As for the proposed restrictions on what’s being referred to as “chain migration” or “family reunification,” Canny believes that the updated definition of “family” — which prevents immigrants from sponsoring visas for their parents, siblings, or adult children — is “very troubling.”
The proposal would include funding for a border wall, and end the diversity visa lottery, by which 50,000 people from around the world annually are randomly granted Green Cards, or permanent residency status.