The US President is reportedly eyeing more immigration reform.
Frustrated that his US-Mexico wall is still not fully funded, Trump and colleagues are now seeking to speed up deportations of undocumented immigrants from Central American nations El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala.
Their goal is to make the process as straightforward and speedy as deporting undocumented individuals to Mexico or Canada.
Congress must get together and immediately eliminate the loopholes at the Border! If no action, Border, or large sections of Border, will close. This is a National Emergency!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 3, 2019
Republicans looking to cut a deal to gain support for quicker deportations
Immigrant advocates have already criticised the proposal as having the potential to send children back to dangerous situations where they have fled persecution.
“Congress must get together and immediately eliminate the loopholes at the Border!,” he tweeted. “If no action, Border, or large sections of Border, will close. This is a National Emergency!”
Currently, undocumented immigrants in the US can seek asylum if they come from a country whose government cannot protect them from persecution. This includes the Central American nations Trump is targeting with this proposed change.
Democrats are likely to strongly oppose Trump’s latest immigration reform.
Lindsey Graham, the Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman and a close ally of Trump, said he might “have to give (the Democrats) something they want” to secure support for legislative change on deportations.
He also said he wanted to get the ball rolling quickly on the new laws and once the Department of Homeland Security told him exactly what it is seeking he would “let the negotiations begin”.
The proposed legislative change would be the latest front in Trump’s long-running efforts to clamp down on migration from Central America. He had previously railed against a migrant caravan headed for the US and threatened to deploy the military to stop Honduran asylum seekers from entering the country.
— The Hill (@thehill) March 30, 2019
US to cut foreign aid for Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador
News of the proposal comes just a day after Trump threatened to slash foreign aid to the same three Central American countries. Critics say the proposed reduction of almost US$500 million in aid will only cause more people to flee and that important programs aimed at reducing poverty and violence may be reduced in scope or shut down without the aid.
“It’s illogical and it’s irresponsible,” said Adriana Beltrán, a Central America specialist. “You’re talking about long-term challenges that are going to require long-term, sustainable solutions. So rather than helping to stabilise the situation and try to address these long-term challenges, the cut in assistance will only make the situation worse.”
On 3 April, Trump said that the US was “giving hundreds of millions” to the three countries, who he accused of being behind a conspiracy to put their unwanted citizens in a caravan heading for the American border.
“I know what the payments are supposed to…help so that they don’t have this problem, but they don’t do that…It’s not spent properly. And they arrange…these caravans. And they don’t put their best people in those caravans, they put people in there that you don’t want in the United States.”
Oxfam America Senior Policy Adviser for Central America and Mexico Vicki Gass also condemned the changes. She said cutting off aid would “waste US taxpayer dollars that have already been invested” and “foster the same instability that is making people flee in the first place”.
Fox News was widely lampooned for referring to the three nations involved as “three Mexican countries” in an on-screen graphic.