Here’s what Southern California has to say about Trump’s new immigration plan
There were eyerolls. There were cheers. But response in Southern California to the Trump administration’s new plan to overhaul the legal immigration system was swift.
The president’s proposal to create a merit-based program that would favor younger, high-skilled workers over asylum seekers and people hoping to reunite with family members was greeted Thursday along partisan lines, panned by immigrant-rights advocates, unions and others who labeled it anti-immigration, and praised by some conservatives who favor tougher immigration policies.
The proposal’s lack of detail – and its failure to address young immigrants covered by Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, also known as DACA – drew rebukes from Democrats and some Republicans in Congress. Sen. Lindsay Graham, a Republican from South Carolina who supports Trump, said the proposal “was not designed to become law.”
Locally, some immigrant advocates said Trump’s proposal simply wouldn’t be acceptable to them.
“No immigrant who came to these shores, got educated, paid taxes and in some cases fought for the nation, can be excluded from any plan. Trump’s anti-immigration plan ought to be DOA,” said Shakeel Syed, executive director of the Orange County Communities Organized for Responsible Development, (OCCORD,) a non-profit community organization.
Bishop Kevin W. Vann, of the Diocese of Orange, wrote this in an e-mail: “Moving in a troubling nativist and elitist direction, the president’s plan continues to focus unhelpfully on finishing the border wall, severely limiting asylum, restricting family members, and drastically favoring majority high skill, high-wage workers. As a Church, we stand with immigrants and prioritize the poor and families in ways that call America to the better side of its immigration history from which so many of our ancestors (including mine) benefitted.”
But on the conservative side of the political spectrum, Trump’s plan either was greeted enthusiastically or with guarded optimism.
“Just another reason to vote for Trump in 2020,” said John Berry, California coordinator for the Tea Party Patriots and a long-time leader with the Redlands Tea Party Patriots. “I’m fed up with people abusing our immigration system… We need to let the people in who can help us be a better country.”
Roy Beck, president of NumbersUSA, a national organization that endorses lowering immigration levels, gave Trump kudos for “trying to fashion an immigration system that would better serve the interests of the American people.
“I look forward to details on how the plan moves toward that priority. And I’m eager to see the specific protections for putting American workers first by allowing market forces to continue to raise wages and to encourage employers to recruit from the millions of working-age Americans — disproportionately African Americans and young adults — who remain outside the labor market,” Beck said.
The president said a new look at how people are admitted into the country is long overdue.
“America’s last major overhaul of our legal admissions policy was 54 years ago. Think of that. So a major update — and that’s what this is: merit system and a heart system — is long overdue,” Trump said from the Rose Garden.
“It is time to restore our national unity and reaffirm our national purpose . . .
Together, we will create an immigration system to make America safer, stronger, and greater than ever before.” pic.twitter.com/KtuoeMrCD7
— The White House (@WhiteHouse) May 16, 2019
Meanwhile, some local Democrats took to Twitter and emails to denounce the plan
Rep. Linda Sánchez, D-Whittier, said in a statement: “What the president is proposing is a xenophobic, anti-immigrant agenda that if applied to previous generations would have barred millions of European and Asian immigrants from contributing to our country.”
Rep. Gil Cisneros, D-Yorba Linda, Tweeted that the president’s plan is “code” for allowing only certain immigrants into the country and “does not reflect the diversity and strength of our country, and will exclude migrants who have the potential to succeed.” And Rep. Jimmy Gomez, D-LosAngeles, said the plan doesn’t have “a chance in hell of becoming law. (@HouseDemocrats will make sure of that).”
As for the fate of DACA recipients, the young immigrants who have become a political football in D.C., Santa Ana resident Jose Servin said he wasn’t surprised that Trump left him and some 700,000 other DACA holders out of the plan.
“It makes sense they don’t want to touch DACA,” said Servin, 25, a spokesman for the California Immigrant Youth Justice Alliance. “Any support for DACA would divide their base. We don’t really expect a DACA solution coming form the administration itself. It would happen through congress.”
Merit based immigration is code for only allowing in immigrants who speak English, who are educated, or who are already employed. This does not reflect the diversity and strength of our country, and will exclude migrants who have the potential to succeed. https://t.co/FClXiDchN8
— Rep. Gil Cisneros (@RepGilCisneros) May 16, 2019
This #TrumpImmigrationPlan doesn’t have a chance in hell of becoming law (@HouseDemocrats will make sure of that).
Against our values
It’s meant to distract from the fact that most of Trump’s immigration efforts die in Congress & in the courts. https://t.co/QezXo0eBzq
— Rep. Jimmy Gomez (@RepJimmyGomez) May 16, 2019
The face you make when a President is trying to erase you. #TrumpImmigrationPlan pic.twitter.com/JNj4CvnbPQ
— CHIRLA (@CHIRLA) May 16, 2019
We want to see full details of the plan before any full endorsement. But assuming it is fleshed out as announced today, there’s a lot to like. Exhibit A: No Amnesty!!
— FAIR (@FAIRImmigration) May 16, 2019
“We need an immigration system that will keep us competitive and thriving in the modern world. In his speech today, that’s what Trump said he’ll try to deliver. We can only hope he shows determination, discipline and patience to follow through” @JJCarafano https://t.co/cUYcFT4Yhd
— Heritage Foundation (@Heritage) May 16, 2019