It is widely expected, almost a given, that immigrants – especially the unauthorized, overstaying, unlawfully present ones in the United States – will find a friendlier administration under Hillary Clinton.
Bur what if Donald trumps the odds?
While all the pundits and surveys point to a wide lead of Clinton over Trump, he did prove all naysayers wrong when he disposed of Republican big-wigs (Jeb Bush, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio and lesser nominee aspirants) and became the GOP standard bearer.
After a foray into world diplomacy (seen as a shimmy to divert attention from falling poll numbers and gaffes) Trump went into the lion’s den and came away unscathed. Ironically, the lion was all but left for dead.
It was only after Trump had left Mexico and before the Phoenix rally that Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto found his fingers (not his tongue) and tweeted “I repeat what I told him personally: Mexico will never pay for a wall.”
During the press conference after their meeting, Trump told reporters that, “We did discuss the wall; we didn’t discuss payment of the wall,” adding “that will be for a later date.” Nieto simply stood and refuted nothing.
Miffed that Nieto used his foremost campaign tool to portray Trump as a liar, Donald retorted on Tweeter that Mexico (and its President) do not know it yet, but Mexico will pay for the wall.
The 1,900-mile “impenetrable, physical, tall, powerful, beautiful, southern border wall” between the US and Mexico wall that Trump insists he will build – and Mexico will pay – would require about 339 million cubic feet (12.5 million cubic yards) of concrete – three times more than the Hoover Dam. And it will be inexpensive, Trump assures the wall would cost anywhere from only $10 billion to $12 billion.
In contrast, 650 miles of fencing already put up has cost the government more than $7 billion, and by any stretch of imagination no matter how kind or charitable could be described as impenetrable, physical, tall, powerful, or beautiful. It is a fence, not a wall. So the wall would be more expensive.
Who should foot the bill?
What Donald has not boxed himself in is what kind of payment would fund the wall.
As the Artist of the Deal, Trump can suggest that illegal immigrants from Mexico – or those that used Mexico to cross the border – could be used to pay for the cost of putting up that wall.
Driven by political and economic reasons, more than 50,000 Central American minors were intercepted at the US-Mexico border during the first 11 months of the US fiscal year – October to August in 2014, according to the Migration Policy institute.
These are minors seeking to be reunited with their relatives already legal as permanent residents or citizens of the US. The number does not include Central and South Americans, as well as other nationalities who use the Mexico-US border to get into the US.
What types of payment will Mexico shell out – if not directly, then indirectly? After all, Trump had been evasive and provided scant details on what payment for the wall would be.
In earlier interview, Trump suggested he could ransom the country by blocking undocumented immigrants from sending money home, using a provision of the US Patriot Act designed to stop funding for terrorism.
The other legal option that would bring in billions of dollars is allowing those already in the US to apply for adjustment of status. Trump insists there will be no amnesty. Yes, allowing unauthorized aliens to apply for adjustment of status is not amnesty as was envisioned and implemented in 1986 under the Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA).
See the beauty of the deal?
That wall is intended to deter, if not stop the flow of illegal immigrants from Mexico not those who are already in the US. The wall is the first in 10 points to control illegal immigration that Trump unleashed in Phoenix.
Catch and release
Second is “Catch and Release,” referring to those caught crossing the border or those who successfully entered the US then simply released. Those who are apprehended at the border are the Excludables, not Deportables or Removables.
Deportation and removal are the same thing. Removal is the newer term, deportation the more popular and commonly known.
The Excludables are those who have not yet entered or inspected at a US port of entry. Those who were able to elude the Border Patrol or passed the USCIS inspection (under a different name, identity or fraudulent US citizen passports) are deported or removed when apprehended.
Once removed from the US both categories (inspected or not) then become the Inadmissibles.
A profile of the unauthorized population in the US (Migration Policy Institute) shows how one may apply for adjustment of status, legalization – not amnesty.
The spouse, minor child or parent of those who are the beneficiaries of a visa petition filed by a US citizen (termed “immediate relatives under US immigration law) or lawful permanent resident (green card holder) who belong to the Second Preference category of immigrants, specifically the spouse or minor children of green card holders who are entitled to the F2A category.
For immediate relatives, the adjustment application would be faster since they are not subject to the annual quota, unlike the F2A.
Who are eligible to apply for adjustment of status or lawful permanent residency?
The I-485 USCIS Form used for adjustment applications provide the answers:
More than 3 million may be sponsored by their US citizen children. The MPI study was based on a US Census Bureau 2010-14 and the American Community Survey and 2008 Survey of Income and Program Participation data.
By this time, the US citizen minor children would have turned 21 and eligible to file a petition for their unauthorized, unlawfully present parent.
Those who are not married (includes divorcees, widows, widowers, annullees) may also be petitioned by a US citizen spouse. The number is well over 4 million.
How much would an adjustment of status applicant pay to apply for lawful permanent residency? The basic filing fee is $985 plus an $85 biometric fee.
In addition, these unauthorized, unlawful present immigrants must pay $1,000 each as “fine” for being unlawfully present or an illegal immigrant.
If seven million illegal immigrants are to pay to adjust their status, the total filing fee for each would then be $2,070.00. This sum does not include the fees each applicant has to pay for photos, photocopying of documents to be submitted in support of the adjustment application.
Hence the $14.5 billion that the US could earn from payment of fees will be sufficient to meet Trump’s estimate for the wall.
This estimate does not include other illegal immigrants who may also apply for adjustment of status: 1.7 million who have been in the US for 20 years or more may apply for legalization through the Registry process (for people who have been in the US since Jan. 1, 1972 (although many of them should have been able to apply for their own green card through other routes – family sponsored or employment-based petitions.)
Should the Nieto- and Trump-busters realize this, they might end up hitting their heads against the wall.