WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — On the heels of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to uphold a program that supports immigrants who came to the U.S. illegally as children, President Donald Trump will head to the southern border Tuesday to talk about immigration.
“We’re going to actually recognize the 200th mile of the wall system being built,” U.S. Customs and Boarder Protection Acting Commissioner Mark Morgan explained the Tuesday event in Arizona.
Building the border wall was one of Trump’s main campaign promises — and among the most contentious.
“We’ve been saying from the beginning that border security is national security,” Morgan said.
On a technicality, the Supreme Court last week rejected the president’s effort to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which allows immigrants who arrived in the U.S. illegally as children to stay. Morgan promised the president will move again to stop DACA.
“(The Department of Homeland Security) is already starting the paperwork,” he said.
He argued Congress should pass a long-term solution that does not encourage illegal immigration.
“In 2012, when the DACA program started, this country created a loophole,” he said.
Democrats remain staunchly opposed to the wall.
“The wall is wasteful. It is not a solution to the problem,” Rep. Jesus Garcia, D-Ill., said.
They say the Trump administration should focus on passing DACA-linked legislation that they already put on the table. The American Dream and Promise Act, which gives DACA recipients more permanent protection, passed the Democrat-led House of Representatives last year but remains stalled in the Republican-controlled Senate.
“This is a pathway to a solution, a legal and a permanent solution, for this class of young people who call this country home,” Garcia said.
Forty-three senators have called on the Trump administration to publicly endorse the American Dream and Promise Act and also publicly announce it will not make another attempt to repeal DACA. They are also demanding the president direct the Department Homeland Security to reopen DACA to eligible individuals who have been unable to apply since he said he was getting rid of it.
The president on Monday signed an executive order to extend the suspension of some work visas because of the coronavirus pandemic. Morgan defended the executive order, citing an increase in COVID-19 cases south of the border and a slowed U.S. economy.
“It makes sense that as we are at this historic unemployment … that we do take a look at that,” Morgan said.
Democrats disagree, saying the pandemic has demonstrated the vital role immigrants play in the U.S.
Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., also penned a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., that read in part, “It would be an American tragedy to deport DACA recipients who are saving lives in the midst of this pandemic. We must ensure these talented young immigrants are not forced to stop working when the need for their public service has never been greater. And we must give them the chance they deserve to become American citizens.”