Immigration Reform. Remittances to Mexico will pay for the wall.
By Gustavo Montoya for NAHP
(Seattle, WA Nov 8, 2016) More than 72 hours after Secretary of State Hillary Clinton conceded the election to Donald Trump and the reality of his historic victory as president-elect 2016 began to settle over the country, the President-elect traveled to the White House to meet with President Obama. A meeting that marked the beginning of the White House transition process and one that will continue for the next 72 days ending on inauguration day on January 20, 2017.
Trump has created an advisory transition team of 16 who will report directly to him. This group of 16 will have direct access to the public and the media through whom they will convey the policies and issues of new Trump administration. One of the members is Luis Quiñonez, born in Guatemala and the only Latino on this committee. In a brief interview for the National Association of Hispanic Publications, Quiñonez explained that his role on this committee is two-fold. As a Vietnam Veteran he is to represent the rights of all Veterans, and as a successful businessman he is to look after small businesses and entrepreneurs. In a brief interview for the National Association of Hispanic Publications, Quiñonez explained that he will audit those agencies assigned to him, evaluate regulations affecting small businesses and entrepreneurs, maintaining those policies that are needed and eliminating those that are damaging to entrepreneurs. Among those to be audited is the government itself. The purpose of the audit is to ensure that funds paid by taxpayers are used properly and not abused. But the message goes beyond this: “We want to make it clear that the position of the government is to serve us and respect its citizens. The general message is that we will run this government as we would run a company,” said Quiñonez. A succinct and pragmatic advisor, he asserts that Trump’s approach is to run the US government as if it were a company, with a healthy balance sheet, and employees who are doing their job well for the consumer: the American people.
At the national level, immigration reform is one of the most important issues for immigrant minorities, and in particular for Hispanics. Trump’s platform speaks to security first: build the wall along our southern border with Mexico that Mexico will pay for. Quiñonez clarifies this saying that this is not a literal wall. Rather, “the wall will be partly real and partly virtual”. Real walls will be used in certain areas of the border, but not all, particularly in Texas where lands at the border are private property unlike parts of the border in Arizona where the land is mostly federal, state or county. The solution to securing the border with Mexico is to use drones, additional helicopters and increase the number of border patrol personnel and monitoring tools. “We will have a change in the response time of the border patrol from 40 minutes to 2 minutes.” This wall will be financed in part by a small remittance tax on money transfers sent to Mexico.
On the issue of deportations Quiñonez said that it is not possible to deport 14 million illegal immigrants. The priority will be to deport only those currently in prisons, in detention, and those who are or who have been living on the government and on the taxpayers. Quiñonez added, “Now for the people who have come to work, who are living within the law, and who really want to contribute and get ahead, they will be given an opportunity to become legalized”. To do this they would have to come out of the shadows and follow a government program that would include a criminal record analysis, identification confirmation that includes their country of origin so that the government can confirm that each person is who they say they are. This process will take between 5 and 7 years to complete and towards the end will include English classes with minimum requirements, civics and government classes and applicants decide whether or not they are to become US citizens. They will have to declare whether they will live in the United States or not. Quiñonez says “you cannot stand with one foot here and one foot there. They either stay or leave after 7 years”. The adjustment period for these people will be like a Temporary Protective Status (TPS) visa and will eliminate other existing programs such as DACA or DAPA. In their place will be the program described above for a permanent legalization process that will include the Dreamers. When asked who would qualify to Quiñonez responded, “This would apply to all who arrived in the country before January 1, 2014.”
Quiñonez, a pragmatic and skillful speaker, has opened his door to the Hispanic media during this transfer of powers, as his participation in the advisory board is a connection to the diversity of Latinos in government for the Trump administration; this information flow will be ongoing.