I have lost count (and frankly lost patience with) the number of times I have been asked about the latest moronic thing that Trump has uttered about his desired changes to the immigration system.

Some things you should know about Trump. He is not smart, not well informed, and tends to open his mouth before having something sensible to say. However, you should also know that the USA is a democratic system of government. Laws are not introduced on the mindless whim of a moronic president, we have a system of government that requires debate, agreement and compromise. A strongly supported president with a party that controls both houses could pretty much making sweeping changes as they wanted. But this is NOT a strongly supported president and both houses are anything BUT strongly controlled. So – when Trump utters his nonsense about how *he* will change the law – it does not mean that will happen as he thinks it will.

In recent weeks the government was needing to pass a bill on funding the activities of the government. Because that had a hard timetable to it, and because Trump wanted some funding for border security, there was a move to include some aspects of immigration in that funding bill. The changes were primarily around DACA.  So what is DACA?

DACA relates to people who came to the country as children of “undocumented immigrants”. The undocumented immigrants either entered illegally, or overstayed on legal visas. Many of them were from Mexico, but not all of them. The children were treated differently because they were bought here as children and could not be held responsible for the actions of their parents. The DACA “children” (many of whom are now adults) were treated in an unusual way because they were often living in the country they had known from a young age, they were working, paying taxes and so on. Most people (around 70 – 80%) believed those DACA children should be given some permission to stay, but of course, if they were given “amnesty” and citizenship, that would open the door to their undocumented parents one day.

So –  DACA was a problem that everyone wanted to solve – but disagreed on how to do it. Trump had set a deadline to remove DACA protections (established by executive order, not a law) in March, so that means (or meant) that DACA changes were urgently required. However, even that Trump decision is being challenged.

Then, one terrorist who came in 2010 via the DV lottery committed an act of terrorism in late 2017 and Trump became suddenly aware of (but not informed about) the lottery system and “chain migration” (which is the insulting way to describe family reunification immigration policies). Trump decided that DV lottery was “bad” and so was the chain migration. He wanted to stop both policies. He created a widespread debate fueled largely on his own lack of understanding and barely concealed bigotry. But the debate started.

Generally speaking Republicans wanted less immigration and were making suggestions of cutting legal immigration by 50%, and Democrats wanted more gentle changes. Family reunification and DACA are strongly supported by the Dems, and less supported by the Republicans. Almost no one was speaking up for DV, and there is common agreement that a more obviously merit based system should be in place instead of DV (even though DV is already somewhat merit tested with education/work experience standards).

However once the funding bill was passed without immigration changes, other immigration changes would have to be debated and agreed on their own merits. So now there are a number of bills being suggested that seek to address the aspects I have mentioned. Most offer something in return for something else. The only ones likely to get passed would be those that offer a sensible compromise. Too far to one side of the debate or the other has no chance of passing.

But there is a nice summary of the various bills available here. As you can see, not all the proposed bills would end DV, but as I mentioned before, DV does not have many champions. Please go and read that article. As you can see, there is MUCH disagreement about how to tackle the problem. If agreement cannot be reached, changes will not happen. So – although I do think the future of DV looks risky, it is not 100% certain to be ended, largely because the lawmakers cannot agree about what to order for lunch, let alone important changes to our immigration system. Stalemate means inaction – and that inaction is the best we can hope for at the moment.

You should note that all of these proposals are simply proposals. Any of them needs debate, and agreement and voting. Each would be crafted in a legal “bill” all of which will have a future date set as a starting date for the change. In every likely scenario, that future date is day 1 of the next fiscal year, meaning October 1, 2018 is the first time ANY of these bills would take affect – even if agreed to by both houses, and the president.

Now, let me say, because I know I am going to be asked hundreds of times, DV2018 is not going to be affected by these bills. Please, please don’t ask me about that.