President Donald Trump and Congress are preparing for another round of negotiations over Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), this time without the national budget being held hostage.

The program expires March 5, leaving the nearly 2 million people eligible for DACA vulnerable to deportation, unless Congress acts on immigration reform and secures them legal protection.

President Trump and most Americans say they support the DACA people being permitted to stay and apply for citizenship. An immigration plan by the White House is offering a path to citizenship for almost all of them, so long as Congress also passes funding for a border wall, ends the visa lottery, and sharply limits chain migration to only spouses and their children.

As the stage is being set for another round of DACA drama, an iconic symbol of illegal immigrant crossing has disappeared from the U.S.-Mexico border.

The “immigrant crossing” signs have become obsolete, said Cathryne Bruce-Johnson, a spokeswoman for Caltrans. The transportation department stopped replacing the signs years ago because it constructed fences along medians to deter people from running across highways.

The last sign, which stood on the side of Interstate 5 near the San Ysidro border crossing, vanished in September.

“It’s gone,” Bruce-Johnson said. “Caltrans crews did not remove it, so it’s assumed stolen.”

The sign’s image was once a source of controversy.

Justin Akers Chacón, a professor of Chicano studies at San Diego City College, said critics of the sign’s imagery felt that it dehumanized migrants by likening them to animals.

Critics also were bothered by the way the sign’s message fit into the immigration enforcement system.

“The deaths of migrant crossers was treated as an acceptable consequence of the enforcement model, not a reflection of the failure of the model,” Akers Chacón said.

An early version of the sign was entirely text: “Caution watch for people crossing road.”

Motorists weren’t able to read and process that sign quickly enough, so Caltrans asked artist John Hood to design an image to convey the message.

A look at the numbers of attempted illegal border crossing indicate there is no “surge” as DACA talks continue, though officials indicate the numbers are still too high.

“Once again, this month we saw an unacceptable number of UACs and family units flood our border because of these catch-and-release loopholes,” said acting Homeland Security Press Secretary Tyler Q. Houlton.

Border Patrol agents reported catching 3,227 Unaccompanied Alien Children (UAC) and 5,656 people traveling as parts of families. Port of Entry officers reported another 709 UAC and 3,533 family units who tried to enter without permission.

Those categories are the most difficult to deal with, since they are able to take advantage of lax U.S. laws and court decisions that require they be let into the country — a process those on the border call “catch-and-release.”

As DACA negotiations continue, it is interesting to note that it was the construction of physical barriers that made the iconic illegal immigrant crossings sign obsolete.

Good fences actually do make good neighbors.  Who knew?


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