Date
23 July 2019
Under Trump’s planned overhaul of the immigration system, the US will focus more on attracting skilled workers and less on uniting extended families. Photo: Reuters
Under Trump’s planned overhaul of the immigration system, the US will focus more on attracting skilled workers and less on uniting extended families. Photo: Reuters

Trump to propose merit-based immigration

US President Donald Trump will outline on Thursday a plan to harden border security and overhaul the legal immigration system to favor applicants who speak English, are well-educated and have job offers, Reuters reports.

For decades, US immigration laws have given priority to family-based immigration, and about two-thirds of all people granted green cards each year have family ties to people in the United States.

Trump’s plan would keep legal immigration steady at 1.1 million people a year, but family-based immigration would account for only a third of that.

Instead, high-skilled people with jobs would be given priority, and could bring with them their spouses and children, the report said, citing senior Trump administration officials.

The immigration proposal, the product largely of senior Trump advisers Jared Kushner and Stephen Miller and economic aide Kevin Hassett, will harden the border by building more of Trump’s coveted southern border wall and improve inspections of goods and people at ports of entry to fight drug smuggling.

It will propose an increase in fees collected at the border to pay for border security infrastructure.

“Our goal in the short term is to make sure that we are laying out what the president’s policy is in terms of what he’s looking for from immigration reform, and we would like to see if we could get the Republican Party to come together on these two pillars, which we think is a very, very logical, very mainstream point of view,” Reuters cited an official as saying.

Trump will present an overview of the plan, with details of the “very large document” to be released in coming weeks, the official said.

It does not address some of the hot-button issues in the immigration debate, such as what to do about the surge of people crossing the southern border from Mexico.

Nor does it deal with the “Dreamer” children of immigrants in the country illegally or immigrants in the country under Temporary Protected Status, both of whom are priorities of Democratic lawmakers.

The plan also does not include provisions to help farmers and other seasonal employers obtain more guest workers.

Instead, Kushner and others looked at the legal migration systems of Canada, Japan, Australia and New Zealand for clues on how to shift US policy more toward attracting skilled workers and less on uniting extended families.

After studying the systems of the other countries, they found that 12 percent of migration to the United States was based on employment and skill, compared with 63 percent for Canada, 57 percent for New Zealand, 68 percent for Australia and 52 percent for Japan.

By giving a preference to immigrants proficient in English and with degrees or training and job offers, the officials said the plan would allow 57 percent of green cards, which grant permanent legal residency, to be based on employment.

Trump will propose ending the diversity lottery system, which offers applicants from countries with low immigration rates the chance to move to the United States.

The plan also proposes changes to the asylum process, which the Trump administration says is abused. It would result in 10 percent of green cards being given to immigration for humanitarian reasons, down from 22 percent currently.

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RC

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