President Trump on Thursday unveiled a long-awaited immigration reform plan that would close a number of loopholes in the law, clear tens of thousands of backlogged cases, and put into place a merit-based system that favors talented, educated people.
“If adopted, our plan will transform America’s immigration system into the pride of our nation and the envy of the modern world,” the president said during a speech announcing his new initiative in the Rose Garden at the White House.
As Fox News reported:
The proposal would judge immigrants with a points-based system that would favor high-skilled workers — accounting for age, English proficiency, education and whether the applicant has a well-paying job offer.
Currently, only about 12 percent of immigrants are admitted based on employment and skills, while 66 percent are admitted based on family connections inside the U.S. Administration officials estimate that those numbers would flip to 57 and 33 percent, respectively, under the Trump plan.
At present, “66 percent of legal immigrants come here based on random chance, they’re admitted solely because they have a relative in the United States, and it doesn’t really matter who that relative is,” the president said, adding that his plan would focus on recruiting “top talent” to America.
“We discriminate against genius,” POTUS added, in reference to current immigration policies. “We discriminate against brilliance. We won’t anymore once we get this passed.”
Currently, the average annual wage of legal immigrants is about $43,000, but according to immigration officials on Wednesday, immigrants admitted under the president’s plan would have more education and more highly specialized skills enabling them to earn tens of thousands of dollars more, averaging around $126,000.
In sum, the annual wage of all immigrants, administration officials said, would rise to about $96,000.
Fox News noted that one of Trump’s long-sought objectives in reforming U.S. immigration law is ending so-called “chain migration,” in which family members of immigrants already in the country are allowed in, for the most part.
He has also complained frequently about the visa lottery system which he would replace with a new “Build America Visa” program focusing on “extraordinary talent” and “people with professional and specialized vocations,” to include exceptional students.
While the plan doesn’t deal with illegal immigrants already in the U.S., including those brought in as young children (part of Obama’s unconstitutional “DACA” program), it will tighten up loopholes so gang members and criminals cannot get in. Also, the plan would end frivolous and inappropriate asylum claims and would require migrants to apply for it in their home countries, not once they get caught crossing illegally into the U.S.
“For criminals already here,” the president promised, “we will ensure their swift deportation.” (Related: POTUS goes there: Trump calls Democrats ‘TREASONOUS’ for their ‘open border mindset.’)
In addition, the plan would require immigrants to pass an American civics test and that they be financially self-sufficient, not relying on the American taxpayer for their existence.
“Through these steps, we will deliver an immigration system that strengthens our traditions, our culture, and our values,” the president said.
Some conservatives said the plan does not go far enough in that it doesn’t really limit immigration numbers, though tougher entrance requirements would likely achieve that.
“It is concerning there was no mention of E-Verify. However, it is not likely to become legislation, but is rather a statement of the president’s goals,” said Mark Krikorian with the Center for Immigration Studies, Fox News reported.
That’s true. “Democrats are proposing open borders, lower wages and frankly, lawless chaos,” the president said. “We are proposing an immigration plan that puts the jobs, wages and safety of American workers first.”
Democrats have already expressed opposition so the plan isn’t likely to win passage in the current Congress. But as Krikorian said, it gives the president and Republicans who back it something to campaign on for next year.