Donald Trump to propose new 'filter' merit-based immigration system

Remigio Civitarese
Mag 16, 2019

President Trump is returning to a familiar issue: immigration.

Trump is scheduled to use a Rose Garden speech on Thursday to throw his support behind a plan developed by his son-in-law and White House adviser, Jared Kushner, to move US immigration toward a "merit-based system" that prioritizes high-skilled workers.

In past immigration debates, including the Senate's deliberation over four immigration bills in early 2018, Trump floated support for more liberal immigration positions only to quickly revert to his hard line stance in the wake of criticism from conservatives. This was the law under former President Barack Obama but was changed under the Trump administration.

He said the border needs to be secured "so that people can't cross illegally if they are trying to avoid detection". A more moderate tone may suggest that the White House is concerned about Trump's political standing as the 2020 election gets underway.

The senators spoke as they were leaving their weekly policy lunch at the Capitol where they heard from Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner, and hardline immigration adviser Stephen Miller - who have been working on the plan with other White House officials for a couple of months. Trump is scheduled to roll out his plan at the Rose Garden of the White House Thursday afternoon.

As of now, about 66 per cent of the green cards are given to those with family ties and only 12 per cent are based on skills. Factors such as age, English language ability and employment offers would also be taken into account.

Far fewer green cards would be given to people with relatives already in the U.S. The diversity visa lottery, which offers green cards to citizens of countries with historically low rates of immigration to the U.S., would be eliminated.

"I don't think it's created to get Democratic support as much as it is to unify the Republican Party around border security", Graham said. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., a close ally of the White House.

But it will not address what to do about the 11 million illegal immigrants already in the US, nor will it include new guest-worker programs businesses want to keep a flow of foreign labor.

Graham told reporters that he had urged Trump to try to cut a deal with Democrat and said he thought Trump was "open-minded to it". "He got a very warm reception", the source said.

Though Trump has voiced support for a pathway to citizenship for numerous nation's estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants, he has sought to pair legalization efforts with hard line enforcement provisions, including a border wall, more Border Patrol officers and change to USA laws aimed at speeding up deportations. A PowerPoint presentation shared with reporters Wednesday referred to the plan as "The Republican Proposal", even though many GOP members had yet to see it.

"If we do these four things, then the incentive created by our laws will cease to exist, and this humanitarian crisis will begin to fix itself", Graham said.

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