U.S. President Trump wants to control immigration to the United States more strongly than before according to performance criteria. The plan is unlikely to make it through Congress.
Trump speaks of a "national emergency." True – many migrants are in an emergency situation Photo: ap
U.S. President Donald Trump has launched a new push for immigration reform in the United States. Trump unveiled a plan Thursday during a speech in Washington aimed at stopping illegal immigration and creating a merit-based immigration system.
Trump said it was time to reform the immigration system. His plan would put "jobs, wages and the safety of American workers" first. The Republican again criticized immigrants under the current system for being able to come to the U.S. because they have family members in the country. He also said the current laws would discourage "totally brilliant" people from immigrating.
The reform includes a significant increase in immigration quotas for skilled workers. Foreigners will also be required to learn English and take a citizenship test before being allowed to immigrate.
His plan will ensure that the world will envy the U.S. for its immigration model, Trump said in the White House Rose Garden in Washington.
"The biggest change" is increasing the share of highly skilled immigrants from 12 percent to 57 percent, the U.S. president said. Perhaps that percentage will increase even further, he added. A large portion of immigrants would have to come into the country through "merit and ability," he said.
The plan will probably not make it through Congress
Currently, about 66 percent of immigrants who enter the country legally come on the basis of random selection, Trump said. He wants a point system for applicants so the U.S. can get the "top talent" for its economy, he said.
The architects of the initiative are Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner and adviser Stephen Miller, who is considered a vocal hardliner on immigration issues.
But it is currently considered unlikely that the initiative will find broad support in Congress. Democrats were already sharply critical on Thursday. Trump is dependent on their support because the party holds the majority in the House of Representatives.
The Democratic caucus leader in the Senate, Chuck Schumer, said the plan includes the same radical policies that Trump’s administration has already pursued in the past two years. "This stillborn plan is not remotely serious," said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
Both Trump’s Democratic predecessor Barack Obama and Republican President George W. Bush had tried but failed at immigration reform.
Trump has made the fight against illegal immigration one of his main concerns, calling it a "national emergency." His tough stance on migration policy has drawn sharp criticism from opposition Democrats and human rights groups.