Trump’s Immigration Plan Values Skills, Education over Family Ties
American President Donald Trump has offered a proposal to reform the country's immigration system.
Trump says the proposal aims to create a, in his words, "fair, modern and lawful system of immigration for the United States."
He spoke at the White House on Thursday.
The plan would involve new actions to improve border security and a rethinking of the nation's Green Card system. Those changes are designed to help non-citizens with high-level education, skills and job offers instead of relatives of those already living in the United States.
A green card is required for all foreigners interested in becoming permanent residents of the United States. Trump's proposal would keep the number of non-citizens approved for green cards each year at around 1.1 million. But the plan is a major change from the current immigration system, which has been largely based on family connections.
Under the plan, 57% of green cards would be given to people with skills or offers of employment. Only 33% would go to individuals with family ties to individuals already living in the U.S. American immigration officials estimated that currently about 66% of all green cards are given to those with family ties, while only 12% are based on skills.
Before Trump's announcement, U.S. officials said the plan would create a visa system based on points, similar to systems used by Canada and other countries. Many more green cards would go to top college students so they can stay in the U.S. after completing their degree programs. There would also be more green cards given to professional workers and people with high-level degrees and occupational training. Officials would also consider a person's age, English language ability and employments offers.
The plan would reduce the numbers of visas the government sets aside for refugees. It also would end the government's diversity visa lottery program. Under that program, green cards are given to citizens of countries with historically low rates of immigration to the United States.
Challenges in Congress
Efforts to reform the U.S. immigration system have failed for almost 30 years. And Trump's proposal will face opposition from lawmakers, including members of his own Republican Party.
The Democratic Party wants a plan to deal with the millions of immigrants already living in the country without a visa. They include hundreds of thousands of young people brought to the U.S. illegally as children. And Republicans want to reduce overall rates of immigration.
Lisa Koop is director of legal services at the National Immigrant Justice Center. She criticized parts of the Trump proposal.
"A plan that forces families apart, limits access to asylum and other humanitarian relief, and doesn't contemplate a path to citizenship for DACA recipients and other undocumented community members is clearly a political stunt intended to posture rather than problem-solve," Koop said.
DACA is short for the term Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. It is a policy that protects young people brought to the U.S. illegally as children from being sent back to their homeland.
Trump has worked to end the DACA program, and efforts to reach a compromise on DACA collapsed last year.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said of Trump's latest proposal, "It's not going to happen."
Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina is a Republican and a close ally of Trump. Graham said of the plan, "I don't think it's designed to get Democratic support as much as it is to unify the Republican Party around border security, a negotiating position."
The plan, U.S. officials say, would increase inspection at ports of entry, build a border wall in some areas, and aim to reduce the number of people seeking asylum at the border.
Mark Krikorian is executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies, an organization that calls for lower immigration rates. He praised what he called a "very positive effort" on legal immigration, but said it was "undermined by the embrace of the current very high level of immigration."
I'm Caty Weaver.