WASHINGTON, D.C. — President Donald Trump on Wednesday backed legislation which he said would curb immigration to the U.S. through a “skills based” immigration plan.
Speaking at the White House with GOP Sens. David Perdue of Georgia and Tom Cotton of Arkansas, the bill’s sponsors, President Trump said the proposed plan “would represent the most significant reform to our immigration system in half a century” and would and reflect the administration’s “compassion for struggling American families that deserve an immigrant system that puts their needs first.”
“It has not been fair to our people, to our citizens, and to our workers,” the president said.
According to the proposal, the new system would “favor applicants who can speak English, financially support themselves and their families, and demonstrate skills that will contribute to our economy.”
Known as the “Raise Act” the proposed legislation would replace the current permanent employment-visa program with a skills-based system that rewards applicants based on their individual merits. Backers of the bill say, if passed, the program may slash legal immigration in half over the course of the next decade.
Calling the current immigration system a “complete disaster”, Cotton pointed out that only 1 out of 15 immigrants who come to the U.S. do so as a result of their job skills.
“I think it’s a symbol that were’ not committed to working-class Americans,” said Cotton.
Stephen Miller, the Trump administration’s top policy aide who has long pushed for changes to the broken immigration system, says this is the right plan at the right time.
“This is what President Trump campaigned on. He talked about it throughout the campaign, throughout the transition, and since coming into office,” Miller told reporters. “This is a major promise to the American people to push for merit-based immigration reform that protects US workers, protects US taxpayers, and protects the US economy, and that prioritizes the needs of our own citizens, our own residents and our own workers.”
Critics of the proposed legislation claim non-white immigrants would be disproportionately disadvantaged under the points system.
“Let’s call it as we see it: this is a white nationalist agenda masquerading as a bill about skill levels,” said Frank Sharry, executive director of America’s Voice.
Miller countered that nothing could be further from the truth and that the proposed plan offers equal opportunity to all who seek to enter the country of legal means.
“It’s pro-American immigration reform that the American people want, that the American people deserve,” said Miller.