Trump immigration plan pits skilled workers against laborers
Prioritizes merit-based immigration, doesn’t mention ‘divisive’ DACA
IT’S A CASE of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde for anyone who follows immigration policy. President Donald Trump appeared to soften his sound bites on immigration on Thursday, but his new plan includes the long-disputed details of the border wall and a very pointed attack on family-centered immigration.
The proposal outlined by Trump prioritizes merit-based immigration while limiting the number of people who could acquire green cards through family that already live in the US.
The president walked back some of his famed campaign comments on immigration by saying that the US cherishes “the open door” of immigrants coming into the country, but said “the big proportion of those immigrants should come in through merit and skill.”
WBUR describes Trump’s priorities as multi-pronged, with finishing the border wall stuck in among the ideas. Other proposals would place a limit on which family members can come into the country to children and spouses, and import highly educated workers for industries that need them.
Even though a 2018 Gallup poll found 83 percent of Americans back giving citizenship to the young people, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said it didn’t belong in this plan. “Because it’s a serious problem, it’s not included,” she said. “Every single time that we have put forward or anyone else has put forward any type of immigration plan, and it’s included DACA, it’s failed. It’s a divisive thing.”
The plan also had no mention of what to do about the estimated 11 million immigrants in the US without legal status, who have been the crux of Trump’s polarizing rhetoric in the past.
In a noticeable attempt to appease critics, Trump’s plan would not decrease the number of people allowed to enter the US legally each year. But he changes how the immigrants who are let in are assessed.
Immigrants with high-level degrees and skills will have an easier time acquiring a green card than those who already have family in the country under the new merit-based system. Officials told the Associated Press that the current system gives 66 percent of green cards to those with family ties, 12 percent based on skill set, and 21 percent based off of humanitarian circumstances.The new system would drastically change that 12 percent based on skill set to 57 percent.
‘‘We discriminate against genius,’’ Trump said of the status quo. ‘‘We discriminate against brilliance.”
He also seeks to require future immigrants to learn English and pass a civics exam prior to admission into the country. Trump pointed to Canada and other countries in saying he wants to create a “merit” points-based system — more points for younger workers, those with advanced education, and an employment offer. Trump made no mention of farm or seasonal laborers and their future.“It is really a condescending word,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said. “Are they saying family is without merit?”
While most of the Massachusetts delegation remained silent on the president’s latest immigration proposal, Sen. Ed Markey said he would fight it. “Just as we learn that a Guatemalan 2-year-old died in US custody, Donald Trump unveils a plan that would make our already brutal immigration system even more inhumane,” Markey tweeted. “I will fight this proposal, and any plan that doesn’t treat immigrants with fairness, mercy, and dignity.”