Trump immigration plan pits skilled workers against laborers

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.

Democrats have long said they would focus on immigration-related bills that include a path to citizenship for Dreamers (or DACA recipients), whose legal status is currently in limbo. But any mention of DACA was noticeably absent from Trump’s plan, leaving thousands in the Commonwealth wondering what comes next.

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?”

Behind the scenes, Trump’s son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner developed the policy. Though it is labeled as a “Republican” immigration plan in a PowerPoint shown to reporters, House Republicans had yet to see the plan until it was announced. Republican Senators were briefed on Tuesday by Kushner.

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.”

SARAH BETANCOURT

 

BEACON HILL

The word to those counting on Beacon Hill action this year on legalizing sports betting? Don’t bet on it. (Boston Globe)

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

Lynn City Councilor Rick Starbard comes out in opposition to a rezoning of the land parcel where Garelick Farms plant is located, saying the change could bring uses that the city doesn’t need. The real estate firm that has a deal to purchase the site says it eventually wants a mixed-use project at the site, but Starbard is wary that the zoning change could also open the door to a “junkyard.” (Daily Item)

Commercial real estate developer FoxRock Properties is taking its second shot at turning the 15-acre Quincy Medical Center property into a residential community after its initial plans were met with opposition from neighbors concerned about the size of the project. The new plan would set aside 90 apartments for residents over 55, reduce the height of all but one of the six proposed buildings to under six stories and increase the distance between new buildings and existing houses nearby. (Patriot Ledger)

WASHINGTON/NATIONAL/INTERNATIONAL

A Baltimore Sun editorial sees ominous signs for Roe v Wade in a Supreme Court decision that appeared to discard historical precedent. As a string of state legislatures enact strong abortion restrictions or bans, a grassroots movement is taking shape to offer women stays at houses in states with access to abortion services. (Boston Globe)

Columnist Catherine Rampell wonders whether companies will prove to be the best ally of reproductive-rights advocates when they come up against the challenge of recruiting young women in states with strict abortion laws. (Washington Post)

ELECTIONS

Lawrence Mayor Dan Rivera, who supports Sen. Elizabeth Warren for president, took aim at other candidates for the nation’s highest office, saying there was “no reason” for Congressman Seth Moulton to run and South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg “shouldn’t be in the race.” (Salem News) Scot Lehigh joins the chorus of commentators who say Warren is making a big mistake by shunning a Fox News town hall. (Boston Globe)

It’s growing harder to stand out in the 23-candidate Democratic presidential field, but New York mayor Bill de Blasio pulled it off by having the most widely panned rollout of anyone yet in the race. (Politico)

Issues related to addiction treatment and the Falmouth Board of Selectmen’s role in resolving local challenges make up just one area where there is a sharp difference of opinion between incumbents Megan English Braga and Douglas Brown and their challenger Marc Finneran. (Cape Cod Times)

Peter Lucas argues that with her speeches around the nation, Hillary Clinton is getting in the way of the roughly two dozen lesser-known Democrats now seeking the presidency. (Lowell Sun)

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

Market Basket is named by Consumer Reports as as one of 13 grocery store chains nationwide with the best prices. (MassLive)

The tech platform Nesterly links up older homeowners with spare rooms in the Boston area and young people who want to live somewhere affordable. (WGBH)

The Brockton Enterprise writes that Abington could be getting its first pot shop. Green Harbor Dispensary of Braintree is considering a retail cannabis shop on Bedford Street, according to Town Manager Richard LaFond.

EDUCATION

Hundreds of teachers and other public school supporters rallied on Boston Common to push for the Promise Act school funding bill. (Boston Globe) CommonWealth reported earlier this week on a controversial provision of the bill that would steer as much as $100 million to Boston.

Former Essex Tech Superintendent Dan O’Connell leaned on Salem Plumbing to replace parts he had bought for free and committed numerous other ethical violations that will cost him a $23,000 fine. (Gloucester Daily Times)

HEALTH/HEALTH CARE

Keith Ablow, a prominent North Shore psychiatrist and former Fox News contributor, had his medical license suspended by a state board because he “poses an immediate and serious threat to the public health, safety, and welfare.” (CommonWealth)

David L. Gang, president of the Massachusetts Society of Pathologists, says key facts have been omitted from the surprise billing debate. (CommonWealth)

Half of Massachusetts residents support the idea of establishing supervised drug consumption sites, and there is a partisan divide with Republicans more opposed and Democrats in favor, according to a new MassINC Polling Group survey. (WBUR)

Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center is spending $534 million on a new 10-story, inpatient center. (Boston Business Journal)

ARTS/CULTURE

The Cauldron is a community of feminists founded by two artists who host dinner parties lasting five hours, and people have to apply to get onto the guest list. (WBUR)

After JoAnn Gleason, a Gloucester artist, was caught picking tulips at the local library, Ernie Curtis, the security staffer who saw her take the flowers, showed up at her house with a bouquet. (Gloucester Daily Times)

CASINOS/MARIJUANA

Paul Debole of Lasell College asks why Congress is only helping the Mashpee Wampanoag? (CommonWealth)

A Globe editorial praises a proposal by Sen. Sonia Chang-Diaz to create a state loan fund to help “economic empowerment” and “social equity” applicants for marijuana licenses.

CRIMINAL JUSTICE/COURTS

Margaret Marshall, who wrote the landmark Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court court ruling legalizing same-sex marriage 15 years ago, said she thinks there should be age limits on the US Supreme Court, and she worries about the consequences of letting hate speech go unchecked. (WGBH)

Hillary and Julie Goodridge, whose fight for marriage equality changed the law, recall the stress and hardship of showcasing their lesbian family to the world while receiving homophobic invective in return. (WGBH)

Wayne Chapman, a serial child rapist and suspect in a Lawrence cold case, was ordered released from prison, but he faces new charges of lewd behavior in prison and is not expected to post the $25,000 bail in that case. (Eagle-Tribune)

A man arrested at a Weymouth supermarket — in Norfolk County — for shoplifting expressed surprise at facing charges, citing news reports he’d seen suggesting it was no longer an offense that would be prosecuted, a reference to Suffolk County DA Rachael Rollins’s announced policy of declining such charges her office’s default position. (Boston Herald)

MEDIA

Gannett Inc. staved off a boardroom challenge from MNG Enterprises, a company also known as Digital First Media, which is controlled by Alden Global Capital. MNG, which owns the Boston Herald and the Lowell Sun, called the shareholder vote a win for an entrenched board that has been unwilling to address the current realities of the newspaper business. MNG urged Gannett management to “embrace a modern approach to local news that will save newspapers and serve communities.” (Washington Business Journal) Ken Doctor says Gannett and other big chains are still in play, even if the economics is unclear. (Nieman Journalism Lab)

PASSINGS

I.M. Pei, the world renowned architect best known in Massachusetts for designing the John F. Kennedy Library and Museum, even though its siting and construction followed a tortured path and it is not considered one of his greatest works, died at age 102. (Boston Globe)