President Donald Trump on Thursday proposed a sweeping “pro-American,” merit-based legal immigration system to replace the current family-based system with one that prioritizes the entrance of highly-skilled migrants like doctors and researchers.
“Our proposal is pro-American, pro-immigrant, and pro-worker. It’s common sense,” Trump said during a speech in the White House Rose Garden.
“It will help all people, including millions of devoted immigrants, achieve the American Dream,” he continued, adding that his proposal would create a “fair, modern and lawful system of immigration” and was superior to Democratic proposals.
Trump’s plan, some details of which were made public on Wednesday by senior administration officials, avoids hot-button issues like the growing backlog of asylum-seekers and the status of so-called Dreamers and is almost certainly dead on arrival in Congress.
The proposal would create a merit-based immigration system — a change from the family-based immigration system currently in place. It would also put new requirements on immigrants seeking to enter the U.S. In addition to mandated checks like a health screening and background check, entrants would be required to learn English and pass a civics test — measures he said would reinforce American values.
“Through these steps, we will an immigration system that respects and even strengthens our culture, our traditions and our values,” he said.
And putting in place measures to only allow high-qualified people to enter will help build a skilled workforce while not threatening Americans with blue-collar jobs.
“Under the senseless rules of the current system, we’re not able to give preference to a doctor, a researcher, a student who graduated number one in his class from the finest colleges in the world,” Trump said, adding that, as a result, “the annual Green Card flow is mostly low wage and low skilled.”
“Newcomers compete for jobs against the most vulnerable Americans, and put pressure on our social safety net and generous welfare programs,” he said.
“We discriminate against genius. We discriminate against brilliance, Trump said. “We won’t anymore.”