As had been predicted earlier in the week, US President Donald Trump has unveiled plans for a new merit-based American immigration system.
The proposals would focus on a system which attracts younger, better educated, English-speaking workers. In an address at the White House, he made clear his desire to move away from the current system that favours applicants with family ties to the US.
Ultimately the new system would:
– Encourage those with bachelor’s degrees, relevant vocational degrees or higher levels of education to come to the US and stay;
– Introduce a points system to rank green card applicants based on things like age and education;
– Mean that rhe vast majority of new immigrants to the US would come based on education or skills, not family connections;
– Not increase the number of green cards granted each year, which would stay roughly the same at 1.1 million.
“We cherish the open door that we want to create for our country. But a big proportion of those immigrants must come in through merit and skill,” the President declared. “The biggest change we make is to increase the proportion of highly skilled immigration from 12 per cent to 57 per cent and we would like to even see if we can go higher.”
The policy, however, would limit seasonal and low-skilled opportunities for overseas workers, while a tougher line taken would be taken on asylum seekers.
Before becoming law, the proposals would first have to be approved by Congress where Democrats currently control the lower house.
And Democrats have been quick to criticise the President’s proposal, criticising its failure to offer a route to citizenship for so-called “Dreamers” – the hundreds of thousands of people brought to the US as children but who still have no legal right to remain in the country.
Many are also unhappy with the plans to largely do away with family reunification which has for so has been the main focus of the country’s immigration program.
This means the policy is highly unlikely to pass into law before the 2020 Presidential election, and after that would be reliant on Trump being re-elected and the Republicans taking back control of Congress.
Therefore, the popularity otherwise of these proposals will likely to become one of the key issues during the election campaigns.
Article published 17th May 2019