US President Donald Trump will outline on Thursday a plan to harden border security and overhaul the legal immigration system to favor applicants who speak English, are well-educated and have job offers, senior administration officials said.
For decades, U.S. immigration laws have given priority to family-based immigration, and about two-thirds of all people granted green cards each year have family ties to people in the United States.
Trump’s plan would keep legal immigration steady at 1.1 million people a year, but family-based immigration would account for only a third of that. Instead, high-skilled people with jobs would be given priority, and could bring with them their spouses and children, the officials told reporters at a White House briefing on Wednesday.
They said that 12% of migration to the United States was based on employment and skill, compared with 63% for Canada, 57% for New Zealand, 68% for Australia and 52% for Japan.
By giving preference to immigrants proficient in English and with degrees or training and job offers, the officials said the plan would allow 57% of green cards, which grant permanent legal residency, to be based on employment.
The plan would also harden the border by building more of Trump’s coveted southern border wall and improve inspections of goods and people at ports of entry to fight drug smuggling. It would propose an increase in fees collected at the border to pay for border security infrastructure.
Trump will propose as well ending the diversity lottery system, which offers applicants from countries with low immigration rates the chance to move to the United States.
Trump will present an overview of the plan, with details of the “very large document” to be released in coming weeks, the official said.
It does not address some of the hot-button issues in the immigration debate, such as what to do about the surge of people crossing the southern border from Mexico. Nor does it deal with the “Dreamer” children of immigrants in the country illegally or immigrants in the country under Temporary Protected Status