US President Donald Trump on Thursday said he wants to overhaul the immigration system to favor young, educated, English-speaking applicants with job offers instead of people with family ties to Americans, a plan with little chance of advancing in Congress.
“If for some reason, possibly political, we can’t get the Democrats to approve this merit-based, high-security plan, then we will get it approved immediately after the election when we take back the House (of Representatives), keep the Senate, and, of course, hold the presidency,” Trump said in a Rose Garden address to Republican lawmakers and Cabinet members.
Currently, about two-thirds of the 1.1 million people allowed to emigrate to the United States each year are given green cards granting permanent residency because of family ties.
Trump proposed keeping the overall numbers steady, but shift to a “merit-based” system similar to one used in Canada – a plan he said would result in 57% of green cards to be based on employment and skills.
The plan was developed by Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner, and Stephen Miller, an adviser known for his hard line on immigration issues.
Democratic support would be needed to advance any legislation through the Republican-led Senate – let alone the Democratic-controlled House.
Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said “merit” was a “condescending” term.
“Are they saying family is without merit? Are they saying most of the people who have ever come to the United States in the history of our country, are without merit, because they don’t have an engineering degree?” Pelosi told reporters.