President Trump Rolls Out New Immigration Plan

President Donald Trump announces his immigration modernization proposal in the White House Rose Garden, May 16, 2019.

By The Stream Published on May 17, 2019

President Donald Trump rolled out his new immigration plan Thursday. Trump said he aims to modernize our immigration system with two goals in mind:  “First, it stops illegal immigration and fully secures the border, and second, it establishes a new legal immigration system that protects American wages, promotes American values, and attracts the best and brightest from all around the world.”

Securing the Border

The first task is to secure the border. Approximately a million aliens are projected to arrive at the border this year. In just the past two months, over 200,000 aliens have hit our border. This is unsustainable.

The president’s proposal establishes a “self-sustaining and renewable border security fund.” This fund will:

  • Fully secure the border.
  • Ensure 100 percent inspection of people and goods at ports of entry.
  • Stop drugs, contraband, and counterfeit goods.
  • Facilitate faster trade.

This includes continuing to build the wall and strengthening the ability of immigration officials to remove criminal aliens and alien gang members.

The president also aims to “restore integrity to our broken asylum system,” and close loopholes that are driving forces behind the humanitarian crisis at our southern border.

The plan:

  • expedites the process for immigrants seeking asylum, aiming to separate those who are sincere from those just trying to game the system. 
  • changes the law to stop the flood of child smuggling and to rapidly reunite unaccompanied children with their families back home.
  • makes structural changes to immigration agencies to improve coordination and enforcement. This includes dealing with visa overstays, which are responsible for roughly half the illegal immigrants added to our country each year.

Focusing on Merit

The president’s proposal will put our country’s interests first by moving to a merit-based immigration system that protects American workers. President Trump wants the best of the best. He wants America to win the global race for talent. 

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Currently, around 70 percent of the immigrants who come to the United States today are admitted based on family relationships or through the visa lottery. This generally means low-skill, low-wage, low-education workers. In other words, people who challenge the most vulnerable Americans for jobs. These Americans are the ones most hurt by the current system, as it undercuts wages and drains our social safety net programs. The stagnant wages of the past 30 years are a direct result of the flood of illegal and low-skill immigrants.

Trump’s plan doesn’t completely eliminate low-skill aliens eager to make the American dream. It just puts greater emphasis on merit. The proposal creates the “Build America Visa,” which will select immigrants based on a point system featuring three high-skill categories:

  • Extraordinary talent
  • Professional and specialized vocations
  • Exceptional academic track records.

Families are not ignored either. The president prioritizes the immediate family — ensuring that mothers and fathers and children will be at the front of the line to obtain a green card.

All told, President Trump’s proposal aims for a potent, competitive and fair new immigrant mix of 57 percent employment and skill, 33 percent family and 10 percent humanitarian. (Which is in line with other countries like Canada, New Zealand, Australia and Japan.)

But What About DACA?

The president’s proposal deliberately does not address the children of illegal immigrants. White House press secretary Sarah Sanders says the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy — or DACA — was left out on purpose. “Every single time 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.” Mercedes Schlapp also pointed out Thursday that Trump has repeatedly put forward several proposals to resolve the DACA program only to have Democrats refuse to cooperate. 

So what to do about the DACA children and the estimated 30 million others in this country illegally will be addressed at a later date.

At the moment, the issue is securing the border and revamping our immigration system to reward merit. And the key to President Trump’s proposal: Putting Americans and American interests first. 

What a concept. 

Watch President Trump’s Speech on Immigration Modernization

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