Trump immigration plan emphasizes immigrants’ skills over family ties

click to enlarge President Donald Trump at the National Federation of Independent Business anniversary celebration, where he spoke about immigration, at the Hyatt Regency in Washington, June 19, 2018. - DOUG MILLS/THE NEW YORK TIMES
Doug Mills/The New York Times
President Donald Trump at the National Federation of Independent Business anniversary celebration, where he spoke about immigration, at the Hyatt Regency in Washington, June 19, 2018.

By Michael D. Shear
New York Times News Service

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump will unveil on Thursday a plan to overhaul parts of the nation’s immigration system that would impose new security measures at the border and significantly increase the educational and skills requirements for people who are allowed to migrate to the United States, senior White House officials said Wednesday.

The proposal would vastly scale back the system of family-based immigration that has for decades allowed immigrants to bring their spouses and children to live with them, the officials said. In its place, it would provide new opportunities for immigrants who have specific skills or job offers to work in the United States, provided that they can demonstrate English proficiency, educational attainment and pass a civics exam.


But the plan is expected to be deeply unpopular with lawmakers on both sides of the aisle.

Currently, about 12% of immigrants qualify based on their skills, while more than half are given permission to enter the United States because of a family connection. Under Trump’s proposal, those numbers would be reversed, with nearly 60% of all visas going to immigrants with particular skills or offers of employment.

The president will reveal some details about the proposal, which was developed by Jared Kushner, his son-in-law, during a Rose Garden ceremony on Thursday afternoon. But officials conceded that the plan is a long way from becoming a legislative reality, with one saying on Wednesday that it represents a “first step toward having that discussion.”

In fact, the broad outlines of the plan are certain to be unpopular with lawmakers in Congress. The plan calls for construction of some of the president’s border wall and upends family-based migration in ways that Democrats and immigration advocates have long opposed. And it contains no provision for providing legal status to people brought to the United States as children or other unauthorized immigrants.


At the same time, the plan would not reduce the overall level of immigration into the United States, a long-standing goal of conservative, anti-immigration groups who had hoped that Trump’s election would finally provide the political backing for keeping immigrants out.

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