President Trump recently addressed a group of media and political officials in the White House Rose Garden to unveil his new plan to reform the US immigration system. Many ambitious changes will be made to a system that hasn’t seen much reform in the past few decades. The President wishes to create a Border Security Fund that will be supported by fees from trade on the US-Mexico border. With this fund, the President wishes to develop new technology that will scan “100% of everything” crossing the border. He went on to announce that over 400 miles of border wall should be finished by the end of 2020. President Trump also rolled out his plan to change the asylum and immigration systems.
President Trump’s Proposed Reforms
A New Asylum System
President Trump alleges that too many “frivolous” asylum claims are being made and, because of that, legitimate claims are being made to wait too long. The president wants to create a screening process that will quickly separate the legitimate claims from the frivolous ones. Currently, the process to be granted asylum can take anywhere from six months to multiple years. A plan to expedite this process should help relieve the burden on the immigration court system.
According to the President, the screening process should help reduce strain on public services, such as hospitals and schools. How this screening process would work or what it would look for was not explained. The administration is also working to close federal loopholes that allow gang members and criminals to seek asylum in the US. This change was in the process of being made as of yesterday and, according to the President, should now be in place.
A New Immigration Plan
Currently, 66% of immigrants entering the US are products of chain migration. If someone is admitted into the US through the immigration process, their family members are given preference when applying for entry to the US. While this could be useful when considering immediate family members for entry, the current system takes it too far. The current system will continue to give preference to individuals based on family ties, even if the last person was admitted based on family ties. Another 21% of immigrants are given entry based on a lottery system.
President Trump is currently advocating for merit-based immigration, which in the current system is only 12% of immigration. It appears that the President wants to almost turn these number on their head. President Trump wants to increase merit-based immigration to 57% as well as implement a point-based system. The point-based system will decide who gets preference in the new merit-based system. This will allow immigrants to still bring family members to the US but will ensure that the US is bringing in a wide array of immigrants. This will prevent burdening lower-class citizens by making them compete with many low skilled workers migrating to the US.
The New Point System
The new point system will value those that are more likely to contribute to the US social safety net. The system will value those that are young, educated, skilled, have an offer of employment, or plan to create jobs. This makes sense to have immigrants offsetting the cost of low skilled immigrants that might need to use the social safety nets. This could ease social tension in the US. Currently, the country is divided between those that believe immigrants drain public resources and those that believe adding low skilled labor fills jobs that Americans usually would not fill. With this change, high skilled immigrants could offset any costs accrued by the low skilled immigrants. With this point system, immigrants will also be required to learn English and pass a civics test.
President Trump’s hopes for a merit-based immigration system will likely receive opposition from the Democrat-controlled House. No longer is he threatening to shut down the government over legislative demands; rather, he is putting forward concrete proposals that can be put into legislation. If the President gets his way, he may finally achieve the immigration policy win that he’s been vying for since 2016.
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