Trump to back plan that would curb legal immigration


David Perdue of Georgia and Tom Cotton of Arkansas at the White House Wednesday to talk about legislation aimed at cutting legal immigration.

President Donald Trump today embraced legislation from two Republican senators that would place new limits on legal immigration and seek to create a system based more on merit and skills than family ties.

The bill also proposed to eliminate certain pathways to family-based immigration, stipulating that only spouses and minor children of U.S. citizens and permanent residents would be eligible for green cards.

In what will likely prove to be the most controversial provision, the bill would dramatically reduce overall immigration levels by doing away with chain migration.

Cotton and Perdue's early version of the legislation had proposed a 50% reduction in annual immigration over the next 10 years, allotting green cards for just 539,958 immigrants in 2027 compared to the 1,051,031 that received them in 2015.

The measure, known as the RAISE Act, "will reduce poverty, increase wages and save taxpayers billions and billions of dollars", Mr. Trump said. Cotton said of the current system. It's assumed the president will be announcing his support for the senators' bill to make sharp cuts to legal immigration.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a statement the proposal would "help the Department of Justice perform its duties to uphold our nation's immigration law and end the unlawful abuse of our public benefits program that undermine USA taxpayers".

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But backers of stricter immigration limits say allowing unskilled people into the country keeps wages low, especially for workers with only a high-school diploma or less.

Cotton said the bill will give preference to those who speak English, have a high level of educational achievement, have employable skills, ormeet other criteria related to business and job creation.

The proposal has been praised by groups that advocate reduced immigration, including NumbersUSA and the Federation of Immigration Reform.

The bill faces an uphill climb in the Senate, however. And the bill caps refugee levels at 50,000 per year. According to a Rasmussen poll taken in April, independents favor a merit-based system over a family-based one by a 47/32 spread. They say the legislation would disproportionately affect immigrants from Asia, the Middle East, and African and Caribbean countries.

"This legislation demonstrates our compassion for struggling American families who deserve an immigration system that puts their needs first and puts America first", Trump said during an event in the White House's Roosevelt Room.

Perdue said the proposed new immigration system will be both pro-growth and pro-economic growth.

The president has made cracking down on illegal immigration a hallmark of his administration and has tried to slash federal grants for cities that refuse to comply with federal efforts to detain and deport those living in the country illegally.