WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump will propose a new immigration system that gives preference to high-skilled immigrants such as scientists and engineers in a proposal to address legal immigration on Thursday.
However, the plan deals only with legal immigration, not the 11 million undocumented immigrants already living in the U.S. or the roughly 3.6 million “Dreamers” who were illegally brought into the country as minors.
The plan is certain to face resistance from lawmakers who believe it is more of a campaign document than a legislative proposal.
Developed by senior adviser and Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner, the plan is designed to create a “merit-based” point system for people seeking to enter the U.S. – touching on Trump’s longstanding argument that high-skilled immigrants should be prioritized – and moving away from the mostly family-based immigration system in place today.
White House officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss details of a plan not yet released, acknowledged the measure is largely designed as a rallying point to unify Republicans heading into the 2020 election. Trump ran heavily on immigration in 2016, and will almost certainly do so again next year.
“We want to have a Republican Party unifying around these positions,” one official said. “The president is not scared of immigration as a political issue.”
The plan also does not address an asylum system the Trump administration says is broken. Officials said they are still studying that issue, among others.
There is also a renewed call for funding of a border wall between the United States and Mexico. Objections to the wall from Democrats, and insistence on it from Trump, led to a 35-day government shutdown that ended in January.
A more detailed plan, officials said, will be released later to address some of the issues surrounding illegal immigration, as well as more specifics about what the president is proposing this week.
Trump is scheduled to give a speech outlining the plan Thursday afternoon.
By David Jackson for USA TODAY
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