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Trump speaking yesterday.
Trump speaking yesterday.
Image: Xinhua News Agency/PA Images

Trump announces plans for 'merit-based' immigration policy plan

The immigration reforms would be the first major change to the system in decades.
May 17th 2019, 7:01 AM 13,393 38

US PRESIDENT DONALD Trump has called for radical immigration reform to favour skilled, English-speaking workers over the poorly educated and said he wants to shut the door on “frivolous” asylum claimants.

The reforms, announced in a speech in the White House’s Rose Garden, would be the first major change to the system in decades.

It would be a fundamental pivot from the US tradition of welcoming “your poor, your huddled masses”m as the poem inscribed on the Statue of Liberty puts it.

“Currently 66% of legal immigrants come here based on random chance,” Trump said.

Instead, he said a points system grading applicants’ readiness to contribute to the US economy would attract “top talent”.

There is little chance that the Trump’s ideas will get anywhere in Congress, where immigration is seen as a politically toxic subject, particularly ahead of 2020 legislative and presidential elections.

“This dead-on-arrival plan is not a remotely serious proposal,” the Democratic speaker of the lower house of Congress, Nancy Pelosi, said.

But for Trump, who has made building walls on the Mexican border a keystone of his first term, the proposals will nevertheless play to his base as he seeks re-election.

He said the plan would make US immigration “the envy of the modern world” by attracting the highly qualified, in line with what he said were the more competitive policies used by Australia and Canada.

“We cherish the open door that we want to create for our country. But a big proportion of those immigrants must come in through merit and skill,” he said.

“The biggest change we make is to increase the proportion of highly skilled immigration from 12% to 57%, and we’d like to even see if we can go higher,” Trump said.

Under the proposed reforms, immigrants will also be “required to learn English and to pass a civics exam prior to admission,” Trump said.

The US president also took aim at what he said were abuses of the country’s asylum system, which is struggling to cope with large numbers of Central Americans who say they are fleeing gang violence in some of the world’s most dangerous countries.

“Our nation has a proud history of affording protection to those fleeing government persecutions,” Trump said.

Unfortunately, legitimate asylum seekers are being displaced by those lodging frivolous claims.

Trump’s ideas are so unlikely to get a vote in Congress that analysts saw his policy splash as more of a campaign speech than a serious bid to get legislation enacted.

© – AFP 2019

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Source: The Explainer/SoundCloud

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