Eyeing a second term as president of the United States, Donald Trump has just revealed sweeping immigration reforms. On May 16, 2019, the president unveiled a new plan to reshape the country’s immigration system. It is one that he reportedly hopes to put it into action as soon as possible. However, Trump admits that will be unlikely unless he gains more political traction and wins the election again in 2020.
What Would President Trump’s Immigration Plan Look Like?
Trump wants to introduce a skills-based immigration plan that would favor applicants who are young and educated, have preexisting job offers, and speak fluent English. Such immigrants would be favored over those seeking asylum or those with family ties to the U.S.
This proposal represents a dramatic shift away from the existing family-based immigration system that grants approximately 66 percent of green cards to relatives of those already in the U.S.
According to NPR, the elements of this new plan include the following:
- Maintain the asylum system, but significantly limit it.
- Cut down on low-wage labor.
- Attract and retain educated, highly skilled immigrants, particularly those who can work in critical industries.
- Emphasize national security and finish the U.S.-Mexico border wall.
- Prioritize nuclear families, meaning that immigrants could only bring immediate family members—including a spouse and their children—with them to the U.S.
Trump’s Immigration Plan Would Introduce a Point System
Similar to the immigration systems in Australia, New Zealand, and Canada, Trump’s plan would shift U.S. immigration toward a point system that favors skilled labor. Points would be granted based on factors such as age, academic achievement, financial status, professional skills, and job offers.
Here are a few other details about the proposed point system:
- There would be no caps based on what country you are from.
- Green cards would be replaced with skills-based “Build America” visas.
- Immigrants who are currently waiting for a green card would lose their place in line and would need to reapply for a “Build America” visa through the point-based system.
- Under a new program, some international students would be able to obtain a visa so they could immediately transition into the U.S. workforce.
- Future immigrants would need to learn English.
- They would also need to pass a civics exam and background check prior to entering the country.
- Lawful permanent residents would no longer be allowed to sponsor their spouses.
The Future of the Immigration Plan
If the plan is implemented—which is unlikely, given that Congress must approve it first—legal immigration numbers would stay the same at 1.1 million people per year. However, family-based immigration would decrease.
This new agenda was revealed just two months after U.S. President Donald Trump announced the closure of all international immigration offices and four months after the government shutdown over border wall funding.