Trump announces plan to cut legal immigration

U.S. President, Donald Trump, on Wednesday announced an initiative to reduce the number of legal immigrants allowed into United States each year and to prioritise highly skilled workers.

The legislation, he added, will let in only immigrants who "can speak English, financially support themselves and their families, and demonstrate skills that will contribute to our economy".

To achieve the reductions and create what they call a "merit-based system", Cotton and Perdue are taking aim at green cards for extended family members of USA citizens and legal permanent residents, limiting such avenues for grown children and siblings.

"Nothing underscores the failure of our current immigration system like the constant clamoring from the business sector for more "skilled" workers, while we import over one million immigrants each and every year", FAIR said in a statement Wednesday.

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.

Trump said the measure "will reduce poverty, increase wages and save taxpayers billions and billions of dollars".

Lost in the bluster was a vow to reform the legal immigration system "to serve the best interests of America and its workers".

Economists have called into the question the benefits of cutting legal immigration.

If passed, the plan would reduce the number of immigrants the USA will allow into the country.

But the legislation faces an uphill climb to get through Congress where some senior Republicans back comprehensive immigration reform, not a tough crackdown.

Perdue and Cotton have criticized those historically high levels of immigration, saying they flood the US labor market with low-skill workers who drive down wages for poor and working-class Americans.

It's not clear how much support there is in the Senate for such a bill.

The current USA immigration system favours uniting family members with relatives already in the country.

Framing the bill as a means to cut legal immigration rather than merely replace lower-skilled immigrants with higher-skilled ones will make Schumer's job easier. He says that one of the main motivations to pass the bill is to prevent the displacement of American workers - a claim that's echoed by Cotton, who has said that while immigrant rights groups might view the current system as a "symbol of America virtue and generosity", he sees it "as a symbol we're not committed to working-class Americans and we need to change that".

The proposal "ends chain migration", Trump said, referring to the preference for uniting family members in the current immigration system.

"They're not going to come in and immediately go and collect welfare.They can't do that", he said.

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.

  • Jon Douglas