Trump announces proposal to alter U.S. immigration policy

President Trump more or less stuck to the script Thursday as he announced his plan to prioritize high-skilled immigrants and restrict family-based migration, a move that would drastically change the composition of immigrants to the U.S. But the proposal is still light on details and faces serious challenges in Congress. 

“Our proposal is pro-American, pro-immigrant, and pro-worker. It’s just common sense,” the president told supporters and reporters on Thursday. 

The White House says the proposal would tighten family-based migration to focus on allowing nuclear families who migrate to the U.S., rather than extended family members. It would also encourage those with bachelor’s degrees, relevant vocational degrees or higher levels of education to come to the U.S. and stay, and use a points system to rank green card applicants while keeping the number of green cards granted each year roughly the same around 1.1 million. 

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Spouses and children will go “right to the front of the line,” Mr. Trump said Thursday, but extended family members will be much less likely to be allowed to come to the U.S, with then. 

Mr. Trump insists this proposal will finally make the system fair, transparent and open to all, suggesting the current system is outdated. 

“We discriminate against genius,” the president told supporters and reporters in the White House Thursday, adding, “We won’t anymore, once we get this passed, and we hope to get it passed as soon as possible.”

But the president’s proposal won’t include anything to protect undocumented immigrants who arrived as children, it’s unclear if a single Democrat has been consulted, and some Republicans have offered tepid responses to the proposal. The administration official could not offer a timeline for releasing text of the proposal, saying it would be released when it’s ready. 

“Right now this is the Trump plan. We’re hoping this will become the Republican plan,” said a senior administration official who briefed reporters on the outline of the plan Wednesday. 

The official said the White House thinks it has a good sense of where many Democrats stand, but intends to put the proposal out and gauge the reaction. “Let’s see” what happens from there, the official said. 

The senior administration official who briefed reporters Wednesday said the “president’s mandate to us is come up with something” detailed that can unify Republicans. 

But can it pass?

“Maybe we can, maybe we can’t. But we’re going to try like hell,” the senior administration official said. 

On Thursday, Mr. Trump said that if for some reason Democrats don’t go along with his plan, it will pass after Democrats win back the House in 2020. 

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