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Trump to announce huge merit-based immigration overhaul Thursday

U.S. President Donald Trump walks towards reporters before departing the White House May 14, 2019 in Washington, DC. Photo by Olivier Douliery/ Abaca Press
May 15, 2019

President Trump will be announcing a massive immigration overhaul on Thursday.

Senior administration officials told Fox News on Wednesday that the new immigration plan will transform the immigration system from a visa lottery to a merit-based process.

The plan is reportedly called “Build America Visa” program and would recognize “extraordinary talent” and “people with professional and specialized vocations,” including students demonstrating high merit.

The purposed would be to attract those who are highly skilled and would have a positive contribution to the American economy and humanitarian values. It also wouldn’t change the number of immigrants allowed in the country — only the composition of those allowed.

Currently, 66 percent of admitted immigrants are permitted due to family ties, and that number will be significantly reduced to 33 percent under the new plan.

About 12 percent of immigrants are admitted due to merit, and the plan is anticipated to quadruple to 57 percent.

About 10 percent of immigrants would be admitted for humanitarian or other reasons. The plan would also expedite the court process for immigrants applying for legitimate claims of asylum.

Applying immigrants would be analyzed using a point-based system. Socioeconomic factors, goals of investment and job creation are some of the criteria of the point system.

The plan is expected to raise the average income of immigrant families from the current $43,000 to $126,000.

The plan is reportedly influenced by Trump son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner.

“I do believe that the president’s position on immigration has been maybe defined by his opponents by what he’s against as opposed to what he’s for,” Kushner said last month. “What I’ve done is, I’ve tried to put together a very detailed proposal for him.”

He completed the proposal and submitted it to senators on Tuesday.

“I think people sort of liked the idea of merit-based immigration as proposed,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham, as Politico reported. “The border security plan seemed solid. We all know you’re not going to pass this without dealing with the other aspects of immigration. But the point of getting the party united behind a merit-based immigration proposal and border security is a significant step. But that’s sort of starting a larger conversation.”

“It’s a useful thing to think about, what an immigration plan should look like in terms of what should American immigration policy be,” said Sen. John Cornyn. “And I think it’s a very positive thing for Republicans to say we are the party of legal immigration and this is how we can make it better. I think that would distinguish us from the Democrats who seem to be happy with the status quo, which I think is pretty hard to explain.”