Amid scandals and turnover at the White House, the president on Wednesday returned to his tried-and-true tactic of anti-immigrant rhetoric. Not cracking down on illegal immigration or undocumented immigrants who have committed crimes, mind you, but on legal immigration—specifically for lower-skilled immigrants on temporary work visas.
Trump showed his support for newly revised legislation, called the RAISE Act, that would slash legal immigration in half over the next decade and establish a points-based immigration system, including criteria like English language skills and financial stability. The bill, initially introduced by Republican Senators Tom Cotton of Arkansas and David Perdue of Georgia in February, also proposes to eliminate the Diversity Visa lottery program and lower the numbers of family-based visas issued. From The Washington Post:
To achieve the reductions, Cotton and Perdue are taking aim at green cards for extended family members of U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents, including grown children, grandparents and siblings. Minor children and spouses would still be allowed to apply for green cards.
Trump told a crowd in Youngsville, Ohio, last week that he wanted the U.S. to transition to a merit-based immigration system, rather than one that prioritizes family ties in the U.S., similar to what already exists in Canada. “Instead of today’s low-skill system—just a terrible system, where anybody comes in, people that have never worked, people who are criminals, anybody comes in—we want a merit-based system, one that protects our workers, our taxpayers, and one that protects our economy,” Trump said. He also called to ban immigrants from benefiting from government welfare for the first five years of residence.
Trump has praised the Canadian immigration system before, most recently in a speech to Congress last February. Prospective immigrants to Canada are evaluated on a points system, which rewards applicants based on their level of education, families ties, and employability, among other criteria. But Canada’s system is more complicated than Trump realizes, and it aims to increase immigration in Canada, not curb it as Trump has proposed doing in the United States. But to Trump’s core supporters, the president’s America First rhetoric is always a hit.