President Trump, along with two Republican senators, advocated for legislation to reform legal immigration in America. They called for a merit-based system that would significantly cut admissions over the next decade.
The President called it “the most significant reform to our immigration system in a half century” during a speech at the White House on Wednesday.
“As a candidate, I campaigned on creating a merit-based immigration system that protects U.S. workers and taxpayers, and that is why we are here today,” Trump said.
Joining President Trump at the White House was Georgia Sen. David Perdue and Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton. The two Republicans were the first to introduce the Reforming American Immigration for a Strong Economy, or the RAISE Act, in February. They have said the legislation aims to reduce the number of green cards issued in half from 1 million to 500,000 a year.
Trump, Perdue and Cotton argued on Tuesday that low-skilled and unskilled immigration into the United States has lowered wages.
According to a fact sheet released to reporters, the new system would favor immigrants who are educated, speak English and have high-paying job offers. It would also reduce low-skilled and unskilled labor immigration.
Trump said new immigrants must be able to “financially support themselves and their families.”
“The RAISE Act prevents new migrants and new immigrants from collecting welfare and protects U.S. workers from being displaced,” the president said. “And that’s a very big thing, they’re not going to come in and just immediately go and collect welfare.”
The bill would prioritize immediate family members of United States residents, including spouses and young children. But it would end prioritization for extended family members and adult children of residents.
The legislation also removes the Diversity Visa lottery system, therefore limiting permanent resident status for refugees to 50,000 per year.
Trump pointed out how the country has “record numbers of green cards to low-wage immigrants.” The White House said most of the 1 million immigrants who are accepted into the United States for legal permanent residency every year are low or unskilled workers.
The President mentioned that minority workers are hit hardest by this because they are “competing for jobs against brand new arrivals.”
“It has not been fair to our people, to our citizens, to our workers,” he said.
The administration also said 50 percent of immigrant households receive welfare benefits, which is opposed to 30 percent of native households in the country.