President Trump, Lindsey Graham intro sweeping immigration overhauls above and beyond border wall

(Official White House Photo by Joyce N. Boghosian)

President Trump’s new immigration plan is set to be revealed proposing sweeping changes aimed at addressing the border crisis as well as the legal immigration system.

The White House will unveil the plan which includes an end to the visa lottery program and a renewed use of a skill-based system for admitting immigrants legally into the U.S., according to Fox News.

(Video: Fox News)

While Sen. Lindsey Graham on Wednesday unveiled legislation he is proposing to deal with the ongoing crisis of illegal immigration at the southern border, the president’s two-part plan includes border security and a major immigration overhaul with a proposal that would radically change who is issued a green card.

The “Build America Visa” program will be part of Trump’s major immigration address scheduled for Thursday, according to Fox News. The border security component of the proposal calls for the construction of the wall along the southern U.S. border as well as upgrades at points of entry – including screening of every person and vehicle.

(Video: Reuters)

The other changes address the system of legal immigration and proposes changes to the merit-based admissions procedure which will not change the number of green cards being issued annually but would dramatically shift the percentages of immigrants admitted because of their work-related skills and those admitted due to family ties in the U.S.

The employment and skills of immigrants currently accounts for 12 percent of those admitted but would change to 57 percent under the new plan. And while family connections account for 66 percent of immigrants who are admitted at this time, the proposal would decrease that to 33 percent.

(Image: screenshot)

A point-based system would be implemented in assessing potential immigrants, taking in factors such as age, education, English proficiency while the program would recognize “extraordinary talent” and “people with professional and specialized vocations,” including exceptional students, according to Fox News.

A rise to about $96,000 is expected for the average yearly wage of all legal immigrants, an increase from the current average of approximately $43,000, according to White House officials who also expect an average income of $126,000 for those who will be admitted based on education and skills.

The new system would also add points when assessing potential immigrants from under-represented countries while not imposing caps on other countries.

Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner has reportedly been working on a plan addressing changes to the legal immigration system and also border security issues which he revealed to senators in Congress on Tuesday.

Democrats are, unsurprisingly, “skeptical” of the proposed changes as Sen. Dick Durbin noted, according to Fox News.

“There have been so many aborted efforts when it comes to immigration reform under this president,” the Senate Minority Whip said. “I’m skeptical as to whether he truly wants to deal with immigration reform.”

Meanwhile, Graham believed administration officials seemed “well on their way” to presenting a plan that will bring Republicans together on the immigration issue, but cautioned, “Whether it will or not, I don’t know.”

The South Carolina Republican detailed his plans for combating the southern border crisis during a press conference on Wednesday. The “Secure and Protect Act of 2019” would aim to add 500 new immigration judges and would require Central American migrants seeking asylum to enter the U.S. to apply in their own country or in Mexico.

“In the future, you can apply for asylum from Central America, but you have to do so in an American consulate or embassy in your home country,” Graham said.

Graham’s plan would also increase the time limit from 20 days to 100 days that families could be detained, together, while awaiting their asylum claims to be processed. The proposal did not include the building of any walls along the border.

“A wall will not fix this,” he said, “these people want to be caught, they walk up and ask for agents.”


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