In Brief

Donald Trump announces ‘merit-based’ immigration policy plan

Democrat opponents say president's proposals are ‘dead on arrival’

Donald Trump has unveiled plans for a new US immigration system designed to favour younger, better-educated, English-speaking workers.

Announcing the plan, the US president said he wants to move away from the current approach that favours applicants with family ties to the US. He also pledged that border security would be tightened and a stricter line taken on asylum seekers.

He boasted that his proposals would make US immigration “the envy of the modern world”.

However, The Guardian reports that “before the US President even stepped up to the lectern in the White House Rose Garden” opponents had “declared the sweeping reforms dead on arrival’”.

The Washington Post said Trump’s announcement “drew a cool reception” and CNN said the plan “faces an uphill battle for consensus even among the Republican Party's own ranks”.

CBS News said Democrats “would not support legislation that does not include a pathway to citizenship”.

The new policy is the outcome of months of talks between Trump’s senior adviser Jared Kushner and several conservative groups. 

Trump says his proposals will use “an easy-to-navigate, point-based selection system” to determine eligibility.

“You will get more points for being a younger worker, meaning you will contribute more to our social safety net. You will get more points for having a valuable skill, an offer of employment, an advanced education or a plan to create jobs,” he said at the lectern.

The president said his plan wouldn't change the total number of green cards offered annually but would increase the proportion allocated to skilled workers.

“We want immigrants coming in. We cherish the open door that we want to create for our country,” he said. “But a big proportion of those immigrants must come in through merit and skill.”

Opposition to the plan is already strong. The Democratic speaker of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, described it as “condescending” and dismissed Trump’s concept of “merit,” saying: "it’s non-merit - it means merit in the eyes of Donald Trump”.

Trump’s plans would have to be approved by Congress where Democrats currently control the lower house. “This dead-on-arrival plan is not a remotely serious proposal," said Pelosi.

Amnesty International described the reform as “an outrageous attempt to shut doors to everyone but the most wealthy and privileged individuals, circumventing human rights and legal obligations toward asylum-seekers”.

Australia and Canada both already use point-based systems to determine if someone qualifies to enter the country as a skilled worker.

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