Trump wants to slash immigration to U.S. by half
The Trump administration has endorsed a plan to slash immigration in half, limit the entry of non-English speakers, curb family sponsorships and penalize migrants whose spouses are less skilled and it’s selling that plan by pointing northward. To Canada. The administration is citing its northern neighbour as an inspiration for an immigration reform that contains definite traces of Canadian influence — but to find them, you’d need to squint past major aspects of the plan.
The point of commonality is a points-based system in which applicants with high skills get favoured in Canada and Australia, a program pioneered a half-century ago in the Great White North which the U.S. says it now wants to emulate.
Such a move would revolutionize an American system that has historically relied on employers and families sponsoring newcomers, in favour of just letting people apply and get a points grade based on skills and education.
“The points-based system that Canada has, has a lot to recommend it,” said Stephen Miller, a presidential adviser.
“We actually took that and added things.”
More precisely, they subtracted things: people.
This is where it differs from Canada’s system. The reform proposed Wednesday would halve legal immigration to the United States — which already has a far smaller proportion at one million immigrants per year to Canada’s 250,000.
The plan has almost no chance of becoming law in its current form.
It was swiftly opposed by some Republican lawmakers and will inevitably meet resistance from Democrats, which makes the slog to the necessary 60 per cent of Senate votes impossible without major changes.
But it has launched a debate. One immigration scholar calls this necessary for the country.
“I’m surprised that I’m not outraged,” Vivek Wadhwa of Carnegie Mellon University told MSNBC. “I thought it would be another Stephen Bannon special. But it isn’t. It may actually be quite reasonable. Who says that immigration can’t be adapted to the needs of the country?
“Now, we can argue about the number of immigrants . ... (But) this is a good debate to be having in America.”
Miller explained how the points system would work. Again mentioning Canada and Australia, he listed some examples: “Does the applicant speak English? Can they support themselves and their families, financially? Do they have a skill that will add to the U.S. economy? Are they being paid a high wage?”
The overall goal is to keep out poorer, less-educated immigrants who are likelier to claim welfare or compete for working-class jobs, Miller said. He described it as a historic change, a moral issue and something the vast majority of Americans support according to polls.