Trump wants to slash im­mi­gra­tion to U.S. by half

The Hamilton Spectator - - CANADA & WORLD - ALEXAN­DER PANETTA WASH­ING­TON —

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.

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