Trump eyes curbs on im­mi­gra­tion, signs Rus­sia sanc­tions bill

Trump signs Rus­sia sanc­tions bill

Kuwait Times - - FRONT PAGE -

WASH­ING­TON: US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump yes­ter­day threw his weight be­hind ef­forts to give English-speak­ers pri­or­ity for US res­i­dency cards and halv­ing the num­ber of le­gal mi­grants ad­mit­ted to the coun­try. Trump backed pro­pos­als that would re­form the process of ob­tain­ing a US “green card” by in­tro­duc­ing a points-based sys­tem fa­vor­ing skilled An­glo­phone work­ers. Around one mil­lion im­mi­grants are granted per­ma­nent res­i­dency each year, but the draft leg­is­la­tion - pre­sented at the White House by Trump and two se­na­tors who crafted it - aims to cut that num­ber by around 50 per­cent. It would also put a cap on the num­ber of refugees able to gain per­ma­nent res­i­dency at 50,000 a year.

Trump hailed what he de­scribed as “the most sig­nif­i­cant re­form to our im­mi­gra­tion sys­tem in half a cen­tury.”The leg­is­la­tion has only a slim chance of pass­ing in Congress, but gives the White House an op­por­tu­nity to show Trump’s base sup­port­ers that he is try­ing to live up to his hard­line prom­ises. Stand­ing in the Roo­sevelt Room flanked by Se­na­tors Tom Cot­ton and David Per­due, Trump said that the United States had ad­mit­ted too many low-skilled work­ers and claimed they were tak­ing jobs from Amer­i­cans.

“This pol­icy has placed pres­sure on Amer­i­can work­ers, tax­pay­ers and com­mu­nity re­sources,” he said. “It has not been fair to our peo­ple, to our cit­i­zens, to our work­ers.” He pointed to the ben­e­fits of a Cana­dian- or Aus­tralian-style points-based sys­tem. “This com­pet­i­tive ap­pli­ca­tion process will fa­vor ap­pli­cants who can speak English, fi­nan­cially sup­port them­selves and their fam­i­lies, and demon­strate skills that will con­trib­ute to our econ­omy,” he said. Trump said the new sys­tem, if ap­proved, would “help en­sure that new­com­ers to our won­der­ful coun­try will be as­sim­i­lated, will suc­ceed and achieve the Amer­i­can dream,” while also pro­tect­ing “strug­gling Amer­i­can fam­i­lies”.

Crit­ics say that the pro­pos­als would ac­tu­ally re­sult in fall­ing wages, by slash­ing the num­ber of mi­grants cre­at­ing jobs. The Na­tional Academy of Sci­ences stud­ied two decades of data and found the im­pact of im­mi­gra­tion on the wages of Amer­i­can­born work­ers to be “very small”. The academy also con­cluded that “im­mi­gra­tion has an over­all pos­i­tive im­pact on long-run eco­nomic growth in the US,” although first-gen­er­a­tion im­mi­grants do place more of a bur­den on state re­sources.

But Trump’s mes­sage is likely to res­onate strongly with lowskilled white work­ers who have seen wages stag­nate and be­lieve their long-held cul­tural dom­i­nance is be­ing eroded. Trump has made tack­ling il­le­gal im­mi­gra­tion from Latin Amer­ica a key plank of his pol­i­tics. He has promised to build a “wall” on Amer­ica’s south­ern bor­der with Mex­ico and tackle vi­o­lent His­panic gangs at home. But the ef­fort to curb le­gal im­mi­gra­tion is un­likely to be uni­ver­sally wel­comed by business lead­ers or within the Repub­li­can Party. Cot­ton first in­tro­duced the pro­pos­als in Fe­bru­ary to the Se­nate, where they have been stalled ever since.

Trump slams ‘flawed’ bill

Ear­lier yes­ter­day, Trump re­luc­tantly signed off on new sanc­tions against Rus­sia, bow­ing to do­mes­tic pres­sure and putting ef­forts to im­prove ties with the Krem­lin on ice. Trump signed the leg­is­la­tion be­hind closed doors and away from the cam­eras, af­ter failed ef­forts to scup­per or wa­ter down the bill. Trump’s re­luc­tance was on full dis­play in an an­gry sign­ing state­ment, in which he called the leg­is­la­tion “sig­nif­i­cantly flawed”. “In its haste to pass this leg­is­la­tion, the Congress in­cluded a num­ber of clearly un­con­sti­tu­tional pro­vi­sions,” he said, in­clud­ing curbs on the pres­i­dent’s abil­ity to con­duct for­eign pol­icy.

The leg­is­la­tion - which also in­cludes mea­sures against North Korea and Iran - tar­gets the Rus­sian en­ergy sec­tor, giv­ing Wash­ing­ton the abil­ity to sanc­tion com­pa­nies in­volved in de­vel­op­ing Rus­sian pipe­lines, and plac­ing curbs on some Rus­sian weapons ex­porters. It also notably con­strains Trump’s abil­ity to waive the penal­ties, a state­ment of mis­trust from the Repub­li­can con­trolled Congress which re­mains un­set­tled by Trump’s warm words for Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin.

The sanc­tions seek to pe­nal­ize the Krem­lin for med­dling in the 2016 US pres­i­den­tial elec­tion - which Trump won - and Rus­sia’s an­nex­a­tion of Crimea. Trump said he would “honor” some of the bill’s pro­vi­sions, but stopped short of say­ing it would be fully im­ple­mented. The White House said only that Trump would give Congress’s “pref­er­ences” mere “care­ful and re­spect­ful con­sid­er­a­tion”. Trump re­ceived the leg­is­la­tion at 1:53 pm on Friday and waited un­til Wed­nes­day to sign it.

The nearly week-long de­lay in sign­ing had raised spec­u­la­tion that Trump might veto or try to some­how shelve the sanc­tions, which were ap­proved in a 98-2 Se­nate vote. By sign­ing it, he avoided the hu­mil­i­at­ing prospect of Congress over­rid­ing his veto. Ex­pect­ing the sig­na­ture, Moscow pre­emp­tively or­dered Wash­ing­ton to re­duce its diplo­matic pres­ence in Rus­sia to 455 per­sons be­fore Sept 1. — Agen­cies

Peo­ple en­joy a pic­nic un­der the foggy weather of south­ern Oman’s sum­mer mon­soon in the Ja­bal Ay­oub moun­tains north of Salalah yes­ter­day. The other­wise ex­tremely arid re­gion blooms when the mon­soon, known as “al-kha­reef” in Ara­bic, drenches the south­ern Ara­bian penin­sula with rainy clouds and drives stormy seas as lo­cals and tourists cel­e­brate the rain. — AP

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