If Trump were an im­mi­grant, he’d likely be de­ported

The Denver Post - - OPINION - By Cather­ine Rampell

How might Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump fare in the “merit-based” im­mi­gra­tion scheme he just en­dorsed?

If he were an im­mi­grant, there’s a de­cent chance he’d get kicked out of the coun­try.

The econ­omy-crip­pling bill that Trump em­braced this week in­cludes much to dis­like. It would cut le­gal im­mi­gra­tion lev­els in half, flout­ing Trump’s prior pledges not to re­duce le­gal im­mi­gra­tion or be un­fair to those who’ve pa­tiently waited in line — some for years.

De­spite what he and the bill’s Se­nate spon­sors sug­gest, it also wouldn’t in­crease the num­ber of skilled or merit-based im­mi­grants. In­stead, it would change how “skills” and “merit” are de­fined, re­plac­ing our cur­rent em­ploy­er­centered sys­tem with a points­based one — and then scal­ing back el­i­gi­bil­ity for al­most ev­ery­one else.

For in­sight into how thought­fully de­signed this new sys­tem is, let’s try a high-pro­file test case: the leader of the free world.

Un­der the bill, points would be awarded for age, ed­u­ca­tion, ex­tra­or­di­nary achieve­ment, English-lan­guage pro­fi­ciency, en­tre­pre­neur­ial ini­tia­tive and hav­ing a high-pay­ing job of­fer. There’s also a tiny bonus for those al­ready sched­uled to re­ceive a green card un­der the old sys­tem’s fam­ily pref­er­ence cat­e­gory. The top score avail­able is 90, by my tally.

Here’s how Trump — or at least, a for­eign na­tional with roughly his qual­i­fi­ca­tions — would do.

Age: zero points. Peo­ple older than 51 don’t earn points. Trump is 71. The best ages to be un­der this sys­tem, by the way, are 26 to 30. (Darn mil­len­ni­als.)

Ed­u­ca­tion: 6. Trump has a bach­e­lor’s de­gree from a U.S. univer­sity.

Record of ex­tra­or­di­nary achieve­ment: zero. Trump may have starred in a net­work re­al­ity show and (al­legedly) sunk 30foot putts, but what counts as “ex­tra­or­di­nary achieve­ment” is lim­ited to two cat­e­gories.

One is win­ning a No­bel Prize or com­pa­ra­ble recog­ni­tion in a science or so­cial science field. No luck there.

The other is re­cently win­ning an Olympic medal (in­di­vid­ual event only, no re­lays!) or plac­ing first in an­other com­pa­ra­ble in­ter­na­tional ath­letic event.

English-lan­guage abil­ity: zero. To re­ceive points here, you need to score in the top half of those tak­ing an of­fi­cially sanc­tioned English pro­fi­ciency exam, such as the TOEFL. Suc­cess on this exam’s writ­ing sec­tion re­quires us­ing “ap­pro­pri­ate word choice,” ef­fec­tively ad­dress­ing a topic and dis­play­ing “unity, pro­gres­sion and co­her­ence.” Con­sider how the coiner of “covfefe” might per­form. The TOEFL speak­ing sec­tion in­cludes re­spond­ing to a sim­ple ques­tion prompt. Scor­ing well re­quires stay­ing on topic, be­ing in­tel­li­gi­ble and ex­hibit­ing “sus­tained, co­her­ent dis­course.”

Peruse the tran­script of Trump’s re­cent in­ter­view with The Wall Street Jour­nal — or any other un­scripted con­ver­sa­tion, re­ally — to judge how he fares.

En­tre­pre­neur­ial ini­tia­tive: 12. Trump gets this for in­vest­ing at least $1.8 mil­lion in a new com­mer­cial en­ter­prise in the United States, main­tain­ing this in­vest­ment for at least three years and play­ing an ac­tive role in the com­pany’s man­age­ment.

The Trump Or­ga­ni­za­tion is not ex­actly a “new com­mer­cial en­ter­prise” — it was founded by Trump’s grand­mother, be­fore he was born — but he has a long list of more-re­cently cre­ated LLCs and other cor­po­ra­tions that prob­a­bly count.

High-pay­ing job of­fer: zero. This in­volves some am­bigu­ous leg­isla­tive lan­guage.

Trump re­ports hav­ing a lot of in­come from his com­pa­nies. But two im­mi­gra­tion ex­perts I con­sulted said that the “en­tre­pre­neur­ial ini­tia­tive” and “high-pay­ing job of­fer” points are likely mu­tu­ally ex­clu­sive. That is, to get points for the en­tre­pre­neur­ial ini­tia­tive cat­e­gory, the com­mer­cial en­ter­prise you in­vest in must be one you help man­age as your pri­mary oc­cu­pa­tion; and you can’t claim you made your­self a high-pay­ing job of­fer. Even the measly $400,000 of­fered him as pres­i­dent (which as a for­eigner, he couldn’t be, but what­ever) might not help him here, if he’s claim­ing en­tre­pre­neur­ial points.

Trump’s to­tal: 18. To be el­i­gi­ble to join the ap­pli­cant pool of those try­ing for a points-based im­mi­grant visa, you need a min­i­mum score of 30.

If you want to be more gen­er­ous (and less cheeky) than I, you could de­cide that Trump would score in the top decile on the English test. That would grant him an ad­di­tional 12 points, bring­ing him just up to that 30point min­i­mum.

If Trump’s even-barely el­i­gi­ble score weren’t high enough, he could try again the fol­low­ing year, so long as he still had a le­gal tem­po­rary visa. Oth­er­wise he’d have to leave the coun­try. If he were re­ally des­per­ate, he could find a U.S. spouse to spon­sor him for a green card. Me­la­nia to the res­cue? Her English has to be bet­ter. Mac Tully, CEO and Pub­lisher; Justin Mock, Se­nior VP of Fi­nance and CFO; Bill Reynolds, Se­nior VP, Cir­cu­la­tion and Pro­duc­tion; Judi Pat­ter­son, Vice Pres­i­dent, Hu­man Re­sources; Bob Kin­ney , Vice Pres­i­dent, In­for­ma­tion Tech­nol­ogy

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