White House launches new uphill bid to overhaul immigration
Reviving a deeply contentious issue that has stymied both Congress and the administration, the White House launched a new bid Tuesday to overhaul the national immigration system that President Donald Trump relentlessly rails against.
Though similar efforts have failed to garner anywhere near the support necessary, Trump hopefully invited a dozen Republican senators to the White House to preview the plan, which was spearheaded by senior adviser and presidential son-in-law Jared Kushner.
It’s the latest step in a new, more methodical approach for an administration often marked by Trump’s hastily written executive orders and declarations by tweet. Kushner’s team has pulled in officials with experience in legislation-writing from other agencies, including the Department of Homeland Security, to help with the drafting.
Still, the road to passage remains uphill. Democrats are likely to strongly disapprove of parts of the plan.
Kushner outlined two major ideas:
A border security bill that would focus, in part, on modernizing ports of entry to make sure all people, vehicles and packages are scanned.
A second package of immigration proposals that would create a more “merit-based” system to give preference to those with job skills rather than relatives of immigrants already in the country.
Under the plan, which does not address temporary visa categories, including for laborers, the same number of immigrants would be permitted to enter the country, but their composition would change.
The White House is also working with Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina on additional legislation that would address the nation’s asylum system, in an effort to stem the flow of migrants across the border, according to a senior administration official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to outline the plan.
It’s just the latest effort by the Trump White House to push Congress to overhaul immigration laws that he has long complained compromise national security and depress American workers’ wages by allowing too many immigrants to compete for jobs. But Trump has also said the country needs more workers thanks to economic gains and has said that educated, skilled workers – especially those who graduate from American colleges – should be able to stay and work. While Trump had previously rejected an earlier version of Kushner’s proposal, asking him to incorporate more border security measures, the senior official told reporters after the meeting Tuesday that Trump had signed off on the effort last week and it should now be considered “the President Trump plan.”
The White House is now seeking feedback and pressing for support from Republican lawmakers.
The official declined to say when more details would be unveiled or how the White House intended to get Democrats – who have yet to be briefed on the plan – on board.
Several GOP senators who attended the meeting did compliment the effort.
David Perdue of Georgia said Trump was “developing a platform for immigration that he can be for – and I was impressed.”
“The conversation was about border security and the immigration side – how to become much more effective at allowing the right kind,” he said.
Tom Cotton of Arkansas said, “I heard large areas of agreement from everyone in the room.” He said he still needs to see details, but things are “moving in the right direction.”
Kevin Cramer of North Dakota called it a “good starting point” that could be appealing to Democrats in the right situation. He said, “I think the environment right now with the booming economy, workforce demands, a crisis at the border that’s no longer deemed manufactured presents an opportunity for discussion.”