White House Unveils Immigration Proposal Blueprint
By Heather Ham-Warren | May 17, 2019
On Thursday, President Donald Trump held a press conference in the White House Rose Garden to unveil his new immigration reform proposal. According to the president’s statements, the proposal—which is not yet accompanied by any legislative text— addresses illegal immigration, as well as flaws in our current legal immigration system.
The humanitarian crisis at our southern border is worsening every day as surges of migrants present themselves at the border seeking asylum. The sheer numbers combined with a lax credible fear standard has led to the asylum system being overburdened with a backlog of 850,000 cases. More than 100,000 aliens have arrived at the border in each of the last two months.
The White House plan aims to secure American borders so that already limited resources are directed to the most vulnerable individuals seeking shelter in the United States. According to President Trump’s speech, the plan will strengthen the asylum system by expediting the review process for immigrants seeking asylum. It will change current laws, which have led to an increase in child smuggling and recycling. The plan also seeks to improve agency coordination and enforcement to combat visa overstays and ensure that all workers are legally authorized work in the United States. Conjointly, the proposal hopes to add an additional 400-plus miles of border wall in strategic locations, even allowing for public donations to help fund the project.
In addition, the president’s proposal would implement a merit-based legal immigration system—an idea long advocated for by FAIR. Every year, the U.S. admits 1.1 million immigrants into the nation as permanent legal residents, and around seventy percent of those individuals are awarded admittance based on family ties or the visa lottery. The White House plan would instead prioritize immediate families by granting parents and minor children front-of-the-line access to green cards. Moreover, the plan creates a new visa category entirely—referred to as the Build America Visa— which will select immigrants based on a points system comprised of high-skilled categories such as: extraordinary talent, professional and specialized vocations, and exceptional academic track records.
Although no legislative text is currently available for review, Dan Stein, President of FAIR, released a statement of support for the proposal and the policies outlined in the president’s speech.
“This is a blueprint that the American people can unite behind, because it contains key provisions that the president and many in Congress have fought for and campaigned on.” Stein continued, “Moreover, while this agenda doesn’t make every needed change, it offers the country a critical and viable path forward in the face of immigration extremism and the constant threat of open borders and immigration anarchy.”
Unfortunately, this proposal does not reduce legal immigration overall, but instead appears to be “numbers neutral.” However, as this package works its way through the legislative branch there will be ample opportunity to fight for additional reforms. FAIR appreciates the president’s bold plans and is excited to work with both Congress and the White House as this process moves forward.