Trump to propose plan to make U.S. immigration more merit-based

Trump to propose plan to make U.S. immigration more merit-based

After years of setbacks and stalemates, President Donald Trump will lay out yet another immigration plan on Thursday as he tries to convince the American public and lawmakers that the nation's current legal immigration system should be overhauled.

"We want to start by trying to anchor the discussion by defining border security, defining what the legal immigration should be and then seeing if we can unite Republicans around it and then also unite Republicans around the fact that we're not looking to change the number of legal immigration", one of the officials said. Watch live in our player.

Republican Senators John Cornyn and John Barrasso told reporters that Trump would give his views in a speech as soon as this week. It faces an uphill battle in Congress, with prospects bleak for an election-season agreement on such a contentious issue. But many outside the administration believe the White House might be open to an eventual deal that could include new protections for that group.

Under the Trump plan, merit-based visas would rise to more than half.

Kushner briefed the senators on the contours of the plan, a person familiar with the situation said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Far fewer green cards would be given to people with relatives already in the U.S. The diversity visa lottery, which offers green cards to citizens of countries with historically low rates of immigration to the U.S., would be eliminated.

The officials offered fewer specifics on border security, but said the administration hopes to create a fund, paid for by increasing certain fees, and use the money to modernize security and ports of entry.

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The officials said more details would be released in the coming weeks.

U.S. President Donald Trump will outline on Thursday a plan to harden border security and overhaul the legal immigration system to favor applicants who speak English, are well-educated and have job offers, senior administration officials said. A "four pillars" proposal past year fell by the wayside after Republicans failed to get behind corresponding legislation. But White House officials declined an invitation for the president to take part in the grand opening on the same day of a museum at the Statue of Liberty - an event expected to attract many dignitaries to commemorate the almost 133-year-old landmark that has always been an icon of inclusion for immigrants. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.), a Trump ally, said at a news conference Wednesday during which he unveiled his own bill to deal with the border crisis.

Graham introduced legislation Wednesday that would require Central Americans to apply for asylum in the US from their own countries. Aides said the plan would call for modernizing legal ports of entry to help prevent illicit drugs and human trafficking, while also proposing to changes to USA asylum laws - something Democrats have called a non-starter.

It also calls for 500 additional immigration judges, for the amount of time that illegal immigrant families can be held together to increase from 20 days to 100 days, and would authorize the immigration services to return unaccompanied Central American minors to their countries of origin.

Both Graham and Senator Kevin Cramer - who attended a similar briefing about the plan with Trump at the White House last week - said the plan would keep immigration numbers steady.

"If we do these four things, then the incentives created by our laws will cease to exist, this humanitarian disaster will begin to fix itself and I am willing to sit down with Democrats and find a way to address the underlying problem in Central America", he said. This story will be updated as it develops. The PBS NewsHour will produce this video.

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