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Trump aims to reduce legal immigration

Trump endorses Republican plan to remove “lottery” and reduce green card approval
Claudia Quiñonez and Gerson Quinteros during a protest yesterday at the White House (LENIN NOLLY. EFE)
EFE and AP
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American President Donald Trump endorsed yesterday a bill that aims to cut by half the entry of permanent legal immigrants to the country for the following decade and create a merit-based system, yet this will hardly surpass the Democrat opposition at the Senate.

Trump has backed the initiative of Republican Senators David Perdue, from Georgia, and Tom Cotton, from Arkansas, that until now has had little impact on the Senate. The President said this would be “the most significant reform to our immigration system in half a century.”

According to this bill, green cards will be granted on the basis of a “more competitive” point system, according to the qualification level of the applicant, said Trump. “This system will favor those who can speak English, are able to financially support themselves and their families, and offer skills which can contribute to our economy,” he added.

Trump also said the project will also prevent new immigrants from receiving the American social benefits, even though current laws have prohibited immigrants from receiving any kind of social benefit during their first five years in the country, for the past two decades.

If the bill is passed, the number of green cards approved in the US would reduce from 637 thousand 960 people during the first year, to 539 thousand and 958 people by its tenth year, according to the promoters. This would mean a decrease of 40% and 50%, accordingly, taking as a reference data from 2015, when one million 51 thousand and 31 permanent permits were granted.

According to the most recent data from the Department of Homeland Security, in 2015, the percentage of immigrants who received the more green cards were as follows: Mexico (15.1%), China (7.1%), India (6.1%), Philippines (5.4%), Cuba (5.2%) and Dominican Republic (4.8%).

In addition to the point-based system to measure “merits”, the bill would also restrict new citizens and permanent residents from sponsoring relatives for their immigration to the US. The new system will only allow spouses and minor children to immigrate, contrary to the current systems, which admits parents and siblings.

The bill would also scrap the “diversity lottery”, which assigns up to 50 thousand visas per year to citizens from countries who commonly have low immigration rates.

The RAISE Act (Reforming American Immigration for Strong Employment) would also reduce the number of refugees allowed into the US to 50 thousand per year. For the bill to be passed, the initiative requires 60 votes in the Senate and will probably face opposition from Democrats. “In essence, it's all about cutting immigration by a half a million people, legal immigration. That doesn't make much sense,” said minority leader, Democrat Charles Schumer.


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