President Donald Trump and aides on Tuesday briefed a group of Republican senators on a merit-based immigration plan that would let more highly-skilled workers into the United States and fewer low-skilled workers, a senior administration official said.
The overall effect of the plan, the official told a group of reporters, would be to leave the number of legal immigrants allowed into the United States at about the same.
“We want to encourage immigration. But it’s got to be through the legal system,” the official said.
Separately, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham, whose committee would have to shepherd such legislation through the Senate, described the effort to reporters as “a merit-based immigration proposal that deals with increases in work visas and decreases family visas.” The latter refers to visas for relatives of immigrants already in the United States.
Graham said the more pressing problem is dealing with large numbers of undocumented Central American families seeking asylum in the United States. He said he would introduce a bill as soon as next week that could toughen asylum requirements and potentially extend the amount of time young immigrants could spend in detention. In recent weeks, Graham has said he would seek Democratic input, but if there was no agreement, then the “blame game” would begin, as the 2020 presidential and congressional elections near. Lawmakers said none of the Republican measures do anything to protect from deportation the more than 1 million undocumented immigrants brought into the United States years ago as children and referred to as “Dreamers.”