Trump Administration Unveils Immigration Proposal – Unlikely to Make Headway

On May 16, 2019, President Trump unveiled a legislative proposal for immigration reform, an issue that has been a lightning rod for controversy since he took office in January 2017. The proposal, spearheaded by the President’s senior adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner, aims to recalibrate the current immigration system by increasing security at the border, reforming the asylum process, and curbing family-based immigration in favor of a “merit-based” system that would prioritize academic and professional credentials. While the proposal has garnered a great deal of media attention, there appears to be little chance that it will result in any new laws – certainly not before the November 3, 2020 presidential election.

Outline of President’s Proposal

The proposal calls for an additional 400 miles of border wall, and even includes a provision to allow private citizens to donate directly towards the wall’s construction. In regards to the asylum crisis, the proposal promises to “close loopholes” and expedite the asylum review process.

As for the green card process, the President’s proposal slams the current system, asserting that it is a drain on public resources and a way for employers to undercut wages. To recalibrate the profile of entering immigrants, the proposal would introduce the “Build America Visa,” which would select immigrants based on a point system and features three high-skill categories: extraordinary talent, professional and specialized vocations, and exceptional academic track record.


Since the proposal’s unveiling, it has gained no traction in either the House of Representatives or the U.S. Senate. Democrats continue to criticize President Trump for his insistence on a southern border wall and what they view to be a draconian attitude towards Central American refugees. Many of the President’s fellow Republicans also found little to be excited about in the proposal. Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-SC), who has been a strong supporter of President Trump, went as far as to comment, “… We all know you’re not going to pass this without dealing with the other aspects of immigration. …” [See Trump to Unveil Immigration Plan Aimed at Changing Narrative by Anita Kumar and Eliana Johnson, Politico, 15.May.2019.]


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