What is Trump’s merit-based immigration system?

President Donald Trump looks over to his invited guests in the balcony during his address to a joint session of Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2017. (AP)

US President Donald Trump vowed to crack down on illegal immigration. But when he went before Congress earlier this week, he called for a “merit-based” immigration system — one that puts a priority on skills and employability over family ties.

In his speech, Trump said: “It’s a basic principle that those seeking to enter a country ought to be able to support themselves financially.”

However, some Republicans fear this would harm the economy by shutting out less-educated immigrants who fill vital jobs, such as farm and kitchen workers.

While Democrats argue that Trump’s emphasis on choosing the most skilled immigrants is a backdoor way to re-engineer American laws to filter out certain ethnicities and nationalities.

How it Work

Trump cited Canada’s merit-based system, in which immigrants are awarded points according to their educational and employment background, language proficiency and financial means, among other considerations. The highest scorers get priority for admission.

Under this system, employment attributes like education and skills would have accounted for more points than family relationships.

Temporary workers would be barred from bringing family members to the US unless they accepted a shorter-term visa and could show they would not become primarily dependent on government benefits.

Trump believes this would save money, raise workers’ wages and help struggling families, including immigrant families, enter the middle class.

Trump’s views are based on the idea that because the current system allows people to immigrate to the US without regard for their employability or skill level, it creates an oversupply of low-skilled workers, who in turn drive down job opportunities and wages for Americans with a high school diploma or less.

Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:53 - GMT 06:53