Washington: The move to introduce points- based system for the most sought-after 'Green Card' would be advantageous to foreign workers with professional skills while it will “discourage” those with low or no skills, the White House has said.
The statement from the White House comes a day after US President Donald Trump announced his support for a legislation that would halve the number legal immigrants allowed into the US, while moving to a "merit-based" system favouring English-speaking skilled workers for residency cards.
"The Trump administration has also proposed to limit family-based migration to spouses and minor children, Jason Miller, a senior adviser to the president, told reporters at a White House news conference yesterday.
Noting that such a system was already in place in Canada and Australia, Miller said the establishment of a new entry system based on points was "historic".
Trump had mentioned about the points-based system in his 'State of the Union' address early this year.
The points-based system, Miller said, will look at whether the applicant speaks English besides some other factors. "Can they support themselves and their families financially? Do they have a skill that will add to the US economy? Are they being paid a high wage?" he asked, adding that the proposed system will help prevent displacement of US workers.
With this, Trump has fulfilled a major campaign promise towards a merit-based immigration reform that protects US workers, US taxpayers and the US economy, and prioritises the needs of its own citizens, residents and workers, Miller said.
"It's a pro-American immigration reform that the American people want; that the American people deserve, and that puts the needs of the working class ahead of the investor class," he said.
The proposal was formally announced by Trump along with two Senators -- Tom Cotton and David Perdue - who are the authors of the Reforming American Immigration for Strong Employment (RAISE) Act. The bill needs to be signed by both the House of Representatives and the Senate, before it can be sent to the White House for Trump to sign it into law.
"The RAISE Act will reduce poverty, increase wages, and save taxpayers billions and billions of dollars.It will do this by changing the way the United States issues Green Cards to nationals from other countries. Green Cards provide permanent residency, work authorisation, and a fast-track to citizenship," Trump had said at a White House event to announce his support to the RAISE Act.
Miller claimed massive public support for this.
"Ultimately, members of the Congress will have a choice to make. They can either vote for the interests of US citizens and US workers, or they can vote against their interests, and whatever happens as a result of that, I think, would be somewhat predictable," he said.
Miller described the development as "a really historic moment" and the biggest proposed change that would take place in 50 years.
Opposition slams RAISE
However, political opponents describe the RAISE Act as anti-immigrant.
"Our nation's immigrants are the constant reinvigoration of America.By bringing their hopes, courage and determination to succeed to our shores, each generation of newcomers makes America more American," said Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi.
"From the start, Trump has pushed a hateful, senseless anti-immigrant agenda that instills fear in the communities, weakens the nation, and dishonours American values," Pelosi said.
The Democratic Party said that the bill would limit Green Cards for those looking to reunite with their US-based families and cut the number of accepted refugees in half.
It would also prioritise awarding green cards to those who speak English and end the visa diversity lottery for individuals from areas that have fewer immigrants in the US, it claimed.