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Trump’s criteria for immigrants: Skills, jobs and spoken English

The Donald Trump administration says it wants to reform the immigration system to serve the national interest of the US.

world Updated: Jan 17, 2018 22:14 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Washington
Donald Trump,US immigration reform,immigrants in US
US President Donald Trump, with Senator Dick Durbin, holds a meeting at the White House on immigration reform.(Reuters)

The Trump administration is pushing for a merit-based system, favouring those with skills, jobs and the ability to speak English as part of a deal on immigration. It plans to end and replace family-linked migration (also called chain migration) and diversity visa lottery.

A merit-based immigration system, the Trump administration feels, would admit the best and the brightest around the world while making it harder for people to come to the country illegally.

“We want to bring in individuals, wherever they may be from, who love this country, who love its people, who have skills, who have talent, who have -- who speak English, who are committed to supporting our values and our very way of life,” a senior administration official said on condition of anonymity.

Such individuals could be from any part of the world given that they fulfil the requirements, the official said.

If such a policy is developed and implemented, it could benefit individuals from countries like India, the majority of whom meet the criterion.

US lawmakers are also racing to cobble together an immigration deal that would protect Dreamers — undocumented immigrants brought to America as children. The 700,000 Dreamers — including 8,000 from India — face a March 5 deadline, when an Obama-era regulation that protected them from deportation is set to lapse.

The US also faces a looming shutdown of the federal government over the weekend. Democrats are pressing for the Dreamer deal as part of negotiations to keep the government funded, hoping to leverage the issue to extract maximum concessions from Republicans. This has not gone down well with Trump.

“The Democrats want to shut down the Government over Amnesty for all and Border Security,” Trump tweeted. “The biggest loser will be our rapidly rebuilding Military, at a time we need it more than ever. We need a merit based system of immigration, and we need it now! No more dangerous Lottery.”

On Tuesday, Republicans unveiled a spending bill to keep the federal government funded for another four weeks, which would give negotiations more time. But it did not provide provisions on immigration that Democrats have been bargaining for.

This is the fourth time congress will pass a short-term spending bill — called continuing resolution — to keep the federal government running since the last budget bill lapsed in September 2017.

The underlying differences and tensions standing in the way of the negotiations surfaced on Tuesday at an acrimonious hearing on Capitol Hill, with Democratic senators grilling department of homeland security secretary Kirstjen Nielsen on Trump’s use of the term “s***hole countries”.

Nielsen was in the room when the term was uttered, but has said she didn’t hear Trump say it. As Democrats interrogated her, Republican senator Lindsey Graham, who has worked on a bipartisan bill on Dreamers, said the negotiations have turn into a “s***show”.

The legislation seeks to legitimise the status of Dreamers with measures to boost border security — including some funding for the wall. But there is a competing legislation that is being used by Republican hardliners to extract the maximum they could from the negotiations.

First Published: Jan 17, 2018 09:33 IST