U.S. President Donald Trump has introduced legislation aimed at changing the priorities for immigrants seeking admission into the U.S., favoring high-skilled, English-speaking migrants.
Trump announced the introduction of the bill on August 2 alongside Republican Sens. Tom Cotton of Arkansas and David Perdue of Georgia. It was not immediately clear when the Senate will hear the bill, according to ABC News.
Trump's plan favors granting legal residency -- green cards -- to workers with in-demand skills as well as those who already speak English, helping them assimilate more effectively into the country, he said. The new legislation appears to be a new version of Trump's original immigration reform attempt, which was opposed by both Republicans and business leaders upon its February 2017 release.
"This competitive application process will favor applicants who can speak English, financially support themselves and their families, and demonstrate skills that will contribute to our economy," Trump said while introducing the bill.
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The merit-based reform was a major fixture in the February bill, seeking to balance the amount of skilled workers entering the country. Half of immigrant households receive some sort of government assistance, while 30 percent of nonimmigrant households receive aid, according to the Washington Examiner.
Lawmakers in favor of the bill hope it makes the immigration process fairer and easier for all that apply. Applicants can go online to answer several questions about their education and professional experience to help assess their chances of being accepted, according to the Washington Examiner. They would then receive a concrete score to help give them a better idea about the chances of obtaining a visa.
The Raise Act, as Trump's new bill is dubbed, faces an uphill battle in Congress, says the Los Angeles Times. Nearly all Democrats and several Republicans oppose parts of the bill's key provisions.
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Immigration advocacy groups and some economists have argued that as the U.S. battles an aging populace with a low fertility rate, it ought to be encouraging young people to move to the country to spur economic growth.
The bill also does not include a "path to citizenship" provision, which would allow immigrants who came to the country illegally but have started families to stay. Many Democrats and some moderate Republicans have voiced their support for such a provision to be included in future immigration plans.
Although the president has previously said that he does not want to cut down on the total number of immigrants who enter the U.S. every year, the proposal would slash legal immigration to less than half of its current level, according to the Los Angeles Times.