The document calls the President’s approach “pro-American, pro-immigrant, and pro-worker,” and lists the administration’s six big-picture goals for reforming the immigration system:
- Fully secure the border
- Protect American wages
- Attract and retain the best and brightest talent
- Prioritize immediate families
- Strengthen our workforce
- Preserve our humanitarian values
Notably, the plan outlines the White House’s intent of moving to a “merit-based” immigration system. The proposal would institute a program called the “Build America Visa,” a point-based system that would select immigrants based on “extraordinary talent, professional and specialized vocations, and exceptional academic track records.”
The plan seeks to establish a border security fund that would be dedicated to fully securing the border, ensuring 100 percent inspection at ports of entry, stopping drugs, contraband, and counterfeit goods from entering, and facilitating faster trade.
Other provisions include enabling public donations to help continue to add on to the 400 plus miles of border wall currently in progress, attempting to decrease child smuggling, and instituting a civics test for those applying for the “Build America Visa.”
Many members of the Texas congressional delegation have voiced their positions on the proposal, including freshman Rep. Michael Cloud (R-TX-27), who stated on Twitter, “I’m encouraged that the President continues to make the issue of border security a top priority, and his recent immigration proposal would go a long way toward fixing many aspects of the immediate crisis on the border.”
Rep. Michael Burgess (R-TX-26) said “Between reforming our immigration system and bolstering physical border security, President Trump has presented a clear path forward; however, he cannot solve this crisis alone. Congress must stand ready to put partisan politics aside and pass meaningful solutions.”
The plan has been met with strong opposition from congressional Democrats. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) went so far as to state the proposal would be “dead on arrival” before the details of the proposal were even released.
Releasing a statement on behalf of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-TX-20) addressed many of the White House’s arguments, including the proposed “merit-based” entry.
Castro stated, “Few among us could work on a roof in the July Texas sun, or work the fields of the Central Valley or Midwest for eight hours a day. That seems like a ‘highly skilled’ worker to me.”
Castro acknowledged the caucus’s interest in addressing immigration and said, “I’m glad the White House is finally engaging Congress on the issue of immigration. Unfortunately, the President’s proposal betrays American values.” He went on to call President Trump “the most anti-immigrant and xenophobic President in generations” who “hopes to use the concept of ‘merit’ to keep out of this country people that Stephen Miller doesn’t like.”
Stephen Miller, a top White House aide, has been at the forefront of immigration and border policy since his tenure in the U.S. Senate as communication and policy advisor to former Attorney General and Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions.
Senator John Cornyn, facing reelection in 2020, voiced his support for the President’s plan. Cornyn called the proposal “thoughtful” and accused the Democrats of being “for the status quo.”
The proposal comes in light of increased illegal immigrant border crossings along the southern border. In both April and March, there were over 100,000 apprehensions of illegal immigrants by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP).
View the White House plan below:
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McKenzie DiLullo serves as Senior Editor at The Texan. Previously, she worked as a Capitol Director during the 85th legislative session before moving to Fort Worth to manage Senator Konni Burton’s campaign. In her free time, you might find her enjoying dog memes, staring at mountains, or proctoring personality tests.