President Donald Trump (R) at a White House meeting on immigration reform. Photo: Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

President Trump has repeatedly called for a “merit-based” immigration system that his administration claimed will benefit thousands of highly-skilled migrants. But, as the AP reports, the Trump administration has made choices that are making it more difficult for skilled foreigners to obtain and retain work visas in the United States.

Why it matters: As Axios' Steve LeVine reported last week, the added difficulties to working in the U.S. — and simply, the uncertainties around the future — are causing the highly-skilled foreign workers that Trump covets to look elsewhere for jobs. One of the main beneficiaries? Canada.

What's happening:

  • His administration ended an Obama-era policy last year that had allowed foreign entrepreneurs to come to the U.S. to start companies. The visa was renewable for a 30-month term.
  • Trump is mulling a plan to halt work permits for the spouses of H-1B visa holders, which would ultimately discourage discourage H-1B visa applicants from staying in the country.
  • The H-1B visa program, the main avenue for high-skilled foreign workers to enter the country, currently allocates 85,000 visas annually, but the process for approval has become noticeably more strict. Dean Garfield, president of the Information Technology Industry Council, which advocates for H1-B visas, told the AP: "We’ve got employees that are going through the process, who have gone through such a level of scrutiny and interrogatory that is unprecedented."

But, but, but: Joanne Fereirra, a spokeswoman for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, told the AP that 92.5% of the visas are still approved, only 2% lower than under the Obama administration in 2016.

  • “The stuff that they’re actually doing is not so much restricting skilled immigration as enforcing the law,” Mark Krikorian of the Center for Immigration Studies, a conservative think tank that supports reducing immigration, told the AP. “They’re rolling back some of the extralegal measures that other administrations have taken.”

Go deeper

The next cliff for the unemployed

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

A program supporting Americans who are typically ineligible for unemployment benefits will expire at the end of the year, with millions still relying on it as the labor market sputters.

Why it matters: The result could be catastrophic for the economic recovery that Wall Street fears is already fragile.

The apocalypse scenario

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Democratic lawyers are preparing to challenge any effort by President Trump to swap electors chosen by voters with electors selected by Republican-controlled legislatures. One state of particular concern: Pennsylvania, where the GOP controls the state house.

Why it matters: Trump's refusal to commit to a peaceful transfer of power, together with a widely circulated article in The Atlantic about how bad the worst-case scenarios could get, is drawing new attention to the brutal fights that could jeopardize a final outcome.

Federal judge rules Trump administration can't end census early

Census workers outside Lincoln Center in New York. Photo: Noam Galai/Getty Images

A federal judge ruled late Thursday that the Trump administration could not end the 2020 census a month early.

Why it matters: The decision states that an early end — on Sept. 30, instead of Oct. 31 — would likely produce inaccuracies and thus impact political representation and government funding around the country.

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