May 15, 2019

What we know about Kushner's big immigration plan

Jared Kushner. Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

President Trump will give an immigration speech on Thursday afternoon and will begin to unveil the immigration proposal son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner has spent months putting together, senior administration officials told reporters at the White House this afternoon.

Why it matters: The White House wants an immigration plan that can unite Republicans. It won't touch on so-called Dreamers or the undocumented immigrant population, which are important issues for Democrats. But even if the legislation goes nowhere in Congress, it'll give Trump something concrete to campaign on in 2020.

Between the lines: The legislation will change asylum processes, fund more border security and change who qualifies for a green card. Overall, the total number of green cards issued each year — roughly 1.1 million — will remain unchanged.

  • By the numbers: Administration officials claimed that the system would result in an increase of $500 billion in tax revenue by 2029, due to more immigrants who are likely to be employed in well-paid jobs.
The legal immigration system

Employment and skill-based visas would make up 57% of green cards issued under the new plan, up from just 12%, according to an analysis shown to reporters via PowerPoint.

  • Foreigners with extraordinary talents, professional or specialized workers and exceptional students would be the target for the new high-skill visa process.
  • After passing a civics tests, visa applicants would be awarded points based on their age, English proficiency, educational attainment, whether they had an offer of employment in the U.S. and how much that job would pay.

This higher number of skill-based green cards would come at the expense of the diversity lottery visa and family immigration.

  • The share of green cards given to family members of U.S. citizens would be halved under the plan. It is still unclear which family members would be impacted, but a senior administration official said that spouses and children would be a priority.

What to watch: The RAISE act, which offered a similar legal immigration system and was backed by Trump in 2017, eliminated the ability for U.S. citizens to petition for siblings, parents or children over the age of 18 years old.

At the border

The legislation would:

  • Provide physical barriers and updated technology at the border to help border patrol screen those who come through the legal ports of entry and locate those who attempt to cross illegally.
  • Streamline and expedite the asylum process, although the specifics are still unclear.
  • Raise fees required for certain permits and transactions at the border, which would fund future border upgrades.
  • According to the presentation shown to reporters, the plan would enable "prompt removal of illegal border crossers" and eliminate "magnets for illegal migration." But details were not given.

What it won't touch: Undocumented immigrants and short-term visas such as H-1Bs, which many U.S. tech companies depend on, and seasonal worker visas.

The bottom line: It's unlikely this legislation will go anywhere. A senior administration official even admitted that when it comes to the proposal becoming law, "it's very easy to be pessimistic," but they plan to try.

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