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White House insists Trump’s merit-based immigration proposal ‘designed to become law’

Donald Trump will unveil his ideal immigration plan in a speech today, calling for new criteria and a point-based system for legal entry into the United States. 

The proposal eliminates the diversity visa lottery for potential green card holders and refocuses the legal immigration system around skilled workers. It proposes English-language tests for visa holders and requires applicants to pass a U.S. citizenship test.

Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham said Wednesday that the proposal the White House previewed to Congress ‘isn’t designed to become law.’ He said it was intended to ‘unify’ the GOP on border security and a merit-based admission system.

A presentation by senior officials to press before Trump’s speech came in the form of a slideshow and did not include go into detail. 

White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders insisted Thursday that Trump’s proposal is more than a set of goals and bullet points, however.

‘We think it certainly is designed to become law. We think it should. That’s why we put it out, and that’s why we’ve spent a lot of time developing and making sure that this is something that could have buy-in from both sides and actually fix our system that hasn’t been upgraded or touched in decades,’ she told DailyMail.com.

President Trump will unveil his immigration overhaul Thursday, providing a road map for weary lawmakers who've tired of failed negotiations

President Trump will unveil his immigration overhaul Thursday, providing a road map for weary lawmakers who’ve tired of failed negotiations

Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham said Wednesday that the proposal the White House previewed to Congress 'isn't designed to become law.' He said it was intended to 'unify' the GOP on border security and a merit-based admission system

Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham said Wednesday that the proposal the White House previewed to Congress ‘isn’t designed to become law.’ He said it was intended to ‘unify’ the GOP on border security and a merit-based admission system

White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders insisted Thursday that Trump's proposal is more than a set of goals as she spoke to DailyMail.com and other press

White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders insisted Thursday that Trump’s proposal is more than a set of goals as she spoke to DailyMail.com and other press 

Graham unveiled an immigration plan Wednesday that zeros in on the humanitarian crisis at the border. The White House says its plan works hand in glove with the GOP senator’s proposal.

‘These two things compliment one another,’ Sanders told Fox News.

She characterized Graham’s comprehensive immigration reform proposal as a quick fix.  

‘The president’s plan, that he’s going to talk about later this afternoon, is more of a long-term thing looking at modernizing and updating our entire immigration system.’

Graham had put the White House on blast the afternoon before as he revealed his plan, telling reporters, ‘The White House’s plan is not designed to become law. This is designed to become law.’

He said the White House plan emphasizing a border wall and merit-based immigration cannot win bipartisan support.

‘I don’t think it’s designed to get Democratic support as much as it is to unify the Republican Party around border security,’ he said Tuesday after seeing the White House’s presentation.

Graham’s bill would require asylum applicants from Central American countries to apply for refugee status before they migrate to the U.S. Asylum claims from those migrants would be automatically rejected at the U.S.-Mexico border.

In Rose Garden remarks this afternoon, Trump will announce changes to America’s ‘screwed up’ asylum laws and seek to build GOP support for his plan, a senior administration official told White House press. on Wednesday.

Jared Kushner, a senior White House official and the president’s son-in-law, crafted the current proposal with the input of economic and border security experts such as senior policy advisor Stephen Miller. 

While Kushner is running point on the project, officials stressed at a briefing for press that it is the ‘Trump’ plan and not the ‘Kushner proposal’ or  ‘The Republican Proposal’ – even though a slide in the White House’s presentation promoted it that way.

‘Right now, this is the Trump plan. We’re hoping this will become the Republican plan,’ one of the officials told DailyMail.com on Wednesday,’ and we’ll keep evolving.’

Whether Trump will be able to get a majority of lawmakers on board was an unknown as the White House made its second attempt at comprehensive immigration reform after a skirmish with the Democratically-controlled House of Representatives earlier in the year. 

Trump met with Republican senators last week, and sent his proxies to Capitol Hill on Tuesday.

WHAT’S IN TRUMP’S IMMIGRATION PLAN? 

  •  Expedited adjudication for asylum seekers & quicker removal process
  • Wall in ‘high-priority locations’ along border with Mexico
  • Change eligibility for visas, adding a point-based system 
  • Points include: U.S civics test; health screening, background check
  • Other factors: age, English proficiency, offer of employment, educational & vocational certificates
  • Plan would increase education and skills of new legal immigrants

A report after the GOP luncheon claimed that Trump’s plan was lacking in details and Kushner had trouble handling the information. 

An official disputed the claims on Wednesday, claiming senators’ reactions had been ‘misreported’ and telling DailyMail.com, ‘People were very, very enthusiastic about it.’ 

White House officials have briefed half of the Senate’s 53 Republican members on the president’s plan, the Trump adviser claimed. ‘And there’s been no negative public comments from GOP senators, as well, on the record.’

The person suggested that leakers claiming otherwise were intentionally trying to derail the plan that seeks to decrease the number of immigrants who come because of family connections and increase the number of skilled workers.

A slide in the presentation said that within the current system, just 12 percent of immigrants are coming because of employment and skill, while 66 percent are relocating because of family ties. Another 22 percent are allowed in for humanitarian causes and through the diversity visa lottery.   

Trump’s plan, which the slide mistakenly referred to as ‘The Republican Proposal’ even though officials said that wasn’t the case, set up new categories of 57 percent employment and skill based, and a reduction to 33 percent for family links and 10 percent for humanitarian purposes.

The administration based its plan on systems in Australia, Japan and Canada. 

Jared Kushner, a senior White House official and the president's son-in-law, crafted the current proposal with the input of economic and border security experts such as senior policy advisor Stephen Miller

Jared Kushner, a senior White House official and the president’s son-in-law, crafted the current proposal with the input of economic and border security experts such as senior policy advisor Stephen Miller

Australia’s point-based system prioritizes merit-based workers at 68 percent of its total with 30 percent relocating for family reasons and 2 percent coming for other reasons. 

Trump would totally do away with the diversity visa lottery in America, which he incorrectly claimed on Wednesday involves countries picking its worst citizens and sending them to America.

Non-Americans apply for visas and are selected by the State Department at random through the system. If they pass background checks administered by the United States, they are allowed to come to America.

Many illegal immigrants attempt to take advantage of America’s asylum laws, which are meant for refugees. The Trump administration wants to scale back the number of asylum seekers and unclog the asylum system.

‘Right now we have a lot of people who want to use our asylum system. Right now it’s so screwed up that those people aren’t getting the adjudication they need,’ a senior official told press. ‘So we want to make sure that people who have legitimate claims can come through quickly, and that people who are trying to take advantage of the system, use it as a back door, are ejected and removed in an expedited fashion but also given due process.’

Trump has pushed for a system that allows him to reject most Central American migrants’ asylum requests and immediately send them back to their home countries.

Last week a senior White House official told DailyMail.com that Trump envisions a ‘big door’ that immigrants with skill sets the U.S. wants will be able to walk through, ant that’s the focus of his overhaul.

In the interim, Trump has floated a plan to send illegal immigrants to San Francisco and other sanctuary cities that provide safe harbor to undocumented migrants. 

The official said that under the president’s proposed new law, the president’s controversial sanctuary cities plan wouldn’t be necessary.

‘I think that if this plan gets enacted, then the amount of illegal immigrants coming into this country should plummet,’ the senior official told DailyMail.com, ‘because you’ll have the secure border and you’ll have the ability to detain, adjudicate – with due process – and then remove people who coming in illegally.’ 

The person added, ‘And then we’ll have a big door, which is the people who are coming in legally will be able to come in in a much simpler, expedited fashion, and that’s what we, I think, should expect, and aim for as a country.’

President Trump threatened last week to resort to ‘harsh measures’ to address problems in the immigration system, if Democrats continue to stand in the way of his overhaul.

The Republican president tweeted before a meeting with GOP senators to say, ‘Democrats in Congress must vote to close the terrible loopholes at the Southern Border. If not, harsh measures will have to be taken!’

He did not elaborate on the threat and details of the immigration proposal his White House is preparing with the help of lawmakers remained murky, even after officials held a background briefing for the press. 

An outline of Trump’s comprehensive plan laid of six areas of concern: securing the border, protecting American wages and recruiting the best and brightest migrants, family reunification and the preservation of humanitarian values, in that order.

A senior official who spoke to a group of reporters last Tuesday said Trump will reveal a more detailed plan when he’s ready, and the meeting with senators was merely a first step in putting together a coalition.

‘I think he was very happy with the meeting today. I think we got a very positive reaction from people whose opinions he wanted to seek, and I think that was a good step forward to validate a lot of his instincts on what he wanted to produce and the work that he has subsequently done,’ the official stated.

A week later, the White House claimed it was ready to present the broad strokes of a proposal as it continued to work with legislators, however. 

Officials said they were focused on winning the support of seven GOP senators, although they refused to say which lawmakers they were. 

One who briefed press a week prior told DailyMail.com that what had changed in over the last eight days was that, ‘We got ready.’

‘We’re fairly fluid in terms of how we do these things, but what we’ll do is: when we’re ready,’ the senior Trump aide said.

The official explained that president approved the draft proposal and immediately brought in a focus group of 12 senators to solicit their input. 

While it could have went poorly, the person said, ‘Turned out it went very, very well. 

‘Feedback in the room was great, and these are all people who are not bashful about telling you both privately and publicly about when they’re not happy with what you put forward,’ the White House official assessed.  

Stephen Miller, a senior adviser, to the president, is seen on Tuesday on Capitol Hill

Stephen Miller, a senior adviser, to the president, is seen on Tuesday on Capitol Hill

The White House promoted the meeting with senators as a ‘sounding board’ for options and claimed that a timeline for introducing the plan had not been set.

‘We had a good opportunity to share with them the outline that we’ve been working on, and then get some of their feedback, so it was a very constructive meeting. We’ll work on further refining it based on some of the things we heard today,’ the Trump aide who requested anonymity to brief the press said. 

Trump is trying to avoid the mistakes Republicans made the first time they attempted to secure enough votes for an immigration overhaul after he assumed office, the White House official intimated. 

‘People are always too quick to try and rush in to make deals,’ the person explained. ‘Once we have finalized what we believe is the right position, we’ll try to unify as many of the Republicans around that as possible, and then we’ll see.’

The person suggested that Democrats could come on board without much wrangling if the White House goes about rolling out its plan correctly.

‘Maybe the Democrats will like it. a lot of them say they’re for border security, a lot of Democrats say they’re for a merit-based system and so I think that we’re taking the first step of putting together these ideas in a very detailed format, and hopefully, that starts a very positive discussion,’ the Trump aide said.   

Asked Wednesday whether the president seriously believes he can get a plan passed with Democratic senators vying for his job in hot pursuit, the official said the immediate goal is to get GOP senators on board. 

‘It’s very easy to be pessimistic, right? We recognize how hard it is. But again the president’s mandate to us is come up with something that … represents my position on immigration, put it out there, let’s unify Republicans. That’s the immediate task. Once you do that, a lot of things become possible,’ the person said. 

The aide said of the plan’s legislative viability, ‘I don’t know, maybe we can, maybe can’t but we’re gonna try like hell to see if we can do it.’ 

‘And the president’s a dealmaker, and he’s flexible and he wants to see this happen,’ the aide insisted. 

Trump’s speech on Thursday is not anticipated to get into the nuts and bolts of the proposal.

‘We’re going to release some details tomorrow,’ the official said. ‘We’re going to release more details later on.’

Kellyanne Conway, counselor to the president, suggested to DailyMail.com and other reporters Tuesday morning that the new plan would be similar to one Trump sent to Congress his first year in office

Kellyanne Conway, counselor to the president, suggested to DailyMail.com and other reporters Tuesday morning that the new plan would be similar to one Trump sent to Congress his first year in office

Kellyanne Conway, counselor to the president, suggested to DailyMail.com and other reporters last Tuesday morning that the president’s new plan would be similar to one Trump sent to Congress his first year in office. 

‘This president submitted to Congress, in October of 2017, a 70-point immigration plan, that has never been acted on,’ she asserted. 

Conway said Trump prioritizes securing the border, ending chain migration and the diversity visa lottery and moving to a merit-based immigration system.

‘This president has shown in the past a serious willingness to solve our Dreamers and DACA challenges, as well,’ she said. ‘So Jared Kushner and others have been talking about for awhile a big immigration plan, and we’re happy that the senators are coming over to be briefed on that.’

She declined to say, in response to a question from DailyMail.com, what is different about the new plan that Trump will be selling to senators.

The senior White House official suggested that the political climate could make immigration reform easier the second crack of the bat.

‘That the Democrats actually come to the table and their serious about it, because this will be our second attempt. Where’s their plan? What is their idea?’ she said.

Specific details of the White House plan are still under wraps, too.  Trump has only said that it will prioritize merit-based workers. 

‘They have skills, they have talent. We have people coming in under these crazy laws that – I mean under these crazy laws that – I mean if they – if they need welfare or if they need hand outs in the next 50 years, they – they’re almost incentivized,’ he said in a recent interview. ‘Those are the people that we’re supposed to be taking and we take as few as possible of them, I’ll tell you.’ 

He said Wednesday at a Capitol Hill service for slain police officers that he would keep out illegal immigrant killers like the one who killed a California cop he was honoring.

‘Not one more American life should be lost because our lawmakers failed to secure our borders. Tremendous problems are caused at the southern border — from drugs, to the wrong people being allowed to come in because of a corrupt and broken system that can be changed in 20 minutes — 20 minutes, if they want to change it.’

He said, ‘In the meantime, we have to do it the tough way. And there’s no reason for that. That’s why we are calling on Congress to fix our terrible immigration laws, stop catch-and-release; you catch them and you release them.

‘To end deadly sanctuary cities. To stop the visa lottery program, where they take lottery systems and a country will put you into a lottery and then deposit you into the United States. I don’t think most countries are giving us their finest. Do you agree? And that’s what’s happening. And it’s causing tremendous problems with crime and other things.

Trump claimed an illegal immigrant who killed Officer Ronil Singh ‘could have been kept out with border security, with the wall, with whatever the hell it takes’ and he would make it happen.

‘We’re getting it there. We’re building the wall. We’re beefing up like you wouldn’t believe. The military is come into action,’ he said, ‘People are trying to come into our country illegally because our country is doing well. They can’t come in illegally. They have to come in through the legal system. They have to come in through merit.’

The president insisted, ‘They can’t come in like this killer came in. Just rode across the border, went through every sign he could go through,’ he alleged. 

Kushner said at a Time 100 summit last month that  border security, including a wall or a barrier, remains the president’s first priority.

‘We want to protect our country’s humanitarian values. We want to make sure we’re reunifying families, and we want to do this in a way that allows our country to be competitive long term,’ he said. ‘And my hope is we can really do something that unifies people around what we’re for on immigration.’ 

 

 

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