Trump unveils merit-based immigration bill favoring English-speaking applicants

By Andrew V. Pestano  |  Aug. 2, 2017 at 1:27 PM
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Aug. 2 (UPI) -- President Donald Trump on Wednesday announced new immigration legislation that favors English-speaking applicants who can financially support themselves and contribute to the U.S. economy.

Trump made the announcement in the White House alongside Republican Sens. David Perdue of Georgia and Tom Cotton of Arkansas.

The legislation -- the Reforming American Immigration for a Strong Economy Act, or RAISE Act -- will "reduce poverty, increase wages and save taxpayers billions and billions of dollars," Trump said.

"It will do this by changing the way the United States issues green cards to nationals from other countries. Green cards provide permanent residency, work authorization and fast-track to citizenship," the president said. "For decades, the United States was operated and has operated a very low-skilled immigration system -- issuing record numbers of green cards to low-wage immigrants."

Trump said the longstanding policy has "placed substantial pressure on American workers, taxpayers and community resources."

In February, Perdue and Cotton proposed cutting the number of legal immigrants into the United States by 50 percent over 10 years.

Trump said the RAISE Act "ends chain migration and replaces our low-skilled system with a new points-based system for receiving a green card."

"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," he added.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security said more than 1 million immigrants gained permanent residency in the United States in 2015.

"The RAISE Act is aimed at creating a skills-based immigration system that will make America more competitive, raise wages for American workers, and create jobs. Americans deserve a raise," the White House said in a statement.

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