The Trump Administration is working to establish a merit-based immigration system in the United States. The new system would be based more on talent and skill, and less on familial ties. Revamping the immigration system has been an ongoing goal of the Trump Administration since its inception. President Trump suggested in July that he would sign a “very strong” bill that reformed the immigration system. The Administration asserts that focusing on a merit-based immigration system will bring in more people who pay taxes and contribute to the social safety net.
Comparisons with Other Countries
According to the Trump Administration, the U.S. immigration system is an outlier as other countries have roughly equal immigration rates based on merit and familial ties. According to Jared Kushner, senior adviser to the President and his son-in-law, 53% of Canada immigrants are merit-based. Similarly, New Zealand’s rate is 59%, Australia is 63%, and Japan is 52%. Based on these figures, the Trump Administration is planning to increase the merit-based immigration rate to be 57%. The Administration asserts that changing to a merit-based system will make the U.S. competitive and will bring in $500 billion in tax revenue over ten years.
Proposed Merit-Based System
According to Kushner, the new immigration system will also include a diversity pool program which will ensure that the U.S. admits a broad range of peoples. Kushner specifically cited the Australian model as a guide for a diversity pool. The proposed reforms will allegedly keep the immigration numbers the same – 1.1. million as of last year – but alter the make-up so that 57% of the next 1.1 million admitted immigrants will be here based on merit rather than familial ties or humanitarian grounds.
Effect on DACA
The Administration also said that any immigration reform must also include a path to citizenship for children brought here illegally – i.e., the individuals protected by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA). DACA deferred deportation proceedings against individuals who were brought here as children. Currently, about 700,000 young people are in the DACA program. It has been a long-time goal of the Administration to end the DACA program and replace it with a revised immigration system. However, the Administration’s position has shifted several times from protecting the program to threatening to end it, to protecting it again – including declining to defend the program before the Supreme Court.