US President Donald Trump is set to lay out the details for yet another immigration and border security proposal.
The latest effort will be spear-headed by his son-in-law Jared Kushner and will focus on improving border security while rethinking the current green card system of immigration.
Regarding the proposed policy shift on green cards, the new plan will see these being issued to those with high-level skills, degrees and job offers. Currently the green card system favours those who already have relatives in the country.
The move to a merit-based system that places a priority on skilled workers would mark a dramatic departure from the nation's largely family-based approach. Officials said the current system offers 66% of green cards to those with family ties. Only 12% of green cards issued are based on skills.
The plan is set to be rolled out on Thursday, May 16th but has yet to be embraced by Trump's own party, never mind the Democrats or even Congress. Efforts to overhaul the immigration system have gone nowhere for three decades. Prospects for an agreement seem especially bleak as the 2020 elections approach. The flip side of the plan is that it could give Republicans something to rally behind, even if talks do not progress with Democrats.
One possible shortfall of the plan is that it does not offer any suggestion about what should be done with the millions of immigrants already living in the country illegally. This includes hundreds of thousands of young "Dreamers" who were brought to the US as children. This point, in particular, is a top priority for Democrats. The proposed plan also fails to offer a reduction in immigration rates, which is something Republicans would like to see.
Trump will nonetheless deliver a Rose Garden speech on Thursday, throwing his weight behind the plan.
In a press briefing on Wednesday, administration officials said the plan would create a points-based visa system, similar to those used by Canada and other countries.
Officials offered even fewer specifics on border security, which is expected to remain a key focus for Trump as he campaigns for re-election. As part of the plan, officials want to improve security at ports of entry. This would ensure that all vehicles and people are screened. The plan also seeks to create a self-sustaining fund, paid for with increased fees, to modernise ports of entry.
The plan also calls for building a border wall in targeted locations and continues to push for an overhaul to the US asylum system.
While officials insisted their effort was not a "political" plan, they did suggest that the new plan was something that would bring Republicans together.
"I don't think it's designed to get Democratic support as much as it is to unify the Republican Party around border security, a negotiating position," said Senator Lindsey Graham, who is a close ally of the White House.
According to AP, the plan has already drawn criticism from Democrats and immigration activists.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer criticised the White House for failing to engage in talks with Democrats regarding the latest proposal.
"Don't come up with a plan that Stephen Miller rubber stamps and say, 'Now, pass it.' It's not going to happen," said Schumer, in reference to Trump's hard-line policy adviser.
Mark Krikorian, who is the executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies, applauded a "very positive effort" on legal immigration, but said it was "undermined by the embrace of the current very high level of immigration."