- President Trump unveils new immigration plan that maintains the number of Green cards issued.
- The proposed plan intends to reduce the number of immigrants entering the country
- The plan could be improved by reforming employment-based green cards and other changes
US immigration reform, is the new plan enough? Let’s find out what the ideal immigration policy should be.
President Trump recently unveiled a ‘merit-based’ immigration policy to replace the existing immigration system. Along with strengthening border security, the plan also looked at changing the relative percentages of immigrants arriving via employment, family and humanitarian routes.
While the plan is being seen as one of the better plans released by President Trump, there are a few places where it falls short.
US Immigration Reform – The Proposed Plan
The proposed US immigration reform policy prioritizes merit over chance while protecting American workers. The number of Green Cards being issued would remain the same but the policy would reduce the number of immigrants entering the country.
Currently, 12% of the country’s immigrants enter on employment visas, 66% on family visas and 21% through humanitarian, diversity lottery and other visas.
The plan proposes to change this percentage to let 57% of immigrants enter through the employment route, 33% on family visas and 10% on humanitarian and other visas.
What It Misses
Changing the current immigration policy to a merit-based system would be beneficial for the US economy and skilled immigrants. Some of the points that experts say should have been included in the proposed immigration policy are:
Reformation Of Employment-Based Green Cards
When an immigrant applies for an employment-based Green Card, his/her spouse and dependent children also become eligible for a Green Card under the same quota.
By exempting spouses and children from the employment-based Green Card quota, the number of Green Cards available to skilled immigrants would drastically increase.
Similarly, many immigrants enter the USA on other visas and later adjust status to an employment visa before getting an employment-based green card.
If this adjustment of status was exempted from the Green Card quota, the number of employment-based green cards issued could increase by over 100,000.
Lastly, the current per-country caps put immigrants from populous countries at a disadvantage as compared to immigrants from countries with lesser population. Ending this system would give skilled immigrants from all countries and equal chance to immigrate to the USA.
Canada’s Provincial Nominee Program is the second most popular way for economic immigrants to enter Canada. Inspired by this program, a state-based visa reform program had been introduced to Congress.
This program proposed the annual issuance of a total of 500,000 non-immigrant visas by different states based on their needs.
Each state would be guaranteed the right to issue at least 5,000 such visas annually if they chose to participate in the program. These visas would be regulated by the state governments as investor category visas, entrepreneur visas or visas for any particular skill based on the state’s local economic needs.
This system would be efficient for the local labor markets and more equitable as well. It would also direct migration only towards the parts of the country that could benefit from it.
Introducing a new visa category that allowed immigrants to live and work in the USA after paying an immigration tariff could make the immigration system economically efficient. Under this system, immigrants would be awarded a ‘gold card’ after paying this tariff.
This tariff rate could be adjusted according to the immigrant’s education level and the estimated effect on the economy. Setting a high immigration tariff would create a de facto limit on the number of gold cards issued.
It would also ensure that the immigrants paying this high tariff would be highly motivated to succeed in their endeavors.
At the same time, the money raised through this channel could be used to finance a tax cut for Americans with lower skills or to provide resources for border security.
Maintain Immigrant Numbers
Along with the number of green cards issued annually, the number of immigrants welcomed to the USA should also be maintained at the existing numbers.
While the plan proposed by the Trump administration maintains the number of green cards issued annually, it cuts down on the number of immigrants that would be able to enter the USA.
However, this would not be a very good idea in reality. Many immigrants enter the USA through the diversity visa program or on family-based visas.
While they are living in the USA on these visas, immigrants learn new skills and over time become eligible for employment and can have a positive effect on the US economy. Hence, the total number of immigrants being welcomed to the USA should not be reduced.