Today, President Trump announced his support for a U.S. Senate proposal to cut legal immigration in half. The plan was proposed by Senators Tom Cotton of Arkansas and David Perdue of Georgia.
We first reported on this issue here after the Perdue-Cotton Plan was introduced into the Senate. As previously mentioned, the United States currently accepts approximately 1 million legal immigrants into the United States, and this bill would attempt to cut that number over the next ten years to about 500,000. To accomplish this, the bill will attempt to substantially reduce the number of family members that U.S. Citizens and Lawful Permanent Residents may sponsor to immigrate to the United States. At the same time, it aims to increase the number of immigrant visas for workers who have advanced degrees or specialized skills. It also eliminates the diversity visa, which grants 50,000 immigrant visas annually on a lottery basis to people across the globe.
Despite the President’s proposal, the bill has a difficult road to passage. The 48 Democrats in the Senate will likely oppose the measure. As Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer stated, the “bottom line is, to cut immigration by half a million people, legal immigration, doesn’t make much sense…. We think it’s a non-starter.” This could prove fatal, as Republicans do not have the 60 votes to stop a filibuster. Moreover, even some Republicans have been skeptical of the plan: NPR has reported that both Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, who has recently introduced a bill to assist young, undocumented people in obtaining permanent residence in the United States, and Senator John McCain of Arizona, who represents large immigrant communities, are likely to oppose the bill.
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