A new round in Washington’s fierce debate over immigration is beginning, but it may go nowhere fast.
In a speech Thursday in the White House Rose Garden, President Trump will announce a plan aimed at softening public perception of his hard-line opposition to letting migrants and asylum-seekers into the country.
The so-called “merit-based” system would give highly skilled workers priority over would-be immigrants who already have family members in the U.S. It would not reduce the overall numbers of immigrants, but dramatically alter the mix.
It also calls for further construction of Trump’s border wall, but offers no help for so-called Dreamers, undocumented people who were brought to the U.S. as children.
What happens to the proposal after Trump’s speech is far from clear. But there’s no apparent optimism for progress on either side of the issue.
“The proposal … already is facing skepticism from lawmakers in both political parties, and there appears to be no clear path toward advancing the plan through Congress,” reports the Washington Post.
During his election campaign and for the past two years in office, Trump has focused intensely on immigration, but even high-ranking members of his administration concede the plan is “a long way from becoming a legislative reality,” says the New York Times.
At a Wednesday news conference Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said the new Trump proposal is “not designed to become law.”
The plan is “out of touch with the president’s base,” wrote Mark Krikorian, director of the Center for Immigration Studies, in the conservative National Review. “The proposal will not include any reduction in the overall level of legal immigration, not even a symbolic one.”
“To say this is dead on arrival would be generous,” Frank Sharry, an immigration activist, told the Times. “This is worse than the proposal that got 39 votes in the Senate in 2018. This won’t unite Republicans and will get zero Democratic support.”
“Inside the White House, there is little expectation from Trump’s aides that the plan will move forward,” says the Post, adding that there is “an ideological split” between presidential son-in-law Jared Kushner, who helped develop the proposal, and senior White House adviser Stephen Miller, “a hard-liner who is privately opposed to much of the plan.”
An unnamed official familiar with the plan told ABC News it has “six main goals: ‘to fully secure the border,’ ‘protect American wages,’ ‘attract and retain the best and brightest,’ ‘unify families,’ ‘get labor in critical industries,’ and finally to ‘preserve our humanitarian values as a country.’”
But Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) put his view bluntly: “It’s not going to happen.”