President Trump on Thursday will announce his plan to revamp the legal immigration system, cutting the number of green cards doled out based on family ties and replacing them with a point-system geared toward picking migrants with key abilities. He said his proposal to allow migrant families to be detained longer so they can be deported, to equalize treatment of Central American children with that of Mexican children, and to add more immigration judges matches some of the president's security plans. The plan does not address what to do about people already living in the USA illegally, including young "Dreamer" immigrants brought to the country as children.
Trump will nonetheless deliver a Rose Garden speech Thursday throwing his weight behind the plan, which has thus far received mixed reviews from Republicans in the Senate.
After studying the systems of the other countries, they found that 12% of migration to the United States was based on employment and skill, compared with 63% for Canada, 57% for New Zealand, 68% for Australia and 52% for Japan.
Graham's bill is designed specifically to deal with loopholes he says are encouraging migrants from Central America to make the treacherous journey north and bring children with them.
The move would more than quadruple the number of immigrants admitted due to their work-related skills, while dramatically slashing the number of immigrants admitted because of family ties.
Trump will propose ending the diversity lottery system, which offers applicants from countries with low immigration rates the chance to move to the United States. The Trump Administration intends to change this.
"We want to start by trying to anchor the discussion by defining border security, defining what the legal immigration should be and then seeing if we can unite Republicans around it and then also unite Republicans around the fact that we're not looking to change the number of legal immigration", one of the officials said.
The plan also calls for building border wall in targeted locations and continues to push for an overhaul to the US asylum system, with the goal of processing fewer applications and removing people who don't qualify faster. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., a close ally of the White House.
Democrats have not been consulted on the formulation of this plan.
Graham told reporters that he had urged Trump to try to cut a deal with Democrat and said he thought Trump was "open-minded to it".
The Democratic-controlled House of Representatives plans to consider its own immigration package in coming weeks, and "Dreamer" protections are expected to be included.
"A plan that forces families apart, limits access to asylum and other humanitarian relief, and doesn't contemplate a path to citizenship for DACA recipients and other undocumented community members is clearly a political stunt meant to posture rather than problem-solve", she said.
Republicans on the Hill, too, voiced skepticism, even as administration officials insisted the plan had been embraced by those who briefed on it.
Graham's proposal would prohibit migrants from claiming asylum at the US border.