Trump, GOP Senators Champion Bill to Cut Legal Immigration Levels

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The Trump administration's goal is to prevent low-skilled American workers from being undercut by immigrants with a comparable level of expertise. Sen.

Trump announced the new legislation during an event at the White House alongside GOP Sens. David Perdue of Georgia and Tom Cotton of Arkansas, the bill's sponsors, the president said the revised legislation "would represent the most significant reform to our immigration system in half a century".

Trump has previously said he wants people to come in on merit, but also rebuffed the idea that he wants to reduce legal immigration.

Most economists dispute the president's argument, noting that immigration in recent decades doesn't appear to have meaningfully hurt wages in the long run. "It also increases the risk of the recession". Almost 1,500 economists, including six Nobel Laureates and the chairs of the Council of Economic Advisers underPresidents George W. Bush, Barack Obama and Bill Clinton, wrote a letter that maintains immigration grows the nation's economyand creates American jobs.

USA authorities issue about a million permanent residence permits, also known as "green cards", every year.

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To achieve the reductions and create what they call a "merit-based system", Cotton and Perdue are taking aim at green cards for extended family members of US citizens and legal permanent residents, limiting such avenues for grown children and siblings. Finally, the RAISE Act would get rid of the outdated and irrational "diversity visa lottery" that annually awards 50,000 visas in a lottery system without any regard to the economic cost the immigrants may impose on American taxpayers and workers.

Trump also defended the use of foreign labor at his resort properties, which have continued to request worker visas since his election.

But the Senate has largely ignored the measure, with no other lawmaker signing on as a co-sponsor.

By contrast, the US took in an average of about 1.1 million legal immigrants annually from 2000 to 2015, according to the Migration Policy Institute.

"This competitive application process will favor applicants who can speak English, financially support themselves and their families, and demonstrate skills that will contribute to our economy", Trump said. Under the new bill, known as the RAISE Act, the United States would prioritize high-skilled immigrants by setting up a merits-based system similar to those used by Canada and Australia. Half of immigrant households receive some sort of government assistance, while 30 percent of nonimmigrant households receive aid, according to the Washington Examiner. A stunning 18 percent held an advanced degree, also much higher than the US average.

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"What I'd like to do is a comprehensive immigration plan", Trump told reporters aboard Air Force One in July.

"Our current system does not work".

Supporters, including the president, say the bill would spur the USA economy and help American workers, but critics argue the bill would make the US less competitive.

While Perdue's office says the bill does not include a "hard and fast cap" on the number of family-based visas that would be issued, it does seek to bring overall immigration levels to "historic norms".

Attorney General Jeff Sessions endorsed the proposal on Wednesday afternoon.

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