Trump To Unveil Legislation Limiting Legal Immigration | WBEZ
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Trump To Unveil Legislation Limiting Legal Immigration

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President Trump is set to unveil controversial legislation Wednesday that would sharply curtail legal immigration to the United States, according to a White House official.

The president is meeting at the White House with two Republican senators pushing the legislation, Tom Cotton of Arkansas and David Perdue of Georgia.

One of President Trump's campaign promises was to reduce immigration, illegal and legal. The Cotton-Perdue legislation would cut by half the number of legal immigrants accepted into the U.S. each year.

As NPR's John Burnett reported,

"Their bill would do three things: First, limit the number of foreign nationals who are able to get green cards to reunite with their families already in the U.S. — currently the largest category of legal immigrants; second, cut the number of refugees in half; third, eliminate the diversity visa lottery — a program that gives visas to countries with low rates of immigration to the United States.

"Cotton says the number of green cards awarded each year — about a million — is excessive.

" 'In one year, this would reduce it to around 600,000,' Cotton says. 'Over the span of the 10-year window it would fall to about 500,000.' "

A White House official, speaking on background says the current immigration system "is outdated, and doesn't meet the diverse needs of our economy," and that the legislation being unveiled Wednesday "is aimed at creating a skills-based immigration system that will make America more competitive, raise wages for American workers, and create jobs."

Limiting legal immigration is opposed by business groups, which rely on low-skilled workers for agriculture and other jobs. And economists point to the low unemployment rate, 4.4 percent last month, as evidence that there are relatively few Americans who are without jobs now, and that, as Baby Boomers retire, there will be a labor shortage.

But backers of stricter immigration limits say allowing unskilled people into the country acts to keep wages low, especially for workers with just a high-school degree.

It's not clear how much support there is in the Senate, however, for such a bill. Republicans, such as Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, and John McCain of Arizona are likely opponents, and there's little enthusiasm among Democrats.

Still, on the heels of last week's collapse of efforts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, President Trump is looking for a legislative victory, and with strong support inside the White House from advisers Steve Bannon and Stephen Miller, there is sure to be a strong push for the measure in the weeks and months ahead.

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