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Trump’s Immigration Plan Emphasizes Skills over Family Connections

The plan will bolster border security and create a merit-based system

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Trump in a March tweet accused Facebook, Google and Twitter of being "on the side of the Radical Left Democrats". VOA

U.S. President Donald Trump is scheduled to announce his long-awaited proposal on immigration Thursday, a plan that aims to move the immigration approval process away from family-ties and humanitarian needs.

In a briefing to reporters ahead of Trump’s scheduled afternoon remarks at the White House Rose Garden, a senior administration official said the plan will bolster border security and create a merit-based system, insisting that it is a “competitiveness issue.”

Trump’s proposal would keep the number of green cards or permanent residency issued around 1.1 million annually, but will change the focus of how they would be allocated, prioritizing highly skilled and educated individuals with employment or investment prospects rather than family ties to U.S. citizens or humanitarian needs.

Currently, 12% of immigrants are given permission to come to the U.S. based on their skills, and 66% because of their connection to family already in the country legally. Under the plan, 57% of immigrant visas will be given to individuals with skills or offers of employment, and only 33% to people with family ties. Visas given based on humanitarian needs will be reduced from 22% to 10%.

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FILE – A girl waves the Venezuelan flag during a visit to bid goodbye in her grandparents’ house, before her move to the U.S. after winning the green card lottery, in Valencia, April 6, 2014. VOA

The economic justification for eliminating or drastically reducing family-sponsored immigration is questioned by immigration analysts.

David Bier of the libertarian CATO Institute said that nearly half of family-sponsored immigrants have college degrees, a much higher rate than U.S.-born adults.

“The vast majority of U.S. legal immigrants are family-sponsored, yet the U.S. immigrant population works at higher rates than the U.S.-born population,” he said.

Bier said that adding more skilled immigration would benefit the United States but “there is no justification for that coming at the expense of family reunification.”

The plan will completely eliminate the Diversity Immigrant Visa program also known as the green card lottery, currently annually given to 50,000 people from countries with low rates of immigration to the United States.

The Build America Visa

The administration official described the heart of the proposal as the “Build America Visa,” with three main streams: “extraordinary talent; professional and specialized vocations; and, exceptional students.”

English fluency will be included as a factor determining whether an individual will be granted permanent residence.

“Language ability is a strong indicator of long-term economic success, not only for the initiating immigrant but for their children,” said the administration official, stressing that the merit-based system will lead to more diversity instead of reduce it.

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Immigration scholar Rick Su from the University of Buffalo disagrees.

“Depending on how that is measured, this will likely lead to less diversity,” he said. “There are a number of very talented individuals working in the U.S. now, and doing quite well, that would likely have less English language proficiency than those from Anglophone countries.”

David Bier pointed out that a points-based system would be dominated by the largest developing countries in the world, mostly Indians and Chinese.

“There’s nothing wrong with that,” he said. “I see no economic or moral reason to select immigrants on the basis of their place of birth.”​

Dreamers ‘not contemplated’

The plan, developed by a team led by Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner, is unlikely to receive support from Democrats, as it does not address the Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program for the so-called “Dreamers,” immigrants brought to the country illegally as children.

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FILE – Immigrant rights supporters gather at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Sept. 26, 2017. VOA

The White House said Dreamers “are not being contemplated at this time” and acknowledged that the plan is just the first step in the process of an immigration overhaul, including in terms of rallying Republican support behind it.

The Trump administration attempted to end the Obama-era DACA program in 2017 and went through several legal challenges. The Supreme Court in January took no action on the Trump administration’s request to review DACA. This means the fate of the program, and its 70,000 recipients will not likely be determined until the court begins its new term in October.

In a statement to The Washington Post, Republican Senator Susan Collins also expressed reservations, saying “I am concerned about the fate of the DACA young people, and they cannot be excluded from any immigration package.”

Overhauling the nation’s immigration law has been an issue of contention between Republicans and Democrats for years. The battle has intensified since 2016 when Donald Trump ran for office on a pledge to build a wall on the U.S. border with Mexico to keep out migrants entering the country illegally. (VOA)

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Micro-blogging Site Twitter Aims to Restrict Users, Not World Leaders Like Trump

"These are constantly evolving challenges and we'll keep our policies and approach under advisement, particularly as we learn more about the relationship between Tweets from world leaders and the potential for offline harm," it added

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Twitter is a social media app that encourages short tweets and brief conversations. Pixabay

Stating that world leaders are not above its policies “entirely,” Twitter has decided to restrict how users can interact with harmful tweets from world leaders who break its rules, but did not clarify whether it will remove or block the world leader like US President Donald Trump from doing so.

The micro-blogging platform said it will not allow users to like, reply, share or retweet offending posts from world leaders.

“You will not be able to like, reply, share, or Retweet the Tweet in question. You will still be able to express your opinion with Retweet with Comment,” the company said on Tuesday.

“Our goal is to enforce our rules judiciously and impartially. In doing so, we aim to provide direct insight into our enforcement decision-making, to serve public conversation, and protect the public’s right to hear from their leaders and to hold them to account,” it added.

Twitter has been facing pressure to take action against US President Donald Trump for posting controversial tweets, but the micro-blogging platform has been evading action.

Earlier this month, California Senator Kamala Harris, who is a 2020 Democrat presidential candidate, asked Twitter to suspend Trump’s account for attacking lawmakers and the whistleblower behind a complaint on his shady dealings with Ukraine.

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A man reads tweets on his phone in front of a displayed Twitter logo. VOA

“Trump’s Twitter account should be suspended. There’s plenty of evidence to suggest that he is irresponsible with his words in a way that could result in harm as the privilege of using those words in that way should probably be taken from him,” Harris told CNN.

Trump has repeatedly used Twitter to attack his political opponents.

In a series of tweets, he said that House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff should be arrested for treason for exaggerating parts of phone call Trump had with Zelensky.

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If a tweet from a world leader does violate its rules, but there is a clear public interest value to keeping the Tweet on the service, the company said on Tuesday that it “may place it behind a notice that provides context about the violation and allows people to click through should they wish to see the content”.

“With critical elections and shifting political dynamics around the world, we recognise that we’re operating in an increasingly complex and polarised political culture,” said Twitter.

“These are constantly evolving challenges and we’ll keep our policies and approach under advisement, particularly as we learn more about the relationship between Tweets from world leaders and the potential for offline harm,” it added. (IANS)