President Donald Trump and his senior advisor, Jared Kushner, are continuing to try to build a coalition for immigration reform. They reportedly are trying to decide whether to move forward before November’s election.
Kushner first presented the 600-page comprehensive plan almost a year ago (lacking much in terms of publicly released details), but the President reportedly is still dealing with opposition — even among his advisors. Kushner wants a bill that will be “‘pro-labor, pro-worker’ while keep[ing] the immigration numbers status quo.” Yet, according to White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, the United States “needs more immigrants for the U.S. economy to continue growing.”
Kushner has met with groups on all sides of the issue, from those who want to reduce the number of immigrants to those in business and other advocates who want to increase the numbers. Mulvaney sees “immigration as a major engine for the U.S. economy.” He also sees Canada and Australia’s point-based systems as good models for the U.S. Trump advisor Stephen Miller has been the architect behind policies blocking and limiting the entry of immigrants — both legal and illegal.
President Trump seems to move from one side to another. In 2017, he focused on “Buy American, Hire American” in order to protect the U.S. workforce. Then, during last year’s State of the Union speech, the President said, “I want people to come into our country in the largest numbers ever, but they have to come in legally.” This year, the President spoke about problems in sanctuary cities and crimes committed by immigrants. In early 2019, the President said he wanted to give citizenship to high-skilled workers, but his Administration’s policies continue to make it more and more difficult for such workers to come to or remain in the U.S. Yet, in a 2020 interview with Fox News, President Trump asserted, “We have to allow smart people to stay in our country.“ When pressed on the topic of whether American college and university graduates should be the ones taking jobs at high-tech companies, he responded, “We don’t have enough of them. And we have to be competitive with the rest of the world too.”
Initiatives that have been floated include:
- Creating new categories of year-round temporary worker visas for industries like construction and agriculture and lengthening those stays
- Continuing to raise the caps on H-2B visas
- Granting permanent status to high-skilled workers while reducing the numbers of family-based immigrants, i.e., introducing a merit-based system for those with English-speaking ability and an offer of employment
- Increasing federal use of E-Verify, but stopping short of making it mandatory for all businesses to use
Some of these proposals might make it into law if they could be addressed as single issues. Whether any aspects of the immigration reform plan become legislation will likely depend on the upcoming political landscape and how the U.S. Supreme Court rules on DACA this summer.