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Trump's 'gold standard' border plan targets immigrants who overstay visas

Franco Ordoñez, McClatchy Washington Bureau on

Published in News & Features

WASHINGTON -- President Donald Trump's new immigration plan includes an overhaul that "expedites border construction," revamps asylum laws, targets those who have overstayed their visas and moves toward a so-called merit-based green card system, according to a written summary of the plan obtained by McClatchy.

While the number of immigrants would neither increase nor decrease, the proposal would create a new high-skilled immigrant visa called the "Build America Visa" for "extraordinary talented individuals," high-skilled professionals and top graduate students from American universities.

"The President's plan is designed to attract immigrants who love America, share our values and want to contribute to society," the written summary states. "This is achieved by requiring green card applicants to pass a U.S. civics exam and demonstrate English proficiency."

The Trump immigration proposal touts the "gold standard of border security" and represents an effort to rally Republicans, who are divided on key aspects of this issue. But despite stiff enforcement measures, one crucial faction -- the immigration hard-liners who helped Trump get elected -- is already wary about whether they want to remain in the inner circle if this is the starting point.

Trump, in remarks Thursday afternoon in the White House Rose Garden, is expected to also call for mandatory federal employment checks to ensure those hired are legally able to work.

The plan led by Jared Kushner, Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser, is facing push back from immigration hard-liners who are concerned that it does not actually cut immigration levels as past proposals that the Trump administration submitted.


"It seems to me that they are trying to pack in as much stuff that hawks will like, because they know that hawks are not happy that the numbers are slated to stay the same," said Jessica Vaughan, director of policy studies for the Center for Immigration Studies, who is in regular discussions with the administration.

The plan also authorizes Customs and Border Protection to raise customs fees and fines, which will be directed to a fund to support border security and trade. A new biometric entry/exit system will also be implemented and agencies will be directed to stop issuing visas to citizens of recalcitrant countries that will not accept back deported nationals.

The plan is open to modification, those familiar with the discussions say, as officials in the White House keep trying to bring in more Republicans. The details shared with McClatchy show the administration is making an effort to get hard-liners on board by including stronger enforcement measures such as "expediting barrier construction," tightening asylum rules, tracking down those who overstay their visas, and revisions to legal agreements that prevent children from being detained for more than 20 days.

The plan will prioritize visas based on skills.


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