US President Donald Trump on Thursday unveiled a new immigration plan that proposes changes to the way green cards are allotted. He aimed to upend decades of family-based immigration policy with a new approach that favours younger, "totally brilliant," high-skilled workers and won't compete for American jobs. This means dramatically reducing the number of family-based green cards and moving towards a points-based (“merit-based”) system that will reward, among other factors, education, skills and English language proficiency.
Trump said he wanted to provide a sharp contrast with Democrats. "We want immigrants coming in. We cherish the open door," Trump said in a Rose Garden speech as Cabinet members and Republican lawmakers filled the front rows. Trump said his new system, with points given for those with advanced degrees, job offers and other attributes, will make it exactly "clear what standards we ask you to achieve."
Nowadays, "we discriminate against genius," he said, using a softer tone than his usual fiery campaign rallies. "We discriminate against brilliance. We won't anymore once we get this passed."
Trump also announced that there would be a new “Build America” visa – details of which were not provided. His speech made references to foreign workers displacing low income Americans’ jobs and highly valuable graduates leaving America to start companies in their own countries because they could not get a visa in America.
People given Green Cards on humanitarian and diversity grounds will now only constitute 10% of all Green Card recipients, according to a handout given to the press at the end of the Rose Garden event. Currently, the diversity lottery offers 50,000 green cards to under-represented groups each year.
What it means for Indians?
Far fewer green cards would be given to people with relatives already in the US. They would be reserved just for immediate family members — Trump mentioned spouses and children — rather than parents and adult siblings. Fifty-seven percent would be awarded on merit as opposed to the current 12%.
However, it is not clear that a shift towards a points-based system will make the prospects of Indian skilled migrants wanting to settle in the US easier, as bringing family members over, especially elderly parents, may get more complicated.