Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen says President Trump was “referencing” a merit-based immigration system and proper assimilation of immigrants when he mentioned Norwegian immigration to the U.S. during conversations last week at the White House.
During a hearing before the Senate Homeland Security Committee, Nielsen corrected the record on Trump’s comments during a White House meeting last week, where Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) alleged the president stated he wanted to see more immigration from countries like Norway and less immigration from undeveloped, turmoil-ridden regions like Haiti.
Nielsen’s exchange with Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) on the subject went as follows:
NIELSEN: If I could, the concept and the context, I believe, in which this came up, was the concept that the president would like to move to a merit-based system. He would like to not and no longer look at quotas from countries …
LEAHY: And then, did he use what would be considered vulgar language referring to certain countries?
NIELSEN: The president used tough language in general, as did other Congressmen in the room. Yes, sir.
LEAHY: The others aren’t the president. You imply the president was articulating support for a merit-based immigration system like those in Australia or Canada. When he downgraded Haiti, El Salvador and Africa, a country where we are trying to have some ability to match China and others, in influence, he didn’t say it was because we needed more Ph.D. students or skilled workers. He said, he wanted more people from Norway. Being from Norway is not a skill, and with the standard of living in Norway better than ours, you’re not going to have too many people from there.
What does he mean when he says he wants more immigrants from Norway?
NIELSEN: I don’t believe he said that specifically. What he was saying was, he was using Norway as an example of a country that is — what he was specifically referring to is, the prime minister telling him that the people of Norway work very hard. And so, what he was referencing is, from a merit-based perspective, we’d like to have those with skills who can assimilate and contribute to the United States, moving away from country quotas and to an individual merit-based system.
Trump endorsed a plan in 2017 by Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) and Sen. David Perdue (R-GA) which would cut legal immigration levels in half — taking them from more than 1 million immigrants a year to 500,000 a year — in order to raise to wages of America’s working and middle class. The plan, called the RAISE Act, would also create a merit-based legal immigration system that would prioritize high-skilled, well-educated and English speaking immigrants over low-skilled immigrants.
As Breitbart News reported, Center for Immigration Studies Director of Research Steven Camarota revealed that over the next 50 years, should the current legal immigration system continue unchanged, the U.S. would be on track to add 100 million foreign-born individuals to the country’s already booming population.
Every year, the U.S. admits more than 1.5 million foreign nationals to the country, with the vast majority deriving from family-based chain migration, where naturalized citizens are allowed to bring their extended family members to the country. In 2016, the legal and illegal immigrant population reached a record high of 44 million. By 2023, the Center for Immigration Studies estimates that the legal and illegal immigrant population of the U.S. will make up nearly 15 percent of the entire U.S. population.