Eight Highlights from Donald Trump’s Immigration Speech

TOPSHOT - US President Donald Trump gestures as he delivers remarks on immigration at the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, DC on May 16, 2019. - President Donald Trump called for radical immigration reform to favor skilled, English-speaking workers over the poorly educated and to shut the …
MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty

President Donald Trump used his Rose Gose Garden speech Thursday to push a reformed immigration policy that would protect blue-collar Americans, raise productivity, boost civic solidarity, and create a common 2020 platform for the GOP’s rival establishment and populist wings.

Here are highlights of the May 16 address.

The 2020 Platform:

Today, we are presenting a clear contrast: Democrats are proposing open borders, lower wages, and, frankly, lawless chaos.  We are proposing an immigration plan that puts the jobs, wages, and safety of American workers first. Our proposal is pro-American, pro-immigrant, and pro-worker.  It’s just common sense.  It will help all of our people, including millions of devoted immigrants, to achieve the American Dream.

Border Wall Funding:

To make certain that we are constantly making the upgrades we need, our proposal creates a permanent and self-sustaining border security trust fund.  This will be financed by the fees and revenues generated at the border crossings itself.

Americans Matter:

Asylum abuse also strains our public school systems, our hospitals, and local shelters, using funds that we should, and that have to, go to elderly veterans, at-risk youth, Americans in poverty, and those in genuine need of protection.  We’re using the funds that should be going to them.  And that shouldn’t happen.  And it’s not going to happen in a very short period of time.  Have to get this approved.

Americans Will Choose Who Immigrates:

Every year, we admit 1.1 million immigrants as permanent legal residents.  These green card holders get lifetime authorization to live and work here and a five-year path to American citizenship.  This is the most prized citizenship anywhere in the world, by far.

Currently, 66 percent of legal immigrants come here on the basis of random chance.  They’re admitted solely because they have a relative in the United States.  And it doesn’t really matter who that relative is.  Another 21 percent of immigrants are issued either by random lottery, or because they are fortunate enough to be selected for humanitarian relief.

As a result of our broken rules, the annual green card flow is mostly low-wage and low-skilled.  Newcomers compete for jobs against the most vulnerable Americans and put pressure on our social safety net and generous welfare programs.

Yes, Immigration Cuts Americans’ Wages:

Wages are rising but our current immigration system works at cross-purposes, placing downward pressure on wages for the working class, which is what we don’t want to do.

America’s immigration system should bring in people who will expand opportunity for striving, low-income Americans, not to compete with those low-income Americans.  (Applause.)

Priority will also be given to higher-wage workers, ensuring we never undercut American labor.  To protect benefits for American citizens, immigrants must be financially self-sufficient.

Trump’s Hire American Policy Helps Sidelined Americans:

Three in four new jobs at the end of last year went to Americans previously out of the workforce.  Our economy is better probably than it ever has been in the history of our country.  …

Americans with criminal records are getting a second chance at life in higher numbers than ever before.  Unfortunately, the current immigration rules allow foreign workers to substitute for Americans seeking entry-level jobs.  So, foreign workers are coming in and they’re taking the jobs that would normally go to American workers.

Americans’ Culture and Society Comes First:

to promote integration, assimilation, and national unity, future immigrants will be required to learn English and to pass a civics exam prior to admission.  (Applause.)

Through these steps, we will deliver an immigration system that respects, and even strengthens, our culture, our traditions, and our values.

Four months ago, I had the honor of participating in a swearing-in ceremony for new Americans, right here in the Oval Office.  It was a beautiful reminder that American citizenship is the most precious gift our nation has to offer.  When we swear in new citizens, we do more than give them a permit; we give them a history, a heritage, a home, and a future of limitless possibilities and potential.

Our nation used to pride ourselves on this capacity: our unique ability to instill the spirit of America into any human heart, into any human being.

But … Trump Is Not Reducing Annual Immigration Numbers:

The White House plan makes no change to the number of green cards allocated each year.

We will replace the existing green card categories with a new visa, the Build America visa — which is what we all want to hear.  (Applause.)

Like Canada and so many other modern countries, we create an easy-to-navigate points-based selection system.  You will get more points for being a younger worker, meaning you will contribute more to our social safety net.  You will get more points for having a valuable skill, an offer of employment, an advanced education, or a plan to create jobs.

We lose people that want to start companies, and, in many cases, they’re forced to leave our country; go back, usually, to the country where they came from; and they’ll start up companies, and some of those companies are among the biggest and most successful companies today in the world.  They could’ve started them right here in the United States, where they wanted to do it in the first place.  Now they’ll have a chance.  (Applause.)

Background numbers to know:

Each year, roughly four million young Americans join the workforce after graduating from high school or university.

But the federal government then imports about 1.1 million legal immigrants and refreshes a resident population of roughly 1.5 million white-collar visa workers — including roughly one million H-1B workers — and approximately 500,000 blue-collar visa workers.

The government also prints out more than one million work permits for foreigners, tolerates about eight million illegal workers, and does not punish companies for employing the hundreds of thousands of illegal migrants who sneak across the border or overstay their legal visas each year.

This policy of inflating the labor supply boosts economic growth for investors because it ensures that employers do not have to compete for American workers by offering higher wages and better working conditions.

This policy of flooding the market with cheap foreign white-collar graduates and blue-collar labor shifts also enormous wealth from young employees towards older investors even as it also widens wealth gaps, reduces high-tech investment, increases state and local tax burdens, and hurts children’s schools and college educations. It also pushes Americans away from high-tech careers and sidelines millions of marginalized Americans, including many who are now struggling with fentanyl addictions. The labor policy also moves business investment and wealth from the heartland to the coastal cities, explodes rents and housing costs, shrivels real estate values in the Midwest and rewards investors for creating low tech, labor-intensive workplaces.

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