Immigration experts are applauding President Donald Trump’s Joint Address to the United States Congress, where he called for an end to extended-family chain migration and a move toward a merit-based legal immigration system.
Though Trump has largely made illegal immigration a component of his usual stump speech, his joint address noted the country’s broken legal immigration system, which favors extended family members over high-skilled workers.
“Nations around the world, like Canada, Australia and many others have a merit-based immigration system,” Trump said. “It is a basic principle that those seeking to enter a country ought to be able to support themselves financially.”
“Yet, in America, we do not enforce this rule, straining the very public resources that our poorest citizens rely upon,” Trump continued. “According to the National Academy of Sciences, our current immigration system costs America’s taxpayers many billions of dollars a year.”
Trump said there would be “many benefits” to “switching away from this current system of lower-skilled immigration, and instead adopting a merit-based system,” such as higher wages for American workers, along with saving billions in costs to American taxpayers who are burdened with the cost of low-skilled immigration.
Immigration experts could not be happier, as they have long called on Trump to address the legal immigration system, not just the illegal side of the equation.
“We were thrilled to hear the President once again place struggling American workers at center stage in the rationale for strong immigration enforcement,” NumbersUSA President Roy Beck said in a statement.
“The best news for workers was the President’s insistence that legal immigration must be reformed so it will stop depressing wages,” Beck said.
Dan Stein, the president of the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), echoed Beck’s statements, saying the shift towards a merit-based immigration system will “maximize the benefits of immigration while minimizing the downside” of legal immigration.
“Clearly, President Trump’s north star is his unwavering commitment to the safety of the American people, the security of the American job market, and the renewed respect for the rule of law,” Stein said in a statement.
The Center for Immigration Studies’ Executive Director Mark Krikorian said he was pleasantly surprised by Trump’s focus on overhauling the country’s legal immigration system.
“The more important takeaway was his emphasis on the jobs impact of immigration, and legal immigration specifically,” Krikorian said in a blog post.
“Most illegal aliens, let alone legal immigrants, aren’t bad hombres, but the mass admission of even good hombres is bad for American workers,” Krikorian said. “To flesh out that policy, it would help to see some emphasis on worksite enforcement and E-Verify, to go along with arresting and deporting criminals.”
The experts all cited Trump’s reported support for Sen. Tom Cotton’s (R-Ak) legislation known as the ‘RAISE Act,’ which would eliminate the diversity visa lottery, cut the number of green cards allotted every year, reducing legal immigration by 41 percent in the first year.
“The President’s promise that immigration policies must be merit-based and guided by the principle of improving jobs and wages for Americans provides the tacit endorsement for passing Sen. Tom Cotton’s RAISE Act (S. 354), which would eliminate visa categories not based on merit that bring in hundreds of thousands a year,” Beck said in his statement.
Krikorian said Trump’s Joint Address was at least a “implicit endorsement” of Cotton’s legislation, as it would prioritize immediate family households, thus ending extended-family chain migration to the U.S.
Trump noted in his key-points on legal immigration that merit-based systems are already in place in other countries, such as Australia and Canada.
John Binder is a contributor for Breitbart Texas. Follow him on Twitter at @JxhnBinder.