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News > U.S.

Ilhan Omar Is Right About Trump’s Merit-Based Immigration Plan

  • Ilhan Omar attacked by Right-wing for criticizing Trump's Merit-based immigration plan.

    Ilhan Omar attacked by Right-wing for criticizing Trump's Merit-based immigration plan. | Photo: Reuters

Published 30 May 2019

Ilhan Omar criticized U.S. President Donald Trump's "merit-based" immigration policy for being racist against Latinx immigrants. Right-wing politicians like Ted Cruz were quick to attack her. 

The United States Congresswoman Ilhan Omar faced backlash by right-wing lawmakers like Ted Cruz for criticizing President Donald Trump’s new immigration policy.


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Last week Trump proposed a plan to harden border security and overhaul the legal immigration system to favor applicants who speak English, are well-educated and have job offers.

The administration called it a “merit-based” system. For decades, U.S. immigration laws have given priority to family-based immigration, and about two-thirds of all people granted green cards each year have family ties to people in the United States.

Ilhan Omar slammed the merit-based system for being racist.

“A “merit-based” immigration policy is fueled by racism toward the Latinx community. Our immigration policies shouldn’t be based on discrimination, fear, or bigotry. We should welcome immigrants to our country and offer a simple pathway to citizenship,” wrote Omar on Twitter.

She had to delete the tweet later after facing backlashes from people who twisted Omar’s words to criticize her.

The right-wing Senator Ted Cruz wrote, “As the son of a Cuban immigrant whose Dad came to get a math degree & become a computer programmer, I’m troubled that Dems seem to believe Hispanic immigrants can’t qualify for skills-based legal immigration. Bringing in more scientists, engineers & doctors is good for US jobs.”

Ilhan Omar, however, did not suggest that Latinx cannot be qualified. Instead, she criticized the merit-based system which is discriminatory as it does not take into account a person’s background or context while pitting people against each other.

For example, the migrant caravan that started in 2018 does not consist of mostly English speaking people.

The immigrants in the caravan are fleeing economic and social hardships in Central America and most come from the poor socio-economic background. Central American countries have had decades of neoliberal governments, back by Washington, who tend to favor policies that maintain inequality and ignore working class citizens. 

The United States has also been greatly embedded in the region as part of its efforts in fighting drug trafficking, giving millions of dollars to local militaries and police in the region, which according to experts and activists result in more violence, extrajudicial killings, impunity and corruption than fighting drug lords and organized crime. 

After Ilhan Omar deleted her original tweet, she linked a study by The Washington Post on her Twitter quoting the article. “Our research suggests that prejudice against Latinos is an important, if veiled, reason that some Americans advocate admitting primarily highly educated, highly skilled immigrants.”

The survey revealed that racism and the concept of the merit-based system are inter-related. The survey found out that U.S. citizens prejudiced against Latinx want skilled English speaking immigrants in the country.

On the other hand, this same group of people did not put the pre-condition of being skilled for white immigrants.

Many even preferred low-skilled white migrants over Latinx migrants with an equal level of skills.

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