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  • Migrants are seen outside an U.S. Border Patrol Station in McAllen, Texas, U.S., May 15, 2019.

    Migrants are seen outside an U.S. Border Patrol Station in McAllen, Texas, U.S., May 15, 2019. | Photo: Reuters

Published 16 May 2019

Permanent residence permits would be mostly awarded to applicants who speak English, are well-educated and have job offers.

President Donald Trump will send to Congress a bill to reform the United States immigration system in order to impose language, knowledge and age barriers on immigrants. This proposal will foster a merit-based rather than a family-based admission to the country.

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After several failed immigration reform attempts, Trump has changed his strategy and now seeks to redesign the country's immigration system alone. Among his priorities, however, it is not the situation of 11 million undocumented immigrants living years and paying taxes within the U.S. Neither is the legal limbo in which the young migrants or "dreamers" find themselves or to reunite families separated at the border last year.

"Our goal in the short term is to make sure that we are laying out what the President's policy is in terms of what he's looking for from immigration reform, and we would like to see if we could get the Republican Party to come together on these two pillars, which we think is a very, very logical, very mainstream point of view," a senior U.S. official, who requested anonymity, told journalists at the White House.

The new immigration reform proposal would not increase the number of permanent residence permits, or “green cards”, which were granted to about 1.1 million people in 2017.

If Congress approves Trump’s immigrant measures, those permits would be mostly awarded to applicants who speak English, are well-educated and have job offers.

U.S. authorities would subject green card applicants to a “citizenship” test. Family or humanitarian reasons would not further be the criteria carrying most weight at the visa granting process.

Although there is no official language in the U.S., the Trump administration believes green card seekers should master English and deny that the language used by “the majority” could become a filter against Latin America or immigrants from Africa.

"There are people who speak English in every country," the White House official said.

This new immigration policy will be launched at a time when undocumented immigrants are increasingly seen as non-qualified and criminals, an unsubstantiated claimed often used by the Trump administration.

The president's plan aims to increase the proportion of immigrants who obtain permanent residency due to their talent, studies or jobs, from 57 to 66 percent. It also seeks to reduce from 22 to 10 percent the ratio of people who obtain green cards for humanitarian reasons.

Trump’s project would end the "visa lottery for diversity," a 1990 program which randomly have allocated up to 50,000 visas a year and benefited mostly African applicants.

The White House official also stated that the plan "would create an accelerated process" to resolve "legitimate" asylum claims, although no further details were provided because the project’s final text will be made public later.

According to the source, however, the Trump administration’s goal is to obtain the bill’s approval before the 2020 presidential elections.

This policy proposal is the latest maneuver the White House deploys after months of trying to figure out how to prevent Central American migrants from entering the country.

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