In State of Union address, Trump pushes for merit-based immigration
President Donald Trump advocated the end of the US visa lottery and bringing in a new, "merit-based" immigration system in his first State of the Union address on Wednesday.
He proposed a pathway to citizenship for almost 1.8 million illegal immigrants who were brought in the US by their parents at a young age.
"It is time to begin moving towards a merit-based immigration system -- one that admits people who are skilled, who want to work, who will contribute to our society, and who will love and respect our country," President Trump said in his first State of the Union address.
The State of the Union address is a traditional annual speech of the US president to a joint session of the Congress where he gives an account of the situation in the country.
He proposed four pillars of his immigration reform.
This includes building a wall, and ending chain migration and diversity visa.
President Trump said that his proposal should be supported by both parties (Republican and Democratic) as a fair compromise -- one where nobody gets everything they want, but where the country gets the critical reforms it needs.
"The first pillar of our framework generously offers a path to citizenship for 1.8 million illegal immigrants who were brought here by their parents at a young age -- that covers almost three times more people than the previous administration. Under our plan, those who meet education and work requirements, and show good moral character, will be able to become full citizens of the United States," President Trump said.
"The second pillar fully secures the border, that means building a wall on the Southern border, and it means hiring more people to keep the communities safe. Crucially, our plan closes the terrible loopholes exploited by criminals and terrorists to enter our country -- and it finally ends the dangerous practice of 'catch and release'," President Trump said.
President Trump said the third pillar ends the visa lottery -- a programme that randomly hands out green cards without any regard for skill, merit, or the safety of Americans.
"Under our plan, we focus on the immediate family by limiting sponsorships to spouses and minor children. This vital reform is necessary, not just for our economy, but for our security, and our future," he said.
President Trump said in recent weeks, two terrorist attacks in New York were made possible by the visa lottery and chain migration.
In the age of terrorism, these programmes present risks we can no longer afford.
"It is time to reform these outdated immigration rules, and finally bring our immigration system into the 21st century," President Trump said.
"These four pillars represent a down-the-middle compromise, and one that will create a safe, modern, and lawful immigration system. For over 30 years, Washington has tried and failed to solve this problem. This Congress can be the one that finally makes it happen. Most importantly, these four pillars will produce legislation that fulfils my ironclad pledge to only sign a bill that puts America first. So let us come together, set politics aside, and finally get the job done," President Trump urged the lawmakers.
"Under the current broken system, a single immigrant can bring in virtually unlimited numbers of distant relatives. Under our plan, we focus on the immediate family by limiting sponsorships to spouses and minor children," Trump explained.