What chance does Trump's immigration plan have? Oh, that's right: None
While speaking at the National Peace Officers Memorial Service, President Trump vowed to do "whatever it takes" to stop illegal immigrants. USA TODAY
Opinion: Focusing only on border security and skilled workers leaves out important pieces of the immigration system that also desperately need reform.
The only thing certain about President Donald Trump’s new merit-based immigration proposal is that it will go nowhere – not if he’s counting on Congress to do it.
The president on Thursday is set to unveil details of a plan dreamed up by his son-in-law Jared Kushner that would refocus the immigration system around highly skilled workers who demonstrate English proficiency, educational attainment and who can pass a U.S. civics test.
The plan also calls to scale back family-based immigration that has allowed family members to immigrate to the United States. Yes, the same plan that First Lady Melania Trump’s parents Amalija and Viktor Knavs reportedly used to come the country.
This isn’t real, folks.
No coincidence this plan is coming now
Trump’s new plan to overhaul the nation’s immigration system is nothing more than a political ploy to fire up his core supporters and give Republicans something to rally behind as they fight for their political survival in 2020.
It’s not a coincidence that the White House is “unveiling” an immigration strategy that Trump’s close advisers have been concocting.
It’s not a coincidence that the “new” merit-based plan focuses on talking points that give Trump and Republicans a political tool to portray themselves as warriors ready to protect America from immigrant invaders.
It really is just that. Throwing more wood on the fire of an already volatile topic that pits Americans against each other.
You’ve got to give it to Trump, though. In the midst of the most chaotic administration in recent history, the president has managed to carefully orchestrate ploys to keep immigration – legal and otherwise – at the center of American politics.
Merit-based plan has no merit with Democrats
In a Wednesday briefing with journalists, White House aides offered limited details of Trump’s new plan but talked about expediting asylum cases, shifting available visas to skilled workers, modernizing ports of entry to better catch contraband and beefing up border security to catch smugglers.
Clever tactic, right? Give Republicans – especially vulnerable ones leading up to the 2020 election, like Arizona Sen. Martha McSally – a rallying cry over “border security” and divide the nation over family-based immigration.
Trump knows he has no chance of legislative victory. He knows Congress – especially a Democratic-controlled House – is unlikely to go with an overhaul that fails to address the young immigrants known as "dreamers" and the millions of undocumented immigrants already in the country. It also ignores the need for unskilled workers in agriculture, construction and other industries.
What a serious overhaul would include
A serious immigration proposal would include visas for skilled professionals, a temporary worker program and a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants already in the country.
It would also include a functional asylum system, functional immigration courts, and yes, border security.
But don’t expect that from Trump’s White House or the immigration hardliners supporting him. For them, immigrants are nothing more than political pawns to keep the nation divided so they can capitalize on that anger to keep their posts.
Instead of a serious immigration overhaul, expect from Trump and his supporters a renewed attack on foreigners to justify their “build the wall” rallying cry through election day.