The bill – a revised version of an immigration-reform act introduced in February – would change the system for granting legal residency, or green cards, by giving priority to high-skilled immigrants who are English-speaking.
“This competitive application process will favor applicants who can speak English, financially support themselves and their families and demonstrate skills that will contribute to our economy,” Trump said today at the White House alongside Sens. Cotton and Perdue.
The president, who promised during his election campaign to reform the immigration system, argued that the bill, called the RAISE Act, would replace “our low-skilled [immigration] system with a points-based system.”
“They’re not going to come in and immediately go and collect welfare,” Trump said.
By giving more points to people who are highly skilled, the legislation would reduce the number of immigrants receiving government benefits, Trump suggested.
“For some people, they may think that’s a symbol of America’s virtue and generosity,” Cotton said of the current immigration system. “I think it’s a symbol we’re not committed to working-class Americans. We need to change that.”
Trump along the same lines said the new legislation would lead to higher pay for American workers and “help ensure that newcomers to our wonderful country will be assimilated, will succeed, and will achieve the American dream.”
According to the Department of Homeland Security, 1,051,031 immigrants gained permanent residency in the United States in 2015.
It’s unclear when the Senate may take up the new legislation. The initial immigration reform bill in February was opposed by some Republicans and business groups and has been stalled in the Senate.