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Trump calls for ‘merit-based’ immigration system

Wednesday, Mar 1, 2017,10:25 IST By metrovaartha A A A

Washington | US President Donald Trump today pushed for a merit-based immigration system that could benefit high-tech professionals from countries like India.
Trump, during his first address to Congress, noted that “nations around the world, like Canada, Australia and many others have a merit-based immigration system”.
He said that such a system will save countless dollars and raise workers’ wages.
Trump introduced the idea of a merit-based immigration system after invoking the memory and words of late president Abraham Lincoln, saying, “Lincoln was right — and it is time we heeded his words.”
“Switching away from this current system of lower-skilled immigration, and instead adopting a merit-based system, will have many benefits: it will save countless dollars, raise workers’ wages, and help struggling families –- including immigrant families –- enter the middle class,” Trump said.
Trump said he is going to bring back millions of jobs.
“Protecting our workers also means reforming our system of legal immigration. The current, outdated system depresses wages for our poorest workers, and puts great pressure on taxpayers,” he said.
Trump said he believes that real and positive immigration reform is possible as long as it focuses on the goals to improve jobs and wages for Americans to strengthen the country’s security and to restore respect for laws.
“If we are guided by the well-being of American citizens then I believe Republicans and Democrats can work together to achieve an outcome that has eluded our country for decades,” he said.
Indian IT professionals account for the largest number of foreign nationals coming to the US on H-1B visas.
Indians also account for a significantly large number of foreign workers coming to the US as scientists, doctors, engineers and other highly-skilled professionals.
During his presidential campaign, Trump had promised to increase oversight of our H-1B and L-1 visa programmes that are used widely by Indian tech companies.
The H1B visa is a non-immigrant visa that allows American firms to employ foreign workers in occupations that require theoretical or technical expertise. The technology companies depend on it to hire tens of thousands of employees each year.
In an op-ed eminent Indian-American legal luminary Ved Nanda had warned the Trump administration last week that any curb on H-1B visas would result in flight of talented Indians from the US.
Trump said his administration has answered the pleas of the American people for immigration enforcement and border security.
“We want all Americans to succeed –- but that can’t happen in an environment of lawless chaos. We must restore integrity and the rule of law to our borders,” he said.
“For that reason, we will soon begin the construction of a great wall along our southern border. It will be started ahead of schedule and, when finished, it will be a very effective weapon against drugs and crime,” he said.
“As we speak, we are removing gang members, drug dealers and criminals that threaten our communities and prey on our citizens. Bad ones are going out as I speak tonight and as I have promised,” said the US President.
Trump said he has ordered the Department of Homeland Security to create an office to serve ‘American victims’.
The office is called VOICE –- Victims Of Immigration Crime Engagement.
“We are providing a voice to those who have been ignored by our media, and silenced by special interests,” he said.
The First Lady, he said, has invited four such victims: Jamiel Shaw, Susan Oliver, Jenna Oliver, and Jessica Davis to the address.

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