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President Trump Announces Merit-Based Immigration Plan

President Trump on Thursday announced an immigration proposal that he said would dramatically reshape immigration policies “to create a fair, modern and lawful system” for the United States.

Trump unveiled his plan during a press conference in the White House Rose Garden, saying that if adopted it would be “the pride of our nation and envy of the modern world.”

“Throughout our history we have proudly welcomed newcomers to our shores,” Trump said. “Out of many people, from many places, we have forged one people and one nation under God, and we are very proud of it.”

After noting that his policies have “turbo-charged the economy, Trump added, “we must implement an immigration system that will allow our citizens to prosper for generations to come.”

Trump contrasted the Democrats’ radical immigration ideas with his own merit-based system, saying, “Democrats are proposing open borders, lower wages, and frankly lawless chaos. We are proposing an immigration plan that puts the jobs, wages and safety of American workers first.”

The president was careful to note that his plan would continue offer protection to those truly suffering from government persecution.

“Our nation has a proud history of affording protection to those fleeing government persecutions. Unfortunately, legitimate asylum seekers are being displaced by those lodging frivolous claims,” Trump said. “My plan expedites relief for legitimate asylum seekers by screening out the meritless claims. If you have a proper claim, you will quickly be admitted,” the president added.

CNN’s Jim Acosta in a tweet, tried to twist Trump’s words to make it sound like he was saying all asylum seekers were making “frivolous claims.”

But he was quickly corrected:

According to NPR, the plan does not address the pressing question of what to do about the estimated 11 million people currently in the country illegally.

The speech was notably softer in tone for a president who has often used harsh language when describing immigrants.Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner has been quietly working on the plan for months and briefed Republican senators on the details Tuesday. A senior administration official, who spoke to reporters Wednesday on the condition that his name not be used, said the proposal is a “good faith effort” intended to unify Republicans and start a discussion.

“Right now this is the Trump plan, and we’re hoping this will become the Republican plan,” the official said. The plan would prioritize merit-based immigration, limiting the number of people who could get green cards by seeking asylum or based on family ties. But it would keep immigration levels static, neither increasing or decreasing the number of people allowed to legally enter the U.S. each year. Here are the elements of the proposal as described to reporters on Wednesday:

• Securing the border: Finishing the border wall
• Protecting American wages: Stemming the flow of low-wage labor
• Attract and retain the best and brightest immigrants
• Prioritize nuclear families: It would limit which family members can come to the country to children and spouses
• Import labor for critical industries
• Preserve humanitarian values: Keep asylum system, but limit it.

“We want immigrants coming in; we cherish the open door,” Trump said. “But a big proportion of those immigrants should come in through merit and skill.”

You can watch the president’s full speech below. Trump begins speaking at about the six minute mark: