What's happening with immigration

6:17 p.m. ET, May 16, 2019

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4:22 p.m. ET, May 16, 2019

Immigrant rights groups: "Trump is only doubling down in his war on immigrants"

Advocates for immigrant rights are criticizing President Trump's immigration proposal, condemning his administration for waging a "war on immigrants."

Here's what they're saying:

  • The Southern Poverty Law Center: “Instead of addressing the deeply flawed immigration policies that have resulted in a very real humanitarian crisis at the Southern border and in detention centers across our country, President Trump is only doubling down in his war on immigrants."
  • Tom Jawetz, with the Center for American Progress: "Rather than wasting time trying to please Stephen Miller, the president’s senior adviser for policy, Trump should focus on actual solutions to the nation’s pressing immigration issues, including protecting the Dreamers and Temporary Protected Status holders that his own administration placed in jeopardy and dealing with the refugee crisis along our southern border in a humane and effective manner."
  • Eleanor Acer, with Human Rights First: "For the last two years the administration has pushed policy after policy designed to gut the US refugee and asylum systems. This plan apparently offers more of the same."
  • Tyler Moran, the director of the Immigration Hub:  "Jared Kushner’s after-school project is never going to see the light of day with both Democrats and Republicans saying it's useless and is dead on arrival. The Rose Garden announcement of President Trump’s plan is nothing more than a straight-up 2020 campaign rally to feed red meat to his base."
4:02 p.m. ET, May 16, 2019

Trump cites Canada's immigration system as a model to follow, but omits their high level of refugee admissions

President Donald Trump repeatedly referenced other countries’ immigration systems as models for the US to emulate during a White House announcement on an immigration proposal, including Canada’s merit-based admissions systems several times. 

However, in contrast to Trump’s call to reduce the number of asylum claims the administration deems are fraudulent as part of the plan, Canada and Australia, another country whose immigration system he cited, led the world with the number of refugees resettled per capita in 2017, a Pew report on UN data notes.

And by January of this year, Maclean’s reported that the UN data show Canada and European Union surpassed the US in the total number resettled refugees.  

The US has historically led the world in the total number of refugee resettlements, but has been on a steep, consistent decline in admissions since the start of the Trump administration. There is a 30,000 refugee resettlement cap for FY 2019

3:50 p.m. ET, May 16, 2019

What "merit-based" immigration means, and why Trump keeps saying he wants it

President Trump called for a "major update" to the US immigration system on Thursday, announcing a plan to boost "merit-based" immigration.

Here's a look at what that means, and why it keeps coming up.

3:30 p.m. ET, May 16, 2019

Meanwhile on Capitol Hill, there's not a lot of interest in touching immigration right now

Just before the White House unveiled its immigration proposal, the mood on Capitol Hill was largely one of shrugs.

The proposal — while many say is well-intentioned — isn’t expected to be the breakthrough that has eluded lawmakers for the entirety of Trump’s presidency (and Obama’s, for that matter).

Here's how some Republican senators are reacting:

  • West Virginia Sen. Shelley Moore-Capito: “I don’t see that the will is there to do it. I commend the White House and the President for what I think is going to end up to be sort of a broad outline of things that are important, but I’m unfortunately pessimistic as to what the future holds. I just think both sides are going to have a hard time getting together on this.”
  • Maine Sen. Susan Collins: She said any immigration effort worth undertaking should include a fix for recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, something that wasn’t expected to be part of the plan.
  • Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley: He said White House adviser Jared Kushner’s plan might “unite Republicans, which is something in this business,” but pressed on if it would survive in the Senate ... he noted the problem with the math. Senators would need 60 votes.  

The bottom line is the positions have been litigated. It’s not that lawmakers don’t know what needs fixing. They know that the middle ground is pretty narrow and hasn’t been found before especially in a White House where support can shift quickly and the President can be swayed by one TV segment name checking his proposals as amnesty.  

The reality is that if Republicans or Democrats were going to work together to get something done on immigration, it would have happened last year when members worked for weeks to craft a bipartisan solution that dealt with DACA, border security and the visa program. That plan was torpedoed by the administration just days before the vote after many Republicans had believed Trump was supportive of their effort.

3:06 p.m. ET, May 16, 2019

Trump says US will issue a new "Build America Visa" and require migrants to learn English

MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images

MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images

President Trump just announced plans to replace existing green cards with a new "Build America Visa."

Trump went on to describe the new immigration selection system he hopes to see implemented, which would include a new points-based system. He said migrants will be required to learn English and pass a civics exam.

"You will get more points for being a younger worker, meaning you will contribute more to our social safety net. You will get more points for having a valuable skill and offer of employment and advanced education or a plan to create jobs," Trump said.

He added: "Priority will also be given to higher wage workers, ensuring we never undercut American labor. To protect benefits from American citizens, immigrants must be financially��self-sufficient. Finally, to promote integration, assimilation and national unity, future immigrants will be required to learn English and to pass a civics exam prior to admission."

3:00 p.m. ET, May 16, 2019

Trump says measure would reunite unaccompanied minors and filter out "frivolous" asylum claims

MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images

MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images

President Trump says his bill will "humanely reunite unaccompanied children with their families back home" while filtering out what he called "frivolous" claims of asylum in the US.

"Legitimate asylum-seekers are being replaced by those lodging frivolous claims -- these are frivolous claims to gain admission into our country," he said in the Rose Garden.

"If you have a proper claim, you will quickly be admitted. If you don't, you will promptly be returned home," he said of his newly unveiled immigration proposal.

In his remarks, Trump praised a separate measure being proposed by Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham that would, in part, change the current asylum process in an attempt to stem the flow of migrants arriving at the southern border.