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Trump favours merit-based immigration reform: White House

Press Trust of India, Washington, Feb 9 2018, 8:50 IST
US President Donald Trump, Reuters file photo

US President Donald Trump, Reuters file photo

US President Donald Trump favours a merit-based immigration system, which attracts the best and the brightest from across the world, the White House has said.

"I think the president wants to see legal immigration reform. He wants to see us move from a process that currently exists in the law of extended family chain migration toward merit-based immigration reforms," White House Deputy Press Secretary Raj Shah told reporters during his first White House news conference.

"We want to ensure that people coming into the country are the best and the brightest, regardless of nationality, creed, religion, or anything else in between," Shah said.

"We want to look at the educational backgrounds, ability to contribute to the workforce in a way that helps American workers. So the president wants to see reforms that improve America's economy," Shah said.

Indian-Americans, most of whom are highly skilled and come to the US mainly on H-1B work visas are the worst sufferers of the current immigration system which imposes a seven per cent per country quota on allotment of green cards or permanent legal residency.

As a result, the current wait period for Indian skilled immigrants as per some unofficial estimates can be as long as 70 years.

Over the last one week, many Indian skilled immigrants gathered in Washington DC from various parts of the US to press the Trump Administration and the Congress to remove this major anomaly in the immigration system.

In a fact sheet, the White House yesterday said that Trump intends to end diversity lottery visa and allocate some of these to reduce the backlog of high-skilled immigrants.

Such a move would greatly benefit Indian-Americans.

"President Trump's framework would end the visa lottery program and reallocate some of the visas to help reduce the backlog of high-skilled, employment-based immigrant cases," the White House said.

According to Senate Republican Policy Committee, every year the US on an average allocates some 50,000 green cards through a lottery for people from countries who do not get an opportunity to come to the US through the merit-based employment visas.

"It is time to create a merit-based immigration system that makes sense for a modern economy - selecting new arrivals based on their ability to support themselves financially and to make positive contributions to US society," Trump had said recently.

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