House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) once again strayed from President Donald Trump’s agenda on Friday, expressing his doubts about the administration’s plans to reduce legal immigration over the next decade by introducing stricter requirements for prospective entrants into the United States.
“I just think arbitrary cuts to legal immigration don’t take into effect the economy’s needs as the boomers are retiring,” Ryan told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “With baby boomers leaving the workforce, we’re still going to have labor shortages in certain areas and that is where a well-reformed legal immigration system should be able to make up the difference.”
Ryan noted that he has yet to fully review Trump’s proposal and agreed that immigration reform is a worthy point of focus for the president, but he suggested that immigration could be productively retooled without reducing the number of immigrants that flow into the United States.
“I think legal immigration is good for our country,” he said. “I’m a supporter of legal immigration.” Ryan suggested that the Trump administration could refine the immigration system to support specific enterprises like dairy farms and engineering.
Trump rolled out his proposal for a merit-based immigration reform package on Wednesday alongside Sens. David Perdue (R-GA) and Tom Cotton (R-AK).
Titled the Reforming American Immigration for a Strong Economy (RAISE) Act, the bill “demonstrates our compassion for struggling American families who deserve an immigration system that puts their needs first, and that puts America first,” Trump said.
Instead of the current system, which largely prioritizes familial connections, the RAISE Act would reform the American immigration system to mirror that of Canada and Australia, where immigrants are accepted based on their economic value to the country. Applicants would receive points based on certain criteria – including English proficiency and educational attainment – and those with the highest scores would be prioritized for entry.
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