Making Immigrant Future Great Again: Moving Towards a Merit-Based System

A pair of permanent resident cards Trump’s get-tough immigration proposals have been a cause for controversy. His broader plans to reshape the nation’s immigration laws were met favorably, however, especially among Republicans. The Trump administration plans to depart from the previous family-based immigration system and prioritize economic benefits by transitioning to a merit-based system.

Past Immigration System Was Largely Based on Family Ties

Since the 1960s, the immigration system in the US relied heavily on family ties to allow entrance and citizen status to an individual, giving applicants with relatives in the country an advantage. Data from the Migration Policy Institute reveals that out of over one million legal permanent residents in 2015 alone, 44% were relatives of a US citizen, while 20% claimed they had help from a family-sponsored preference. Only 14% of the sample population came into the country through a job-based preference.

In Trump’s February address to Congress, however, he stated his intentions to move away from family immigration and to increase the number of immigrants chosen for their employment qualifications.

An Ethnically Diverse and Skilled Immigrant Pool

The entry of highly skilled immigrant workers could bode well for the US economy since it would lead to the formation of an ethnically diverse and skilled workforce. After all, those who previously came into the country on a family reunification visa often only had modest employment attributes. Since the merit-based system involves the objective assessment of a person’s education and skills, it could point to an easier process for obtaining a work visa with the help of legal offices like Buhler Thomas Law, P.C., which would grant smoother access to the country for non-immigrant workers

The Difficulty of Skill Assessment

Screening for skills may prove difficult, however. A college degree from another country could, for instance, raise questions about whether it could be counted for a job a non-immigrant is applying for. Moreover, some experts argue that the merit-based system could create a preference for highly-skilled workers when, in fact, the economy calls for a balance between high and low-skilled workers in various industries.

The president has yet to offer further detail about the merit-based system. While there are bound to be obstacles to the new policy, hopefully, it establishes a balance between high and low-skilled workers in the country.