President TrumpDonald John TrumpNapolitano claims Trump violated separation of powers 3 times in last week Work on surprise medical bills goes into overdrive Trump pardons media tycoon, former GOP leader of California State Assembly MORE on Thursday rolled out a new immigration plan that would move the U.S. toward a “merit-based” system favoring highly skilled workers over migrants with family members living here, saying it would make the nation “the envy of the world.”
But the president made it clear he views the plan, which has little chance of passing Congress, as a political cudgel against Democrats as much as a serious legislative proposal.
“Today we are presenting a clear contrast,” Trump said during a speech in the Rose Garden of the White House. “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 said he would use his “common sense” plan to paint Democrats as unreasonable during the 2020 elections if they do not work with him to make it become law and predicted it could help propel him to a reelection victory.
“If for some reason, possibly political, we can’t get the Democrats to approve this merit-based, high-security plan, then we will get it approved immediately after the election when we take back the House, keep the Senate and, of course, hold the presidency,” he said, sparking applause from the Rose Garden crowd. “One of the reasons we will win is because of our strong, fair and pro-American immigration policy.”
Trump formally announced his new plan after it was greeted with deep skepticism on Capitol Hill, where Democrats and some Republicans questioned why it did not address the fate of millions of immigrants who came to the U.S. illegally as children.
Enshrining protections for those immigrants, known as “Dreamers,” has been a top priority for Democrats ever since Trump attempted to end the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.
White House aides have said the issue is too divisive and was intentionally left out of Trump’s latest proposal.
“Every single time that we have put forward or anyone else has put forward any type of immigration plan and it’s included DACA, it’s failed,” press secretary Sarah HuckabeeSarah Elizabeth SandersLive coverage: House panel moves forward with Barr contempt vote Mueller’s facts vs Trump’s spin Trump says he was called ‘the greatest hostage negotiator this country has ever had’ MORE Sanders Sanders told reporters.
The plan was crafted by Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared KushnerJared Corey KushnerTrump to launch uphill bid to overhaul immigration laws Graham unveils bill to overhaul asylum laws GOP officials unsatisfied with some answers from Kushner during immigration meeting: report MORE, who spent the past several days briefing Republican lawmakers on its details. But Democrats have largely been left in the dark, even though they control the House.
—Updated at 3:32 p.m.