President Donald Trump is endorsing an immigration bill that would cut in half the number of legal immigrants allowed into the United States by creating a points-based system of entry.
The proposed merit-based immigration system would take into account factors like whether the immigrant speaks English, age, education and if he or she has high paying job offers.
"This legislation demonstrates our compassion for struggling American families who deserve an immigration system that puts their needs first and that puts America first," Trump said Wednesday.
The RAISE Act, sponsored by two GOP senators, would replace the lottery system of entry for green cards.
"This competitive application process will favor applicants who can speak English, financially support themselves and their families, and demonstrate skills that will contribute to our economy," Trump said.
The bill would prevent new arrivals in the country from collecting welfare.
"Look at the Statue of Liberty, it says, 'Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,' it doesn’t say give me your educated, your most skilled and your English speaking," said Chris George, Executive Director of Integrated Refugee and Immigrant Services (IRIS) in New Haven.
As the head of a refugee resettlement organization, George said he is concerned by the bill’s proposed cap on refugees at 50,000.
"That is the lowest cap this country has ever had and it comes at a time when the refugee crisis is the worst it has been since World War II,” George said.
Both of Connecticut’s democratic senators said in statements that both parties need to work together on comprehensive immigration reform.
"This offensive plan cutting legal immigration by one-half is nothing but a series of nativist talking points and regurgitated campaign rhetoric that completely fails to move our nation forward toward real reform," Senator Richard Blumenthal said. "It falls far short of comprehensive change, in providing no path toward legal status for the 11 million people here today working and living in the shadows."
The GOP senators sponsoring the bill said it is modeled after the systems in Canada and Australia.
"This is a truly idiotic bill," Senator Chris Murphy said. "The strength of our economy is based upon our history of legal immigration. Republicans and Democrats in Congress should work together to promote legal immigration in a way that secures our borders, deports criminals, keeps Connecticut families together and allows people who have worked hard and paid their taxes to work toward citizenship."