"Nothing that we're going to do right now is more important than this". "This is different than illegal immigration".
Most economists dispute the president's argument, noting that immigration in recent decades doesn't appear to have meaningfully hurt wages in the long run.
This move however will not affect other skilled worker visa programs such as H1-B and H2-B visas, the latter being the mainstay for staffing at Trump's private clubs in Florida, including his favourite Mar-a-Lago resort.
The bill, which has not moved through the Senate, also calls for limiting admission of migrants' family members, ending the diversity visa lottery program, and making the process of obtaining "green card" work permits more hard. That bill, which was also introduced by Cotton and Perdue, argued that the current amount of people coming into the USA contributes to declining wages of Americans with high school diplomas. It would alter the immigration screening process to favor English speakers with the purported ability to support themselves financially and demonstrate skills that will benefit the economy, and would also, according to the president, prohibit recently arrived green-card holders from receiving welfare. GOP leaders have showed no inclination to vote on immigration this year.
Perdue said the proposed new immigration system will be both pro-growth and pro-economic growth. He added that the legislation is meant to favor green-card applicants who can speak English, financially support themselves, and demonstrate their skills, which he said would "reduce poverty, increase wages, and save taxpayers billions and billions". "What the merit-based system would do is bring our immigration policy more in line with what's good for American workers and taxpayers, so that's the overarching goal, and that I'm sure is the driving force behind talks with Congress and these senators".
But the president is mischaracterizing numerous immigrants coming to the United States as low-skilled and dependent on government aid. By one estimate, the number of legal immigrants admitted annually under the bill would drop by half in the next 10 years, from one million to 500,000.
Cotton and Perdue's bill, however, has already been widely praised by anti-immigration groups, including NumbersUSA and the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR). The level is now higher than at most periods in US history.
"Within just a few years immigration as a share of national population is set to break all historical records", he said at the time, arguing that immigration levels should be kept within "historical norms" as a share of population and that immigrants should be selected based on their likelihood of success in the USA society, based on merit, skill and proficiency.
NumbersUSA President Roy Beck hailed the bill and said that it "will do more than any other action to fulfill President Trump's promises as a candidate".