President TrumpDonald John TrumpUS ambassador: ‘Israel is on the side of God’ Trump’s Doral resort revenue has dropped since presidential campaign: report Michael Wolff’s ‘Fire and Fury’ sequel due out in June MORE plans to announce his new immigration proposal on Thursday during an event in the White House Rose Garden, returning the spotlight to his signature issue as the 2020 presidential campaign kicks into high gear.
The plan, crafted by Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared KushnerJared Corey KushnerGOP officials unsatisfied with some answers from Kushner during immigration meeting: report Kushner, Miller talk immigration at Senate GOP lunch Warner says Senate Russia report will be ‘more extensive’ than Mueller on interference efforts MORE, would create a “merit-based” visa system that gives preferences to migrants with coveted job skills instead of relatives of other immigrants. It also calls for new infrastructure at ports of entry to speed up commerce while cracking down on drug- and human-smuggling.
The proposal is designed to unify Republicans, who have internal divisions on immigration reform, and pressure Democrats, who have repeatedly slammed Trump over his hard-line views on the issue.
“It’s going to be a very detailed piece of legislation and it can be what they want it to be,” a senior administration official, who requested anonymity to discuss the plan, said of the Democrats. “If they don’t want to engage, then it will be part of the election. If they want to engage, then it could be part of a negotiation. That’s going to be up to them.”
While the White House says it is serious about getting the legislation through Congress, the chances of an immigration deal between Trump and Democrats – particularly 18 months before the election – seem minute.
Trump and his team have thus far focused exclusively on garnering GOP support, even though the House is controlled by Democrats. Trump hosted a dozen Republican senators last week at the White House to preview the plan and Kushner on Tuesday briefed the entire GOP conference.
The plan also does not contain ways to address the roughly 11 million immigrants living illegally in the U.S. or include reforms to the guest-worker programs, which have been two of the most contentious issues in the immigration debate for decades.
The White House is expected to release an outline of its plan on Thursday, while the full version will not be made public. The senior administration official said it would be released “later on.”
Trump failed to push an immigration deal through the Republican-led Congress last year after Democrats, and some GOP lawmakers, objected to cuts to legal immigration that were pushed by White House adviser Stephen MillerStephen MillerGOP officials unsatisfied with some answers from Kushner during immigration meeting: report Kushner, Miller talk immigration at Senate GOP lunch Former DHS officials blocked Trump plan to arrest thousands of migrants before being ousted: report MORE.
The new plan leaves the number of immigrants who obtain permanent legal residence each year, around 1.1 million, unchanged – a move that may anger Trump supporters who want lower levels of immigration.