As President Trump embraces a proposal to sharply cut immigration to the United States, supporters of the plan point to the example of Australia and its “merit-based” system for approving new immigrants.
The plan Mr. Trump supports seeks to reduce immigration by curbing the ability of American citizens and legal residents to bring family members into the country. As Mr. Trump told Congress earlier this year, “It is a basic principle that those seeking to enter a country ought to be able to support themselves financially.”
That approach — making sure new immigrants are not a burden on the country’s safety net and are able to prosper financially — is at the core of Australia’s immigration laws.
Australia takes in more immigrants relative to its population than the United States. The country has two distinct systems: a points-based system, which favors people based on their English proficiency and the skills they have to fill needed jobs, and an employer-nomination system, which allows businesses to sponsor people for jobs.
A White House official said on Wednesday that it had looked at both the Australian and Canadian immigration systems and “added things that made sense for America.”
“One of the things I think is the most compelling about the Australian system is the efforts to make sure that immigrants are financially self-sufficient,” Stephen Miller, a senior White House aide, said in discussing the plan with reporters Wednesday.
Under the plan proposed by Republican senators, applicants for legal residency in the United States would be judged on the basis of education, language and job abilities, favoring those who can speak English. They would be able to financially support themselves and have skills that contribute to the economy. Currently, most legal immigrants are admitted to the United States based on family…
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