US President Donald Trump on Wednesday called for adopting a merit-based immigration system that could benefit high-tech professionals from countries like India, modifying his hard-line campaign rhetoric with a promise to revive the ‘American spirit’.
Trump, during his first address to Congress, noted that “nations around the world, like Canada, Australia and many others have a merit-based immigration system”.
He said that such a system will save countless dollars and raise workers’ wages.
Trump introduced the idea of a merit-based immigration system after invoking the memory and words of late president Abraham Lincoln, saying, “Lincoln was right – and it is time we heeded his words.”
“Switching away from this current system of lower-skilled immigration, and instead adopting a merit-based system, will have many benefits:it will save countless dollars, raise workers’ wages, and help struggling families — including immigrant families — enter the middle class,” Trump said in a State of the Union-style address that lasted for an hour.
Trump, 70, said he is going to bring back millions of jobs.
“Protecting our workers also means reforming our system of legal immigration. The current, outdated system depresses wages for our poorest workers, and puts great pressure on taxpayers,” he said.
Trump said he believes that real and positive immigration reform is possible as long as it focuses on the goals to improve jobs and wages for Americans to strengthen the country’s security and to restore respect for laws.
“If we are guided by the well-being of American citizens then I believe Republicans and Democrats can work together to achieve an outcome that has eluded our country for decades,” he said.
“Solving these, and so many other pressing problems, will require us to work past the differences of party. It will require us to tap into the American spirit that has overcome every challenge throughout our long and storied history,” he said in his prime-time speech which was devoid of attacks on Democratic opponents and media organisations.
Indian IT professionals account for the largest number of foreign nationals coming to the US on H-1B visas.
Indians form a significantly large number of foreign workers coming to the US as scientists, doctors, engineers and other highly-skilled professionals.
During his presidential campaign, Trump had promised to increase oversight of our H-1B and L-1 visa programmes that are used widely by Indian tech companies.
The H1B visa is a non-immigrant visa that allows American firms to employ foreign workers in occupations that require theoretical or technical expertise. The technology companies depend on it to hire tens of thousands of employees each year.
Trump during his campaign promised measures like cracking down on undocumented immigrants, restricting travel to the US to stop immigrants entering the country, drawing a sharp reaction from fellow lawmakers and countrymen.