President Trump’s new immigration plan is stirring up controversy on legal immigration. Much of the public debate has been about young immigrants brought to the U.S. as children illegally. The plan’s potential impact on legal immigration has sparked fierce Democratic opposition, and may sink chances for a bipartisan deal in Congress, the Associated Press reports. The proposal outlined by the White House would end much family-based immigration and the visa lottery program, moves that some experts estimate could cut legal immigration into the U.S. nearly in half.
The plan would also protect some 700,000 young immigrants from deportation and provide a pathway to citizenship, a top Democratic goal. “It’s an enormous change in rhetoric and position,” said Alex Nowrasteh of the conservative Cato Institute. “Forever, people have talked about illegal immigration and now this anti-legal immigration position is standard for much of the Republican Party.” The Senate’s top Democrat, Chuck Schumer of New York, dismissed the plan as a “wish list” for hard-liners. He acknowledged the bipartisan common ground on protections for the immigrants now shielded by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. He accused Trump of using them as “a tool to tear apart our legal immigration system and adopt the wish list that anti-immigration hardliners have advocated for years.”