McAllen (Texas, US): Migrant families recently released from detention wait to board a bus on Friday.—Reuters
McAllen (Texas, US): Migrant families recently released from detention wait to board a bus on Friday.—Reuters

WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump urged all illegal immigrants on Friday not to make themselves “too comfortable” as they would be leaving soon.

On Thursday, President Trump announced a sweeping immigration proposal that would alter the way legal immigrants are allowed into the US. The plan includes a civics test, a measure that experts said would prevent most applicants from entering the country.

“All people that are illegally coming into the United States now will be removed from our country at a later date as we build up our removal forces and as the laws are changed,” he tweeted on Friday. “Please do not make yourselves too comfortable, you will be leaving soon!”’

According to the Washington-based Migration Policy Institute, there are more than 11 million unauthorised immigrants in the United States.

Mostly from Latin American countries, but there are also a sizeable number of Asians, including those from India and Pakistan.

President Trump’s statements have irked human and immigrant rights activists who are condemning his administration for waging a war on immigrants. “President Trump is only doubling down in his war on immigrants,” said an advocacy group called the Southern Poverty Law Centre, Eleanor Acer of Human Rights First, said: “For the last two years the administration has pushed policy after policy designed to gut the US refugee and asylum systems.”

President Trump’s new policy proposes to change the current immigration system, which gives first preference to family. President Trump has vowed to change that.

“Currently 66 percent of legal immigrants come here on the basis of random chance,” Mr Trump said in a statement he read at the White House. “They’re admitted solely because they have a relative in the United States, and it doesn’t matter who that relative is,” he said.

“Only 12 percent of legal immigrants are chosen based on skill or merit,” he added while proposing to bring that number up to 57 percent. “They go right to front of the line, where they should be,” he said.

President Trump’s new “points-based system” would reward younger workers, those with valuable skills, offers of employment, advanced education, plans to create jobs, and higher-wage workers.

The US media reported that the proposed system was crafted almost entirely by two of President Trump’s advisers, son-in-law Jared Kushner and Stephen Miller. The proposal has “almost zero” input from the Department of Homeland Security, the reports claimed.

The media also reported that the proposal would face a stiff resistance in the US Congress where many lawmakers see the proposed measures as “harsh and inhuman.”

Various media outlets pointed out that President Trump’s own family benefitted from the family-based immigration system. In 1929, Mr Trump’s mother, Mary Anne MacLeod, came to the United States to join two of her sisters, in New York City.

Published in Dawn, May 18th, 2019