US senators' plan to slash immigration numbers by half

  • 08/02/2017
united states immigration trump

Two Republican senators have proposed steps to slash the number of legal immigrants admitted into the United States in half.

Senators Tom Cotton and David Perdue said their bill would cut the number of immigrants granted US residency each year to 500,000 from 1 million, through measures including cutting far back on which relatives can be brought into the country and eliminating a diversity visa lottery.

Cotton and Perdue said they had consulted Republican President Donald Trump, who vowed to crack down on both illegal and legal immigration during his campaign for the White House.

The measure faces stiff opposition in Congress and although Trump's fellow Republicans control majorities in both the Senate and House of Representatives, several back comprehensive immigration reform, not a tough crackdown.

Any measure would need Democratic support to advance in the Senate, and Democrats are strongly opposed.

"We're hopeful that we'll see this on the floor of the Senate this year," Cotton told a news conference to unveil the bill.

The measure would admit only immediate family members of immigrants, eliminating preferences for adult siblings or adult children.

Cotton said it would exclude parents unless they were sick and the family promised not to rely on public benefits.

The proposal came amid a larger immigration fight over Trump's travel ban on people from seven Muslim-majority countries and refugees.

Cotton said it was intended to stop competition lowering wages for less-educated workers.

"Unless we reverse this trend, we are going to create a near-permanent underclass for whom the American dream is always just out of reach."