Trump Advocates a 'Merit-Based Immigration System'

By Susan Jones | March 1, 2017 | 6:07am EST
President Donald Trump greets members of Congress as he heads to the podium to deliver a speech to the nation on Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2017. (Screen grab from ABC News)

( - President Donald Trump told the nation Tuesday night he will enforce the nation's immigration laws to protect the U.S. border. But he also called for reforms to the "current, outdated system" of legal immigration:

Nations around the world, like Canada, Australia and many others, have a merit-based immigration system," Trump said. "It is a basic principle that those seeking to enter a country ought to be able to support themselves financially.

"Yet, in America, we do not enforce this rule, straining the very public resources that our poorest citizens rely upon. According to the National Academy of Sciences, our current immigration system costs America's taxpayers many billions of dollars a year."

He continued:

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.

I believe that real and positive immigration reform is possible, as long as we focus on the following goals: to improve jobs and wages for Americans, to strengthen our nation's security, and to restore respect for our 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.

On border security, Trump said he will "soon begin construction of a great wall along our southern border." He said construction will begin ahead of schedule, and will be "a very effective weapon against drugs and crime."

Trump also spoke about his recent enforcement actions:

As we speak, we are removing gang members, drug dealers and criminals that threaten our communities and prey on our citizens. Bad ones are going out as I speak tonight and as I have promised.

To any in Congress who do not believe we should enforce our laws, I would ask you this question: what would you say to the American family that loses their jobs, their income, or a loved one, because America refused to uphold its laws and defend its borders?

Our obligation is to serve, protect, and defend the citizens of the United States.

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