America issues 1.1 million green cards annually to legal immigrants who go through a vetting process. However, the current vetting process and larger immigration system is broken due , in large part, to a combination of outdated legal immigration rules and lax enforcement that exacerbates lawlessness.
In February 2019, The Heritage Foundation outlined the policy ideas needed to rehabilitate our broken immigration system, and in May 2019, President Trump incorporated many of these ideas into his immigration proposal.
The Heritage-inspired plan by the President has two key components:
1. Reforming legal immigration. Every year the U.S. accepts 1.1 million green card applicants and currently, these green cards don’t go to the most deserving and capable individuals, but to those who have extended family members already in the USA or randomly through the “visa lottery.” President Trump’s plan rightly moves legal immigration away from “chain-migration” and a “visa lottery” and to a merit-based system where skilled and educated individuals are given preference. The plan also encourages the assimilation of immigrants into America’s rich civic and cultural heritage.
2. Securing the border. The President’s plan closes loopholes and tightens the definition of asylum to curtail the current practice of catch-and-release. It also gives resources to enforce our immigration laws within the country, combating visa overstays and making it easier to deport criminals. There is funding for 400 miles of additional border wall as well as increased security resources for ports of entry.
Importantly, the President’s proposal is limited in scope and does not grant amnesty to the millions of individuals who broke our laws and entered our country illegally. Previous attempts at immigration reform that included amnesty and were billed as “comprehensive packages” have all failed, preventing the enactment of needed fixes to our immigration laws.
Congress should instead reform our immigration system by passing these targeted reforms that the majority of Americans support.
Key Talking Points
Border security is necessary to protect American lives. Over the past two years, nearly 235,000 illegal immigrants were arrested—including roughly 100,000 for assault, 30,000 for sex crimes, and 4,000 for homicides. Illegal immigration is both a security and humanitarian crisis.
Improving asylum integrity curtails the practice of catch-and-release. The vast majority of asylum claims do not end with a grant of asylum and exacerbate the crisis at our southern border, clogging up our courts with false, or even fraudulent claims, and preventing us from helping those with legitimate asylum claims.
A merit-based system is more just and fair. President Trump’s proposal would increase from 12 percent to 57 percent the allotment of visas distributed to immigrants chosen through a merit-based system, reducing our reliance on the “visa lottery” and “chain-migration.”
Promoting patriotic assimilation instills American values in immigrants. Learning American history, civics, and english will help immigrants to more fully participate in all aspects of life in America, whether it be school, work, or government.
Make reforms issue by issue rather than in a “comprehensive bill.” Passing commonsense bills in a piecemeal approach ensures that legislation is not bogged down by partisan politics and amnesty deals.
These are notes to use when calling your member of Congress. Always remember to make these notes your own and include a personal story if you have one relating to the topic. You can find their phone number on the Heritage Action Scorecard.
My name is [NAME] from [CITY] and I am calling today to urge [MEMBER OF CONGRESS] to support President Trump’s immigration proposal.
We must have common sense immigration reform such as:
- Implementing merit-based legal immigration and ending the visa lottery system to make sure the most deserving immigrants enter the country
- Closing the amnesty loophole and ending catch and release policies to prevent illegal immigration
- Fully funding and securing the border to prevent crime and drugs from entering the country
Out-of-date immigration policies are creating a crisis at our southern border and across the country. Illegal immigrants exploit our broken immigration system and porous physical border. We need a reformed immigration system that is prepared to combat the illegal immigration crisis we face in the 21st century.
I am calling on [Member of Congress] to make these commonsense reforms to our immigration system. Please work to pass President Trump’s proposed immigration reforms and end this crisis once and for all.
Thank you for your time.