Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) said on Wednesday morning that in a meeting Tuesday with President Donald Trump and Sen. David Perdue (R-GA), the President told the senators to work on a bill to make the legal immigration system “merit-based.”
Cotton told MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” that the senators discussed their bill introduced last month to curb legal immigration and that Trump asked them to work on broader legislation.
“The President has said in public, as he told us yesterday, that he wants to move in the direction of, for instance, Canada and Australia, and focused on more of what he calls a merit-based system. Our legislation is the first step in that,” Cotton said on MSNBC. “He’d like to see additional steps focusing on some of the employment based green cards and visas. And we’re happy to work with him on that.”
The senators told Politico on Tuesday afternoon that Trump liked their bill.
“He knew all about it,” Perdue told Politico.
The legislation introduced by the two senators last month would drastically curb legal immigration to the U.S. The bill would aim to cut the number of legal immigrants admitted to the U.S. each year to 500,000. It would also limit visas for family members of those already in the U.S., allowing only minor children and spouses of citizens and green card holders to get green cards themselves. Currently, the U.S. also allows other family members to obtain green cards. The bill would also eliminate the diversity lottery, which allots 50,000 green cards each year to those from countries with low immigration rates to the U.S.
At the time, Cotton said that his legislation would not address visa programs for high-skilled workers, per CNN.
“Morning Joe” co-host Joe Scarborough on Wednesday morning asked Cotton if Trump supports limiting the number of high-skilled immigrants coming to the U.S. Cotton suggested Trump favors changes to those programs.
“I think on the H1B temporary visa, but also the permanent green cards like EB1 and EB2, the President wants to get the very best from around the world. Often those programs are implemented in a way that are not consistent with their purposes. They don’t bring in PhDs and computer scientists,” Cotton said on MSNBC. “They replace mid-level data management workers.”
“He would like to see reforms to those programs, as I would,” Cotton continued. “It’s really an empirical question of, where we do have gaps in our economy. But I will say this. There is no job that an American won’t do. Americans, with the right pay, will do any job, and that’s just the facts of the matter, and we need to make sure that we’re focused on Americans getting back to work and getting higher wages, supplemented where needed, based on the evidence, with immigration.”