President Donald Trump presented a bill changing the requirements in order to receive a Green Card (residence permit), giving preference to more qualified candidates, according to The Washington Times.

The new bill, sponsored by Republican Senators David Perdue (Georgia), and Tom Cotton (Arkansas), has yet to be approved by Congress. Named RAISE, an acronym for Reforming American Immigration for Strong Employment Act, it imposes a new merit-based system for those requesting permanent residence in the U.S.

According to the bill, immigrants who are able to demonstrate English language proficiency, financial stability and professional qualifications, including formal education, will achieve more points in the system thus raising their chances of obtaining a Green Card.

The system is similar to the existing ones in Canada and Australia.

Obsolete disaster

During the presentation of the bill in the White House, Senator Tom Cotton said the current system needs to be reformed, as stated by the White House Press Office.

“It is over a half-century old. It is an obsolete disaster. And it’s time for it to change”, said the Senator.

Still, according to the White House Press Office, President Trump said the bill is the fulfillment of a campaign promise. In his view, the legislation will lighten the burden of the welfare system, preventing poor immigrants of accessing the American social safety net. Besides, it will protect American workers.

“This legislation demonstrates our compassion for struggling American families who deserve an immigration system that puts their needs first and that puts America first,” declared the President.

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How does the system work today

The current system which grants permanent residence and Green Cards prioritizes relatives of current legal residents, not taking into consideration factors such as education and English proficiency.

As a result, according to The Washington Times, two-thirds of all permits granted yearly benefit relatives of current residents, while 30% of the total are shared almost equally between refugee applicants and job seekers. The remainder are drawn in the diversity lottery, established in 1990.

Limits for Refugees

The bill also limits the concession of permits for refugees to 50.000 per year, which according to the White House is in line with the current figure. The legislation also terminates the diversity lottery.

According to the Wall Street Journal, there are 11 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S., who are increasingly more afraid of being deported given President Trump's immigration policies.

The last attempt to change the immigration system was in 2007, during the George W. Bush administration. Leaders of both parties tried to push the bill through the Senate. Although most Democrat Senators supported the new legislation, the bill failed to be approved by Congress.