Kushner plan keeps legal immigration levels neutral

Presidential advisor Jared KushnerJared Corey KushnerTrump administration plans livestreaming border wall construction: report Overnight Defense: Families sue over safety hazards at Army base | Lawmakers, NBA's Enes Kanter speak out ahead of Erdoğan visit | Washington braces for public impeachment hearings Bolton suggests Trump's Turkey policy motivated by personal, financial interest: NBC MORE's sweeping immigration plan, which received President TrumpDonald John TrumpButtigieg surges ahead of Iowa caucuses Biden leads among Latino Democrats in Texas, California Kavanaugh hailed by conservative gathering in first public speech since confirmation MORE's approval Tuesday, will not effect the overall level of legal immigration, a senior administration official told reporters.  

Trump met with several GOP senators Tuesday for a listening session on the plan to solicit feedback. The broad outlines of the plan entail asking for increased border security infrastructure and changing over to a merit based legal immigration system. The border security infrastructure would primarily apply to fortifying legal ports of entry and interdict illegal drugs. 

Speaking to a small group of reporters at the White House, the official stressed that the change to a merit-based immigration system would not affect the overall number of legal immigrants permitted into the country but would instead affect the composition. The move is intended to lower the number of legal immigrants permitted to the U.S. who compete with lower-wage workers for jobs. The plan does not address the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program and is not intended to be an immediate fix to the ongoing rise in asylum claims at the U.S. southern border. 

Rather, the proposal was developed alongside the White House council of economic advisors to increase wages overall for U.S. workers and stimulate the economy. Part of the impetus behind its development was to change the perception of Republicans on the immigration issue, a person familiar with the developments said, noting that Republicans wanted the GOP to appear virtuous and welcoming to immigrants rather than perpetually angry. 

"President Donald J. Trump met with Republican Senators for an important and productive conversation on our Nation's immigration policy. The President and Senators discussed a potential plan that would secure the border, protect and raise wages for the American worker, and move toward a merit based immigration system," White House spokesman Hogan Gidley said in a statement after Trump's meeting. 

The official expressed optimism that the proposal will accepted on Capitol Hill. A person familiar with the meeting noted that at least four senators expressed optimism about the bill after learning its details. The plan will not be officially made public as the White House solicits feedback but has advanced significantly with the presidential seal of approval. 

- Saagar Enjeti