Hatch: Rethinking legal immigration 'a question of allocation'

Hatch: Rethinking legal immigration 'a question of allocation'
© Greg Nash

Sen. Orrin HatchOrrin Grant HatchTrump to award racing legend Roger Penske with Presidential Medal of Freedom Trump awards Presidential Medal of Freedom to economist, former Reagan adviser Arthur Laffer Second ex-Senate staffer charged in aiding doxxing of GOP senators MORE (R-Utah) on Wednesday argued that immigration reform should include the reallocation of green cards to favor skilled workers over those who benefit from a lottery system or family-based preferences.

"The notion that our legal immigration laws merit rethinking, however, is not anti-immigrant. Rather, it’s a question of allocation,” Hatch wrote in an op-ed for Fox News.

"No one disputes that family relationships are extremely important," he wrote. "But that doesn’t mean family connections, or country of origin, should take priority over other considerations, like education or skill level, in awarding limited numbers of green cards."

The Utah Republican recently reintroduced legislation that would increase the cap on H-1B high-skilled immigration visas. His bill would also prioritize those who hold U.S. master’s degrees or higher in the lottery process.

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Hatch’s comments come as Congress continues to negotiate a deal on immigration reform that addresses the future of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and increased border security.

Bipartisan proposals that focus on those issues have thus far failed to satisfy the White House.

The Trump administration has outlined a proposal that would give a pathway to citizenship for nearly 2 million immigrants in exchange for tens of billions of dollars in funding for border security increases as well as limitations in legal immigration.

His proposal was met with opposition from Democrats who said it limits legal immigration programs, as well as Republicans who argued it amounted to amnesty for immigrants who came to the United States illegally.

Hatch on Wednesday said he does not support any reduction in legal immigration, but rather believes re-evaluating which immigrants receive green cards will improve the system and the economy. 

“What I am calling for is a smarter, better calibrated legal immigration system that gives greater priority to education and skill level,” Hatch said. 

Hatch is retiring from the Senate when his current term ends next January.