Trump policy stirs debate: How 'self-sufficient' must immigrants be?

By Mark Trumbull 

(Excerpt)

To the president’s supporters, it’s common sense. An immigration system that favors skilled workers can boost the U.S. economy and reduce a rising taxpayer tab for federal safety net programs.

“The president … believes the American immigration system, first and foremost, is set up to work for America. That means economically and for the people [already] here,” Ken Cuccinelli, the acting director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, told reporters Wednesday at a Monitor Breakfast.

But this ideal of self-sufficiency might not be so simple to put into practice. 

Across America, many help-wanted ads are for low-skilled jobs, not for the college graduates favored by the president. A rule finalized recently by Mr. Cuccinelli could sharply limit the pool of immigrants available for low-wage work. It seeks to block green cards for people deemed likely to enroll in welfare programs.

“We have an economy that is full of jobs that fill vital needs but are not paying very well and often do not provide health insurance,” says Elizabeth Lower-Basch, a labor expert at the Center for Law and Social Policy in Washington. “And so people get these supports from the government to supplement their work.” 

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