Two years ago, President Donald Trump proposed a plan to modernize our immigration system that included a merit-based point system for employment-based visas and a substantial reduction in family-based immigration.
According to Trump, only 12 percent of the legal immigrants were being selected on the basis of skill or merit. Green cards were being given mainly to low-wage and low-skilled immigrants who compete for jobs against the most vulnerable Americans.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) responded that she and her caucus wanted comprehensive immigration reform, but it would have to include a pathway for DACA recipients and “respect for family.” Trump’s focus on a merit system did not accomplish either objective.
Frankly, I think the belief that Trump had an anti-immigration agenda made people who disliked him so distrustful of his intentions that they wouldn’t give serious consideration to any immigration measure that he proposed.
The same cannot be said about Canada, however, and it has a merit-based point system for employment-based visas that has been very successful.
According to polls based on Gallup’s Migrant Acceptance Index, Canada was the most-accepting country in the world for immigrants in 2019. It welcomed 341,000 new permanent residents in 2019. The United States was in sixth place.
More than 20 percent of the people in Canada are foreign-born, which is one of the highest ratios in the industrialized Western countries.
Moreover, it has a broad range of settlement services for labor migrants and their families.
President-elect Joe Biden might benefit from studying Canada’s merit-based point system for selecting foreign workers.
Canada’s Immigration and Refugee Protection Act states as its first objective, “to permit Canada to pursue the maximum social, cultural and economic benefits of immigration.”
Canada established its first merit-based point system for selecting foreign workers in 1967. It was modified periodically, but Canada replaced it in 2015, with a new point system known as, the “Express Entry System.” The new system speeded up the selection process and reduced backlogs.
Published originally on The Hill.