President Donald Trump pauses while speaking at an Opportunity Zone conference with State, local, tribal, and community leaders South Court Auditorium of the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, on the White House complex, Wednesday, April 17, 2019, in Washington.
While Graham is known to have President Donald Trump's ear, proposals similar to the senator's have been rejected in the past by Democrats, who control the House of Representatives. Prospects for an agreement seem especially bleak as the 2020 elections near, though the plan could give Trump and the GOP a proposal to rally behind, even if talks with Democrats go nowhere.
Now about two-thirds of immigrant visas are doled out based on family ties, while only a little more than 10 percent go to employment-based visas.
In his speech, Trump is unlikely to propose changes in the existing number - 1.1 million - of green cards issued each year. Instead, high-skilled people with jobs would be given priority, and could bring with them their spouses and children, the officials told reporters at a White House briefing on Wednesday.
It would harden the border by building more of Trump's coveted southern border wall and improve inspections of goods and people at ports of entry to fight drug smuggling. It would propose an increase in fees collected at the border to pay for border security infrastructure.
The officials said more details would be released in the coming weeks.
Lisa Koop, director of legal services at the National Immigrant Justice Center, also criticized the various planks of the proposal, including its failure to address those brought to the US illegally as children who are now protected from deportation by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy, or DACA, which Trump has tried to end.
Trump's advisers also have been working on provisions for guest workers for farms and other seasonal employers.
Instead, Kushner and others looked at the legal migration systems of Canada, Japan, Australia and New Zealand for clues on how to shift US policy more toward attracting skilled workers and less on uniting extended families.
Far fewer green cards would be given to people with relatives already in the U.S. The diversity visa lottery, which offers green cards to citizens of countries with historically low rates of immigration to the U.S., would be eliminated.
Trump has been furious about the spike in Central American migrant families trying to enter the U.S. His administration has been frantically looking for ways to limit the numbers.
But overall, the number of green cards issued under this plan would not change, and there would be no reduction in net immigration.
Sen. Lindsey Graham debuted a new immigration bill on Wednesday to tackle the "perfect storm brewing at the border", taking aim at Central American migrants who he says have relied on immigration loopholes for too long.
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