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President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting on women in healthcare, Wednesday, March 22, 2017, in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Trump unveiled a bill to slash legal immigration and favor high-skilled workers


Updated August 02, 2017 11:40 AM EDT

Watch as Trump unveils a bill aimed at cutting legal immigration.

Updated August 02, 2017 11:48 AM EDT

Trump joined Republican Sens. Tom Cotton of Arkansas and David Perdue of Georgia on Wednesday to unveil new legislation aimed at reducing the number of visas granted to low-skilled immigrants.

The merit-based RAISE Act would would change the way the U.S. issues green cards to immigrants by using a point-based system.

Trump said the bill would represent the biggest change to the U.S. immigration system in half a century.

"For decades the United States has operated a very low-skilled immigration system issuing record numbers of green cards to low wage immigrants," Trump said. "This policy has placed substantial pressure on American workers, taxpayers and community resources."

Trump added that Americans hit the hardest by the current policy are "immigrants and very importantly minority workers competing for jobs against brand new arrivals."

Applicants earn points based on education, English-language ability, high-paying job offers, age, record of extraordinary achievement and entrepreneurial initiative.

He said the bill would reduce poverty, increase wages and save taxpayers billions and billions of dollars. It will do this by changing the way the U.S. issues green cards, Trump said.

Trump said the legislation will help ensure that newcomers to the U.S. will be assimilated.

Over 1 million immigrants are granted visas each year, and Cotton said that number puts “great downward pressure” on low-skilled American workers.

Perdue said the current immigration system keeps America from being competitive and does not meet the needs of the current U.S. economy.

President Trump joined two GOP senators on Wednesday to unveil a new bill aimed at cutting legal immigration in half

The new legislation is expected to expand on a bill introduced by Sens. Tom Cotton (R-AR) and David Perdue (R-GA) that would cut the number of immigrants granted legal residence in the U.S. by 41 percent in its first year and 50 percent over ten years.

The bill would also end the State Department's diversity visa lottery program, which awards green cards to people from countries with historically low levels of immigration to the U.S. in order to diversify the U.S. population.

The bill is also expected to cap the number of refugees given permanent residency at 50,000.

Over 1 million immigrants gained permanent residence in the U.S. in 2015, according to the Department of Homeland Security.

Trump, Cotton and Perdue are expected to unveil the legislation at the White House at 11:30 a.m. EST.

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