Two Republican senators seek sharp cut in legal U.S. immigration

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By Susan Heavey and Ayesha Rascoe | WASHINGTON

WASHINGTON Two U.S. Republican senators plan to
unveil legislation on Tuesday aimed at curbing legal immigration
into the United States by halving the overall number of people
allowed to live as legal permanent residents, one of the bill’s
authors said.

The measure would limit the total number of total green
cards issued to about 500,000 per year, down from about 1
million, and focus on allowing in people seeking to reunite with
their immediate family, Republican Senator Tom Cotton told

The proposal comes amid a larger immigration fight
nationwide over President Donald Trump’s temporary travel ban on
people from seven Muslim-majority countries that prompted
international demonstrations and chaos at airports worldwide.
The U.S. Justice Department was to face off with opponents in a
federal appeals court on Tuesday over the fate of the ban.

Cotton said the Senate measure would not change
employment-based immigration, and would still allow in “high
skilled individuals who can come and help our economy.”

“It simply tries to get a handle on 1 million immigrants
coming here a year, virtually none of whom are coming here based
on their employment skills or demonstrated economic need,”
Cotton told MSNBC in an interview, referring to green card

Cotton has discussed his legislation with Trump and key
White House officials, according to Politico, which first
reported on his bill.

Asked about whether the White House would support the
legislation and whether it was working with the senators on it,
a White House spokesman said, “We are reviewing it.”

To achieve the cuts, the measure would eliminate “several
avenues for U.S. citizens and permanent residents to sponsor
family members for green cards,” Politico reported, adding that
it may be the first in a series of related proposals.

Cotton, who is scheduled to unveil his bill at a press event
late Tuesday morning with fellow Republican Senator David
Perdue, said reducing immigration would help boost U.S. workers,
especially those who do not have higher education degrees and
who work more labor or service-oriented jobs.

“I don’t think our immigration system is working for working
Americans,” he told MSNBC.

U.S. companies often argue in favor of immigration, and more
than 100 companies filed a legal brief opposing Trump’s travel
ban. They said the executive order “inflicts significant harm on
American business.”

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