President Trump's call Wednesday for a merit-based immigration system sent critics and much of the media into a tizzy, but what he proposed is common in many parts of the world.
The proposed system, contained in a Senate bill, would replace one largely based on extended family ties with one that prioritizes education, English language proficiency, age, vocational skills and high-paying job offers as well as considering any criminal record and possible national security risks.
"The idea of using a point system to select immigrants is a completely conventional idea," Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Washington, D.C.-based Center for Immigration Studies, said.
"The idea of using a point system to select immigrants is a completely conventional idea."
– Mark Krikorian, Center for Immigration Studies
The proposal resembles policies in Australia, Austria, Canada, Denmark, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, New Zealand, South Korea and the United Kingdom.
But despite that, it didn’t take long for the critics to weigh in.
"Once again White Nationalists are pushing their ethnic cleansing agenda, scapegoating immigrants for their own inability to create a labor market that works for everyone," Sulma Arias, a spokesperson for the Fair Immigration Reform Movement, said in a statement.
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Critics claim using merit to screen immigrants is wrong, but many other countries do it. (Associated Press)
"Today’s announcement … is a direct attack on all immigrants, on our legal immigration system, and on one of the core principles that drives immigration — family reunification."
Supporters of the bill stressed how mainstream the proposed policy is.
"How you pick the immigrants is a separate question from how many people you take," Krikorian told Fox News. "It is just a scurrilous lie to say that somehow is it racist to use a point system to select immigrants," he said.
NumbersUSA said the bill reflects popular sentiments.
“Our polling confirms that American voters overwhelmingly want far less immigration because they know mass immigration creates unfair competition for American workers,” Roy Beck, the group’s president, said in a statement.
“Seeing the President standing with the bill's sponsors at the White House gives hope to the tens of millions of struggling Americans in stagnant jobs or outside the labor market altogether.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.