White House senior policy adviser Stephen Miller predicted Wednesday that the more the public gets to discuss President Trump's endorsement of a skills-based immigration system, the more easily it will pass in Congress.
"The more that we, as a country, have a national conversation about what kind of immigration system we want and to whom we want to give green cards to, the more unstoppable the momentum for something like this becomes," Miller told reporters at the White House Wednesday. "Public support is so immense on this."
Miller, who previously worked for Attorney General Jeff Sessions in the Senate, said he expects polling numbers in battleground states to increasingly show support for the bill as the public becomes aware of this new proposal. Democrats and some Republicans indicated opposition to the bill on Wednesday, but he said the U.S. public is demanding these sorts of answers.
"You're going to see [a] massive public push for this kind of legislation because immigration affects every aspect of our lives, affects our schools, our hospitals, our working conditions, our labor market," Miller said.
President Trump announced Wednesday he will support a revised Senate bill that would implement a merit-based point system for foreigners who apply for legal permanent status, or green cards, through their employer.
Republican Sens. David Perdue of Georgia and Tom Cotton of Arkansas unveiled the green card reforms in the Reforming American Immigration for a Strong Economy Act, or the RAISE Act, on Wednesday.
During his first address to a joint session of Congress on Feb. 28, Trump decried the "current, outdated system" that awards visas based on economic or humanitarian needs, as well as family connections.
The bill proposes eliminating "so-called chain migration," as Miller described it.
"The individuals right now who are receiving green cards, they can bring in, say, an elderly relative who could immediately go on to public assistance if they become unable to support themselves financially, and then that person can bring in a relative who can bring in a relative who can bring in a relative, and that's why they call it chain migration," Miller said.
The current immigration system often benefits family members of current U.S. residents, but Perdue and Cotton are pushing for a change that would force the U.S. to weigh the skill sets of potential candidates and favor those with more skills. The new version outlines how the specific demands of the U.S. workforce would determine which immigrants are needed, and thus, granted visas.
The diversity visa lottery would be eliminated while the number of green cards or documents for permanent residents would increase.