- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Americans generally favor a more selective legal immigration system that would reward those who speak English and those who bring desired skills to the U.S., according to a new poll released Wednesday that could boost the new immigration bill President Trump is backing.

The Morning Consult/Politico poll found 62 percent support for giving would-be immigrants who can speak English a leg up, and found 61 percent support for creating a point-based system to select new employer-based immigrants.

Some 54 percent also said they want the government to weigh an immigrant’s need for taxpayer assistance in deciding whether to admit someone.

Cutting the actual total number of legal immigrants from 1.1 million a year to about 500,000 a year is more controversial, with a plurality of 48 percent supporting it and 39 percent opposing it.

Those are all parts of a new bill introduced by GOP Sens. Tom Cotton of Arkansas and David Perdue of Georgia, known as the RAISE Act. Mr. Trump embraced the bill at a White House ceremony last week.

Democrats and immigrant-rights groups have blasted the new bill, saying it betrays American values on immigration by tightening the screens. Voters, though, seem to generally side with the bill’s authors.

The bill would severely limit family chain migration from the expansive current system, which allows immigrants to sponsor parents, brothers, sisters and adult children. Under the bill, just immediate family of spouses and young children could be sponsored.

The legislation would also impose a point system to shape the pool of new work-based visas, giving higher ratings to newcomers who bring skills the government deems beneficial to the economy.

The new bill would also nix the diversity visa lottery that gives away some 50,000 visas a year based on chance.

According to the new poll, voters generally are supportive of legal immigration, with two-thirds of respondents saying they “strengthen our country because of their hard work and talents.” Just 20 percent said legal immigrants were a drain on the U.S.

But when it comes details, voters are less unified. When asked if the U.S. was letting in too many, too few, or the right amount of immigrants in various categories, there was no clear majority for any of the positions.

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