Kushner said at Time magazine’s Time 100 Summit that he’s put together “a very detailed proposal” that encompasses three major themes: improving border security, moving toward a so-called merit-based system and maintaining “our country’s humanitarian values.”
“I do believe that the president’s position on immigration has been maybe defined by his opponents by what he’s against as opposed to what he’s for,” Kushner said.
The president has been involved in crafting the proposal, Kushner said.
“Probably at the end of this week, next week we’ll present it again and then he’ll make some changes likely, and he’ll decide what he wants to do with it,” he said.
Kushner said the border security aspect would look at using physical barriers and technology to “keep illegal goods and keep out people who are coming in illegally while also facilitating trade and the flow of legal people as quickly and as efficiently as possible.”
Kushner added that he’d like to see the U.S. immigration system give more weight to economic qualifications as opposed to family connections. He cited Canada and Australia as models for this approach.
The third point, he said, is that the administration would aim to “maintain our country’s humanitarian values.”
The White House endured intense criticism last year after it implemented a policy that led to the separation of thousands of migrant families that crossed the border illegally.
Kushner claimed the pitch has the support of multiple factions in the White House, including hard-liner Stephen Miller, who has been behind the administration’s efforts to curb the flow of immigrants into the country and a recent leadership shakeup at the Department of Homeland Security.
The president’s son-in-law and adviser disputed that he and Miller have fought over the issue.
“I’ve had both Stephen Miller and [Council of Economic Advisers Chairman] Kevin Hassett involved, and I think they both agree with what this is,” Kushner said. “And I say that if I can get Stephen Miller and Kevin Hassett to agree on an immigration plan, then Middle East peace will be easy by comparison.”
Kushner said he did not arrive in Washington intending to work on immigration, but has been working on the plan nonetheless, calling it an “important issue” for the country and the president.
Trump has made cracking down on illegal immigration a cornerstone of his agenda dating back to his 2016 presidential campaign when he pledged to construct a wall along the southern border and have Mexico pay for it.
However, he has been unsuccessful in brokering immigration deals with congressional leaders, including notably during the record-long 35-day partial government shutdown earlier this year.
Talks over reforms to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program faltered in 2017 and 2018, and Trump declared a national emergency earlier this year to secure funding for the wall following the lengthy standoff with Congress, reported the Hill.
White House counselor Kellyanne Conway told Fox News the “big” legislative package aims to reduce illegal immigration and implement a merit-based visa system that would favor workers over family members sponsored by their U.S. citizen or permanent-resident relatives.
Conway said the proposal would also end the visa lottery system, which Trump has railed against since taking office over two years ago.
She added that relief for immigrants who came to the U.S. illegally as children “could be” on the table.
But there is skepticism in Washington about the prospects of a comprehensive immigration deal becoming law. Trump’s last immigration proposal fell apart in late 2017 after the White House insisted on cuts to immigrant visas that Democrats and many Republicans would not accept.
The president’s hard-line immigration policies have consistently angered Capitol Hill Democrats.
Trump triggered the longest government shutdown in U.S. history late in 2018 over his demands that border wall funding be included in a spending deal. He then circumvented lawmakers to build the barrier on his own, a move that has been challenged in court.
The administration also received widespread backlash last year for separating migrant children from their parents and guardians, eventually curtailing the policy amid public outcry.
In the past few months, Trump has also floated the possibility of sending migrants to sanctuary cities that do not help federal authorities in enforcing immigration laws and proposed ways to curtail migrants’ ability to seek asylum.
White House policy adviser Stephen Miller has played an influential role in implementing the administration’s strict immigration policies, even helping to engineer a purge of top officials at the Department of Homeland Security who had been accused of slow-walking the plans, and his response to the Kushner plan is being closely watched in immigration circles, reported the Hill.
WASHINGTON (AP) — Looking for feedback and support, the White House invited Republican senators Tuesday to discuss a “fairly comprehensive” new immigration plan being spearheaded by senior adviser and presidential son-in-law Jared Kushner.
The group was expected to include lawmakers who have been in discussion with Kushner’s team about the plan, as well as more conservative members who could be more resistant to it. Among those expected to attend were David Perdue of Georgia, Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee and Chuck Grassley of Iowa.
Kushner’s plan is expected to include two major components: Border security measures that would include efforts to secure ports of entry and a package of legal immigration proposals that would create a more “merit-based” system giving preference to those with job skills rather than relatives of immigrants already in the country.
Kushner said during an interview at the TIME 100 Summit two weeks ago that he would present a revised version to Trump “probably at the end of this week, next week” and that the president would then “make some changes, likely, and then he’ll decide what he wants to do with it when he wants to do with it.”
“My hope is that we can really do something that unifies people around what we’re for on immigration,” he said.
White House counselor Kellyanne Conway on Tuesday described the plan as “fairly comprehensive” and said it could include changes to the diversity visa lottery, which Trump has long criticized.
She also told Fox News Channel that Trump might be open to a deal that would address the plight of hundreds of thousands of “Dreamer” immigrants who were brought to the country as children and are here illegally.
“We’ll see,” she said, later telling reporters, “The president made very clear in January 2018 in the Cabinet Room that he was willing to do a deal on DACA and the Dreamers.”
A previous attempt by Trump to reach a comprehensive immigration deal with Congress collapsed last year and there is deep skepticism in Washington that there is any appetite on Capitol Hill for a wide-ranging agreement.
Trump put immigration at the center of his presidential campaign, including a promise to build a wall along the U.S-Mexico border. He is expected to continue to hammer the issue in his re-election campaign as he tries to energize his base of supporters.