Trump: US switching to 'merit based' immigration system

The president aims to cut legal immigration with new legislation.
11:32 | 08/02/17

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Transcript for Trump: US switching to 'merit based' immigration system
There you have president trump along side senators Tom cotton and David Perdue. I'm Arkansas and Georgia respectively announcing. New legislation really revival of the old legislation that would greatly fact immigration as it is existed in this country. For the better part of a half century now my mom and Abbas and you're gonna walk through exactly what we know about that bill in its potential impact also some other big headlines coming out of Washington today. Joining me in Washington DC bureau right now are let signs and Mary Alice parks two of my colleagues down there been. Covering the White House and legislation on Capitol Hill are let. Let's start we've you know just to talk about this bill a little bit this is not necessarily something new with the president trump has. Brought to the table it's sort of an old idea that he's providing to some degree right. That's right and you know the president has made cracking down on illegal immigration a hallmark of his campaign and his trip road to the White House now this is taking a stab at. Legal immigration essentially cunning illegal immigration aid to cut legal immigration to the country in half one way that it does know is by eliminating diversity you says. It also is going to limit the number of refugees to the incumbent. To the country the White House the president saying that is prioritizing. Immigrants. Based on skill Clinton not there are family connections but one thing as he pointed out it's interesting as that senator David Perdue and senator Tom cotton to Republicans. Unveiled similar. Legislation to this earlier in the year and it really getting gain any traction. On Capitol Hill Senate Leadership hasn't sad they're going to be voting on immigration in in the coming future so what's the big question will actually go anywhere or is this just throwing basically. It's stuff to their to their base trying to appeal to. To those who are seeking reforms to immigration is one rampant. Talk about this'll a little bit when Edward. Where we think this is coming from now and doesn't actually have legislative support to move forward in a real. Right now the answer seems to me no it does knots and had a lot of support on Capitol Hill. No senators besides these two have signed on to this proposal. And it was introduced back in February arguably the president had a lot more political capital there on Capitol Hill now after frustrations over at the inability to pass something. On health care a lot of disagreements about where to go forward on tax reform the idea and that the president can dictate. What the senate should do it how they should milk. Feels a little bit far fetched and Ike are light is exactly right saying that you know the leadership has just not said this is a priority and there's. They were noticeably absent from this press conference just now. You know Mitch McConnell said just yesterday that it was going to be important for him to work on tax reform and the debt ceiling in government funding. In nowhere to be talk about immigration when he laid out his priorities for the fall. Are let him walk me through a little bit how this fits into sort of the larger White House plan it now I mean we lucky if you mentioned he talked about illegal immigration a lot. This is a stab as you mentioned at legal immigration are looking now at the embargo fact sheet that they White House had put out now we can talk about it since the president has announced. This bill and they talked about some of those numbers right there about a million immigrants every year. Coming in for legal permanent resident seen most of them lower unskilled that they say here. They say it was when he arguments has been made and that's sort of push back against. Immigration as a whole that 50% of those immigrant households and docked pulling from social services in some ways compared to 30% and native. Households now I'm afraid native households is something we haven't really seen. In any White House messaging this administration. Or previous who this message intended for when you introduce and uphold some kind of. Policy like bad. When you also heard the senators they are talking about summit he changes that this would entail one of those was that any legal residents. What our legal immigrants at the country would not be able to collect where welfare they also sat which caught my attention the fact that. Those who are English speakers would be the ones prioritize. Four green cards and he says into this country that's sending a very very clear signal about what type of people they want to be bringing in here now we know that immigrant. Advocate groups are opposed to this day that it's actually could it hurts industries like agriculture those that have lower skilled workers coming. To this country and we don't the White House has also been pushing other items which have to see what else if anything is going regularly gained traction. On Capitol Hill are there's anything that there I DHS. Potentially do. Well Mary Allen there's been some push back on easy from immigration advocates but also from some economists have been looking at the number that the demographic realities at how our economy works right now. Is that look this would actually hurt us not help us. And this is one of the reasons why these proposals are really controversial ex. Ashley among Republicans that rely on support from big business to have close relationships pride themselves I had a close relationship is a big businesses in this country. And you're right some some big business leaders as well as some of the leading Eck you know economists in this country say that they're not convinced. That limiting limitation would help the economy in fact most say that it could really hurt it. But I don't know if we should be surprised by some of this rhetoric from this White House it fits into what we've heard from that from the president before this kind of us vs them. Home that they take in through the entire campaign in the beginning of this presidency. Very similar to the rhetoric we saw when he rolled out. That travel ban this idea that that you are either from here are not and at that is somehow what is important to this White House. But they've your right and there's some really key quotes I was I was looking today. The chief of the economic outlook group said that this idea of limiting immigration this much could really increase the risk of a recession in the United States so. It is by far it is isn't really easy is it it is clearly controversial. Controversial facilities and and I'm not convinced that that economists are convinced that the right idea. Right there's a bigger picture here just on the sheer numbers right in terms of where the baby boomers age out of the workforce population. That hasn't been in the projection show we'll continue to be filled in by immigrants of working age who end up coming here in filling a lot of those roles but. Our let's talk about this to get this something a lot of people heard an appointed as a little bit of hypocrisy behind a lot of this to. Senator Perdue said right there that what they're trying to put a value a higher value on. Is the permanent resident status people who can come here and permanently contribute. To our economy the president himself in some of his businesses specifically at his Florida State Mara law though. Reliance on temporary foreign workers in just to keep pays business going he'd just. Recently last month apply for seventy more positions he wants to bring in a whole new crop of seasonal workers. For this fall through this spring to beat cooks to be the housekeepers to be the people that keep the business of going how do you think the White House reconcile. Well this is something that certainly came up over the course of the campaign it was an it was repeated highlighted over and over that they were. I using those types of workers but let the White House is just going to continue. Pushing back that businesses in this country need to focus on these permanent legal residents those are the ones but the White House thinks need to be the ones having. The these jobs and coming to this country and it's going to be interesting to see how they explain this disparity I'm sure we'll get some type of explanation from that in. At the briefing this afternoon because of something that certainly has come up over the course of the past two years for the president. Mary out there's a larger argument to look into here to about exactly who this message is intended for we talked a lot. About the messages that mr. Kemp campaigned on the things that he held up as priorities and we know at its core in terms of his constituency. There's Al white. Voter who is without a four year college degree that found residents and a lot of what the tribe campaign. Rhode Island and you look at the numbers over the last couple of months. He support his approval in that segment of the population has been falling. We've had people who run the polls basically saying this huge problem for administration that relied on these people that will rely. On this segment of the American population moving forward if you see at ten point dead. In one month as quinnipiac found between April and may. It's a problem. Do we think some of these policies some of this messaging could be in response to that. Oh absolutely this is. Designed to appeal directly to that base of support. And and say it's designs and it look I haven't changed this is what I campaigned on this and I'm sticking to Washington can't change me. You might be hearing headlines of a dysfunctional White House might be hearing headlines at issues on Capitol Hill. But come back to my original message my original class I haven't changed. This is what I campaign. I think you're exactly right. We've seen the president do this time and time again when things aren't going rate. He goes back to his original message and that makes sense those of the folks that he'll largely put him in the White House you're exactly right that's where his core base remains. But like we've been hiking about whether or not he has enough broad appeal across the country and on Capitol Hill to actually. Move some of these policy proposals in sold its assault legislation and it's a lot remains to be seen. Our let the other big headline coming out of Washington today of course this Russia sanctions bail there's been a lot of hemming and lying. When it went let it happen when would it not that would it happened at all. It didn't without much fanfare about tell me the story behind them. That's right so as the senate went ahead and passed that those new sanctions against a rush in part not only for their involvement in Ukraine and also for their involvement in the election madly in 20168. Has not last week. And congress sends the bill over the president on Friday he's had it sitting on his desk awaiting for his signature tour or potential beat out. A since Friday the White House indicated over the weekend that he would sign it wasn't until lay people were wondering why wait so long if you party sector going to sign at the White House yesterday saying that they were undergoing a review process relating to that the as secretary of state Rex Tillerson yesterday had to make some serious comments saying the present and I aren't happy with this bill and when the president signed it today it was done behind closed doors and they released a statement afterwards which actually expresses the president's reservations what the else if he's that I'm gonna go ahead and sign this. He's about it seriously plot and you heard and not about just a little while ago our senior White House correspondent Cecilia Vega attempt to ask the president. What he meant by that heat the president walked out did not. Answered the question but the white is always expressed reservations. About this bill and yesterday secretary of state Rex Tillerson it was saying that it could actually in heat US relations with Russia. As they are trying to get things on. With the country are sure to be some more questions about that in any briefing that's coming up soon I let signed and Mary Alice parks thanks so much for making this time it was good to talk to guys. Thanks thanks. And thanks to you for watching as well or you can always good abcnews.com. Anytime for continuing coverage on this story. And many many others for now I'm on an Abbas and I see you back here soon.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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