First son-in-law Jared Kushner has advised his father-in-law through impeachment and pushed for peace in the Middle East—and now, he’s back to once again trying to overhaul the legal immigration system. After a failed immigration attempt last year, NPR reports that Kushner has been “quietly trying to resurrect discussions” about new immigration legislation, as business groups have lobbied for more workers to fill positions in Trump’s “booming” economy. The Trump family member has reportedly been meeting with immigration and business leaders about how to fix the immigration system, with an eye toward introducing a new plan once the whole impeachment saga came to an end.
Per NPR, the Kushner-led plan would likely be based around expanding merit-based visas for high-skilled workers, potentially increasing the number of green cards given out each year. The plan would further restrict family-based immigration—which President Donald Trump has repeatedly criticized—and instead impose a new “Build America Visa” for family members who are “‘extraordinarily talented individuals,’ high-skilled professionals and top graduate students from American universities.” True to Trump’s platform, the immigration plan would also strengthen border security measures and target sanctuary cities, while narrowing rules for asylum seekers who have already been heavily affected by Trump’s immigration policies. The president had hinted that such a merit-based plan could be coming in his recent State of the Union address, as he alluded to impending legislation “to replace our outdated and randomized immigration system with one based on merit, welcoming those who follow the rules, contribute to our economy, support themselves financially and uphold our values.”
Of course, actually getting the plan approved and passed is a much tougher matter. NPR reports that the Kushner plan is already suffering from having to navigate the divided opinions of business leaders who want an influx of new employees, and immigration hard-liners who don’t want Kushner’s efforts to ultimately expand, rather than reduce, legal immigration. Jessica Vaughan, director of policy studies for the Center for Immigration Studies, said after being briefed on elements of the plan that she worries it focuses too heavily on increasing workers, though she supports other aspects. “The main problem is trying to do too much in one bill,” Vaughan, whose organization supports stricter immigration controls, told NPR.
Similar divisions between pro-business factions and immigration hard-liners are also present in the GOP caucus, whose unified support Kushner would need to win over a divided Congress. And unfortunately for the first son-in-law, Kushner’s track record on getting Republican senators on board with his immigration ideas already isn’t great. Kushner previously briefed GOP senators on his last attempt to overhaul the immigration system in spring 2019, after shopping the proposal around town with the help of a “laughably simplistic” PowerPoint presentation. Though the Trump family member-turned-White House adviser had previously pointed to his general inexperience as an “asset,” GOP senators present reported Kushner didn’t seem to actually know what he was talking about, struggling to answer questions about the immigration plan while getting repeatedly interrupted by Stephen Miller. “[Kushner’s] in his own little world,” one source told the Washington Post at the time. “He didn’t give many details about what was in [his plan]. . . . And there were a number of instances where people had to step in and answer questions because he couldn’t.” Suffice it to say, Republicans weren’t eager to get on board, and the immigration plan ultimately never came to fruition. As he prepares his new plan for the spotlight, Kushner will now have to figure out how to combat the same issues that plagued his first go-around—so hopefully he’ll get some reading done before he fires up PowerPoint once again.
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