Jason Hopkins on May 29, 2019
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi invoked First Lady Melania Trump when attacking the White House’s latest immigration proposal, suggesting the president was a hypocrite for wanting a merit-based immigration system.
“When the president says merit – turn it upside down. It means make America white again, have people leave, just go back and we’ll just let in people we like,” Pelosi said Wednesday while speaking at Commonwealth Club of California.
“I don’t know merit counted for when his wife’s family came into the country. I don’t know. Maybe it did. God bless them if it did. But he calls that chain migration, which he wants to get rid of — family unification, instead call it merit,” the California Democrat added. The comment was in clear reference to Melania’s parents, who became U.S. citizens after she sponsored them.
Melania’s parents, Viktor and Amalija Knavs, were originally from Slovenia before moving to their current home in Maryland. They officially became American citizens in August 2018, taking their oath of citizenship at a ceremony in New York City.
Foreign nationals who become permanent residents or American citizens have the ability to sponsor their immediate relatives to join them in the U.S., a process that is typically referred to “chain migration.” President Donald Trump, who has made immigration reform a hallmark of this administration, has constantly railed against the practice.
The president unveiled his long-awaited immigration proposal earlier in May. A major component of the plan includes shifting the U.S. chain migration system to a more merit-based system. The administration would prioritize high-skilled immigrants, offering more visas to those who are better educated, financially self-sufficient, younger and have job offers waiting for them in the country.
“Random selection is contrary to American values and blocks out many qualified potential immigrants from around the world,” Trump said as he announced his plan. “This will bring us in line with other countries and make us globally competitive.”
Pelosi was not the only Democrat to suggest Trump’s immigration plan was racist.
“A ‘merit based’ immigration policy is fueled toward the Latinx community. Our immigration policies shouldn’t be based on discrimination, fear, or bigotry. We should welcome immigrants to our country and offer a simple pathway to citizenship,” Democratic Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar wrote in a now-deletedtweet.
The Democratic congresswoman’s statement attracted controversy for suggesting that Latinos did not have the skills to compete in a merit-based immigration system.
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