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Trump vows to pass merit-based immigration plan

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump says that if Democrats won't adopt his merit-based immigration plan, he'll get it passed after the election.

Trump on Thursday unveiled his proposal in a Rose Garden news conference with little hard-line rhetoric. He says he wants to recruit the "most brilliant" people to live in the U.S. through a system that rewards talent and brains. He says right now the U.S. immigration laws "discriminate against genius" and "discriminate against brilliance" because most of the green cards are given to low-skilled people who would make low wages.

Trump is seeking to put a softer facade on the signature issue from his first campaign as he eyes a 2020 reelection. He said Thursday it was time to "restore national unity."

He suggested the plan could get passed after the 2020 election if necessary because the House could flip back to the GOP.

Under the plan, the country would award the same number of green cards as it now does. But far more would go to exceptional students, professionals and people with high-level and vocational degrees. Factors such as age, English language ability and employment offers would also be considered.

Far fewer green cards would be given to people with relatives already in the U.S. Fifty-seven percent would be awarded on merit as opposed to the current 12%.

The latest effort is spearheaded by Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner.

The plan is not yet embraced by his own party — let alone Democrats — and faces an uphill battle in Congress.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says President Donald Trump's emphasis on merit-based immigration is "condescending" because families have merit, too.

Pelosi said they want to attract "the best to our country." But she asked if Trump means family is without merit. She said it's what merit means "in the eyes of Donald Trump."

Trump's plan does not include protections for immigrants known as Dreamers, and Pelosi said Democrats want to help those young people who were brought here illegally in childhood.

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