McCain casts doubt on Trump’s merit-based immigration bill

Washington, Aug 4  US Senator John McCain has cast doubt on a Trump administration-backed bill that would clamp down on legal immigration and establish a merit-based immigration system.

In an interview with the Arizona Republic on Thursday, the Republican said he is not opposed to promoting such skills-based immigration, but voiced concern about how the measure could affect farm labour and other low-skilled work.

“I think you have to consider that we do want high-tech people, but we also need low-skilled people who will do work that Americans won’t do,” he said. “I wouldn’t do it. Even in my misspent youth, I wouldn’t do it.”

President Donald Trump threw his support behind a measure proposed by Senators Tom Cotton and David Perdue on Wednesday. The legislation would establish a system by which prospective immigrants are judged by their median salary, education level, ability to speak English and whether their skills are in economic demand.

McCain also said he’s ready to revive a comprehensive immigration reform effort aimed at providing a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants living in the US, the Hill magazine reported.

He said he raised the idea with Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer before heading back to his home state this week to begin cancer treatment.

“Immigration reform is one of the issues I’d like to see resolved,” McCain told the Arizona Republic. “I’ve got to talk to him (Schumer) about when would be the best time.”

McCain also voiced scepticism about Trump’s proposed border wall, saying that the structure would be unlikely to stymie illegal immigration and drug trafficking across the US-Mexico border.

He said border security should rely more heavily on surveillance technologies, like drones.

“I’m not against a border wall, okay, but go to China and you’ll see a border wall there,” he said. “We need technology, we need drones, we need surveillance capabilities and we need rapid-reaction capabilities.”

McCain also criticised Trump’s recent staffing changes, saying that “he can’t just keep firing everybody”.

Due to the senator’s open and clear criticism of the President, McCain and Trump have had a tumultuous relationship, CBS News reported.

“I will do everything in my power to work with this President… But there might come a time when I have to say ‘I can’t work with you’.”

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