A congressional proposal backed by President Trump to cut legal immigration to the U.S. has divided some activists for Syrian and Iraqi refugees.
Ayman Abdel Nour, executive director of Syrian Christians for Peace, and a refugee who fled persecution himself, said the current system is in desperate need of overhaul.
“It is a broken system, there is a lot that can be done to reduce” the cost to taxpayers, Nour told Fox News. “Many of the refugees coming are over 65, or they are coming and then bringing over elders, and those people can’t contribute to the workforce and have to live off others. This should change.”
But Mark Arabo, President of Minority Humanitarian Foundation, which advocates for persecuted Iraqi Christians, said the proposed changes are simply “un-American and unethical” and “make our immigration system a game of playing favorites.”
Trump joined two Republican senators on Wednesday to champion the legislation, which would overhaul legal immigration in America.
The bill – entitled the RAISE Act – would implement a merit-based system rather than the existing system of residents and citizens being able to bring in family members. It would also favor applicants based on their English language ability, skills and education.
“Our current system does not work,” said co-sponsor Sen. David Perdue, R-Ga.
Nour said there are those in the Syrian community who have figured out how to “milk the system” in obtaining government payments as caregivers for elderly parents.
Still, he cautioned that creating an immigration system based on merit is not as simple as examining one’s occupation and level of education.