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Immigrants do not need to speak English before they arrive

DONALD TRUMP’s young administration is adept at one particular manoeuvre. Whenever the president is having a terrible time in the press, for some embarrassing statement, interview or imbroglio, the White House announces a far-reaching policy designed to stoke up his nationalist base while infuriating his opponents. In February it was the proposed ban on visitors from seven mainly Muslim countries. Last month it was the announcement on Twitter that he would not let transgender soldiers serve in the military.

In each case, the new policy tends to hurt people who can be portrayed as threatening outsiders to ordinary Americans who work hard and pay their taxes. Yesterday’s announcement to back a months-old plan to overhaul America’s immigration rules falls in the same category. If implemented, it would reward applicants with sought-after job skills who already speak English, at the expense of low-skilled workers without language skills.

This may seem perfectly sensible: after all, skilled immigrants are a good thing….Continue reading

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