Kushner building immigration plan

President's son-in-law tasked with drafting plan

By Jake Tapper and Priscilla Alvarez, CNN
Al Drago-Pool/Getty Images

Senior White House Adviser Jared Kushner listens during a Cabinet meeting on May 9, 2018.

Washington, DC - White House adviser Jared Kushner's proposal to reform the US legal immigration system will be broken into two parts: one focused on border security and the other on legal immigration, according to a senior administration official.

The first part of the proposal deals with border security. This would include constructing physical barriers where needed and modernizing ports of entry in the north, south and on the coasts -- so that every person, vehicle and cargo container is scanned to prevent anything illegal from coming into the country, and that trade is facilitated more quickly. This proposal, the official said, would protect rights and respect due process while also preserving the right to detain, adjudicate and remove any individual if need be, especially people trying to circumvent the legal system.

The second part of the proposal asks what should legal immigration look like. With 185 different kinds of visas, the system right now is easy to game, the official said. This proposal would for now keep the level of immigration at the same level it is currently, and work toward a merit-based system based on the Canadian, Australian and New Zealand systems.

Kushner, President Donald Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser, has been a sounding board on legal immigration reforms.

Over the course of two months, a number of immigration groups and business groups have gathered at the White House to discuss a range of topics related to legal immigration, including employment-based visas, temporary worker programs, the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program and moving toward a merit-based immigration system, several sources familiar with the meetings told CNN.

Kushner talked up his role on immigration policy within the White House during an interview at the 2019 Time 100 Summit on Tuesday, making clear that "the President asked me to work on this topic."

Kushner insisted that he and senior adviser Stephen Miller, an influential voice on immigration in the White House, have "not had any fights" and said he is putting together "a really detailed proposal" to reform the US immigration system, but did not reveal any of the components of his proposal.

"The President asked me to work on this topic," Kushner said. "This isn't one of the topics that I came to Washington to work on."

Kushner is reaching out to the experts within the administration to try to form a proposal, the official said. For instance, Kushner has reached out to lawyers throughout the administration and career professionals at Customs and Border Protection and said, "forget about what politicians think -- what do you think? What do you need to do your job? What does a detailed proposal look like?" Kushner has also reached out to allies on Capitol Hill and, quietly, some Democrats.

The goal is to produce a plan that the White House thinks is defensible, the official said, rather than have a proposal that is a mishmash of compromises. Kushner has been working with Kevin Hassett and the Council of Economic Advisers to make sure that by bringing in more high skilled workers the US would not lower wages.

Kushner said Tuesday he and his team will be presenting the latest version of their proposal to Trump later this week or next week and Trump will likely offer changes.

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