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Trump declares national emergency; proposes merit-based immigration policy – Current Affairs

The move will give the United States the power to prohibit transactions posing an unacceptable risk to national security.

May 16, 2019 12:04 IST
Trump declares national emergency

Story 1: US President Donald Trump declares national emergency

The President of the United States, Donald Trump on May 15, 2019 declared a national emergency to protect the US computer networks from foreign adversaries.

The announcement was made through an executive order that effectively bars US companies from using foreign telecoms that are believed to pose a risk to the security of the nation.

Key Highlights

The move has authorized US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross to block transactions that involve information or communications technology that pose an unacceptable risk to the national security of the United States.

Though the executive order does not name any company specifically, according to analysts it is mainly directed at Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei.

Following the order, the US Commerce Department announced the inclusion of Huawei Technologies and its affiliates to the Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) Entity List, making it more difficult for the Chinese telecom giant to conduct business with US companies.

The inclusion in the entity list means that the US companies will no longer be able to sell or transfer technology to Huawei without a license issued by the BIS.

Several nations including the US have raised concerns that Huawei’s products could be used by China for surveillance, though the company has denied such claims.

Impact

The executive order aims to protect the United States from foreign adversaries who are increasingly creating and exploiting vulnerabilities in information and communications technology infrastructure and services.

The move will give the United States the power to prohibit transactions posing an unacceptable risk to national security.

Background

The announcement comes on the backdrop of an escalating trade war between the US and China. The US President had complained about China's trading practices since before he took office in 2016.

Last week, the US almost doubled the tariffs on $200bn of Chinese goods and China retaliated with its own tariff hikes on US products.

The latest US decision is likely to worsen tensions further between the two nations. Huawei has been at the centre of the US-China power struggle that has dominated global politics over the past year.

The US has already restricted federal agencies from using Huawei products and has encouraged allies to shun them. Other nations such as Australia and New Zealand have blocked the use of Huawei gear in next-generation 5G mobile networks.

Alabama Senate passes most stringent abortion law

Alabama’s Senate on May 14, 2019 approved the most stringent abortion law of the United States that would make performing an abortion at any stage of pregnancy a crime punishable by up to 99 years or life in prison.

The Senate dominated by the Republicans, voted 25-6 in favour of the anti-abortion bill, with only one abstention after almost five hours of discussion. The bill only provides an exception in cases where the mother’s health is at serious risk.

Impact

The vote comes just a few days after the state Senate scrapped a vote amid a heated floor debate over Republican efforts to strip the bill of exceptions for pregnancies resulting from rape or incest.

The Democrats argued that under the provision of the new bill, in case of pregnancy resulting from rape, the doctor who performs the abortion could spend more time in prison than the rapist. The amendments sought by the party, however, failed to receive majority votes. Several other Democrat-sponsored amendments were not approved.

According to the abortion rights groups, the new measure violates the landmark 1973 Roe ruling guaranteeing a woman’s right to an abortion until a fetus is viable.

Previously this year, four US states including Georgia approved abortion bans once a fetal heartbeat is detected, usually about the sixth week of pregnancy.

The Alabama bill includes exceptions for pregnancies that pose a health risk to the mother, but not for rape and incest.

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Story 2- President Trump to propose merit-based immigration policy

US President Donald Trump is set to announce a new proposal on May 16, 2019 to harden border security and overhaul the legal immigration system to give preference to foreigners based on merit rather than family ties.

The decision could largely benefit thousands of Indian professionals, who end up waiting for long to get the Green Card. Trump will present an overview of the plan, with details of a large document to be released in the coming weeks.

Key Highlights

The new plan involves revamping of the legal permanent residency system of the United States, enabling people with merit, higher degrees and professional qualifications to get easy access to the nation’s immigration system.

Under the new proposal, the legal immigration system will favor applicants who speak English, are well-educated and have job offers.

Currently, 66 per cent of the green cards are given to those with family ties and only 12 per cent are based on skills.

The new proposal also includes hardening the US border security by building more portions of the southern border wall and improvement in the inspection of goods and people at ports of entry to fight drug smuggling.

It would also include an increase in fees collected at the border to pay for border security infrastructure.

Impact

The decision would help keep legal immigration in the United States steady at around 1.1 million people a year, out of which family-based immigration would account for only a third of that.

In their place, high-skilled people with jobs or job offers would be given priority. They would be allowed to bring their immediate family such as wife and children along with them.

By giving preference to migrants more proficient in English or who have degrees or high skill training and job offers, the measure would enable 57 percent of the green cards, which grant permanent legal residency, to be based on employment.

Pros

The new proposal, largely a product of senior advisers Jared Kushner and Stephen Miller and economic aide Kevin Hassett, has reportedly been formed after studying the legal immigration systems of other nations such as Canada, Australia, Japan and New Zealand.

The study of the immigration systems of other nations revealed that 12 percent of migration to the United States was based on skill and employment, while it was 63 percent in Canada, 57 percent in New Zealand, 68 percent in Australia and 52 percent in Japan.

Cons

The new policy does not address key issues such as the large influx of people crossing over from the US’s southern border from Mexico.

It also does not deal with the issue of children of immigrants, who are in the country illegally or immigrants under the Temporary Protected status.

Background

The United States immigration laws have given priority to family-based immigration for over decades. Around two-thirds of migrants are granted green cards each year based on their family ties in the nation.

Hence, this new immigration proposal is an effort to bring together the Republicans on the issue, which has largely contributed to dividing them.

The policy comes at a time when the US presidential elections are just a year away and immigration is likely to be a key issue during the presidential campaigns.

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