After four decades of high levels of immigration, Trump said, the country needs to “control future immigration” to “ensure assimilation.”
The model, he said, should be what the U.S. did after “previous immigration waves” — a reference to the restrictionist legislation passed under President Calvin Coolidge in the 1920s that remained in place until 1965.
The goal should be “to keep immigration levels, measured by population share, within historic norms,” he said. Groups that call for a return to “historic norms” often point to the 1960s and 1970s, when the foreign-born share of the U.S. population fell to about one out of every 20 people, rather than one in eight as it is today.
Trump’s call was a major victory for advocates of immigration restriction, led by Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), an influential advisor who traveled to Mexico and Phoenix with Trump on Wednesday and whose former staff members have shaped Trump’s positions.
Sessions has long fought to cut overall immigration levels, arguing that high rates of immigration depress wages for American workers. But until Trump’s rise, he had largely been shut out of the party’s policymaking.