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Dec 15, 3:03 AM EST

White House to push merit-based immigration in new campaign


AP Photo
AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The White House is embarking on a major campaign to turn public opinion against the nation's largely family-based immigration system ahead of an all-out push next year to move toward a more merit-based structure.

The administration was laying the groundwork for such a drive even before an Islamic State-inspired extremist who was born in Bangladesh tried to blow himself up in Midtown Manhattan on Monday. It is assembling data to bolster the argument that the current legal immigration system is not only ill-conceived, but dangerous.

White House officials outlined their strategy this week exclusively to The Associated Press.

But the effort will play out in a difficult political climate, as even Republicans in Congress are leery of engaging in a major immigration debate ahead of the 2018 midterm elections.

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