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News Wrap: Trump proposes partial overhaul for U.S. immigration

In our news wrap Thursday, President Trump announced his new plan to reform the nation’s immigration system, including admitting more highly skilled workers and giving them priority over those with family already inside the U.S. Trump said the current rules “discriminate against genius." Meanwhile, Trump is reportedly pushing diplomacy amid rising tensions with Iran, saying he doesn’t want a war.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    President Trump is out with a plan for a partial overhaul of the nation's immigration system. He called today for admitting more highly skilled workers and giving them priority over those with family already inside the U.S.

    The president spoke from the White House Rose Garden and said his plan is pro-worker and differs from current law.

  • Donald Trump:

    We discriminate against genius. We discriminate against brilliance. We won't anymore once we get this passed. We cherish the open door that we want to create for our country. But a big proportion of those immigrants must come in through merit and skill.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    The plan doesn't address the millions of people already living in the country illegally, and it faces dubious prospects in Congress.

    U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called Mr. Trump's approach condescending.

  • Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.:

    Are they saying most of the people that have ever come here to the United States in the history of our country are without merit because they don't have an engineering degree? Certainly, we want to attract the best in our country — to our country, and that includes many people from many parts of society.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Some Republicans also voiced skepticism, arguing the plan doesn't do enough to reduce overall immigration.

    There's word that President Trump is pushing diplomacy with Iran, amid rising tensions. The "NewsHour" has learned that he told acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan that he doesn't want a war. Another sign came today, as he welcomed the president of Switzerland, a country that acts as a go-between for the U.S. and Iran.

    When a reporter asked if war is coming, Mr. Trump answered, "Hope not."

    It was also reported that he's resisting National Security Adviser John Bolton and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who favor a more hawkish approach.

    The Persian Gulf tensions are spilling into Yemen with new airstrikes. A Saudi Arabian coalition renewed bombing today in Yemen's capital city, Sanaa. Local officials said the strikes killed at least six people and wounded 40. Sanaa is held by rebels aligned with Iran. They staged drone attacks inside Saudi Arabia this week.

    China has denounced a U.S. move to block Chinese telecom giant Huawei from nearly all transactions with American firms. President Trump signed the order yesterday. His administration accuses Huawei of helping the Chinese government spy.

    In Beijing today, a Foreign Ministry spokesman criticized the move, and called it abusive.

  • Lu Kang (through translator):

    China resolutely opposes any country imposing unilateral sanctions. We urge the United States to stop the wrong actions, create conditions for normal business and cooperation and avoid worsening the trade tensions. China will take further necessary measures to protect our legitimate rights.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Huawei said today that it will challenge the blacklisting decision. It also warned the U.S. move will backfire and hurt its American suppliers and workers.

    Back in this country, New York City's Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that he is running for the Democratic presidential nomination. He joins 22 others in the field angling to take on President Trump. He said today he wants to put working people first, and he called Mr. Trump a — quote — "con artist." De Blasio is serving his second term as mayor and can't serve another.

    Two more states are nearing strict curbs on abortions in a Republican drive to send the issue back to the U.S. Supreme Court. Missouri's state Senate voted Wednesday to ban abortions after eight weeks of pregnancy. The state House is expected to do likewise. And Louisiana lawmakers are advancing a bill to stop abortions after six weeks of pregnancy.

    Just yesterday, Alabama's Republican governor signed a near-total ban on abortions.

    Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives began a marathon reading today of the redacted Mueller report, nearly 448 pages of it. They estimate it could last into the wee hours of tomorrow morning. House Judiciary Chair Jerry Nadler read a section on how the Russian company IRA tried to influence the 2016 U.S. campaign.

  • Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y.:

    The IRA conducted social media operations targeted at large U.S. audiences with the goal of sowing discord in the U.S. political system. Using fictitious U.S. personas, IRA employees operated social media accounts and group pages designed to attract U.S. audiences.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Democrats say they hope the marathon reading can keep attention on the report, as the White House balks at cooperating with congressional investigations.

    The White House announced two new presidential pardons overnight. One went to Conrad Black, who wrote a flattering biography of Mr. Trump. He spent more than three years in prison for a fraud conviction. Patrick Nolan was also pardoned. He's a former Republican leader of the California State Assembly who served prison time over illegal campaign contributions. He now advocates for criminal justice reform.

    New financial disclosure documents show revenues at the president's major properties held mostly steady last year. They rose slightly at his Washington, D.C., hotel, but fell slightly at Mar-a-Lago in Florida. The filing follows reports of falling profits at the president's Doral resort in Florida. Today's report doesn't address profits, only revenues.

    The Trump administration today killed a grant of $930 billion for California's high-speed rail project. Federal officials said that the state has failed to make reasonable progress and has changed the original plan. Governor Gavin Newsom called the action illegal and said the state will fight in court to keep the money.

    On Wall Street, stocks rallied again, as jitters about the trade standoff with China eased. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 214 points to close at 25682. The Nasdaq rose nearly 76 points, and the S&P 500 added 25.

    Former President Jimmy Carter has been released from a Georgia hospital, after getting a hip replacement. The 94-year-old fell at home on Monday, and had surgery. A spokeswoman says he still plans to teach Sunday school this weekend. Former first lady Rosalynn Carter also went home after feeling faint and being hospitalized overnight. She is 91.

    And word came late today that iconic architect I.M. Pei has died. He was born in China and moved to the U.S. in 1935. His legacy includes the Louvre Pyramid in Paris and the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, plus the John F. Kennedy Library in Boston, among many other landmarks. He also won the Pritzker Prize, the Nobel of architecture, and many other awards. I.M. Pei was 102 years old.

    Still to come on the "NewsHour": one-on-one with Senator Elizabeth Warren about her campaign for president; we discuss the congressional stalemate over disaster aid with Florida Senator Rick Scott; how South Africa's inequality exacerbates its struggle to cope with prolonged drought; and much more.

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