United States President Donald Trump on Thursday announced a merit-based immigration system that he claimed would favour young, educated immigrants instead of those with family ties to the country, PTI reported.

“We are proposing an immigration plan that puts the jobs, wages and safety of American workers first,” ABC News quoted Trump as saying. “Our proposal is pro-America, pro-immigrant and pro-worker. It is just common sense.”

The president said his immigration plan “stops illegal immigration and fully secures the border”. He said the reforms would protect “American wages, promotes American values and attracts the best and brightest from all around the world”.

Trump said he will replace the existing green cards with “Build America” visa. The new immigration policy will increase the number of green cards given to individuals based on their skills from 12% to 57%, The Hindu reported. At present, 66% of those receive green cards enter the US through family ties. The number of green cards granted every year will stay the same at 1.1 million, according to CBS News.

Under the new system, points will be awarded to applicants based on their education, work experience, age, English language ability. New immigrants will also have to show that they can financially support themselves, and will need to pass a civics exam.

“Random selection is contrary to American values and blocks out many qualified potential immigrants from around the world...” the US president said. “We discriminate against brilliance. We will not anymore once we get this passed.”

Trump said the last major overhaul of America’s legal admissions policy was carried out 54 years ago. “So a major update, and that’s what is – merit system and a heart system – is long overdue,” he added. “If adopted, our plan will transform America’s immigration system into the pride of our Nation and the envy of the modern world.”

Trump’s proposal is likely to face pushback from congressional Democrats, who have said the concept of merit to determine who immigrate to the US is condescending. “Donald Trump’s latest immigration ‘proposal’ features the worst of his failed policies: family detention, his ineffective wall, abandoning Dreamers and gutting asylum and refugee protections,” said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Twitter. “In other words, it is dead on arrival.”