Trump wants a merit-based immigration system -- but what does that mean?

Amid calls to crack down on illegal immigration, President Donald Trump has indicated support for adopting a new system for immigration in this country -- known as a merit-based system.

Trump touted the approach in his address to Congress this week, heralding that the approach, used by Canada, Australia, among other countries, is based on "a basic principle that those seeking to enter a country ought to be able to support themselves financially."

He also bragged that the system "will save countless dollars, raise workers' wages, and help struggling families — including immigrant families — enter the middle class."

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Prisoners training horses to be used by US Border Patrol
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Prisoners training horses to be used by US Border Patrol
A full moon rises behind U.S. Border Patrol agent Josh Gehrich as he sits atop a hill while on patrol near Jacumba, California, U.S., November 14, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Blake 
A sign stands on a private property near the U.S.-Mexico border fence near Jacumba, California, U.S., November 14, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Blake
U.S. Border Patrol agents on horseback head out on patrol along the U.S.-Mexico border fence near Jacumba, California, U.S., November 14, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Blake
People in Mexico wave at U.S. Border Patrol agents on horseback patrolling the U.S.-Mexico border fence near San Diego, California, U.S., November 10, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Blake
U.S. Border Patrol agents on horseback patrol along a beach just north of the U.S.-Mexico border near San Diego, California, U.S., November 10, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Blake 
A U.S. Border Patrol agent from Boulevard Station looks out over the U.S.-Mexico border as he patrols in the hills near Jacumba, California, U.S., November 14, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Blake
U.S. border patrol agent Katherine Griffith looks out from atop her horse while out on patrol along the U.S.-Mexico border near San Diego, California, U.S., November 10, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Blake
U.S. Border Patrol agents from Boulevard Station look out over a ridge after sunset near Jacumba, California, U.S., November 14, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Blake
U.S. Border Patrol Agent Benjamin Ditges sits on his horse as he patrols the U.S.-Mexico border near Jacumba, California, U.S., November 14, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Blake 
U.S. Border Patrol supervisor Bobby Stine drives a car as he catches up with his horse patrol near Jacumba, California, U.S., November 14, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Blake
A U.S. Border Patrol vehicle drives along the U.S.-Mexico border fence in Jacumba, California, U.S., November 14, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Blake
U.S. Border Patrol supervisor Bobby Stine looks out over his station's patrol area atop a hill near Jacumba, California, U.S., November 14, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Blake
A wild mustang border patrol horse, named Boss, chews on the latch of a government transport trailer before going out with U.S. Border Patrol agents on patrol along the U.S.-Mexico border near San Diego, California, U.S November 10, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Blake
U.S. Border Patrol horse goes for a run during an off-patrol day at their station in Boulevard, California, U.S., November 12, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Blake
U.S. Border Patrol agents prepare their horses for patrol at their station in Boulevard, California, U.S., November 14, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Blake
A farrier applies a new horseshoe to a U.S. border patrol horse at their station in Boulevard, California, U.S., November 14, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Blake
U.S. Border Patrol horses Hollywood (L) and Apache roll in the dirt at their patrol station in Boulevard, California, U.S November 12, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Blake
Program manager Randy Helm looks over the names of horses being trained as part of the the Wild Horse Inmate Program (WHIP) at Florence State Prison in Florence, Arizona, U.S., December 2, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Blake
Pictures of horses hang on a wall at the U.S. border patrol station in Boulevard, California, U.S., November 12, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Blake
An inmate trains a wild horse as part of the Wild Horse Inmate Program (WHIP) at Florence State Prison in Florence, Arizona, U.S., December 2, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Blake
Randy Helm rides a horse, while inmate Gabriel Curtis gestures, as they train a horse as part of the Wild Horse Inmate Program (WHIP) at Florence State Prison in Florence, Arizona, U.S., December 2, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Blake
An inmate rides a wild horse over an obstacle course as part of the Wild Horse Inmate Program (WHIP) at Florence State Prison in Florence, Arizona, U.S., December 2, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Blake
Inmates tend to horses as part of the Wild Horse Inmate Program (WHIP) at Florence State Prison in Florence, Arizona, U.S., December 2, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Blake
The view shows Wah Wah Valley where wild horses were herded during a Bureau of Land Management round-up outside Milford, Utah, U.S., January 8, 2017. REUTERS/Jim Urquhart
A temporary corral is seen in the Wah Wah Valley where wild horses were sorted after being herded during a Bureau of Land Management round-up outside Milford, Utah, U.S., January 8, 2017. REUTERS/Jim Urquhart
A wild horse is herded into corrals by a helicopter during a Bureau of Land Management round-up outside Milford, Utah, U.S., January 7, 2017. REUTERS/Jim Urquhart
An inmate's saddle and helmet sit on a fence inside Florence State Prison at the Wild Horse Inmate Program (WHIP) in Florence, Arizona, U.S., December 2, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Blake
A wild horse attempts to escape being herded into corrals by a helicopter during a Bureau of Land Management round-up outside Milford, Utah, U.S., January 8, 2017. REUTERS/Jim Urquhart
An inmate rides a wild horse as part of the Wild Horse Inmate Program (WHIP) at Florence State Prison in Florence, Arizona, U.S., December 2, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Blake
Wild horses are herded into corrals by a helicopter during a Bureau of Land Management round-up outside Milford, Utah, U.S., January 7, 2017. REUTERS/Jim Urquhart
Wild horses attempt to escape being herded into corrals by a helicopter during a Bureau of Land Management round-up outside Milford, Utah, U.S., January 8, 2017. REUTERS/Jim Urquhart
The trap corral is seen in the Wah Wah Valley where wild horses were herded during a Bureau of Land Management round-up outside Milford, Utah, U.S., January 8, 2017. REUTERS/Jim Urquhart
An inmate rides a wild horse as part of the Wild Horse Inmate Program ( WHIP) at Florence State Prison in Florence, Arizona, U.S., December 2, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Blake
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But adopting such a system would have significant impacts on which people can become Americans.

As the New York Times explained, the Canadian system awards potential immigrants points the help them gain access. A strong employment background or education means more points, as does language proficiency. High scores put a candidate at the front of the line.

Currently, the U.S. has a system that awards family connections, which means having a relative who is an American or legal resident increases your chances.

The U.S. currently gives 63 percent of green cards based on family ties and 13 percent based on economic backgrounds. The reverse is true in Canada, where 63 percent receive permanent residency based on economics and 24 percent on family.

SEE MORE: George W. Bush's daughter to speak at Planned Parenthood benefit

The U.S. had a more merit-based system until the 1950s when families began to be a primary driver.

Some lawmakers support Trump's approach, believing it would bring high-skilled workers capable of achieving financial stability. But critics have said that it would reduce the number of low-skilled workers the country relies on.

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