On August 2, 2017 Senators Tom Cotton (R-AR) and David Perdue (R-GA) introduced the Reforming American Immigration for a Strong Economy (RAISE) Act. The bill, which was endorsed by President Donald Trump, aims to cut legal immigration numbers in half within the next 10 years. President Trump indicated this bill would be the “most significant reform to our immigration system in half a century.”
The RAISE Act would create a point-based system for families to acquire green cards. Individuals who speak English, are high-skilled workers and who can financially support themselves could be prioritized within the proposed system. The Trump administration has made it a priority to prevent new immigrants from accessing welfare benefits, a promise he made in an Iowa rally back in June. However, “federal law already bars most foreigners with immigrant visas from being eligible for federal benefits for their first five years in the country,” according to ABC News.
The Trump administration wishes to attract the “the very best talent” who can “stand on their own feet.” The new bill was written to replicate the Canadian and Australian immigration systems that are considered “pro-worker, pro-growth and has proof of working,” said Sen. Perdue, an author of the new bill.
Could these drastic changes to our current immigration system really work? Hughes Socol Piers Resnick & Dym immigration attorney Ian Wagreich commented, “Economists from across the political spectrum agree that the proposed immigration bill would be extremely harmful to our nation’s economic vitality.”
Mr. Wagreich noted that the bill, as proposed, would achieve the reduction in the current level of legal immigration by drastically reducing the number of green cards based on family relationships while keeping the level of employment-related immigration roughly the same. Additionally, the bill would reduce the number of refugees drastically. Ian commented, “the character of our nation as a beacon to immigrants and a welcoming place for refugees would be irreparably harmed.”
Senator Randy Johnson, senior vice president for labor, immigration and employee benefits at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce said, “Drastically reducing overall immigration levels won’t raise the standard of living for Americans, in fact, it will likely accomplish the opposite, making it harder for businesses, communities, and our overall economy to grow, prosper and create jobs for American workers.”
The bill is said to especially resonate with white, unskilled workers who have seen their wages and jobs stagnate, although, after studying two decades of data The National Academy of Sciences found that “the overall effect of immigration on the wages of American-born workers was very small.” Other members of congress, including Senator Kamala Harris, a democrat from California, said the bill “is an attack on American values,” especially given that immigrants helped “build this country.”
Additionally, the simple fact is that the U.S. birthrate is at a record low, and the U.S. economy needs the infusion of immigration to maintain and expand on economic success. “Drastically reducing the level of immigration would have dire economic results and lead to diminishing economic prospects in this country,” Ian commented.
Is this bill a shameful result of those who fear diversity in the country? Or is the Trump administration going to successfully pass this bill through congress, resulting in slashing our current merit-based immigration system?
Ian Wagreich argued that the immigration system [in this country] does need to be reformed. However, this act represents the worst way to do it, doubling down on the least productive characteristics of our current system while failing to make changes to increase the ability of U.S. businesses to compete, grow and thrive in the international economy.
The United States of America was built to facilitate equal opportunity for all. To ensure your rights are protected, speak to one of our immigration attorneys today by contacting our law firm at 312-580-0100.